seriously rude

In ALL, MARRIAGE by Stephanie Klein47 Comments

The alarm clock rings and vibrates on my phone. Snooze. Alarm. Snooze. Alarm. Okay, we’re up. Lucas is curled beside Phil, and Phil is awake, clicking through messages on his phone. It’s time for Abigail to join us, to awake. I’m too tired to move. “Close your ears,” I say to Phil and Lucas.
“Please, don’t scream,” Phil says.
“She needs to wake up, and I’m too tired to move. Close your ears.”
“Please don’t shout,” Phil says.
I want to say, what’s the big deal? You don’t want me to shout? Then, you get up and wake her. Instead, I say, “Okay, I won’t shout.” Instead of a sigh of relief or a ‘thank you,’ Phil says, “Wow, you’re such a martyr.” Seriously?! Get off your fcuking ass and wake her then, you dick.
“Seriously?!” And just for that, I yell, “Abigaillll, time to wake up. Come in here for a family snuggle.”
Phil then turns to Lucas and whispers, “She only cares about herself.”

No. You. Did. Not.

How absolutely inappropriate. Don’t you dare tell me what I think, feel, or who I am. And certainly don’t tell it to our children. I feel so angry. It makes me want to yell in his ear every morning to come. I feel hurt and raging mad because of that hurt. And when I tell him how I feel, all he does in response is talk about how he feels, without addressing how I feel. And the man will never apologize or admit when he’s wrong. I can handle this aspect of Phil; I’m used to it. But bringing Lucas into it? Really? What do you do when someone crosses a line? What are the repercussions? How will he ever know, deeply know, that it’s not okay to do this?
And if you don’t want me to yell, then YOU get up. I’m enraged right now. I realize grudges aren’t worth it, but when I let these things go, it only tells him that it’s fine to do. And it’s clearly not.

And holy hell, how do I get that girl to wake up to the sound of her alarm clock? It’s not just an alarm that sounds, but also a light that turns brighter and brighter. She sleeps right through it. And, man can I relate to that, so I can’t say that I blame her.

Comments

  1. Ugh – lived that. I wish I knew the answer to your questions about how to make him a) stop or b) realize he’s wrong. I never figured it out. When my ex started recruiting the kids to his side, I knew I was in deep trouble.

    We just visited my sweetheart’s twin sister who is living with the same passive-aggressive man. Her kids are 13 and 15 and are enjoying the ‘gang up on mom and make her look like a worthless schmuck’ game that dad instigates over the smallest things. Nearly made me ill to witness it – old hurts resurfaced – old hackles were raised – it was everything I could do to turn it off, tune it out and retreat to bed with a man who would rather gouge his own eyes out than put me down – in public or private.

  2. My girlfriends husband is an asshole. There is no other word to describe him. He learned it from his dad, who is also an asshole (like, a “we’re flying to Israel and I’m using our miles to sit in first class and you can have a great time back in coach” asshole). They have a five year old son, who is smart, and adorable, and when he was looking for his dad the other day, and his mother informed him multiple times that he was the shower, informed her that “Mommy, this doesn’t concern you”. To some it comes across as being cute and funny, but to me it was like he was channeling his dad.

  3. no matter what phil could say in response to this, even if he was right, it is sickening and wrong for him to say that to his child. you should get out. you are “used to this.” guess what – your kids are not. honestly he always sounded and even looked like an unlikable bully with very limited success and you certainly prove it with this. get the fuck out of there.

  4. and by the way, never admitting to being wrong probably has a lot to do with his limited success.

    1. Author

      Not sure what you mean by “limited success.” I guess success means something different to everyone. I see success as being able to be at peace. Just that complete exhale and sense of peace. That’s when you’re successful, at least to me.

      Never admitting to being wrong is usually what’s wrong with the person!

  5. I understand you’re venting, so there’s no point in the whole you need to leave Phil argument. But, you should set ground rules with him. It’s not okay to involve the children in your disagreements nor should they ever take sides. I’ve been in a similar situation. I don’t think it matters whether Phil admits to being wrong because that’s a moot point and you won’t get the results you want. I think it’s more important that he agrees not to do it again, ever.

    As for the kiddo, good luck. Trying to get my 14-yo out of bed each morning is a job in itself.

  6. I have no advice for dealing with Phil, but Abigail is another story. Let her oversleep! Try once or twice to wake her in a reasonable manner. Let her be late for school or better yet, not get there at all since you have to take Lucas. When this happens once or twice she’ll get with the program. Come to think of it, Phil can drive her in late-mode.

