Monday, July 23, 2012

Marriage Counselor Meeting #6 - Power Struggles

My wife and I differ what this term means -- a "power struggle" -- but that was the subject of our most recent marriage counseling session.

After I got back from my trip last week, my wife was virtually in tears when we went into the counseling session.  She couldn't speak about topics, and instead wanted to divert the attention to something that has been bothering her -- why I do not see that she is in pain and that she needs my help.

First of all, aside from feeling like an ass when writing this (because obviously she is going through a difficult time -- anyone would having four kids), I was immediately upset and frustrated when she complained about this to the therapist because it is simply not true -- I HELP OUT MORE THAN SHE CAN IMAGINE, AND MORE THAN SHE SEES OR ACKNOWLEDGES.

However, the topic quickly narrowed on why I don't change diapers, and this is an older fight that has come up over the years.

In short, when my first son was born, I changed diapers all day long.  I never complained about it, and I wasn't bothered by the smell or anything (it was actually a funny part of being a father).  I would occasionally joke with my wife that you can identify a father on the street from the occasional smell of baby poo, butt cream, or on a good day, only diapers.  Then our daughter was born and everything changed.

I remember changing her diaper while she was an infant until the one day that poo got in her vagina.  Not knowing whether to dig it out, or what to do with it, I remember speaking with my wife about it that I was uncomfortable with the situation and that I didn't want to do anything that would accidentally hurt her virginity or anything.  It was a horrific experience, and my wife laughed at me, told me I was an idiot, and that I was wrong for even having this concern.

Then a fight broke out about it -- remember, this was our second year of marriage, back in 2007 -- and for whatever reason we fought, I resolved that I was uncomfortable changing diapers moving forward.  I didn't make the distinction of boys' diapers or girls' diapers, because my wife and I made our first deal -- she would change all diapers moving forward if I agreed to iron my own shirts (at that time she was ironing my shirts for work when she did laundry [something I never asked her to do, but was happy she did]).

Then over the next six years, whenever she wanted me to do something, whether it was doing the dishes, or going on a vacation, or buying clothing or a car, or more often than not my wife wanting me to take over YET ANOTHER HOUSEHOLD CHORE that was something that she should be taking care of (since at the time I worked many hours at the job I had at the time), she would say, "I want you to do XYZ unless you want to start changing diapers again."

Quite frankly, I got upset at her many times for "changing the deal."  However, as soon as I agreed to her deal that she no longer do the ironing (I actually stopped ironing and just threw the shirts in the dryer which she thought was unfair), or as soon as I gave in to one request, there was always another around the corner.  As far as I was concerned, I couldn't trust her so-called "deals" because I knew there would always be one more behind it.

Then one day a year or so ago, we went to my Rabbi's house.  Trying to embarrass me in front of my Rabbi's wife, my wife blurted out, "my husband doesn't change diapers," something I spoke to them about many times already.  My Rabbi's wife looked at her and said, "my brother doesn't change diapers either, and in return, he pays for a maid to take care of the cleaning to make up for it."  My wife thought this was the most brilliant answer, and so the following week, we got a maid.  It wasn't a full-time maid, but at the time, it was one we could afford.  And, over the past year or so, it went from just a few hours one day each week to now pretty much every day for four or five hours each day.

So here we were last week -- I just returned from my trip, and it was the middle of the night.  We resolved that our kids would no longer sleep in our room and thus at 3am, I took my daughter upstairs to her room and I laid down next to her for her to fall asleep.  However, I immediately noticed the smell of poo in her diaper, and thought to myself, "SHOOT!  I usually send my kids to my wife to change diapers, even if she's asleep, but here I'm trying to be nice to her because she was just ill these past few days AND taking care of the kids while I was away on my seminar trip."  So I changed her shitty diaper and as I was doing so, I remembered our fight from so many years ago.

Now just so everyone doesn't think I'm an ass for not changing diapers -- I change them all the time, and I always have.  However, the only diapers I change are pee-pee diapers, and shitty diapers are my wife's territory I didn't feel bad about this because quite frankly, I paid for this so many times over with one agreement after the other, none of which I have EVER broken.  So poo diapers are my wife's territory, and that was that.

