13 things couples who disagree politically know to be true.

Before the 2016 presidential election season began, most American relationships looked like this.

Ah, to be in love. Photo via iStock.


Now, after nearly a year of wall-to-wall, 24/7 politics, here's what many of those same relationships look like:

Breaker one-nine? Photo by Cameron Strandberg/Flickr.

Yes, since the race for the White House kicked off in earnest, far too many romantic partnerships have gone down in flames — over an ill-timed assertion that Donald Trump actually has some good ideas; that Hillary Clinton is an evil, conniving, tax-and-spend liberal, corporate shill, crypto-conservative, secret socialist, liar, unredeemable she-demon whose one facial expression that one time disqualifies her from the presidency; or that John Kasich is strangely attractive in a median dad kind of way.

But it doesn't have to be that way!

Even if you're the world's biggest Ted Cruz booster and your significant other is the last remaining Martin O'Malley holdout, take heart! You can still make it work!

How do I know? There are couples all over this country doing it right now.

And I talked to some of them:

Pam and Bill Atkinson (top left), Rick Taft and Kristi Tollefson-Taft (top right), Bob Miller and Marilyn Cote Miller (bottom left), Rachelle Brady (bottom right). All photos used with permission.

Here are 13 of their secret tips for navigating a relationship with a partner who is so clearly, obviously, totally, 100% wrong about everything:

1. Find a common enemy.

Kristi Tollefson-Taft and Rick Taft. Photo by Kristi Tollefson-Taft, used with permission.

Longtime Obama supporter Kristi Tollefson-Taft told Upworthy that she used to chafe at her husband Rick's libertarian-conservative opinions until they both realized they'd rather listen to each other than the scream-ier voices from their respective parties.

"The loudest are the extremes from both sides. We talk about that a lot," Kristi said.

2. Don't drink the #haterade.

Marilyn Cote Miller and Bob Miller. Photo by Marilyn Cote Miller and Bob Miller, used with permission.

"I can disagree with somebody’s policy without taking it to the level of hate," Bob Miller told Upworthy. He, a longtime Republican, and his wife Marilyn, a Bernie Sanders supporter, almost never fight about politics despite differing on plenty of big issues.

The secret? They banned the word "hate" from their Tampa, Florida-area home — and aren't too proud to resort to bribery to enforce the embargo.

"My mother would often say, ‘I hate that actor’ or ‘I hate that ... anything,'" Marilyn said. "And Bob would say, ‘Jane, every time you say “hate,” I’m gonna charge you a quarter because we just don’t like the word.’ And so my mother started saying, ‘I strongly dislike…’ We did get her to stop using the word hate!"

3. Recognize that not agreeing on everything can actually be kind of fun and interesting sometimes.

No opinions lightly held among meerkats. Photo by Wensbos/Pixabay.

While the Millers debated the pros and cons of Obamacare along with the rest of the country, they never really came to a consensus — and they prefer it that way.

"How we actually resolved it is: We don’t resolve it," Marilyn said. She explained that not always seeing eye-to-eye has been a positive force in their relationship.

"I read a quote years ago. Years and years ago. Maybe 30 years ago. And I had it on my refrigerator forever, and it says, ‘If two people always agree, one of them isn’t thinking.’ And I love it," Marilyn said.

4. Designate a "politics-free zone" in your house. Even if it's the whole house.

Bill and Pam Atkinson. Photo by Bill and Pam Atkinson, used with permission.

That's what Pam and Bill Atkinson of Bloomington, Illinois, did — initially so they could have their (mostly Democrat-leaning) friends over without everyone going home angry.

"They don’t want to hear me be correct so much, being a Republican," Bill, a Donald Trump supporter, joked to Upworthy.

Pretty soon, the couple, who, according to Pam, disagree on "most everything," realized it was a good rule to abide by all the time. So they designated their whole house a "politics-free zone."

"We just don’t like to argue," Bill said.

5. If you do wind up debating each other, have a sense of humor about it.


Kennedy v. Nixon. Photo by United Press International/Wikimedia Commons.

Not liking to argue, however, doesn't prevent the Atkinsons from, well ... arguing. No more than 90 seconds into our conversation, the couple started going back and forth about the economic impact of a local prison.

"See! This is how it starts, and then it just goes downhill from there," Pam said, laughing.

Everyone seemed delighted, and no one's feelings appeared hurt. Sense of humor? Check.

6. On election nights, do something besides watch the news.

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no law requiring couples to stay home every Tuesday during primary season staring at their 24-hour news network of choice while making snide comments under their breath at one another.

