We have been together for fifteen years and we have two kids. We have been in couples therapy enough different times for me to know that I hate being in couples therapy with him because he never changes. It’s always been more productive for me to go to therapy alone, where at least I can get things done. But now we are desperate, so I’ve capitulated.

We park the car and walk into the building of the couples’ therapist. I remember one couples therapist telling us that we are in good shape because we drove there together. Today I know that we would have driven in separate cars if we had two cars.

I delegated finding a therapist to my husband. After all, my first book just came out and I blog almost every day. I am busy. I know my penchant for delegating is part of the problem, but I thought this would be one last hurrah.

We get to the office. The sign on the door says “Divorce Law Offices” and there is a list of people with Esq’s at the end.

I say, “We’re going to a divorce lawyer? I don’t want a divorce.”

“It’s Wisconsin,” he says, “It’s not like New York City where there are skyscrapers devoted to therapist offices.”

We see a mediator.

I start talking. I tell him we are not there to get a divorce. We’re there to keep our marriage together. Is there someone else we can see?

My husband says he’s thinking he might be there to get a divorce.

I see we are a parody of a couple who cannot communicate. When I was doing research for a column about divorce law, I talked with a lot of divorce lawyers, and each one said that so many divorces could be avoided if the people would talk. One attorney told me he helps one couple a month get back together, and that’s his favorite part of his job. I tell myself, based on this, that divorce lawyers are good at keeping marriages together because they see so many marriages fall apart.

We talk about our marriage. I think things are difficult because my husband gave up working to take care of our kids and it didn’t work out.

My husband thinks things got bad because taking care of our son who has autism is extremely difficult and we take it out on each other so we don’t take it out on him.

There is truth to what my husband says. Eighty percent of parents who have a child with autism get a divorce. But I don’t want to blame my failing marriage on my cute little five-year-old. Not that I don’t want someone to blame. I do. But I think it is more complicated than that.

I explain how my career is going great. I tell the mediator I have a busy speaking schedule and a six-figure contract for my next book. I even talk about my blog, and the estimated 450,000 page views a month, even though you can trust me on this: Our divorce mediator from Middleton, Wisconsin does not read blogs.

At this point, I think my husband is going to tell the mediator about how he gave up his career for the kids and me and he is totally disappointed. But instead he says to me, “A lot of people I talk with say that I am being abused by you.”

I am shocked. It’s a big allegation. But I say, “A lot of people I talk with think I should get rid of you.”

That’s as bad as it gets, right there. Because the mediator interjects and says that if you want to try to stay together for the kids, it’s worth it. He says, “The research shows divorce is very hard on kids, and especially kids under five.” But he adds, “You won’t be able to hold things together just to parent the kids. You will need some love for each other.”

I say quickly that I have that. It is easy for me to remember how much fun I had with my husband before we had kids. It’s easy for me to remember that every time I look-but-don’t-really-look for men to have an affair with, I find myself looking at someone who is like my husband: I still love him.

My husband is not so quick to say he still loves me.

So all I can do is think while he thinks. I think about the research about how a career does not make people happy. When you are in love and someone asks you how you are, you say, “I’m so happy” even if you are unemployed. When your career is going well and your marriage isn’t when someone asks you how you are you say, “My career is going great.”

The mediator starts talking about how the next step will be a contract to follow rules of engagement. “You have to start being nice to each other,” says the mediator. Right now that seems almost impossible.

We have to wait, though. My husband is deciding if he has any love for me.

He asks the mediator, “How do I know if it’s love?”

The mediator says, “If you care about her life, for right now, that’s enough.”

Finally my husband says to me, “I’m so sorry that life is not better for you when your career is going so well. You’ve worked so hard for this.”

The mediator nods. Next meeting we will move on to the rules of engagement.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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235 replies
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  1. Hope
    Hope says:

    Guess I’ll add my 2 cents to the mix. Having been through counseling as pre-divorce discussion, I know how it feels. But I’ve also been through counseling as effort to save a marriage we both want to save. I agree you have to decide whether you want to be right or get what you want and need (to quote that great philosopher Dr. Phil). It’s up to you to decide what you are willing to look at in yourself. And let the mediator talk to your partner while you’re in the early stages. Because what you are saying to him and vice versa isn’t working or you wouldn’t be there. Work on yourself; look inside. Also heed those who say divorce will create a whole new set of problems as single parents…lots of them worse that what you’re dealing with now. Finally, I agree that men need respect more than anything…maybe your husband needs to work again?

