he said, she said: what are your relationship boundaries?



  1. I adore reading your diary, the “he said she said” video blogs are another story. You both look so incredibly miserable, the realities of everyday marriage, getting tired of one another, appearing so frustrated on camera you look as though you should be on opposite sides of the room doing the video clips are heart breaking. Welcome to love and marriage 2009 I suppose.

    if this is what awaits me in marriage I will happily remain single.

    I do love your diary and enjoy reading about your life though and will continue to visit. I think you are an amazing and talented woman. Good luck with your sweetheart, if the vids are any indication, you will need some.

    1. Actually I think the videos show improvement in the relationship, both are taking the time to listen to each other. And sit down and DEAL to start with..

  2. So, I’ve seen Phil before at your book readings and what not. And every time, I think “Oh, there’s Phil”. But in the future, I’ll probably have this uncontrollable urge to put tape on his mouth so he stops talking for a tiny little bit. It seems like you’ve learned to work with it though.

  3. Ok…I haven’t even clicked to listen to this installment yet, but I had to giggle. Stephanie, you always look animated and like you’re pressing your point in these ‘freeze frames’ while Phil, always looks laid back and complacent, like he’s going to let you have your rant, and then rap up with the ‘cut the crap, here’s the straight story’ answer.

  4. ok, now I’ve listened to it. Do you guys enjoy each others company? I’m going to jump passed all of the chatter, and tell you what I heard. I heard two people with no common ground, anywhere. So my question stands…do you two enjoy each others company? Because I think if you did, you would replace these video arguments, and you would have videos of joy. Stories of your little bits of love in your day that you wanted to share with others, and keep as a record for Lucas and Abigail. How you tease each other, how you enjoy cooking together, how you take turns reading bedtime stories to the baby Beers before bedtime. Whatever it is.

    Stephanie, Phil, this is destructive, and you’re saving it for your children. Make the next video, one of joy, fun, love, the upside to your relationship. Or-your kids are going to one day look back and say, holy cow, why on earth, did they think this was a good thing to save for us to look back upon? Mom and Dad were miserable, why would I want to be in a relationship if this is what it’s all about?

  5. I have to disagree with the criticism that these videos will negatively affect their kids. Growing up, I never saw my parents fight. Sure there were times they were annoyed with each other, but I never knew the issues they were going through. Now that I’m a newlywed, I call my mom every time there is a fight to ask “Is this normal?” She assures me it is, and tells me how she and my father handled it many, many years ago.

    I think I would like to see videos like these of my parents. I would love to know what they were fighting about during their first years of marriage.

    1. And I have the opposite and always heard my parents fighting. I always hear why. I hated it. I was always terrified and to this day, when I hear any couple arguing like my parents, I get the same sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and I want to run away and cry, like when I was little. I was afraid they’d wind up divorced. I always wondered why in the world they stayed together when I got older. They hit their 50th anniversary last year. I still wonder why they stay together.

  6. Sweet lord, I’m glad I’m single. It makes my head hurt just to watch these videos.

  7. I think this is a very difficult topic to discuss. Kind of like a self fulfilling prophecy. Thanks for throwing it out there!

  8. Well edited. I’m sure there were plenty of outtakes and the discussion went on for a while after filming. My off limits is anything external. That seems to hurt more.

  9. Our boundaries seem to be a moving target. At first it was speaking about exes then it was family. Most recently I think we just go with the flow and try to be more sensitive to each other in our discussions. Yeah right! Great video.

  10. I just have to ask, why are you even married to each other? You seem to employ such a tremendous double standard in that what’s good for you shouldn’t be good for Phil. Honestly, I’ve been reading here for a long time and watched you stand by while your husband is made the villian and yourself his innocent unassuming victim. Is nothing in your marriage sacred where you feel the need to air all your dirty laundry on the web? Is it just so people can tell you that you’re right and he’s wrong? Because, guess what? All these videos do is make me feel sorry for Phil for having a wife who is so spoiled and pretentious. I don’t know, maybe that’s what you were going for, but somehow, I don’t think so.

  11. I have to agree with Phil that the friend’s advice is pretty bad (sorry friend). I think to retaliate by doing something just to piss him off is a little immature, and a step in the wrong direction.

    Could Phil perhaps explain why he thinks it’s ok to start calling names (stupid, etc, as you’ve mentioned earlier)? Is it just something that slips out; or is it a choice, because he doesn’t think it should be over the line for you since it isn’t over the line for him?