  7. Hey, reader from long ago here. Just this week I wondered about you and came to catch up. I’ve been back at least once a day since to see how you’re all doing since the recent hospitalization.

    Holy crap, girl. I don’t know how you do it. I felt a sting, on your behalf, at the comment in this post, and at it being said in front of your kid. Words hurt. But I am certain your children see how far that is from the truth. I don’t have an opinion on your marriage, but I bet he didn’t mean it. You’re both under tremendous stress and frightened.

    Just know people see how much you have on your shoulders and the care you’re bringing to it all. Your whole family is in my thoughts and I wish you all the best.

    Who run the world?

  8. Have you gotten back into couples therapy? It seems like this is ripe for discussion with a therapist.

  9. In my opinion, yelling is never justified unless there is some sort of emergency– my rule: no yelling. As for Phil whispering into Lucas’ ear, poor decision. It was a very disrespectful moment and unfortunately, was most certainly absorbed by your son. Kids don’t just ‘hear’ these things, they digest the words in their psyches…

  10. Is Abigail awake but refusing to get out of bed? Or does the sound of her alarm clock actually not wake her? How could an alarm clock in her room not wake her, but your voice from another bedroom does? That makes me think she’s awakened by the alarm but doesn’t respond to it.

    So solution 1: Move alarm clock so she has to get out of bed to turn it off. If that doesn’t work ….
    Solution 2: If she is not up and moving by Whatever Time, then YOU get to pick out her outfit and choose her hairstyle for the following day. And you’re going to have to send her to school looking like a spaz one day (hopefully just one). My friend’s daughter has a Skirt of Shame she is forced to wear if she is late leaving for school.

    1. Author

      We can try this. She wakes from the alarm, but she doesn’t hit snooze. She just falls back asleep, despite the alarm. This girl also has no shame. There’s no outfit that would ever make her feel embarrassed. She’ll wear her brother’s clothes, “because I’m girly enough to pull anything off.” She sees herself as a trend-setter. The BUS PICKS THEM UP AT OUR FRONT DOOR (I do not drive them). But she rarely has time for breakfast because she’s always rushed to get out the door JUST in time.

      1. What if you forced her to go in her pjs and apologize to her teacher? “I’m sorry for not being appropriately dressed for school today; I refused to get out of bed on time.” But you have to warn the teacher ahead of time to be all frowny in response and to not say “Oh that’s okay! I LOVE your pjs!” Or force her to wear a shirt she’s decided she no longer likes or thinks is too babyish?

        Or, “Oh no, you can’t play now that dinner is finished – you have to go to sleep now since you’ve proven you can’t wake up early enough for school when you go to sleep at 8:30.” You have to find her currency and then take it away. Or go in the opposite direction and set up a chart – she gets a star each morning she gets up and out on time having eaten breakfast, and if she gets five stars she gets a fancy Mommy & Abigail Date (to get frozen yogurt or something) or a little gift of funky socks or whatever.

        Oh, and I disagree with some of the other people about the idea that you have to get up. My mom always laid in bed all morning – she was a night owl. My dad popped into my bedroom before he left for work, but my mother stayed in bed. For my whole childhood I managed.

          1. I agree with Green’s suggestions. I recently read a book by a Stanford administrator. It shifted my perspective as to the role I need to take with my children. If they feel you will always catch them and prevent the “worst case scenario” a strong willed child will test that hypothesis. From what I have read here, you already take this approach in many other aspects of your parenting. I really admire how you handle homework and projects and have tried to adopt a similar approach with my own children. This seems to be the crucial juncture between how you parent a young child by caring for their every need versus how you parent that growing child to motivated, considerate child who knows how to take responsibility and make their own contribution to your home.

            Regarding the comment from Phil, I assume this didn’t bother you so deeply because it is an isolated incident. I assume this bothered you more this time because he is inculcating Lucas into a way of thinking and speaking about you that has always bothered you and goes against the culture you would have in a family of your own. I don’t blame you. I would shift the focus from why doesn’t he see the way this makes me feel and put it where it belongs — not to justify it because I don’t think that can be done — but to protect this from hurting you. He is off-loading his own negative feelings and judgment about himself onto you. He is framing things how you are falling short (and has done for quite a while) rather than take the harder and more painful look at himself and ask, how can I make this better or easier? It does not make him a bad person but it means he has limitations he is not willing to address. Reinforcing your own boundaries, treating yourself with the utmost respect and care and investing in reciprocal relationships are the best way to address this.