So going back to my evening experience, I was very excited that I changed my daughter's diaper, and that I remembered why I didn't change diapers in the first place.  I forgot about this and thought it was merely the smell, or something I contracted away many times over.  Yet when I told my wife about it in the morning (and that in theory I have nothing wrong with changing "boy" diapers moving forward), expecting my wife to be so proud of me and to be so excited for me that I was finding new ways to help out, she jumped all over me with disdain and I was actually hurt that she wasn't so excited by my offer to start helping out with diapers.

Now back to the counselor session... I couldn't believe she brought up that I don't change diapers, especially after my realization and my first poo diaper changed that evening!

When I explained my side of the story (her side was that if I cared about her and saw that she was frustrated from changing so many diapers, a caring husband who loves his wife would have jumped in and started changing diapers), I told the marriage counselor that I felt slighted because the whole thing came up because I expressed that I was WILLING to change diapers, but quite frankly, I don't like that I am being pressured to change them now as if it is my DUTY AS A FATHER because I contracted away that duty so many times over, and she keeps changing the deal!  I felt that if I was to start changing diapers, I kind of want some kind of REWARD or at least some kind of EXTRA APPRECIATION, especially considering what I gave up in order to NOT change diapers.  In addition, I felt that if I started changing diapers now and if I disregarded all those contracts and agreements that I held to but that she broke, then she would have won YET AGAIN, and it is not justified that she has held the "you will do X unless you start changing diapers" ultimatum over me all these years.  She doesn't get to make deals and then break them.  She needs to stick to what she agreed with.

At this point, the marriage counselor pointed out that what I was experiencing was a perfect example of a power struggle -- one that will break up a marriage and will pull us into countless fights in countless contexts.  My wife feels as if I don't see her plight (because I do not do things such as see her struggling and offer to help with, for example, diapers), and thus there is a struggle on her end, and on my end, I am upset with her not sticking to the deals she makes with me and thus there is a power struggle on my end.

I haven't wrapped my head around this yet and I don't yet understand the implications, but this is what I understand so far (I think).

The fact that we have made so many deals and the fact that she has violated and broken so many of our agreements hurt my trust in her many times.  In the context of diapers, I am hurt that she has broken so many agreements, and so I don't help out with the diapers.  On the other side, the fact that I see her struggling with diapers yet I don't lend a hand to help out violated her trust and has caused her much pain, and so she acts out to "one-up" me and get back at me for the wrongs I have done to her.

There's also probably a "you don't appreciate me," "no, you don't appreciate me" dynamic going on, but in short, there is certainly a power struggle between us, and I don't know how to break the pattern or to even recognize it yet.

Colorado Batman Massacre -- Thoughts

Okay, so everyone is upset about the Batman shooter not so far from where I grew up in Denver.  My wife was actually upset at me for my opinions here -- no doubt, it's disgusting, terrible, sick, horrible, etc.  However, my thought about the shooting is... why are you surprised this happened?

Have you seen the Batman movies?  Have you seen ANY of the good films lately?  Usually the villian is some ubersmart genius who is misunderstood or who was abused as a child, or someone who went bad for a real valid reason.  But, what happens on the screen -- as much as we love a good villian -- stays on the screen.

There are thousands of sickos out there.  You can usually spot them out of a crowd, but I would suspect that there are thousands more who look just like you and me.  In my opinion, the badder the sicko, the more normal he looks, and the better he functions in public.  Take the Batman character himself -- some rich guy who leads a secret life as a rodent who flies around hurting bad guys?? Why is THAT normal?

The problem comes in where the sicko in our world does not know how to separate reality from fantasy. 

Obviously when I go to the theater, I identify with characters good and bad.  I even probably identified with and cheered for the Joker character as well.  But, I'm not going to go out, rig my apartment with bombs, go to a movie theater and shoot up people -- that is where the line is drawn.  I might even walk around pretending in my head that I am a particular character.  I might even pretend that bad things are happening around me as if I am in a particular movie (e.g., the Matrix).

Yet, there is A CLEAR SEPARATION between what is real and what is not.  It's fun to pretend once in a while -- kids do it all the time -- adults do it too, in their more adult minds.  But there is always an understanding that WHAT IS REAL IS REAL, AND WHAT IS FANTASY OR IMAGINED IS FAKE.  This is where the sickos differ.

"Okay then," you think.  "Let's lock up all the sickos, or at least tag them and watch what they do," you might think.  Or, "let's monitor purchases of handguns, etc."  But seriously.  I'm a level-headed guy.  If I buy a gun, or some bullet-proof equipment (well, moreso for the gun), do I want men in black contacting me and asking me why I purchased it?  "None of your business," I might answer if asked.

