"He's Moody and Angry All the Time"

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Ben's Turn

"I've been an idiot," said a somber Ben, 44. "I love Eve and my sons and I don't want to lose them. I am so sorry I've treated her badly. I want to prove to them that I can change, that I can stop being angry all the time. Look, I've already quit drinking. But I don't think my drinking caused our problems. It just made everything worse.

"I know I'm quick to take offense. I go from zero to blastoff in a split second. Small things will go wrong -- the TiVo doesn't record the NCAA championship or Zack locks his keys in the car -- and I behave as if the world has ended. It's not as though I don't know what a jerk I am.

"I guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. My father was an alcoholic who spent most of his time in his recliner, steaming mad. My mother was always shushing me and my younger sister so we wouldn't disturb him. We never talked, never laughed, never did anything as a family. I don't have a single pleasant memory of childhood.

"When I was in high school my dad went into a serious depression. He was in and out of institutions for years. When I was 20 he committed suicide. That was a horrible, horrible time.

"My mechanical ability is the one positive quality I inherited from him. I'm good at what I do -- Eve recognized it when we met. She was the first woman who took me seriously, who cared how I felt. I fell in love with her right away. Still, I was definitely not ready to be a father. And when we found out we were having twins I went into a tailspin. I was worried enough about supporting one child -- but two? We've always made decent money, but I can't remember a day I haven't worried about it.

"As easy as it was to talk to Eve before we got married, it's a hell of a lot harder now. She shuts down. I've felt like her lowest priority for a long time. Everything else -- the boys, her friends, her job -- comes before me. When the kids were little I tried to be a hands-on dad, but Eve would tell me I was doing stuff wrong. I'd change their diapers and she'd sneak in and redo them. If I forgot to check if they'd brushed their teeth she'd be sure to let me know it.

"I was furious when Eve first mentioned divorce. Now I think it was the best thing that could have happened to me -- and I hope to us. One day I was in a bookstore and I picked up a marriage book in the self-help section. I actually sat down and read it cover to cover. It made me realize I made a commitment to Eve 20 years ago that I haven't honored. I want to be a better husband, a better dad, if only it's not too late."

Continued on page 3:  The Counselor's Turn


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