  2. xntj
    xntj says:

    I seriously considered calling off my wedding, and when I talked with my matron of honor about this, she revealed that she and her husband have an agreement to never discuss their marriage with other people and to never say anything negative about the other person.

    At the time, I was too caught up in my own drama (which continues three years later) to really hear this, but later, I realized that part of the reason I felt so crappy about my own relationship is that I was struggling in a vacuum – €“ especially because one of my best friends had created an illusion of a perfect marriage. And created a perfectly lopsided friendship.

    Recently I told this friend that it's her prerogative to live this way but that as a result I have greatly curtailed what I would offer of myself going forward. She seemed shocked and surprised.

    I agree completely with Penelope: The perspective we gain from the experiences of others is essential to figuring out our own lives.

    Moreover, it's part of the implicit compact we make with each other. These compacts at times need to evolve into explicit ground rules – €“ when the stakes are high, when the implicit isn't working. For example, I have told my husband that I do confide in a few close friends about the details of our marriage, and I consider that essential. I've also told him that has earned me their stories in return which have offered me perspective that has almost uniformly helped me keep my head on straight and helped our marriage.

    Rather than suggesting blogging about these things (or commenting on blogs) is right or wrong, I suggest a check in with oneself and one's subjects about the implicit and explicit understandings that govern this sort of disclosure.

    As for the specifics of PT's post, I could have written it myself (except for the part about the kids, the husband not working and the six-figure book deal – €“ more perspective for me). Maybe if everyone posted 100 words of very specific information about why their relationship is going to hell in a hand basket we'd all feel better.

  3. Working Girl
    Working Girl says:

    Here’s one thing I know:

    At the end of our lives what’s going to matter the most is how much we loved others and how much they loved us.

    Careers won’t matter. Money won’t matter. Success won’t matter.

    Only love.

  4. Brad Isaac
    Brad Isaac says:


    I am sorry things are going so hard for you in your marriage. I know you didn’t ask for advice, but when I read your write up, it seems to scream out that you and your husband desparately need time alone together.

    I have no idea if you are getting enough, but maybe a weekend getaway, just the two of you. At least 1x per month have a date night. Delegate him to making some weekend plans someplace – even if it’s just a hotel with swimming pool and cable – no fair blogging or calling the office.

    Getting together alone for an extended period will let the real feelings come out. Have some fun again together. You deserve it.

    Yes things ARE going well for you career wise – it’s only natural for the family life to strain right at some of the peaks. I don’t know why life works that way, it just does.

    Anyway, I’ve sort of rambled. Get some dates in where you can rekindle old feelings. :)

    P.S. some guys don’t say “I love you” when they are pissed. So – don’t read too much into that. He wouldn’t bother going to counseling if he had given up.

  5. melanie gao
    melanie gao says:

    This is the reason I read your blog – you’re honest about your career and your life and how they intersect. As long as you and your husband are OK with the things you post, I’ll be here to listen and wish you all the best.

  6. Jonathan Chew
    Jonathan Chew says:

    Hi Penelope,

    For the last few months of my own career indecision, I have religiously consulted your blog on tips for my own career. I have been a writer/journalist for the last 3 years, and was thinking of a career switch. I am a deep advocate of passion before pay, and thanks to lots of tiny words of wisdom from you about this topic, I have taken it on and run with it. And it has been liberating, especially in an Asian working world that prides success as the big Beamer and mansion house instead of finding my personal calling.

    So it breaks my heart when I hear about your struggling marriage. It is such a stark reminder of life, that success often is a double edged sword. I am holding hope for brighter days for you, and that both you and your husband will find the courage necessary for the future. Thanks for your honesty. It has always been your most welcome trademark.

