How to deal with split feelings on the Trump win inside your home?
November 12, 2016 9:21 AM   Subscribe

My spouse did not vote for Trump, but he is a leftist who has a lot of frustrations with "liberals" and is...not as sympathetic as he could be. Even though he knows I fought Trump, he doesn't understand why I am so deeply affected and it is really affecting my stress levels. Please help!

My husband doesn't see how our home or family will be affected - he doesn't believe Trump will really do the things that he said, and honestly he's a straight white guy and our health insurance is pretty solid since it comes from my military retirement. I'm Hispanic, but he doesn't really think of me as Hispanic enough to be concerned about this because my family doesn't match his picture of what Hispanics look or act like. Which is also really bothering me right now.

So this week I haven't really been doing household chores and have been in a pit of depression, and he brought that up and when I mentioned the election, he said "I don't see what that has to do with us and our family." He's kind of taking a lot of glee in the fact that the executive power he warned about under Obama might be used by Trump to punish the people who didn't listen to him under Obama.

He's also picked up the ironic-leftist thing of saying "You have to go back" all the time and thinking it's hilarious - I've been pushing back on "please don't say this to me" but it sinks me into a pit of despair every time that he doesn't understand. I asked him about it and he says "It's funny, the idea that you could have to be back after your family has been here so long, it's ridiculous and would never happen so that's what makes it funny."

I don't really know what to do, it feels like I'm living with a pod person. He still loves me and everything outside of this is still good, but this is just really bothering me and I have no words to explain it other than "the call is coming from inside the house" which is not very helpful.

Please help me figure out either the words to explain to him why this bothers me and is going to keep bothering me or a good way to deal with it. I have literally no spoons left.

Oh also: I do have a therapist but anticipated a Clinton win so failed to schedule a post-election session and now she is booked up.
posted by corb to Human Relations (46 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
You may not be able to explain why this bothers you so much. But that should not even be needed. Since he loves you, he should care about your feelings even if he can't understand them. If he doesn't, he is not treating you lovingly.

You could try 'Hon, I know that you don't understand why I feel the way I do. But please look at me, see that I'm hurting, and believe me when I tell you that I'm hurting.
You don't need to understand me or agree with me, just take me at my word when I say that something hurts, and try to stop hurting me more... because you love me. I need you to have my back right now.'


No guarantees, unfortunately. All the hugs though. This sucks so bad.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:31 AM on November 12, 2016 [54 favorites]


"This bothers me. It doesn't matter why, I shouldn't have to justify that to you; I'm saying, what you just said HURTS. STOP IT. If you love me, you should want to avoid hurting me for fun. Stop it."
posted by The otter lady at 9:32 AM on November 12, 2016 [45 favorites]


Yeah, this is really not about Trump. This is about someone who is supposed to love and support you and who is ignoring your distress and not caring about your emotional wellbeing. Is this behavior out of character for him? Or is it typical that you have to do all the emotional heavy lifting, and it's just that you aren't able to take it right now? Because if it's the latter, you have a problem that is much, much bigger than Trump.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:37 AM on November 12, 2016 [11 favorites]


I am so sorry. I think that this is like any relationship problem though where one spouse is simply not hearing or refusing to hear what the other is saying. It is a problem when one person says, "This is really important to me" and the other brushes that off by denying that it should be important. That is denying you your feelings, your agency and the legitimacy of your fears. And if anyone is supposed to be a sounding board for your most personal fears and anxieties, it is supposed to be your spouse. If you want to make progress with your husband, you may have to make the space for directly addressing this. The Trump ascendency has been triggering for a lot of people. Triggering because his popularity seems to shake at the foundation of what makes so many of us feel secure: that we will not be judged by the color of our skin, that our livelihoods and basic needs will be met, that we will not be attacked because of our gender. When those kinds of things get messed with, our whole sense of security can be upended. It's a trigger for a well of emotions and anxiety that is hard to control or put in rational perspective. Fight or flight is triggered. And for a lot of women, play dead is triggered. That's at least how I feel. I don't feel fight or flight, I seriously just want to play dead. Not speak. It's a horrible feeling for someone as outspoken and generally fighty as me.

So, if you can, you should make the space to have a real conversation and also let him know that he is not protecting you by telling you to shrug it off. That if he loves you, he will hear you and find a way to be supportive. You need him by your side. You don't need to be fighting for legitimacy in your own home. It costs him nothing to be by your side and you want him to see you as you are. This may be a painful discussion but I feel like if he has any consciousness at all, he will understand this and try to do better.

It's great that you have a therapist, I'm really wishing I did right now. This is a great thing for you to discuss with them, to try to unpack what it is that you are feeling and what you need for your relationship to be stronger. A couples appointment would probably be great, too, if you guys can do it.
posted by amanda at 9:37 AM on November 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Don't try to convince him that your fears about Trump are more legitimate than his political instincts, that's not going to work. Just remind him that his duty is to be your partner first, and that you're hurting and scared and he needs to prioritize loving you.