    Early in the video Phil said that he might resort to saying something just to hurt you (a name) because he feels you’ve just said something meant just to hurt him (tit for tat). What are those things? Maybe Phil does feel you cross the line as well, but has a hard time articulating it without specific examples

  12. Healthy boundaries can be difficult for many of us if we have lived in systems that functioned on the “right/wrong” justice scale. The person who was right was okay; the person who was wrong was shamed. All value and worth may have depended on being right; to be wrong meant annihilation of self and self-esteem.

    Healthy boundaries are a result of learning how to strive for love in our relationships, not superiority. Yes, we may need to make decisions about people’s behavior from time to time. If someone is hurting us, we need to stand up for ourselves. We have a responsibility to set boundaries and take care of ourselves. But we do not need to justify taking care of ourselves by condemning someone else. We can avoid the trap of focusing on others instead of ourselves.

    What we do needs to be right only for us. What others do is their business and needs to be right only for them. It’s tempting to rest in the superiority of being right and in analyzing other people’s motives and actions, but it’s more rewarding to look deeper.

  13. When I fight with my boyfriend(no boyfriend at the moment) I am usually the one to argue while the men I choose are more avoidance/passive types. Airing out in honest terms with little filters saves a lot of time. When we stop being nice and start being real.

  14. Is there a suggestion box for topics to be covered in these videos? I love that you two have the strength to do this. Thank you.

  15. The key part for me here is when Phil says that your friend offered bad advice (agreed) and then gives his own example of how that situation might be flipped – his words were: “Say you piss me off for some arbitrary reason which I deem as important but you don’t” – is he saying that he thinks that you being upset by his name calling is an “arbitrary hurt” and he doesn’t deem it as important?? Please please tell me I am interpreting that comment incorrectly?

  16. “Phil just WOULDN’T SHUT UP. So I HAD to go spend more money than I knew was wise, to teach him a LESSON. If he would just LEARN, I wouldn’t have to go making bad financial decisions anymore.”

    “She just WOULDN’T SHUT UP. So I HAD to hit her, to teach her a LESSON. If she would just LEARN, I wouldn’t have to hit her anymore.”

    Your friend’s advice is the classic abuser’s defense.

    1. Author

      I never said it was good advice, nor have I EVER done that or even tried to punish Phil for his behavior. I just don’t think punishing works. I’ll also say that I don’t know how well positive reinforcement works in this case. I’ve tried pointing out when Phil has done a good job of being diplomatic, thanking him for still getting his opinion out there, but doing so in a way that didn’t attack or put me down. I’ve tried only to “reward” good behavior, but the fact is there are still no consequences when he gets into the off limit zone. Even when my boundaries are outlined in bright neon red, discussed and known, he tends to cross them, still with explanations on why he’s not crossing them directly. “I didn’t call you a moron; I just said that your idea is moronic.”

      1. I have little advice, because I often find myself in the same boat. Especially after years of personal work and growth wherein I’ve learned to fight fair, it’s intensely frustrating when the other person fights dirty. Your example is usually replaced with, “I didn’t call you an idiot/stupid; I just said what you SAID is idiotic/stupid.” Well, it’s the same damn thing in my book.

        Anyway, I actually applaud your courage. People who ask why you’re married need to find something better to do than judge…perhaps examine their own glass houses? Oh my GOD! Stephanie! Your marriage is far from perfect! No shit, Sherlock. Who’s is?

        The therapist in me is hard-pressed to offer specific advice, except perhaps to say, “I will not talk further with you until you can speak to me respectfully” and leave the room. I know that can be infuriating as well but at least it doesn’t engage the name-calling behavior.

        One more suggestion, to all couples and singles too: “The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work” by John Gottman. Non-judgmental, and really gets down to the heart of the issues.

      2. Does is bother Phil that he hurts you by calling you names? You mentioned that you try to ignore it – perhaps that doesn’t let him see the “consequence” of his actions? In terms of the heat of the moment, I think my consequence would be refusing to continue the conversation at that time – “I know we need to resolve this conversation, but we’ll have to come back to it later, after you’ve had time to cool off. It’s not OK with me to be called ‘xyz’, which hurts” Then, I’d leave for a bit – the room, the house, whatever you need. And I agree with Sarah, below – good for you for discussing these topics with each other, and having the courage to share these conversations with others.

