Married Couples Splitting Over Trump, Study Says

How Political Differences Are Causing Divorce

Married Couples Splitting Over Trump, Study Says

The old maxim goes: never talk politics or religion in polite company. It’s taken numerous forms over the years, but that’s the general gist. And it’s solid advice. People feel passionate about these topics and conversations often become heated. Friendships have ended for less.

It’s one thing if friends or coworkers have drastically different political beliefs. This often leads to difficult interactions in social situations or at your job. That’s hard enough to handle. But it’s something else when it’s your spouse.

In reality, politics and political leanings often have a huge impact on the stability of relationships and marriages. Ongoing political disagreements often lead to divorce. And it’s only getting worse.

With divisive political figures, most notably Donald Trump, and contentious issues cropping up on a regular basis, it’s increasingly common to see cases where politics cause divorce.

Related Reading: Has The Divorce Rate Ever Been 50%? Nope.

The Trump Effect

Popularized as “The Trump Effect,” the 45th President of the United States had a significant impact on divorce and relationships. He mobilized a wave of rabid supporters, creating a significant rift.

His presence in the Oval Office also had a substantial impact on personal relationships. Friendships ended, families were at odds, and marriages came to an end, all because of individual feelings toward the former POTUS.

One of the most highly publicized examples is the case of Gayle McCormick. The 73-year-old retired California prison guard divorced her husband of 22 years because he voted for Trump. She called it a “deal-breaker” and said she felt “betrayed.”

Related Reading: The Tax Plan Even Changed Spousal Support Payments

Younger Years

While McCormick’s case may be the most well known, she’s nowhere near the only one to react this way. In December 2016, a poll of 6000 people found that 16% of those who responded stopped talking to a friend or family member as a direct result of the election. 17% also said they blocked friends or family on social media for the same reasons.

Wakefield Research, a marketing firm, also conducted a similar survey. Their in-depth study of 1000 “nationally representative U.S. adults” found comparable results.

The collected data indicates that 11% of Americans, more than one in ten, have ended relationships over political differences.

For younger generations, this number climbs steeply.

  • According to the responses, 22% of Millennials, more than one-fifth, have ended a romantic relationship because of political strife.
  • 22% of people in the Wakefield survey know someone “whose marriage or relationship has been negatively impacted specifically due to President Trump’s election.”
  • This number skyrockets for younger people, spiking to 35% for Millennials.

Related Reading: Breaking Down Divorce By Generation

Political differences and Divorce

Politics and divorce often go hand in hand. Such disputes have always been a huge source of shattered marriages. That’s unly to change anytime soon. But what can you do if you and your spouse fall on opposite ends of the political spectrum?

Such conflict can kill relationships and lead to divorce. Can is the keyword.

Just because such differences often do cause conflict that ends marriages, that doesn’t mean they will. It’s not inevitable.

Every situation involves different people and no two play out exactly the same. If you and your spouse have political disagreements, whether that leads to divorce depends on you.

Some couples are able to work around opposing views. It may take time and effort, or even steps counseling, but it is possible. One approach is to focus on the values you share instead of those you don’t.

People from all walks of life, backgrounds, and political parties marry and lead happy lives. It happens all the time. But even if a couple can find a temporary solution, that may not be the best base for a successful marriage.

Related Reading: 6 Unexpected Divorce Assets

Ignorance is not Bliss

Pretending a disagreement doesn’t exist isn’t a great strategy. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. It may work in the short-term, but it can lurk under the surface and cause unseen, unacknowledged tension. In the end, burying it may only lead to a bigger fight down the road.

At some point, if you can’t find a way to comfortably live together, you may need to reexamine your marriage.

Some differences are simply too profound, too fundamental to get past. No matter how much you care about one another, you may need to take a long, hard look at your situation and give it an honest evaluation.

Can you continue to live with and love a person you disagree with on a basic, deep-down level? Only you can answer that question for yourself, but it’s one you need to figure out eventually. At some point, the detriments start to outweigh the benefits and it’s important to determine what you need and what’s in your best interest.

Related Reading: Divorce Statistics: Interesting & Surprising


Husband s Biden, wife s Trump; this election has tested the state of their union

Married Couples Splitting Over Trump, Study Says

Regan and Terry Long of Mooresville, NC (Photo: Courtesy of Regan Long)

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — At a party several years ago, Terry Long overheard something unsettling.

“Terry doesn’t know this,” his wife, Regan, said to a friend, “but I voted for Romney.” 

He was a life-long Democrat and believed Regan was too, one who wouldn't support a Republican presidential nominee. Yet ever since the Romney revelation, the North Carolina couple has lived openly in a politically divided marriage.

