when passover leads to “it’s over”

In ALL, HOLIDAYS, MARRIAGE by Stephanie Klein141 Comments

matzo ball

It’s not that I don’t like Jewish food. I just tend to associate it with people who don’t know how to cook. They’re the types who put mini marshmallows on their Thanksgiving sweet potatoes and who eat cottage cheese mixed with macaroni. I can’t help but think of dining room wallpaper, phlegm cleared into a handkerchief, sun-spotted hands, and a crystal dish with mounds of chopped liver. Moth balls, gold-rimmed stemware, and a bathroom with a built-in, painted-closed, laundry bin.

Now that I’m a mother with a son who breaks into tears when he thinks someone else has asked his fourth question, Passover is becoming ours—something old that we can push into a new shape. It’s a world of suffering and tradition, of tights and temple—studded with matzo balls, ball jokes, and four glasses of wine.

Phil wanted to sprint through the Seder. No, wait, that’s totally unfair. What he wanted was no Seder at all. Whereas I wanted to leaf through the Haggadah page by page, prayer by prayer, in song, in English, and in Hebrew. Not the five-hour version, but the 45-minute adaptation. But each and every time I began to read a new section of our modern (think iPad), abbreviated, simplified, Haggadah, Phil would interrupt with a, “Yada, yada, yada. Okay, wonderful. Let’s move it along.”

And, man was I pissed. Like, plague pissed. Could you be any more disrespectful?

Had I said as much, he would’ve countered with his all-time favorite adjective: selfish. “Stop being so selfish and think of what other people want,” he’d say. And, there would be no winning. Nothing I could say. I’ve learned this much. I’ve also unfortunately learned to fight it out with myself, playing both sides of our conversations, anticipating his retorts. I can have heated arguments, complete with eye-rolls (another form of disrespect of which I’m dead-guilty), and he doesn’t even need to be here. It’s “Intuitive Knowing,” when you believe you know what the other person will say, without their uttering a syllable. Only it can extend beyond words and sentences into anticipated behaviors.

He bullied his way through the Seder, motioning with his hands for me to hurry up and get on with it. I had wanted to talk to the kids about the significance of Elijah, to learn things myself. I’d printed coloring pages of the plagues, and I had the crayons at the ready. But. But I didn’t even go there. I couldn’t get to the next page without a remark, so I wasn’t about to hand out sheets for coloring. And that’s my fault for letting him take over and bulldoze everything. Because what I should do is ignore him. Just because he’s aggressive doesn’t mean I simply throw up my hands. Throwing up your hands is absolutely 100% easier than putting up the fight for what you want. The “easier out” can also become all-out toxic.

Soon you’re left feeling like there’s no room for you in the marriage, that as much as he wants to please you, as much as he genuinely wants to make you happy, he has one fcuked up way of showing it. His way.

The problem is, on the surface, it’s a lovely Seder. People stay for dessert, we laugh and record video clips, repeating the cute things our children said earlier in the night. But when the company is gone and the table is cleared, I walk away feeling defeated and resentful. He’s utilitarian, wants things done efficiently, whereas I want to make memories, to find pleasure in the extra details (Yes, I delight in room-temperature butter for the spreading). He bulldozes through everything on his time, without patience, becoming short-tempered. And it ruins things for me. Because it becomes don’t do it if I can do it faster and better, but damn you for not offering to do it, or trying to do it, better or faster.

Still, I’d rather deal with the arguments and opinions and not getting my way than nothing at all, which surprises me. Why? Because I want my children to share in the Seder, to be a part of tradition. I felt like Lucas was closer to my Grandfather Sam. No longer with us, Grandpa, too, would have gone page by page through Seder and song. And there was Lucas, hanging on my every word. Looking at me from across the table, he was hungry for the stories and wanted to hear them. No one was going hungry. They were already eating matzoh.

“Everyone just wants to eat,” he said, as if I, too, weren’t hungry.

Did I tell Phil that I thought he was being disrespectful, then and there at the table? No. He’d only deny it and further prove my point. No one needs to witness that.

Yes, there were children wiggling in their seats. Tough, I thought. So, go ahead and wiggle. No one gets a lick of matzoh until we get to that blessing. You’ll wait, just as I did when I was your age. And, there it was: the showing of my age. “When I was your age,” is the kiss of the death, or at least the fast approach to it. Because when you go there, it means you’re getting old (at heart). Truly though, I don’t care. That’s the role I’m playing right now, teaching my children about their pasts, and sadly showing them a less-than-ideal future. Something else has to change, and it can’t just be me.

Yes, every single relationship is co-created and it takes two people. And yes, if one person changes, s/he can, in fact, change the dynamic, but eventually you’re beyond exhausted. It is then when you question everything, especially yourself.

Comments

  1. Do you really want to grow old with him?
    Will it ever get better?
    Will he ever stop thinking you’re selfish for stating your needs?
    Can it get worse? (yes it can)

    There is a name for this behavior, it’s called, taking a person for granted.

    I know how when we get frustrated we tend to vent, and expose our spouse, like putting him on the spot so everyone can judge and take our side. But I guess all your readers know, and you know by now, that he seems to be especially mean when something really matters to you.

    It’s my opinion. I don’t know you, I don’t know your husband, but I’ve read your blog for years now.

  2. Wow, you could be writing about my life. Or, rather, my former life. I left my long-term marriage because I constantly ran up against just these very issues. What was important to me (like Seder traditions — and I’m not even Jewish!) were just not important to him. I always put so much effort into making our house a home and our lives filled with meaning, but there was never appreciation. It’s hard starting over (and I honestly don’t recommend it) but I just could no longer live a life where I was acting like “everything is fine” when it simply was not. Core values are so important and I will chose better in my next relationship. I feel for you…and thank you for your honesty. Hang in there!

  3. Do you two sit down beforehand and lay out your expectations? It seems like he’s really handsoff on the planning portion and then has a different set of expectations when the time comes. My husband and I have found that if we just vocalize our expectations, regardless of how ridiculous or selfish or in conflict with the other, we’re able to better come to a compromise. Just a suggestion.

  4. I hate to admit this- but its these posts that keep me coming back. I’m curious about your marriage. I want to know how you’re doing, how you are making it work or not work. I’m a busy body. And even worse to admit, it makes me feel good about my marriage- like okay I guess we’re okay because these guys seem to have it a little tougher.

    Nosey, judgey thoughts aside- I think you’ll make it work in the end because of the kids. Because they’re too precious not too and you seem committed to making it work- but deep down do you really, truly think it will work out? These posts leave me wondering…

  5. Awwww. Sort of bummed to read this after your uplifting prior post. I thought a “things I love” post was next.

    I think I’ve always been a little “old at heart”– I’m a Type-A perfectionist, the oldest sister of three girls. So, yeah, basically a bossy, know-it-all, pain in the ass. ;)

    I completely relate to your love of holiday traditions. There a couple holiday traditions from my childhood that I would like to share with my children. Simple things like: going around the table on Thanksgiving and saying what we are thankful for, and gathering on Christmas Eve to open one (and only one present). As a kid, these were just fun, but now that I’m older, they mean so much more. They become reminders of the happiest parts of my childhood, as well as the fact that despite my confusing 20-something, single-girl, big-city life, there is a place that is still home, with people who have known me my whole life, and love me very much.

    Thinking good thoughts for you, Stephanie. Your heart was clearly in the right place on Passover.

  6. Oh Stephanie..I am always so taken aback by your honesty and good heartedness in all of these situations. Your frustration is clear and yet, you are still so fair and careful about everything. As hokey as it sounds, you inspire me to try a little harder. I will be more level-headed in my dealings with my beloved, (but crazy controlling) husband thanks to your example. Thank you for your voice.

  7. I admire your perseverance, commitment, and courage. Keep the faith and continue to take care of yourself.

  8. In the spirit of he said/she said I offer a perspective other than the author’s- Stephanie had emailed me a “to do” list the night before. And told me passover dinner was Tuesday. As we found out it was Monday, she was already frantic. I was working on Monday. First thing AM I got an extremely important task to do. At 9am I asked her if she could help. She said sure if I took care of the list. Deal! Being the perfectionist she was still working on the task at 3pm. Throughout the day I was extremely appreciative and also telling her to stop. It wasn’t worth it. She continued again till 3:30 I believe. On the list of 15 things I did or delegated to my sister 12 of them including chopping up everything, cooking brisket to her exacting specs, making a dessert, poaching vegetables, hydrating mushrooms, figuring out where to get and ordering turkeys, boiling the egg, printing the 4 questions for my niece to read, as well as others while I was working my job. 3:30 I ran to pick up her grocery list of ice cream, eggs, another brisket, 4 turkey breasts as well as picking out flowers for the table. Upon my return she was beyond irate yelling I had done nothing and blaming me for all the wrongs of the day because I made her do what she had offered to do and I had told her to stop. Essentially guilting me. It was 4:30 and the other couple who was coming over were to arrive around 5. She’s still barking how the wine isn’t breathing in a carafe, how the butter isn’t room temperature and how she hasn’t showered. I hadn’t either but that’s not the point. My niece and sister had set the table and Stephanie needed it a very specific way. As they asked what she wanted she became flustered that she couldn’t answer. You ever tell a person in the red zone they should calm down? Nice try… My saying decanting a wine only she and 1 other person will drink is not a big deal and room temperature butter no one will touch is not a big deal made things worse. She berated me that my brisket was inedible and she needed to fix it. It was actually better than I thought that recipe would be and turned out they loved it. And that we didn’t need the extra brisket which I was reprimanded for saying to her as I was squashing her dreams. She went to take a shower and I texted the couple saying we aren’t ready perhaps come 40 minutes later. They did. When they arrived I asked when everyone would like to eat. They said 7. Perfect. So 4 year old twins,a 3 year old, 5 month old, 9 year old read the four questions, heard a fair amount of the hagaddah and were ready to eat at 7:30 as it was now.

    When all was over and everyone had a lovely time, hid the matzah, etc. Stephanie again berated me for not letting her make a dessert. Truth is we had three other desserts already(gluten free chocolate, caramel chocolate covered matzah, vanilla ice cream and as stressed as she was I said what i thought- no need to make yourself nuts. Everything is great. No need for yet a 4th dessert. Me saying this is controlling, heavy handed, mean. My take is it is thoughtful and perspective.

    He said…

    1. Thanks for your response, there’s always two perspectives to every disagreement between spouses (or anyone for that matter), and it’s really nice to hear your side. Especially since everyone on here seems to have decided you have horns and breathe fire:)

      Of course, that’s the benefit of having a blog, right? If you want to sway people to having that opinion of your wife, start your own blog:)

    2. This sounds similar to a blowout my husband and I had over a Halloween party that I was over-planning while dealing with a really stressful time at work. Same deal. I gave him a list and then got fixated on really minor details which left him to deal with the larger details which pissed me off because those weren’t “perfect.” Then he got frustrated because I was being totally irrational, and I was. I lost the plot.

      What we both learned from that incident is that I can’t plan a party when there’s other stressors going on and to not over plan. People are going to enjoy themselves no matter what, so why freak out over (for example) butter and wine?

      It seems like your gatherings are always so planned that there’s no flexibility or spontaneity.

    3. I always suspect you come out a lot worse (not intentionally, anyone does when their perspective is not added) so this helps. Personally I laugh when she tells of the Phil-isms (yadda yadda hurry up hands, etc..) since I am the ‘Phil’ in a lot of ways in my marriage. As nice as it is to make memories and everything special you cannot live in a movie. Things are not perfect. Sometimes one or two things need to be pushed aside. Initially I wondered if you two were even compatible after another ‘Phil’ post. I think you two are well suited since you have what she does not and vice versa- soul mates tend to teach each other the most, and yes, that involves some stressful moments. But you both complement each other as a whole. I hope you both feel like that too though~!

    4. Trust me; everyone did not have a great time. There is nothing more uncomfortable than sitting at the table of a couple who are rude and disrespectful to each other.
      I must admit that I am boggled as to why this marriage continues. Why do two people who apparently love each other but who do not really like each other want to stay together? I feel sorry for the children who have to witness it every day. They are the ones who will grow up with skewed ideas of a healthy relationship.
      I wish you well and hope things change, but I’m not holding my breath.

    5. Your dramatic post was entertaining for us rubberneckers and if it is completely fictional keep up the good work. But, after reading Phil’s “he said,” I thought about your poor children growing up in your emotional chaos. It has to be very confusing and frightening for them to be pulled back and forth between your polar realities and to be subjected to parents who are disrepectful of each other. You both seem intelligent enough to understand that your misbehavior is going to warp your kids. I hope that you will talk it out and agree on what is going on and agree on a plan for stopping the verbal and silent fighting. If you can’t work it out together, it is worth finding a professional. Good luck and God Bless you.

  9. Your Seder – my Dido and Aneas. I distinctly remember when the babies were little and I knew that it was vital that they were introduced to the beauty and magic of life. Mozart…Purcell…Shakespeare…the thrums of existence – the beats of soul…history, beauty, culture, foundation (I’m not religious).