    Thoughts with you,


  7. Meredith
    Meredith says:

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this and I wish you the best in working in out. Whether you stay together or not, I hope you and your husband make whatever choice is the best for both of you.

    As a child who grew up with bickering parents who almost got divorced many times but ended up staying together, I can tell you that there are times when it is better for children for the parents to get divorced. My parents fought constantly and it was really difficult for me and my brother to be around the screaming all the time. It gave us a really screwed up view of relationships and I sometimes find myself exhibiting similar behaviors with my husband, who is sweet, absolutely hates yelling and never deserves to be yelled at. It’s hard to unlearn behaviors when it was all you knew growing up.

    I think every family is different and relationship rules like “it’s better to stay together for the children” are not always right in every situation. We can learn a lot from other people’s experiences and from research, but in the end, every marriage and every family is unique. Good luck to you and your husband on finding the right path for your family.

  8. Stacey
    Stacey says:

    I confess that I haven’t read any of the previous comments, but I’m sure that this has already gone up at least once:

    At least one of you knows that they want the marriage to work.

    That will make things harder on you emotionally, but that also means there is more hope. I don’t know you well enough to give you advice on how to make things work. But where there is hope… Best wishes to you Penelope.

  9. JG
    JG says:

    Wow, did this post strike a chord today.

    I envision you tonight, Penelope, reading and re-reading these comments. That would be tough in ways.

    My ex had a long affair that I finally discovered. 12 years of marriage – three kids, ages 5, 8 and 10 at the time. Four years later, he’s married for the third time and is still miserable. I can totally understand his having been unhappy – I was not happy. It’s how he handled that unhappiness. I didn’t look back in leaving him.

    The good part is that it sounds like you two are “just” plain old really mad at one another. You haven’t reached points of stumbling blocks like affairs that you may not recover from.

    I’m ten times happier today than I was four years ago. But, I will say — I know from reading your posts that you feel guilt when your career messes with your 1-8pm window with the kids. If that causes guilt, wait until you hear your kids ask like mine did tonight “why didn’t we see dad this week?” (dad didn’t reschedule his night – – NOT intimating anything negative about your husband)… or when the dad weekend hits a “why do I have to go?” from a 14 year old that now wants to stay at “home” and be with his friends vs. going to dad’s 2 bedroom condo where there is no room for his friends… But, they “have” to go…

    The kids have done very well – they all have some divorce issues that I pick up on but in general they’ve done great. I do worry about them all long term re: relationships… I came from a non-divorcing family. Will see.

    It’s very difficult. I can count the times I’ve doubted my decision on a single hand. But, again, I felt like I had no choice. We hit the point of no return (I know myself and would never, never get over the lies and deception he pulled off).

    Doesn’t seem to me that you guys have hit that point which is wonderful – if you BOTH want it to be :) And I so stress BOTH. All the best!!

  10. Fred
    Fred says:

    When I saw this post I thought, “This is inappropriate content;” however, after considering a bit more I thought, “This is really inappropriate content!”

    This blog’s periodic delving into personal matters looks like a thinly veiled attempt to goose traffic—an attempt, judging from the number of comments (mine included), which works. I suppose daily talk of careers can be dry, although I think that Penelope’s commentary in this area is quite interesting.

    Most people with marital issues tend to keep them private—with good reason. Once you breach the confidentiality of a counseling session, as Penelope has done so dramatically here, you basically punt on the marriage. What’s next? A live webcast with the three of them?

    I can’t say I’ve ever met a male who would be OK with these sorts of public relevations about his personal relationship. Penelope is selfish for divulging these details. “Abusive” really is apt description. Unfortunately, this post may do more than just abuse her husband. How will Penelope’s son feel ten years from now when he stumbles across posts like this in a web archive?

  11. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    This post and the comments it spawned made me think about this: sometimes, the right thing to do is protect your own interests. Sometimes, you have to protect the interests of the people you love. What on earth are you supposed to do, however, when those things conflict?

