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The question

My husband and I have always enjoyed following politics and watching news and current events on TV. Lately, though, I am finding it difficult to be constantly exposed to (bombarded with) this type of television, given the current political climate in the U.S. and around the world. It simply hurts too much. My husband insists on having political news and commentary on from essentially the moment we arrive home from work until we go to bed, and then again first thing in the morning with breakfast. When I protest, he argues that he shouldn't have to turn something off just because I don't like it, and that I need to either learn to deal with it or leave the room. Am I being unreasonable to expect him to be more sensitive to how this affects me, particularly in my own home, and turn off the TV? I should note that we live in a one-bedroom condo, so "leaving the room" isn't much of an escape.

The answer

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Obviously, your husband is not alone. I know all kinds of people who used to take only a passing or casual interest in politics but have recently become glued to the 24-hour news cycle, obsessed.

I have one friend in mind, an author and sometime travel writer, who used to discourse on a wide variety of topics and subjects. But now, at least if his Facebook feed is any indication, he appears unable to think or speak on any matters other than U.S. politics.

He keeps claiming he is going to take a break, or talk about something else. But he can't! He always comes back within a matter of hours. He can't change the topic.

He can't kick the habit. He's a Trumpaholic. A pinwheel-eyed Trump junkie. I might seem facetious but I'm not. I know a lot of people in the grips of it, and their symptoms remind me of other oholisms (alc-, work-): isolation, obsession, numbness, to name just a few.

And in your husband's case: irritability, and pushing away loved ones in order to feed the beast.

The good news is it'll probably burn itself out. I was hooked on the 24-hour news cycle at first, too. But after a while it gets repetitive, and all the talking heads just start to sound like talking ducks: quack quack quack.

The bad news is: I think there's an underlying issue here – more marital than political.

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Basically, I don't like the sound of this "if you can't deal with it leave the room" business one bit.

If I were to say something like that to my wife, I'd be sleeping on the couch lickety-split.

(I might sleep on the couch just for thinking it! "I know you better than you know yourself, Dave," she proudly boasts after 24 years. And it's true: She can read my mind at this point, and we'll sometimes get into an argument about a thought-balloon appearing over my head – even though I didn't say it aloud!)

Modern marriage is all about negotiation between equals. I think your husband needs to learn, or relearn, to speak to you as an equal, and to negotiate cohabiting within the confines of your cramped shared space in good faith.

Why not suggest he go on a "news diet" for a while? To continue the fowl (foul?) analogies, it doesn't have to be cold turkey. But don't you be a chicken about it, either.

Maybe put a positive spin on it. Gently suggest he turn off the TV for a while so you and he can have a good, old-fashioned chat. The other thing marriage is most certainly about is communication, and I very much doubt he wooed when you were starting out by staring at the TV and snapping at you to deal with it or leave the room.

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Where's that guy? The more romantic, dynamic, less couch-spudsy one you married?

You don't have to say that in so many words – but you could insinuate it.

Maybe, for starters, when you're weaning him off his addiction, the two of you can talk about the news itself.

(It'll be like CNNAA for him: Cable News Network Addicts Anonymous.)

Be gentle. But stand firm. I don't think you're being "unreasonable" at all. In fact, I think if anything it's incumbent on the person creating the noise pollution to accommodate the one who wants peace and quiet: peace and quiet trumps noise, so to speak, especially in a small space like yours.

Ultimately, you'll be doing him a favour: helping him rediscover the polite, considerate and perhaps even romantic man all us husbands have somewhere inside that lump on the couch barking at you with the remote in his fist.

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