The election is over, and it is now hoped the nation can unite again. This may not be true for all married couples, though. Many who supported opposing candidates are still not talking to each other.

My friends Fred and Myra Hagerstown decided to go to Dr. Sam Margules, a marriage counselor who specializes in couples who are on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Dr. Margules said, "It has been a bitter election, and I am overbooked with clients who want to keep their marriages together. Mrs. Hagerstown, when did you realize that your marriage was not in good shape?"

"When Fred voted by absentee ballot, so he wouldn't have to stand in line with me. If people really love each other they should go to the polls together."

"It had nothing to do with my marriage," Fred said. "I just didn't want to stand in line for three hours."

"I never thought Fred was such a nerd. Why, he wanted four more years of Bush and that was the dumbest idea I have ever heard," Myra said.

Dr. Margules: "Did you tell him that?"

"Every night," Myra replied.

"She told me I couldn't make love to her unless I voted for Kerry," Fred said.

Dr. Margules: "That's playing hardball."

"The economy is a mess, jobs are in jeopardy, and heaven knows how much ammunition has been lost in Iraq," Myra said. "And because of Bush I couldn't get a flu shot. By refusing to perform my marital duties, I could do something for my country."

"I know several friends who were on opposite sides, but didn't resort to blackmail," Fred said.

"We have a saying in the marriage counseling business," said Dr. Margules. "Politics makes strange bedfellows."

"The reason I was against Bush is that if he was reelected he would bring back the draft and our son would have to serve," Myra said.

"We don't have a son," said Fred.

"But if we had one Bush would draft him."

Dr. Margules: "At what point did you sense your marriage was really in harm's way?"

Fred replied, "When she said if Bush was elected she was moving to Canada."

"I hadn't packed my bags yet, but that didn't mean I wasn't thinking about it," said Myra.

"She still won't concede that Bush won in Ohio," said Fred.

"I never trusted Ohio," Myra said. "I have a cousin I don't talk to in Cleveland."

"You can't bust up a marriage because of Ohio," said Dr. Margules. "Is there anything else that is threatening your home?"

"If I can't trust Fred on his politics, how do I know he isn't cheating on me?" Myra said.

Fred threw his hands in the air.

Dr. Margules: "All right, now I want you both to go home and not discuss politics. Then you can both begin where you left off in the bedroom, before the elections tore you apart."

(c) 2004, Tribune Media Services