Also, don't make your acceptance of his love conditioned on his agreeing with you about Trump. Just tell him he needs to shut up with the nasty jokes, and instead love you and comfort you, because his first priority at home needs to be his duty as a husband. He can find someone to make Trump jokes with on his own time.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:44 AM on November 12, 2016 [18 favorites]


"I don't see what that has to do with us and our family."

usually people put this as "fuck you, I've got mine" so points to him for creative rephrasing? this is an inhuman sentiment. or, all right, inhumane, since he's your husband. this is the core creed of every man and woman who stood by and let people be murdered and executed in every genocide in human history. If I were you, I would ask him if the degradation of our country and the immediate physical suffering of women and minorities really means nothing to him just so long as it stops at your own door. but if I were you, I might be afraid to hear his answer.

My husband doesn't see how our home or family will be affected

TRUMP does what he does because he doesn't care about anything that doesn't affect him and his own immediate home and family. Tell him, maybe, that when he says such things as though they're what matters most, he is behaving as a devoted Trump supporter. Because this is true; his words and actions and attitude are all in line with Trump's philosophy and he is helping Trump by treating it as normal to center personal luxury and comfort above the national welfare, whether he says he voted for him or not.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:47 AM on November 12, 2016 [30 favorites]


Your husband is acting mean and bigoted and terrible. That can be separate and apart from whether he is often nice, or does good things, or is smart or kind or whatever other good qualities he has. Right now, he is treating you in a way that a good person wouldn't treat someone they disliked, much less someone who is supposed to be the person they love most in the world.

When he tells you that your feelings are less valid than his feelings because he disagrees with you, and that he finds your pain funny, he is being mean.

When he suggests that it's funny that you and your family have less right to live in the US than other people because of your ethnic heritage, that is bigoted.

When he says he doesn't care about the thousands or millions or (worldwide) billions of people who stand to have their lives meaningfully harmed by policies that may go into effect in the near future because your family is less affected, he is being selfish.

But most immediately, he is being terribly cruel to you, to the point where I'd call it abusive.

Overall, it strikes me that your husband has revealed himself to actually be a pretty awful person. For me, this would be in the territory where I would start talking about separation and divorce--not because of his politics, but because he is mean and doesn't seem to care much about you. Obviously you have to make your own choices about what to do. But you are definitely not overreacting. I think there is a crisis in your marriage, and whether this election precipitated it, or merely just revealed it to have been there all along, it is healthy to acknowledge that this is a crisis, and to let him know that your marriage is in crisis, and to let him know that you will not accept abusive, cruel treatment from him anymore.
posted by decathecting at 9:55 AM on November 12, 2016 [38 favorites]


This is what we've been doing for 35 years (36 in January, yeah!)

"Honey, I love you... Honey, I love you... Honey... we're dropping this right now."
This is code for, "Shut up, or I'll start talking. And talking. And talking. Not shouting, but giving you studied, reasonable details for why you are being obnoxious. And you don't want to go there. We might be doing this after I wake you up at 2 pm after a nightmare (not really, just up with stress.) I might be doing this in front of your family (you DON'T want me going there.) And our adult children are liberals, like me. Wassup, you want a tag team? This could be in the car... in the store... while nailing up siding on the scaffolding (and it takes two to do that, right?)"

"Honey...."

For us, it's the the national news. I treat it like his blessing out the other drivers... a minute after we've driven past them. I either ignore him, change the subject, or if I have to, say, "Honey? Drop it, okay?" Particularly when I'm driving, but that's another issue.
It's tone. It's also that I have a hearing loss and can (sometimes) pretend I don't hear him or understand the context. But it's mostly that he needs to pick his battles. I'm not Hillary, and I don't give a flat damn what he thinks about her. He's not married to her and he doesn't owe her money, so what's that to do with me?

I know what he thinks. He knows what I think (he does "Honey? Drop it," also.) The system works in that he's the Democrat, I'm the Republican, and we try to go to the middle in the primaries and get the most egregious candidates out. He did not vote for Trump at the primaries, but I wasn't happy with any of them. He wasn't happy with Hillary, but he knew this was my second time voting for her in the primaries. We agreed on most of the state questions this election.
And sometimes we both need to pick our battles. And change the subject.
posted by TrishaU at 9:56 AM on November 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


Divorce him because he's racially abusing you for kicks. He can go without your solid military insurance, I'm sure.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:00 AM on November 12, 2016 [51 favorites]


Ah, and for the "He's a dick, kick him to the curb" push back? Nah, don't do that. It's educate him on what you won't allow.
Yes, maybe you are getting your political beliefs in his hair, too. You are living it. Is he living it?
"Honey, I love you...."
posted by TrishaU at 10:03 AM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


My husband doesn't see how our home or family will be affected


Well, frankly, they already have been affected, because the woman of the household is angry and frightened by what happened. And how could you not be, when Trump deliberately targeted people of your gender and ethnicity in his efforts to shore up support among those who want to harm you? Of course white males do not see it the same way: even if they dislike Trump's rhetoric, they are not targeted directly.

