When Chuck and Brenda got married 40 years ago, their friends said the marriage wouldn’t last longer than two years.
Why? Because of their differing political viewpoints. In the 2016 election, Brenda voted for Hillary Clinton, and Chuck voted for Donald Trump.
“When I first met her, we hit it off instantly,” Chuck says about Brenda in a new video by WNYC on how to talk politics with a loved one when you deeply disagree with them. Somehow, despite a lot of arguing and more-than-occasional eye rolls, Brenda and Chuck have found a way to make their relationship work.
And they’re not the only ones.
CNN recently reported on another couple from Pennsylvania who have been married 37 years. He was voting for Clinton and she for Trump. “Oh yes,” they replied when asked if they actually love each other. “What are you gonna do?” she asked.
According to a survey of 1,249 adults conducted by The Guardian before the election, the divide between who spouses support politically has widened considerably since the 2012 election. Now that the election results are in, there are already reports of couples who backed different candidates and are choosing to split up.
How exactly do couples who vote so differently manage to stay together?
The simple answer is that it’s different for everyone. Brenda and Chuck try to find common ground, admit their flaws, and hash out contention over dinner. Speaking to couples during the primary election, Upworthy found others who do things like having a “politics-free zone” in the house, staying away from “hater” talk, and finding the fun in arguing.
It might be worth taking a cue from these couples if, in the coming weeks, you wind up in a political discussion with someone on the opposite side of the fence. Even if you can’t find common ground, productive conversations can happen if you and they remain open-minded and willing to listen.
The important thing is to have a discussion that feels right to both of you. And if either of you have trouble being respectful, it’s also OK to politely walk away.