living… room

play room stephanieklein
When our monsters are fast asleep, our conversation makes me wish I was too

"So come on, tell me."
"Have you noticed any of these good changes the doctor mentioned might be springing up in Phil?"
"Fuck, no."

Okay, so I realize this doesn’t paint me in the greatest light, but it’s a true moment of my life. When people ask me how Phil’s feeling, I’m quick to joke, "He’s back to being a big pain in the ass; arguing about everything, so he’s good, back to being Phil." Except I’m not joking. It’s the way we live.

We’re the same couple that argues over shit that doesn’t matter, with "It’s just the principle" ringing louder than ever. I’m frustrated, irritated, want to throw something at his smug face… some of the time. I also know this feeling will pass, as it always does.
I can’t say that our lows are low and our highs are high. That’s not really us. It’s more that I call it an argument and he sees it more as a discussion. Call it what you’d like, but sometimes, one of us will fold our hands in our lap and say, quite simply, "I’m not fighting with you." Which sometimes amounts to fightin’ words because the other of us had no intention of fighting… it puts us into defensive mode. I honestly ought to make return envelope stamps at that address. 
Phil’s parents just left yesterday. Their stay couldn’t have gone smoother. I love having people in the house, planning what we’ll watch on TV, a movie we all haven’t seen? What we’ll have or where we’ll go for dinner. It’s a small vacation from fighting. Except, that is, when we go at it, full speed ahead, in front of his mother. Which we have. Phil got in my face and said, "I hope you get a heart condition one day, so you know exactly how you make me feel. I hope you get sick and have to have surgery. You can’t last two days without asking me to do something, or making me feel like shit about something, can you?" At which point, I flipped him the bird and told him to get out of my face. Then I stormed out, went upstairs for the night. 
When he came upstairs to go to sleep, looking for his pillow, I wouldn’t speak to him. I simply raised a pointer finger in the air. Finally, I said, "One word. I’m not speaking to you until I hear you say ONE word."
"But I can’t sleep without my pillow." Tough shit, pal.
"I’m not saying sorry. I didn’t do anything wrong. Now can I have my pillow." Oh, I’ll let you have your pillow you fucker. I didn’t say anything. I finally gave him his pillow. We were both laughing at this point. But I was still annoyed. What lead up to his wish that I one day get sick?
I’d finally sat down, after a very long day of cleaning and kid care. And there Phil was, complaining that I wasn’t keeping the kitchen orderly enough. "I don’t want to spend money redecorating this place, if you’re just going to let the place look like this." This was a broken sponge (the Magic Eraser broke into two). It was a vase brush and too many empty sippy cups along the sink edge, instead of being in the actual sink. Earlier, I’d moved all the kiddy items that had been placed here and there, to a designated proper shelf. I’d cleared out space, then reorganized all the spoons, forks, plates, bowls, so the sprout-ware would be easier to manage. Then in the car, I’d noticed a few stray cups had found homes lodged under a seat. So I cleaned out the car, bringing in all the cups to be cleaned, then arranged in their new cabinet. 
With the kids finally asleep, after unloading the dishwasher, all I wanted to do was relax, and I said so, evenly. "What would you like to watch?" Phil asked. And I said, "Anything at all, as long as it doesn’t involve my having to move. I just want to sit." And that’s when he started in with picking on the mess of cups and broken magic eraser.
"If it bothers you so much," I said without looking up, "you can put them in the dishwasher." And THAT is what prompted him to get in my face and tell me he hoped I got sick. "I just thought you’d be able to transcend. That you’d be able to move beyond YOU, Stephanie. Transcend and think of another person." 
This is the point in the story where I want to say, "He’s impossible." And where he, in turn, would laugh, and say, "Na uh. It’s you." It’s not lost on me that he was taking his shit out on me, that he too feels frustrated. That it’s unfair that he’s sick. I just wish he could be big enough to admit it, even after the fact, instead of digging in his heels and insisting that it’s my issue. Saying shit like, "You couldn’t even last two days without asking me to do something," seems so unfair. He was the one complaining. And he certainly could have moved the cups to the sink or dishwasher. "No, moving them, isn’t the point. The point is, we spend money on redecorating, but you can’t keep this place clean, and that mess was okay with you, which means we shouldn’t spend the money redecorating." So the answer to "Good changes?" is still "Fuck, no." We need a new couples therapist. Seriously. But in loverly news, Phil chose the bed, and I got to choose the bedding. And our new sofas arrive today. First one to scream, "band-aid" wins the cliche award!

A YEAR AGO: Phone Tag Hags & H to the Amps For the Bach
2 YEARS AGO: Thank God for Small Miracles
5 YEARS AGO: Atheists & Manhattan Beach & Zoom



  1. I feel so sad for you guys. Its not that other couples don't fight, its that you guys actually say the things that other couples think, but don't say. I hope therapy helps. I can't imagine anything more emotionally draining.