I think your best bet is to do what is outlined above, don't try to justify your feelings, just make it clear that they are real, they are not going away, and as your partner in marriage and someone who loves you, he needs to respect and honour them. His motives may not be unkind, but his attempts to downplay the horribleness of this situation are clearly not working to cheer you up. He needs to understand that this kind of behaviour hurts not only you, but your relationship.
posted by rpfields at 10:04 AM on November 12, 2016 [76 favorites]


He's also picked up the ironic-leftist thing of saying "You have to go back" all the time and thinking it's hilarious

He needs to stop this now. Humor is supposed to be relational, and you have already told him you don't find it funny. So he knows you won't laugh when he says it. So he is not saying it because he wants you to laugh. He is putting his own needs (and humor is not a need) ahead of yours.

Give him an ultimatum. This IS about you, maybe with an ultimatum it will sink through his white skull. If he's in so much denial, don't do any more emotional labor explaining the obvious, because he clearly doesn't want to see it. Thus, ultimatum. It is affecting you, you've told him, time for him to take you seriously or go be with other white dudes in denial. I wish white men who pull this nonsense could face direct, clear consequences for their bullshit, but the system's set up so they rarely do. They make the orders, they get the goods, and we pay the bills. Fucking eh.

Is he bringing up the household chores because he's worried about you and wants to help? Or is he bringing them up because he thinks you should still be doing them? (I know you know which is empathetic and which is entitlement.)

Corb you are an awesome person and I'm so sorry to hear you're going through this.
posted by fraula at 10:20 AM on November 12, 2016 [19 favorites]


corb, I've long worried about you and your husband, but that is neither here nor there.

You just stop doing the emotional labor now. Stop it altogether. When he brings it up again, you can say, "This is what it will be like if I 'go back.' Not as funny to you now when it means you're missing out on a hot dinner and clean clothes, is it?"

Or maybe not. I don't know. Maybe you just quietly plan to leave and then do so when it is safe. Because men who act like your husband are, at the end of the day, not nice men. They are sociopaths at worst and sadists at best. They like making other people feel bad. I've experienced intimate relationships with multiple sociopaths in my life. They seem safe but are actually incredibly dangerous, and in my experience, when I have pushed back on sociopaths it has caused me profound emotional, and in some cases physical, harm. So I'm not sure the vocal pushback would be wise.

Wishing you the best of luck and I am so sorry that you have to deal with this in your own home.
posted by sockermom at 10:28 AM on November 12, 2016 [32 favorites]


"It's funny, the idea that you could have to be back after your family has been here so long, it's ridiculous and would never happen so that's what makes it funny."

Seconding very much that humor is relational. If he's explaining jokes to you he's

- patronizing
- mansplaining

I am sorry you are dealing with this. Everyone handles stress in different ways and the two ways you guys have may be abrasive. But I think you can be clear with him "Look the things that I am concerned about at a general world level are affecting my mental well being. The exptent to which you are minimizing or downplaying that is actually making things worse and not making things better. I need you, right now, to stop with the jokes and stop with the 'explaining the world to me' thing and then we can move on to try to figure out how to respond to the changes in the world AS A FAMILY"

He doesn't get to determine what affects the family, you both do. If he shuts you out of that it's basically, to my read, sort of a deepest-fears/darkest timeline trigger where the people you care about and trust turn on you because you fall on the other side of whatever the newly defined line is. He doesn't have to necessarily agree with your view, but he should at least sympathize that you have it and give your feelings equal weight in the relationship even if it doesn't seem rational to him.

These are all shitty danger signs and I would be wary if he does not come around to be reasonable about this. Again, I am sorry.
posted by jessamyn at 10:30 AM on November 12, 2016 [26 favorites]


There are a whole lot of white guys out there who don't understand that a lot of us feel like we've just had targets painted on our chests and had the president elect declare open season on us. Every creepy dude who has ever grabbed you inappropriately just got told that's perfectly fine. I'm not as afraid of trump as I am of his followers being inspired to commit hate crimes. Not comprehending that shows an appalling lack of compassion. (I've spent the last few days drinking and crying while I processed shit enough to be able to get back up. My husband has been nothing but loving and supportive. )
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 10:46 AM on November 12, 2016 [20 favorites]


This keeps getting brought up on the green, but maybe you could do some couples counseling and/or read Hold Me Tight together. Or at least you can pick it up at the library or something.

If he's not the type to go to counseling with you, then holy shit think about dumping him. One caveat!

Part of how we got in this mess was snarky echo chamber media and social media. Your husband might be having a really really hard time and terrified himself, maybe he's hoping snarky jokes will normalize the awful reality we are facing. Kinda like how folks made jokes about the election being stolen in 2000, or Obama. I mean, everybody knew something was going wrong, they just all pointed at the wrong problem.