    And I remember when my ex would mock me…and mock my methods and my way of providing this tapestry of grace to my darlings. I would be at home being mom, teaching the darlings Latin whilst singing Mozart, washing the toilets and translating German opera over peanut butter and honey… it was delectable. They soaked it in…they relished it. But then – the ominous presence…he would come in and make fun of my operas…my requiems…the rituals that I loved…the wounds were grave. The kids were perplexed. Mom = fun, beauty, grace, history. Dad = cynical, sarcastic, cutting and brilliant. Frankly, I think being mean is easier. It’s way harder to be kind.

    I’ve been divorced almost 12 years – the wounds still sting. The darlings and I have worked through grace and beauty, history and decency, versus power, control, punishment and always being right. They stand mostly in the beauty and grace sphere….but are always tempted to the ‘I’m always right and fukc you sphere’. It’s never dull.

    I go back to my earlier statement…if he can live elsewhere and still be dad…you can keep your beautiful home the way you want to…do it. It’s easier than being divorced. Have a once a month dad…it’s way better than an every day asshole dad, and way better than a divorced dad who is looking for a new woman who he can systematically break down into controllable bits.

    Courage….strength.

    1. Frankly, I think being mean is easier. It’s way harder to be kind.

      This. I need to keep that in mind. I’m kind to my children, but often short tempered and blunt with my husband. Thanks for verbalizing this.

  10. Hey, I like Jewish food, and I know how to cook. Marshmallows on sweet potatoes is just vile (and not at all Jewish!). Think chicken soup with fluffy matzoh balls, perfect roast chicken, cauliflower/leek kugel with almond/herb topping…

    As to the remainder, let’s not get too upset. Most disagreements between partners are about mundane, everday things, but they occur because of inevitable differences in perspective, because of feelings of not being understood or appreciated, because it is so difficult to yield when one feels that one’s principles are involved. Both parties love each other here and each wants to make the other happy, yet… Phil tends to bring his professional/work perspective and demeanor into the marriage, which can be a dangerous practice. Stephanie’s perfectionism will at times clash with Phil’s desire for efficiency – this is inevitable, but not necessarily a bad thing. It’s how the clash is dealt with that matters. Diminishing a partner is never okay. Sometimes someone needs to be knocked over the head with this truth. I say – whatever works. It is never too late to learn a different approach, to learn to respect (even if not appreciate) that a different perspective is permitted. Nurturing that perspective is a long way away, and may never come, but permitting it to exist alongside your own is crucial. Let live.

    But what do I know? I never did do that residency in psychiatry.

  11. No need to question yourself. Question why you’re married to this guy, still. I read your blog from time to time; this is the first post I’ve seen that makes him sound so perfectly horrible. And sadly, in a way that suggests the problem is endemic, and he’ll never change. He’s rude and insensitive. And selfish himself. What must the kids think when he’s so disrespectful toward tradition and dismissive toward their mom? You can stick out life with him, or cut your losses.

  12. I know that traditions like Seder are all about family, but have you thought about having it without your husband? If he doesn’t want to have Seder, he doesn’t have to attend, free pass, go off and do something else. It’s not fair of him to ruin it for you. It is extremely disrespectful and playing the “selfish” card is ridiculous. Sure, if everyday was some elaborate ceremony orchestrated for your benefit, but it’s not, this is an extremely important holiday for you full of traditions that warm and nourish you. He has no right to shut you down because he knows he can. It’s something to be discussed in private, not for him to mock you in the middle of dinner in front of guests.

    I know a lot of people are telling you to run out and get a divorce, but I’d recommend counseling first (if you haven’t already tried it). You obviously love each other, and you both love your children, and maybe counseling can help you have discussions and disagreements with each other without resorting to pushing each others’ buttons. I’ve been married almost 12 years, and we’re constantly realizing things the other one does that upsets us. And we discuss it and then try to minimize the times we do it. Of course, we still do, and no marriage is perfect, but it’s the hurting each other that is so unhealthy. Good luck and hope that by next year, your holiday will happen the way you want it!

  13. Wow. Reading yours and his, you guys are in a bad place. Your husband uses “berated” about how many times….

    :( I feel for you.

  14. I wrote to you about four years ago about the exact behavior by Phil you are still describing. It was emotionally abusive and unacceptable then. It’s emotionally abusive and unacceptable now. Your acceptance/toleration of it continues to empower/authenticate it.

  15. This had nothing to do with Seder. It had to do with the difference in your detail orientation and Phil’s more relaxed view of things. I won’t bury the lede: I think you could loosen up some and he could be nicer.

    I think you love each other. It’s just hard when your natures are so different. Don’t go running off to the divorce lawyer just yet. A few things:

    1. I try to remember my husband makes the incredible life we have and that if he is working, I can’t rightly expect him to take out that butter on time or decant the wine. He does other things on “lists” but if a client needs him, I understand that his work pays for my nice homes, gardener and maids and the fabulous vacations we take. That’s a new perspective for me because until we remarried (after a 27 yr hiatus) I’d always made my own way.I had a major career, always ran the show in other relationships and I wasn’t that good at understanding my mates’ perspectives, either. I had to learn. Still am.

    2. A rigid list of Martha-Stewart-to-do’s (that isn’t his list, it’s YOURS) is a recipe for disaster. Your kids aren’t going to remember that the butter was soft or the wine in a decanter. They’ll remember the love. And if you think kids don’t pick up on tension? They do. I really do think you must loosen up. I always get the sense that you are so busy making a magazine-perfect life that real life is passing. One day you’ll miss that. What will you remember on your death bed? That the table was perfectly set that Seder or that wild weekend of wine tasting in Burgundy?

    3. GO AWAY, you two! Without the kids and for a romantic somewhere you both agree on or maybe a place you didn’t think you wanted to go. Access that love. You need to do it and now.

    4. I think your aim at having a program was worthy. Kids need to know their traditions, even if they reject them later. BUT. If I were invited to Seder and the hosts had a 45 minute program for their children before dinner –and which was already late–, I’d be impatient. A coloring session? At dinner?? Did your guests know and agree to this? Seems to me some of this would’ve been avoided if you had not invited others to the dinner and if you had decided in advance how to impart religious significance to the kids at dinner. Have a private Seder OR do your religious instruction as a family separately, not at dinner. But do talk about it and agree ahead of time. COMPROMISE is key. I know, hard for me, too.

    5. Remember the love. It’s clearly there. Stephanie, if you don’t loosen up on your perfectionism you will lose your relationship and maybe your life. I don’t know enough to speak to Phil’s side of it but perhaps he could anticipate some of this and help you both plan to avoid it.

    You are both strong individuals and have vastly different priorities. Plus there is the stress of another major move, hard to pull off with everything on your plate. What happened to your counseling?

    Marriages are always works in progress with these kinds of ups and downs. Remember the love. And remember to set important priorities. But you have to agree on important’s definition. Let go of that tight grip you have on how things should be done and you’ll find life’s a lot easier. I should know–my relationship history proves it.
    Blessings to you both and those beautiful babies.

  16. I do not think either Phil or Stephanie is the villian here – they are just not suited for each other AT ALL. Why stay together in something so obviously not meant to work out. Stop forcing it and let Phil move to FL solo. Perfect timing.

  17. People are weighing in on the he said/she said aspect of this and it’s not fair to anyone. Even your guests will have had a different take on the exchange.
    I hear you saying Phil was quashing your dreams for a perfect Seder and I heard Phil saying things would have been fine without the overplanning.
    That’s just *my take on this.
    Most of all, do nothing in haste. Because if your readers know ANYthing about your marriage it’s that you do truly love one another.

  18. I agree with your wanting to pass along traditions and I do NOT think it is selfish, but Phil’s comment provided an insight into your mindset that day and all I could think was…Bethanny.

    Stephanie, have you ever watched Bethanny Frankel’s show? This past week’s episode, she had a Thanksgiving meltdown because she had a lot on her plate and her “perfect” dinner was ruined. Everyone around her kept trying to get her to go with the flow and focus on what was really important about that moment…family and friends. She eventually got there, but not after creating a very awkward moment for her loved ones. We tend to create misery in the very areas of life that we strive to be storybook perfect.

    I bring this up because at the end of the episode when Bethanny is speaking with her therapist, it comes out that her mom used to create these ‘perfect’ thanksgiving dinners. However, the second something went wrong, she’d fly into a rage and ruin it for everyone. Even though Bethanny admitted the food was flawless, it didn’t matter. Those dinners were so full of her mom’s anxiety over making it perfect that she actually ruined what could have been good memories.

    I’m not saying this disagreement is all your fault. You and Phil appear to be really different in fundamental ways and I can see where both of you are right and wrong. I totally get your desire to create a cozy homelife, it’s something I enjoy doing as well. What I realized is that my family and friends appreciated the overall essence of these gatherings, not so much the small details that I thought were so important. Once I let the neurotic notion of a perfect dinner, birthday etc. go, I actually enjoyed preparing these events more and the people around me wanted to be apart of the preparation as well.

  19. I’m glad Phil had a chance to weigh in. Howsabout next year you cut 1/3 of the items on your “musts” list? And find a haggadah that incorporates participatory activities on every page and takes about 20 minutes?

  20. Author

    I wasn’t going to go here. Though, now that we’re sharing the “pre-party,” I’m going to do a wee bit more sharing (and airing). It’s funny that “He Said” addressed Phil’s experience leading up to the Seder but didn’t once acknowledge the mistakes made, the regrettable behavior, or the disrespectful actions taken. It reads to me like a rationalization for being a bully.

    As Phil stated, I’d thought the first night of Passover was Tuesday night, so when on Sunday night it came to my attention that the first night of Passover was actually on Monday, I panicked. I took it out, not on Phil, but on a to-do list. His sister and I stayed up extra late walking through a to-do list that felt manageable to both of us. It did not involve Phil. We were actually both looking forward to it. I hit print.

    Buy: A Cooked TURKEY, serve with gravy
    Pink tulips or some potted flowers
    Vanilla ice cream, good quality (if no one objects to dairy)

    Delegate: Defrost gluten-free Miles of Chocolate
    Decant red wine
    Take out butter, room temp
    Set table (choose linens, settings)
    Set out half-sour deli pickles
    Set out hummus, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes

    Soak dried mushrooms for soup
    Clean and cut celery
    Clean and hull strawberries, cut in half
    Clean blackberries/ soak in water and rinse
    Clean and cut rhubarb
    Chop fresh mint (2 Tbl)
    Put whipping cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar in whip cream maker

    1. Get brisket going, first thing!
    2. Make matzoh balls
    3. Make more broth/soup traditional (doctor up bouillon w/ dill & carrots)
    4. Poach vegetables
    5. Boil egg, set up Seder plate!
    6. Cook Gefilte Fish
    7. Print Haggadahs
    8. Make Rhubarb Strawberry compote: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Rhubarb-and-Strawberry-Compote-with-Fresh-Mint-242109
    9. Potato Latkes (from box)
    10. Constant stove work: make matzoh buttercrunch
    11. Matzoh harvest stuffing with apricots (oven)

    First, I’d start the brisket because ideally you make it the night before, so it has time to rest and the flavors can mingle overnight. But we no longer had “overnight,” so I’d begin at 7:30 AM. Next, the matzo ball soup. I had already made the actual soup (Lemongrass, ginger, Shittake mushrooms, leeks, peppercorns, a whole chicken–quartered), and if time allowed, I’d doctor up a basic chicken soup in case the kids, or anyone, was picky. I’d need to make the actual Matzo ball batter, let it firm up in the fridge for a half hour or so, then keeping hands wet, you roll out the balls, bring broth up to a boil, then you add the balls to the broth, bring it back up to a boil, then they cook for another 40 minutes. Let’s get all of that out of the way first thing.

    I wake up extra early to get started the next morning, and then, everything changes. And, I go with it.

    Phil comes to me saying that he really needs help with something work related. Can I create a brochure? Mind you in advertising this type of work would take creative briefs, strategies, and weeks, if not months. I had a few hours. But it didn’t need to be perfect… just close to it. Did I even for one second bitch or moan? No. He needed this to be done, and he couldn’t have planned for this. He had just been told about a meeting and this presentation now had to be created, suddenly. If I couldn’t do it, I imagine he would’ve figured something out. Less impressive, less professional, but it would have been fine. Still, who wants “fine” in business? You always want to exceed expectations. So, yeah, of course I preferred to cook with my sister-in-law and niece, but Phil needed help, so I stepped up and helped… “so long as you execute my to-do list because there’s no way I’ll be able to do both.”

    “Deal!”

    I told him to ask me any questions, read through the list, let’s discuss it now. All he said, “Will you stop? I’ve got it. Don’t micro-manage.” So, I stepped away, gave up any control and got to designing a brochure. Here, mind you, would have been an ideal place for him to raise any flags. I’ll be the first to admit that I can sometimes over-plan, with elaborate ideas that never truly come together. That’s why, in this example, I created a numbered, prioritized to-do list. And whatever failed to be crossed off wouldn’t matter so much because the important things (even if they were very small details) would have been tackled. For example, I’d rather have a table set with creamy butter and decanted wine than two additional side dishes (potato latkes and harvest stuffing).

    By 3pm Phil had already seen several printouts of his work. I’d asked him to mark them with any final changes, proofread, etc. I was still unshowered, in PAJAMAS, and our company was arriving at “5ish.” Phil tells me to stop working, to print things out, email them to him after I’ve made his last changes. Only, there are tons of inconsistencies, misspellings, and side notes that simply make all the work look unprofessional. You always present your best work, not some half-assed job with mistakes. If you’re going to do a job, you do it well.