            As for Lucas, all you would need to do in that moment is place your hand on his cheek, look into his eyes as you have since he was a baby — do not break gaze — you are his mother, he knows you have placed him above yourself over and over againand say to Lucas “we both know better than that, don’t we?” Don’t address Phil, save that for later when it is just adults, with a firm “it is not okay to do that” and mean it. Not as an opening salvo to an argument but as a statement of fact.

            I think you have to stop hoping he will “get it” and just know it in your bones and live it.

            1. Love the suggestion holding Lucas’ cheek and gazing into his eyes while telling him, we know that is NOT true.

      2. For your daughter, try using several alarms in several locations for her including at least one out of her room like in the hallway or similar. Each one will be farther away from the bed and require her to wake up and get out of bed in order to turn it off. Making each alarm increasingly louder and more obnoxious sounding so that it cannot be ignored helps too. A final location that is brightly lit helps also. Once you’ve gotten out of bed and moved around, your eyes have been exposed to light, it’s usually a lot harder to go back to sleep/easier to get up.

  11. Agree with the earlier commenter Karen. I think the whisper and follow-up comment is selfish on Phil’s part. He probably thinks it’s funny. I have a little bit (let’s be honest, a lot of that) I actually got so sick of it I just manage my behavior to limit that kind of reaction from my husband. It’s how I (after many years) deal with nearly anything at home, at work, with friends and extended family. I base my reaction and actions on the outcome that I want. So in this case, I’d just get up quickly. Grab Abigail and return. Again, I’m all about getting my way…and the snuggles and morning ritual are more important than being right (or giving Phil to influence Lucas.)

  12. I’m confused. Why is all of this happening while you are lying in bed for a family snuggle? Be the adult, walk into her room, throw off her covers and tell her its time to get up 15 minutes earlier than everyone else. You are trying to handle this in a lazy manner yourself, so it sets a poor example for her. If she does not get moving in a responsible way, punish her (I have a kid this age with the same tendencies by the way). Re Phil, this is not new. You have a miraculous tolerance for being spoken to in a way that most women could never tolerate or bear. Sounds like your son is a total sweetheart, so how sad that he should experience this. Since its clear you aren’t intending to leave Phil, live with the knowledge that you are not teaching this old dog any new tricks, and hopefully your kids will learn to be better partners to their spouses.

    1. Author

      I don’t think I expressed this enough… I was exhausted and there was no way I was going to move. Lazy? 100%. I’d just returned from taking 19 girls camping in the woods. I was dead to the world. But, in truth, I’m always exhausted come morning because *I have major trouble falling asleep at night!* They say many people with ADHD have trouble sleeping at night. I will lie in bed for well over an hour, in the dark, unable to fall asleep, sometimes even 2 hours! It’s torture. I’ve tried reading an old school (non device) book, to no avail. Tried old movies. Tried talk radio. Tried silence. On nights when I resort to Ambien, I have NO PROBLEM waking up in a great mood, the opposite of lazy, but my GP will not prescribe Ambien or any other drugs, he’s very against medication unless absolutely needed. When I told him I have ADHD and leave piles everywhere that cause arguments, that I cannot listen to anyone if I’m trying to cook dinner, he said, “Tell Phil to just learn to live with your piles. And tell everyone they cannot talk to you when you’re trying to get something important completed.” Well, duh. But that hasn’t worked.

      So when I finally DO fall asleep, usually around 1pm, come 7am, I feel like a rock, unable to roll.

      1. I’ve read your blog for years, rarely comment, but love your writing and raw honesty.

        Just wanted to say that I am the Phil in my relationship. I say totally inappropriate things to my kids about their Dad when he annoys me, because I have a temper and low impulse control, I guess. When things are tense in our house, this causes rows, when things aren’t, we laugh about it later. I am only writing this to say – you are not alone, but remember you guys have been through the mill recently. Be kind to each other and to yourselves.

  13. I know it’s hard to get up in the morning – but you want to set Abigail up for success so it means FORCING yourself to do it, even with a lackluster partner who should be pulling his weight. As unfair as it is to you to have to wake up after a night of insomnia, it’s worse for her to have a morning that is so rushed that she leaves without breakfast. It’s unfortunately one of those “suck it up” parenting moments. I would also maybe ditch that AM snuggle. That works when you are functioning well in the mornings, and it sounds like you aren’t. Save it for a time when everyone isn’t already behind/tense/tired/on a timetable.