In general, you should not let the divisiveness into your marriage, so get help talking it out. And if that fails, maybe you should go because your home won't feel safe and that will hurt you long term.
posted by jbenben at 10:47 AM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


The most generous interpretation is that he is in denial. Some people make jokes to keep distant from the worst scenario, and minimise the feelings of others for the same reason--they aren't up to facing it. I think you are seeing reality more clearly than him, probably because it directly affects you.

For conversations like this I use the co counselling phrasing:

When you...
I feel ...
I need ...
So that ...

Good luck. You need your loved ones to be present even more than usual, not less, right now.
posted by chapps at 10:48 AM on November 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


People who think human beings deserve "punishment" in the form of deportation, denial of healthcare, and denial of human rights for the "crime" of not thinking exactly like them are not good people. They are badly-raised children at best, psychopaths at worst.

That said, everyone right now is angry. Shit, even the people who voted for Trump are angry, because they were already angry--that's why they voted for 250 lbs of sentient rat shit in a Brooks Brothers' suit. I know my partner and I had the worst fight of our relationship the night after the election, because in anger for our lost nation he threatened to do something RUL stupid, and in anger driven by fear of what our futures are now going to be, I reacted with rage and abandonment instead of concern.

Your husband may simply be angry beyond his capacity to cope, and taking it out on a "safe" target--you. BUT THAT IS NOT OKAY, NOT EVEN A LITTLE. It's human, it's a thing a non-psychopath human might conceivably do, but it's not a thing a non-psychopath human continues to do for ANY length of time once it's become clear that it's happening.

What you can do: Well honestly? Do you have some money, a little cushion? I would say that you lay it out to him thus: "Husband, I do not know why you feel compelled to keep wounding me. I don't know if you're afraid and think that joking wards off the devil, or if you're angry and I'm just the only one here to hear it. What I'm afraid of is literally that you are hurting me on purpose. So while you figure out which thing is going on, I'm leaving. I will be staying in a hotel until X date. And when I return, I expect never, ever, ever to hear jokes about my deportation, I expect you to treat my fears and concerns with the kindness that literally any sane human owes a stranger, much less a spouse."

And then leave. Let him figure out what the everloving fuck is his problem while you go sit in a bathrobe watching Gilmore Girls and getting some spoons back.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:48 AM on November 12, 2016 [36 favorites]


One more. You don't have to answer this here, but check in on the kids and how they are a) processing the election and how it is affecting their peer groups, and b) how the atmosphere at home is affecting them.
Come together, be a team. Differences are good, because they show our children how to work through them in a rational way. The process is messy and frustrating, but that is human nature and completely understandable.
The "I and me" to "us and we" part of marriage never stops. It ebbs and flows, and it gets darn frustrating, too. Tie a knot in your patience and get stubborn. This, too, will pass.
And (yeah, it's sexist) maybe your dad should have a talk with him about racism and the election. Guy talks sometimes clarify things, especially where his little girl is concerned. It's a nuclear weapon, use it wisely.
posted by TrishaU at 10:51 AM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Just because it's not real to YOU, doesn't mean it's not real to ME. Are you my husband? Then we're in this together, and I need to know that you have my back."

I'm so sorry you have to deal with his lack of empathy.
posted by danceswithlight at 11:55 AM on November 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


When a spouse makes a joke like this, s/he may get the benefit of the doubt (ignorance) once. After being told "when you joke X, I feel Y", where Y is a very negative emotion, that should be it for those jokes. Anything else is unkind and should not be part of a loving relationship.

If he continues to do this after you have clearly told him that you feel this is very hurtful, that is not good supportive spouse behavior.
posted by theorique at 12:14 PM on November 12, 2016


Does he understand just how personal this is?

I have heard people, including my own extended family, say the same things parroted by Trump. They seem to think it’s about those other immigrants, or those other Muslims, or those other refugees, or any other group of people Trump has disparaged. It’s not some other group of people - it is us - it’s you. It’s personal and it is cruel. It’s not some distant group out there, or politics - it’s highly personal.

I’ve tried to explain this to people - it’s your friends, your family, your colleagues, your neighbors, your kids who play together. Not those “other kinds of (fill in the name) group.” It’s us - it’s US! It’s US!!!!

Have you sat him down, looked him dead in the eye and said this? That’s it’s deeply hurtful because he is talking about YOU? He's making hurtful comments about his own loved ones and his own family - ask how that makes him feel. It's not another face - it's you. Look him in the eye and tell him - it is you.

I wish you success. Because I still have not achieved it with some people I know, who don’t understand that the person they think they hate - well it's me - and my family of immigrants, refugees, and Muslims. I/we are exactly who they are talking about.
posted by raztaj at 12:22 PM on November 12, 2016 [25 favorites]


It's really difficult to come up with a metaphor that actually resonates with white men to communicate how threatening this is, because they are so insulated they have never experienced real persecution or harassment. I have heard so many men at work going on about the election still as if was an abstract horse race, because they just don't give a shit about persecution. They think it is wrong in the abstract but there is no empathy. I like the example of getting men to imagine that they are 11 years old and getting a ride home with a baseball coach who starts feeling them up (and parents have already dismissed prior complaints by other kids as locker room play). That is the kind of powerlessness that other people have to put up with -- and that coach just got control of the security state with the backing of most of the police who think he's a Good Guy.