    It was 2:45pm when he asked if I’d get to a final FAQ page. If it hadn’t mattered, if he really wanted me to stop, he wouldn’t have asked. “Okay, well, just add it quickly.” It’s not that easy, and unless you’ve designed and organized information, you don’t know how long it takes. “Add it quickly” just doesn’t fly. Still, it needed to be done. I did not respond, “Look, I’ve spent all day doing this, and no one will really give a shit.” Of course not. I did what had to be done. And since he’d said he would take care of my to-do list, fair was fair. I’d do it right, just as he’d execute everything on my list (A list he’d seen first thing in the morning and had an opportunity to discuss then and there)

    At 3:30pm Phil decided to tackle the very top section of the to-do list: BUY. While he was off at the market picking up last-minute eggs, turkey, etc., I was now frantic (and sweating like a whore in church). I reviewed the to-do list. Wait. Huh? Several of the items had the letter “S” scribbled beside them. “S” stood for “Stephanie,” not “shitmotherfcuker.”

    Strawberry Rhubarb compote “S”
    Set the table “S”
    Cut and clean rhubarb “S”
    Make whipped cream “S”
    Print Haggadahs “S”

    WTF was about to have a capital “P” beside it.

    Make Matzo balls “S”

    More like shit balls! You cannot have Passover without Matzoh ball soup. You just can’t. Yes, we could survive without everything else on the list. But this wasn’t about survival. It was about special. Not spectacular, not done to the nines, but special. And, hey, a deal’s a deal. I did my part. How could he say he’d take care of my to-do list and then still leave me with so much to do?

    I get it. Phil didn’t realize it would take me as long as it did to create his four-paged brochure. He also thought he could make executive decisions, decide what was important. In his opinion, some things mattered more than others, and hey, take it easy, don’t sweat the small stuff. Whatever it is, it is. No one really at the end of the day cares. What’s most important is that we’re having a nice holiday surrounded by the people we love.

    In an ideal world—one without promises, expectations, printouts and plans—yes. Absolutely agreed. No one, when it comes down to it, cares about the details… except… except in this specific moment, when a deal was struck, when I’d planned, when I really did care and really did want the sweet little touches that help make moments become memories. And, sweet Jesus, I spent my day doing what needed to get done. I didn’t ask questions, didn’t hem about how last minute, what wretched timing, would it really matter, did it have to get done now, seriously? Of course not. Work is work. I 100% get that. It’s why I so readily agreed.

    Now that I’d finally finished the brochure, how would I shower, make matzo ball batter, let it rest, make balls, boil, simmer, and set a table, teach his sister how to hull strawberries, make a dessert, decant wine, make whipped cream, AND get dressed, never mind makeup?

    If I sound crazed at this point, I was. I’d kept my cool when Phil asked if it would be okay if he didn’t make the harvest matzoh stuffing. Given our situation, I was fine with it, told him to forget it. Sure, I was disappointed, but I absolutely understood. It was at the bottom of the list for a reason. His sister and niece ran through the list and did, as they were told, everything assigned to them by Phil. But a lot of their time was spent asking if there was anything else to do.

    I went ahead and tasted the “FLANKEN,” (short ribs). They had gobs of fat still attached and hadn’t been cooked long enough. They also had no flavor. So, I spent 10 minutes breaking up the short rib meat, discarding fat, adding honey, white pepper, and salt. More heat. Fine. Now, it was good. I can’t blame him for this. But I did. Then, I apologized. It all felt unfair, but it also felt like life. Sometimes you really just have to make the most of it. My “most of it” was adding more salt.

    I was sweating, frantic, looking at the time, then the list. I was irate. Still no Seder plate, no matzoh balls, no SHOWER! I still had to print the Haggadahs, set the table, put out the appetizers. I asked Phil to decant the wine, take out the butter. To which he responded, “STOP BEING PSYCHO. NO ONE GIVES A SHIT IF THERE’S WINE. I’M DRINKING BEER. YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE WHO’LL EVEN DRINK IT. NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT ROOM TEMPERATURE BUTTER. AND WAIT FOR THE COMPANY. THEY’LL MAKE THE SEDER PLATE.”

    This, dear reader, made me want to be a single mother. Yes, I had a long to-do list that I couldn’t do because I was creating a brochure, and not once when he came to me with a change did I say, “NO ONE WILL GIVE A SHIT.” Because it mattered enough TO HIM to say something, so I changed it. It mattered to him, so it mattered to me. And now, when it came to something I cared about, I took the time to add to the to-do list, took time to think about, Phil simply got to veto the things he didn’t give a shit about, attending only to the items that he deemed worthy. Not just that, but worst of all, he called me PSYCHO in front of his sister, in front of his niece and our children.

    The next day my sister-in-law even said to me that she couldn’t believe how Phil spoke to me. Not just how he spoke, but the content, especially in front of her daughter and our kids. And all I could think? Phil thinks he’s perfect. Phil is the one who refuses to go to therapy. Phil sees nothing wrong with the way he behaves. I’ve been going to “couples therapy” ALONE for months! Because he thinks he has nothing to work on. That shit is fcuked up. Why did he stop going? Because the therapist basically called him out and told him he was a bully. And he couldn’t take it, so he refused to go back, saying that she always took my side.

    Even if I had over-planned and over-expected, even if I was psycho… it does not excuse the way Phil dismissed the Seder or me, in front of my kids, or even alone. To me “He Said” sounds like a rationalization, reasons to excuse piss poor behavior.

    1. As a designer, I know first hand how everyone who doesn’t do this for a living seems to think “it won’t take that long, can’t you just do it?” My friends, my husband, even my BOSS doesn’t doesn’t get how time consuming a brochure, business card, logo, etc. can be. I’ve gotten to the point that if I see someone coming at me with an “I need a quick…” look on their face I want to run the other way. And I’m VERY careful not to ask favors of anyone simply because I don’t want to have to reciprocate.

      Now that I know what the “project” was, I would love to see your brochure. :)

      1. And PS, rule number one is NEVER berate/scold/loudly-correct someone in front of other people. This works in business and in life. I feel it’s a sign of respect to hash things out privately.

    2. Phil obviously has deep-seated issues, and he refuses to address them. But you continue to be the doormat. I hope you know that you’re not doing your children any favors by staying in this relationship. I grew up in a home like this; believe me when I say it leaves emotional scars. Lucas is learning how to treat women, and Abigail is learning that she is not worthy of respect. You may both be lovely people, but together you are toxic…to each other and everyone who has to witness it.

    3. This dual public airing of grievances is quite possibly the most unhealthy thing you could be doing for your marriage. Get a therapist.

    4. I am just now reading this. And I haven’t sifted through the well-over-100-comments, which are fascinating in and of themselves.

      I am torn about what to think/feel/comment. I wasn’t going to comment at all.

      BUT, I am 1 year and 5 months into a separation and 3 months into a divorce. I have 2 children who are young. I was married for 12 years. I weathered verbal abuse, nervous breakdowns, complete neglect, alcoholism, and adultery. We WERE in counseling for the last 6 of our years together. There was and is love there. But who he is fundamentally clashed with no only who I am, but who I want to become. We both made changes and adjustments to the way we did things and when he was healthy there were no fights for the children to see and we felt very proud of ourselves. What I realized one day was that while we not showing our children anything really bad, we were definitely not showing them anything good.
      I, too, blog. I can’t imagine posting details of the hurtful discoveries and arguments online, for my 10 readers, let alone hundreds. I am writing a book, but have had to stop and reexamine my direction because I want it to be about ME, not about him, or he and I. While I am glad Phil has the balls to state his side of things here, its a moot point.
      Airing your very personal business in this way is either a ploy for readership, or some kind of need for approval, or pseudo-therapy. All that you are getting really is judgment from relative strangers or excuses for both of your behaviors…from relative strangers.
      I am reading through just a handful of the comments about how Phil has deep seated issues and Stephanie should leave. its all so…icky.
      The whole Jerry Springer-esque feel of this post is just not cool.
      Look, if Phil isn’t willing to go to counseling, you should keep going Stephanie…focus on yourself and your issues for control. I have read like one snippet of your blog and you clearly have control issues spinning OUT of control. You want that facade of everything is perfect and tidy utopia. You are in one regard brave to air all this personal info. On the other hand, its not wise, or healthy for you two to be berating each other.
      Phil if you care about the marriage, go to counseling. if not with her, then by yourself at first. Wade through what appears to be a good deal of resentment and anger. if you are not an addict of some kind, its certainly bubbling under the surface. If you are not interested in the marriage but are too afraid to let it go, do some thinking. Its not fair to hold her hope hostage when you don’t want her or the marriage.

      I strongly urge you 2 to separate. seriously. divorce is a hard fucking road, trust me. but so is being married to someone who makes you miserable. separate. Let Phil go to Florida and give each other some MUCH needed space.

      Shift the focus of this blog to becoming a healthy individual. Its ok to post about struggles. That is usually what bonds readers to writer. Its ok to post that things are not perfect and you want them to be. Its ok to post that you’re pissed. Focus the blog on you. For instance, if the sader post had been about how you’re struggling with disappointment about your grand plans for sader, we would still be reading. You could have been examining why you are disappointed…because you didn’t get to drive home things you feel strongly about to your kids, or because your table wasn’t David Tutera perfection? You could mention that you had a fight with Phil and you had some hurt feelings. But what you have done instead is basically blog bullying. and he’s done it back to you. And I suspect that goes on in your marriage every single day, verbally, silently, constantly. Everyone has to be right. Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to feel valued and no one does.

      The SHIFT you are seeking will come from within you…not from Phil. You can’t wait on someone else to make things better.

      Separate. soon.

  21. 1. If Lucus is into the stories, you can tell him them any time. You can read him portions of the Passover stories instead of train books or whatever – it’s okay to do that even if it’s not during a seder. You can color in a picture of a seder plate during art time. You see what I’m saying? You can just tell him, “We were kind of rushed for the seder but it seemed like you were interested. Want to go over it some more while we have lefover matzoh ball soup?”

    2. My dad had anger management problems and was verbally abusive to me when I was growing up. I’m not saying Phil is or isn’t, but am just telling you this because the things you say about how you feel after Phil says things, are similar to how I felt as a kid. I went to a psychologist in Syosset. She suggested group sessions with me and my dad. He refused to go after a while, because he didn’t want to just be bitched at once a week. It was not until I was an adult, visiting my parents in Deerfield Beach and had an honest-to-goodness anxiety attack in the car from my father screaming at my mother while driving erratically because he was furious at her, that something in his brain shifted. I think it was genuinely the first time he understood how his actions affected his child, even when those words, those actions, weren’t directed at me. He changed. He has not screamed at my mother that way in front of me or my brother since, in about five years.

  22. The seder – and getting it right – is the most important thing. Because of how you remember it, with your own parents and grandparents, and how you want so deeply to pass on something that has been handed down for so many generations.

    Were your lists unmanageably long? Yes … and frankly you should know by now that the date a Jewish holiday is listed on a secular calendar is not the night that it actually starts. That your family rallied to get everything done should have earned everyone more kudos.

    However. That has nothing to do with the disrespect at the seder table. As someone who was heckled by my own husband at this year’s seder, I understand. It’s not acceptable. And it’s heartbreaking, because you see yourself as presenting this great gift, sharing your own experience and passing down those memories, and to have your husband not appreciate it, not wanting to be part of it, it just kills you doesn’t it?

    Don’t give up! First of all, you have plenty of time to make these memories. Next year, a few weeks out, get your kids to help you create a hagaddah. Or heck, start it now while it’s still fresh in everyone’s minds. If your husband wants to drink a beer (or do something utterly unkosher), there are ways to use those as political statements and actually incorporate them into your seder (I read something about putting oysters on the seder plate in response to the gulf oil spill …).

    And don’t be so judgmental of the chopped liver. Add it to your menu next year, it’s so, so good.

  23. Wow, just wow. Doesn’t the fact that Phil will not go to therapy with you tell you something? You two bring out the worst in each other. What will it take you to face the facts and leave? Does he need to hit you? curse at you in front of your kids? You rushed to marry him and got pregnant too soon. But you need to move forward. You have two (seemingly) lovely kids – put your big girl pants on and move on.

  24. Stephanie I love you.

    I love that we can “discuss” the day in this forum and that you feel the need to respond to my finally speaking up instead of having just one side. In fairness I feel the need to respond as well. Comical.

    “Now that I’d finally finished the brochure, how would I shower, make matzo ball batter, let it rest, make balls, boil, simmer, and set a table, teach his sister how to hull strawberries, make a dessert, decant wine, make whipped cream, AND get dressed, never mind makeup?”

    The matzah balls being made were the only thing our niece really wanted to do with Stephanie so of course I did not do it. Rhubarb was cut and cleaned, table was set by sister,strawberries already hulled, etc. You actually never apologized to me for berating me about how bad the brisket was. My asking not to make the Harvest Matzah stuffing actually happened around noon when I realized you didn’t have any of the ingredients. No turkey sausage, no onion, no apple, etc. Not sure you “kept your cool” as you say on that one. You barked at me about it saying we had everything when it wasn’t the case.

