Phil doesn’t know how to “not judge.” He has an opinion on everything, and he’s going to share that opinion, whether or not you want to hear it. And he’ll be right, every time—because he says so. He now at least knows that he needs to allow that someone else’s opinion and perspective can be true, just allow even for the possibility, instead of insisting that his is the only truth.
Phil refused to return to couples therapy when our therapist told him that his behavior was bullying. He argues that this wasn’t the reason, that things were skewed, that he was tired of spending an hour talking about something that wasn’t even true. As in, I’d bring up an issue, revealing an instance in the past week resulting in an argument, and he’d reason that my slant on it was completely askew. That my perception shouldn’t even be discussed because “If you had a completely crazy person in your office, certifiable, would we be having this conversation about what I did wrong?” Phil once said. “No, of course not. You’d know you were dealing with a crazy person and would dismiss it focusing on the real problem.” This “real problem”—he suggested ever so subtly, like with a mallet to my head—lived within me, each and every time.
After Phil refused therapy, I went alone. During one of those sessions, our therapist leaned forward, her elbows on her knees, hands clasped in prayer at her chin and said, “That man loves you. I mean LOVES. And I truly believe that he wants, more than anything, to please you. I really do.” Then, sitting back in her chair, she added, “He just has really shitty delivery.” You said it sister. “And all you can do is try your best, for as long as you can, to see through it.” To remind myself that he really doesn’t mean the mean? “Yes, and you just do it for as long as you can because having your parents together is a gift you can give to those children. Believe me. I see it every day in this office, and it’s a hard road.” Though I can’t remember if she said “hard road.” I don’t remember how she even finished the sentence because I was still chewing on the earlier part. It was a gift I could give to my children. To stay. To understand Phil’s limitations, and trying as best I could to focus on the good in him. I can’t help but want to apply that logic to a battered woman. Would you tell her to stay because while he does hurt her, truly his intentions are good, and he’s just limited? I suppose though that my even applying that logic is like Phil amping his argument up with “crazy person,” going to the extreme. I justify my decision to stay. I see a hint of this, turning a blind eye, rationalizing that good qualities have to outweigh his select faults. But I also see the merit in gazing at the bright side. Focusing on the positive. It’s a conflict.
I cringe even writing the words, “Nobody’s perfect,” because it implies that one should endure the truly awful just for an abundance of greatness.
He’s not equipped with the communication skills to express his frustrations in a healthy way. I need to remember that it’s his deficiency, and I should not feed it with my focus. Move onward and try to get past his words, striving to understand from where he’s coming. Focus on the good.
He’s a great conversationalist
Quick to think on his feet – quick witted
Dependable – protective and always defends me
Not a mama’s boy
That he is evolved enough to live his life for him, without regard for what anyone else thinks of his choices (this is a double-edged sword, but overall, I wholeheartedly agree that we should strive not to care what other people think of us).
When he adheres to traditionally male gender roles: orders for me in restaurant, stands when I come to the table, pays the check, pours the wine, surprises me with gifts
I love when he appreciates/ values when I’m “the woman,” relying on my taste when it comes to interior design, entertaining, style
I love when he’s the suitor, when he pursues me, grabs me, initiates, acts like a horny teenager who can’t get enough
I love that Phil strives in every way possible to achieve the best for our family
He’s hardworking and determined
A caring involved father
A fantastic negotiator
Excels at things I hate: like dealing with health insurance and banking
He’s a champion, advocate, and promoter
He’s an idea man, never boring
He’s reliable/ dependable
You always know where you stand with Phil – he’s not a cheat or liar
Enthusiastic / Energetic
I love when he comes to me and admits something he didn’t have to admit (strength of character)
I also love his arms and when he tries to get me drunk