You need to lay down the line with the jokes, once is ok in an attempt to mistakenly cheer you up, but more after you have noted it is disturbing you, it is not ok.
posted by benzenedream at 12:42 PM on November 12, 2016 [31 favorites]


I think a very reasonable baseline expectation to have of a spouse is that they should mostly be supportive and loving, and that they should not be hurtful. He is failing on all fronts, from what you describe. And even if you are also being hurtful or unpleasant due to your stress, those aren't excuses for his own poor behavior -- he is still on the hook to behave appropriately.

I have a non-white spouse, and I know better than to make jokes with that kind of edge. I mean, sure, sometimes we might speak jokingly about deportation and camps, but there is a huge difference between joking about something together as a way of showing mutual support, and joking with a mean edge meant to hurt someone.

In other words, I would reinforce that your expectations are not out of line at all, and that you need to very clearly articulate your boundaries and expect that they will be respected. I agree with the comment above that it is not about making him agree with you about Trump, it is about him not doing X, Y, and Z that you are finding hurtful, so that the two of you can go back to being loving and supportive.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:50 PM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


My husband doesn't see how our home or family will be affected

he's fucking making jokes about his wife being deported but he doesn't see how the family will be affected? oh my god

i will fight him right now
posted by poffin boffin at 2:16 PM on November 12, 2016 [82 favorites]


man i'm so sorry you are going through this right now.

you don't have to try to appeal to the conscience of someone who enjoys seeing others threatened, hurt, scared, abused. you don't have to try to appeal to the conscience of someone who knowingly makes jokes that make you feel threatened and hurt. look out for your own safety and well being.

if he knows that you're hurt when he makes these jokes and comments, and he keeps hurting you, is that love? is that partnership? what is it that you're getting out of the marriage that makes it worth being hurt over and over?

i know your question is how to talk to him about this but i have to say, it sounds like you have already tried to talk about it with him and he just. does. not. care. respectfully, maybe it is time to think about whether or not you'd be better off by yourself.
posted by zdravo at 2:35 PM on November 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


He's also picked up the ironic-leftist thing of saying "You have to go back" all the time and thinking it's hilarious.

I'm a baby boomer, so I grew up with drippingly sarcastic humor from Mad magazine and somehow I don't understand the dry ironic humor of the younger generation. It doesn't seem at all funny. Shocking maybe, but not funny. (I don't like cringe humor either... that's not the fun kind of laughing.) The closest I can come to understanding your spouse is to say "something, something, cognitive dissonance."

When the hell is cruelty ever funny? When it's fake... but hard to tell from the real stuff???

I met a Gen X man, who I later found to be nice, who used "ironic sexism" as a way of saying "boy sexism is weird", but it took a long time to decode his message. Especially since I grew up when sexism was normal. (Maybe it's a topic for another Ask. (for me))
posted by puddledork at 2:38 PM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Where do you live? Is there a holocaust museum near you? I've been to a few, and well, they are really effective at answering those kinds of questions from fairly naive, privileged people.

Also, if someone said "you have to go back" to me in jest, the relationship would end. Marriage or not.
posted by Toddles at 2:52 PM on November 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Agreed. This is already affecting you.

The people who might harass you don't care if your family is "Hispanic enough" just that you LOOK like someone to harass (non-pasty white or a woman.) They're not going to look at you and then look you up on Facebook to see if you're "Hispanic enough" in your family to then harass you. And the fact that he can't understand that people on the OUTSIDE are making judgements of you just based on the most simple things is insane.

In the past my Itallian (slightly darker, hairy) husband has been called multiple Mexican slurs, an "Arab Terrorist" and people do think he is Latino (in a non-judgemental just curious way). (Our last name is Italian but sounds similar to the Spanish language with lots of vowels.)

So yeah. People are constantly judging you. (And I say this as a woman with a chronic illness.) And if he honestly doesn't see how the racists or angry Trump supporters are going to harass people and especially people that fit THEIR idea of who to harass, then he's completely out of touch with current reality.

I think you've got some great advice above. But the fact that he can't recognize that 1) There's real fear that is based in reality - and of course has been going on since before Trump and 2) That he should stop being an asshole and support his wife despite his own feelings then I'm not sure where to go from here to be honest. Would he go to therapy with you about this?

I'm sorry you're dealing with this. I think your feelings are valid.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:56 PM on November 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


like if i said that to you, or you to me, then THAT would be an ironic and timely joke, because it's based upon our shared heritage and immigrant status. that's what those jokes are for in times like these, to be used between people who have the same fears, the same backgrounds of political instability, the same learned helplessness over how much worse things can get, and need to make light of them. to use them in any other way, between people without these shared experiences, is deliberate and cruel othering, and not to create a sense of commonality.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:11 PM on November 12, 2016 [28 favorites]


Have you said to him, point-blank, "Do you know how much damage it does to our marriage, and to me, when you don't take my thoughts and feelings seriously?"