This election, he has a “Biden” magnet on his car and she sports a “Trump” magnet on hers. Each champions their views in lengthy posts. He donated to the Biden campaign, which Regan only discovered upon examining their bank statement.

“He knew I never would have consented,” she said.  

Regan, an author, sees a pro-life stance as a prerequisite for any candidate she supports. Terry, a health information consultant, is also pro-life — but considers abortion a piece of a broader policy puzzle.

The couple admits their 15-year relationship would benefit if they could stick to moratoriums on discussing the campaigns.

“We have an agreement every day, ‘We're not talking politics. We’re not talking politics,’” Terry said. “But I’m just as guilty as her of bringing it up.”

As their five children have developed political awareness, they too have picked sides — with the Longs' three daughters supporting mom’s politics while their oldest son sides with dad. At 16 months, their youngest remains apolitical.  

And even when they refrain from broaching politics among themselves, Terry and Regan must still contend with extended family members who hold a dizzying mix of Democratic and Republican allegiances and a penchant for arguing.  

This election, millions of Americans are voting, and millions of Americans are quarreling over who others should support. Some happen to be related. While this isn’t new — the troupe of an opinionated uncle at the Thanksgiving table does exist for a reason — the fallout families face over these differences has worsened as the discourse around modern American politics has intensified.  

“It’s bad right now,” said Terry, who has cut off contact with certain friends and family over politics this year. “We might have disagreed on policy in the past, but with this specific election, I think it’s more about morality than it is about policy.”

'A lot of chaos': Trump's rhetoric, a global pandemic and a tsunami of lawsuits complicate 2020 election

More:Over 50 million people have already voted. Here's how that compares with past elections.

The apple can fall far from the tree

While opposites can attract, it’s rare for married couples to hold completely clashing views on politics, said Arielle Kuperberg, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

“The couples that are politically different, they have so many arguments that they break up before they even get to marriage at a higher rate,” she said.

Kuperberg, whose research focuses on millennials, said it’s more common for familial political conflicts to be intergenerational.

“Young adults today are growing up in a much different context than their parents were growing up in,” she said.

A byproduct of the rapid social change seen in the 21st century, Kuperberg said, is that generations now have fewer shared experiences with other age groups, resulting in more disparate politics.

Half of all Americans are now millennials or younger. Baby boomers still constitute the largest slice of the electorate, but a higher percentage of eligible voters are members of Generation Z and millennials — all under 39.

Younger generations are more diverse and put greater value on issues around immigration, criminal justice and the environment. Polls show most millennials, and even more Gen Z voters, disapprove of President Donald Trump.

One of these millennials is Rob Walsh, an Asheville resident in his late 30s whose father, in Walsh’s words, “lives and dies on the hill of Trump.”

“I recognize that he helped make me who I am, and I would never change anything about that,” Walsh said of his father. “But at the end of the day, we both know that talking about politics with his hard line in the sand is impossible.”

Instead of bringing up politics, and invariably seeing the conversation devolve into a muddle of arguments, counterarguments, and claims of “Fake News”, Walsh enjoys talking to his father about their shared love of music.

“Young adults today are growing up in a much different context than their parents were growing up in.”

Arielle Kuperberg, professor of sociology at UNC-Greensboro

Avoiding the conflict-rich terrain of modern politics is a recommended tactic for those who want to enjoy their time with family and friends.

Conflict resolution scholars identify five forms of conflict resolution: collaborating, competing, accommodating, compromising, and avoiding. Most people address conflicts by avoiding them, said Sherrill Hayes, who teaches conflict management at Kennesaw State University outside of Atlanta. 

“Sometimes I think it’s OK for people to avoid,” he said. “If you’re avoiding a problem now, you might be able to better engage with it later. if you’re really, really angry, it might be better to take a pause.”

Yet sometimes relatives can’t sidestep their political differences.

Holly Johnson, 42, has long been at odds with her parents’ conservative political beliefs. In recent years, these differences created a starker schism, as Johnson’s son came out as gay.

“Since the Obama administration, it took a turn,” she said. “Over the last four years, it’s gotten almost hostile, and we are now officially at the point where we can’t even communicate.”

Withstanding their differences 

Terry and Regan Long have plenty in common.

Since meeting in college, they’ve constructed a life together, sharing goals —  having a big family and traveling — while focusing on their children and faith. They chauffeur their kids to sports practice, juggle homeschooling duties and work from home. Devout Catholics, they each pray daily and attend church weekly.

