Do You Save Your Relationship with a Racist?

Photo by Joan Villalon on Unsplash

Hey Wendy,

I’m beside myself and I need honest advice here. When I met my husband 12 years ago, I fell in love with him almost instantly. But lately he’s been saying things that are changing my view of him.

With all that’s happening around race, he’s been sharing his opinions and they are racist and degrading. When we first met, he made comments, but I stupidly brushed them off, or angrily told him how I believed he was wrong.

We have a nine-year-old son, and my husband comments in front him. Luckily, my son holds the same beliefs as I do and hates the things his father says. I’m afraid it’ll make our son resent his father.

As his views become louder and more frequent, I am beginning to despise him. I can’t put up with it much longer! It seems our views on the world and race are so completely different that there’s no fixing the damage it is causing to our relationship. I just can’t seem to bring myself to let this one go.

He has NO reason to have these beliefs, he’s never been wronged by ANYONE from the African-American community. I don’t see why he has the anger, views, and beliefs that he does. He gets upset with me because I don’t share in his views.

Is there something I can do to try to change his views? I’m not crazy for thinking of leaving, right? Please help!

Sandra B.
Hey Sandra,

I’ve been working with women in the relationship field for 18 years, and one thing I know to be true is that when a woman loses respect for her person, it’s o-v-e-r. Maybe they don’t immediately move out or break up, maybe they hang in there for a while, but once the respect is gone and there’s no getting it back? Your relationship’s dead in the water.

Reread your question, because to me, it doesn’t sound like you’re after advice—it reads like you’re looking for validation.

Here, let’s test it. Pretend my advice is, “You have to stay at any cost.”

How are you feeling about that?

What does your gut say?

If I were your marriage counselor, would you fire me on the spot?

Differing Opinions vs Core Values

When it comes to our loved ones (chosen or bio), there will always be a certain difference of opinions and world views. And it’s fine to disagree. It’s okay to say, “Wow, you think that? Yeah, I don’t. I respectfully disagree with you.” The validity of astrology, Star Wars being the best film franchise ever made, hamburger vs. the Impossible Burger—there’s room for differing opinions.

And then there are the more core values that aren’t so easy to stomach when your beloved doesn’t share them. Opinions and views that will cause a loss of affinity and respect. You’ve bumped up against one of them.

When People Change

Can he change? Sure! But only if he wants to change. If he is amenable to learning things that could change his opinion, then I think there’s some hope here. And if he wants that, you can help, but you won’t be the one changing his mind, because that’s ultimately an inside job.  When someone means well and they want to learn, you can help by starting with openers like, “Hey, can I show you something?” Or, “I know a little something about this topic, may I share the information I’ve learned?” Enlist the help of trusted friends and family if you feel it would help the process.

Whatever the topic, if it’s near and dear to your heart and hits at the very core of your values and your partner doesn’t share your view? It’s kinda bad news. So no, you are not crazy for thinking about leaving, because without change, this is an untenable situation.

A Teachable Moment

Stay or go, your call, but please be a thoughtful mom and unpack this with your son either way. Walk him all the way through this. Help him navigate how to be a kind and respectful human in the world when he has to deal with other humans who don’t agree with him. Show him how to set a boundary gently and firmly. And if you leave, teach him that you can love someone, but you can’t always live with them if your core values are that different.

Learn Your Deal-breakers

And if you leave, once the dust settles, make a list of your deal-breakers. This way when you’re out there dating again and you get swept up in all that hot new relationship energy, you don’t breeze past the important stuff. This is why it took 121 first dates to meet my guy—some of the men I dated were hot and liked me, but we didn’t always share the same values. And when it comes to differing opinions on race, personally, I just couldn’t do it.

Good luck!

Wendy Newman is the author of 121 First Dates. She’s a dating, sex, and relationship expert who’s led hundreds of workshops and revolutionized the lives of over 70,000+ women internationally.

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