Wedding Woes

You have more problems than politics.

Dear Prudence,

I recently discovered that my wife of 20 years voted for Trump in 2016—at least I’m 90 percent sure of it. And I think she will do so again. I have had some trouble processing this; I’m sure you know the reasons. We’ve had a lot of conflict, and I always thought that was about different priorities. This is the first I’ve thought we might just be on different teams. I don’t hate Trump people. I live in a swing state, and I can’t afford to walk around hating people. But I don’t respect them. But I’m not sure how to start a conversation with, “I don’t respect your life philosophy.”

—Secret Impasse

Re: You have more problems than politics.

  • What did she say that made you think that she voted for him? Ask her about that specifically and listen to her answer. Maybe she did for for him, maybe she didn’t but you’re getting ahead of yourself here. Have an actual conversation first the go from there. 

    This may be a hill for you to die on and that’s fine; but make sure you’re actually on the hill first. 
  • mrsconn23 said:
    If they've had 'conflict for years' and LW thinks it's about 'different priorities', then this is really not about whether or not she voted for Trump and is going to again.  It comes off that they literally don't communicate about anything.  Why would you even want to live that way, regardless of politics?  

    DH isn't a "let me talk about my feelings" kind of guy when it's a question about his emotions of the day but I can definitely feel accurate about his feelings on major issues.  What do these people talk about?? 
  • As much as I don't understand how people could possibly vote for Trump, I also don't understand how a political difference of opinion could be deal-breaking.

    HOWEVER, I could see how issues related to politics could be deal-breaking.  But the LW doesn't say anything like that.
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  • As much as I don't understand how people could possibly vote for Trump, I also don't understand how a political difference of opinion could be deal-breaking.

    HOWEVER, I could see how issues related to politics could be deal-breaking.  But the LW doesn't say anything like that.
    Really? Politics is all about fundamental values. I think a difference of political opinion is one of the clearest deal-breakers. It doesn’t have to be of course, people can be fine with it, but for me it absolutely would be. 
    Me too. There are some issues I could disagree about but fundamentally I could never be with someone who didn’t support the same issues I do. If H was anti- choice or didn’t support policies that dismantle unjust systems we wouldn’t be married- not because it’s a difference of opinion but because I think those things are non-negotiable. 
  • I didn't date anyone who voted Republican, no matter how nice they seemed, b/c Republican platforms (when they have one) are out to invalidate me and a lot of people I love.  So yeah, deal breaker at that point.  Like, I brought it up in my Tindr profile as point #3 (after I'm an atheist and I don't want children).

    I honestly can't imagine finding myself in LW's particular position.  I would at least question it and I'd try to be pleasant about it; TBH I'd find it difficult b/c I feel like Trump supporters and I have very different values, morals, and thoughts about humans in general.  

    I did find myself in this position with my father after 2016 and my mother did as well.  I was very hurt and I stayed away from the house for about 3 months.  I'm not quite sure how my mother made it through.  I know we as a family don't really talk about politics; the times I've asked my father about specific issues that bother me, I don't know how he voted (my city had a repeal vote on protections for LGBTQ+ people that passed and I specifically talked to him about not voting for the repeal).  To be quite frank, politics is why I've pulled away from my father over the last few years.  He is a Faux News aficionado and we've fought about that before (death panels were a throw down issue).  We're not as close as we used to be and it's difficult for us to talk to each other.  We love each other, but there's not a real relationship anymore, more avoidance of fights.
  • It's called the Secret Ballot, and none of your business.  It's misogynistic to say his wife must vote for the candidate he chooses or it's a deal breaker for him...  Don't rip on your wife's choices, you're one of them!  I know a LOT of people who can argue/debate all of the candidates including Libertarian, Legalize Cannabis, Birthday Party, etc. party candidates both ways...  "I'm pretty sure" - I've had people in my life who "I'm pretty sure" learned it's no one else's business who you vote for in the voting booth, you have the right in this country to decide for yourself.  There are some who are single-issue voters and others who realize it's more of a chess type decision and you aren't professing your undying love for the candidate because they're human, they're ALL flawed.  If people looked at politicians voting records instead of propaganda mailers, media, etc. they'd be shocked to discover many who talk a good conservative/liberal game are actually the opposite, but that involves actually getting involved in the process which is too much work for most..
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  • Update: Secret impasseThis is following up on the question I had about my wife, whom I suspected of having voted for Trump. We did have that talk. She had been out of town for quite some time. Now that she’s back, I asked her. She said in 2016 she had not voted for Trump, but might do so now. She won’t tell me definitively. I guess that’s fair enough, because I don’t really care who she votes for. What she hit me with next was worse: some rather baldly racist statements about the protests this past summer, fears about Democrats favoring minorities, and her feelings about certain minority groups. It makes the vote moot because it is quite clear now: We don’t share the same values on this.

    I don’t want to give the impression that her statements are entirely out of character, but the nakedness of the sentiment this time metaphorically punched me in the nose. I’m not so naïve to think that I can change her heart and mind. I also don’t want to worry about it right now. I want to get through the election, get through COVID, and see what’s on the other side. For reasons I won’t get into, I am not so concerned about her attitudes rubbing off on the kids, but still, a difference of opinion on the equality of cultures and ethnic groups is quite a difference to live with and I am unsure of how to evaluate the rest of our relationship history in light of this.

    A: I’m sorry! I’m glad, too, which I know is an odd combination, but this is the sort of clarity that provides reassurance even as it causes pain. You can, of course, take your time to process the new light your wife’s recent statements shed on her values and her character, but I do hope you take this time to actually process it and not simply try to push it out of your head because you don’t want to worry about it, especially when there’s no telling how long it might take to “get through COVID,” if you get through it at all. Don’t rush, but don’t kick the can endlessly down the road either. Above all, I hope you can start talking to someone about this, so you’re not carrying it all by yourself.

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