“We feel our lives move 75 mph, 24/7,” Regan said. “Those are a lot of things that keep us knitted together.”

their parents, the Long children have split their political allegiances (Photo: Courtesy of Regan Long)

Still, the 2020 Election has strained their relationship with higher-decibel exchanges, as neither take the stakes of modern politics lightly.

Regan believes abortion is an unconscionable act. Terry believes Trump is an unconscionable person. Their marriage is strong enough to withstand the weight of these intimate emotions, but some of their friendships have succumbed to the pressure.

Terry said he used to debate politics with people and then go grab a beer with no lingering ill will, as if they were just squabbling over his beloved Buffalo Bills and a rival football team. Now, he can’t help but hold resentment whenever someone voices support for the president.   

“I feel I’m cutting a lot of people my circle in this specific election just because I’m just so shocked that people that I’m very close with and I care about can support our current president,” he said.

Through , they’ve heard from other couples them, half Democrat and half Republican, who extol establishing rules that limit intermarriage political discussions.

But knowing each other well, and knowing how well they'd follow such rules, Regan and Terry instead just wait, with anticipation, for this election to be over.    

Follow Brian Gordon on @briansamuel92.

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The Trump Effect: Can Politics Cause Divorce?

Married Couples Splitting Over Trump, Study Says

UPDATED: It’s taken many forms over the years, but the saying goes, never talk religion or politics in polite company. Etiquette manuals cite this maxim, and even Peanuts creator Charles Schulz had a version. Though his added the Great Pumpkin to the mix.

Regardless of the source, it’s sound advice. These are loaded topics that people feel strongly about one way or the other. Conversations of this nature often become heated and cause conflict. If you’re not looking to start a row, it’s best to leave them off the table.

It’s easy enough to avoid these topics in social settings or during a night out. But it’s not so simple in every situation. For instance, at home.

What if you and your spouse have drastically different political beliefs? How often does politics cause divorce or negatively impact relationships? The truth is, it happens fairly often, increasingly so in the current political climate.

The 2020 Presidential election is shaping up to be one of, if not the most divisive in United States history. The mudslinging has already started and it’s not even fall yet. There’s a long way to go until November.

These rifts can be especially damaging when they occur within your own home. But just how often do politics and political differences end marriages?

Related Reading: 7 Things to Do Before Starting a Divorce

By The Numbers

McCormick is far from alone. A poll of over 6000 people taken between December 2016 and January 2017 found that 16% of those who responded stopped talking to a friend or family member after the election. This extends to the world of social media as well. 17% of people said they blocked friends or family on the same grounds.

Marketing firm Wakefield Research conducted an in-depth survey of 1000 “nationally representative U.S. adults” with similar results.

  • The responses revealed that 11% of Americans, more than one every ten, have ended relationships over political clashes.
  • This rises sharply with younger generations. 22% of Millennials reported ending a romance over political disagreements. Many over Trump.
  • They found that more than 1 in 5 Americans (22%), including 35% of Millennials, know a couple whose marriage or relationship has been negatively impacted specifically due to President Trump’s election.

Related Reading: Can an Ugly Divorce Get Me Fired?

What To Do

Differing political views can obviously impact a marriage or relationship. It can be Trump or it can be something entirely unrelated. In some instances, there’s a direct correlation where politics cause divorce. But what can you do if you and your spouse hold opposite views on important political topics?

As illustrated by the statistics, such disagreements kill many relationships. There are cases where politics cause divorce. Whether or not you and your spouse have the ability to work around this depends on the situation.

Some couples can compromise or figure a way to work around these opposing views. It may take a great deal of effort or even measures counseling, but it’s often possible. One strategy is to focus on the values you do share rather than those you don’t.

People with different political stances can remain happily married. But not everyone. Some couples can figure a workaround on a short-term or temporary basis.

However, this isn’t always a good base for a happy, healthy marriage. Even if two people can coexist, these disagreements may simmer beneath the surface and lead to resentment.

Suppressing them may only do more damage.

At some point, if you and your spouse can’t find a way to live happily ever after, you may have to reevaluate your relationship. You may need to take a long, hard, honest look at your situation.

Ask yourself if you can live with a person who you disagree with in such profound ways. Only you know the answer for sure. Eventually, if the conflict continues, the negatives may start to outweigh the positives. This is just one way politics cause divorce and harm relationships.

Related Reading: How to Find the Best Divorce Lawyer


Studies: Political Differences Contribute to Divorce

Married Couples Splitting Over Trump, Study Says

When you are getting married, you are making a conscious decision to accept your partner for all that they are. You have gotten to know the ins and outs of their personality, and by the time you say your ‘I dos’, you can name their favorite movie, their favorite band, and even their favorite show to binge-watch on Netflix.

