That being said, there's another thing that might make him actually take stock of himself instead of running away from asking the horrible question (with its terrifying implication that the answer might actually be "Because I'm a selfish and heartless coward who's no better than some punk hustling weaker classmates for lunch money.") "Why do I do what I do?" is having to deal with Elly's new friend Great Big Jerk Divorce Lawyer. The reason that I mention this possibility is that a recent post on Coffee Talk made some of us consider what would have happened if Elly's reaction to his oafish attempt to twist things around so that his refusal to consider other people's feelings (because, CHEE!!!, that would completely unman him, don'tchaknow?) into her being too sensitive was to realize that no, she (unlike Savage and Hyneman) cannot actually polish the turd she married and thus must leave before she turns into some sort of gloomy, shrieking horror freak who can't take pleasure in anything.
The first immediate consequence of this would, I should think, to be to turn her parents against one another. Jim might be a grumbling old codger who fears social change and loves respectability almost as much as Marian but he has one advantage over his wife: he's always wanted her to be happy. This tells me that while he wouldn't like the idea of any marriage disintegrating, he could be persuaded to see that Elly and the kids would be far better off without John Patterson being a destructive factor in their lives. Insert a mildly oafish joke about trading up and another one about how maybe they shoulda shacked up first so she coulda backed out later and we'd have a mildly reluctant support system.
We'd need him because you just know that the woman from whom Elly derives her habit of getting in a frenzy about the nonsensical and irrelevant would be all about what old sweats who weren't worth powder and shot when they were alive and are of even less importance in the here and now would think. Any comments from Jim about how this wouldn't have been a problem if it were happening to Phil would fall on deaf ears because Marian would never spontaneously admit that when respectability and decency class, the concept that has more syllables in it must give way.
The only way I can see her realizing that most of why Elly did so many things that were not in her own best interests would be at the trial itself. Having to hear the litany of John's sins as well as his boasting about "saving" Elly from the unnecessary horror of autonomy would finally open her eyes as to how big a jerk she'd been. As for John, I should think that being lectured to by the judge about what a pathetic little dictator he's been would be mildly less traumatic than being told off by his Mom and Dad. His very public ruin and the permanent loss of any chance reconciliation with Elly RICHARDS would be the only thing in the world that would get through his thick skull.