Tomorrow is Election Day and my husband and I are voting for opposite candidates (I won't say who is voting for who, but I'm sure that those who know us are pretty familiar with our differing political leanings). I'm not someone who loves to talk politics and debate, going more the route of "everyone is entitled to their own opinion - just because it is different, doesn't mean it is wrong." This past weekend I was indulging in my guilty pleasure - the Style section of the Sunday New York Times - and I came across the Modern Love column. The article, Sleeping with the (Political) Enemy, was an apt description of an politically intermingled marriage and I plunked it down in front of my husband and had him read it as well.
While we aren't fighting each other for lawn space to post opposing political signs (1 - what lawn?; and 2 - the neighborhood dogs would likely pee all over the signs in their hurry to mark their spot on our tiny sliver of grassy space), we have had a few discussions on hot-button issues (discussions interspersed with waggling a spoon in the other's face and the slamming of the oven, fridge door, and maybe a few raised voices - mainly on my part, I confess). These discussions didn't end with either of us really agreeing with the differing point of view or fundamentally changing how we felt about the issue. However, it allowed us both to consider the topic at hand from a different angle - an angle that wouldn't have been readily presented to us (or readily listened to) had the presenter not been our spouse. It is in this way that I feel fortunate that my husband and I are not united on one political front; instead, we get to learn from each other, think critically about an issue and why we have each formed our opposing opinions, and how to reconcile those oppositions so we continue to live in a happy household. We both respect each other and our discussions are civil (spoon-waggling aside) and we never think less of the other one for their opinion. I like to think that we balance one another out. And we are on the same page when it comes to some of life's major fundamentals.
Sheila Heen, the author of the aforementioned Modern Love article, said it best - I worry about the increasing separation in our country, where we commiserate with the like-minded about the "other" and each have our own "news" networks spinning out selective versions of the latest. I want my children to see that both sides are deeply committed to cultivating the same American field, that we reflect one another's values in the sharp disks as we turn through another election season." The problems politicians try to tackle - healthcare, unemployment, the economy, etc etc etc - are huge and they aren't going away soon, no matter who is in office.
So, as we make our way to the polls - be thankful we can freely exercise our right to vote and respect the views of those who may not share your political leanings. We all want our country to succeed and no single party or person has all the right answers.