Or, The Orange Man Wrecked My Marriage:
By now it’s a truism to point out that the election of Donald Trump… [has] prompted a wholesale realignment of American politics. But it’s also sent shock waves through heterosexual romance.
In the piously left-leaning New York magazine, Molly Langmuir invites us to sympathise with the inner turmoil of activist ladies who are blaming their unhappy marriages, their divorces and estrangements, and pretty much everything, on the continued existence of Donald Trump. There’s quite a bit of mental jungle to hack through, so bring a packed lunch:
29 percent of respondents to a May 2017 survey said their romantic relationship had been negatively affected by Trump’s presidency. And even people ostensibly on the same side of the issues as their partner have run into challenges, with the climate exacerbating or revealing new fault lines.
Ms Langmuir introduces us to several pseudonymous couples and singletons – people for whom the merest deviation in thought has proved too much to bear. First up, we meet Kirsten:
Growing up, my parents were very liberal. My dad’s gay, he’s been with his husband now for over 40 years. That was my normal. My mom remarried a guy who’s very liberal.
In high school, I also had a major drinking problem,
No. Don’t. We mustn’t rush to judge.
I was an art major at this big university…
Though, admittedly, she’s not making it easy.
…where I really didn’t fit in. All these girls had curling irons and were rushing sororities, but again I didn’t want to rock the boat. So I just kept partying more. Then at the end of the year, I was raped at a fraternity house and didn’t say anything about it.
Events seem to have taken a dark turn.
So I go home and I meet this guy. I’ll call him Geoffrey. He was a big Republican, and I wasn’t, but he was also a big drinker, like me. We started dating. It was a kind of revenge, that I could get a guy like the guy who raped me — I could get him to be nice to me. Looking back, it was all very strange.
A little… odd, certainly. A relationship based on revenge.
But then [Geoffrey and I broke up], and I got married and then had my son, and that relationship lasted for about 14 years. After we got divorced, I got sober, and then in 2010, I found Geoffrey on Facebook.
I’m not getting the feeling that this will play out well.
We started talking. We had a good time together. I didn’t really want to get married again, but I didn’t want to make anybody mad. So I said, “Sure, let’s get married.”
It’s almost as if a pattern were emerging. But anyhoo, the politics:
I don’t think Geoffrey voted for Trump. But he might have voted for John Kasich or Jeb Bush. I think they’re all idiots. But I didn’t get involved in the Hillary campaign. I just knew she’d win.
So when she didn’t, I fell into this black hole.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that, if your preferred candidate doesn’t win an election and you immediately spiral into serious depression, and watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, then the wheels on the wagon may already be rattling loose, and a little perspective may be in order. Say, a wider and more politically varied social circle, in which demurral is routine and diverging opinions don’t necessarily result in chronic rage. However, Kirsten sought solace in like-minded souls - other disaffected ladies of the left:
I was really energised. The people I was meeting were so bright and interesting.
Not everyone gets out much.
I took a class called Witnessing Whiteness and realised that racism is at the core of the problem of this country and that the only thing I can do is be an ally and show up and shut up.
And so, an alcoholic stalker of ex-boyfriends, and who bases intimate relationships on revenge, has fathomed society’s problems. And it’s all Whitey’s fault.
Geoffrey never went to one rally or meeting. He just didn’t care.
Perhaps Geoffrey wasn’t quite so enamoured of these “bright and interesting” people who think “whiteness” is the root of all social evil. Sadly, we aren’t privy to his perspective.
Then a girlfriend of mine got cancer, and I realised if I got cancer, I would’ve lived my whole life pretending to be something I’m not.
You may be assuming that I’m taking sentences from other articles, randomly, but I promise you I’m not. This is Kirsten’s reported train of thought, as shared by Ms Langmuir.
All of a sudden, I thought, I can’t be married anymore. There’s no time for complicity. There’s just none.
Yes, that’s the very next sentence. Whiteness is bad, conservatives are bad, and marriage is complicity. Do keep up.
Geoffrey was absolutely shocked. He said, “Are you 1,000 percent certain?” I said, “I am.” I told him I really wanted to work on making the world a better place, and I didn’t feel I could do that within the confines of our marriage.
At which point, I’m unsure whether to regard Geoffrey as hapless or having dodged a bullet.
I left feeling free, like in high school when your parents are out of town… Finally, I’m the feminist I should have always been.
At which point, comment is perhaps unnecessary.
Ms Langmuir goes on to share other tales of bedlamite sorrow. A woman named Samantha complains that her husband of 25 years, a fellow lefty, has “much less rage” than she does, specifically about “white privileged men,” and doesn’t wish to spend every evening equally infuriated by the existence of people whose politics differ somewhat. “Anger,” says Samantha, is her “de facto mode.” Though she’s trying to “get rid of it through therapy.”
A Brooklynite named Betsy boasts that “cultural change is like a steamroller. It flattens distinctions, and some people will get hurt,” by which she means men falsely and maliciously accused of rape, before adding, “and I’m okay with that.” Betsy and her husband are currently in counselling.
Another lady named Sarah tells us that her marriage became unsustainable “after the 2016 election, when I ramped up my political activism.” Sarah’s husband is described as “completely aligned” politically, a feminist, even, albeit one who doesn’t care to spend every waking hour raging about politics. “Talking about the Trump election,” says Sarah, “makes me more emotional than the end of my marriage.” And presumably, more emotional than the thought of her children losing the stability and reassurance of a family structure. But hey, priorities.
There are other woeful tales, all along similar lines - more than I can plough through without wanting to gnaw at my own elbows. Though readers are welcome to have a bash themselves, and then perhaps decide whether the root problem is actually, as claimed, the existence of Donald Trump, ectoplasmic “whiteness,” and the impending rape apocalypse, or something left unmentioned in the article, and maybe more specific to the ladies in question.