    So yes the only thing left on your detailed to do list was-
    Strawberry Rhubarb compote “S”- I had no idea how to make this. We made 3 other side dishes and the rhubarb/strawberry was ready
    Set the table “S”- Taken care of by my sister
    Cut and clean rhubarb “S”- I did
    Make whipped cream “S”- Again, we had 3 desserts and this could be made any time if at all
    Print Haggadahs “S”- I couldn’t find one you wouldn’t tell me wasn’t the incorrect one. I printed the 4 questions
    Make Matzah balls- Already discussed
    The seder plate was went over by us prior and everything we needed was done except one thing which we thought it would be nice to involve the guests in putting it together. As this wasn’t you idea you yelled at me for not getting it done.

    So really, what was the issue here? What wasn’t completed when you were so kind to do me a favor? A favor you made sure to make me feel bad about asking you to do? As you screamed and complained and told everyone you couldn’t deal when they only wanted to help?

    Lastly, the 45 minute seder with coloring and activities for 4 year olds, 3 year olds at 7:30pm was lovely at 15 minutes. And about learning tradition, remember our kids AND THE 3 year old go all day every day to a jewish preschool where they teach them about the meanings of it all, have seders, sing songs about the holidays.

    I’m sorry if I got frustrated with what I perceived as your single mindedness rather than the spirit of a wonderful dinner with family and friends. Sorry that when I attempt to discuss moderation and perspective you take it as controlling, mean, or as a “veto”. My frustration with how you act toward me should not escalate to match you.

    Again, I love you.

    1. If you truly want to make things better, why do you refuse to go to counseling? You and Stephanie clearly cannot work this out between the two of you. Are you afraid of what you might discover? Are you afraid that you both may have to change the way you approach things? Is it worth the effort? Love isn’t enough if you can’t stand each other.

  25. I’m not sure why you’re still married. He’s abusive. He’s nasty and he can be cruel. Marriage should not be like that. If you’re going to couples therapy alone then you’re alone in this marriage. Even in his last posting he was derisive and he implied that everything was your fault. Why would you want your children raised in a house with some one like that? Do you want Abigail to be married to someone like her father? Do you want Lucas to treat a woman that way? I think you should run, RUN away from this abusive man you’re married too and realize that while we all have faults no one deserved to be treated the way he treats you.
    good luck. I hope it gets better soon!

    1. Phil, for what is it worth, while you have been villianized here, I hear a lot of my soon to be ex in your reply, and he is a good man with good intentions. I don’t think you are HEARING stephanie and I don’t think she is listening to you. At this point, public I love yous and apologies aside, there is no way you guys are walking around in a house together without wading through a sea of resentment as you go from room to room. You are both trying to control each other and everyone is trying to win. No one is winning. Your kissing her ass for a few minutes while she stands on your head with her well manicured foot isn’t going to fix anything. Her walking on eggshells to avoid your uncomfortable outbursts isn’t going to help either.

      You seem like a reasonable, human guy. I don’t think either of you can see the forest for the trees right now. By all means, what you’re currently doing isn’t working. So do something else. Again, I strongly recommend you separate for a time. In earnest. The space WILL give you time to reflect and think.

  26. Ok, let’s get real. Why are you airing this on a blog? It’s because you can’t have a useful dialogue with each other. I am so sad about this. We should NEVER know these details. It’s TMI, too personal and way too sad.

    Phil: Couples therapy is counseling for the marriage. It is working on the relationship. Together. If the relationship is important to you, then you’ll go. If it’s more important to see yourself as perfect and Steph as to blame, then, well, see you on J-Date in the not too distant future and enjoy your visitation with your kids. That’s the bottom line. It takes two to fuck it up and it takes two to fix it. Period. And as much as we would all like to believe Love is enough, it just isn’t. Been there, done that and got a few tshirts to prove it.

    Steph: You are clearly frustrated that Phil won’t work with you on this marriage. I get it. I’ve been there. You are also clearly a woman who does too much. By now you should know that with kids, a dog, and two heavy-duty careers, shit happens. And that means at this stage of your life it’s more helpful to scale down your plans, do as much way ahead as possible and be realistic. Your need to be perfect and so detailed and from scratch is not good for anyone–not you, not Phil, not your kids.

    In the case of a last minute emergency, like you had, well, why not make a REALLY memorable Seder and call out for a pizza or whatever is in accordance with Jewish laws. I mean, seriously. Martha be damned! Oh I can see you shudder but hear me out: And when you’re sitting on the porch with your grandkids one day, everyone will say “do you remember that Seder when Daddy needed Mommy to help with work and the menu got all fucked up and so we just called for pizza” and everyone will laugh.

    I hope this is the last time we see such a personal HeSaid/SheSaid. I am as big a voyeur as anyone but this was just too sad and we are just readers, not shrinks.

    See a counselor or see a lawyer. Just see someone because you are just destroying each other and hurting those gorgeous babies.

  27. Wow – these post sure makes me glad I left my lesser half many many years ago! I may not have marble floors but I have plenty and I earned it all myself. Such passive aggressive behaviour – weren’t you working in the same house? Didn’t you pop into the kitchen once in a while for a coffee – to see how your list was going? Better to let him hang himself! Didn’t he know when he gave you his work to do exactly what it would lead to – you didn’t tell him it was probably a 6 hour job? How old is his sister – I assume she is a woman – she didn’t tell you they were running behind? And you want to be together in Florida? You say you love each other. I don’t think so – IMO you NEED each other. To spit on. To bounce off. To bicker with. To feel alive. If love isn’t about respect, support and friendship what is it about? Most people need – few people love.

  28. I had a long comment that I typed out and thought about and in which I weighed things back and forth and … yeah, I got tired of it. This whole things is a little daunting.

    Going to couples therapy alone is not couples therapy in my opinion. I believe therapy could help the both of you and I think if Phil really loves you, he should go with you.

    Phil, I get that you may think the psychologist sucks or is an idiot or whatever. But the bottom line is that if you make the woman you love feel like this on a consistent basis, then you should want to do something about it. And maybe therapy won’t do jack and maybe she will still get mad and think you are a selfish bastard. But, at least you will have tried. Try hard, man. Because I really think she kind of likes you and I think (hope) you maybe kind of like her.

  29. I don’t know why I read all of this, it seems really sad. It’s all about compromise- you can love someone, and still make their life miserable. I keep thinking that this couple-dom is doomed. It may just be better for Stephanie and Phil to be apart.

    Yikes-

  30. By way of background, I’m a Jewish mom of 2 little ones, married for 11 years to a non-Jew from Scotland. I read this blog occasionally, and I don’t know much about Stephanie, Phil or their history.

    Stephanie, when I read your posts and Phil’s, one thing leaps off the page: the mere notion of handling Phil’s brochure on “Seder day” is absurd. Not to be attempted. Unheard of. Everyone in my house knows one thing about Seder day: stay the fuck away from me. The same goes for Latke Day and I-have-to-cook-for-you-while-fasting day. It’s just me and my Advil, alone – the way G-d intended. You needed to manage that situation and make sure you had time/space to do what had to be done.

    I’m sure you realize now that your Seder list was insane and impossible, and that the moment you accepted Phil’s task of the brochure you pretty much sealed your doom. There was absolutely no way you could relinquish control of the meal temporarily and step back in to “chef” position later. No one who cooks could do that, really. Phil’s work emergency needed to take a back seat to the holiday, or be handled by Phil. You’re trying to please everyone. I do that, too. Why do we do that?

    Phil, I don’t know you or your background, but I have to ask: what on earth would possess you to say anything to the mom/cook/hostess on Seder day other than: “what can I do to help?” Whywhywhywhy would you even mention your work issue, much less involve her? That’s the dumbest fucking thing I’ve heard all day.

    It is the time-honored tradition in Jewish households everywhere that on Passover or any other holiday involving traditional foods, the primary role of the mom (typically) is to cook and freak out and the role of dad is to gofuckoffsomewhere and check in now and then to see if help is needed.

    Sorry, Phil, but that’s just how it is and how it has been for thousands of years. Mom gets a pass because cooking traditional Jewish food is boring and complicated and stressful and we feel tons of pressure. It’s only a few times a year, and since we do so much for you, you’re expected to suck it up, have a glass of wine and pretend to be supportive. We will make it up to you, and, frankly, you’re even worse when you have a work deadline/family visit/whatever.

    If there is a part of this that reveals the most, however, it would be Phil’s initial post. Phil, the way you insist that “your” brisket really was great and that everything your wife wanted was ridiculous comes off as whiny and mean. You complain that telling her that she didn’t need to soften butter or decant wine “only made things worse,” and every woman on this board is like “omfg-of course it made things worse!” It made things worse because she cared about it. And if she cared about it, the adult response is: “try not to get stressed about the little things – tell me how I can help.” Or, worst-case-scenario, taking your wife aside, out of earshot, and gently suggesting that she needs to calm the fuck down because you are getting indigestion from the stress. The adult response is not “you’re psycho, no one cares.”

    And telling her that the extra brisket wasn’t needed after all? You really don’t get how aggressively nasty that is? I have tried to imagine my husband saying something so knife-twistingly rude to me and I can’t even conjure up the image.

    Perhaps worse, though, is the part where (in your second post) you lecture Stephanie (or is it the rest of us?) on the proper form/duration of Passover tradition for children. Singing the “Frogs on His Head” song in the 3’s class does not automatically replace the Seder, and if you thought it did, it should have been discussed beforehand, not during the Seder. While you sound very opinionated and somewhat patronizing, I’d like to think you could have reached a compromise with Stephanie if you had brought it up earlier.

    Phil, you seem like a decent guy, and I imagine Stephanie is a handful. But sweet Jesus, get a grip on yourself and read your own posts. You may think you sound like you are “attempt[ing] to discuss moderation and perspective,” but you actually *do* come across as mean and controlling. And that’s from your own posts, not your wife’s! There are people, and you may be one of them, who just don’t “hear” themselves. You feel all moderate and rational, but you sound like a jerk.

    I don’t imagine you actually *are* a jerk. But you write like one. If I were you, I would re-think my position.

  31. Stephanie.

    Having been in an emotionally abusive marriage and gotten out of it eventually,I have seen shit poor excuses too. I have also been talked to like I am some piece of garbage in front of family. let me tell you that you are right. You did something for him because “half ass isn’t good enough and it was important to him”. He should have done the same for you.

    If even his sister can’t believe how he talks to you….that should tell him something and you.

    Be strong.

  32. Awwww guys this makes me so sad to read..the comments especially. I hope you are both OK. Couples go through this in the early years. Over time you learn what is important to each other and there is give and take. I can’t tell you how many times in the early years of my relationship people would get involved and tell us that we should break up. 18 years and two teenage sons later I am glad we didn’t! I don’t know your circumstances but I can tell you love each other. You both seem like high achievers and with that comes it’s rewards and pressures. Dealing with chronic help problems also is a major stressor add to that two beautiful children….life is HARD at times. Be kind each other!
    Take care
    Layla in OZ

    1. Author

      I say this over and again. There are certain personality traits that make us who we are, certain things that if we lost, we’d feel “less than” instead of “freed” or “better for it.” Those are the parts of ourselves that we shouldn’t compromise for anyone. But there are smaller things about ourselves, things that take work, that in the end are really only minor concessions when compared to how much our partner is affected. I, for example, won’t ever stop adoring food. Talking about it, writing about it, trying to improve it, share it, make it. And that might annoy the fcuk out of Phil, but too bad. That’s a part of me that I like, a part of me that feels her most free, most happy and alive, and I’m not willing to give it up if someone asked me to. Being self-centered though, I can work on. Being better about timing and follow-through, yes, please. Peeing with the door closed because it pisses him off, alrighty then, no problem anymore.

  33. Stephanie,

    I have never posted in the three years I have been following your blog, but this broke my heart. I have no advice, just sympathy. It is obvious to me that you are trying so hard to be a good wife. Some people, particulary artists, are most truly themselves when they are creating things like the gathering you were planning. Quite simply, it is when they are closest to God.

    The fact that he harnessed your creative spirit for one of HIS projects during a time when you were fully engaged in something close to your heart (planning a meal for family and friends)is maddening, because someone who truly knows you knows you would never be able to half-ass something creative. He had to know you would not just ‘throw it together’ but would instead throw your whole self into it.

    People who are not creative do not understand an artist’s mind, or that there is a finite amount of energy and creativity a person can tap into in a day. But this was a case of a simple ‘how many hours are in a day’ equation. He isn’t stupid. He had to know that in order to give to him, you would be taking from yourself.

    I don’t know why I am so angry right now. But I really do feel for you.

    It just wasn’t fair.

    1. Author

      I think you’re right: people who are not creative do not understand an artist’s mind. I really don’t think he knew how long it would take me, and I don’t think he’ll ever understand the way I need to work. But I hope he’s able to accept it without judgment.

  34. Of all the scathing posts about Phil. the behavior that has been totally disgusting and abusive, this is by far, the saddest thing you have ever shared.

    You say:He’s utilitarian, wants things done efficiently, whereas I want to make memories, to find pleasure in the extra details (Yes, I delight in room-temperature butter for the spreading).

    I say: He did not give a shit about the seder, the tradition, the learning so he acted like a restless 5 year old at temple, shat on the whole thing, on you, and set the worst example for the kids. This is not utilitarian and efficent, this is a selfish, heartless, dick.