  2. That's rough. Your "if it bothers you more . . . " approach sounded so good but since it was provoking maybe it was the wrong time? What would have happened if you sort of ignored his remark or just said, "I'm going to clean more tomorrow, I'll get to it then"? Not that you should cater to him at every moment, but maybe avoiding hot spots could help?

  3. It still amazes me how you are able to share so much of your life… especially these difficult moments. I rarely comment on these type of posts but here goes….to answer your question "what lead up to his wish that one day I get sick?" I cannot even imagine what could make someone wish that one anyone else! When I had cancer I felt crappy alot, hated being sick, my fuse was short but I NEVER, not even in my worst heated fights with those around me would have wished my illness on anyone. I am not trying to paint a perfect picture of myself cause I am far from it. I have said some crappy shit to people when I am in a heated moment. Haven't we all? But what he said to you, wishing that on you upset me and made me cringe as I read this post.

    Like you said it is a true moment of your life. Even when dealing with a serious illness we are still who we truly are. And sometimes it brings out the worst in us.

    Your honesty still inspires me. You are the real deal Stephanie! Not many people could share stuff like this on their blog.

    I hope you and Phil work through this. I wish you both well. And on a brighter note…I love the picture of the beans. Just beautiful!

  4. Speaking as one who grew up with parents fighting the same fights as you two, who had to listen to them bickerbickerbicker, with my stomach hurting and biting my nails to shreds, I know it changed me as a person and it scarred my childhood. You might know "this feeling will pass" but your kids don't. It's hurting them in ways you can't imagine.

  5. This is your second husband in, reeking of the same shit. You know that life need not be this hard, right?

  6. It can be so frustrating having a sick husband. On one hand they don't want to be babied, they want to be treated like nothing's wrong–unless it comes to housework or chores and then they have to repeatedly point out how sick they are and how it's your job to do everything while they convalesce. And yet if a buddy calls needing help to move something suddenly they are as good as gold.

    Meanwhile, you're trying to hold the house together and to keep a semblance of normalcy and inside you're worrying constantly about the man, but they don't seem to get that.

    It's good that he's back to normal and hasn't turned into a stranger.

  7. Sending prayers.
    You both need to quit sweating the small stuff. With kids, comes clutter. Your house will never be clean and orderly again, until they are 20 and move out.
    Apologies, need to be quick when hurtful words are said. You are angry at a situation or circumstance, not the person you vowed to love honor and cherish. I hope you two can get to a place where you put the other person first instead of yourself, or put the children first ahead of the both of you :)

  8. These revelations distress me, because life is too short for this kind of argument. It's your blog, so this is your point of view, of course. But Phil does sound inflexible and at times, unreasonable. I'm sure he has his point of view on this latest contretemps. Still, you'd think with a life threatening condition, he might want to go a bit more with the flow. Concentrate on the love.

    But it sounds like you irritate him way too much. Just by being you. I've been in relationships like this and it's not pretty.

    Frankly, I'm not sure how you do everything that's on your plate, even with help. Wife, mother, books, blogs, movie, TV series. It just seems a lot. Maybe the deal is you have too little down time. Maybe a nice long vacation is what the doctor ordered. A period of time when you wouldn't have to write or think. Or even parent. Just be together as a couple.

    As I recall, you married both young and fairly quickly. Some of this would've come out had you dated longer. And you might not have even married. But since you are, and since you are dealing with major life and death issues way too young, it's time for an attitude adjustment.

    If you dumped the last marriage therapist, I missed it. But I'm not sure his / your? expectations of any therapist can be met. Sometimes you just have to trust the process. I'm not sure P. can do that.

    Good luck with it all. I've wondered how he's doing since the surgery and hope he'll learn to breathe in the good stuff and out the bad. Because you need a safe haven– neither of you can keep going like this, in my opinion. It's got to be exhausting.

  9. Ok, this might be apples to oranges… My fiance found himself in legal trouble recently. All in all he's facing 3 non-violent felony charges that each carry a one to thirty year sentence. He was indicted in Jan of 2008 and we have been living in limbo ever since. I, of course, am facing my own set of fears regarding the situation. Being a single mother, explaining to our son where his dad is and when he might be home and why he had to go, soothing hurt feelings if someone teases/torments him for his dad being in prison or an ex-prisoner, what it will be like to try to continue our relationship after he's out or if we stay together the whole time. And I forget that he's lost in his own limbo. Afraid he's going to leave his son and fiance to fend for themselves. Explaining how to change the heater filter and other manly household things so when he's not around. An unhealthy amount of pressure on each holiday to make it "the best" because we might not share another for ages. Finding the balance between living while we can and the healthy amount of fear/respect we have for the time we might not get is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Another is stepping outside of myself and recognizing his criticisms and anger and resentment doesn't come from anger or hatred or pure mean-ness. It comes from fear of the known and the unknown and time and lack of basic control over your life. Yeah you two might have some issues that you need to work on. That in itself is hard in any marriage, let alone a marriage that's been full of medical drama- from the early arrival of the beans to his heart issues. I'm trying this thinking positive thing out (although I'm afrain my chronic sarcasticness and deep deep set jaded brain might get in the way). Today I'm thinking positive for us. I want us to be able to recognize their anger as fear, and for us to have the patience to not return it.