Because it's hard as hell to believe that the person who loves you most in this world, who is on your team, can also not want or be able to meet you where you are.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:16 PM on November 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


I find myself suspecting that this previous AskMe from you was about your husband. It's exactly the same type of behavior.

I (cis white male het abled atheist) spent days after the election in a hypervigilant rage, looking at white faces around me and trying to guess whether they voted for Trump, trying to look like the type of person who wants to talk politics so maybe they would talk to me about how Great America Is Again so I could jump down their fucking throats at the grocery store about how they voted for a serial abuser of women. Any Trump supporter who wandered into my purposefully siloed Facebook feed got their pathetic arguments picked apart, like an insect being played with by a psychopathic cat. I am going to renew my concealed carry permit and have started wearing a safety pin on my shirt. I am as upset as your husband is, if not more so.

I did not, however, laughingly tell my wife that she was going to be getting her pussy grabbed more often for the next four years.

The fact that your husband is saying these types of things indicates a severe emotional deficit that is 100% his job to fix. You do not need to say anything other than:

When you ... joke about me getting deported, or revel in the horrible consequences of a Trump presidency,
I feel ... terrified about emboldened bigots targeting our marriage and children, and mournful for the families that are actually going to be separated.
I need ... you to find someone else to tell these jokes to, if you can't stop making them entirely,
So that ... I can feel like you are my sworn ally and supporter, and start to work my way out of this depression.

If that doesn't stop him dead in his fucking tracks, he needs to go to couples therapy with you immediately so he can learn to communicate like an adult. If he won't go, you have a very difficult decision to make.

I am so sorry that this is happening to you right now.
posted by radicalawyer at 3:35 PM on November 12, 2016 [29 favorites]


Since you are married to him and are not going to be divorcing him (i presume) anytime soon, the best approach will be to sit his a** down and let him know what is okay and what is not. Be clear, concise and leave the "feel" bits out. Just what is acceptable and what is not. My sense is that you have not had much of that conversation with hi.

There are some red flags here. He most likely never paid any attention to your ethnicity or background. Which begs the question-how much of an identity do you really have in this relationship? Another question-were you assertive enough for him to respect you as an individual?

I get the sense that he does not respect you enough, neither your identity as a hispanic (and your cultural background) nor your identity as an individual (you as a person who has her own opinions and choices).
The fact that he can make fun of your fears, disappointments and worries makes him a royal dick. Please don't have kids with this man.
posted by metajim at 3:43 PM on November 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


He's also picked up the ironic-leftist thing of saying "You have to go back" all the time and thinking it's hilarious

I had to look up what exactly this meant, but... that is some full-on racist bullshit. People who wear blackface are "just joking" as well.
posted by cmoj at 3:48 PM on November 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


I am so sorry corb. :(

My husband doesn't see how our home or family will be affected

"You say you don't see how this will affect our home or family - I am part of your family and part of this home, and right now it is affecting me, because it makes me feel really sad, really scared, really hopeless. That's how it is already affecting your family."
posted by sallybrown at 4:40 PM on November 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


(and I'm not saying this to excuse his behavior - he is behaving horribly and intentionally hurting his partner - but I wonder whether this lashing out is a way he is dealing with his own emotions of fear and pain?)
posted by sallybrown at 4:41 PM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


One useful way to frame it for him, might be that Trump won because so many people voted for him. In other words however many million Americans at best don't think it's a big deal that he's hating on Hispanics and at worst actively agree with all the 'build the wall' crap. Ditto the issues with women.
So this election has really highlighted the low regard woman and ethnic minorities are held by many Americans. It's like an instant devaluation of your own self.

I would be very upset too that he couldn't empathise with this. He sounds kinda sexist, to be frank. Good luck with the slow chipping away that will have to be done. That 'not being believed about real emotions' thing is infuriating and depressing.
I read this quote earlier and wonder if it resonates with you in any way:

Gloria Steinem

“I myself cried when I got angry, then became unable to explain why I was angry in the first place. Later I would discover this was endemic among female human beings. Anger is supposed to be ‘unfeminine’ so we suppress it — until it overflows. I could see that not speaking up made my mother feel worse. This was my first hint of the truism that depression is anger turned inward; thus women are twice as likely to be depressed.” —My Life on the Road, October 2015
posted by stevedawg at 6:21 PM on November 12, 2016 [16 favorites]


I'm Hispanic, but he doesn't really think of me as Hispanic enough to be concerned about this because my family doesn't match his picture of what Hispanics look or act like.

To me, this is a classic piece of racism: the people he knows don't seem to be part of xyz group to him, because to him they are other, and you are not. He may even think he is paying you a compliment by not considering you part of this "other" group. He's also suggesting you haven't had to cope with discrimination. And thus, I guess, you're supposed to be able to laugh at his awful jokes?