    A woman I work with has stalled her life for her children. American culture celebrates this. But when she and I talk, I am drawn toward the longing in her voice. My coworker rarely does things in her personal life that are not of immediate benefit to someone else, and certainly does not do things that would appear “selfish” or self-improving. And it always makes me wonder: what happens to her when the kids are grown? When you define yourself solely by the role of “mother,” who do you become when your kids are no longer the force behind your daily choices?

    I was lucky to have a mother who was able to balance a successful career, a busy child (albeit only one!) and an active personal life. My mom made serious sacrifices on my behalf when my parents were first divorced, but she never sacrificed her own future for my happiness. If anything, building a better future for the two of us drove her to improve herself. I aspire to be the same kind of mom.

    My mom applied this same philosophy to her current marriage, which is to a man I am lucky to call my second father (my birth dad is also active in my life). My stepdad is 12 years older than my mom and was a heavy smoker for many years. My mom has told me that she knew when she married him that it is highly probable that he will pass away before she does. She planned – planned! – to make sure that her life would be rich with him and without him. While he’s sure to be around for many more years (decades!), my mom’s candor about this healthy kind of self-importance has really helped me when I consider my own relationships: Is this someone who will define me, or someone who will help me define myself?

    Best wishes for you and your family.

  12. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    What I appreciate most about Penelope’s honesty is that she warns me about some pitfalls that could be ahead if my husband and I don’t “watch where we’re going.” Not just this post, but many posts that (rightly and uniquely) connect life and career decisions.

    Whether its right for her to share family issues on her blog is something between her and her family.

    She/they made the choice to share it.

    I intend to learn from their generosity — and not judge it.

  13. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    One other quick comment: I have to say I’m with Penelope on the issue of public vs. private. Several years ago, a close friend and I were both in negative relationships. We never discussed our problems. We each suffered alone, thinking that everyone around us was sickeningly happy and that we were screwed up for being miserable. I thought she was happy in her relationship. She thought I was happy in mine. When her relationship finally ended, I was shocked. I had no idea how bad it was, because she had kept things private to protect him. And how much I wish, in hindsight, that I had had the courage to admit, publicly, how poorly my own relationship was faring. Perhaps I would have gotten myself out a few years earlier.

  14. Fred
    Fred says:

    I’d agree with Wendy if “she/they” made the choice, but it appears that “she” made it.

  15. Fred
    Fred says:

    On Lauren’s quick comment:
    That’s a good point, except that this blog isn’t limited to “close friends.”

  16. Dale
    Dale says:

    To sacrifice yourself on the altar of artistic honesty is admirable, but in this instance I truly fear for you

  17. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    I think it’s tough for any of us to say what our relationships are with bloggers. Penelope answered an email I sent her – on a wing and a prayer – with the kind of care and attention that a close friend would give me. Does that mean she’s my friend? Not in the offline way. But there’s an interesting sort of community on blogs… after all, we’re all reading down to the 68th comment. The line between public and private is really, really indistinct… if not imaginary.

  18. chris
    chris says:

    Good luck to you. If there’s hope for reconciliation, I would suggest taking a family trip…..without your laptop. Then see if you can rekindle what brought you too together.

  19. Andrey
    Andrey says:


    You’re strong and clever.
    You know what you wish and I hope will find how to achieve it.
    If a couple desires something the same together, then, I think, there is no serious obstacle on their track.
    And yet, I belive that a lot depends on woman in a marriage, so, be active while waiting for his decision about his love!

    Good luck

  20. R Jay
    R Jay says:

    So what does all this discourse boil down to? I believe the Beatles said it best:

    And in the end
    The love you take
    Is equal to the love
    You make

  21. sarah
    sarah says:

    “I like how you say that you won. This is how I know I will feel when I come out of this with my marriage in one piece. I will feel like it's a huge victory. I will jump up and down and tell people how hard I worked at this. I like that you are cheering for your own victory here. You are a good role modle for where I want to be.”

    Maybe, just maybe, it isn’t the best thing for everyone. Maybe, just maybe, it isn’t the best thing for Mr. P. Are you going to force him? Because I know that women are emotionally abusive in a marriage, I’ve seen it. And your determination could so easily spawn that…

  22. BKR Nair
    BKR Nair says:

    Parenting is probably harder to work than marriage. You have counseling on how to bring up a autistic child and help him lead a normal life?