  10. Maybe he's trying to make you mad at him because it's better than being pitied? I think underneath it all he appreciates that you still treat him the same, sick or not.

  11. Did Phil marry you to clean his house? Flip him the bird and ignore his nasty comments.

  12. There's this thing that happens with certain of my relatives who've undergone heart surgeries (Hint: They have the same disease that Phil has) that we call cardiac irritability (not an official title, just what we call it.). Basically, anything and EVERYTHING will set them off, there's no calming them down, and the world just seems so IMPOSSIBLE for them for a time. This just seems to last an undetermined amount of time until (it seems) their heart and their routine settles down. This too, shall pass, and what tends to work for me is "I'll work on it in a little bit, don't worry about it and relax." (YMMV.)

  13. Stephanie,
    Please get a copy of "The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond." The author is Patricia Evans. I think it might help.

  14. is it possible that he's a douche and you're a bitch?

    just wondering.

  15. i'm certainly not going to scream band-aid, i think you should buy all the furniture you want if it makes you happy. but i will point out that getting a new couples therapist isn't going to make these issues go away. i'm sure you know this, but as a psychologist, it makes me wary when people have unrealistic expectations for therapy

  16. Wow, Steph. Reading these 'discussions' truly makes my stomach hurt. The way Phil treats you is exactly the way my dad treated my mom growing up. It made my stomach hurt then, too. The daggers he throws at you with statements like, "I hope you get sick and have to have surgery", are immature and unforgiveable. How can he actually wish that upon you and your two young children who already have one sick parent? I know none of us are perfect, but Phil needs some serious help in the psychological department. I suspect he grew up in a very dysfunctional family and never learned to properly express his emotions or solve conflicts. I hope for the sake of you and the beans that he accepts the fact that he needs new skills.

  17. The thing is that a heart condition, followed-up by a heart surgery, doesn't really change anything. As humans we like to believe that when people have near-death experiences they'll reevaluate their lives, goals, and personality quirks, and somehow transcend all the annoying things they do once they're given a second chance. It's very Hollywood.

    But having witnessed so many dramatic, life-altering experiences happen to my loved ones, I've realized that's not the case. No one has come out of their situation any wiser (or calmer) than they were before.

    Not to mention that in times of great stress, physical and emotional, we all cope differently. It's hard on both the patient and the caretaker.

    If you've never read John Gottman's book, Seven Principles for Making Marriage work, this is my favorite piece of advice: no matter how much you fight, or even how you fight, at the end of the day you must turn toward each other and nurture your fondness, admiration, and friendship. Before you launch into an attack ask yourself, "Would I speak to or treat a friend of mine this way?" Usually the answer is no.

    Best of luck to you both…I know you can do it!

  18. I always try to read the fight posts fairly, taking into account that we are all human, we don't always fight fair, we all have our struggles and at the end of the day most couples love each other very much. I try hard not to judge anyone cause we all have our stuff to deal with. And Phil really has some heavy stuff right now on his plate. Plus we only get to hear one side.
    But after a loooong day running after a toddler, completely exhausted and really able to identify with you, all I can muster up the energy to think is "Jesus Christ what an asshole".
    Phil, get your shit together.

  19. phil sounds like an f'in a'hole. you're too embedded in it to see, but jesus christ, you deserve better.

  20. I really hope you'll post some happy/nice phil moment posts. I felt so bummed out after reading this. He seems to live in a world where verbal abuse is not a concept and does not exist, like he has no ability to comprehend it or that it's wrong. Does it go right over his head that you don't say shit like that to your wife, EVER? The hope you get sick comment is just vicious and makes me really sad.

  21. Hi all. The thing with a blog or a conversation for that matter is that there are always three sides to every story. What I can say in this "He said/She said" is that my view and recollection are diametrically opposite to Stephanie's.