  17. It’s interesting to me that there are negative comments about this video/topic. I think the fact that you’re even discussing boundaries is extremely mature and shows an honest, open relationship that most people don’t understand or achieve. good for you!

    I’m glad you tackle tough topics. I wouldn’t be interested in watching you and Phil frolicking around singing love songs to each other. I assume you have happy times, because otherwise you wouldn’t work through the tough times.

    and I assume Phil looks uncomfortable because 1) he’s a man on video and 2) he’s a man on video discussing relationship issues. I don’t know many men who would be happy about that task, and I applaud him for being a sport.

  18. Well as for my husband and I we do not fight all that much (we have been together 6 years). But when we do they can get heated but the always end quick and we do not dwell or even remember we had a fight. Because really they are never that important. And sure we know how to push each others buttons. I would say mine are more easily pushed than his. I have really bad anxiety and agoraphobia (I have a hard time doing simple things like going to the store sometimes) and when he is really annoyed he will throw that in my face. But the only reason it hurts so bad is because it is true and I know it. I slack on my therapy and everything else I can do to get better. So he will go there. But to be honest our fights usually end in laughter because they are just silly to begin with. And I would never “punish” him or “reward” him for his fighting skills. He is not a child or a dog. We are equals and each have our flaws.

  19. It’s odd, but perhaps because I am married, I don’t think these videos show two people who hate each other. It seems like you are irritated with one another a bit, but it is still couched in a loving or endearing manner. I can’t quite articulate it.

    But Stephanie, you can spend your whole life trying to get Phil to react to your plans and dreams and “thinking out loud” whimsical or serious moments with respect and complete encouragement, or you can just liberate yourself from caring in a sense. I mean, Eleanor Roosevelt once said that “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” The moment you stop caring, the moment you let it become like “water off a duck’s back” (I love that stupid ass saying), then you take that power away AND he probably doesn’t even want that power — to insult a plan or to be the one who grounds you in reality when you fantasize about making a 12 course meal in 20 minutes or whatever it is.

    does that make any sense at all?

    I must say, however, the last video about “how would you react if you find the list comparing you to another man” stuff was bizarre. what’s the point of torturing a man like that? it seems like a hidden way to say “hey, you, there were some qualities that my last boyfriend had that you lack. nee-neer-nee-neer-neeee-neeer!”

    that’s expected and needn’t be communicated because it may be hurtful. phil seems like he has a very healthy self-esteem and perhaps can’t be hurt so easily, but it could be offensive. what’s the point of pointing out such lists?

  20. Does Phil even think there’s a problem here (with the way you two argue) that needs to be solved? It seems like it’s working for him.

  21. Assvice alert:

    What are your thoughts on ground rules? Just as you would have them in a professional group meeting? When we argue, we agree to:

    No talking over one another.
    No name calling.

    Each of you brings yours to the table. You write them down and you stick to them like it’s your job, because you’ve decided on them and they include what’s important to both of you.

    Kudos to you both for being honest and willing to share with the virtual world. Keep on keepin’ on.

  22. I hope your day to day life isn’t like this Stephanie.. The way Phil talks to you and about you makes me cringe.. :(

    P.S. On a lighter note, I must say – you look damn sexy in this video!!!

  23. I think these videos are a perfect example as to why you SHOULD NEVER GET INSULTED When Stephanie makes idiotic proclamations like “Dora Pijamas are white trash.” Because even if she does live a life of luxury, great career and money, she treats her marriage like a Jerry Springer showfest.

  24. To answer your actual question, what do you do when a boundary is crossed? End the discussion immediately. The name caller will not like it when that happens, and will probably continue to call you names. You have to remain calm and say we can discuss this another time, when you’re not going to call me names. For now, this discussion is over.

    You don’t have to dramatically storm off; in fact, that’s counterproductive, because then the name calling is working.

    He’s probably calling you names to shut you up because he doesn’t like some criticism of him you’re offering up, so ending the discussion is in a sense shutting you up. But if you do get back to the argument in a more calm manner in an hour or so, that sort of takes away the positive reinforcement for the yelling.

  25. Ughhh…I braced myself to watch…wish I hadn’t. Kids shouldn’t see their parents fight…nor should they see parents hurling insults at each other. I’m with Tobey above…useless, non-ending, cruel fighting makes me sick to my stomach.