    Does your kid have any say in this matter? I’m sure, he’d like his parents to stay together.

    I am dyslexic and ADD, was very tough to “bring up” and back then, there were no medication. Parental love and Care worked mostly for me, though thats not always enough. Good luck and thank you for blogging about it.

  23. Matt Bingham
    Matt Bingham says:

    Good Luck Penelope. I really do commend you for taking the initiative to see someone before giving up on Marriage. It just seems that people give up way to easily these days. I’ve been married five years (I’m 28) and in that five years we have seen many of our friends marry and divorce. When (not if) you and your husband make it through this your bond will be like steel, because if you can overcome this adversity in your marriage the two of you will be able to overcome any obstacle that life presents you.


  24. Sine qua non
    Sine qua non says:

    Just seems like a façade to attack your husband from a medium he probably doesn’t check.

    **At this point, I think my husband is going to tell the mediator about how he gave up his career for the kids and me and he is totally disappointed. But instead he says to me, "A lot of people I talk with say that I am being abused by you."

    I am shocked. It's a big allegation. But I say, "A lot of people I talk with think I should get rid of you."**

    Sounds like a rather abusive remark to me.

  25. Nan
    Nan says:

    Penelope, I feel for you. I have been where you are, and I just want to recommend John Gottman. I credit a Gottman weekend with transforming my marriage. His books and DVDs are also worth the money. What I know of you from reading this blog, I think you would like this approach.

    Here is a link to upcoming workshops: http://www.gottman.com/marriage/weekend_workshop/

  26. Ted
    Ted says:

    Penelope…I am so sorry to read about your marriage difficulties. I wish you success in reconnecting with your husband and achieveing success in this marriage (if that is the right solution to this situation). I echo many of the more supportive comments shown here and I don’t want to waste bandwidth…but find myself oddly compelled to contribute. So here are some of my thoughts – for what they’re worth:

    –I think people are threatened by your honesty. Most of us do not see this or participate so honestly in our daily lives. I have no problem with you posting on a topic like this…for those who have read you for awhile, we understand that this is a part of who you are…and why we read you!

    –As Stephen Covey suggested: begin with the end in mind. Which would you prefer on your headstone: “A-list blogger, successful author, fantastic contributing editor” or “Beloved Wife, Dearest Mother, Honored Grandmother, Valued Aunt, and life partner”??? This is a choice only you can make, it has to be right for you. In the end, for many of us, careers are irrelevant…families are everything. I gave up a high-level, high-paying corporate position becaused I missed the coming of age of three of my four children. I wasn’t going to miss that last one! Oh sure, I make less money…but I’ve received a compensation that has left me far richer! My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner…much, much sooner.

    –Marriage requires compromise…equally from both parties…its part of the deal. Sure, your husband needs to change in order to more adequately fulfill the relationship from your perspective…and you need to change to more adequately fulfill the relationship from his perspective!

    You have to dig deep on this one Penelope. This is not just another one of those intellectual challenges at which you are so capable. This time it’s real, it’s important, and it’s personal. And be careful, flaring emotions can push you to say and do things you’ll later regret.

    –It’s not enough to love your husband…he must also love you or the relationship is ultimately doomed…no matter what you do. It is the mutuality of a strong and deep love that helps a marriage survive the long haul and daily challenges of life. If your love is unrequited…it is unlikely that you can “do” anything to save a marriage.

    –One could conclude that the energy you throw into your career could be due to the unhappiness of your relationship with your husband. One could also conclude that your husband’s unhappiness could be the increased isolation that your time on your career has put him in…and the stress of taking care of the autistic child. Maybe this situation is unavoidable…and maybe you could *rework* the situation so that both of you get more out of it.

    –If the relationship fails…it’s not his fault, it’s not your fault…it’s the fault of both of you. Make sure you look in the mirror and connect with your failures as well as you can elucidate his failures. Not all marriages can survive…but if they do, it’s usually because both parties get in touch with their thoughts, inadequacies, jealousies, fears, and feelings and work to overcome these issues for the sake of the relationship. You need to know where you stand so that if this relationship fails…you have a better chance at contributing to a better “next relationship.”

