My what?!

I’m fucking angry.
And I fucking hurt.
It’s less than an hour since we walked out of our third therapy session. And I’m fucking angry. And hurt. And frustrated.

Going into the safe space of the counselling room, after the previous few days, I felt no inclination to contribute. Fuck it. Let someone else do the work for a change.

Sue (our therapist) seemed stuck. She looked to me to start. I wasn’t starting.
My Wife looked to me. I still wasn’t starting.
Fuck. Apparently no-one else could start.
Sue was being paid to run the room. Let her fucking hold the conch.

I can’t remember where the conversation finally started.
I can’t remember much about the arc of the narrative.
In response to something that was said, Sue steered us back to the issue (my issue) of hierarchy within the relationship. Something I said was met by an objection from my Wife. I can’t recall what was said by either of us, but the way She phrased Her rebuttal and Her tone of voice – it was defiant, like I was being goaded into criticising Her. How dare I say such a thing. Sue got me to elaborate, which I did less comfortably that I would have worn a g-string woven from barbed wire, but which got my Wife to conceded that She could see how it might have come across as aggressive.
This led me to relate how, months ago, when I had suggested our offspring respected my authority more than Hers, She had barked back that I was suggesting She was a bad parent. Not what I had said. Not what I had meant. But another example of something I am unwilling to talk about in this safe space when it is occupied by all three of us (I said all this) because it requires a willingness to concede fault that my Wife seems reluctant to show (which I did not say).

Somewhere in all this, my exposition on something else ended in … would have ended in … could have ended in … “my wife.”
Y’know what, Dear Reader? I’m an arsehole. I really fucking am. I knew exactly what I was doing. I’d rehearsed this in my head. More than once. Now the opportunity presented itself and I fucking took it.
I hesitated it before saying “… my wife” … a hesitation just long enough to … you know there’s something coming … the pause sucks you in … it was meant to … Instead of finishing the sentence with … “my wife” … I finished it with … a pause … and then … Her name.
She thanked me for changing what I was going to say.
Job done.
Rehearsal justified.
Point made.
Sue missed the fucking point. Completely. And picked up on something buried inconsequentially in what had preceded the … pause. I had to steer Sue back on course.
I recounted my Wife’s reaction to me saying I was enjoying spending time with my Wife and Her later rabbit-punch of an assertion that my use of “wife” was apparently akin to the use of “nigger”.

I feel obliged to justify my current use of the phrase “my Wife”. I use it within the context of this blog because it is allows me to avoid using names. None of the names I have ever repeated on my blog are real names. I trust the reasons are obvious. The names have been changed to protect the innocent … and the not so innocent. And “my Wife” fits neatly within this anonymous paradigm.

The next 40 or 50 minutes were shit.
I don’t mean they were useless. Far from it. Having taken the arsehole approach and engineered discussion of the word Wife

Sorry, Dear Reader … I need to explain my … Wife’s … objection to the use of the word … arghhhhhhhhhhhh … “wife” …
She feels it deperosonalises Her. Referring to Her in the 3rd person.
And She seemed to think that when I had said I was enjoying spending time with my Wife, that was anything but the first time, and that had (to use Sue’s clumsy phrase) pushed Her buttons. I don’t recognise that accusation. It’s not inconceivable I have openly used the phrase before, but I refute the allegation that it has been with any degree of regularity. I felt it noticeable that my Wife conceded I may have used the phrase over many years, though without any clarification on how many times. Perhaps I have said it once every 4 or 5 years? I guess Sue and I will never know.

You may have noticed, Loyal Reader, when I refer to my Wife, I (almost) ALWAYS fucking capitalise Her. If I don’t, it is within the context of reported conversation. When I refer to Us, it is not uncommon for me to refer to Us as opposed to us. And if I’m wrong, and I don’t, that has become the universal intention. The capitalisation is all about inference of respect. A pseudo proper noun.

In case I haven’t explained before, what I meant by I was enjoying spending time with my Wife was that it felt like We were a couple – a married couple, who actually wanted to be married to each other. That it felt like We weren’t just two people for whom it was convenient to live together. It felt like Name-Redacted was my Wife, rather than a co-worker.
I explained this for Sue’s benefit, and so my Wife could hear the explanation for what must have been the 3rd or 4th time. Maybe She’d hear what I was saying this time, rather than what She perversely wanted to twist it into. Apparently not.

