An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 6

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hand holding
If you’re a guy, and you’re married, you’re probably doing it wrong.

You think you’re being nice. But you’re not.

You think you’re doing her a favor. But you’re not.

You think you’re just staying out of her way. But you’re turning yourself into a large obstacle. The one on her path to happiness.

You’re just another nice guy like me. Just another nice guy destroying your marriage without even realizing it.

I spent my entire life being told how nice and wonderful I am. That mostly still happens. That’s why it was always so surprising when my wife got upset with me and acted like I wasn’t.

But I’m so nice to her!

But I love her more than everyone else!

But I almost always let her have her way!

What’s her freaking problem?

Just another crazy, emotional, hormonal woman!

And I totally get it. I do. It’s often easier to just do what she wants (or what you think she wants) than it is to challenge her, argue with her, fight with her, whatever.

Maybe you really just believe it’s “nicer” to do things this way.

But it’s not nicer. And I don’t want you to learn the hard way like I did.

I don’t want your children to have two “nice” parents who can no longer live together because you spent so many years doing so many things you didn’t even know were wrong.

“Not all women in relationships with “nice” guys are drama queens who want to control, emasculate, or dominate their man. In my case, I was desperate for him to make a decision… have an opinion…contribute 50/50. Instead, he thought he was being “nice” by leaving all the decisions up to me… which ultimately led to me feeling more like his mother than his wife. It was exhausting and frustrating. Everyone thought he was so “nice” and the “perfect” husband. Far from it…he was avoiding responsibility and didn’t want to be blamed for any problems or mistakes. So I shouldered all the burden while we slowly began to resent each other and grow apart.” – @jessiesgirl

The Eye-Opening Moments

I had one yesterday.

I wrote a post which was mostly about two things:

1. Things “nice” men do that turn off women.

2. My general belief that “nice” guys are every bit as viable bedroom partners as “bad boys,” but I left out some details for decency reasons.

The results were fascinating. A bunch of comments similar to @jessiegirl’s.

And that’s when it hit me. Sonofabitch. That’s what I did.

And listen up, dicks. That’s what you’re doing, too.

I helped my wife with about 5 percent of planning our wedding.

I helped my wife with about 15 percent of potty training our son.

I helped my wife with about 25 percent of the housework.

But I want to be careful about confusing the messages here, because we’ve already established this: Yes, asshole. You have to help your wife around the house.

This isn’t about you not doing enough physical work.

This is more about you ACTIVELY PARTICIPATING in your relationship. The little things you don’t realize are huge.

“What do you want to have for dinner?”

“Do you want to go to the Smith’s housewarming party three weeks from now?”

“Can you send the RSVP?”

“Who is getting the gift?”

“Are we going to put little Johnny in baseball camp? Karate? Golf? Football?”

“How much do they cost? When do they start? How will he get to and from these activities?”

We can go all night with these conversations.

“I spent nine years with someone who never contributed, he let me organise everything, take the decisions, etc… and by the end of it there was nothing left but resentment… on both sides.” – @larebe

So, here I was taking a step back. Letting my wife control the action, make the decisions, do whatever was “easiest” for her.

Turns out, in many cases, what would be EASIEST is for us—you and me, guys—to make the decisions. To speak assertively and thoughtfully about what we want and why.

It’s not “nice” to leave all of the decision making for so many people to just one person. It’s hard enough for people to think for themselves without breaking something. And you want to ask your wife to think for both of you, all the kids you have, along with all of the other things that need managed?

Hope you like masturbating.

What Women Feel

Me: “Can I ask you for a favor?”

Friend I trust very much: “Of course.”

Me: “Can you write me an email articulating how it makes you feel when your husband doesn’t show assertiveness in making decisions? In taking care of things at home? In being part of the planning and decision making?”

Fifteen minutes later, I received the following.

How do I feel when my husband isn’t assertive in making decisions, in taking care of the home, in planning and decision making for our family??? Gosh—I feel like I do every day. Worthless… oh yeah… and tired… and alone.

I wonder things like:

“Does he even love me?”

“Why would he let someone he “loved” do all the work around here?”

“Does he think our family was a mistake?”

“Why doesn’t he want to help with work and decisions around here?”

“Aren’t we important enough for him to take an active role with us?”

“Are we not enough for him?”