Then, I don't think guns is the problem.  My opinion is that if society were as such where people carried weapons, no way would this guy consider doing what he did -- or, at least he would think twice.  Imagine -- a guy stands up and starts shooting up a theater.  For all he knows, one or more people there have guns and can shoot him in the face.  Would he think twice?  Probably not, but he would have a bullet hole in his head.  That must be a real consideration.  If people carried guns, then chances are someone would have taken this guy out, or at least he might have been deterred from acting on his sinister plot in the first place.  Assault rifles?  Yes.  Guns? No.  Shotguns?  I'll leave the line to be drawn to the politicians and the NRA, and I'll let them battle it out.

Last, but not least, the only thing that could be done to prevent this in the future is simple vigilance.  Employees in public places need to be trained to spot weird looking individuals and to keep an eye on them.  And, when one such as this one falls through the cracks, you call the authorities (as they did) as fast as possible and leave it in the hands of G-d.  There's not much else that we could do, because even creating security checkpoints or metal detectors at every gate is likely not going to happen, and is that really a solution?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Life sucks when you're the only one in your marriage.

It's not so frequent that I write a blog entry in hot anger, but perhaps tonight is an exception.

I don't know how a woman can withhold sex from a man thinking that this will inspire him to rethink past arguments or fights. 

A few weeks ago, my wife urged me to go to a seminar relevant to my law practice.  We agreed that if I left the day before the seminar, I could take some time to get settled, and I could arrange to be at the seminar the following morning without worrying about missed flights

The day before I left was Shabbos.  Our son for the past few days was ill with fever and diarrhea.  Not so ill, but sicky.  On Saturday afternoon, my wife started to feel ill as well.  She was tired, lacked energy, and she had diarrhea as well.  We thought it might be stomach flu, and I was concerned for her well being, especially since I would be leaving for the next few days.

She slept through most of Shabbos, and I took care of all family duties (e.g., watching the four kids, etc.) and let her sleep knowing that these next few days would be difficult for her.  She came out a few times, but overall, she looked tired.

When the evening came, concerned for her, I asked her if I should cancel the trip.  She said "no," and I told her that I was willing to cancel it if she wanted me to.  Then in the morning when I woke at 5am to head to the airport, I again wondered if I should cancel the trip.  ...Because I couldn't figure out if I was more concerned about her well being or my own insecurities that she would give me hell for leaving her ill (when for all I knew, she could have been feeling better), I decided to continue on with the trip.

All through the trip, my only question for her was whether she was feeling okay, and how she was doing with the kids.  I knew that we arranged to have them stay after-hours at their school, so the time she would spend with them was minimized, and for those extra hours where she would be with them, her parents promised to chip in and help out.  In addition, we had a new maid come in each day I was gone, so I knew "help" with the household activities and chores was covered.  Now when I asked her how she was doing, I knew the answer was that she was having a difficult time, but I still wanted to make sure she was okay, so I asked her about how she was doing many times and in many ways.

The trip went fine.  I woke up every morning at 5am, drove to a 6am minyan an hour away from where I was staying, purchased food and lunch for the day at 7am, then I took the 7:15am train over to my seminar, arriving an hour later (8:15am).  I was at the seminar from 9am - 5pm (texting my wife throughout the day to make sure she was okay), and then I took the train back, had dinner with my family one night, and my Rabbi who I was staying with and his family the other night, and then I went to sleep to repeat the experience the next day.

The seminar was grueling, and the effort required to make the schedule work was equally grueling.  But still, I attended the seminar so that I can learn an important aspect of my field so that I can properly support my family.

In the airport returning home on Wednesday, I saw a beautiful set of earrings.  My wife in the past has complained why I do not look at a piece of jewelry and say, "Wow, I think you would look WONDERFUL in this," and then buy it for her.  Looking at these earrings, I knew my wife would have looked wonderful in them, and so even though they were expensive, I bought them for her.  I had them cleaned, and nicely packaged, and I was excited that I got her a nice gift to give her when I come home (usually I show up empty handed).  Plus, she just went through a few days of feeling ill, and I thought she would appreciate the gift.

