Dear Prudence

The Wall Between Us

My husband supports Donald Trump. Will it ruin our marriage?

Mallory Ortberg
Mallory Ortberg.

Photo by Sam Breach

Get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week by signing up in the box below. Please send your questions for publication to (Questions may be edited.)

Got a burning question for Prudie? She’ll be online here on Slate to chat with readers each Monday at noon. Submit your questions and comments here before or during the live discussion.

Dear Prudence, 
My husband supports Donald Trump and I find this very disturbing. He’s never affiliated himself with either political party and his views have always been a bit of a mixed bag—he’s voted for both Republicans and Democrats in the past. While we’ve often disagreed on political issues, what I admired about him was his ability to think critically about issues and come to his own conclusions. However, I just can’t stomach his conclusion that Trump would be a qualified president—I find Trump’s views repulsive. I just can’t get past this and can’t help to think this reveals something about my husband’s character that I didn’t know. Also, I find it embarrassing. I usually am pretty open-minded about other people’s beliefs, but this is just proving to be a thorn in my side. How do I get past this? Or do I need to get past it? 

—Dump Trump

You have unsurprisingly found a sympathetic listener in me! There are some instances where it’s not always best to be open-minded, and this may be one of them. Which is not to say that you should start berating your husband until he agrees with you politically, but that “liking Trump” is not a part of your husband’s personality you need to gently accept. I think it’s worth having difficult conversations with him about this. What specifically about Trump’s policies appeal to your husband? The prospect of mass deportations? Building a wall along the Mexican border? Restricting travel in the U.S. on the basis of religion? That’s more than a thorn in your side, I believe; those may be fundamental differences in how you think fellow human beings should be treated. This is not a grit-your-teeth-until-November situation; depending on how he answers, there may be fundamental differences in your marriage as well.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
When I was adopted, I got more than just parents—I got a whole family. This included a cousin who was exactly my age, and we immediately became best friends. We grew apart as teenagers, but I was the one she turned to when she learned she was pregnant. I knew her mother would disown her, so I helped her procure an abortion and went with her to the clinic, where we were seen by a classmate. I already had a bit of a reputation and was more resilient than my cousin, so I told everyone it was me getting an abortion. My cousin dropped me when all my friends did. Afraid her mom would hear about the clinic, she told her she’d accompanied me. My aunt told my parents, who nearly disowned me, and our relationship has never recovered. They still seem to regret adopting me, and I’m not welcome in family photos. I’m not welcome to attend holidays held at my aunt’s house because she thinks I “dragged her daughter down with me,” even 10 years later. My cousin remains the perfect angel of the family. I’m so fed up—I want to just tell everyone the truth. I don’t expect it to fix a thing, but I’m tired of carrying the burden. Would it be wrong of me to spill? I don’t want to be the black sheep anymore.

—Tired of Secrets

I’m pretty sure your family will find a way to make you stay the black sheep no matter what you do or say. Their desire to punish you is so calculated, such a long-running campaign, that I fear you will never be able to have a relationship with them that is not based upon isolation, recrimination, and abuse. You have reasonable expectations about what honesty can bring to this situation—you’re aware that your relationship with your family is damaged beyond repair through no fault of your own—but you should also keep in mind there’s a very good chance they won’t believe you, and that your cousin will call you a liar if you tell the truth. If she was willing to let you take the fall for her for all these years, I don’t think she’ll have any compunction about trying to do it again now.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing, of course. You’ve kept a secret for a decade and I think you’re right to want to unburden yourself, but be aware that the outcome may be worse than you anticipated. More importantly, I think you should seriously consider to what degree you want your extended family in your life, and how to go about minimizing your contact with them, so you’re not setting yourself up for a lifetime of getting shoved out of frame during family photo time.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
My husband and I dated for five and a half years before getting married this past November. We decided to wait until marriage to have sex, which was mostly something that my husband insisted on. I’ve had sex in previous relationships and now I am realizing that sex with my husband is not at all enjoyable for me. I’ve tried discussing this with him but he gets offended and claims he “sees nothing wrong” with our sex life as it is. I have no idea what to do from here. I can’t go the rest of my life like this. What steps should I take next?


