Monday, October 25, 2004

Politics often mixes bedfellows


A Democrat and a Republican may, indeed, find true happiness ... if they handle partisan differences well

By John Johnston
Enquirer staff writer

When Melanie Chavez marries Jeremy Campbell on the Saturday after Election Day, someone in her family of Democrats might be listening for this line: If anyone knows any reason why these two should not be wed, speak now ...

"They tease me all the time: 'You're marrying a Republican?!?' " says a smiling Chavez, 32.

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Election 2004 section

Yes, Chavez, a die-hard Democrat, is marrying Campbell, a rock-ribbed Republican. It happens. Love conquers all, you know.

But this has been an especially passionate political season. And as the nation has grown increasingly polarized, it's often difficult for people from opposite ends of the political spectrum to have civil discussions. Which begs the question: Can politically mixed couples stay coupled?

"It makes it trickier," says Donna Montgomery, a therapist with Clinical Counseling Services of Northern Kentucky in Crestview Hills.

People's political views typically reflect their core values, she says. And while a relationship need not hinge on sharing all those values, such differences can be significant.

How people address those differences is crucial.

"If people can be thoughtful and civil and kind in their discussions, that's fine," Montgomery says. "But if a couple finds that talking about (politics) gets them too heated and it spills over into how they treat one another, it's best just to agree to disagree and stay away from it."

Chavez and Campbell, who met six years ago, say they don't discuss politics much with each other. There's no need.

"There's going to be no mind-changing," says Campbell, who is 34 and manages a restaurant.

"Absolutely not," says Chavez, who works in her family's business, Parking Company of America. "We're both very opinionated, both independent. So we pretty much knew right off the bat, don't go there."

The Hyde Park couple watched the presidential debates, but not together. Campbell's nighttime work schedule prevented it.

"We've got them all on TiVo, so we could watch them together," Campbell says.

"No," Chavez says with a chuckle. "Because I just know what will happen. He'll be rolling his eyes and making comments the whole time."

Campbell, smirking slightly: "I don't do that at all."

Chavez says her family enjoys taking good-natured jabs at Campbell's political views. She says her father will be offering a toast at the wedding reception, "So if (John) Kerry wins, he is going to zing Jeremy."

"At my own wedding!" Campbell says. "If Bush loses, I gotta call the thing off."

He's kidding, of course.

The couple at least knows what they're up against.

"A lot of (couples) don't even think about (politics) until an election comes up," says Katrina Johnson, a therapist who practices in Clifton. "If it's something you haven't discussed or don't know about each other, that may be an issue."

Susan and Gene Salyer of Clermont County's Miami Township met late in 2000, after the fervor from the last presidential election had died down. They married two years ago, which means this is the first major election in their politically mixed marriage.

"I'm not going to get him to vote for Kerry," says Susan, 27, a lawyer and staunch Democrat. "He's not going to get me to vote for Bush. Sometimes it's better if we just don't talk about it."

Ah, but that can be tough, admits Gene, a Republican who is a regional manager for John Deere.

The couple watched several of the presidential debates together.

"I'm a loudmouth, so I make comments like crazy," Gene says. "She's very good about not instigating."

He adds: "It's never like a real argument. It's more like, my team is better than your team."

Montgomery says a couple's differing political views can be healthy, especially when it comes to raising children who can learn to appreciate opposing views. "If (couples) can keep it on a really thoughtful plane, it can be growth producing," the therapist says

Susan is pregnant, and the Salyers have a toddler, Jacob.

"He's a Republican," Gene says with a smile.

"He's a Democrat," Susan shoots back.

Then comes the compromise. Says Gene: "We'll probably raise Independents."

Dating online

Looking for Mr. Right? Try www.conservativematch.com ("for sweet hearts, not bleeding hearts," the Web site says).

Prefer a more liberal-leaning date? Visit www.democraticsingles.net ("where progressive thinkers can find a friend, or a partner who shares their world views," the Web site says).

Then there's www.LoveinWar.com, which started as a traditional dating site, but has evolved into an offbeat site open to anyone interested in politics, which is, as the site notes, "the greatest sport out there."

Politics of dating

Yahoo! Personals recently surveyed 2,577 men and women about the politics of dating. Some findings:

• Almost all Democrats (95 percent) and Republicans (97 percent) said they would not consider changing their political affiliation just because they were dating someone from the opposite party.

• Sixty percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans said it's important to know a person's political affiliation before going on a date.

• Passion can outweigh political views, said 67 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Democrats.

• Just more than half - 51 percent - of singles said they are willing to date someone with completely opposite political views.

• Talking politics on a first date is OK with 74 percent of singles, and 72 percent said they would tell who they voted for on a first date.

• Thirty-one percent said their opinion of someone would change if they learned their date had not registered to vote.

The survey's margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

E-mail jjohnston@enquirer.com




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