What’s the most annoying thing your partner does? Do they leave the toilet seat up? Maybe they hog the remote or their snoring keeps you awake at night? However much you love them there will always be at least one thing about them which irritates you to your core. Recognising these flaws and being able to overlook them is part of a healthy relationship. It usually involves a large amount of deep breathing and an ability to hide your inner crazy: repeat after me “it is unacceptable to hit someone for chewing loudly”. But what if it’s not something your partner does which winds you up, it’s something they believe; should politics affect your relationship?
Gayle McCormick thinks so. The 73-year-old from California recently made headlines for leaving her husband of 22 years because he voted for Donald Trump. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “She was looking for an excuse to end it.” But Ms McCormick said she had no thoughts of leaving her husband before she found out and described his actions as a “deal breaker”. I wonder what the vows where like at their wedding. Till death do we part… unless the most divisive election in America’s history comes first.
To be honest, if my partner supported the disability-mocking, sexist, racist and outright insane human Wotsit, I would have trouble reconciling his political views with my own, but I wouldn’t leave him. Instead, after hearing his side, I would calmly explain to him why he is wrong and wish him a comfy sleep on the sofa.
However, like Ms McCormick some people are taking things a step further and cutting friends and family members out of their lives completely. According to a poll conducted during the election race, 13 per cent of people surveyed ended a relationship and 17 per cent blocked a friend or family member on social media due to their political opinions. And that was just in the run up to the election, I imagine the chasm between those who love and those who hate Trump has only increased since the inauguration.
The UK’s divorce from the EU has also challenged British couples teetering on the edge. Counsellors at the charity Relate reported that, in the wake of the referendum, there was an increase in the number of couples adding political differences to the list of reasons why they needed counselling.
People are not just drawing lines in the sand, they are digging trenches.
Politics is important, but it shouldn’t be the be all and end all of a relationship, whether that’s with a friend, family member or partner.
If you have left your partner for voicing opposite opinions to your own then your relationship probably wasn’t that strong to begin with or, dare I say it, you might want to find a step ladder to help you down from your high horse.
It’s the same with family and friends. You’re not going to stop loving your nan because she voted UKIP or stop hanging out with the girls on a Friday night because they think that Theresa May shouldn’t be Prime Minister. If you are then you need to re-evaluate your priorities.
Don’t get me wrong if someone is racist or sexist or takes any extreme actions due to their political views, then yes cut that person out of your life. But there is a difference between your partner voting leave and them ripping a niqāb off a Muslim woman in the street.
Relate counsellor Gurpreet Singh said: “Our values are hugely important to us, so when our partners don’t agree with them it can feel quite concerning. Despite this, some difference in beliefs and values can be a healthy thing as it can help to keep things interesting and help us to see things from a different perspective.”
The important thing is having a good sense of balance. Learn from each other instead of covering your ears. Remember, the deeper you dig that trench the further you’ll have to extend the olive branch in the end.