Lucky for the Atkinsons, they realized this early on and decided it wasn't healthy for their relationship.

“Instead of staying home [on Super Tuesday] and watching the news or watching something, we’re gonna go to the Normal Theater to go see ‘The Quiet Man,'" Bill said.

7. You don't need to tell each other who you're voting for.

Clinton photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images. Trump photo by Rhona Wise/Getty Images.

Not only do Pam and Bill Atkinson rarely talk politics at home, but Pam has resolved to never, ever tell Bill who she's voting for.

It's so important to her that she would not reveal her choice for this article — even after Bill offered to leave the room.

"She never tells me. Even when it comes to presidential elections, she won’t tell me!" Bill said.

8. If you have to tease each other, make sure it's actually loving, not pretend-loving-but-actually-snarky.

"THIS IS HOW I EXPRESS MY AFFECTION DO YOU LOVE IT?!" Photo via iStock.

"The only thing I’ve said, and I posted it on Facebook, was that I used my vote to cancel out his," Pam said, laughing again.

9. Frame your political discussions as something you do together as a couple.

"We’ve been doing a lot of surmising, and political analyzation and sociological and psychological analyzation of the country at the moment," Kristi Tollefson-Taft said.

"Oh, I got a good one, Carl. Grass. Yay or nay?" Photo by nuzree/Pixabay.

The Tafts said they try hard not to impose their own beliefs on their children and prefer to teach them to think and talk critically about politics — and to always question their own biases.

"It became very clear that we need to tell them that there are numerous opinions on subjects and they should have, in their toolbox, ways to make their own judgments," Kristi said.

10. Make sure to remind yourself that your partner's politics are not necessarily the most important aspect of who they are.

Photo by DonkeyHotey/Flickr.

"My first marriage, I was married to somebody who talking politics [with] was like preaching to the choir, and that marriage didn’t last," Pam Atkinson recalled. "So I came to the realization that politics is not the end-all, be-all of a relationship."

It's a sentiment all the couples I spoke to shared.

“If you talk about a relationship, if the only thing you disagree on is politics, I’d say...” Bob Miller began.


"...we’re doing pretty good," Marilyn continued, finishing his sentence without missing a beat.

11. If the relationship can't work because your politics are too different, there's no shame in that.

Photo via iStock.

Rachelle Brady, a Bernie Sanders supporter, told Upworthy she was shocked when she found out her boyfriend was planning to vote for Donald Trump but that trying to change his views, ultimately, did more harm than good to the relationship.

"What that did was prevent me from actually loving him where he was as a person without trying to impose my expectations on him," Brady said.

She and her boyfriend eventually called it quits over what Brady described as a conflict of values. Brady believes ending things freed her to not only "live what she believes in," but to engage her ex in a more open and honest way.

"That type of perspective has made it possible for us to move forward in our relationship. So, it changed form, but we still have a relationship," Brady said.

12. Always assume your partner has good intentions, even if their opinions make you want to scream out an open window.

"I know you're just batting my face incessantly because you care, not because you want to scratch my eyeballs out." Photo by Prskavka/Wikimedia Commons.

The trick to a healthy political argument in a relationship, according to the Tafts, is always assuming your partner is coming from a good place no matter how much you might want to handcuff them to a chair and force them to watch Rachel Maddow (or Bill O'Reilly) until they get it, dammit.

"The secret sauce, in my mind, is recognizing and respecting that we can be different and not sitting in judgment of that difference," Rick Taft said.

13. Most importantly, never lose sight of what really matters most.

Photo by Bill and Pam Atkinson, used with permission.

"Different people are going to believe different things, and you know what? That’s OK," Rick Taft said.

"Our relationship is built on much more than our political point of view," Bob Miller said. Marilyn added: "It’s respect for each other, and it’s love."


"The fact that [Bill's] wrong in his political beliefs doesn’t make me love him any less," Pam Atkinson said.

If all else fails, just remember that in only eight months' time, you won't be arguing about politics anymore.

Photo by Chris Denny/Geograph.uk.

You'll be arguing about whether to buy a house in Canada instead.

This article originally appeared on August 27, 2015

Oh, society! We have such a complicated relationship with relationships.

It starts early, with the movies we are plopped in front of as toddlers.

Keep Reading Show less

This article originally appeared on August 27, 2015

Oh, society! We have such a complicated relationship with relationships.

It starts early, with the movies we are plopped in front of as toddlers.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."