    Stephanie becomes obsessed with room "look" and scours magazines, websites, etc. for days finding what she wants our rooms to look like. Many times this doesn't take into account that we have toddlers. Many times it doesn't take into account that I have to live here as well. Trying to navigate this with her can be tiring but needs to be articulated. And when I do compromise and agree to having a living room be nautical for example, the sorry fact is Stephanie creates piles of crap all around the room that diminish the very reason we went through all the effort to make the room look like Stephanie OCD'ed about. This once again happened with the kitchen. Why have a beautiful kitchen if all the counterspace is filled with dirt and clutter and mess? In pointing this fact out to Stephanie and giving her the examples of past experiences she began yelling at me, giving me the finger and telling me to clean. I was simply expressing my concern that the more we try to make things look beautiful, she rarely follows through and it is all for naught. Hopefully we could be more cognizant of this.

    Each time I have had a serious operation, Stephanie got to experience what it is like for me to have to do everything(which she has stated is my frustration much of the time with her). Each time it took a little more than 1 day for Stephanie to begin acting resentful of having to "pull the load" and so she would make me feel bad or accuse me/guilt me by telling me to do things I was medically asked not to. I felt that was unfair of her. "Can't I rest with no responsibilities for 1 week?" I would ask? Now my third operation and although I have articulated this before, she again tells me I should "work". My response was that I wish she could feel how I do. If she ever got sick as I am and could understand how horrible it is for someone to still ask me to "do my share". I obviously never wish ill health on Stephanie. I love Stephanie.

  22. It's not a band-aid! It's what I like to call progression. The next big thing in life that will make me want to keep moving forward. If there is no progression, things will get stagnant and start spreading malaria. Maybe you should cut all your hair off. Well not ALL of it, but some of it. That always makes me feel better. Don't worry, it will grow back out. Just cut if off and don't warn Phil.

  23. Phil, try a little role playng…¿¿how would you feel if it were the other way around?? Imagine…Steph IS the sick one, you spent just half a day taking care of the kids, organizing house, & dealing with guests…Steph goes ballistic because something wasn't done (insert annoying thing), and wishes YOU pain, suffering, operations, medication, DEATH. Wouldn't you wonder what kind of woman you married??

  24. Hire a housekeeper that is on point until your twins are old enough to become indentured servants! Taah-Daah, problem solved. ;)

    Seriously, though..I think both of you could use a break from the daily grind as you come to terms with all the issues and fears with Phil's health. That, and learn to pick your battles. It is only a fight if you engage.

  25. I wonder what the medical thought would be about the stress levels brought on by one's spouse using the internet to hang laundry out.

    I don't mean that preachily – sincerely, I have no idea if heart patients with whatever Phil has are told to avoid unnecessary stress and if this type of post qualifies or if it's a nonevent for him at this point.

    I would like to echo whichever commenter said this will have devastating effects on your kids. If you (both) can't hold your tongues out of love for the other right now, hold out of love for them.

  26. Phil, Like I said above. Sometimes it's hard to step outside ourselves and see other viewpoints. Even our other halves.

    I know you're the one having the surgeries. You're the one who is ill. But Stephanie goes through every procedure with you. Not in the same physical sense but she worries, no doubt. If she's anything like me she might even get a really horrible case of the shits in a physical response to fear, nervousness, anxiety, etc. Lord knows you need rest and not to deal with interior design. But it's how she copes with her issues. She spelled it out to us. I don't think that she really wants you to Do Work.

    Basically, I think you two can't see past your own noses when it comes to your marriage. You are both in this thing together but still deal with things in your won ways. You both need to respect each others' coping mechanisms.

    And why is no one stating the obvious. Phil isn't in the best of shape physically speaking. Instead of flipping out about dishes, hire a maid. You have the flow. Let her make up her swatches and room designs but make her think on them for a set time before she can make the flip.

    I just hate to see people give up because they're too lazy and selfish to fight for it. It's supposed to be you 2 against the world. Not man vs. wife.

  27. None of those details matter. Petty conflicts about room decor and cleaning and all that? Who cares. We all have those. What matters is how we talk to each other. Abusive language hurts.

  28. No excuse. Sorry. There is never any excuse to wish, even for a second, to have someone feel as miserable as you do. When you love some one you THANK GOD that they DON'T have to feel what you do. Try learning to live with clutter and mess, just until you feel better. The alternative is to change Steph, soemthing which obviously you would never try to do.

  29. I understand your frustration, Phil, I really do. That, coupled with the understandable stress you've been under since your cardiac problems arose is enough to create a less than optimal marital situation. However, that is absolutely NO excuse whatsoever to speak to your wife (or anyone else) as you've done. You owe her a huge, sincere apology. Both of you seem determined to stretch a situation to the breaking point in the name of "principle" and it's a shame you can't see it through the eyes of others.

