If you think love and marriage is hard, try love and politics.
That's the challenge Margaret Brogan Eastham offers couples who luckily see eye-to-eye on the presidential election.
"If only there was a support group for people like me: 'Hi, my name is Margaret and I'm married to a Republican,' " the Obama supporter wrote in a first-person account for Yahoo News.
She and her husband, Stephen, have weathered 25 years of politics together.
"You don't get to stay together that long without learning to respect and deal with differences," she says.
Yahoo News asked couples this week to share the pitfalls and perks of loving someone who is, of course, clearly wrong on the economy, health care, social issues and more. Here are some of their stories.
For Margaret and Stephen, a suburban Atlanta couple in their early 50s, chatting about politics wasn't always so laborious. Before 2000, when pundits began obsessively coloring maps in various hues of red and blue, she says they discussed politics and found common ground.
"I remember fondly those days … when there was a grayscale of political opinion," Margaret says.
Protecting the peace means picking safe political topics—"hair styles and gaffes are OK"—and eschewing others—"economics and the Middle East are not." Her survival tips? Enjoy the election like it's reality TV, laugh at politicians' mistakes and mannerisms, and call out both candidates when they dodge questions. Treating it like a game (they even keep track of points) helps because she says they're not going to change each other's mind.
"It's pointless to try," she says.
"Come Election Day, one of us will get a conciliatory hug and the other will discreetly close themselves in the closet and do a happy dance."
Cheryl Anne Molle and her boyfriend, Ramon, try to avoid talking politics altogether. No debates. No trying to change the other's mind. No arguing women's rights (her important issue) or the economy (his top concern). But with fewer than three weeks to Nov. 6, the Philadelphia lovebirds, both 21, find side-stepping the campaign is impossible.
And recently, it boiled over, as told by Cheryl:
Just last week, after a long day of hearing my coworkers' political opinions (some of which irritated me beyond words), I took all of my bottled-up comments and railed them at Ramon.
"Why are you voting for Romney?" I asked.
"You really want to talk about this?" he replied, shaking his head.
He laughed. I was infuriated; I didn't find it one bit funny.
Naturally, I yelled, "It's not funny! Don't you care about me and my rights as a woman?! I can't believe you're such a conservative! I might as well be with a 90-year-old!"
Ramon walked over to me and kissed me on the forehead. "Please don't leave me for a 90-year-old," he jokingly pleaded.
I mustered up the meanest look I could and shot it right at him, though I felt myself succumbing to his adorable attitude.
"Look," he continued, "I have my reasons for voting for Romney, like you have your reasons for voting for Obama. It's nothing against you or other women, and you know that."
Deep down, I did know his strongest reasons for voting Republican were his economic concerns, so I said nothing.
"I love you even if you are a liberal," he said. With a resigned tone, I replied, "I know. I love you too—even if you're not 90."
How do you know when it's love?
When your candidate utters a now-infamous remark about 47 percent of the country and your boyfriend (a Democrat, by the way) doesn't pile on.
"Brian didn't rake me over the coals for it," Estere Ramsey, a 46-year-old Republican in Edgefield, S.C., writes about her boyfriend.
"I was crushed," she says. "I didn't know how to respond to the accusations of Romney being a liar." But Brian, 37, talked with her about it instead. "Opposing voters in a relationship do make for interesting bedmates."
It's the second presidential election for Estere and Brian, together for seven years now, and they apply the age-old relationship salve: "We just agree to disagree."
"It's part of the fun—choosing opposing sides—that makes the election fun for us," Estere says.
Alyssa Phillips, 27, and her husband, Anthony, 34, have never been big on politics. But after a recent move to Las Vegas, they promised themselves they'd watch the debates.
Deciding the winner was easy: He's a Republican who supports Romney, and she's an independent who is "still clutching to hope that Obama might see re-election."
She and Anthony play a game of political-advertising one-upsmanship. Alyssa writes:
While watching television the other night, Anthony pops his head over his computer screen and says, "That's it I'm voting for Romney." After recovering from choking on my spoonful of soup, I try to not show my displeasure and ask, "Why?" His response killed me: "I'm voting for Romney because all the commercials bash him, and not one bashes Obama."
Yep. Lost my soup laughing a second time. I have noticed there are more pro-Obama ads on the Internet than on TV. However, I have also noticed way more pro-Romney ads on TV than on the Internet. Deeming it is next to impossible to get my husband to sit through a 30-minute show of any kind without being distracted, I have yet to be able to prove my point.
Surely, this is a fight neither of us is going to win.
"We just can't agree," Orlando, Fla., resident Susan Crofton writes. "My emails from my husband used to consist of sweet messages. Now, I get scary pictures of [Joe] Biden being compared to the Joker from the Batman movies."
Their stark disagreements fall along partisan lines: Her husband, Matthew, believes Obama has wrecked the economy and turned the country toward socialism. Obamacare is a joke to him. Susan believes the country can't be fixed in four years and supports the president's focus on education, the middle class, small business and health care.
So, the couple, both 38, set ground rules:
"We recently had to decide what was more important—our marriage or the campaign. We devised these rules together:
1. We shut off our cable until the election is over.
2. We don't discuss it any longer with one another.
3. We turn off the radio, Facebook, etc. and take a technological cleanse."
"It may seem drastic to some," she says, "but I'd rather take a break in the election than tell our friends and family we got a divorce over the presidential campaign. We won't change our opinions, so why hurt our marriage over it? The only thing agreed on: The value of our marriage was more important than our political opinion."
Tamara McRill and her fiancé, Mike, watch the presidential debates. Separately.
They both learned that lesson after fighting over the 2008 debates between then-Sen. Obama and Sen. John McCain.
"Not that watching separately kept me from hearing all about how Romney won the first debate. To be honest, I even admitted I agreed," Tamara writes.
Their biggest clashes are over the economy and health care: She agrees with Obama that sweeping tax cuts cause debt. He says Romney's tax-cut plan will spur growth. She looks forward to Obamacare helping others. He dismisses mandates.
It's the second election go-round for the small-town Illinois couple (he's 38, she's 32), so they're past 2008 when Mike, she says, swore he'd move out if she voted Democratic. Now they avoid that minefield:
"We bond over mocking the political ads (although we both got a kick out of the Big Bird one), and how these sometimes skew the facts. Mostly we value our relationship enough to try and not make it personal when we do disagree."
Tiffany Bailey backs Obama on health care; her husband Matt opposes mandates. He thinks Romney can better tackle unemployment; she says the president is more suited to cleaning up the economic mess.
It's the first presidential election for the couple. And they've already placed a moratorium on political chatter for two reasons: Arguing only upsets the other and nothing one says will persuade the other.
"My marriage will not be ruined over an election," Tiffany, of Sandwich, Ill., writes. "Not now, not ever."
Their detente was forged after the Oct. 3 debate. Tiffany, 28, says she's still upset over the Big Bird remark. Matt, 30, insists Romney won. She disagreed, and they went to bed angry.
Yet, she says "no matter whom we vote for, it doesn't mean we value the other's opinions any less. Once the election is over, the winning spouse will gloat, no doubt, but it will all be in fun."
- Politics & Government