Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Spouses and Voting

[updated version now posted at The Exponent]
I've been so busy lately, I was worried that I would forget today was election day so I put it into my calendar w/ alarms to go off and remind me throughout the day (yes, I have missed an election before. /facepalm!)

Turns out I didn't need alarms; I just returned from my local poll. But it did bring up a few thoughts.

Things being so busy lately, DH and I never got the chance to sit down and talk about any of the candidates or the propositions. No biggie. We tend to vote differently on many things so this is not a "making sure we're on the same page" process, it's just a way for us to talk about what's on the ballot.

And that's what was on my mind this morning, the fact that it is OKAY for husbands and wives to vote differently.

Perhaps you feel differently about this; it seems that a lot of couples I know say things like "well, I want to make sure our votes aren't canceling each other out." But.. maybe someone out there can explain to me what is so wrong with that? I mean... that is what VOTING is all about, right? What's wrong with husbands and wives having different opinions about political stuff?

My strong feelings on this are motivated in part because of a memory: One election day, years ago, I dropped by a loved one's house when she happened to be listening to her messages. One of the messages was from her husband; it was a detailed list of who and what she was to vote for when she went to the polls. I was aghast and my horror must have shown on my face because she explained: ".....He knows so much more about these things than I do... he is so much more informed and well read......"

That's probably my issue with the notion that couples have to "be on the same page" when voting. I am pretty sensitive to gendered relationships in marriages, who has the spoken (or unspoken) right to the last word, etc.

So anyhow... I'm curious, how does voting (and political stuff in general) work in your relationships?


Miss Snow said...

I admire my Dad. I asked him when I was a teenager who he was going to vote for. He said, "The best choice". I asked him who that was going to be. He said that each person needs to make the choice based on their conscience and who they think is the best person for the job. He never did tell me. It was his way of saying, "Be informed and make your decision". I admire my Dad. He is a man of integrity and a strong believer that we, as individuals, are armed with the gift of choice. He did, however, say that accountability must be taken into account when making choices. So....I guess...I never really thought about couples voting the same way before. My Dad just said it is important to be informed and vote...so voting differently never seemed like an issue - just that we should vote for who we believed was the best candidate.

derekstaff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
derekstaff said...

Luv and I are largely on the same page politically. But honestly, I kind of love it when our votes differ. I'm a passionate, vocal person. It reassures me that she is making up her own mind rather than just mirroring the things I say or do,giving in to my dominant personality. I would probably not love it so much if she was voting diametrically opposite me, but the little variation is nice.

EmilyCC said...

I think more often than not dh and I vote differently. The last election I was actually pretty desperate to keep him away from the polls b/c there were some candidates and propositions I was rather passionate about. I swear that just made him more determined to vote. Sigh...

G said...

Miss Snow, your Dad sounds like an amazing man :)

Derek~ heh, yah, that's what my DH and I are like: mostly the same, some small differences that don't bother either of us.

which leads to EmilyCc~ HA! and wow, sounds intense. But I respect couples fighting/arguing/debating over the issues and candidates. How do you guys deal with being on apposing sides of sensitive topics? Do they just become "no go" zones?

Th. said...


Our votes tend to align, oh, about 90%. We stay up late figuring out the tricky or obscure ones and tend to arrive in the same place as we're working together, but not always. We vote more alike now than we used to and our differences both us less.

dbd said...

Your "on the same page" got me thinking on a slight tangent. Most Home Owners Associations work (roughly) on the One House, One Vote principle, forcing a "on the same page" (or nothing I suppose) vote. I wonder how well that works for couples?

BTW, DW and I talk about issues, candidates and so forth but have never said "Vote for X" to each other. [Although I did ask her to vote for me when I ran for state delegate 10 years ago]

Carla said...

We're both pretty liberal, so I'm pretty sure we were voting all the same. And we tend to talk a lot about issues in general, so election time isn't much different from the rest of the year.

My parents never tried to push anything on us; I think I was in high school before I even realized they were democrats! haha! In my family we don't really talk about voting much. I guess we see it as a private decision.

Unless my husband was voting for someone who was blatantly prejudiced and bigoted I don't think it would matter much to me.