My husband, Bart, and I are about to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. I have learned this past year that, in many ways, the first year of marriage is an adjustment period. There have been more good times than bad, fortunately, and today we have a much better understanding of (and deeper love for) one another than we did on our wedding day.
Bart and I knew going into our marriage that we have a lot of differences, which sometimes have created challenges. We root for opposing local sports teams; we like different foods; we prefer different forms of entertainment; and he’s a Republican while I’m a registered Independent who almost always votes Democrat.
This last point has been especially difficult in a contentious (I really mean nutso) election year. When Hillary Clinton stumped in our area in January, my mom and I went to hear her speak. My husband didn’t speak to me for three days afterward. Bart is a product of his conservative western Iowa environment and he’s never had to think differently before. Anyone who didn’t agree with his point of view was shrugged off. I was raised in western Iowa, too. My father is conservative, but my mother is from Europe and we traveled extensively when I was growing up, not to mention I lived in Chicago for 14 years. I’m a product of my environment, too.
Although Bart doesn’t agree with my political leanings, he realizes he can’t just shrug off his wife. He believes I’m smart. And I believe he’s smart. We both want what’s best for our country and what benefits us personally living in this country. Therefore, we’ve slowly started having intelligent conversations about our differing views. And guess what happened? We realized our views weren’t that different after all! Eureka!
In fact, thanks to Facebook, I found a quiz that underscored our similarities: ISideWith.com. We took the quiz together and found many of our answers were exactly the same on varying issues. The differences appeared when we answered questions relating to how the issues should be handled within (or without) the government. Ultimately, the quiz told us whom we should vote for based on our answers. For us, the real benefit of the quiz was seeing how alike we really are when it comes to the world around us.
Some days, I think we got married at the worst time—right before an election year—because our conversations can get heated. Other days, I think we got married at the best time. We’ve learned fairly quickly what comments will push the other’s buttons. And we’ve come to respect (and sometimes even agree with) the other’s perspective. I like to think this election is making us deeper, more thoughtful people. My husband is obviously thinking that, too. The other night, over dinner, I said, “Congress should shadow us for a month and learn how opposing viewpoints can work together successfully.” Bart simply said, “Maybe we’d make them better people, too.”