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The marriage problem that comes every four years

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 4 2012 4:05 p.m. MDT

Political differences can put a strain on any relationship, from friend or family, but it is particularly marked within a marriage.

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Our take: Political differences can put a strain on any relationship, from friend or family, but it is particularly marked within a marriage. The Wall Street Journal explores how mixed-party marriages can safely — and lovingly — navigate the election cycle.

As Isaac Pollak, an ardent Republican, kissed his wife goodbye before heading out on a business trip to Asia several years ago, he handed her his absentee ballot for the coming presidential election and asked her to mail it.

Bonnie Pollak, a Democrat, weighed her options. Should she be loyal to her spouse, respect his legal right and mail the ballot? Or remain faithful to her deeply held beliefs and suppress his vote?

"It was a real dilemma," says Ms. Pollak, 58 years old, a student in a doctoral program in social welfare who lives in Manhattan. "I decided to do the right thing."

Ms. Pollak threw the ballot away.

This might be the toughest mixed marriage to navigate: one between a Republican and a Democrat. Each partner is typically dug in. And — just like the talking heads on cable news — spouses can enter your living room and proselytize 24/7, if they wish.

Of course, the election season, now in full swing, poses a serious threat to relationships between people with different political views. For some, it's a cyclical (think two-year or four-year) peril. When it feels like our entire future is at stake, we often become intolerant of others whose views differ from ours — even those we love the most.

Read more about navigating the election cycle on The Wall Street Journal.

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