    Here’s a thought – when you fall in love and marry and bring babies into the world and build your nest together – why in god’s name do you spend the remainder of your time trying to break that world? Can you imagine birds in a nest – all comfy and cozy with the baby birds…then the parents attack each other – hurling insults and trying to get the other to leave the nest? Worst case? the bloodied and broken parents stay in the nest and continue to pick and peck at each other, leaving the babies with a disaster. Worst case #2? One parent drives the other from the nest and leaves the partial family to recover – but if parent who left is a rat-bastard who dive bombs the nest with awful nest-rattling disasters – then worst case #3 is realized.

    How about a good case? How about being kind? Being civilized? Being patient and gentle and decent and respectful and loving? And if Phil is truly a bad man…get him the hell out of the nest – but then stop the drama. Protect the little ones.

    I’ve gotta quit watching those videos – they break my heart. I deal with people who are going through the worst, worst things in life – the loss of their babies. It makes all of this petty meanness simply pale in comparison and these videos leave me feeling like Walmart roadkill the day after Thanksgiving.

  26. I may be alone here, but it seems a remarkable act of love that Phil agrees to star in these videos and to share his actual views (knowing that they will be trashed by the followers of the blog). None of us know what goes on behind closed doors, but Stephanie often comes across as someone who is very focused on her own hurt and on being tended. Phil comes across as someone who partly resents having to do that tending. That doesn’t mean that he’s not okay with the whole package; it may just be that that one part (which seems the main thing they talk about) is something he finds difficult.

    1. What ever happened to chivalry? To not only providing financial and life support as I’m sure Phil does, but also shielding the woman he undoubetedly loves from hurt? I understand Stephanie’s a lot to handle, but I would have hoped that the woman who married her did everthing in his power to keep her safe and happy – even on an emotional level.

      I think it’s obvious that the two of them really do love each other and are devoted to the family and the marriage. What both of them lack is the ability to look beyond their own needs and stubborn preferences and care for each other in the self-sacrificing way we’re taught that 21st century love isn’t about.

      But maybe I’m just a 21st century romantic.

  27. Well, I guess you upped your hit count on this one, eh?

    Like many others who have already posted I find these videos deeply disturbing – not because they’re so “honest” but rather because they reveal a toxic and dysfunctional relationship between two people who don’t seem to be at all compatible. Now maybe the parts that you choose not to share are really great and you actually have a solid connection that helps you get through the tough times but that is not evident here. Marriage is tough and there are lot’s of compromises and disappointments that come with the territory but the animosity and anger you exhibit so frequently is not healthy or normal.

    Also, Phil: the word “moron” is really, really hostile and people who use it as frequently as you do are often, well, morons.

  28. I actually thought this video showed some progress. You guys were calm, allowed the other person to speak. It’s interesting that Phil believes he can’t just say “That hurt” that he has to SHOW you and MAKE YOU FEEL how hurtful it was. I guess that’s an indicator that he doesn’t believe you actually listen to him. I am a newlywed so life is perfect. We have tried to keep the discussion from escalating because I am the person taht resorts to dirty tactics when I feel like I am “losing” an argument and I am not proud of it and dont’ want to do it so we focus on preventing the discussion from escalating. One tactic we have started using when discussions are escalating are “How important is this to you 1 – 10?” or we just say “CORNERS” (the international signal for a time out) Another friend says, “Would you talk to your mother/father this way? What about the mother/father of your children?”

  29. If the only way someone can make their point/opinion crystal clear is at the expense of someone else’s feelings, then there is a fundamental problem (not only with the person, but with the situation in general).

    We all have our issues and if someone loves you they won’t use them against you. (love how Phil in the last video says “just stop having issues and be a normal person.” Ha! What “normal” person doesn’t have issues?)

    Does calling the fat girl “piggy” make her want to stop eating? Does telling someone that they (or their ideas) are moronic make them want to try harder next time?

    My marriage is not perfect by any means, but my husband and I do not even try to push each other’s buttons when we argue. Hurting my husband’s feelings like that would break my heart and my husband feels the same way.

