Archive for Sunday, October 31, 2004

Election no picnic for husbands, wives who disagree

October 31, 2004

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— They have the same taste in food and music and movies, and share the same warped sense of humor. But bring up politics, and a chasm of contrast appears between Jennifer Nugent and husband James Worley.

Nugent, a Democrat, and Worley, a Republican, enter the final days of the election season with a political adversary by their side.

While the Kansas City couple is cohabiting just fine, across the country, thousands -- perhaps even millions -- of couples have found a contentious presidential campaign has highlighted differences among them.

The race between President Bush and Democratic opponent John Kerry has ignited passionate political debates in homes that never saw them before. Some disenfranchised singles are turning to services that match them only with a partner of the same political background. And some couples are so incensed by their ideological differences they've sought counseling.

Sonia and Tim Lona, of Kansas City, have been together since 1999 and married for four years, but politics never entered their relationship until about 2002. Now they find it frequently comes up.

"He'll get all red in his face. His eyes bulge out, the vein in his forehead starts throbbing," said Sonia Lona, a 26-year-old Republican. "He'll just work himself up."

Tim Lona, a 38-year-old small business owner, assumed for quite some time his Mexican-American wife shared his political views because he believed most Latinos were Democrats like him.

The couple is used to disagreements -- they have opposite likes in everything from food to sports to finances. But politics may anger Tim Lona most of all.

"It drives me up the wall," he said. "It drives me absolutely nuts."

Tony Jurich, a relationships expert at Kansas State University who counsels couples at the school's Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic, says politics is coming up more frequently as a source of arguments.

"We are more divisive today than we have been before," Jurich said. "People are more likely to cast stones at the other side, not only as being different and therefore someone they disagree with, but also being someone who is absolutely immoral."

But many relationships between people of different political persuasions do work, Jurich said. And couples that think they need counseling because of their political differences often have other problems in their relationship.

Polls show Americans are willing to overlook one's political affiliation if sparks fly. A recent Gallup survey commissioned by Match.com found 57 percent of participants were open to marrying someone with significantly different political views. A survey by another Internet dating site, iMatchup.com, found 81 percent did not care about the politics of a potential date.

"Singles do not disqualify potential mates just because they do not share the same political beliefs," said Dan Levine, iMatchup's managing director. "Love really does conquer all -- even politics."

Still, April Masini, an online advice columnist who wrote the book "Date Out of Your League," believes many people are finding they'd rather be with someone of the same politics. She recently launched two singles sites, DatingRepublicans.com and DatingDemocrats.com, to capitalize on that.

"There is certainly a myth that opposites attract," Masini said. "But eventually, unless you just like to fight, you're going to be bickering or you're going to avoid conversations."

Nugent and Worley have decided they're better off trying to keep political talk to a minimum.

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