I came home, and my wife was, well, I don't know how to describe it other than reserved.  She was friendly, but not that friendly.  In fact, a good way to describe her was distant and closed off.  I gave her the earrings, and she said thank you, but she didn't seem to be that excited by them (despite the stunningness of them).  That night, I went to bed alone because she said that she was getting over feeling ill and was tired.

Then came Thursday -- I pretty much took a huge chunk of the law firm day off to spend time with her.  We went to the marriage counseling meeting, spent some time together, and then I went back to work.  I don't know how else to explain this, but because I just spent so much time away from my law firm, I was behind on EVERYTHING and pretty much every client was in EMERGENCY MODE, and everything was going wrong.  I was swamped, exhausted, and quite frustrated, but because I got confused about the time, I accidentally came home an hour early (maybe G-dly intervention, who knows).  Once I realized my mistake, instead of going back to work for that extra hour in our home office (even though G-d knows I really needed to), instead, I let my wife go to bed early while I took care of the kids until late in the night, doing NOTHING ELSE.  I did no work, and I got nothing done that evening, and once again, I went to sleep alone.  This is a common occurrence in my marriage, as it sometimes feels as if we are two people sharing a common household and raising the same kids, but the connection between us is non-existent.

Then it was Friday.  Instead of doing my planned morning routine, knowing that my wife expressed on a number of occasions how difficult the few days I was away were, I spent most of the early morning hours helping out with the kids.  My morning started at 5am when I jumped out of bed hearing that my wife was awake and was giving the kids food.  I was excited to spend time with her (and I didn't want her to be alone), so I jumped out of bed and joined them.  As soon as I got up, however, my wife went back to bed; "tag, you're 'it'."  That game in my opinion sucks, and I hate it when she does that, but this seems to be her modus operandi.  Knowing, however, that she had a tough few days, I spent the morning with the kids.  However, I did explicitly confirm my wife that come 8am, I could not take them to camp (as I knew she would want me to), because I needed to get to the office.  I asked her if she would be willing to take them (since usually when I help out in the mornings, I also take them to camp -- but today I could not).  She agreed.

Apparently she did not realize that I was home with the sole intention of being helpful because around 7:30am, she complained to me why I was still home and why I had not yet gone to work (completely oblivious of the fact that the whole morning was focused on helping her and the kids so that she could take it easy).  Obviously she was still preparing the clothes and food for camp, and I did sit down at one point and have coffee, but still -- the morning was focused on spending time with the kids and keeping them occupied and away from my wife who needed the space.

I came home Friday being wiped out.  I was half asleep, but I pushed myself so that I could give my wife some slack so that she could "recover" from my trip (by the way, not once [until now that I am writing this] did I ask myself, "shouldn't *I* be the one that needs to recover from what was a very stressful and work intensive experience?").  I watched the kids and helped out around the house ignoring my own needs, and I forced myself to keep my eyes open and to stay alert and cheerful, knowing what should come after Shabbos dinner.  I even drank coffee right before Shabbos so that I would be awake.  I put the kids to bed, and then when it came time for Kiddush, thinking that it would just be myself and my wife, there was a knock at the door.  My wife invited her dad over for Shabbos dinner without telling me -- this was a complete surprise to me, and while I love having him over, this evening I would have rather been alone with my wife.

The dinner lasted for literally hours.  He kept talking about medusot (jellyfish) in Israel, how his nuts were on fire, and story after story.  Fighting myself not to fall asleep, I stayed awake throughout the whole long dinner (note, our Shabbos dinners when we are alone are 15-20 minutes, tops).  I involuntarily nodded off against the back of my chair for a few seconds at least three or four times -- that is how uncontrollably tired I was.  However, I wanted to stay awake so that I can be there for my wife.  [Religious people could figure out what I am referring to.]

After I bentched, I sat down on the couch [purposefully not the bed, to communicate that I had no intention of sleeping for more than a few minutes], and I closed my eyes as my wife walked her dad out the door.  I was closing my eyes and gathering my strength so that I can be present for my wife.  I could have easily gone to sleep on the bed if I wanted to sleep, but the previous week, we explicitly discussed that there was nothing wrong with waking me up if I was asleep on the couch after a miscommunication over me laying down and falling asleep on the couch the erev Shabbos beforehand.  After all my efforts these past few days, and considering that it was literally a week or so since the last time we were together in private, I was SURE we would be spending some time together catching up after her father left.