  30. I do not understand your attitude at all. Maybe instead of wishing your wife ill you should try to find some way to express your feelings to her. Be honest about the fact that you are scared, exhausted and overwhelmed, but keep it focused on you. For example, I'm scared that I might die and you might not be able to handle all of the responsibilities of raising two kids by yourself. Rather that treating her like a child or an employee. Not blaming each other, but truly expressing your feelings. If there's no blame, it may be difficult to hear the negative/messy feels, but it shouldn't turn into a fight.

  31. I don't think Phil was wishing ill health on Stephanie. I think his comments, although stated in anger (which tends to distort true intent), were more along the lines of, "I wish you could walk in my shoes so you see what I have to go through every day." Phil, I think you have a lot of anger. Hell, I know I would too if I had a life-threatening medical condition. Perhaps seeing a therapist on your own, with whom you could discuss you understandable your fears, anger, resentment, etc., would help you control your temper better. I get the impression that you feel resentment about some of the things Stephanie does, sometimes unilaterally, such as redecorating a room, and then you blow up at her about something rather minor, such as tippy cups on the counter. Maybe if you could come to an agreement / compromise beforehand, you'd feel less resentful afterwards. Best wishes to you both.

  32. I take your point. However: Why does it matter if the house is a mess? Why does it matter that she OCDs about decor?

    You or Stephanie dying? That's a problem. You or S being seriously ill or disabled? That's a problem. Something happening to the kids? That's a problem. All the rest of it is petty petty petty.

    The verbal attacks are very serious. You guys are not longer single–you have two lovely children. You don't have the luxury of these kinds of fights. I also was raised in a verbally abusive home and it definitely impacted my ability to argue, discuss and even be in a healthy relationship.

    Stop being so immature and selfish. Both of you. Think of your children and get a grip.

    I don't know the whole story but Phil, if her telling you "to pick it up yourself if it bothers you" is an example of her demanding you to do something medically forbidden, well, get over it! If there's more to it, well, ok,she also needs to get a grip on reality.

    You're both control freaks. Seems to me you'd benefit from one big agreement: to go to marriage counseling and trust the process, to not judge or second guess the therapist or what goes on there, to just WORK ON THIS STUFF.

    For your family. And Phil–you are very ill. WHY are you wasting precious time with this stuff? Why aren't you loving your wife and all her idiosynchracies every single minute? And Stephanie, why aren't you loving him and his in that same way? Laughing this shit off? Shaking it off?

    Because I'm here to tell you–you don't get to do it again. This is it. It ain't a dress rehearsal.

  33. My father has a saying for relationships like this one. "They belong together. If they were both with someone else, there would be four miserable people instead of just two."

  34. You are very funny in your descriptions of Stephanie. In your version you sound very calm and thoughtful in all your statements and in asking for her empathy with your illness. It is so at odds with her telling that it makes me wonder if you are minimizing your words/behavior so you can portray yourself as "in the right".

    Regardless, I really do keep your family in my prayers and I hope you stay asymptomatic and continue to recover.


  35. Why would you ever treat someone you loved like that? I seriously don't understand.

  36. Sounds like 3 different issues to me. Phil it sounds like you deserve some rest. Guilt-free. I wish you the best. No strain, no heavy lifting etc. Recover. That must be hard on both of you. But probably the both of you yelling about it is about fear.

    There must be a compromise between a Town and Country home shoot and Regular Life on the Kitchen Counter. If it's even about that.

    It sounds like stuff about wishing Stephanie ill was said in anger, which I'm sure you do regret. And probably are sorry about. So take the high road next time and don't say it. Anyway saying stuff in anger like eating a big McDonald's meal– feels good going down, but then you feel sick for the rest of the day.

    Howcome you guys don't just get that Imago book?

  37. Holy hell! You're READING two sides of an issue! I don't see anything wrong with their relationship, only that Stephanie and Phil don't seem to have figured out how to constructively argue with one another.

  38. I think I will go plant a big kiss on my slobby husband who only cares about the decorating BILL.

  39. The problem with your response, Phil, is that it's responding to the wrong thing. You're still trying to justify: "The house is dirty!" "She has unrealistic goals for renovation!" "I'm sick and she shouldn't ask me to do stuff."

    That may all be true. That's not the problem. The problem is you responding to these justifiable concerns with unjustiable verbal anger. You simply do not tell your wife you wish she would get ill. That was an unjustifiable response no matter how you spin it. Just say you were wrong, and you're sorry. And work on it.

  40. P.S. I really hope you guys don't engage in this type of behavior in front of your kids. Ever.

  41. I'm going to agree with an above commenter that Phil's "wish of ill health" was more along the lines of, "I wish you could walk in my shoes and see it from my point of view." I work part-time and when my husband and I argue due to his irritability and high stress level, I know he wishes that I had the full-time job so I could see *first-hand* the stress that he's under. No, it's not exactly the same kind of remark, but I do believe that's the spirit in which it was intended.