    I wish you all the best. Life is a complex journey…

    Ted G.

  27. peter
    peter says:

    > Next meeting we will move on to the rules of engagement.

    Most married people have done the engagement first.

  28. LaDawn
    LaDawn says:

    Fantastic, candid, brutally honest and raw. I loved it.

    I’ve been blogging now for about 7 months about the intersections of myself, my family, and my work. I live in the UK which isn’t quite the blogging capital the US is but being American there is something about it that resonated with me. Many Brits (including some of my friends) are horrified that I blog about just about everything. they ask me why I do it and I try to explain how cathartic it is.

    Then I read your response to a comment about story telling and I know realise it is how I make sense of my life and all the joy and strife.

    Keep being real, as if you need my encouragement!

  29. originalgeek
    originalgeek says:

    You claim to have love for your husband, then you post a mildly derisive and definitely humiliating blog entry for the world to see. So I must ask, do you know what “love” is? I ask in a rhetorical fashion, not that I actually doubt that you know what it is, but rather to try to encourage you to take a look at what you know love to be and your actions. Though I doubt this is the case, I certainly hope this entry was made with your husband’s consent. If not, you can add my voice to his list of people that think you are abusive toward him.

  30. Jodes
    Jodes says:

    Honestly? I think the best thing that you could do right now is one thing:

    Give your husband the gift of privacy.

    When you are in the public eye, when you choose to be there, your family members get dragged along with you. When you choose to keep them there, in that spotlight, when the pressure is on and things are breaking, that’s a selfish act.

    Perhaps its time to blog about other things and allow him the space and privacy to mend the relationship. To fail or to win, without public scrutiny, because its a very vulnerable position that you are putting him in. I don’t think its fair to do that.

  31. Joshua Barraza
    Joshua Barraza says:

    Hey, Penelope – I agree with what you’re doing.

    A giant step in counseling is making everything that has been subconscious and hidden out in the open. That’s the only way that real problems can be fixed.

    I’m sure your husband recognizes this.

    Hope everything works out.

  32. Ted Slampyak
    Ted Slampyak says:

    Y’know, as these comments grow in number, I’m noticing something. Some people think you should make all this private for your husband’s sake, and some are commending you for going public. But no one’s suggesting you ask your husband what he would like.

    Have you asked your husband if he minds you making your marital problems public? After all, they belong to both of you.

    Your reply to this concern before said “when my husband met me I was writing my master's thesis about my sex life. In real time. So he knew what he was getting into, and he is used to it after fifteen years.” That sounds like an assumption to me. Have you asked him, recently, if he is used to it? If he likes it? Maybe he didn’t mind before but now he does. Being that you’re having problems, the first thing you need to do is check all your assumptions, and make sure you know how he feels, rather than simply make deductions based on your history.

    * * * * * * *

    People should look thrhough the string and notice that the men are the ones worried that I have not asked permission from my husband. Newsflash: Men, women talk about you to their friends all the time. It’s how women are. Men talk about sports and women talk about their marriages. And they don’t ask permission first.

    But that’s not even the point here. You are just going to have to trust me that my husband could care less what I write here. If he cared, he would not have married me becuse I did it through our whole courtship. It might be hard for you to imagine not caring. But I would not have married someone who cares because writing about my life is too important to me. In fact, seeing the uproar on the blog makes me think it’s great that I found someone who doesn’t care what I write about him. Makes me more determined to keep the marriage together. So thank you for that.


  33. SMD
    SMD says:

    Thank you for sharing and opening yourself up to comments – good and bad. Several things have struck me. First, yes, I agree that confidentiality is huge for counseling – and actually, if your husband has issues with your public openness, this might be a really good way to build up some trust. Meaning, communicating with him about what you intend to write about, and then perhaps giving him some control over whether or not it’s made public. I realize that might quell being “real”, but you do acknowledge that some things need to change.

    Second, I can really relate to your struggle and the dynamic you described. I know many readers found your comment about “getting rid of him” abusive, and it may be, but I see a lot of hurt and defensiveness on both of your parts.