If he's to the left, I would think he wouldn't be totally unfamiliar with the concept of microaggression, which-- well I don't think what he is doing is microaggression; it's just aggression, but the word describes what you go through day by day when you are not white. Does he not think you face these things? If he were my partner, I'd be trying to help him out by demonstrating to him how prejudiced and ignorant he is coming across.
posted by BibiRose at 9:53 PM on November 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Sounds to me like you're way past trying to negotiate. Say "You're being a shit. I'm leaving. I may be back in a few hours."
posted by at at 10:16 PM on November 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


So sorry you're dealing with this. I believe I told this story about a guy somewhere else on mefi - but it seems relevant here. I'm Black American/Caribbean, and was studying abroad in Europe, dated a White guy from the country I studied abroad in. He used to say disparaging things about the Africans who had immigrated to his country. When I called him on it, he would tell me that it was different, I was different, because I was American.

Ultimately, I had to break up with him.

It wasn't just that he lacked the ability to see my connection to these people. It was because when he said that he wasn't talking shit about me, when he was talking shit about the Africans, I saw two things:

1) that he wasn't being compassionate. The fact that he was talking shit that way about ANYONE - another human being - revealed a cruelty to me that literally gave me headaches around the cognitive dissonance when I considered how kind, and wonderful he was in every. other. scenario. Like a delicious apple that just had this rotten part.

2) that he wasn't thinking strategically. That he thought he had some control that he didn't. He thought that because he saw me as American, and not African, that his other countrymen would too. As if he was the arbiter about how racist other people get to be. But he had no control over that. By treating all Africans with respect, and requiring that from his friends, he increased the chances that I would not be molested by is countrymen, who saw my skin color before they heard my accent, or those who didn't care about my accent or my nationality, just my race.

And so in a way, he was both 1) cruel and 2) stupid. And it was only a part of him - he was also kind, funny, knowledgable, compassionate. And something about this hurt me to the core, because I knew I wasn't safe with him, because he was blind to a small part of his own inhumanity and the inhumanity of others. Doubly so, because he thought he was worldly, because he was 'dating a Black Woman'.

Now, years later, in the US, married to a White guy. Have a kid. I've been laid out since Trump won. In my worst moments, I feel like I'm choking. My husband can't experience what I'm feeling, and doesn't feel it to the same degree, but he listens. My fears may be wrong - but the consequences if they aren't are huge, and he was willing to acknowledge that. He thoughtfully suggested that we at least, could get our kid their passport, not necessarily because he thinks we'll have to make a run for it, but because it's a reasonable step to allay my fears right now.

And I am still terrified in my worst moments, I at least understand that I won't be fighting the Trump and my husband. My psyche couldn't take that.

I am so sorry you're going through this. I am so sorry that any of us are going through this.
posted by anitanita at 7:08 AM on November 13, 2016 [20 favorites]


Thank you everyone for your really, really helpful advice and support and love.

I think honestly jessamyn's comment really pins down why I was freaking out so badly - because it felt like the darkest timeline where all of a sudden the place you no longer feel welcome extends to your own household, and it feels like the nightmare you're always dreading suddenly is real.

I also realized from some of the questions here that it wasn't actually obvious at home exactly how deeply sad I was, because I've been trying to put on a tough face for my kid and have been doing all the crying when alone - which also included where my husband couldn't see.

So on advice I tried to make it blunt - I sat him down and explained that it's not just about whether Trump will or won't do the terrible things that I'm pretty sure we are in real danger of but also what it says about the country that so many people were okay with it and also what I feel about all the people crawling out from rocks and showing their horrible racism at schools and in spray paint and really just all over. I told him it makes me really, really fucking sad, not just a little but actually horribly depressed. I told him that I never wanted to hear that 'go back' stuff again, that it didn't matter if he didn't really believe it or thought I would never see it again, every time he said it it made me feel like I was a lesser person and lesser American because of my ethnicity and family's immigration status. He was really surprised by that and has promised to never say that again.

According to him he's just been trying to focus on anything good he can find in the Trump victory so that we can "persevere and not get knocked down by it" which I guess I can understand but am still pissed about?

I think one thing this has maybe exposed though - I think I assumed because he was really hard on the left and married me that we were in agreement around race stuff even though we hadn't talked about it, but it actually seems kind of obvious that he is at best clueless and at worst kind of, I don't know how to say it, neglectfully racist? Is that a thing?

Anyway, thanks everyone and also for those of you who sent me really kind and supportive memails. You are all the bright place in the world this week.
posted by corb at 8:12 AM on November 13, 2016 [29 favorites]


I think it's totally valid to be pissed about the "let's look on the bright side and persevere" thing. There are a lot of reasons why. One is that you have your own perspective and if he responds with "No, let's persevere," it invalidates your perspective a bit. Sometimes what I want to hear is, "Yeah, that does suck," because that agrees with what I'm saying and feeling. There are times when I see myself wanting to fall on the "... but, really, persevere!" side (with issues I'm not as close with) and I think the solution for me is to be clear, and ask for clarification from others, about whether empathy or positive-forward-looking-encouragement is called for. Like, if someone says something to me, I now err on the side of empathy (only) and sometimes ask what would be helpful. I have to assume I don't know (just as people who care about me sometimes don't know what I would feel comforted by).