  30. Here, here! I second that this it’s a sign of a mature, healthy relationship that you are able to take a step back to analyze and discuss your relationship issues, esp. when you know it’s going to be made public. Marriage is HARD WORK. For those who say they’d rather be single than be in a place like this, do yourself a favor and live up to those words. This is about as real as it gets. I think the reason the divorce rate is what it is is partially because of unrealistic expectations. Learning how to resolve conflict effectively is probably one of the most powerful tools to make a relationship work. Thank you to Stephanie and Phil for helping us all try to get there!!

  31. Holy shit. 44 comments already?

    First, you’re much more relaxed in this video, and no matter the criticism from some of your readers, these videos are a hit.

    Second, I know some of the history with you and phil’s relationship and I think b/c my personality is a lot like Phil’s I tend to believe he is the more rational one.
    However, and I cant believe I’m saying this, have you watched Housewives of Orange County? Simon on there reminds me of Phil, or how I imagine Phil can be at times. Slightly argumentative, rarely compromising, and never wrong.

    Then again, Phil had been married before and on his own for a while before meeting you, he was probably set in his ways which can make zero resolution in problems of communication. He is lucky he has a patient wife who is willing to work on problems in the marriage.

    But your friend’s advice was fucked up. I laughed out loud at the fucked up suggestion. Who gives that kind of advice?!

  32. I love these videos and I’m so thankful you put it out there so I can examine issues we have. I wonder is there any He Said/She Said topic that is off limits?

  33. All because someone says they are being called names doesn’t mean they are. I think Stephanie is being oversensitive. If he states he is stating “You are acting like…” and follows it up with what his intentions are clearly stating he is not meaning to call her names, the fact Stephanie still insists he is calling her names makes her argument flawed. His actual statement and explanation of intent should be heard.

    Great topic.

  34. Nothing like Simon from what I just surmised by perusing the web. Simon is jealous and his low self esteem causes him to attempt to control his wife. Phil does not control Stephanie nor does he try to. He isn’t jealous nor exhibit jealous tendencies. Megan, perhaps you should get less involved in the lives of reality TV persona’s and recognize the strength of self that is required to go infront of camera in this scenario and address issues personal not for gain but for community.

    PS, sorry you weren’t chosen for Jersey Shore. i know you wanted it bad.

    1. Hey, that was ME who said he reminds me of Simon on that show and I stated why. Argumentative, never compromising and never ever wrong. I said nothing about the jealousy or control issues that Simon seems to be battling with.

      From what I have learned of Phil on here I like the guy. I think it takes balls to be in these videos and then take the browbeating that he endures from readers, but he is a know-it-all, plain and simple. And while he might just be one of the smartest men in SK’s life, he can and is wrong at times.

      P.S. Did you see that tart get knocked da fuck out on Jersey Shore?

  35. I started by looking at some of the comments, before seeing the video. Frankly, I’m surprised at how people are asking, “Do you enjoy each other’s company?” It seemed like a pretty honest, adult discussion that wasn’t over the top offensive or abusive. IN THIS VIDEO.

    I’m sure it’s a different story when the camera’s off and you’re having to deal with his name calling real-time.

    So, I don’t proclaim to have any answers, but I do have to say, when you’ve called out something that bothers you, you’ve drawn the line, and your partner continues to cross it, there’s something wrong. Because basically what he’s doing is deliberately hitting you where he knows it hurts. People who truly care for each other, for each other’s well being, don’t do that. This isn’t a playground, it’s a marriage.

    Stop the name calling Phil. You’re being a little shit (BIG shit!).

    Good luck. And I for one appreciate the videos. Marriage isn’t easy, and you’re both honest about sharing that with us.


  36. Stephanie, Phil,
    The nature of “He Said / She Said” is to have the subjects present both sides of their stories and have the audience judge who is right and who is wrong. We are not your parents. We are also not your therapists. What is to be gained by having a bunch of internet strangers side with either you or with Phil?
    Hurtful words and actions break even the strongest links of love apart. Sure, these videos increase your post replies, but you are walking a thin line by arguing on the internet to increase ratings. You are playing with the media. Another famous couple walked this line for a few years and they are now recently divorced. They have 8 beautiful children who now live in a sadly broken home.
    There is no sense in featuring these videos on your blog unless you are trying to break your marriage down. If you want your readers to judge the 2 of you and declare a winner, then listen to what else your readers have to say. Your readers want you to stop posting these videos and to start loving each other.
    LOVING means not only supporting each other through all of life’s momentous ups and downs, but also through the day to day. In fact, it’s the day to day that holds a marriage together.