  42. Then why not just say, "I feel so damn frustrated and angry when you ask me to do stuff I'm not supposed to do after surgery, because it makes me feel like you don't care, etc. etc." Because you have the emotional maturity of a seven year old? A therapist can help you communicate if you really want to change the dynamic, but if deep down you think it's ever justifiable to speak disrespectfully, then therapy won't get you very far.

    Stephanie seems rather materialistic and self-absorbed, based on the posts I've read, but it's still no excuse for disrespect and abusive comments. And it's no wonder she's so materialistic and ocd about rooms and linens and "stuff." I'd need an escape route too if I was in a marriage like this.

    I love the last line of the post. No one needs to state the obvious, because you already did. You know it's a band-aid. Now what are you going to do about the actual wound?

  43. Phil,

    I don't think you meant your words literally. I think you said what you said trying to get Stephanie to put herself into your shoes.

    BUT…I get where Stephanie is coming from because in my marriage I am the messy one. A cup could be under my car seat and go unnoticed for…hmmm…guess I don't want to say how long. And it is not because I don't love my husband or respect his desire for organization. Sometimes I really don't notice the kind of disorder that drives him crazy.

    When my husband calls me into a room to ask me to do something like put a cup away, mentally he becomes my mother. I am being reproached in a personal way by someone I love for something I would not deliberately do IF I'd been paying attention.

    My poor mom has spent years and years trying to get me to be more like the person you want Stephanie to be. It did not work. I will never operate from the left side of my brain.

    And I want very much for my husband to continue to love me, just the way I am. The way I love him.

  44. Man, this shit is like Jon & Kate but with less kids and much better hair.

  45. Yup. I get it. It's really not the mess of the sippy cups. It's the mess of the things over which there is NO control… health, life, sunny days or rainy days. That's really what it is.

    I get it. Some days I feel like I really dislike my other half and I'd bet he feels the same about me.

    And so it goes.

    For better, for worse. In sickness and in health.

    I've discovered those words mean sooooo much more than just the obvious.

    Maybe I'm in denial, but really? I think it's all part of the ride.

  46. For what you're going through it sounds like you guys are doing really well. No sarcasm.

  47. Eek. I cringed nearly the entire time reading this. "Fuck you," and "I hope you get sick" – these are NOT healthy things to say to each other and it's not ok, no matter how much you romanticize it with the "that's just how we are," and pretending you're just a spirited pair. There's spirited, then there's… this.

    My boyfriend & I went through a phase like this, adjusting to living together after a whirlwind romance. I have an acid, sarcastic tongue. Always have. He has a strong personality, as well. After a few fights, I realized that no matter how hot-headed or "strong" I claim to be, it wasn't right to "fuck you" at him. We started working on it (me, in particular, because I know I tended to say more horrible things than he did) and then we found out I was pregnant. I definitely wanted a baby with him, and I realized, "I never want my child to hear me talk like this to him." I never wanted our child to think it was ok to be MEAN to each other. And just like that, we stopped. We're still a "spirited pair," but we don't rise to the occasion. Not THAT occasion, anyway. We handle arguments much differently now and have never been happier.

    It hurts me, to look back on those few months where it seemed like nonstop arguing, and to think of the things that shot out of my mouth sometimes. For me, personally, I also realized that I substituted all the arguing and yelling for "passion" because I wasn't totally comfortable with just being quietly happy. I'm learning to love it.

    I get it. There's three sides, yadda yadda, and you don't like when people speak up and leave comments like this, but… there's some truth to what everyone is saying. If it was just you & him… eh, whatever. But you don't want your kids to grow up with constant arguments & fuck you's as a model for relationships. (Even if you think they don't hear it… they notice.)

    I don't mean to say it's all you, either. That's not at all what I'm saying – clearly it takes two to tango, it takes two to rise to the occasion, it takes two to keep it going. It isn't about who said what or who's at fault – it's about the interaction.

  48. There's "not agreeing" and then there's hurling insults and cursing at each other. And there's two children learning to interact by watching their parents' behavior, so… yeah.

  49. Phil, she is obsessed with decorating and this that and the other thing because she is afraid you are going to die. I know this for sure because I have been there and done exactly that, and with ten years distance I can see it more clearly now. So could you both just be nice?

  50. I read your blog all the time, and I am truly amazed by how similar your fights with Phil are to the fights my husband and I have. Things came to a head a couple of weeks ago and although we thought we had no other choice but to walk away from each other, we knew we had to fix us. We bought the book “The Love Dare.” It’s got a Christian undertone, so I was shocked that my husband, an almost Atheist, suggested it. We’re on Day 11 of the 40 day Love Dare and I can’t even begin to tell you how much better our relationship is. And it’s simple.

