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"He Doesn't Keep His Word"

Kathy feels as though Phil keeps secrets from her and doesn't keep his promises. Phil wants Kathy to calm down and trust him. Can this marriage be saved?

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Her Turn

“I know I sound like the classic nag,” said Kathy, 30, an interior designer who’s been married for five years. “I mean, what kind of woman thinks about divorcing her husband just because he leaves empty bottles on the kitchen counter instead of taking them to the curb for recycling? But it’s not about the bottles. It’s that Phil yesses me to death but never follows through. It reminds me of the way his mom and dad used to act with each other.

“His mother died two years ago, and the stuff from her house is sitting in a big pile in our basement. We have a small place and Phil knows I get nutty when junk is strewn all over. But because he thinks it’s no big deal, the ‘issue is off the table,’ as he puts it. He’s notorious for not discussing anything. Whenever I’m upset, he just cuts me off in an exasperated voice and leaves the room or turns back to the game on TV.

“Then there’s the fact that he is always late. Last Sunday, for instance, we were due at 4 p.m. for my niece’s third birthday party. I reminded Phil about it at lunch and again at 3:15 when he was mowing the lawn. At 3:45, I got in the car and sat there. Only then did he shower and change. We were 20 minutes late, and I was furious. Why is it that he’s unfailingly prompt when meeting with colleagues but never when he’s doing something with his wife? If he really loved me, he’d figure out a way to be on time.

“I grew up in New Jersey in a home where no one laughed. Whenever my dad was out of work, which was often, my mom would find a menial job so we could eat. My dad was an alcoholic who thought nothing of smacking my brother and me across the face. He never hit my mother, but she did nothing to stop him from hitting us.”

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