In a few months, Jon Buckel and Jessica Boemker will celebrate their two-year anniversary. But on Nov. 8 last year, they were unsure that they would reach this milestone at all.
They spent election night separately. Jess watched the results in her dorm room and Jon from his home in Mason, Ohio.
They had been texting back and forth throughout the night about the election and what the next four years might look like.
They both knew early on in their relationship that they fell on different places along the political spectrum. Jon identifies as a moderate, a little right of center. Jess, on the other hand, says she’s more on the liberal side.
Neither of them thought that it would be an issue. Jess didn’t think politics would get in the way of their relationship. They had been solid for 10 months before the election took place.
But a couple of months before the election, it was Jess who jokingly told Jon, “If you vote for Trump, it’s over.”
At the time, Jess didn’t think he would actually do it. She felt that Jon was simply being a follower.
It wasn’t until after Trump was elected that they told each other who they voted for, though neither of them originally planned to do so. Jess had only told Jon that she would never vote for Trump, and thought it was mutually understood that neither of them would. But after the final results came out, they didn’t see a reason to keep their votes a secret — not even the possibility that their answers wouldn’t match.
Jess blamed Jon for Trump’s election because in her eyes, he was responsible. Jon felt that she grouped him in with every other Trump supporter out there rather than seeing him as an individual. He was surprised by her level of frustration.
It didn’t take long though for Jon to decide that Jess was worth it, that he loves her. Jess, on the other hand, was apprehensive.
For Jess, the election wasn’t only about politics, but about the quality of the candidates’ character. It became an issue of values. Their values had typically aligned with one another, and when they didn’t, they were always able to reconcile their differences. But in her eyes, Jon voting for Trump meant that he not only supported Trump’s policies, but his disposition as well.
Could she see herself with a man like that? Could she see herself raising a family with him? Would she be able to look at him as anyone else other than a person to blame for Trump’s election?
Should she stick to her word from several months before?
They stayed up late talking to each other on election night. Jess felt pretty sure she wanted to end it then, but decided to wait a few days to think on it.
Through the strain the election had put on their relationship, they made an effort to see the other person’s point of view. Jon considered why his decision bothered Jess. Jess considered how Jon’s lower-middle class upbringing influenced his decision. They respected the other’s opinion; they valued the other’s perspective. They considered their feelings and their history.
They decided to stay together.
Jon admits that he still stands by his vote, even though he disapproves of Trump’s actions so far. He hopes that the next few years will bring more good than bad.
Jess admits that if Jon had been a more intense Trump supporter, or had she not have invested so much time into the relationship already, things probably would have ended differently.
Jon thinks of election night as simply a hiccup in their otherwise steady relationship. He sees her as the yin to his yang — despite their differences, they balance each other out.