    Third, yes, you do need to start being nice to each other. It sounds like such a simple thing, but feels like the hardest thing in the world. There is a book by Harville Hendrix that might be helpful – has some exercises and tips for reconnecting. We also had a counselor give us a list of positive adjectives to use towards each other. It’s a start!

    I wish you the best and also really love Steve’s “victory” metaphor. I just moved home after a 2 month separation – I also hope to get through this, stay together and share that victory.

    Best to you and your family!

  34. Joe Bob
    Joe Bob says:

    You seem to have your fair share of fans and defenders commenting. Reading between the lines in this post and some of your comment replies, I’m going to tell you what some therapists may have tried to explain but probably won’t say it directly enough. Your ego has gotten the best of you and it’s wrecking your marrige. You come across as rather self centered and a bit immature for your age. If people are telling your husband that he’s in a bad situation with you it’s a sure sign that you are getting more out of the relationship than you are putting in. When you have the misfortune to have a child with autism or other special needs, pursuing an ego feeding career (blog/book) full steam ahead is selfish and detrimental to your family. Hope you can figure this out before it blows up. Success and money can’t bring you the same kind of fulfillment that a loving family can. It sounds like you have a good guy if he has put up with your behavior this long, best to change now before you lose him. Anyone who thinks it’s selling out to change yourself over time in a relationship to better fit with someone you love is naive. It’s all part of growing up.

  35. originalgeek
    originalgeek says:

    July 5, 2007 – The Internet

    Brazen Carrerist Penelope Trunk introduces the world to an entirely new media concept: Reality Blogging


    Hyperbole aside, If you’re as smart as you seem to be, you’ll disregard the sycophant chorus you’ve drawn out here and take a good hard look at yourself and how your ego is getting in the way of your professed love for your husband.

  36. Ted Slampyak
    Ted Slampyak says:

    Fine, Pamela. He’s totally fine with it. Your going public is not a problem for him. You don’t even have to ask him, you know him so well. You are totally in tune with his every like and dislike, his every whim and thought.

    And that’s why you’re going to marriage counseling.


  37. Ted Slampyak
    Ted Slampyak says:

    Okay, my last comment was harsh. I didn’t mean for it to sound harsh. It reads bitter, and I didn’t mean to sound bitter. Why should I be bitter?

    I was just trying to drive home the idea that maybe you don’t know him as well as you do — that’s all. You seem to not want to even pose the question to yourself, that maybe you should ask him if he wants the details of your counseling made public, and you seemed to show a lack of introspection that seems counter to the point of all this blogging.

    Sorry for coming across as angry, if I did.

  38. David "The V-Ball Mgr."
    David "The V-Ball Mgr." says:

    After much thought, I’ve decided to comment. There are several dynamics at work here which are visible from your post and responses to the audience.

    My first question: is whether the “mediator” a MFCC or an attorney (family law or otherwise). Second, mediation by definition is confidential (otherwise its not mediation at all). If theres no confidentiality – then its not mediation by definition (whether your husband could careless or not).

    To use a volleyball analogy, think of it this way: how fair would it be for your husband to have to “power dig” an outside hit from you (with little or no volleyball skillset). You having been a Beach Pro and I’m going to assume a Div. I collegiate player as well (no matter how long ago that may have been).

    Same thing with breaching the confidentiality … err, blogging about your “mediation” sessions (to an audience of a half – mil). I believe that you’re not acknowledging the power imbalance here. Com’on Penelope, you’re way better than this.

    If you need to “get it on paper” (in real time) in order to express yourself AND you wish to maintain the confidentiality of the mediation – then you need to journal. It shouldn’t matter whether 500,001 blogger read the entries, or just one person reads the entry (guess who).

    As to helping your audience, a later release of a diary could meet that need as well (although that would breach mediation confidentiality – in the strict sense as well). Oh and one last thing – if the mediator has to keep the discussion confidential, don’t you think all of the parties participating in the mediation have to abide by the same “rules”? Just a thought.

    P.S. My mediation training was completed via the Strauss Inst. at Pepperdine Law School

    P.P.S. I’m appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court Mediation Panel.