Where was I?
Ah yes …
The next 40 or 50 minutes were shit.
I don’t mean they were useless. Far from it. Having taken the arsehole approach and engineered discussion of my misuse of The W Word
I recoiled.
I wanted to walk out of the room.
Leave Sue and my Wife to figure shit out for themselves. Psychoanalyse Her for a bit.
I really fucking wanted to.
And I nearly fucking did.
I couldn’t look at my Wife.
And I wasn’t going to look at Sue. She’d only direct questions at me.

We skirted around the meaning of the word “Wife” and how that may (or may not) be connected with patriarchy and historic conventions of the ownership of women within marriage.
We touched on my Wife’s assertion that my referring to Her as my Wife apparently wasn’t about patriarchy or ownership. [Ed: It is the fervent belief of AM that there is a significant degree of FUCKING BULLSHIT in that.]
We failed to properly explore how I find it incomprehensible that I could be regarded as wanting to depersonalise my Wife, or how I could objectify Her, (Hell, I’d love to be objectified once in a while. I really fucking would!. And I admit there are situations when I’d be more than happy for my Wife to objectify Herself, but the context is paramount!) as She claimed when I had bought Her the rejected Blue underwear. Though not the Red. (I didn’t think to mention the delicate purple lace underwear I bought for Her years before we were married, and which She wore regularly until it fell apart. Or when We had had to return to the lingerie shop to exchange a couple of the items of Red for different sizes, and how She had commented that She really liked the rest of the lingerie they stocked and could see Herself buying more of it. But that was a whole damned year before She rejected the Blue.)

All I wanted to do was not be there. I said so. It was misconstrued as not wanting to be part of ANY discussion. Maybe I don’t

Regardless, I tried to dig a path to wherever my Wife would be obliged to talk about Her attitudes towards gender, sexual identity, patriarchy, feminism, and how any of that, if any, had any productive role within a functioning sexual relationship.
I failed.

As we drew to the end of our hour (or rather 75min by this stage) my Wife suggested we need to venture near the subject of … dah dah daaaaah … SEX. Again, I wasn’t going to go there.
Three days before She had suggested the same.
I know it’s something that desperately needs resolving. And She knows it too. But fuck it. She’s obviously got an astounding amount of baggage when it comes to sex and gender and identity and patriarchy and feminism, and if She doesn’t want to unpack that Herself, it’s not my part to do so. You can lead a horse to water …

For reasons of diary clashes, our next session was set for three weeks time.
Sue asked if there was anything we had discussed that We thought We could discuss at home in the meantime. I was confident that We would again end up in conflict, so she suggested We didn’t talk about anything.

As We left the building, I was fucking angry, hurt and frustrated.
The quicker I could get away from my Wife, the better.
On my way home, I bought a bottle of whisky. I had no intention of being restrained in its consumption.

10 Responses to “My what?!”

  1. corsetandstockings Says:

    Not a good session – understatement of the year! Sue doesn’t sound like a vg therapist to me, they never ever go over 50 mins (the official therapy ‘hour’) and as for not leading the session – how long has she been a therapist?
    Seems like you need a plan of action for the next session, if only to get it started!

    • Who knows if Sue’s a good therapist. My perspective is obviously coloured by what I want to achieve and her effectiveness is influenced by her clients involvement. Maybe We’re just not vg clients. Maybe we’ll find out when it gets to the hot, sweaty subjects.
      How long has she been a therapist? No idea.
      A plan of action? Perhaps. An idea of what I want to achieve? That would help.

  2. I am sorry to read all this.
    I guess only time will tell if the three weeks wait will do any good, having everyone think about what they said/didn’t say/their attitude, and so on.
    I think it could really help for you to have your own therapist, if only to let go of that anger you feel at things said or not said, at things skirted when they need to be faced, at the lack of willingness to face one’s issues on a particular topic.

    Maybe next time you could say that you feel everyone always expects you to open the session, and you are tired of carrying that weight, so you’ll just wait for someone else to get started. That way they know how you feel, they know why you are not participating, they know to work on it, but you also feel like a weight has been taken off, as you have stated your feelings.

    I don’t want to sound harsh, and I know that years of being disregarded can do that to you, but it sometimes feels like you get into a passive-agressive state, which is often not very constructive for anyone.

    Using “I” statements, saying how you feel, and letting them deal with their reaction to it, could be helpful. Get the conversation going without them feeling like you don’t want to take part, like you’re being stubborn.

    (and yes, I know, it’s always so much easier when you’re away from it all! Free advice, worth every penny!)


