I am currently in a long-distance relationship. My boyfriend of over a year is not only my best friend, but also my life. How do I tell him that I am going to vote for a Democratic candidate and “let him do the registering” on election day?
— A young woman
My first instinct in light of your question is to advise you to ignore your boyfriend’s requests. “Be thankful that he supports your politics,” I would say. “And keep your emotional engagement with him limited to discussing the election from a non-activist point of view.” However, I’m thinking that you may have a reasonable excuse for taking his “volunteer” position. Your relationship is highly dynamic. It is not in your interests to risk your relationship by taking a stand. As for “letting him do the registering,” I’m happy to point out that it’s up to the polling place to ask a voter if you wish to register. For a young woman who is already starting to feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of the vote, that would be a gift from my Uncle Morty!
My husband and I are both undecided on who we’ll vote for in the 2020 presidential election. It’s important to me that he find out sooner rather than later, but at the same time, I really don’t want to tell him. We have different views about how and when to tell him. How would you address the issue?
— Questioning husband
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Questioning,
First, your husband should ask you if you’d consider not telling him if it were necessary to keep his interest in the election (and your relationship) alive. If you decide against it, I hope he doesn’t just assume that because you made that decision, he’ll be glad. He should work to understand your reasons so that he can effectively mediate the tension between his desire to share your views and your desire to keep your own feelings inside. My best advice: Relax. For most couples, understanding the other’s point of view helps them work through our differences. Especially in a modern relationship, people, especially those in power roles, need to gain a better understanding of each other’s different viewpoints in order to maintain a healthy dynamic.
Couples who acknowledge their differences find ways to agree to disagree, to accommodate each other’s differing feelings and perspectives, so that they can manage conflict and keep their relationship healthy and passionate. In that way, we learn more about ourselves and each other and find ways to work through problems, become better partners and grow closer. That’s how you’ll know you’re not giving your man a passing grade on your election day voting.
Lastly, I think it’s important that your husband understand that he’s likely to come under some pressure from family and friends when he leaves for work at 6 a.m. to register voters. At the same time, it would be wise for him to prepare for those pressures before his wife drops him off at the polls.