    I would stay in TX, have him move to FL and read Strayight Up and Dirty – remind yourself what happens when every step along the way you are ignoring signs that this marriage and person are beyond redemption.

  35. I am reading this behind splayed fingers. This is a trainwreck. You really cant see, after all you have been through, how good life can be with a menschy husband? I love your blog, but I cant read on…the fact that you are caught in this yet still dispensing advice to others is too heartbreaking to bear witness to. I truly wish you the best of luck, and a permanent change of HEART. To remain here, with him, truly is PSYCHO.

    1. Author

      I’ve spent quite a few moments feeling the exact sentiments you’ve written. And I fight with myself. Back and forth. Because there’s the other side (not the other side of HIM), but the other side of the argument that says, I have children, and I owe it to them, to the commitment I made when I said, “I do,” to work through it. If things remained as they are right now, I would leave. It would be incredibly painful, but I would.

      100% we cannot, under any circumstances have heated arguments in front of the kids. If he even starts in, I disengage and walk away. Nothing excuses name calling or shaming statements. Our children deserve better than that, but they also deserve parents who aren’t so quick to throw in a towel.

      So… who knows a good STRONG couples therapist in the Boca / Delray area? For real.

  36. Stephanie, leave Texas and move back to NY. He’s a bully and your kids are watching a man be disrespectful to his wife.
    You two will never make it as long as you keep lists of real or perceived slights.

  37. I always find Phil’s replies interesting, but I don’t think I’ve read one where he stated he’d done anything wrong – they’re usually an explanation of what Stephanie did to cause him to say/do those things.

    I wonder how he would’ve reacted if you’d changed the specs of his work project, then left a space for “FAQ”, with a capital P next to it and handed it back to him with a “no one gives a shit but you”

    Sounds like it might be a welcome break for him to rent something in Boca – something smaller and less expensive than what you’d need for a whole family, while you continue on with the home and life in Austin that you clearly love

    1. Author

      And you would be right. I think–and I could be completely wrong–that Phil on some deeper level must see admitting being in the wrong as a sign of weakness, despite the fact that we all know it’s a sign of strength.

      I’ve brought up the idea of my staying in New York with the kids over the summer (it’s cooler there), with him flying in on weekends. The kids would have family in New York, too. Plus, I’d be beyond thrilled to be back in New York with my girls and their own beans. But Phil doesn’t want that. And I’m sure, after a while I wouldn’t either.

      I believe in marriage, in staying through sickness and health and Florida. But I can’t be the only one who’s willing to work through sickness. When you’re sick, you see a doctor. When your car is broken, you pay a mechanic before it’s too late. It’s the same with a marriage. Again, Phil has to be on board, willing to work through our dynamic, willing to change. Hopefully he’ll be able to sing it from the rooftops how much he’s changed.

  38. It is clearly none of my business, but I think Phil and Stephanie should be discussing their issues in person, not in the comments of Stephanie’s blog. I wonder what their kids will think when they read this years from now…or, if not their kids, then their kids’ friends, teachers, parents of their friends, college admissions offices, future employers, etc.? “Mommy blogging” hasn’t been around long enough to see the long-term effects on the children who are being written about. But think about it-would you have wanted everyone to have access to your parents’ disagreements? Especially when your mother refers to your father as a bully and your father refers to your mother as psycho? Phil might not want to go to couples therapy, but at this rate your children are going to need it in a few years.

  39. I know by the next post you will have moved on, something about Easter, some magic you have created amidst pastels and cotton tails.

    I hope, that you wont forget this. That this becomes the day you decide to walk away and find someone who understands that to love is not a feeling but a decision, a contract you make with yourself to never, ever treat your spouse the way Phil treats you, the way Lucas will treat his wife and Abby will likely allow herself to be treated.

    It can get better. But only if you invest half the effort into moving on as you do into a brochure.

  40. Phil’s leaving counseling is not a good thing. I am not commenting based on my medical training, I am commenting because of my personal experiences. My first husband was someone who constantly yelled at me and belittled me, someone who would never accept blame for any of his actions. I asked for counseling to make the marriage better, to be treated better. He went for a time, and then kept asking to change counselors. We did, but each time he felt that the counselor would take my “side” by informing him that he needed to learn to manage his anger. He then stopped going altogether, but I continued to go alone. This was really the beginning of the end for us. Eventually, he decided to leave the marriage. I was devastated at first, but over the course of the next year, I realized that I was much happier and better off. Living with a constant harangue had really taken its toll, and the difference afterwards was remarkable. Our daughter was three at the time. She is now eleven, a happy, bright, and extraordinarily resilient and emotionally healthy child. To this day, my ex-husband is angry and maintains that “I was the perfect husband and the perfect father.”

    But there are many differences between my situation and yours. Phil is not a mean person. He really seems to have a good heart and to be well-intentioned. Phil loves Stephanie and adores his wonderful children. Phil has a great deal of admiration and respect for Stephanie’s talents, intellect, and abilities.

    Sure, there are things that Stephanie could have done differently here to make the day better – for example, that overwhelming to-do list seemed like a prescription for a chaotic and stressful day even absent any work projects on a deadline. But that is not the point. Here is what is –

    Phil, to at least some of us readers, you are still “The Suitor” and generally a good guy. But here’s the thing. You must go back to counseling, because that is the only way to learn to express yourself differently to Stephanie. And the reason that things should change is that the way you express yourself now: a) hurts Stephanie’s feelings and damages your relationship with her; b) is bad for your children and imperils their chances of growing up to be emotionally healthy adults; and c) does not get you what you want. So even when you think you are right, and even when you are ACTUALLY right, you need to deal with things differently to have MORE of a say in the matter. If for nobody else, do it for yourself.

    There is much here that makes this still a relationship worth salvaging. But avoiding the issues by stopping counseling, or by possibly living in different cities, will ultimately make this one that is not. Please act sooner rather than later.

    1. I have to agree with every word that MD wrote. We waited too long to go to counseling…by the time we were there together, I HATED my ex. There was no chance of rekindling romance or passion, trust or faith – even like (not to mention love). I was so hurt and broken and distraught – I really had no hope (not just for marriage, but for life).

      I’m glad Stephanie is in counseling, but must agree – Phil – if you want to keep this incredible woman and keep your family intact – get thee to a counselor. Run. Don’t walk.

    2. If there was a “Like” button I would have hit it for your comments.

    3. Author

      Nail, meet head. You are exactly right. I genuinely don’t think Phil even realizes when he’s being belittling or shaming. He wants to say something, but he articulates it (dead) wrong, and so passionately, yet despite my knowing his intentions, it is still hurtful and bad modeling. I’m no saint and can absolutely be self-centered at times, not even realizing it, but I can say that aloud about myself. I am at least aware that I do it, don’t deny it, and actively want to change that.

      Thank you for such a thoughtful response.

  41. Oy vey.

    Phil, you are really working very hard to show us how in the wrong Stephanie is. Bookended with your “I love you, Stephanie”s, it would make an excellent addition to passiveaggressivenotes.com.

    I feel for you guys. Marriage is not always easy. But I have to admit, this is one of several posts that has made me shocked about how Stephanie is treated by Phil.

    There is a balance to be struck in keeping and sharing Seder traditions with hungry kids and company at the table. But the events of the day are no rationale for calling Stephanie a psycho (ever, but especially) in front of family and the kids…and yada-yada-ing through a once a year holiday that is important to her.

    You are (together) role-modelling a husband bullies wife relationship to the kids. And Phil, if you think that’s not true, that’s a whole other, bigger problem.

    Stephanie going to couples counselling alone? Come on, Phil. This doesn’t look good. Step up. Or step off.

    Being respectful is so much more important than being right!

  42. With his response, Phil seems to have effectively, slyly shifted the entire conversation to a discussion about your list, your expectations. Your post sounds like you skipped a decent amount of what you had planned, let it go — all of it, even the part where you stand up for yourself and don’t let him bully you. It seems like the definition of selfishness to completely ignore your defeated feelings.

  43. I don’t think Phil is a monster. I think both Phil and Stephanie occasionally bring the traits that have made them so successful in their respective professions into their home life. This is not a crime– it is something we all do in the competitive, work hard/play hard culture we live in.

    I was sad to hear that Stephanie felt belittled (and she noted that her sister in law also felt that Phil was being out of line). I don’t think it matters at all whether or not Stephanie’s feelings were rational or merited (or corroborated by the SIL). The point is, when your wife (or husband) is feeling that way, you stop, listen, and rather than defend yourself, try to understand their perspective, and acknowledge their hurt. Apologize sincerely, without making your case, or saying “I’m sorry, but you…” It doesn’t matter. I’m sure both Stephanie and Phil have their reasons for why things got a little out of hand, but at a certain point someone needs to take charge by backing down– you could argue about this into perpetuity.

    Stephanie and Phil, thanks so much for letting us into your beautiful, full, imperfect lives. We all learn something from reading these posts.

  44. It’s a bit shocking to see to so many people advocate separations, divorce, and other dramatic measures over what seems to me is a standard-order fight fueled by latent stress from the upcoming move and the external pressure. of a seder

    Perhaps I have only been exposed to “verbally abusive relationships” but I think it’s normal for tempers to get short when there is time pressure to accomplish something. And if you are already irritable from a tough day, you are increasingly less patient and accommodating as it goes on.

    It sounded like you both tried to help each other out (which was sweet) to create a nice memory for your family (also sweet) and it didn’t work out as expected. Now you know not to swap tasks on an important day because tempers flare when expectations differ.

    But don’t hold it with you and dwell on the past. That just breeds resentment. Move on and enjoy your remaining time in Austin together.

  45. I’ve dealt with long family dinners in which the hosts waited 40 minutes to order food in an empty restaurant and insisted on having four courses – with several young children in attendance. As it so happens, we didn’t have any particular reason to have such a long dinner like the reading of the haggadah, but it was very frustrating to keep the kids calm for 2 and a half hours and to deal with the inevitable meltdown at the three hour mark, plus the screaming ride home. I don’t care what traditions you want to instill, you should not keep young children “squirming in their seats” for their own good. Coloring is a great activity – and it would have been a great idea to keep the kids entertained after they eat to give the rest of the adults a break and a reasonable amount of time to eat. But don’t keep children waiting for food, especially if they are your guests’ children, since you won’t have to deal with the inevitable crash. If you want to create warm memories, feed them first and then discuss the meaning of the holiday. I realize the food is supposed to match the reading, but it will create a much more positive impression on the children if you try to teach them their heritage on a full stomach.

  46. Oh – sorry – I didn’t read your second update, in which Phil dumped his work on you. I still don’t think children should ever wait for food, but I can really understand why you were so upset and frustrated with him.

  47. I don’t know whether you are being brave or reckless in sharing all this raw and intimate info about yourself with us. My career coach told me recently: “I think you know exactly what you need to do but you are just asking for permission to do it.” And he was right. Is that the point of this entry? In any event, the back and forth in the comments between you and your husband reminds me of Rashomon but while a lot of the details are subject to interpretation, if your husband did in fact call you psycho in front of other people, that is such blatant disrespect that … I don’t know. I realize I’m actually at a loss as what to say next except that I feel for you and very much hope that your family reaches a stable state of harmony and contentment.

  48. if Phil refuses to go to counseling, surely after reading just a few of these comments he turned off the computer.

  49. I think Phil and Stephanie are perfectly suited to one another, and that’s probably the worst insult I’ve ever made. I do feel sorry for these children who are growing up with parents who may love each other but clearly can’t stand each other and who are both too worried about being right than worried about what they are doing to their children.

  50. I just completed couples therapy with my husband, brought on by patterns not nearly as stressful as this Seder incident and others like it. It has been very enlightening for both of us and we consistently get better and better. Young children, running business, family– my marriage shares many similar stressors. It is sometimes about remembering that you are supposes to both support each other and letting ego, lists, and other things go. Both of you remembering this and when one of you occasionally is in a worse position then the other will know it’s a good time to step up and be the bigger person. There is no excuse for not doing this together, everyone could benefit. Do it or lose it.

  51. This post and Phil’s reply feel like an installment of “Can this marriage be saved?” from the Redbook magazines that would lie about in my childhood home–the difference being that we, your readers, are offering our input rather than a trained counselor (and let’s all not forget this, as insightful as many of the words offered have been).

    I think both of you need to ask yourself two questions. First, do I want to be in a real long-term relationship with anyone right now? If th answer is yes, then ask yourselves, do I love this person truly and fully?

    If you can answer both questions in the affimative, then you have to be ready to make some big changes. Phil, you need to be willing to try counsling again. And Stephanie, you have to be willing to work to find a counselor who is a good fit for both of you. The person you choose does not seem to have been the right person for Phil–a talented and skilled therapist would not have made him feel ganged up upon. Perhaps you could each get a veto or two in the process of finding someone. But Phil, you both need this outside help, and you need to be open to changing if you do in fact wnat to stay together. That writing is clearly on the wall you keep bumping headlong into.

    in order for therapy to succeed, you both need to be more willing to examine your own faults and contributions to conflict–much, much more than is evident here. Stephanie, you make quick references to things you might have done differently that day, but they do not come off as heartfelt. As genuinely helpful a gesture it was to agree to take over Phil’s brochure, you should never have taken it on that day! Like you, I suffer from the effects of my perfectionism, and I know that had I taken on such a job, the holiday dinner would have suffered. YOU made this choice, and you need to own up to that. I know my husband could never have followed an event list I were to create for myself–that was setting all of you up for failure. And Phil, you should have known better than to ask this of Stephanie, and should NEVER have criticized your wife in front of other people (or even privately if in the middle of a stressful moment). Sadly, I just don’t see either of you having this perspective on your own actions, which will have ramifications for your kids and how they see their own behavoir. Hopefully, therapy could help you each to develop this relationship skill, because to be successful in ANY long-term commitment, you must be able to assess your own failings in order to work on them.

