My Perfect Response To My Husband’s Justification for his Behavior in Therapy
We often think of the perfect thing we should have said after the moment has passed. We later ruminate and think of what the best response would have been. I once came out with the quintessential reply to something my husband said in marriage counseling that was particularly offensive. It was 2 perfect words.
I was upset about how often my husband went on trips by himself. He was in the process of planning a trip to Macchu Picchu which meant he would miss our son’s middle school graduation. He had the handy excuse of my being disabled for traveling without me.
My disability imposed further hardship on me being left alone so much to take care of our two children my myself. But he didn’t care. Being married can be hard.
When I said I thought he was being selfish, the therapist pointed out that sometimes people do selfish things. I could accept this as part of the extensive compromises that are necessary to keep a marriage together. Maybe someday I would be the one doing something selfish. Or was not wanting my husband to go away a few times a year by himself selfish on my part?
As I complained about how the frequency and length of his trips seemed to be increasing, my husband responded with how he felt justified in being able to go away when he wanted in part because we were limited as a couple by my mobility challenge.
He told the therapist he also felt that leaving me alone with the kids for lengths of time was helping me. He said he sees “growth” in me when he gets back from an extended trip because of how I rise to the challenge.
I took a beat. And a breath.
Then, very deliberately I turned toward him and just said “fuck you.” I could be in charge of my own growth, thank you very much.
I could tell he knew my response was spot on. He even looked a little embarrassed.
As we wrapped up the session, the therapist told me he was glad I said that because I am responsible for my own growth.
I repeated my sentiment to my husband a few times as we slowly walked down the long flight of stairs to the door of the office. Fuck you. Really, just. fuck. you. He knew he was out of line. But he really didn’t care that much.
I was able to make peace with the idea that sometimes people do selfish things. We had been married a long time.
We stayed in therapy for about a year with that particular therapist before I learned my husband had an addiction to narcotics.
Then the focus became getting him clean. It was a bit astonishing to know he had been on drugs for so long and I didn’t know it.
My husband did get clean and continued seeing that therapist on his own for support during the process.
He couldn’t hike Macchu Picchu while he was on drugs.
When he had the mental clarity of sobriety, he decided we should separate after 28 years of marriage.