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Keeping Republican Friends: Please Help!

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I'd like to check something out with fellow Democrats: How are you doing with your Republican friends? Maybe I should also ask if you have Republican friends.

To explain fully, offering complete disclosure: I was once married to a Republican, for 13 years, including the time it took to get my divorce. After the assassination of President Kennedy he arrived at my apartment, unexpected. I was young and devastated, and in retrospect, I thought this meant he loved me, so I married him.

During our marriage we fought viciously not only about Miranda, but also retroactive Miranda. We also did not agree on feeding schedules for our children or what to do when they cried at night. As well as how to handle his mother's complaints that I was a poor duster.

In time I began to wonder if my first husband enjoyed fighting with me, or if our disagreements were really about something else entirely. Like maybe issues of intimacy or commitment. But when I asked, the fights worsened. So I shut up.

One of my closest, dearest, longtime, forever friends has been married to a Republican for a very long time. They have worked it out beautifully. He supports all of her causes financially, but does not attend them. I suspect sometimes he may even vote her way, but I have never asked.

My friend promised me that in time things would become easier and I too would achieve her marital success and harmony. She warned, however, that the first ten years would be the hardest. Precisely one day following the ten year anniversary of my first marriage I called to tell her that it was no easier.

And so I promised myself that though I could not keep my Republican husband, I would work hard to keep my Republican friends. But I also swore to myself that my next husband would be a Democrat.

When my husband of almost thirty years proposed, the old fashioned way, one knee down, roses, the whole nine yards, terrified that history would repeat itself, this was my response: "I know you told me that you are a Democrat, but can I please see your voter's registration card." Stan is a surgeon, very good with his hands and balance. So on one knee he whipped out a rumpled pink card (just like mine) from his wallet, and the rest is history.

Early in this contentious primary, Stan and I co-hosted a large party for Obama, and invited good friends, Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. No contributions were asked for. The turnout was large. Descibing Obama the man and candidate were excellent surrogates: Max Kennedy, Patrick Murphy, Harris Wofford, Susan Eisenhower, Margaret Richardson, Betsy Meyers.

Some of our Independent friends were convinced. But we saw that though the food was really good, and the wines were not cheap, and there was even a small jazz trio, all but two of our Republican friends (the one married to you-know-who and one who "could not take another four years like the last eight") remained stone faced and zipped lipped..

After that, things started to go South with what my husband and I call the "all but two." Dinners continued, but though we stayed away from certain topics, the air held a decided chill. People who never had a kind word to say about Hillary started to sing her praises. People who despised Bill called him great. It was indigestion time for us when the bravery of Joe Lieberman became part of dessert.

Then today I got a call from a Republican friend, who told me that she could tell from my voice when we spoke on election night that we were not looking forward to seeing her. She continued that due to this as well as her husband's terrible cold, I should consider our long planned weekend dinner canceled.

So can you offer any advice? Can you help me not fail? What has your experience been? Can these relationships be saved?

I do want you to know one bright spot: My darling Democratic friend with the forever successful marriage to a Republican (one of the "all but two" who enjoyed our Obama party) called today to schedule lunch asap: "It's been tough, I know," she commiserated. "When can we eat chocolate and drink?"

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