How the 2020 election is affecting couples

Jeanne Safer is voting for Joe Biden. Her husband Richard Brookhiser is not.

"I have no reason to vote for him," Brookhiser said. "I don't agree with him on anything."

While Brookhiser, who is a senior editor at the conservative magazine National Review, doesn't support President Donald Trump, he is a longtime Republican.

After more than 40 years, he and Safer, a true-blue liberal, have learned to put their political differences aside.

"We've been canceling out each other's votes for an awfully long time now," said Safer, a psychoanalyst.

In a time when the temperature of politics is at an all-time high, couples around the country who are splitting their votes have to decide whether they can stay together, and some realize they can't.

Ken Jewell, a Manhattan divorce attorney, said that political tensions are heightened right now. While conflicting politics alone doesn't drive splits, it does contribute, he said.

"In about 50% of my cases... politics have played a bigger role in those cases," Jewell said.

Couples therapist Josh Jonas, the clinical director at the Village Institute, said that people have made their politics "very, very personal."

"So it's no longer, 'I disagree with your thoughts,' it's, 'I disagree with you,'" he said.

Jonas said that the divide over politics is so great right now that trying to avoid the topic with a significant other, friend or colleague only works to an extent.

"The more you say, 'Don't talk about X,' the more someone can say, 'Oh, I need to talk about X,' so that idea can backfire," he said.

Safer saw so many politically-mixed couples struggling, she wrote a book called "I Love You, But I Hate Your Politics."

Her first piece of advice: don't try to change your partner's mind.

"You can't, period," she said. "People change their own minds but you're not going to do it."

She and Brookhiser accepted that long ago and have decided there are some things they just don't talk about. Politics, she said, doesn't define the person.

"People on the other side are not all monsters and not everybody who agrees with you is someone you want to have a relationship with," she said.

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