Another reason to be pissed is that phrase (coming from him) is likely based in privilege, in that some people, no matter how much they persevere, can still get knocked down. They don't have control over whether they get deported or harassed. For some people--your husband--their experience is mainly going to be determined by their attitude. For others their experience is going to be determined by others, because they don't have that control and assumed position of, like, invincibility.

I also think "neglectful racism" is a thing, maybe similar to "benevolent sexism." I saw a video that described racism as a treadmill, as "the way things go here" thanks to our nation's history, context, etc. If you are going to NOT go on that treadmill, you have to take steps to be actively antiracist. You are going one way or the other; there isn't a way to step off the treadmill.

Maybe he'll be open to doing some exploring on his own about how to be a supportive and antiracist person and better partner!
posted by ramenopres at 11:57 AM on November 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


I misposted this elsewhere (although also sadly relevant, thanks Melted-Cheeto) due to phone-posting: corb, this week's Dear Sugar podcast was about racism in marriage in part, and had a hopeful positive story about a couple who worked through the husband's racism, and about being heard by your loved ones. Maybe that'll be something for you and your husband to listen to?
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 1:13 AM on November 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


My spouse did not vote for Trump, but he is a leftist who has a lot of frustrations with "liberals" and is...not as sympathetic as he could be.

It sounds like he is putting you in the camp of his adversaries, liberals. Some leftists can be smug and assholey and think "you got what you deserved" toward liberals, and there's Bern It Down types that want everything to go to shit because I guess that shows us, huh? (I'm really not trying to derail this into a political discussion, I'm just trying to comprehend the attitude at play here). Politics in general, but especially this election, are an emotional minefield. But there are limits when it comes to people you're intimate with.

It's one thing to have that attitude about a coworker but I don't think I'd even display that attitude towards a friend (even if I couldn't help quietly feeling it), much less a spouse. He sounds like he has some deeper resentments and condescension that is coming out as humor. If you have expressed discomfort, he doesn't get a free pass for making a mistake. He's messing with your head; this is a terrible thing for a partner to be doing. I do understand that this election has brought out the worst in people. Maybe he's not normally like this. If he has had other incidences of undercutting you, dismissing your feelings, condescending to you, I would strongly consider leaving. If there are children involved, then counseling is a good idea, but otherwise, he could be chipping away at your sense of self more than you're even aware of. Sometimes when people are emotionally abusive, we don't fully grasp the effects until they are out of our lives.

How he can be so insensitive and dismissive (that's the really bad part; it's like he thinks you're too stupid to 'get it'), cruelly taunting you about your background and then gaslighting you to make you think it's all a big misunderstanding and that *your feelings are the problem*...I'd step back and take a long look about patterns of behavior here. You may see that he has patterns and you may see them in a different light now. Sometimes mindf**ckers have us in a fog and then it clears and you have to evaluate their true effects in your life.

Personally, I have decided that anyone in my life who decides that my feelings are the problem regarding owning up to their behavior can fuck right off. Whether you want to cut the cord is up to you.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 10:31 PM on November 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


But the way, I wouldn't go so far as to label this as psycho/sociopathic, but probably more Garden Variety Dickhead. But either way, you deserve better. If he can't come around to seeing it, then goodbye GVD.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 10:36 PM on November 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm Hispanic, but he doesn't really think of me as Hispanic enough to be concerned about this because my family doesn't match his picture of what Hispanics look or act like.

I am MONTHS late to this question but holy shit this is super racist/classist. Does he not consider you Hispanic? Does he not know Hispanic people come in different colors? I have white-ish features, and if my husband ever even hinted that I am not really Hispanic or if he played into the racist belief that "the browns" and I are somehow of different standing I would tear up my shirt in fury.

Like I'm not clueless and I know the darker you are the worse people treat you, but for example right now those getting illegally deported are our people. And it hurts because you and I know that they (or their parents) were racially profiled and marginalized in their country of origin as well. We take it personally, and just because we were phenotypically lucky (ew) doesn't mean we aren't in the target population. First, because we have empathy. Second, because you would have to be a dunderhead to not be nervous and worried. They annulled green cards at one point during the Muslim ban, they could annul naturalization certificates if things get bad enough.

Ugh it reminds me of the people I've met in the US who happily suggested that I can pass for "white" (read: non Hispanic), guess what assholes I don't want to*. Like do you think pretending I'm not Hispanic would help me automatically not give a shit about Hispanic people? I would still care. Plus, I fucking like my heritage, and you aren't doing me any favors by giving me the chance to hide it!

Latin America has enough racism as it is, no need to reinforce it.

*kind of related pet peeve: I don't have the innate ability to help you make Mexican food, either
posted by Tarumba at 11:13 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


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