However, many couples find themselves experiencing marital problems over their polarizing political views. As of late, divorces caused by political differences are becoming more and more public.

The Aronbergs

A recent divorce between a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, Lynn Aronberg, and her husband, Dave Aronberg was highlighted in recent headlines. Lynn said she felt increasingly isolated in her marriage, due to her husband’s differing political leanings and opinions of specific elected officials.

Lynn currently runs an international public relations firm, which publicized the separation, according to The Hill. She was seen on social media in photos with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania at an event.

In their divorce settlement, Lynn is receiving nearly $100,000 worth of benefits in exchange for the finalization of the divorce and is calling for Dave to pay for half of Lynn’s rent in a luxury condo in Boca Raton, Florida until next summer, according to the Palm Beach Post. She also is receiving a brand new BMW and $40,000 in cash.

According to these reports, Dave, a top prosecutor in Palm Beach County, Florida, is considering a run for the United States House of Representatives, as a member of the Democratic party.

Wakefield Research study

While many divorces motivated by fundamental philosophical differences do not find themselves to be as public as Lynn and Dave Aronberg, they are nonetheless occurring. According to a recent Wakefield Research study, 29 percent of Americans either married or in a relationship acknowledged the current political climate was causing tension with their partner.

The study also found that more than one in ten Americans (11 percent) has ended a romantic relationship over political differences. That number increases among millennials with 22 percent having broken up with someone over polarizing political views.

Yale study

A study from Yale University, publicized by the Washington Post and Psychology Today, examined how common “mixed” political marriages are by studying a database of more than 18 million couples and their voter registration records.

They found that 70 percent of married couples were made up of individuals of the same political affiliation and were somewhat more ly to be Republican than Democrat, while nearly 30 percent of all married couples studied were of a mixed party affiliation.

In “mixed” political marriages, three percent of married couples are female Republicans married to male Democrats, while six percent of the married couples are male Republicans with female Democrats.

This makes it so that almost one in ten married couples contain both a Republican and a Democrat.

According to the study, 19 percent of married couples are a Republican or a Democrat with a registered independent.

While only 30 percent of the marriages being monitored in this study being of “mixed” political leanings, it happens frequently enough that boundaries within the marital relationship can be quickly set up, in order to avoid marital conflict.

Difficulty of understanding

However, if these boundaries ever get crossed, a divide in the relationship may begin to form.

This type of divide creates tension within the interpersonal relationship in a similar fashion as any other difference that sets up a paradigm where one side feels the need to make the other side “see it their way,” according to Psychology Today. The act of convincing is the part that can create the tension itself.

Despite the differences in political opinions, there are people out there that are able to allow others to be different. It requires a level of open-mindedness and patience, giving other people the benefit of the doubt. This is assuming that there is something valid in their viewpoint, as well as in your own. It requires the ability to keep your emotions calm.

Understanding can be a hard concept for people of differing political viewpoints, and it can get even more difficult during the marital conflicts that can spark a divorce.

The emotions of what a city, county, state, or country could be facing weigh on those with passionate political opinions, and those can often be placed above what is felt in the relationship, making the relationship very difficult to be self-sustaining.

The Moraleses

This was the case for Daniel Morales, who is pursuing a divorce with his wife during the 2016 presidential election. According to the New York Daily News, they had always argued about immigration, but when then-candidate Trump made a speech denouncing Mexican immigrants in 2015, the divide grew.

Morales, a Costa Rican immigrant living in New York, noticed his wife siding with the Republican candidate more often, while he began siding with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton more often, creating continuous conflict. After the election, he announced their divorce on .

Awareness of political leanings

Attorneys and marriage counselors have been called on to handle these situations. Many of them have not come across so many at the same time. New York-based attorney and psychology of divorce specialist Lois Brenner told Fox Business that she has never seen so many couples fighting over politics in her 35 years of matrimonial practice.

She sees the divide rooted in narcissism, an antisocial personality disorder, and even obsessive compulsive disorder, due to her perception that spouses come across as being in need of agreement with one another.

However, more and more people are becoming more aware of the political leanings of those in their lives. They are beginning to understand how one another feel regarding an issue or a candidate and are becoming more active in forming their political voice.

While this may create tension within relationships, the couples at odds need to rely on the existing trust established between the two of them and give one another the benefit of the doubt. Because without that type of trust, it is difficult to sustain a healthy relationship.

Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.

com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on Mr.

Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.

Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future.

He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.


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