    1. I’m not a parent and can’t imagine how on earth I’d handle it. I’m sure your parenting advice is sound, Sarah. But all I can think reading this is about how exhausted everyone in that bed must be right now – they’ve been going through hell. I wish I could grant then all a weeklong, peaceful family snuggle.

  14. Alarm clocks. Oh, boy . . . do I have a solution. BUY A STROBE LIGHT THAT HOOKS UP TO A CLOCK. We had that for a little while, and boy, did it work. Alternatively, you can buy an alarm clock with a little device that gets put under the mattress. Alarm goes off . . . bed shakes. REALLY shakes.

    Bonus: if you do either of the above while putting the off button/clock a ways from the bed so she has to get up to turn it off, even better. She won’t be able to ignore and fall back asleep with either of these.

  15. First, I would find another GP that would be willing to write the ambien or have a serious discussion with your doctor about it. I have anxiety and would venture a guess that I also have ADHD since I can’t get my brain to stop long enough to get to sleep. I HAVE to get eight hours of sleep or life is ugly for me.

    Second, if Abigal doesn’t get up in time for breakfast then let her go without. Take privileges away and also, while it sucks to be an adult, get up and wake her up and make Phil take turns to do this as well.

    Third, I would probably have turned the daddy joke whispering in Lucas’s ear into a teaching moment and discussed why it isn’t very respectful. I would probably not be passive agressive either by yelling.

    I get it, your tired, it was a full weekend but it seems like your couple communication style is about aggravating the other and who can win the latest pissing match. I also understand that this post is more about venting than anything else, the stress of how you two deal with each other is bound to affect the kids.

    1. Author

      This is so well said. I for sure need a new GP. And yes, sometimes it does suck to be an adult, but I must suck it up. And try to get to bed earlier.

      As for our communication, I did speak with Phil about the event afterward, once I was calm, and he did admit that it was inappropriate to say what he did to Lucas. Miracle of miracles. I have a VERY hard time speaking to Phil because I perceive much of what he says as an attack on me. Which makes me very defensive… and it makes me want to scream at him when he comes at me, despite knowing that if I respond calmly, it’s far more powerful and effective. Lord, it takes a lot of deep breathing.

      1. There are three different issues with what Phil said to Lucas about you:

        1. Being passive-aggressive (which I view as a sign of immaturity, but that’s just me) by whispering ABOUT you to someone else
        2. Teaching Lucas to have less respect for you by having bad things told to him about you by his other parent (who, let’s note, is the same-sex parent)
        3. Teaching Lucas this is how a husband treats his wife. This could be what Lucas grows up to become.

        I’m glad you spoke to Phil later about this. I think Phil needs to speak to Lucas too, though, and tell him that he made a mistake in saying what he did. He basically treated Lucas as a peer, by bitching about his wife to him, instead of as his young, impressionable child.

        Also, I know Phil has had anger issues in the past, but I also know that one of the side effects of a stroke, is bursts of anger. Rage, sometimes. In addition, I know that when people have gone through a life or death medical issue (whether sudden, like Phil’s was, or a planned open-heart surgery) it can affect them psychologically. Guessing Phil is not the type, but … therapy for him?

    2. I also have ADD and have had lifelong insomnia, and have worked as a neuropsychologist. Your GP is doing you a favor. If your insomnia is chronic, and you take ambien to fix it, over time, it can be habit-forming and have neurological effects … this is little-discussed, but is part of why it is not indicated for long-term use. Therefore, it’s not ideal to fix a long-term problem.

      Here are some other good things to try, if you haven’t already:

      1. Avoiding sugar, chocolate, and caffeine after 2pm. Try going without them for 2 weeks, and see whether your sleep is affected at all.

      2. Melatonin. Less likely to be habit-forming, works with your body’s natural ‘sleep-signals’. Experiment with the dosage, as too much can make you drowsy the next day, and everyone’s effective dose is different.

      3. Bedtime routine. One of the main reasons people with ADHD have trouble falling asleep is because of a difficulty ‘set-switching’ … literally, changing from being in awake-mode to sleepy-mode. This is also why they often have trouble waking up in the morning. The way around this is to really work on habits that signal to your body “okay, we are going to sleep now” – similar to what some of the parenting books suggest you do with kids.

      An ideal one can be:
      – take melatonin
      – lower lights in the house, get off screens, including cell phone screen
      – take a hot bath
      – make chamomile tea
      – settle into bed with a sleep meditation

      do this as many days as possible, at the same time, and you will really see a change.

      of course, if you’re anything like me, every bone in your body might resist doing that – but that’s also really good information, because it lets you know what the payoff of your insomnia is, if any.