“Are we too much for him?”

“I guess we just aren’t worth his time.”

My husband is a nice guy. The nicest of the nice guys. The give you his last dime-shirt off his back guy. He just doesn’t pull his fair share of the weight around here. And that is putting it nicely. If you ask him he would tell you that I’ve got the “good life”. (He’s actually said this to people.) I make all the decisions and run the show around here. What he would fail to mention is that I do everything else too: cooking, cleaning, laundry, scheduling, laundry, doctor’s appointments for the children, pick up and drop off for school, bill paying, grocery shopping, laundry, vacation planning, homework help, reading books, school shopping, laundry, saying prayers, working full time, and oh yeah… carrying and giving birth to the children!

So somewhere in his mind he thinks he’s doing me a favor by letting me “hold down the fort” or “sail the ship” or whatever. But in all actuality I’d just like him to take control of a little bit of the “good life” that I have. Perhaps 50% of the responsibilities would be a nice place to start. If you look at the list above there are A LOT of freaking decisions that have to be made to run this family. It’s hard on one person when they have to make them all. It’s even harder when there is another capable adult who can’t/won’t step up and do their part to lead a family.

For me—it gives me a feeling of worthlessness. I’m not worth his time. I’m not worth his effort. The decisions I have to make to run this home and take care of this family aren’t even important enough to him to matter.

For me—that leads to questions about his character and his integrity and his ability to be a partner in this life. Which then leads me to questions about my choice in a spouse… It’s all downhill from there!

…..

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…..

You’re Not a Bad Guy. Don’t Act Like One.

One of the most-valuable lessons of writing personal stories has been learning how alike so many of us are. How similarly we experience life in our various human relationships, and how our hearts and minds respond to these things.

If I could get back into Doc Brown’s time machine and tell myself 13 years ago the things I needed to know to avoid my life turning shitty, I would have started with all of my marital screw-ups.

Just in case anyone invents time travel AND reads this, would you please print out the following and give it to me in 2001? Thanks!

Dear 21-year-old Matt,

You’ve spent your entire life telling people your biggest fear was getting a divorce.

I have bad news.

You’re going to get one. You’re going to marry your girlfriend. You’re going to have a beautiful son. And then when he’s the EXACT same age you were when your parents split? You’re going to get divorced.

It’s going to tear your entire world apart.

You’re going to cry infinitely more than you ever have before.

You’ll miss your wife and son WAY more than you used to miss whatever parent you weren’t with when you were a little kid. Read that last sentence again. Let it soak in.

You’ve spent your entire life being coddled by your mom.

You’ve spent your entire life being spoiled by your dad.

You’ve spent your entire life being loved and supported by people who felt sorry for you because your mom and dad lived so far apart.

You’ve spent your entire life being told how nice and smart and funny you are.

These things are going to ruin your marriage. And this beautiful girl you’re madly in love with right now? You won’t even remember what she’s like because everything will be broken and shitty.

Every bad thing you have ever experienced is going to seem like an amazing vacation compared to how you’re going to feel from about ages 32-35.

But you can avoid it. You can choose a better life. One with a happy ending.

Marriage is harder than you think it’s going to be. It’s NOT like having a permanent girlfriend. Wives and mothers are something more.

Choose to be a better you. Choose to be great at the only two things that really matter once you’ve made the choice to marry: being a husband and father.

Don’t just give the bare minimum. Don’t just obliviously walk through the world doing whatever you want and wondering why your wife is getting upset with you.

Be engaged. Every day.

1. Give more than you take. Of your time. Of your energy. Of your love.

2. Choose to love even in the moments that are really difficult. Your feelings are fickle. If every couple ended their relationship during the tough times, no one would ever survive.

3. Love and respect yourself. You’re worth it. You’re a good guy. Be a leader. A kind one.

4. When your son is born, don’t even think about leaving your wife’s side. Stay awake for 72 hours straight if you must. Hold your child so your wife can sleep. Hold her hand when she’s holding him. And assure her every single second that she’ll always be able to count on you. Then prove it every day after that.