  39. Dale
    Dale says:


    When you start something, you really start something:) Aside from the fact that in the past you have jumped all over the sensibilities of many people (boomers like myself) with your career advice, now you have taken out the stilettos and are doing Irish tap on our opinion of propriety. You go girl!
    We all need to think more, to discuss the ?undiscussable? more, and to care more. Here, you have given us the opportunity to do all three.
    I still wish that you had given us this tidbit in retrospect, as opposed to real time. And dispite the fact that consciously I tell myself it is because I want what is best for you and your family, unconsciously, I know I am at least partly motivated by my discomfort at what is akin to staring into a fresh open wound or a recent serious accident. I do not know if the people involved will be okay (I wish I knew the outcome so I could be emotionally prepared for it, as I am with movies). Additionally, it strikes too close to home for me, and others, as I personally would not want my wife to be as open as you are. But your actions can only help build community in our little village, and I really hope that you are prepared for all of the relationship questions / queries for marital advice that you are going to be asked to give – if not now, then when all this has played out.


  40. rmuser
    rmuser says:

    Who publishes a play-by-play of their marriage counseling sessions under their real name? That doesn’t really seem like a good idea.

  41. Voodoo Idol
    Voodoo Idol says:

    I’m sorry, but it sounds like you’re a stark, raving bitch who pays no attention to her husband and overcomplicates things. I sounded like your husband knew what he was talking about and you’re trying to read other crap into it. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if he was having difficulty feeling love for you at the moment.

    If you’re wondering where about 75% of the problem is in your relationship, start looking in the mirror.

  42. Jessi
    Jessi says:

    That sucks.
    You need a hug.
    Even if you don’t think you do, you do.

    I am 31 and my parents are (2-weeks) divorced. After 38 years… Never thought they’d be a statistic but they are, now. I have no revelations or answers.

    I know how thin the line is, how life can go spinning out of control so fast and easy. Life can feel like I am drowning but somehow I am still here, living and loving.

    If he can commit to trying that’s great.
    My life motto is I don’t waste time on people that don’t want to be with me.

    Be strong.

  43. spam
    spam says:

    Hey there:

    Listen to the actions, not the words. If your husband didn’t love you, the meeting would have been with a divorce attorney, and you wouldn’t have been invited.

  44. Kevo
    Kevo says:

    Ever think your husband might have a problem with you blogging about your marriage to the rest of the world? You seem to have a good grasp of communication skills, you just choose not to use them with your husband.

    And if he doesn’t care about you airing your dirty laundry to the world, well then the marriage is over cause he doesn’t care about you anymore.

    Couldn’t agree with Voodoo Idol more. Look in the mirror lady.

  45. Undertoad
    Undertoad says:

    “A lot of people I talk with think I should get rid of you.”

    When you say “people”, who are you referring to?

    A) Your parents
    B) Professional therapists/counselors
    C) Blog readers and E-pals
    D) A mix of husband-hating yentas and tortured co-workers

    “A lot of people I talk with say that I am being abused by you.”

    When he says “people”, who is he referring to?

    A) His parents
    B) His very closest and oldest friends
    C) Professional therapists/counselors
    D) All of the above

  46. BobfromCanada
    BobfromCanada says:

    Mmmmmm…….shifting rationalizations……tasty!

    So he doesn’t care about you posting the private stuff because that’s who he is. He’s different than all the other men.


    He shouldn’t care about it, because all woman gossip to 100,000 people. All men should assume everything is fair game.

    As everyones favourite Vulcan would say

    “That is most illogical”

  47. Voyuer
    Voyuer says:

    I have a hard time understanding why divorce is so hard on children under the age of 5. You can barely understand or even remember anything at that age – you haven't been out of the uterus that long. I'd find easier to accept that older children, even teens, have a difficult time with divorce than people two feet tall.

  48. ^Lestat
    ^Lestat says:

    Voyer – it’s hard on children later in life. While they may seem ‘used to it’ by growing into it. It may seem like they are familiar with the rules of 2 householdes – It does still pull on the children’s heartstrings.

    – from experience.

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