      All of that is, in my opinion, better for your health in the long term than taking what is basically a modern upgrade to xanax to get yourself to sleep every night.

      xo
      S

        1. I will second what Sara said about “sleep hygiene” habits.

          When I was having horrible insomnia, my GP prescribed Ambien and it worked like a champ. Fast forward 2 years later, I had the WORST time trying to get off of it. It is very habit forming and my body forgot how to fall asleep on its own. There was a time when I truly believed that I would never fall asleep on my own again. I really, really struggled.

          What really helped me get off it and learn to sleep again was a product called Marley’s Mellow Mood tea. It’s a bottled tea that you can buy at Whole Foods and even in some of the organic sections of grocery stores. It has a picture of Bob Marley on it! It contains melatonin and other natural, relaxing herbs like chamomile lavender, etc., which for me, worked MUCH better than melatonin pills. I would drink either half or a little more of a bottle and then go to bed. Without it, I don’t know what I would have done. I tried everything.

  16. I just want to say THANKS for this post. It’s real!! I get so sick of everyone posting about their “perfect” lives so I appreciate your openness and candidness about your relationship.

  17. Yes, get a new Dr. – you need your sleep! And screaming/shouting in the morning??- completely unacceptable – sorry I’m with Phil on this one. I hope you two talked/worked it out and this will quickly be a distant memory – life is too short.

  18. I have trouble falling asleep too, always have.

    I can’t remember how I stumbled upon it, but I found a podcast called Sleep With Me. It’s a man who tells stories that will literally put you to sleep in five minutes, max. I couldn’t tell you a single thing about any of the stories he’s told, it all sounds like mumbo jumbo, but it WORKS. If you’re at all willing to give it a shot, put some headphones in and listen when your brain just won’t quiet down.

  19. I actually cringed when I read this post. :( the whole gist of it made me sad. If you think for one second that Lucas (and Abigail on many other occasions) do not see/hear/feel the animosity between you and Phil, you are delusional. First of all, if you were too tired to get up and Phil said “please don’t shout” it seems an obvious time, in my point of view, for you to say “Phil, I am too tired to move, will you please go get Abigail up?” If he says no, then you get up and get her up and you deal with Phil later, out of the littles’ earshot and view. And I don’t really understand: if she’s in a rush to get up and get ready why is there time to have Family Snuggle? What do you think Lucas learned from this whole exchange?

  20. I haven’t read your post in ages, but it does seem that you are having the same issues (not going to say fight becuase that imples a beginning and end) as you’ve had for years and that’s unfortunate but not surprising, because people generally don’t change. And we all figure out what we can and can’t deal with. And I would never suggest leaving your husband, as many people here do, since it’s your marriage and as honest and open as you are here, we are only get your side of the story (and that side is likely seen through whatever emotion you are feeling at the time). But my questions is this. How can you expect Phil to treat you with respect, when you make him look like a raving asshole on your blog. I get that this a blog about your emotions, and experiences, and feelings, and it doesn’t work if you’re not honest, but maybe certain things should stay between you and your husband, or you and your husband and your therapist. or best friend. or other confidant. Maybe just leave it off the internet? I can’t imagine it does good things for your marriage if every time your spouse does something to irriate you, you rant about it on the internet? The other issue, for better or worse, you have done exactly what Phil did. You think your kids won’t see this? You think your children won’t read the endless posts you’ve written telling all manner of wrongs (real or perceived) that Phil has perpetrated? Or how about the endless comments from strangers calling him a childish asshole (or much worse) that you should divorce? How is putting that into the world forever different than him making that comment to your son? I don’t say this judge. I think it’s incredibly brave that you put yourself out there like this. But what you do on the internet to shame and ridicule your husband is worse than what he does, at least he does it in the privacy of your home.

  21. If Abigail is really hard to rouse in the morning she may not be getting enough sleep which basically means an earlier bedtime, perhaps earlier than her brother which she probably won’t like and might be enough of an incentive to get her to wake up in the morning.

    Also a bit of positive reinforcement is always good, the first time you sleep through surprise breakfast panacakes is the last time you sleep through them!

  22. Another wake up idea: Get a spray bottle filled with water. Give her two warnings about getting up. If she still doesn’t get up, spray the water mist on her face. It doesn’t hurt and it will wake her up!

  23. When I was a kid and wouldn’t get up my parents would hide the wireless doorbell in my room. They would push the button every minute until I woke up. It was torture but after awhile I learned to get up to beat the bell just so I wouldn’t have to hear it.

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