    1. Karen I respectfully ask you to look at this from a different perspective. Stephanie has no control over what people focus on when they comment. The nature of He Said/She Said is not to have a judging session but rather to present issues that this couple have in hopes of starting a dialog. I know from personal experience things that they discussed have led to me having a more open dialog with my boyfriend. Whether someone comments on what Stephanie wears or who is right or how screwed up they sound is immaterial to me when it comes to the content of the issue which many times is universal. This is helpful. They are not attempting to follow their lives around for voyeurs. I applaud and thank them for helping my relationship move ahead.

    2. Did Stephanie actually ask people to pick a side? I thought she was asking a question: What are your relationship boundaries? And, she supplied a video that answered that question for her and Phil.
      I think that people just automatically want to choose a side or can maybe relate to one side or another. But, I don’t think that Stephanie really means for us to psychoanalyze her marriage based on a handful of 3 minute videos.

  37. Really not sure why you married each other. There is something very wrong with a grown, educated man who name calls. Inexcusable. And why do you allow that? We teach people how to treat us. If my husband ever called me “stupid”….my gosh…. he’d be very close to gone.

    1. Author

      Okay, now this, this is what I need. I get that BOTH people play a part in any dynamic, that we each play a role, the doing or the accepting of it, and it will remain that way unless one person, or even both people, change their behavior, modify their reactions, etc. with the hope of changing the dynamic. Of course we “teach people how to treat us.” But this is where I share that I am in fact seeking and asking for help by way of examples.

      IF your husband name called, you’d do what, exactly? The vague “he’d be very close to gone,” doesn’t help me or others dealing with behavior modification. It’s a judgment. Which is fine, and I get it. But when saying, “It hurts me when you do that, and it feels shaming. Please stop,” is returned with “I didn’t say you’re a moron; I said you’re acting like a complete moron, and I know you’re not, so stop acting like that.” “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, please keep the words ‘stupid’, ‘idiotic’, ‘moronic,’ ‘absurd,’ and ‘ridiculous’ out of this, no matter how you intend them. I don’t like them.” And he responds, “Well, I’m not going to sugar coat it. Or walk on eggshells and coat things in sugar.” What would you do? What is the best technique?

      Silent treatment? Punishment? Cutting off all communication? Ignoring? Stonewalling? You get my point. I don’t feel good about having dysfunctional communication with someone I love. That’s where I am right now, and I put it out there because I think, no, I KNOW that other people benefit from the reality of it, but more so, I want to learn from other people, too. To hear what has worked and what hasn’t. How you go about turning things around, when you both love each other deeply. It takes active work to change habits, being aware in the moment, and also forcing yourself to bite down hard and try to change.

      Phil and I trust each other, we can handle stress of sick children, we are at our best during catastrophes because we both soften, and we recognize that we don’t want catastrophic situations just so we can live lighter lives. We are in love, and I get what people are saying… that it’s all ugly. Why don’t I show the loving moments too… and that’s a totally valid criticism and one I hope to respond to. Though it’s easy to have discussions, and less easy to capture loving moments on tape, because those are, in fact, in the everyday living, not posed in front of a camera dealing with our therapy issues that week. Make any sense?

      So again, my real question is what would/do YOU do if your spouse crossed a boundary for you?

      1. My husband and I used to talk to each other like that. We went to marriage counseling to learn how to communicate better, how to not use those phrasings, how not to drag up old events, and how to really listen. I know it’s not for everyone, but when those techniques that you’ve tried don’t work, may be finding someone to help you two communicate is a better option than expecting those of us on the web to provide insight. Each marriage has its own quirks and what works for you may not work for me. I get that therapy may not work for you two, but I think a neutral third party person is the only way to change some of these dynamics that are in place.

        Or, make him explain to you exactly why something is mornic, ridiculous, stupid, or whatever the phrase is. Don’t let him off the hook, make him spell it out so that you can respond accordingly.

        1. Author

          The good news is that we both really respect the therapist. I know I want to change, and it does take some finessing. It won’t happen over night, but I think being aware and keeping it top-of-mind helps. Otherwise, nothing will change.

  38. I had a talk therapist for years (along with medication) and I found it was easy to just vent, left feeling relieved without having to make any major changes in my life. In a way, I think the blog allows you to do much of the same, a pump and dump, if you will. Except there are the flareups in comments that might make you feel worse, which is what I respect about you, whether or not I agree with you. You do put it out there, and not just to put it out there.

