two sides

In ALL, MARRIAGE by Stephanie Klein

fork
 

It began with a hamburger. It was too cold out to grill, so I suggested we fry one up in a pan, the way my father used to do when I was growing up. Phil tried, he did, but our burgers ended up raw in the middle. The next afternoon he said maybe he’d try again. "I’ll do it," I said. "The key is a high flame." Phil was concerned about the splattering. "It’s just not worth it," he said as he pressed the meat into a uniform patty. "Are you gonna do it, or what?" he said. I put the pan on the flame. He micro managed a bit. Told me to use a splatter screen. So I did, but apparently not the right way. "What do you think that’s doing? You gonna clean up this mess? My god, my feet are drenched in it."

"That’s not smoke. It’s steam," I said. But I was wrong. It was smoke. The alarm sounded.
"You’re never doing anything ever again," he said. "Do you hear me?" Then he walked out to get a fan for the smoke. I opened the back door. He went around front to get another fan, opening the front door. The alarm was loud. I grabbed the phone, waiting for the alarm company to call. "You’re going to answer and deal with this when they call, right?" he said. And I knew he was asking because usually he’s the one to deal with such things. I’m sure I rolled my eyes. If I were to say, "What’s the big fucking deal? Yeah, I’ll answer the phone," it would become a long, long list of all he does, all the time, how he feels he’s taking care of a child. And I’ll want to leave him for the way he talks to me. So I say nothing, just hold the phone, waiting.

I walked into the laundry room, on my way to the alarm panel, planning on punching in our code. The alarms were still blaring. On my way, he said, "I already got it." I turned to him and said, "Oh, you did that–" then I made like I was punching keys. "Yeah, I got it." But I thought maybe I wasn’t being clear, so I said again, "You did the alarm code?" Then I said the code, just to clarify. And he went fucking psycho on me. Out of control.

"Why the fuck are you asking me that? Did I not just answer you?"
"But I was unsure if you knew what I meant."
"What else could you possibly have meant?!"
"Well, do you even want to hear why I asked you again? Do you even want to know why I asked twice?"
"Because you’re a fucking moron, that’s why!"
"I’m not talking to you. You’re being nuts."
"Stephanie. Listen to me. I need you to listen."
"No, what you need is an anger management class."
"I need you to stop talking. You ask me a question, and I answer it. That’s it! You do this all the fucking time. There’s no reason for you to ask it again!!!"
"Holy shit, Phil. Don’t you even care why I do that? Don’t you even want to hear."
"I don’t give a shit. It doesn’t matter why."
"No, Phil, you’re supposed to want to understand someone better, so you can see that it’s nothing personal. So you can understand it."
"I don’t need to understand it. I need you not to ask the fucking question again once I answer it! That’s all!!!"
"You’re out of control. I can’t talk to you."
"How ’bout this. From now on, Stephanie. When you ask me a question, I just won’t answer it." 

I sometimes repeat myself, repeat a question because I think maybe I was unclear.It’s almost a pattern in my speech. Maybe he thought I meant, did you open the door in the laundry room to get more air in here? I especially ask twice if the first time, he answers so quickly that it’s hard for me to know he even thought of the question. I’m still processing it. But no matter the reason, holy shit, to go off on me like that, to have a total tirade? I have to tell myself there must be much bigger issues at play, that he can’t get that angry about something so small. But to him, he’d argue that it’s not small. He’d tell me it’s about respect. Respect! I told him it’s just a habit that I have, but it doesn’t matter. And then it’s him calling me a moron, and all I can do is walk away telling him he’s acting nuts. And then, I just want to put it behind me and pretend it never happened. I don’t want to deal with it. I want a normal happy life. I wipe up the stove top, but forget the floor, so when I return again, it’s him and his sarcastic, "Don’t worry! I’ve got it!!!"

So later when I ask I ask him, "How’s it going?" he refuses to tell me, keeping his promise of "next time you ask me a question I’m just not gonna answer." What the fuck? It’s a lot of his pent up frustration, stress, anger about how much he does compared to how much I do, but it’s not cool, ever, to dump all that crap all over me like that, without an apology, without a nothing. Just a smugness, thinking, 100% that’s he’s right and has done nothing wrong. And it makes me want to leave.

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Three times in the last week you ask me a very specific question.  I, being considerate and attentive, answer your question directly, swiftly and caringly.  Each time you follow with asking me the same question literally as soon as I answered it.  The first 2 times i tried to explain to you how that makes me feel.  Each time as I started to you went off on me- "That’s just the way I am", "I didn’t think you understood my question", "I just wanted to be sure".  Bottom line is I told you if I answer your question I answer your question.  Period.  Asking me again right after makes me think "Why did I bother to answer it in the first place".  Also makes me feel as if you don’t believe my first answer and possibly you don’t think I have the capability of understanding it the first time even though I answered it.  Today when I tried to tell you how it makes me feel and ask you to stop you not only started in with 1- how it is not a big deal, 2- i just do it so live with it, 3- you’re psycho but you did what you seem to always do when I am the person having the dicsussion-  you decide you have something more important to do and walk to do it rather than standing and dealing with it.  Total lack of respect.  This time i think you felt you had to throw something out.

When I try and tell you this I get a barrage of excuses and finger pointing.  When I tell you I’m just not going to answer your questions the first time any more you tell me i’m being childish.  Perhaps but I don’t know what to do about having a wife who doesn’t care enough about putting her husband in frustrating situations.  I know you feel it isn’t a frustrating situation and I should just deal but the truth is it isn’t frustrating to you because you aren’t put in that situation over and over.  This is just one example and I hesitate because i do not keep score or a list and unfortunately that is one of the only ways to show you the real life situations.  By expressing the cloud you put over our interactions and how they make me feel you respond with "You’re just psycho" totally marginalizing me.

When I try to allow you to talk without interruptions you finish your diatribe and go back to writing.  Proving you had no interest in resolution or discussion just saying what you wanted to say and shutting me up.

Yes, I get angry and my words get heated.  Some of that should be tempered.  Other times the discourse is natural and not "abusive" as you find it easy to throw around.

Either way I do love you.  I do love being with you.  You frustrate the hell out of me at times and I do the same to you.  Not an excuse just true.