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.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Ronny Tertnes' "liquid sculptures" are otherworldly.

Human beings have sculpted artwork out of all kinds of materials throughout history, from clay to concrete to bronze. Some sculpt with water in the form of ice, but what if you could create sculptures with small drops of liquid?

Norwegian artist Ronny Tertnes does just that. His "liquid sculptures" look like something from another planet or another dimension, while at the same time are entirely recognizable as water droplets.

I mean, check this out:


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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker of Congregation Beth Israel.

A stranger knocked on the door of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas on Saturday morning shortly before Shabbat service. It was 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside, so Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, 46, made him a cup of tea. The rabbi and Malik Faisal Akram, 44, a British national, spoke for a few moments and then the rabbi went on to perform his regular 10 a.m. Shabbat prayers for his congregation.

When the rabbi turned his back to face Jerusalem, he heard a click come from the stranger. "And it turned out, that it was his gun," Cytron-Walker told CBS News.

Akram began screaming and a congregant, Jeffrey Cohen, the vice president of the synagogue's board of trustees, quickly pulled out his phone and dialed 911. A livestream broadcasting the prayer ceremony to congregants participating from home caught some of what Akram was shouting. "I'm gunned up. I'm ammo-ed up," he told someone he called nephew. "Guess what, I will die."

The FBI got word of the 911 call and quickly set up a perimeter around the synagogue. Akram took four people hostage, including the rabbi.

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What you look like in a selfie camera isn't really what you look like in real life.

We've all done it: You snap a selfie, look at it, say, "OMG is my nose swollen?" then try again from a different angle. "Wait, now my forehead looks weird. And what's up with my chin?" You keep trying various angles and distances, trying to get a picture that looks like how you remember yourself looking. Whether you finally land on one or not, you walk away from the experience wondering which photo actually looks like the "real" you.

I do this, even as a 40-something-year-old who is quite comfortable with the face I see in the mirror. So, it makes me cringe imagining a tween or teen, who likely take a lot more selfies than I do, questioning their facial features based on those snapshots. When I'm wondering why my facial features look weird in selfies it's because I know my face well enough to know that's not what it looks like. However, when a young person whose face is changing rapidly sees their facial features distorted in a photo, they may come to all kinds of wrong conclusions about what they actually look like.

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