    Wishing you both the best, Kari

  52. Do you two have an older married couple you both respect? Their perspective could benefit you tremendously. Make sure you like them enough to want to sit down to dinner with them (and in light of the context of this post may I humbly suggest dinner be out of your house). Also they need to have been marries long enough to have children and grandkids (together – not a yours, mine, ours situation) . You guys need help taking the focus off your selves, kids, and each other and looking toward a common goal for your marriage. Is Phil abusive? I don’t know or really care. Marriage is hard and you promised eachother you’d be willing to deal with shit for as long as it took to work through cause marriage is supposed to be for life. Don’t plan for change on your time table. God gives growth you can’t force it. You are not being cared for by comments that take sides in this and by those who say to break up.

  53. My husband sounds so much like yours. I have a really hard time verbalizing it to myself, to him, and of course to anyone on the outside of our marriage. I really liked your line, “Soon you’re left feeling like there’s no room for you in the marriage,” I looked around my apartment the other day and realized that in all of the pictures that were hung too high (it was easier to let him hang them there than argue about it and make him angry) they were all pictures of him, or ones he took. One picture had me in it. This made me feel so terrible and I couldn’t figure out why, kept telling myself how silly to be upset over something so stupid, but I think it is a symptom, that it is symbolic of something more.

    Thank you for your post. I don’t have a lot of marriages to measure mine to and am often left wondering :is this normal?”

  54. I read this all & my heart breaks. I am almost 43, married almost 20 years & my husband and I have had a few rounds of couple’s therapy. It was helpful for us to be more self-aware & more mindful of each other & each other’s sore spots. That sounds very psychobabble, but we learned some very practical tools for communicating that have worked wonders.

    My big takeaways from all this are…(1) Why is Financial Guy Phil asking his wife to create marketing collateral? If this is in service of growing your business, which is a one-person shop, spend the money & keep a graphic designer on retainer. You ARE in Austin. “Well, SHE’S a perfectionist & was still working on things hours later so it’s her fault!”…that’s just condescending. Phil, did you pay Stephanie for her time doing work for you? Is Stephanie not kept busy enough with her own career, two children and a Seder? You’re a smart guy, do what’s right for your BUSINESS & keep your wife out of it. (And this would be good for your marriage, too.)

    And (2)…Seriously, don’t mock anyone’s religion or religious rituals, no matter if you find it all boring or tedious or silly. Period. It’s disrespectful and rude at the very least; at the worst, it is horribly offensive. If you would rather not participate, bow out gracefully and vacate the house for two hours before the Seder and two hours after.

    It doesn’t matter if you’re worried about the kids & their restlessness or whatever. IT IS RELIGION. And, it is important to Stephanie, your children’s mother. In short, Phil, don’t fuck with that no matter what the reasons. You might have the best reasons in the world…but it is religion and family.

    I was raised Protestant but am now not religious at all & trying to figure out what exactly I believe in, which might be nothing. However, my husband was raised Catholic & while not hard-core about it, he has his beliefs. His four brothers all married Catholic women & his 90-year-old father goes to Mass regularly in his assisted-living facility, even though he is almost totally blind and deaf. I go to Mass a few times a year and while I would rather be anywhere else, I shut up & I go because it’s important to my husband.

    I found out on Friday that I had to cook an Easter dinner for six of my husband’s relatives and while I don’t believe the Easter/Resurrection story AT ALL & I would have rather watched the hockey playoffs, I cooked & I served & my in-laws appreciated it & my father-in-law, who is not given to displays of affection, gave me a big hug…that was my payback. For a few times a year, you do the marriage & family stuff. You just do.

    Sorry to go on and on, but for Phil to assert himself in front of other family members and children in a condescending, demeaning & humiliating way during an evening full of religious meaning absolutely crosses the line. It simply doesn’t matter what happened during the day.

  55. I appreciate the comments. I always wondered how a Doctor could go on TV and diagnose someone based on an interview they gave. Not knowing them or their specifics. Now even more astounding is how many people believe they can do the same based on a blog post with no context and a few comments. I posted in the comment section because I thought it would give some other perspective. I felt it was fine for anyone to opine as a fertile discussion is constructive. It may bring insight in to me or equally as important make someone else feel less alone or have the opportunity to articulate something they have/had gone through. Just perusing the comments how many reference their personal situation? When the twins were in the NICU one thing we were warned about was discussing things with other NICU parents as they typically related your situation to theirs. I think it is just human nature.

    As for Couples Counseling(I bring this up to foster debate not judgement),we went for 9 months or so. Saw one truly awful therapist who we both shook our heads about. The next was quite good. My issue became twofold. Not that I felt ganged up on. First, the weeks began to have a routine. We would be fine. Walk in and any tangential issue that was really meaningless in the umbrella of our lives became fodder for a full session. It was as if we were searching out for things to argue about for the sake of arguing about them not resolution. Cannibalistic not constructive. the second and most important to me was one issue I could not get over. In a weekend I went downstairs in the AM and found my heart medicine pillbox opened with all the pills on the floor. I rushed up the stairs where the 3 year olds were watching TV and Stephanie in bed. I screamed- “Kid’s. Momma. Downstairs now!”. I was in fear one of them had swallowed my pills. The session was spent telling me how wrong and insensitive it was for me include Stephanie as if she were one of the kids. I believe it was the next week and I went downstairs in the AM and found our glass tv stand in thousands of shards of glass. It seemed unbelievable to me that anyone could have gotten out of the room without slicing their fingers off. I ran upstairs and yelled “Everyone, come downstairs now!”. Again, I was told for an hour how wrong I was and how I don’t treat my wife that way and how much I need to work on that. Taking pills and broken glass and the point was I should know better. I was done going.

    Discuss amongst yourself.

    1. Pills and shards of glass. Both seem like situations where freaking out is totally reasonable. In dangerous situations, politeness is suspended, imo.

      That therapist was really missing the point. Hope that you both can find a new one who can help get to the real situation.

  56. Wow. I didn’t think you could make it worse but you have succeeded.
    You’re an overbearing bully.

  57. Phil…if you insist on posting comments to justify how you are RIGHT in various situations & further justify why couples counseling is shit AND you don’t make efforts to find another therapist who is impartial (my husband & I had this concern & worked together to find a therapist who was a better fit & who was better balanced for both of us) and attend sessions with Stephanie, well then, you are in a sad state. Stop posting here. And perhaps Stephanie should suspend updates to this site as well.

  58. No one can possibly give you sound advice about your situation (except yourselves); so why are you publicizing this part of your lives? It’s awful for everyone. Ask any psychologist if publicizing marital problems on a blog is healthy for your children. Someone at their school is bound to read this, open their big mouth and there it goes… Do you really want that? It’s as ludicrous as a talk show and pathetic as reality television. Be responsible and seek counseling. This isn’t high school.

  59. Phil, you are really reaching.
    And I will bet my life that you yelled in a manner that was beyond belief in both situations. And likely blamed Stephanie.

  60. Yes Phil, you are right. Thanks to you, SK’s readers are glorifying their husbands and thanking god they had the strength to leave the yous of their life. Thanks for sharing.

  61. Thank you for that. Blogs are funny. People not only feel the need to comment but the need to yell at you! They somehow think they are qualified to pass judgement.

    It sounds like a very scary situation you were in. Imagine these same women would be chastising a mother who found her pills spread about the floor or glass all over and reacted the same way? I think they would be angry with you if you got on a chair and yelled MOUSE!

  62. That situation must have been so scary Phil! If my kids might possibly have taken pills I would have screamed much worse than that.

  63. I saw you two at Whole Foods Market yesterday with the beans. I was going to say hi and introduce myself but you at that moment grabbed Stephanie and planted a kiss. Timing is everything. The twins are SO BIG!

    1. Aw, keep up the good work. And, Phil, you are quite correct. If a physician cannot effectively treat a patient without having taken a proper history and physical, neither can a blog reader effectively recommend a course of action for a couple without personal knowledge of their situation. Certainly, that is what marriage counselors are for. I hope you find one you trust and stick with it. And may you and Stephanie share many wonderful kisses in the years to come.

  64. The more Phil writes the more I understand there is a dynamic between people that cannot be interpreted through blog posts and comments. It is obvious they love each other, their kids and are highly intelligent.

  65. I get what your saying Phil. I understand what you have gone through with this blog and every up and down being either applauded or booed based on a two paragraph post. I read because it makes me think not because i want to be involved in your lives. Discussion is good. You asking us to discuss what would make me leave a therapist is valid. Thank you. This all reminds me of David Cross who said a friend told him he was an alcoholic. When he said he wasn’t, the friend replied “acknowledging it is the first step”. Cross then postulated “How am I ever gonna win that argument?”.

  66. We need your soup recipe! Sorry about the fighting, but reading about the meal made me hungry.

  67. “I appreciate the comments. I always wondered how a Doctor could go on TV and diagnose someone based on an interview they gave. Not knowing them or their specifics. Now even more astounding is how many people believe they can do the same based on a blog post with no context and a few comments.”

    Eh, I think we all just feel like we really KNOW Stephanie because of checking out her blog daily for YEARS (and YEARS) and reading her books. Not just one post. Just sayin’…

  68. Why in god’s name would you want to air your dirty laundry in public like this? I feel sorry for you and your kids. Phil – you seem like an ass. Stephanie – this post is titled leasd to “it’s over” – so is it? If you start posting again about mini-mansions in FL and perfect salad dressings, I think many of your readers will be disgusted.

    1. Author

      “If you start posting again about mini-mansions in FL and perfect salad dressings, I think many of your readers will be disgusted.”

      All of my passions don’t simply disintegrate because I choose to focus on the little things that bring me joy. Yes, salad dressings and clothes and diets and nail polish colors that make you look tan. It doesn’t make me shallow. It doesn’t mean that I’m in avoidance mode. I am able to thrill over a new magazine delivery despite whatever else might be going on in my life.

      1. Fair enough, and a healthy attitude. What I was trying to say is that sometimes you post a shocker of awful, toxic behavior in your marriage, then the next post is about fabric selection. No follow up to the previous bombshell. I just find it jarring – that is what I meant. thx

  69. Stephanie, I was in a relationship with someone that sounds very similiar to Phil. I felt on edge all the time. Driving home from work I’d be worried about what mood I’d find him in, stacking the dishes in the kitchen I’d be worried that I was doing it wrong, teeling a joke at a dinner party, I’d be worried that he would be offended, moving in bed at night while he was asleep I’d be worried that he would wake… I’m a strong smart woman why the hell it took me 3 years to get out I have no idea. These days, with my wonderful new partner living overseas and doing my dream job, I feel tremendous relief when I realise what I escaped. If I say to my husband “you made me feel like this…” his first response is always “I’m sorry” followed by a discussion about how we can make it better. THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE.

    In my previous relationship our fights would go for days… back and forth between who was right and who wasn’t and who is the hardest done by. It was exhausting and awful.

    The way Phil speaks to you is unacceptable (what about the time he told Lucas you didn’t love him?). What would you say to yourself in a Q and A? I’m sorry, I know there is something wrong with giving relationship advice on a blog, to someone I don’t know,… but the details are out there so here goes. For the sake of your self- respect and your children, especially your little girl you need to get out.

  70. Wow Katherine you are what they clinically call someone with serious baggage! I feel sorry for your husband. They way you control him,he should run.

    Again, you don’t know how Stephanie speaks to Phil, how she may guilt him, demean him, yell at him, hit him, etc. Commenting on what one person writes as passionately as you do says more about your issues than Phils.

    1. Seriously? You think her husband should run from her because she tells him how she’s feeling about their relationship and then they work on it together? What should someone do when their partner has done something to hurt or upset them?

  71. I once had a psycho therapist tell me that my boyfriend was a looser and he was mooching off me and if I am having doubts it is because he is very bad for me. I consider that session a traumatic event. She was right, in the end he was sleeping with my (not so) best friend, in my home, where he lived, unemployed while I went to work everyday. So i totally get it that sometimes therapsits cross the line and the therapy with them needs to be discontinued. But I agree with the poster above that says find a new one, a more objective one.

    As far as that situation, I can see both sides. I would be so terrified and would def want everyone in the house in on the investigation, HOWEVER I can also see that Stephanie would feel chastised for it as well. Sometimes when my husband even says, “do this for your daughters” (we have 18 month old twins) I feel somehow judged and bullied. And yes, he yells at me too in front of them sometimes and squashes my dreams too, even, I am sure in totally different ways than you and steph. My point? Marriage is hard work, but I feel lucky to have one, as imperfect as it is as long as both parties are willing to do the work. We love each other, a lot, and we are trying to respect each other more on our journey through life as co-parents, lovers, business partners, so many aspects of life!

