Relationship Politics: Right and Left

Politics + Relationship: Red State Husband-Blue State Wife

Don’t Let Political Arguments Threaten Your Marriage
When I was growing up my parents had opposing views on politics. My mother grew up during the depression, loved FDR and was committed to the Democratic Party. My father was a WWII veteran who liked Ike. They rarely talked politics at home. They reasoned: why vote since their votes would cancel out each other, so they agreed not to vote. True détente.

Sometimes ideological differences boil over into domestic tension. One couple, I treated, let’s call them Michael and Ava, were driven to the edge of divorce due to political turmoil. In our meetings, Ava referred to Michael derisively as Karl Marx. He snidely called her Ronald Reagan. Their relationship was nasty, with hyperbolic and hurtful rhetoric, and lacked any boundaries or empathy. They had forgotten who they were and why they loved each other. This frustrating dynamic threatened an otherwise happy union.

The work we did together stopped the disintegration of their marriage, which neither of them wanted. Michael and Ava negotiated several agreements to take tiny steps toward transformation to a more peaceful union. They agreed to:

-Turn off the TV news during meals

-Refrain from name calling

-Stop talking politics during meals

-End any discussion when either of them gave a time-out signal

-Attempt to recognize and respect the other partner’s position.

-Agree to disagree.

Take a lesson from the high profile political strategist couple, James Carville and Mary Maitlan. Carville worked for Bill Clinton, Maitlan for Dick Cheney. When these parents of two young children are seen together, both in and outside the political arena, it is evident that they keep their priorities straight. As far as I know, Carville and Maitlan haven’t let their political differences interfere with their life as a couple.

Remember to keep your eye on the prize: a deep, harmonious connection with your partner and family. At the end of the day, that’s what counts.


Jerry is a patient, warm-hearted therapist dedicated to guiding couples to breakthroughs. He has counseled individuals and couples for over 40 years, in a variety of settings. He received his Ph.D. in Psychology at Saybrook Institute in San Francisco and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology at Antioch New England University. Jerry co-authored Relationship Transformation: How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too with Mary Ellen Goggin — and they were married by chapter 3. Jerry brings a great depth and breadth of expertise to his work, and distills nuanced theories into actionable simplicity. He loves The New Yorker, dew-laden fairways, and dusty delta blues. His revolution: changing the world, one couple at a time. Read more about the retreats