5. Start writing soon. More than news stories. Stories about your life. It will help you make sense of things.

6. Have crazier, more-frequent sex with your wife. She’ll like it.

7. Just because you say and feel “I love you” DOES NOT adequately convey the message. It doesn’t matter that it’s true. She doesn’t know. You don’t know how she can get upset with you. You think she’s a crazy, emotional girl. You don’t understand. The same is true in reverse. SHE DOESN’T KNOW if you don’t show her you love her. And all the ways you think you show someone you love them? Only some of it is true. Don’t dismiss her when she asks you what you want to do Friday night. Have an opinion. Don’t wait for her to suggest something then shoot it down because it’s not what you would choose.

Pick something. Have a reason. Care about it. Challenge her, if you must. Just do it with kindness and respect. Compromise.

You will have a MILLION of those little moments throughout your marriage.

Every time you say or act like you don’t care?

You’re telling your wife she’s not important enough to care about. To think about. To put effort into.

It’s going to kill her.

And then she’s going to leave you.

And you’re going to miss your son.

And it doesn’t have to be that way.

You get to write your own story. And I want you to listen to me. Because I’m you. Because I already did all the stupid shit you’re about to do.

If you make the same choices, everything breaks.

As both of us like to say: I hate being right all the time.

So don’t. Make better choices.

Choose yourself.

Choose love.

Then someday when you get a few minutes, maybe you can write Future You and tell me how great you’re doing. Thanks!

You May Also Want to Read:

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 2

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 3

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 4

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 7

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 8

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 9

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 10

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 11

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 12

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 13

210 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 6”

  1. Key words for me? **Be engaged.**

    If she speaks, stop typing on the computer, stop reading the newspaper, don’t tell her that you can do both at the same time. Give her 100% and LISTEN. So that the next day, when she asks,”Did you get the dry cleaning?” You can answer, “Yup, it’s hanging in the closet.” Instead of, “Huh? Dry cleaning?”

    Like that.
    Thanks, Matt.

  2. 2 great posts today and yesterday Matt! I am coming up on 20 years of marriage this year, and I hope to make it 40 more! I am a nice guy, but I am probably “too nice” and shitty at the same time. My wife asks what I want for dinner and I defer the decision. I think I’m being nice, whatever you want is fine with me. Truth is, deciding what to have for dinner is 100 times worse than cooking it, and in my nice guy way, I just left the heavy lifting to her! (And there are many more like this too, but I’ll spare everyone the list as it has already been noted here or in the comments.) I’d like to think that I am smarter than that, but these 2 posts have made me realize, I’m not. Thanks for making my marriage better today!

    1. Sir, if reading this stuff legitimately improves your marriage? Because you cared enough to think it legitimate and want to give more? You will have given me one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. And you will have validated so much of what I’ve tried to do here. (When I wasn’t goofing off with $4 lobster or Liam Neeson and my grandma).

      Thank you. You can’t know what this note means to me. Thank you for caring about this. Thank you for caring about yourself and the people you love.

      You just made today awesome. Can’t thank you enough.

      1. This is the best article I have ever read. I have had a lot of resentment and could never really pinpoint why, it all seemed so silly. But added all up, in black and white, I realize that mine, and clearly many other relationships, are not all that different. I’ll be honest, I teared up reading the letter to yourself, the part that it’s going to kill her. It does, it really does. Thank you for helping others through your own detrimental experience. I wish you the best!

        1. I’m so sorry you’re angry and hurt, Christine.

          I’ve really come to believe that the VAST majority of relationships end for the exact same reasons — essentially not much more than laziness, pride and a communication breakdown that I blame about 70 percent on men.

          I’m not saying men are bad. I’m saying men are often bad at marriage. I think good men ruin marriages, too.

          And I think we all deal with the same problems. And that gives me hope. Because that means the medicine–the solutions to fixing these problems–are also pretty universal.

          There isn’t a cause in the world I’m more passionate about.

          I will never advocate marriage. If you don’t want to marry, don’t.

          But. IF you get married? Then be good at it.

          I’m writing a post today about how 95 PERCENT of all people in the United States are married, divorced or plan to get married.

          That means 95 percent of people (at least in this country) are affected by marriage.

          And it feels like no one cares. “Ho-hum. Another divorce.”

          It’s kind of a crisis. And it really feels like it shouldn’t be so hard to fix.

          I give a shit.

          I think we all deserve happiness. I think marriage is a GREAT way to be happy and raise happy kids.

          But you have to get the marriage part right, first.

          If men can figure their shit out, this world can be so much better.