    We are not in couples therapy but whenever we get in a “lasts more than a week” fight, or in an “I hate you I want a divorce” situation, we always agree couples therapy FIRST. And it always makes me feel better to know that he is willing to do the work with me. Because I have been with the oppostie and quite frankly, Phil, I am always a little horrified of your behavior but have alwawys respected the fact you were willing to go to couples therapy.

    Stephanie and Phil, bravo to you both for your openness, are you crazy as shit for doing this in public? Yes! Do I love that about you both? Hell Yes! Am I, as a reader in a postion to judge your marriage or your choice of blog posts? Hell NO!

  72. My father is a lot like what Phil sounds to be. I say sounds because I don’t know Phil from Adam, only from what I read here, and I don’t wish to pass final judgment on him. I grew up walking on egg shells in our family because I never knew what might set him off. I have memories of being 6 years old and pouring my milk on my cereal while sitting at the table with my dad. The spoon happened to be positioned in such a way that the milk splashed off of the spoon and up and out of the bowl. Dad was livid. He erupted at me, at my mom and even my 5 year old brother who had done nothing and then stormed out of the house and went to work. I never got an apology for that or any of the other times when he flew into the red zone over something mundane. I grew up with him giving my mom the silent treatment for days and days. He never hit us but as I got older I realized that he was definitely emotionally abusive. Communication is not my parents’ forte, maybe that’s a generational thing? Mom just went about taking care of me and my brother and trying her best to shield us from Dad’s moods. They tried couples counseling a few times but never really stuck with it.

    I spent years in therapy sorting through my feelings about my dad. I still get incredibly anxious when I’m around him because the overall feeling in their house revolves around his moods. The anxiety turns to anger when I think about how my mom has enabled his poor behavior by putting up with it but then sympathy because I can’t shield her from him. They did separate at one point, but that was mainly due to infidelity on his part. In the end, they’re still together nearly 40 years later. She still walks on egg shells, his moods are even more erratic and I’m still incredibly resentful. My brother has grown to be quite like my dad. He has terrible mood swings and has chased off more than a few sweet girls who finally came to their senses. As a 32 year old married woman, I think my mom is crazy for having put up with my dad for so long and sometimes even get angry at her for staying with him for so long. As their daughter, I just want my family together. It’s been an ongoing internal struggle that really didn’t have to turn out this way.

    My only advice to both of you is to think about your sweet kids. Whether you think so or not, they breathe the emotionally charged air in your home and they’re absorbing some pretty heavy emotional baggage themselves. I would encourage you to really commit to counseling and to seeking out other couples who’s marriages you really admire. If you’ve dug in your heels and committed to staying in it, then do the work to make it better for your kids.

    1. Author

      Thanks for sharing, Jaime. And that’s another thing I fear. When I disengage, when I try to ignore some belittling comment, even if I bring it up privately later, I fear that my ignoring it sends a message to my children that it’s acceptable behavior. Yet, if I do point it out then and there a battle begins, and I absolutely don’t want them to witness that. Ideally, Phil would know when he’s out of line, would know the things he should never say. He genuinely never thinks what he’s saying is cruel because he, well, doesn’t ever think he’s cruel. He is a very smart person, and yet, he doesn’t even realize when he’s judging or being abusive. When I point it out, he tells me that I’m being the abusive one, that I’m so mean to him, that I’m the one who’s yelling. Tells me I’m deflecting the real issue (aka my own issues). And I can’t win. Which is fine, but I don’t want the kids to lose. I so hear you.

      1. Sounds so familiar. My mom does the same dance. My dad is also a brilliant guy and very intimidating to pick a fight with, so my mom and others in his life tend to back down and just wait for him to cool off thinking, “that’s just the way he is.” Dad also doesn’t realize when he’s doing it and if you point it out, then he really pops off and you wind up on the receiving end of the silent treatment. Nobody ever wins.

        The good thing with you and Phil is that you and your family are all still young and you’re creating your own family dynamics. There’s still time to relearn how to act and react. People can change. The first step is really hearing each other. I’m proud of you for wanting to change and I’m pulling for you.

      2. Stephanie, I feel for you and Phil. When you said, “He is a very smart person, and yet, he doesn’t even realize when he’s judging or being abusive. When I point it out, he tells me that I’m being the abusive one, that I’m so mean to him, that I’m the one who’s yelling. Tells me I’m deflecting the real issue (aka my own issues). And I can’t win. Which is fine, but I don’t want the kids to lose. I so hear you,” — I really felt for you as I have experienced that dynamic. And even though that relationship ended a year and a half ago, I still struggle to trust myself. I am glad to see that you both are hanging in there and trying to work it out. It is an education for all of us. And I have to think that you and Phil are ultimately deeply confident in your marriage– otherwise you wouldn’t be able to share your dialogue so publicly.

        Just a thought. This comment and $1.50 will get you bus fare. ;)

  73. Stephanie, When Phil was THE SUITOR, did you see this side of him? Did you marry him in spite of it, hoping it would change? I am having such a hard time correllating this with all that you seemed to learn about what marriage needs to be in SUAD. How did you come to marry someone who treats you badly in a whole other way?

  74. I googled you last night and read two New York Times articles about you from the mid-2000s. I believe one reporter characterized you in your NYC years as “desperately searching for a man.” You hadn’t been divorced that long when you met Phil and married him. I understand the biological clock and all that, but what was the rush? Well, you have the kids now. If things with Phil don’t work out (and counseling is only helpful if both parties open up and work hard at it, not just show up in the therapist’s office at the appointed hour), maybe you’ll consider exploring the joys of a relaxing single lifestyle in the next phase of your life — one with no fighting over petty bullshit, no compromising your principles, no tugs-of-war over who controls who. At least it will be relaxing during those times when Phil has the kids, and if you don’t run yourself ragged looking for husband #3.

  75. Stephanie,

    I just finished both of your books. I’ve been reading this blog for a long time though. I’m also 24 and in law school. I find you inspiring and I identified with a lot of what you’re written about in your book.

    I just wonder if you think leaving Phil is another mark against you. Do you really believe that staying together for your kids is worth it? It seems like he treats you oddly similar to the wasband. I am a firm believer that children (whild I don’t have any, I was one) can feel it in their bones when their parents aren’t happy. I remember being young and seeing a glance between my parents and either thinking they’re happy happy or something isn’t right.

    They know. You’re kidding yourself if you think otherwise.

    You’re also gorgeous, wildly sucessful, and deserving of much more, life is short stop settling for a grump.

  76. I limited my earlier comments to discussing Phil and Stephanie’s posts, because of course I don’t know either of them.

    I’m not sure I follow the logic of “don’t comment if you don’t know me” in the comments section of a blog. By definition, “comments” invites comments from people who don’t know the writer(s).

    In any event, Rachel, there is no “clinical term” called “someone with serious baggage.” Katherine sounds like someone who left an abusive relationship and is now living a happy, healthy life.

    Phil, when I read your most recent post, I really “get” that you feel that your understandable concern about the pills or glass justifies ordering a family meeting. Ends justify the means, I suppose. But they really, really don’t. Unless the house is on fire and everyone needs to escape, you never, ever, ever have any reason to direct or order your wife to do anything. You may ask. Not tell. And of course the same would go for Stephanie.

    I would challenge you (Phil) to show your post to, well, anyone in the whole wide world – therapist, married man, woman, your family – anyone and see if anyone agrees with you that your behavior is acceptable.

    Or are you the kind of person who knows they are “right” even if everyone tells them they are wrong?

    Are we all ignoring the elephant in the room? Has anyone else wondered whether Phil might be mentally ill? I don’t mean a sociopath – I mean clinically depressed, social anxiety disorder, bipolar II? Something of that nature? It’s very common, especially in men his age who have gone through a terrible trauma, which Phil certainly has with his medical issues.

    It would be really sad to see this relationship end because of an undiagnosed medical condition.

    It’s just hard for me to understand how any reasonable person could post what he just posted. Especially since he seems to be, in many respects, a perfectly decent guy. There has to be something else going on here.

  77. Stephanie,

    You’ve been so helpful to me over the years, so I feel that I owe you this….

    I dated a “Phil” 12 years ago. He was older than me (much older) and I was completely unaware of how bad things were until 4 years into the relationship. I was naive, unaware and just generally wanted things to work out so basically I was in denial for much of the relationship. Not only was he belittling, he was just plain mean and completely unstable.

    Eventually I left – not for the right reasons but I did leave. I was on my own for a long time and always wondered what had happened to him. I even would drive by my “old” home a few times a year just to look at the rose bushes that we had planted together. For 8 years I didn’t hear from him. We ended up speaking years later, first as friends and then as “temporary” re-engaged lovers again. In the end it didn’t work out for lots of reasons but I did notice a total change in his personality. After several weeks into our 2nd go-around he shared with me that he was diagnosed with depression, stress, anxiety and was an alcoholic. I didn’t recall that he abused alcohol, but he said he used it to self medicate his other issues. He was much nice and gentler and much more complimentary than he had been in years past.

    My point is that you may want to see if Phil has issues that he’s even unaware of. He has a pretty stressful job, has had major heart issues, and seems unaware how bad his behavior has been. (Really, what sibling doesn’t come to the defense of her own brother.) That beind said, perhaps there are solutions for Phil’s anger issues that could be resolved with medication, exercise and stress reducing activities.

    I have followed your relationship with your “suitor” and when the beans were in-utero. Before you call it quits, examine everything and ask Phil to do the same. Don’t give up unless you’ve exhausted everything.

    Good luck!

    Mrs. Simon

  78. I grew up with a mother who would be set off at totally radom moments, and the atmosphere in the household would change to one of total dispair until she got it together… and then it would happen again.

    I ended up suffering with a panic disorder, and I do believe that a lot of the reason was a ‘learned’ reaction from my mom. I hold no resentment, yet when I look back on my childhood, I feel extremely sad that it was so volatile.

    The kids are being affected, and in what way, you can’t predict. I hope the very best for Stephanie and Phil, and the family as a whole.

  79. As a response to Phil, and because I appreciated my own couple’s counseling– I want to say that my own couples work was not brought on by any crisis. We just wanted to drop some of the baggage of what came from hurt feelings and arguments over small things. I never doubted my marriage but wanted to smooth out some of the patterns. I’m only adding this because it might help. And I think finding the right person is key, too. It becomes a project to find them which sucks. But the point is that you may both love each other but may be living with this extra weight that you don’t need.

  80. I am sorry Jamie, but I don’t think that Phil yelling at everyone in the house, as much as I disagree with him “scolding” his wife for something the kids did, for finding his heart pills and then broken glass is the same thing AT ALL as yelling at your kids for spilling milk outside of their cereal bowl.

    I am not saying that Phil is not abusive, I don’t know that at all. ALL I am saying is let’s not bring our own baggage into this and turn him into a monster.

    I agree though and can relate to you and Stephanie because even in fights with my husband when he is out of line, I am never sure how to react and I end up just trying to difuse it if the kids are around because I don’t want to react with extreme anger and then things really spiral out of control. I mean this is the burden to bare of being a mother right? Apparently…

    I used to scream and rage also when angry, but with age and time and DEFINITLEY with kids, I TRY to disengage and swallow the anger when I feel that I have been treated unjustly.

    I have talked about this extensively to my husband though, because it makes me feel like I hate his guts sometimes and the thing is not for me to have to just difuse a situation but for HIM to not be a dick! HA! But then he thinks I am the one being a dick to begin with.

    Anyways, again, marriage is complicaated, whether or not you fight in front of your kids is complicated. Stephanie maybe you are at your limit here. I don’t know but I wish you luck, strength and courage to make the right decision for you and your kids. As a mother and a mother of twins, I know the idea of splitting up is just horrible.

    I guess whenever I have left a realationship in the past it was always because I was at a point where I was able to accept that I would never have that love again, where I would rather live in a shoe box, where I would rather never have a single second of the security I felt with that person than stay. I hope that makes sense. Only you know if it is time or not.

    I am married, I am in an imperfect marriage and quite frankly I don’t know one married couple with children that doesn’t struggle like this…and that’s not just because I have screwed up people in my life, but it is because Marriage is the ultimate partnership with someone and sometimes it is really fucking messy and to stay…is only a choice.

    and @Katherine: the people in my life that bring up hurtful examples that I have told them in the past as evidence to use against me or ANYONE I love are what I call JERKS….and then don’t share with anymore.

  81. Rachel,

    I give you I have some baggage, but no more than any other 30 year old that’s been in more than a couple serious relationships. What I don’t understand is your comment that I ‘control’ my husband. I expect him to treat me with respect, I’m not asking for the sky!

    Today provides an example. I met my husband for lunch. He’d had an awful morning at work- having had a run-in with a journalist (he works in PR). During lunch he snapped at me. Seeing my face he apologised saying “Sorry honey it’s just been one of those days”. The conversation moved on and I’ve his favourite beer chilling in the fridge waiting for him to come home for the evening!

    If this had been my ex-boyfriend and I’d expressed my displeasure when he snapped, even as a grimace, it would have started an on-going fight (including him sulking and giving me the silent treatment). He would have accused me of being insensitive; of not understanding the pressure he was under and told me I was uncaring and selfish. It got to a point where I didn’t want to say or do anything that might possibly offend him. I remember one of our happiest weeks as a couple was when I consciously agreed with pretty much everything he did and said and kept my opinions to myself. I’m an outspoken red-head, I couldn’t live like that. It was an awful way to live and I still thank God I escaped!