...I woke up at 12am on the couch, surprised and disappointed once again.  My wife had gone to sleep without waking me up.  I was a bit confused and a bit disappointed, but then I thought my wife might be waiting for me (obviously not lying awake, but knowing that I would come say hello eventually), and that perhaps she was giving me some time to recuperate.  I went in to cuddle with her, and she was upset that I woke her up.  I then rolled over and went to sleep next to her in her bed thinking that maybe she'd come find me at some point.  I would have stripped off my clothes to make my message quite obvious, but the last time I did that many months beforehand, I woke up with the kids jumping on me, and no action.

No surprise, I woke up alone [yet again].  I joined the family, and I spent the entire Shabbos day being present and involved in my family.  I didn't go to shul -- my own fault because of timing and my issues with showing up late -- but I did change three diapers, something that made my wife very happy.

The entire day I spent talking with my wife, and sharing with her and speaking with her about many things that comprised our common interests.  We discussed how she wanted to go back to work, and we discussed our marriage counselor, things that were discussed, and how advice we were given paralleled John Grey's "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" book, Chapter 13. 

Shabbos ended, we put the kids to bed, and after all this week (especially since nothing happened the night before, or even the week before or the week before that), I thought for sure we would share a few moments together in private.  I said Havdallah, put the kids to bed, and then when I came out, she was sitting in the dark.  I started talking to, holding hands, and kissing my wife.  We moved to the bedroom because she wanted to brush her teeth (hinting probably that my breath was not fresh); I brushed as well.  Then I suggested that we shower off since we were probably grimy from Shabbos.  After I was finished, I joined her in her shower, but immediately upon closing the lights, she yelled and complained that it was dark, and then when I turned the lights back on and joined her, she shut the water.  "Okay, awkward timing, I thought."  Then she told me that she was still upset at me for not caring about her being sick when I returned from the trip, and that she was not interested in being physical.

...WHAT!?!  After ALL THAT WORK!?!  After all that time spent on her to make her comfortable and to feel taken care of?!?  Are you KIDDING ME?

Holding back my own anger and desire to explode from what felt to me like a coquettish manipulation followed by an overt rejection, I said that I understood, and that I would be in the living room if she wanted to speak about it.  Yet inside my heart, my blood was boiling and I was quite hurt.  I sat down on the living room couch, I opened up my laptop and I started to type this blog entry.  She sat down next to me and without speaking to me, she started watching her Netflix TV shows, completely ignoring me.  After a while, a bit upset, I stood up with my laptop, and moved over to the dining room with a bit of a huff.  I couldn't be around her.

She came into the dining room roughly an hour later and told me that she didn't mean to hurt my feelings, but she felt that I didn't do anything to show her that I cared about her, or to show that I cared that she was sick when I was gone and that she had a very difficult time.  I sat there and listened wondering whether we were in the same house for the past few days and how is it physically possible that she completely overlooked EVERYTHING I did... specifically to help her rest and to show her that I loved her.  She then proceeded to tell me that I never asked her about how she was feeling, etc., where at this point, I lost it.  I couldn't listen to her bullshit anymore because I asked her roughly a hundred times and she sometimes gave me one-worded answers, and other times, she said a sentence or so, but I did ask so many times about how she was doing... and now she is saying that this never happened?!?  Are you KIDDING me?

So I lost it.  I raised my voice and I started listing the times I asked about her and her well being, and how it was her that never opened up or shared anything.  I told her that I thought she lived in a "poor me" reality where she keeps replaying words like "he doesn't care about me; he doesn't listen to me, etc." in her head completely ignoring what is going on in reality.  I was pissed.  She didn't want to hear it and walked out.  I followed her into the living room and I told her she was fucking nuts (obviously a misstep; whenever I chase my wife into another room to continue an argument I usually say the wrong thing), and as I write this article, I am quite upset, hurt, and I am feeling quite alone.

Later, she came to the doorway and told me that she didn't mean to hurt me.  I told her I understood, and I said "okay," still visibly hurt.  As far as I'm concerned, what she said was lip service and it meant nothing to me.  I'm not okay with someone doing something, apologizing, then doing it again.  We have obviously been down this road before, and I'm not okay with the way things are.  I think the intimacy level between us sucks, and I think I would have more of a connection with a stranger I meet on the street than I have with my own wife.  It's pitiful.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Marriage Counselor Meeting #5 - Listening to the Little Hints

Coincidentally, I had a difficult time remembering what was discussed in our last meeting (the topic eluded me), probably because it was so mundane... but probably also so important.