          It can be beautiful. I know it.

          Thank you for reading and leaving this note.

  3. This is actually a very accurate description of my marriage. My (ex) husband was a really nice guy. He treated me well and was always kind and considerate. But he NEVER made a decision about anything. Even when my mum died while I was suffering post natal depression and I had kind of a mini breakdown, I told him I was having trouble deciding even what to wear or eat… Even then when I begged him to take charge he couldn’t do it. What’s ironic is that now we’ve split, he talks about how I kept him ‘under the thumb’ as if I was a controlling bitch! But that’s where he put himself and that’s who he made me.

    1. I’m so sorry your marriage ended. And I’m so sorry he won’t accept responsibility for his role in the breakdown.

      Thank you for reading. I’m sorry you get it, but I’m glad that you’re validating the message.

      Really nice guys can be shitty husbands. It’s tragic.

      1. Thanks!

        I agree, it is tragic. Just a few tiny differences and these marriages could have worked.

        The good news, however, is that you’ve obviously learned from your mistakes and have a shot of being both a nice guy and a great husband to some lucky lady in the future. I really hope more nice guys take your advice!

    2. Yup. “She wouldn’t let me.” That’s what’s said. When in our home, I was begging. Pleading, crying for him to do something. Take charge of SOMETHING. Or at the least, get a job. Ugh.

  4. I have been married for about 6 months now (lived together for 4 years)
    I feel like you just described my marriage to a T.
    I want to print this off and leave it by the toilet.
    You have put into words what I have been feeling and unable to communicate properly.
    I am still not sure how to broach the subject (again) with my husband but this helps a TON.

    Thank you….seriously, THANK YOU.

    1. He might not know. He simply might not understand just how much it hurts. Maybe not until he lives sad and alone and hurts that much too.

      Some of us have to learn the hard way. I have a 35 year track record of this.

      I pray he is wiser and makes better choices than I did.

      1. I think you have given me a better way to explain what I mean so hopefully he understands. (instead of thinking I am “nagging” him) To me, nagging is not mentioning something once.
        *sigh*
        Sorry, not trying to flood you with *woe is me* comments 😉
        Thanks again for your help.

        1. Flood away. Woe is me? My entire body of work is predominantly me feeling sorry for myself! You share anything you want, please.

          It’s frightening how bad male-female communication can be. And how much those subtle differences can damage lives.

          I certainly wish you well. And I hope you can find a way to have a nice conversation with him.

          Just in case no one has said this to you before:

          The reason men get angry and withdrawal and run away from these talks? It’s because we feel ashamed. Ashamed that we aren’t good enough to make you happy. That you’re not proud of us as your partner.

          That shame we feel causes a chemical reaction in us just as feeling fear or unsafe physically or emotionally, triggers chemical responses in you.

          The way to get him to listen, to engage, is to make it clear that you don’t mean to be critical. That you’re not suggesting that he’s not good enough. That you love him immensely and you feel like if he understands this about you, that your marriage can be strong and amazing.

          I’d like to think he will understand and appreciate the approach.

          I hope so anyway.

          Good luck. 🙂

      2. I can completely see where he is probably feeling the way you described. I try very hard to make sure he knows how much I love him and not only when I am trying to talk to him about issues I have. I feel like his self esteem is low and it is not from my lack of trying to make him see himself from my eyes.

        Now you have made me cry. Definitely hit a nerve. I would never want him to feel shame. I need to tread lightly.

        And I agree, I don’t know why communication can be SO hard. I am a letter writer because I tend to forget what to say in the moment, face to face. So it helps to get it out on paper and then discuss. Maybe that doesn’t work for HIM.

        We are very early on in our marriage and have a lot to learn.
        Thank you for the words & helping me to see it from his perspective.

        1. I’m so sorry there were tears. I really am. But I do try to deal in real life here. And unfortunately, sometimes it’s really sad and really hard. Wishing you well.

  5. Reblogged this on Shevy Von Vincible and commented:
    I absolutely LOVE to read this blog, it always shows me a different perspective on marriage/life etc. from a “guy’s standpoint”. This is a really good article going through unnoticed mistakes that can be made in a marriage and although the title is more towards men, I believe it is helpful to women as well. Sometimes, it takes things like this to say “hey, that’s me”. Enjoy

  6. I once read that the four most important words you can say to your partner are “What do you think?” Marriage is a dance of compromise. If the wife feels the husband isn’t putting in his two cents worth, she can ask “What do you think/feel/want?” It sounds like you take the blame for your divorce. Your ex-wife might tell a different story. I do know this much from reading your blog–You’re going to be an amazing husband the second time around.