Get counseling—either together or separately if he’s unwilling to go. That said, I’m not optimistic. I don’t want to be one of those advice columnists who, from the relative comfort of her home, instructs everyone to leave their partners, but I think the end of this marriage is a matter of when, not if. He was happy not-sleeping with you for five years, and more damningly is happy having sex that’s unpleasant for you now, and doesn’t consider your sexual dissatisfaction as a sign that anything’s wrong. Perhaps if you let him know you can’t live the rest of your life like this and you’re considering ending your marriage, he’ll agree to work on your sex life together. Given his track record, I think it’s more likely that he’ll be happy to let you walk away.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
After years of putting it off, I have taken the plunge and decided to go on hormones to transition from male to female. My partner has been so supportive and I treasure him dearly, and we decided to abstain from sex until some future point where I felt it was right. Last week we shared a deeply intimate moment at karaoke (it sounds strange, but he sang a song that’s very meaningful to me, and I cried) and we ended up having sex. I was a full and enthusiastic participant, but after the rapture subsided and my tears of joy turned to tears of shame, we both knew it was a mistake. Now we are both so riddled with guilt we can hardly look at each other. My doctor gave me the names of targeted therapists, but I didn’t think I would need it at the time. This is becoming too much for me. Now I’m not even sure I want to continue with the transition. I don’t know if this is a normal part of the transitioning process. Should I talk to somebody about this, or just ride it out and see if it will pass?

—Full of Guilt

Neither of you did anything wrong, but it’s important to pay attention to the fact that having sex with your partner quickly felt like a “mistake” that made you cry. I spoke with Merritt Kopas, a trans writer and radio host, for some advice about dealing with intimacy and emotions after starting hormones:

Sex, especially during transition, is often a fraught space where all kinds of difficult feelings can come up without anyone necessarily being at fault.

I would also add that starting hormonal transition is a huge change! You are altering your body chemistry. It’s really common for trans people who’ve just started hormones to experience mood swings, and combined with the fact that you’re more sensitive toward your body than ever, you are probably going to be crying a lot! It’s totally normal, which doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck, obviously. This exact experience happened to me years ago and has probably happened to every trans woman I know when they started out.

It’s easy to forget about the somatic aspects of mood. But just as our sleeping and eating patterns can affect how we’re feeling, altering your body’s chemical patterns will do the same. Check in with yourself periodically to remind yourself that you’re not bad or wrong; there’s just a big thing going on with your body right now and eventually things will calm down.

I hope you don’t beat yourself up too much for having been intimate with your partner after a moment of intense connection, and that you can give yourself room to figure out what it is that you need from him. I think it would do you a world of good to see a therapist who specializes in issues facing women going through transition. You deserve all the support you can get, from every possible corner.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I was ordained online and am officiating at the wedding of a daughter of a good friend this summer. While I know the daughter very well, I don’t know as much about her husband-to-be. In order to provide some anecdotes about him during the service, I Googled. I came across an article regarding his arrest for a truly concerning criminal accusation (it was definitely him, there was a picture). Because he is not on the sex offender registry, I do not believe he was convicted. I am no super-sleuth, and this information is readily available, so I assume my friend’s daughter knows about it, but I am not sure. Do I just keep my mouth shut? Do I mention it to my friend?

—Reluctant Minister

I think you should bring it up. You’re being asked not just to attend but perform the ceremony, and you shouldn’t go through with it if you’re not sure it’s the right thing to do. Bring it up in a non-accusatory way with the bride-to-be. Tell her you’ve learned that her fiancé was once arrested for a serious crime, and that you’re concerned for her well-being but wanted to go to her for the full story. If she’s aware of it, and they’ve discussed it, and he was wrongfully arrested or there were mitigating circumstances you’re not aware of, she’ll be able to put your mind at ease and you won’t have to perform the wedding with a black cloud over your head. Or you may decide you no longer feel comfortable marrying them. Either way, you can’t un-know what you know now, and it’s a serious enough prospect that you owe it both to yourself and your friend’s daughter to ask questions.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I live in a different city from my long-term boyfriend, whom I love dearly. This weekend, I had far too much to drink and kissed another guy at a bar. It was a complete stranger—not someone I’m friends with, or attracted to, or anything of the sort. I have no idea what came over me, and I don’t even recognize that behavior. I did a lot of self-reflection, and I’ve decided that I need to get a hold of my drinking—I’m not a big drinker during the week, but occasionally on a weekend night I’ll binge drink. I even downloaded an app to help me track my drinks. My question is: Do I need to tell my boyfriend? It would crush him and it meant NOTHING—it was the biggest mistake of my life. I’m afraid I would be ruining a relationship over something completely insignificant. It was only a kiss. What do you think?

