Emotional Health · Marriage & Life Partners · Politics

Strange Bedfellows: Political Differences in Marriage

Clinton:TrumpIllustration by C.A. Martin

Editor’s Note: Women’s Voices for Change is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates for political office or lobby on specific issues. However, from time to time certain themes from the political world are worthy of observation and discussion. Nothing in this article is intended as an endorsement of a particular candidate or point of view.  

 

Dear Dr. Ford,

My husband and I have been married for 20 years. He has always proclaimed that he was a liberal since he went to a famous Ivy League School in the early 1970s. He has never supported a female political candidate, in spite of this liberal label he has given himself. Things have become very tense in our house since he seems to get real satisfaction each time Donald Trump does something outrageous, while saying, “Of course, he won’t ever be elected.” Well, this man has now firebombed the Republican Party and polls show that he has the support of far more men than women.

We bicker every night when we watch CNN and it is casting a pall on our sex life and our otherwise great marriage. I told him last night that he could not discuss politics with me until the election is over. Why am I so angry with him?

Geraldine

 

Dear Geraldine,

Your question is very timely. The issue you raise is of interest to our readers because one of the candidates, perhaps without wanting to, has made the treatment of women central to this campaign. For example, recent polls indicate that as much as 73 percent of women disapprove of Mr. Trump, and most of his supporters are indeed men. And these polls were taken before the candidate started on his most controversial week yet: attacking Heidi Cruz, refusing to fire his campaign manager who was accused of manhandling a female reporter, culminating with his remarks that women seeking abortions should be punished—a position that even the most conservative pro-life candidates don’t hold. He was forced to walk back his comments concerning the punishment of women and even admit that he was mistaken.

According to The New York Times, even the most die-hard Republican women may rebel. The Times reported: “Republican strategists . . . (are) . . .  saying that should Mr. Trump become the nominee, he would grievously harm the party’s chance of winning the White House and other contests because of his unpopularity among female voters.”

Salon contributor Heather Digby Parton adds, “His problems with women of all political stripes are real and they are getting worse.”

This situation may be confusing to many because, as CNN reporter Gloria Borger puts it, “Trump. . .  just loves women. At least that’s what he tells us.”

RELATED: The Narcissistic Personality in Politics

Perhaps he is representative of a type of heterosexual male who thinks he loves women, but clearly doesn’t like them very much. Your husband, who does not support this candidate politically, seems to be getting some vicarious enjoyment from his comments, and it’s making you furious. It’s not hard to understand why this upsets you. By showing satisfaction about the candidate’s remarks, he is essentially saying he doesn’t disapprove, and not disapproving is akin to tacit approval. Sexist positions and behavior are always damaging to women. You are wondering why this is not offensive, but rather is amusing, to your husband. Is he voicing something that your husband in some way agrees with?

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  • Suzanne Fawbush April 7, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    I totally understand the dilemma and appreciate Dr. Ford’s response. I attended a small dinner party recently where the question was put forth – Trump or Hillary? There were three couples at the dinner, all of them Republican except for me. I, of course, said I would enthusiastically vote for Hillary. My husband, who posited the question, said he could not vote for Trump and would vote reluctantly for Hillary. The other two men said that, while they didn’t particularly like Trump, they could never vote for Hillary. The most interesting responses were from the other two women. They are Republicans – Texans, no less – and I would wager to bet they have never voted for a Democrat in their life. After sitting quietly as the rest of us answered, my husband asked them point-blank who they would vote for? The first one said thoughtfully, almost sadly, that she would have to vote for Hilary and the second one quickly agreed. Their husbands were stunned and heated marital discussions quickly ensued. I was proud of both women for answering a question that clearly made them uncomfortable and for making, at least what was for them, a hard choice. I told my husband never to ask that question at a dinner party again.

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  • Karen cox April 7, 2016 at 7:56 am

    Excellent article. The siting of the 2015 study has given me some empirical reference point to account for the horrible phenomenon that is Trump.

    Reply