Campaignsicles, meet Laura and Adam! Adam is a career organizer and Friend of Campaign Sick (FOCS) who was kind enough to let me stay with him and introduce me to his wonderful wife, Laura, when I was interviewing for jobs. I’d been looking for a non-campaign person to write about what it’s like to be in a long term campaign relationship (most of the campaign couples I know are both in politics) and Laura generously agreed to share her perspective below. Laura and Adam met at DragonCon in college (ask them about the story of how Laura proposed, it’s adorable) and she stuck with him not only through his stint in the Peace Corps but through several candidate and marriage equality campaigns!
After reading Laura’s advice, do yourself a flavor and check out the Briskin-Limehouses' amazing cooking blog, the Kitchen Chemist and the Cook! I can tell you from experience that Adam makes a mean pumpkin pie and that their collective bag of cooking tricks is continuously growing. You could learn a thing or two! Enjoy! Here's Laura:
Mixed-Relationships - Campaigners and Non-Campaigners
So, what’s it like being married to and having dated a political campaigner, when you yourself are not one? Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it’s great. Just like any relationship.
Little bit of background on me: I believe in my partner’s causes, if not as fervently. I’d volunteer/be a politico myself, but down that path leads to ulcers – I care enough to get angry which makes my stomach churn, and thus too much acid. Yeah, ulcers or actually learning to divorce my emotions from getting the work done. But I’m also fairly low energy and really like my sleep, so political activism is not the best career path for me. I like to say that keeping Campaigner fed, in clean clothes, and keeping the house reasonably clean (clean sheets are wonderful to sleep on) is my contribution to the cause(s). My campaigner is my contribution to the movement.
My relationship with a campaigner is really feast or famine, both in time and finances. While on a campaign, he brings in the finances but has little time. Off a campaign, he has a lot of time, but is not bringing in the finances. Part of why this works for us is that he is really good about doing the majority of keeping the household going chore-wise while off campaigns (which I become the primary on while he’s on campaign), as well as being good about hearing ‘I love you and need introvert time’, even while on a campaign and when we haven’t really interacted in 3 days. Meanwhile, I am okay with making sure that introvert time is limited to about 15 really restorative minutes. He’s good about me not coming to every. single. f’ing. fundraiser or networking event and sometimes I suck it up and come to more than I have the energy I think I have for.
Look. Here is how I look at being a campaigner and dating – you’re a niche group in the dating world. You don’t fit some mold of “normality”, “mainstream”, or what dating ‘should' look like. Which, just to be clear, is FINE.
And gender roles. This will screen out people who want you to fit that mold rather than wanting you for yourself. Probably saving you a few bad first dates over your lifetime. It does mean that you will have to look longer and harder for someone you’re compatible with, while having less time to do so.
Here are some things I think are necessary in a partner, especially so between a campaigner and non-campaigner:
1) Independence – neither of you can allow your ‘whole world’ to revolve around each other. There will be periods when you won’t be available because Campaign. There will be periods when they will suddenly be crazy busy with their own thing while you’re not on a campaign. Deal.
2) Flexibility – see the feast or famine thing. You need the ability to make the most out of opportunities, especially unexpected ones. Adhering to a rigid plan doesn’t work when an invite to an awesome event can happen the day of, or you could have an evening together because something got canceled. Who does what around the apartment/house (assuming y’all live together) should change and change again as who has time changes.
3) USE YOUR WORDS! – seriously, if y’all don’t communicate, including about emotions, ambitions, needs, and boundaries, DOOOOOOOOM - fastest way for miscues or expectations of what’s happening to spiral out of control. Eventually, that ends up with y’all in parallel but different relationships. Campaigners are already ‘off script’ of our culture’s dating script and assumptions/expectations bad™.
So, yeah, that’s my perspective on what it’s like married to a campaigner, why it works for us, and hopefully some helpful things to think about/look for in a partner.
Or you know, you could go for casual sex, if that’s your thing. Nothing wrong with safely blowing off some steam doing something fun. Just, you know, be kind, clear, and not an asshole.
Don’t be an asshole should just be a general rule of life. Now, get back to work and make more calls.
Amazing advice! If only "don't be an asshole" were an actual rule. One caveat I did want to add (and maybe this is just me trying to make myself feel better) I think you can prefer your romantic relationships fairly gender normative and be extroverted and still have these work. At least I hope so for my sake!
What I’ve learned from my own romantic misadventures is that communication, having your own life, and having the confidence not to need constant reassurance are all KEY. Big, big thank you to Laura and Adam for sharing their story. You can check out their wonderful cooking blog here.
Campaign Luuuuv and Mine,