  39. Intervention or tell him to get help b/c it is affecting you. I know somebody like this and have decided to no longer associate with them.

  40. I’m sorry– was not trying to be flip or arrogant by saying “he’d be very close to gone.” I can only explain where I came from– with a father who often spoke in a nasty fashion to my mother. So, as a result, if someone I was dating spoke to me with a testy tone in his voice, the first time he was told very clearly “don’t ever speak to me that way again. EVER.” and it was followed up by pulling way back which allowed me to collect my thoughts to see if I wanted to continue to date that person. It worked.

    Stonewalling, ignoring, silent treatment– just makes it more dysfunctional. I’m no expert and I’ll probably be lambasted for this suggestion but what I’ve done when I’m not getting anywhere in an argument is to calmly say something like “i can see we aren’t making any constructive progress. let’s start over when we can have a real, honest conversation that is not hostile, let me know, I’ll be folding laundry (going for a run, whatever) in the meantime.” Then I go on my way. I’m not for beating my head into a wall with someone who is just deflecting the real issue with semantics. Going round and round doesn’t seem to work.

    Would that work for you guys?

  41. first, i really enjoy the video blogs. after years of reading your blogs, its such fun to put voice inflection and facial expressions to your thoughts. regarding the name-calling issue: i feel like in my marriage, i am embarassed to admit that i am the name caller! and its really only bc/ i have a temper – do i mean the names i blurt out, in the heat of the moment? not at all, but its just my immature way of lashing out. while i don’t condone my name-calling, i recognize that it really is meaningless, a flare of a temper, and not a genuine feeling i have during a rational time. when we argue to that degree, we generally take a break (sometimes 24 hours) to cool off – i find its the best way to work out a fight. we are better able to apologize and attempt to work through an issue. and one more thing – i seriously love the ads i see on your blog – why? because it makes me so proud and happy that you have made it so far, to get such huge sponsors (holy cow GE??!)Fantastic. yes i will patronize those who sponsor the one and only blog i read!

  42. The one or two times my husband has attacked me or my character verbally (meanly) I have later explained how he hurt me and how those words would never be forgotten. And they haven’t been some 18 years of marriage later. This is a real problem in my eyes and I hope therapy helps you both.

    1. And not saying by any means we do not ‘fight’ but attacking who the other person is a no-no. We may say we do not like it when ‘you do this’ but it never comes down to ‘you are such a ……’

  43. For me, it wasn’t any dramatic line-crossing moment – it was a steady drip of criticisms. All of them delivered w/o yelling or anything offensive. It is enormously better now, but it took several years. For years, his response was to explain to me why I shouldn’t be upset, how valid his remarks were, or the favorite “am i not allowed to be honest with you”?

    I know you’re looking for specifics, and I know the most helpful talks we had were spontaneous and at quiet moments -not heated, angry, frustrated. I remember I looked at him once and asked him if he even liked me. He acted like the question was insane. I said I was “dead serious, because I truly don’t think you do. Everything I do, everything that makes me who I am seems to irritate the crap out of you”.

    I think you’re very cool and it makes me sad to read about the yelling and name-calling you’re going through with Phil. Today, the steady stream of criticisms is now just the occasional drop but I think what turned it around was that he started to give a sh*t how he made me feel. From there, he realized that HIS opinion of how I should feel was irrelevant.

    The name-calling clearly wounds you, and from what I can see Phil is only focused on reasons/rationalizations for why it shouldn’t be such a big deal. I truly wish you the best in working this out –

  44. I guess I don’t get it. I don’t get your question. How do you respond to someone you love doing something that they know will hurt you over and over again? I would think there are only a few possible answers. You could have some hope that the person you love will stop this behavior, however, that hope may be irrational and you cannot control another person’s behavior. You could leave or shut down as a response in an effort to punish the behavior but again, that’s an attempt to control although it may make you feel better in the moment. You could remove yourself from the situation permanently so as not to suffer it again. You could learn to accept it and somehow find a way to overcome this sore spot so it no longer affects you in this way.

    I would think the better question would be in a loving relationship might be, how do I keep myself from crossing the line in an argument or discussion so that I don’t hurt this person who I love.

    There seems to be a lot of battling for control and how do I teach this person to act the way I want them to act.

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