So off we went to marriage counseling. To Dr. Campbell. He was a calm man. He spoke to us separately and spoke to us together. I remember him telling me that he couldn’t decide whether my strongest trait was intelligence or determination. He thought that we should reconnect: he gave us homework. We were to do little thoughtful things for one another. Little things, like maybe leaving the garage door open for the second one to get home. Just little, thoughtful things. I did my best. Bill’s version was to say things like, “Gee boys, Mommy smells good tonight!” in a way that intimated that the opposite was the norm. He was snide and nasty and so very passive-aggressive. When we returned to counseling, Bill admitted that I was good at the assignment, and that he wasn’t. I remember the therapist asking Bill to take notice of how I smiled and was happy while describing the little things I had done for Bill – how it pleased me. The doctor asked me what it would take to get Bill back upstairs. Can’t remember what I told him, exactly, but I know that all I wanted was to be treated like a valued and loved wife. There were measurable criteria set, can’t remember what, but Bill did meet them. So we were back at the therapist’s, and I said the criteria had been met, to which Bill replied that he wasn’t sure he wanted to come back upstairs. I think it must have been the way he said it: I clearly remember the therapist telling Bill he felt like knocking his block off. That was his exact phrase. Anyway, on to other things… was there anything else we could talk about? Was there anything else I might like? I mentioned that after thirteen years I would like a vacation where I didn’t have to boil water or clean his father’s house. One where I could actually relax. Thirteen years of Florida and fishing, with one trip out to California and one RV trip out east. I didn’t think I was asking for much. Guess I was wrong.
On the way home Bill was screaming at me – screaming so long and so loudly that by the time we pulled into the driveway, he had actually lost his voice. “What do you mean, you don’t want to go to my dad’s? He won’t be around forever.” I replied that he should go then – take the boys too, if he liked. He then screamed, “And I bet you think I should pay for it, too?” Twenty-five minutes of shrieking rage. We got into the house and I said I was done. We were over. That was it.
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