—Loose Lips

You don’t have to tell your boyfriend, but you should. The kiss may have been nothing to you, but it’s not for you to decide how significant your boyfriend will consider it. Maybe he’ll get angry, maybe he’ll understand, maybe he’ll want to end your relationship. I certainly can’t guarantee that if you tell him the truth, you’re going to get the response you want, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. Your regret, and your explanation of the circumstances, will help him understand that you love and respect him and want to make things right. Wanting to change your drinking habits is a fine step, but your question is about something that already happened. I suspect you won’t tell him about the kiss—hardly cause for a permanent stain upon your soul—but this is a case where I think it’s better for you and your relationship to hash it out honestly than to withhold information.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I’m in college and have spent the past year trying to set up my roommate with one of my classmates (they are perfect for each other). It now seems as if that will finally pay off, as they have a date coming up—I’m so psyched for them! There is one problem though: I’ve been sleeping with said classmate. Both of us have been going through a rough patch and have been using each other as comfort, but there are no feelings involved whatsoever—we are just very good friends (I have an amazing long-term boyfriend, who knows and understands all of this). Now that my roommate and classmate are getting together, the sex element of my friendship with my classmate is over, but there’s already been awkwardness with my roommate—I think she wants me to stop hanging out with my classmate (who’s also my best friend here). Is there a way I can reassure my roommate that I’m not interested without having to lose my best friend?

—Love Triangle

This sounds like a more-than-unusually fraught situation. You’ve orchestrated your ex-lover’s next relationship with the woman you live with, who’s already uncomfortable with how close you are with said ex-lover. You think your roommate wants you to spend less time with your classmate, but you don’t know for sure. You’ve ended your sexual relationship, but until the subject actually comes up, I don’t think it’s your responsibility to demote your friendship with your classmate. However, I do think it is your responsibility to reduce your future meddling by a good 85 percent. It may work out between them and it may not; you have already put the ball in motion and now must let it roll. Mentally categorize their possible romantic relationship as None of Your Business and keep from worrying too much about reassuring—or losing—either one.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
My ex-wife and I divorced three years ago (for various reasons, mostly because we were not very physically attracted to each other). We still get along really well, share values, and are good co-parents to our 5-year-old daughter. Neither of us is in a long-term relationship, but we both want a second child, and we want our daughter to have a sibling. I consider her to be a great mom, and she thinks I’m a great dad. Would it be weird to have a kid together now (either through insemination or the regular way)?

–Parent Trap

I do think it would be weird, but that’s no reason not to do it. There are worse things than weird. It sounds like you’re in a stable co-parenting situation, neither of you is in a relationship with someone else, and you both want the same thing. If you both feel very strongly about having another child and are willing to consider all the possible complications that can (and will) arise from this arrangement, I think it’s worth pursuing. Good luck adding to your family!

* * *

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

More Dear Prudence Columns

Porn Pays: My family has no idea all our money comes from adult websites.”
Hanky-Panky Politics: I once had an affair with a man now running for office. Should I come forward?”
Twist and Shout: My husband punishes our children far too roughly. What can I do?”
Can’t Stomach It: I was shamed for getting gastric bypass surgery. Should I keep the procedure a secret?”

More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts

Getting Out of Hand: Prudie advises a woman whose 14-year-old son is pleasuring himself too much and in odd places.”
Too Hot to Hold: Prudie counsels a woman convinced her boyfriend’s good looks will doom their relationship.”
Oh, Boy: Prudie counsels a letter writer whose sister dresses her 4-year-old son in pink tutus.”
Rumor Has It: Prudie counsels a woman hounded by gossip that she secretly put a disabled baby up for adoption.”