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Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. I would like your advice on how to handle a problem in my marriage. My husband has become increasingly conservative politically. He has moved away from formerly moderate views and is now very right wing.

A recent poll he took ranked him in the most conservative 9 percent of people in the country. I have been a lifelong Democrat and support liberal viewpoints. This has resulted in some heated arguments between us.

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My husband claims that if I don’t agree with him it’s because I’m not listening. He refuses to acknowledge any validity to my opinions. He criticizes and mocks any Democratic politician or supporter. In the heat of an argument, he has said that if I can’t agree with him, we should just get divorced.

I even voted for Mitt Romney in November to avoid a fight, not because I supported him. How can I resolve this? Can Democrats and Republicans have a happy relationship?

A. Democrats and Republicans can have happy relationships, but unhappy, combative, and intolerant people probably can’t.

I don’t understand why you would value your own rights so little that you would throw your vote away on a candidate you didn’t support. I also don’t understand why you would disclose to your husband whom you chose to vote for in the privacy of the voting booth. This is your business, not his. You should assume at this point that politics is a place holder for other problems in your marriage.

If your husband is bullying, mocking, or threatening you by playing the divorce card in the heat of a political argument, then you should take this as a sign that unless you and he find a new way to talk (and listen) to each other your marriage is in deep trouble.

A marriage counselor could help you get to the bottom of your reactions to each other and help you learn to interact more respectfully. You should be able to respect each other personally, even when you disagree about politics.

Q. I am over 40 and seeing a divorced woman several years older than I. She has been divorced for more than eight years.

She belongs to a health club that I am against her going to. Over the years, she has had many intimate encounters with men she met there, including a sexual romp with a trainer at the club. She says he no longer works there. I have asked her to go to another gym, but she won’t. She claims this gym is convenient for her and there are no all-female gyms in the area.

I have no issues with her going to another coed gym. What do you think? Why won’t she give up that gym? Do I have a right to be upset that she goes there, knowing her past at this gym?

A. You feel how you feel, and you have a right to your feelings. However, you don’t have a right to forbid the woman you are dating from going to her gym.

You know her relationship and sexual history. I assume you believe her version of her own life. It’s much harder to trust your girlfriend than to insist that she remove herself from her stomping grounds. But your request is unreasonable, and she doesn’t want to give in to you because she doesn’t want you to control her.

She should respect your discomfort by asking you to join her during workouts, but removing her from her gym does not remove temptation from her life. Dealing with trust is a real workout for you. You’d better suit up.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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