    So screw the therapist. Save your money and go buy this book!

  51. in defense of phil: don’t get me wrong. from the first times i read about phil, all i could think was ‘male jap’. petulant, status conscious, a pill. as it progressed, one could add verbally abusive, just plain mean.
    THAT SAID, and i hope you are reading this phil. it is plainly obvious to me that stephanie does jackshit around the house and barely takes care of the kids. her fawning admirers from flyover country might think she makes a ton of money: she doesnt. though clearly she’s intent on spending. i can understand why you are crazed out of your mind because you want to dump her but cant figure out an economically viable way to do it.
    THAT SAID, and i hope YOU are reading this stephanie, i think you don’t pull your own weight. but you are nicer than phil, by far, and the verbal abuse is disgusting. but for your own sake, please please please get a lawyer. i fear that all this dirty laundry you put out is going to bite you in the ass when this eventual divorce happens. and should happen.

  52. enid, how do you know SK doesn’t make money? Seems she is, and this movie deal should add to that. The trips, house, etc it’s clear she is. I dunno you just sound like you have some authority on that and that doesn’t compute.

    Phil strikes me as the anti-male Jap, actually. I mean look how he dresses.. just wears what he wants (no offense meant) and if I’m correct I think he grew up in a normal average background not with a silver spoon (from what I can glean from being a long time reader). Phil seems uninterested in keeping up with appearances and in fact thrifty (i.e. not hell bent on buying shit just b/c he has the cash , he has the job to allow him to do that) so I disagree. I wouldn’t bet on a divorce at all. He’s sick and just wants his family to be happy and together i am sure. I don’t think he’s plotting an ‘escape’. That’s just unfair.

  53. Stephanie, I find it pretty telling that you didn’t post my previous comment. Did it perhaps strike a nerve?

    In case you’re willing to post this, I’ll repeat it here. A wise friend once made the following observation, which I think clearly applies to you and Phil: “People in unhappy, dysfunctional relationships have equal and complementary levels of pathology.”

  54. Her “movie deal” like her sitcom pilot, which never got picked up, will NEVER happen. But I do think the odds of a divorce are pretty high. Phil will get sick of having to be the mature ‘daddy’ figure to the always teenager, or even tweenager, Stephanie.
    Phil – I hope your next wife treats you better.

  55. I feel so sad for you both. Nobody’s perfect, everyone argues, but it must be horrible to live like that.

  56. Wow, anon. Does your back sway under all that hate and vitriol? I imagine it does.

  57. “I don’t think Phil was wishing ill health on Stephanie. I think his comments were more along the lines of, “I wish you could walk in my shoes so you see what I have to go through every day.”


  58. There are a lot of commments here. After combing through them all, I finally found one that said it, “Get a housekeeper!” If you can afford the nanny and the mcmansion, you can afford the housekeeper. Wouldn’t that smooth things out….at least for a while?

  59. Author

    We have a housekeeper. That is to say, our nanny, when our kids are at school twice a week, cleans the house. And she’s very good. We’re talking… she goes through the medicine cabinet to weed out drugs that have past their expiration date. There is no DIRT in our home. It’s more… that there are things misplaced. There are piles, books where they don’t belong, piles of mail that haven’t been attended to, etc. And that, no housekeeper can control.

  60. You guys have been cruel and abusive and bitter and angry at each other for longer than I can even remember.

    Don’t you love each other anymore?

    How in heck can a man who purports to love you say he hopes you get a heart condition and requires surgery?

    After all this time, and all this drama, if he’s still treating you like that – and NONE of it is justified = I think you should find your dignity and find your pride and protect your children from all this vitriol and abuse that’s going on inside your home and DTMFA.

    WHAT are you still sticking around for? You think your kids don’t notice that their dad just told Mom he hopes she needs heart surgery one day – and that Mom is ok with that?

    GET the hell out, Stephanie.

  61. ““I wish you could walk in my shoes so you see what I have to go through every day.”

    Oh, poor pitiful Phil. How long does he get to act like the victim? He’s a baby and a brat and he deserves to be alone.

    I reiterate, Stephanie. Get out. You’d leave if he was punching you, wouldn’t you? This is just as bad. JUST. AS. BAD.

  62. Just goes to show, money can’t buy happiness. I suppose this blog should be a break from reality, but I can’t help but think… the economy is in shambles, there’s so many good, deserving people out there that are unemployed and have almost nothing, people that are struggling – it’s so funny (not funny ha ha) to read about people who seem so isolated from the rest of the world. Other people take care of their own kids AND work full-time, don’t have housekeepers or nannies or money to blow on ridiculous guest rooms and they argue far less than this.

