Q. I’ve been married for almost 30 years (second marriage) and have reached a crisis in this relationship. I am having great difficulty dealing with my spouse’s political beliefs. My political leanings are moderate to liberal. Meanwhile, my spouse has gone from being moderate and not politically involved to becoming more and more staunchly conservative and a politically right-wing Trump supporter.
Several months ago, he was fired from his longtime employer for refusing the COVID vaccine, which, at the time, caused me fear and much pain in our relationship. I felt his stance was unsafe, extreme, and undermined our future plans (since I was on the cusp of retiring). After much soul-searching, I decided to try to accept his decision not to be vaccinated as his own personal choice. Our adult children were strongly against his decision and it caused a rift in our family. Since I accepted his choice, things have improved, but it’s not perfect (what is?). The kids have communication with him through me and will visit us, but don’t really care whether he is involved or not.
The recent events in the news have caused this divide in our political beliefs to reopen. I fear this will keep happening and could get worse. I sometimes wish I could just “live and let live” — but it’s been difficult. In fairness, he has found another job, he is supportive of me, and a helpful and kind partner. But not when we argue! We get upset and emotion takes over both of us. For the sake of saving our marriage, I’m trying to figure out if I should just find a way to accept our differences (we can’t really talk about them without fighting). I know if I let it bother me, then we’re in for trouble. At this stage of my life, I want peace. I’m open to any and all advice.
A. This question is about what you can live with. We all have different deal-breakers, different problems that make it seem necessary to walk out the door.
My only real advice is that there should be no pressure to accept things as they are, or to stay married by finding some middle ground. The ground has shifted, and everything is unsteady.
Sometimes I suggest that couples in this position volunteer for an organization they both believe in, so they can see where their values overlap, but in your case, that might not be enough. Also, his “kindness” in other parts of your marriage might not make up for all of the problems.
You should consider whether it’d feel better — and less lonely — to be single. People evolve out of relationships for so many valid and important reasons. Politics is absolutely one of them.
You want peace. Will you ever have it with your spouse at this point? It doesn’t sound like it. He might feel the same.
If his beliefs are contained and not affecting how he treats you, you could always agree to not discuss them and let him ruminate on his own without participating. WIZEN
I personally cannot imagine living with someone whose values did not mirror mine. That’s what politics are, especially now — values. What you believe about life, death, autonomy, how other human beings should be treated. CATCHERINRYE
Find the latest season of the Love Letters podcast at loveletters.show. Meredith Goldstein wants your letters! Send your relationship quandaries and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Columns and responses are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.