    In my new relationship my husband and I share a common goal, and that’s to make each other happy. It’s not to be right or one-up each other. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have our off days or we never fight, it’s just that we would never do anything to really hurt each other, and if we by chance accidently do, we apologise. It should go without saying, but compared to what I was used to it feels revelationary!

  82. Read the post along with all the comments. I’m really sorry for both of you right now and I hope that you can find a way to make your marriage work TOGETHER.

    I make long, neurotic lists and then expect my husband to help me, except I’m critical of everything he does. And I have also been the person making the ‘hurry up’ hand gestures. And I roll my eyes. Husband sighs heavily and leaves passive-aggressive notes. We don’t fight in front of the kids, but have knockdown/dragouts later.

    Here’s the thing though – your personality didn’t shift, you have always been this way (at least as shown via the blog). Did his? Has he always been kinda dismissive of you? If he knew you were neurotic and you knew he was dismissive…how could the outcome be any different?

    Wish there was an easy answer for you both. Just remember that he loves you and remind him you love him.

  83. Hi Stephanie,

    Sorry to hear that your Seder evening left you with a bad taste in your mouth.

    I have to ask: did you discuss with Phil beforehand that you were going to be having a Seder ceremony at your dinner? Did he have any say in the matter?

    If not, that MIGHT explain his impatience and irritation, and in the future you might want to come to an agreement/compromise with him beforehand on how these types of gatherings are going to proceed.

    I hope you are able to work things out so that your relationship with Phil isn’t studded with hurt feelings, anger, resentment, etc on both sides.

  84. I’ve been a longtime reader of your blog for years and own both of your books, Stephanie, and this is the first time that I’ve felt the need to comment.

    I’ve been in relationships like this; he yelled, I yelled, nothing got done, and in the end we wore each other out. I- or anybody else- can’t tell you what to do here. All I can do is offer my heartfelt sympathy for this situation. I know what it’s like, it sucks, and nothing anybody says can make it any less sucky. There comes a point when its not about winning. It’s not even about being right. It’s about trying to get through the day. If you’ve reached that point, then something major needs to happen here, one way or the other.

    My fiance is Catholic. I’m not. I don’t know from feast days or mass, but I go and do these things because they’re important to him. I don’t need a better reason. If they’re traditions in his family, and if they’re important to him, then I have no room to sweep in and change them. There has to be a middle ground, and I think finding that middle ground is a process that takes time.

    I think the biggest thing that all the commenters (and you and Phil) seem to agree on is that watching this isn’t good for Lucas and Abby. Even if neither one of you felt that you deserved better than this, the twins certainly do. I have a dear friend whose little girl is on anti-anxiety medication because her parents argue so much. My fiance and I took her to the movies, and I tripped and fell, spilling the popcorn and soda we’d bought all over the floor. I was fine and my fiance helped me up- he made sure I was all right and told us to go find a seat. He came back with replacements.

    That little girl looked up at me with a huge pair of eyes and said, “My daddy gets mad when mommy spills things. He calls her stupid.”

    She then happily settled back in her seat to watch the movie. My fiance and I were absolutely flabbergasted. She’s only six, she says stuff like that all the time, and that keeps me up at night. What bothers me more than anything else is that she says it very matter-of-factly. She thinks it’s normal to have parents who yell at each other, and it confuses her because my fiance and I don’t. I try to take her to do things with me all the time, mostly to get her out of that house. I love my friend, but that environment is toxic for her daughter and everyone knows it. My friend and her husband won’t leave each other because… well, who knows.

    When it comes down to it, we’re not in any position to judge you, Phil, or your life choices, no matter how invested in them your wonderful writing has made us. We’ve “watched” the beans grow up, and that makes us feel qualified to give advice when we’re really not. All I can say, though, is that as much as I honor and respect your willingness to stick to your commitments, I don’t want to think that Lucas or Abby will look up at one of your friends someday and say what my friend’s daughter did to me.

    Something’s got to give— and I hope and pray that it’s not your marriage or your sanity.

  85. I’m in exactly the same situation right now. At first I just got mad at him for treating me badly. Now I”m just angry and confused with/about myself for tolerating it. I deserve so much more, and so do you Stephanie.

  86. I really hope the two of you aren’t doing this for blog hits and drama.

    The person who said they saw you kissing at Whole Foods certainly made me think you’re just amping up the drama for your readers because things have gotten stale here of late.

    I get it that you are a storyteller and maybe you’re trying to craft a narrative/cliffhanger about Phil going to Florida and “will you or won’t you” join him.

    That said, if I’m wrong in my suspicions here and should take what you’re both posting at face value, I suggest that the two of you take some time apart with a therapist/counselor and find out what is making the 2 of you so unhappy with yourselves individually.

    The kind of behaviors and mood swings you guys are describing suggest to me that you are both quite unfulfilled despite checking off all the little checklist things you’ve accomplished.

    Stephanie probably thought she’d have a series on the air right now, a movie in a theater and would be known throughout Hollywood as the next Nora Epron; there’s nothing wrong with that, but I hope chasing that and the time it takes to achieve those kind of goals aren’t depressing her. That kind of success is a lottery ticket lifestyle.

    As for Phil, maybe he thought being able to take care of his family financially allowed him to be more of the boss in the house. That said, his posting in the comments has done nothing to make him look good here. There are two sides to every story, but his choice of words around his wife are pretty awful.

    Not to mention the two of you work from home now so there is zero separation of work and home life which is a major problem. No wonder you fight as much as you do.

    I’m not going to suggest divorce, but I do think the two of you have a lot of work to do individually as well as together.

    I wish you guys luck.

    1. This is just what I thought upon reading the post:

      “I really hope the two of you aren’t doing this for blog hits and drama.

      The person who said they saw you kissing at Whole Foods certainly made me think you’re just amping up the drama for your readers because things have gotten stale here of late.”

      Over 100 comments – it’s been a while, huh??

      Understandably, readers can’t relate much to your weighty concerns about getting white marble floors in your rented McMansion, or the significance of putting together the perfect, elaborately themed birthday party for the kids.

      1. Author

        Comments are nice. It’s always nice to hear from readers, even when they go and accuse me of attention-whoring. I only wish that were the case. It’s not. And, you’re right, not everyone is going to relate to everything I write. And I’m okay with that. I don’t post what I do due to demand. I post things as I live them, whether or not they make me come across as a superficial weight-obsessed J.Crew lovin’ and hatin’ braggart.

    2. Author

      Uh, no. I can’t believe how cynical, skeptical people can be. Well, I guess I can, but, no, everything here is really the way it is. The kiss in Whole Foods was Phil leaning over and planting one on me to express his feelings. I wasn’t able to return the sentiments, as I’m still unsettled by all of this.

      1. Stephanie – Thank you for clearing that up. I’m sorry I suggested this was manufactured in the first place. I feel bad about doing that now.

        That said, I hope you take care of yourself and your feelings here. I know you have a family and a career here to juggle, but being spoken to like you’re nothing is not okay. Especially, by someone who loves you.

        It makes me think of my neighbor across the street who has a sweet dog that he constantly hits and curses at in public. I called the authorities on him and he was warned to stop it (they let him keep the animal). Of course he realized it was me and he came over while I was unpacking my car to confront me and let me know that he loved his dog and couldn’t live without it and it was the only thing in this fucked up world that made him happy.

        I let him know that hitting and cursing at the top of your lungs at something you love is not normal and not okay. But there are people in this world who have demons inside that cause them to abuse the one’s they love whether it be verbal, emotional or physical.

        Thank God nothing physical has happened with you. I know you wouldn’t stand for that shit.

        The emotional and verbal barbs are not okay. If you love someone, you learn to think fast and talk slow.

        I suggest to Phil he write that down and put it in his office and look at it every day until it sinks in. Before calling your wife a Psycho in front of her children and family, take a fucking breath and hold your tongue.

  87. I’m not offering advice or weighing in other than to just let you know you’ve been on my mind today. If any two people have the grit and determination to make things right, I believe based on what I’ve read here over the years that it is you and Phil.

    Sending you both good vibes.

  88. I haven’t posted in ages and I actually rarely read your blog anymore. I happened to catch this post because I always love reading about how you celebrate the holidays. I love how excited you get, how you include the Beans in it all and just how you want it to be special for everyone involved. You have a great talent and I love reading about it all. I often am so touched I get teary seeing your photos of The Beans.

    I actually stopped reading regularly because I couldn’t stand to read about your troubles with Phil. It became a little too much information and I was feeling guilty for knowing about it all. I also was having a hard time really believing it all. How could you be in this marriage with all that you have been through before it? Sorry to say something just doesn’t add up. After reading Phil’s entries it makes me wonder even more why you are “married to it” STILL. I am with the other concerned reader and I feel bad for saying it but I think you are doing this to keep the readers in suspense. I hope it isn’t true but kissing your husband in public at the grocery store not even a week after being so badly treated. I can’t believe it. Sorry!
    Also, I am with one of the other readers that mentioned why on earth would Phill have you do a marketing piece for him ever? Doesn’t he have people that could do this for him and why for such a successful business man did he wait until the last minute to do this?
    Sorry Stephanie, this all does not add up to me. But if I am wrong and I do hope I am I still have to question why are you still “married to it”. Life is too short to be so miserable.

  89. “I appreciate the comments. I always wondered how a Doctor could go on TV and diagnose someone based on an interview they gave. Not knowing them or their specifics. Now even more astounding is how many people believe they can do the same based on a blog post with no context and a few comments. I posted in the comment section because I thought it would give some other perspective. I felt it was fine for anyone to opine as a fertile discussion is constructive.”

    Obviously you didn’t think it was fine because you’re now insulting the people who commented. What did you think would happen? I try to see things from other people’s point of view but I don’t understand where ytou’re coming from here. Maybe keep this stuff private from now on? I think I might be done reading this blog. I’m really dismayed at this whole thing. I’m referring here to the fact that all of this is being aired publicly. I have no comment on your marriage as I totally agree that you can’t pass judgement on someone else’s relationship based on a few blog posts.

  90. I’ve been married for 13 years. I was 22 when I got married. Things get stressful, you start missing each other due to schedules. Anger, boredom, fear, whatever builds. You go through rough patches, you demonize one another, you feel like you can’t take it anymore and then something happens that galvanizes you and your marriage.

    All I’m saying is that no marriage is silky smooth and not every argument leads to divorce. People can be real assholes sometimes, but it’s not necessarily a permanent part of their personality.

    You’ll get through this. You’ve gone through worse.

  91. Hi—the first Alexandra here (*not* the one who suspects you of creating a suspenseful narrative of your troubles for blog hits- ugh!). Just to say, the community of commenters and feedback here is amazing. Support, critique, devil’s advocates, challenges, sympathy, cynicism, Team Stephanie, Team Phil and sharing of more personal stories. It’s beautiful in its way, a snapshot of who’s out there, and how differently we can see things. Also it seems to skew toward caring. (Unless there’s piles of trolls moderated out!)

    Phil mentioned the hope for insight from the comments and I hope he is getting some… and that it creates that shift and self-awareness in him that you are longing for, Stephanie. I truly do hope that for you and your family.

    I grew up with a dad who felt similarly justified in his damaging behaviours. I was with men who treated me like this. It took me til my mid 30’s to get it out of my system. And eventually, thank God, and a ton of therapy, married a man who, when we have a problem, tells me he wants to understand where I’m coming from and work with me to make things better. Who I know is setting an example for our daughter about the respect and kindnesses big and small a husband offers a wife. I wish this feeling of security in your partnership for you.

    Even though I share the tricky parts of my life and marriage with just a few close friends, I think there is value and courage in putting it out there. So thank you.

  92. Wow….Sometimes when we are in pain and it feels so big that it is going to burst out we share it with people we shouldn’t. Stephanie is a person with big feelings and there is nothing wrong with that. She also has a great deal of energy and gets more things done in a day than anybody I know. She could not make Phil understand how she is unhappy and he won’t go to therapy. This is a better place to get the feelings out than the local bar or an affair. She doesn’t take the anger and sadness out on the children. I don’t think that Stephanie posts these things at timely intervals to get more readers. The emotions feel too real to me. Almost two years later after I left my husband I am thankful everyday I don’t have to live with him. I started dating a man six months ago who is wonderful and who thinks that : I am beautiful, smart, sexy, kind, funny etc etc and would do anything in the world for me. I am in shock. I still have to deal with the father of my child and play games so that he isn’t pissy about birthdays and other events. However, now that I don’t have to live with him I can see that the games are only useful because my son gets two parents that are doing the best for him. I no longer feel like I am losing my mind from a man that said he loved me but treated me like absolute crap.

    I also think that Phil might need to look at meds. I didn’t realize that me being really stressed out at work was a symptom of my anxiety and depression I have had my whole life. I got my vitamin d tested, found out it was low, and now take 4,000 milligrams. I also started taking Welbutrin(spelling?) on the advice of a friend. I feel a million times better. I am not angry all the time over things not going my way. I didn’t take it out on people, I just took it out on myself. I really hope that Phil does explore things like medication and vitamin D. I think that my whole life would have been far, far more enjoyable had I had this medication. I may have enjoyed college, graduate school, and my early career more if I had not been so tense and anxious the whole time.
    I think of you both and hope that everything gets better for your family.

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