Okay, short recap.  We got engaged (and married shortly afterwards) after dating something like 12 times back in 2006.  I was a critical S.O.B. and I couldn't stop being critical.  My wife, who entered the marriage with optimism and an open mind clashed with me confused why we we weren't taking on the roles married husbands and wives are supposed to.  My wife didn't act like the typical chassidishe woman I expected her to be -- instead, she was her own person with her own strengths and her own weaknesses on a path of being the best she could be -- like me.  Not seeing this, my comments the first year of our marriage caused her to close off emotionally and not trust me, and now almost SIX years later and FOUR kids later, we are seeing a marriage counselor to figure out why there is little intimacy and closeness (meaning in our daily interactions as husband and wife) between us.

So there are these walls.  My complaint is that my wife does not appreciate or recognize the work that I do on our family's behalf, and that my efforts go unnoticed.  Her complaint is that I do not appreciate or recognize the tireless work that she does in running our family and our household, raising our family, cooking the meals, etc. etc.  In other words, there is this cycle or pattern of fighting which is the same fight we have over and over again -- it is tempting to engage in, and once we get sucked into it, it is so difficult to back away from because the hurt has already been done.  This was the recap of our last session, and the advice of the therapist was 1) recognize when "the pattern" beseeches us and temps us into a fight, and 2) recognize that the fight is simply re-enacting the patterned behavior, and 3) if possible, try to step away from the pattern fight.

Once again, so there are these walls from our first year of marriage.  After that, I pretty much learned to accept her for who she was (or at least to stop expecting her to be what I expected her to be when we entered the marriage), and to appreciate her for who she is.  The problem is that now years later, she is still emotionally guarded and closed to me, and she doesn't trust me that I won't hurt her if she opens up.

The therapist initially stated the point that she doesn't think the source of our patterned fight was each other, but perhaps it has its source in our childhood or our respective upbringings.  Perhaps my mamma or my tatta (I never called them that, BTW) didn't appreciate me or acknowledge my efforts, etc. etc.  I was sure she was barking up the wrong tree, and I cut her off.  I don't think looking into the past to give excuses for the present is an acceptable method of helping us to grow and change.  Speaking to my wife later, I see that we both probably have sources for our fight, but I still think this is irrelevant.

Then came the CRUX of our session.  My wife felt that even when she opens up, I don't engage her in exploratory conversation.  It turns out that she'll say something -- a hint, a comment, or something, and I don't recognize that she is opening up. I take what she says at face value, obviously listening and paying attention to her, but this doesn't make her feel heard, loved, or cared for because I do not engage her in exploratory questions about the subject.  The therapist agreed that I am not a mind reader, and there is no way to know when she is just speaking, or when she is opening up about a topic that is important to her.  AND, moving forward, my wife needs to help me understand when something she discusses is important to her and she wants me to explore deeper and ask her questions about it.  We tried it a few times, and my wife seems to be satisfied with the result.

My experience is that she tells me something is important, I ask a few questions, get some non-descriptive answers which don't give me any depth, and then she's not interested in answering my questions or in giving me anything that I can use to learn more about her on a deeper level.  Well, not really -- I've picked up a few items -- things I've known about her already on some shallow level, but now I know that these items or issues are more on her mind than they are background piece of information I categorized these items or issues as.  In other words, there is more going on between her and her mother as far as a mother-daughter relationship then she has let on in the past, and I never recognized the issues she shared with me.  In short, I expect that this will get us somewhere, one increment at a time.  My feeling about it is that it is a lot of effort to put in to get one drop of water at a time, and I'd rather look for the ocean, the river, or the dam and break it open and see what flows out.  The obvious problem (something I'll deal with) is that it's not going to be that easy.

On an unrelated note, what I like about this therapist is that not only is she willing to take me head on and address a wrong act or a bad way of me seeing something, but I like that my wife trusts her and is borderline in tears with a shaky voice when she speaks to her.  In other words, she is not shutting out the therapist like I feel that she usually shuts me out, so it is good to see the inner workings of my wife's mind, and to be reminded of the many emotions she has brewing just beneath the cool and calm surface.  I also like seeing her vulnerable, because she doesn't let me get her to that state, but it is nice to be reminded that she is able to get to that state -- it gives me something to reach for.