Reader Married To Conservative (who is actually a compilation of many female readers and clients that have shared these feelings with me) writes,
My husband and I have always been fairly different politically, but overall I felt that our values were similar. This election, he voted for Trump and I voted for Hillary. I didn't think he would really pull the trigger and vote for Trump, but he did. I even would have preferred Jill Stein to Trump. It broke my heart that my husband didn't seem to care what kind of man Trump was, in terms of how he talked about women and immigrants.
Now that Trump has been shown to be a huge liar about a lot of his campaign promises, I had some hope that my husband would say that he regrets his vote, but he just says that I should wait and see, and Trump will bring this country into a new era. I am starting to feel like my husband is an idiot and has been duped. Beyond being sad, I now feel contemptuous of him, and for the first time in my life, I am visualizing what my life would be like without him. Can you give me any other way to look at this?
Many people feel as you do in the aftermath of this election, whether it's anger at husbands, parents, or siblings. And many of my female clients share these feelings with me, probably more frequently since it's fairly obvious that I am a liberal. Here, I discuss what many women feel when their husbands don't share their liberal values. Often, they feel rejected at their core, and almost scared of their husband's seeming ability to ignore the feelings and needs of the weaker and more vulnerable members of society (kids, women, minorities). Their husbands may be making their decisions based on finances, or perceived job prospects, or religious affiliations, or international affairs, or anything else, but often their wives conceptualize them as ignoring the rights of the little people.
It would be worthwhile to explore your feelings about your husband's allying with the president-elect, who is generally considered to be a very confident, even arrogant, male. Do you perceive your husband in this way? Did you have a narcissistic figure in your life growing up that may have sensitized you to men with "big personalities" who act like our president-elect? If you are feeling threatened, feeling that there is an arrogant side to your husband that you never recognized before, this could explain why you've taken a condescending stance toward him. You are trying to protect yourself from someone that you are now, on a deep emotional level, feeling unsafe around.
I suggest that you have a sit down discussion with your husband where you let him explain his perspective on politics to you, and all you do is listen and try to truly understand where he is coming from. Try and focus especially on why he thinks that Trump was a good choice for your specific family; there are not many people who vote for someone that they don't believe will bring positive outcomes to their kids, their wallet, and their country. Maybe he believes that Trump will make America safer, or will improve the economy for your kids one day. You may disagree with this, but it is hard to dislike a husband with these priorities. After his turn, you can explain your perspective to him. The goal of this discussion is to avoid fighting at all costs. Often, this can be achieved through focusing your energy and attention on intellectually and emotionally understanding where the other party is coming from. This is true empathy.
There are many books that people far more politically savvy than me have written that can help you and any other liberals reading my column understand why so many intelligent people voted for Trump. Here's a list of them that was in The New York Times recently. It would be interesting to read one of them with your husband and discuss it.
Above all, try to refrain from acting contemptuously, as contempt is highly associated with an increased risk of divorce. You had to think your husband was pretty smart when you agreed to marry him, and it's unlikely that his IQ dropped in subsequent years. Try to have more discussions with him about issues aside from politics, where he can showcase that he is in fact not an idiot. Talk about deeper issues, like the ones in my book, or this list of questions. If you have kids, it is positive for them to see that Mommy and Daddy can handle differences in opinion without discussions devolving into sarcasm and anger, as this article talks about. And remember, even if you don't end up staying together forever, acting unempathically and contemptuously is nothing that you'll look back on with pride.
Thanks for your question, female readers and clients whom I compiled into this one question, and till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Everyone Has A Reason For Their Vote, And (Most Of) The Reasons Aren't Crazy.
Learn about Dr. Rodman's private practice, including therapy, coaching, and consultation, here. This blog is not intended as diagnosis, assessment, or treatment, and should not replace consultation with your medical provider.