Thursday, June 13, 2013

On the Couch

I'm getting counseling.

My wife has repeatedly demanded I get counseling for the times I have lost my temper and yelled. I resisted, figuring if I had time to get counseling, I should instead spend that time doing something I wanted to do. Previously, every time she demanded I get counseling, she dropped the demand or forgot about it completely, because each time she made the demand it was she, in retrospect, who had a problem.

My wife even took video of me during one of my rants. This was to show me how awful I was. I knew that even as it was going on. She demanded I watch it and sent it to me (we weren't in the same place when she made the demand). So I did. And you know what? While she was expecting me to see that things were worse that I realized, when I saw the video I didn't look nearly as bad I had in my own mind.

Anyway, I agree I can handle some situations better, and choosing my battles, I recently relented and agreed to get counseling. So now, for a hour each week, I sit on a couch and talk with a man without anyone else around. Heck, even if he wasn't a therapist that hour would be better than an hour being given marching orders at home, or with the kids fighting with each other and petitioning me for this or that. Sure, let me talk with another man for a hour!

Still, I'd rather be doing something else with the time. Even getting a nap, since I don't enough sleep. Gee, I can't imagine someone is who sleep-deprived ever losing their temper.

Before I even had my first counseling session (there's been three or four so far), I think I figured out some of what is going on. I used to have a temper problem when I was a kid. That, and I would cry too easily, according to some. As I got older, specifically going through my early teens, my parents left me to my own devices more and more and I felt more and more in control over my own life. I was doing what I wanted to do, when I wanted to, how I wanted to. I did well in most of my classes. I stayed out of trouble. I didn't pester my siblings. I got a job while I was still in high school. And, in contrast to having grown up in the same relatively small city my entire life, nobody at my job knew me as that crybaby third-grader or short-tempered second-grader. Nobody there had heard biased accounts of my screw-ups from my older sister. So I flourished and respected. Same goes for college.

Getting married and having children has meant I'm no longer in control of my life. That would be fine, except that my wife hasn't been holding up her end of the deal. I know I'm not the perfect husband. My wife puts up with a lot. However, there were some very important basic things that were promised or misrepresented, and it hasn't worked out that way. Then, on the micro level, when despite my plans to give my children a good time, especially after I've spent a lot of time and money trying to do that, if they have a miserable time or act spoiled or bratty it sets me off. Even when I thought I was in control for that specific situation, the results are bad and I may react badly.
The counselor is not an M.D. and I will not be taking any medication. Seeing as how not much about my life is going to change (I'm not getting divorced or leaving my kids, we're not moving, etc), I'm hoping to get ways of diffusing my frustration that won't upset my wife. Of course, she might be upset when I ask her to make changes that are going to put more of a burden on her, because that may be necessary. Then she can decide whether it is OK for me blow up from time to time (it's always yelling - nobody and nothing gets pushed, hit, thrown, or whatever) or if she's willing to take on more stress for the sake of me being more mellow.

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