This is hard to write, not because I fear to admit it will make this real, but because I have a hard time accepting that my husband and I will probably never see eye to eye on something so minuscule in the grand scheme of life.
From the beginning
we do have much in common: golf, the education of our children, appreciation for history, importance of nuclear family time and the number of children and pets we should have (May try to push him on that, but for right now, I’m good with one cat and one dog). What we don’t have in common are some political ideologies. **Let me preface this** While I sit on the fence as an independent (liberal views on social issues/conservative views financially), he sits on the more left-leaning side (I call him a Democrat, but I don’t consider him a liberal).
Now, I don’t have an issue with him being a Democrat. He is educated, smart and has strong points of view that point him in that direction. We have had good debates where I walk away saying, “I get that, and I never thought of it that way…” No, my issues aren’t with his arguments, but with his family’s background in politics versus my own.
My family is staunch Republicans (some with good reasons, others with not so good ones). They have always been respectable and while they can get riled up, I haven’t left a conversation where I felt they crossed the line with their beliefs (however, my unicorn for my family may have fogged their words in my eyes). In some ways, I find that my family is more tolerant than those that claim they are ‘tolerant’ on the Democrat side.
While I do believe that there is intolerance on both sides (duh!), I do find that Democrats have a way of being more intolerant than those they claim spout intolerance (If that makes sense). My husband disagrees, as we both have experience in being on the opposite of those who don’t like us for our ideological background.
The ghost of the political pasts
In college, I felt outnumbered and attacked (not always personally), all because I didn’t hold a “Kerry/Edwards” bumper sticker, or wear a shirt that held their logo on it. God forbid you say you like Bush or show empathy for him, then you were an idiot or ignorant on all issues. I never got the argument spewed by liberal classmates that Bush was behind 9/11, as those were the same people that claimed he was stupid – contradict yourself much? In some ways, Republicans had to shield themselves as much as some minorities did years ago. Why is that? For all those students that tout tolerance and acceptance for all, they could not accept that people voted Republican.
On the other hand, my husband has had the opposite experience. He felt outnumbered at church and made to feel guilty about voting Democrat. Our area is extremely red in voter terms, and aside from his family, he had no other person to turn to talk politics with. While I do enjoy talking politics with him, it can quickly get heated as he starts to spout the sins of Republicans, all while forgetting that Democrats have done the same.
Snippets of our conversations:
Husband: Trump cheats on his wife and isn’t respectful to women
Me: This from the same guy who liked Clinton (Not that I like what Trump says about women or his bully-esque actions).
Husband: Bush got us into Iraq
Me: What about LBJ and Vietnam?
Husband: That was before my time and I can’t speak on the effect it had during that time…
These sort of conversations take me back to college and being reminded me of my bottom of the barrel beliefs that everyone belittled (or felt like they did). While I loved my college years, those few conversations I had or had to be subjected to, were enough to make me realize my place in the hierarchy of college campus political ideologies. I was made to feel like, “We accept everyone, gay, straight, black, white, etc…except Republican…not them.” I mean…What kind of acceptance is that? Now you know why Trump was elected….
It’s not that I want my husband to change who he is (I love the man I married and his beliefs). I just want him to acknowledge my personal struggle with him defending the actions of those who tore me down. In essence, I feel as if he is siding with those who made me feel like an awful person. Why can’t be put aside his feelings to legitimize my own? As I am writing this out, I realize how ridiculous this sounds.
During an emotional debate between us one night, I made the mistake of asking do you believe in anything my family says or believes in? He thought for a nanosecond and simply replied, “No.” I felt my heart fall because I realized that I was hopeless in ever hoping he would see a side that I considered a part of my life, myself and my heart. While my own views have changed and evolved, I still hold a sliver of appreciation for a political party that shaped the family that I love and adore. By denying those views, I felt that he was denouncing a part of myself, one that he married, made vows to, and said, “I love you” too.
The dynamic I most worry about happening is that our beliefs will lead us to being on opposite sides of the spectrum, not because they are all that different, but because we feel as if we have to defend ourselves as we did in the past. My husband is not like some of my classmates who blamed me for Bush winning the 2004 election, and I am not an Evangelist looking to condemn those who don’t hold the same exact views that I do.
I guess we both have to stop and realize that we aren’t the ghost of the past looking to fight, but partners who are building a life together with their wonderful children. It doesn’t really matter who we vote for or what we believe on Foreign Policy. He may be more pro-Union while I love the independence of being free of them. Are those the issues we should be arguing about? No….there are much more important things we can focus on as a married couple.
As I finish my thoughts, I hope that I can improve my acceptance of my husband’s background and shared political feelings he holds with his family. I realize that while he may share similar opinions with his mom, it doesn’t undermine what he shares with me and our life together. I love him…regardless of his beliefs…..after all, no one’s perfect, right?