    • You’re not the first person to use the term passive agressive. That’s someting my Wife levelled at me years ago. Does that sound bitter? Actually, you’re probably right. It probably is. A bit.
      As for my issues to deal with one particular topic … the main reason is that I know how hard it is going to be to deal with it, am not particularly optimistic about it being as thorough as I believe it should be, and with the best will in the world, at the moment I see little merit in outing myself as the pervert you know without having absolute confidence that won’t present more fences to hurdle.

      You’re right about “I”, and that’s somethin I’ve been trying to do. When it comes to starting the dialog, yes you’re probably right about that too. And letting go of the anger, but letting go won’t stop the causes and whilst they persist, the anger will probably always return.

      I’m not against seeing a therapist on my own in principal. Indeed I think it would be worth my Wife seeing a therapist independantly as well … though I doubt She would consider that She needs it, nor that it would occur to Her that some of Her issues needM/em> addressing. (And I don’t mean to suggest that She has more issues than me.) What I don’t see as holding promise is me/Us doing so with a therapist who then has no influence on what We discuss together. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to fit within the working methods of couples counselling.

      We’ll see where we get to. What I write here may or may not represent what actually goes on in that safe space – it is after all coloured by my perspective, and in the case of this last session, my frustration. There were positives. There may be more in store.
      In the meantime, thanks for your continuing input.
      Watch this space …

    • Whatever happens with an individual therapist always has an influence on what is said and done in couple’s therapy, since it changes YOU, the way you feel about things, the way you are cognizent of your feelings and what triggers those, rather than just noticing the anger, the hurt, the frustration, you manage to put words onto them.

      Also, no one forbids YOU to speak about what happened in individual counselling during a couple’s session. The fact YOU bring it to the debate can actually help open up the discussion on a different level.

      I am not judging anyone on anything based solely on your perspective here. I realise that it is biased, as seen by you, and possibly imbibed too at times 😉
      It’s OK. This is your truth. You need to find a way to feel heard and free to be yourself.

      I know that my reaction to reading you may be coloured by MY perspective too, so I try not to be too… sharp, in what I write.
      I am happy to see you stand up for yourself, as in doing what you want to do not what others expect you to do (start the session). I am hoping you find solutions.

    • I know I can theoretically talk about anything I want. The stumbling block is that if, as was demonstrated this week and previously, that what I offer as observation is seen as undue criticism, or if I want to address things my Wife is not willing to discuss, then that is a bad place to start. If an experienced counsellor knew where We were coming from as individuals, knew Our back stories, they could help navigate Us through the issues. Without that, it’s the like the blind leading the mute.

    • I understand your point of view and can say I share it to some extent.
      My experience is such: providing a space where people can unload and where they feel safe is the first act of healing a therapist can provide.
      Maybe it is notable that it’s not the counselor who makes you feel unsafe, but your wife.

      I can also see the counselor’s position. If one has individual therapy with her, then she can’t be impartial, and that won’t help the therapy. Maybe consider that there are not three but four entities in the room. The counselor, you, your wife, and your relationship.
      She’s not there to help either one of you but the third entity you bring to her, the relationship.
      A counselor is not there to give you solutions, she’s there to help you create the solutions that will help your relationship. No one is leading anyone. She’s just a catalyst, providing a safe space and some experience, suggest, help rephrase, help each person figure out how to express what they truly feel, what is truly bothering them.

      Then comes another question:
      If you have something to share and don’t feel safe in that environment, will you ever feel safe?
      I do understand that you’re the one having to go back home with your wife and live with her for the next 3 weeks.
      I don’t have the solutions. But maybe don’t discount it as your therapist not being good enough quite yet.
      However, if in a little while you still don’t feel like she’s any help, then you can also consider trying another one. It’s not one size fits all!

    • The counsellor’s client being the relationship is a point she made in session 1, when I explained why I didn’t expect to talk about some things.

      That she is there to help Us find our own solutions may be where I find therapy to be lacking. For me, I’d say we need a pilot: someone to guide us through our own troubled waters. No sea captain wants a pilot that knows how most ships work but has no knowledge of the waters they navigate. Without such insight, many a vessel would founder … or the pilot would unnecessary.

    • Helping you find the solutions that work for you is guidance. But I see what you mean.

      However, if you have such a negative view on couple’s counseling… it probably won’t bring you much. 😕

    • Which world leader was it who once said “One who understands the deficiencies of the tools available to them is better placed to use them to greatest effect than one whom is oblivious to them”?

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