    If my husband had just gone through surgery like that, and I’d spent spent the past year constantly fearful of losing him – we’d be a lot more appreciative. Neither of us would give a shit about misplaced junk in the house. Maybe you both need to realize how lucky you are. You both need a serious reality check.

  63. Cost/Benefit Analysis vs. (New) Marriage Analyst…

    Don’t fully understand the need to air such intimacies without the protection of anonymity.

    The blog makes for humourous, thought-provoking entertainment but the effects on the audience aren’t any weightier than a summer read, TV series, or soap opera– all serve as mini-breaks and mind staycations.

    The effects on the author, her family, and those within her circle? Endless.

    Don’t really get the payoff, financially or otherwise.

    Before the evisceration, let me say I read the blog pretty regularly, bought Straight Up and Dirty, and admire the courage and tenacity it takes to put it all (or most of it) out there. I like Stephanie’s writing and appreciate her observations on life. She has a knack for coming across as the savvy best friend every girl/woman wants.

    A life is just as lived (if not more so) when not marketed and on display for consumption. Just a thought (or two).

  64. Okay, catching up on blog posts I’ve just read this and still feel like commenting.
    In my latest relationship I was the one with the short fuse (like Phil I guess) – Isobel’s comment sounded somewhat like me. After a shitty day at work I’d come home to find his dirty boxers next to the hamper instead of in the hamper for the umpteenth time and I would just explode. At the top of my voice, demanding that he’d fix it “right this instance”, dragging up past offences, and even name calling if he dared to ignore me. It was never about the dirty boxers. I’d talk around it and justified my behviour, telling him it was a reaction to ‘a lack of respect for me’. But in the end I had a hard look at myself and faced that I was just under too much stress and took it out on the person I loved most. His boxers or whatever he did were just the final drops after hard days and I picked fights to vent. I suppose it came natural to me as my dad used to do the same (and his dad before him, and his grandmother before that).
    This nearly killed our relationship – and even now that our relationship has died (for other reasons) I think the scars of some of the things I said to him are still with him. I wish I could take back some of the stuff I said. Even though I always explained afterwards that I didn’t mean it that way, he took it that way (literal).

    I worked on this a lot though (during that relationship too, he commented that I had become softer, in a good way). I still can’t control my temper sometimes – when I explode I’m all emotion and rage, it’s near impossible to control – but I can control how I express it. I choose not to be violent or use offensive language. I realised that while me calling someone an a**hole may not be a big deal for me, but it is to them.

    So judging from my past personal experience and what I’ve read here: It’s not about the clutter and cups really, it looks like the result of a accumulation of the stress Phil’s under. It’s human to get angry, but it’s also your own choice as how to express that anger (those were some hurtful things Phil said, even he doesn’t mean it). My dad controls his temper by playing golf, I now vent my frustrations by shopping – maybe that’s what Stephanie is doing too.

  65. Let’s all look at our own relationships and not pass judgement. What opinions would people give us if we were brave enough to blog about them?

  66. Pardon this judgment. Phil was an asshole before his illness and he’s an asshole now. Being sick doesn’t change a man like that, it only makes his personality flaws more apparent. For your sake and your children’s sake, there’s no doubt that he should try to change, that he should work everyday toward trying to be a better human being.

  67. i’m wondering if maybe having less stuff would be helpful in the quest to not have stuff misplaced all the time? simplifying always helps me reassess what’s actually important and focus on things i love more clearly.

  68. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s actually a little discomfiting to read about real disagreements like this. It’s a bit like reality TV, and I hate that.

    Still, it’s insight. The thing that strikes me most is that the most key problems are the obvious ones. Phil’s grumpy, and has probably always been that way. You’re vain and self-centered and have probably always been that way. You found each other in spite of (or maybe because of) those things. Exploring why they’re now so central to your unhappiness might lead to some new coping skills.

    No offense is intended, and feel free to delete this if you find it impertinent, but so long as you two are baring all, I thought I’d be brutally honest too.

  69. OMG. Have you guys a clue how lucky you are? Don`t you have everything – a big house, friends, jobs, beautiful children? And shouldn`t you better care about real problems like Phil`s health? Like someone posted above, I have to agree – seems you both seriously need a reality check.

    We too live in a big house with two children (no nanny, no housekeeper) and there are way too many things misplaced. Toys are everywhere. EVERYWHERE. There are always things I wish I had more time to do them (decorating for example). And yes, we wish we could spent more time as a couple, not just as parents. Are we pissed off because of that? Sometimes. But do we fight because of that? No, because it wouldn`t change anything. We take a deep breath and hope that things are getting better with the kids growing up. But in the first place we`re happy having each other and the little monsters and wouldn`t have it any other way.

    I think you should try to focus on what is really important in life. And maybe the both of you need a therapist, aside from couple therapy.

    Good luck.

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