    1. Well. Amazing, I’m quite sure, is overstating it. I just know I’m a pretty self-aware guy. And if there is a next time? I’m going to try very hard.

      Thank you for the kind words.

  7. Beautifully written and so transparent – a fantastic perspective. A admire your ability and willingness to be so honestly authentic.

    1. Thank you, Bonnie. It means a lot when people think these things matter. That they feel truth in the words. I don’t know if it’s true for everyone. I just think it is. Because it was true for me and I’m pretty typical.

  8. This is it. Without a doubt. This is the part of nice guys that make them hard to live with…

    You really are going to have a book if you keep writing these. You just have to figure out how to market it so that these guys will read it…

    1. How have I missed these comments? I’m sorry Mel. You snuck through somehow.

      A number of people keep saying that. You’ve been encouraging me as long as anyone.

      I can’t thank you enough, of course.

      Hope you’re feeling well. 🙂

      1. Don’t apologize. You have a zillion comments to sift through! And mine didn’t really warrant a response, but I appreciate it! 😉

  9. Um this is money. It’s exactly why I’m divorced and why to this day he’s “the nice guy” no one including him understands why in the world it didn’t work. He did Nothing. And went so far as to suggest that I should also make his doctors appointments, on top of mine and my kids and asking him to take said child to a pediatric appointment was tantamount to heresy.

    1. Yeah. I say it over and over again.

      The bad news: We all have universal problems.

      The good news: There must be universal solutions. There must.

      All I can do is try to be a better guy. And hope all of the men who deserve you get a shot.

      Thank you for the note.

  10. This was indeed beautiful and sad… I would like to make a point that adds to your point. Not only is it about helping her make decisions and showing her you care by participating in those decisions. It’s also that most of us want to have our spouse be authentic with us. Don’t just “yes” us. We want you to stand up for what you think and we will do the same. Only then can you have a real, authentic closeness. I dated guys that just did what they thought I wanted them to do. Yawn. Definitely pick your battles and don’t be contrary just for the sake of winning, but if you feel something or have an opinion, then say it! It can make things rocky because you won’t always agree on every issue, but it’s the only way to navigate a marriage and both be true to who you really are. In my opinion…. Thanks for giving all of us something to think about. Your posts are always insightful and thought provoking…

    1. Thank you so much, Gretchen. For the contribution and the compliment. You’re rather insightful yourself. I hope you and your family are well. 🙂

  11. Great post – I’m married to a nice guy. I’d love for him to make some of those “what’s for dinner” decisions sometime. Granted, he will fix it once I make the suggestion, or go out and get it. But I don’t have to be asked about every single thing. Yes, I know he defers to me because he thinks he’s being nice. I’m sending him this link – thank you!!

      1. I totally get it. I think MOST of out relationships have this dynamic. For a variety of reasons. Especially when there are children. It’s really unfortunate.

  12. I meant to say this yesterday but somehow neglected it; and it’s been touched on in the comments here but my ex really didn’t care about the little decisions. He loved letting me make the call in all of life’s minutia – – not to be lazy, but out of… well.. “niceness.” Not only did resentment grow in him but getting my way all the time was my normal. He taught it to me and then practiced it with me for years! there’s a letter to be written to wives here as well. I suppose someone with less bitterness should write it. “How I LET my husband end our marriage by his niceness and my selfishness.” eh – that could be tweaked.maybe “hey! Lady! you’re messing it up.” *smirk* – – yeah that sounds better.

  13. I’ve been reading your blog for awhile and have to say that this post really resonated with me. Luckily, it made me feel fortunate for my current relationship, but unfortunately this describes the unhappiness in my parents’ marriage. My mom would tell you that my dad didn’t help enough and didn’t make decisions, especially important financial decisions. I can only guess that my father might say that my mom was controlling. What’s still bizarre to me is that my father is the one who strayed from the marriage and my mom refused to leave him based on her belief in marriage. Your posts give me some much needed insight into how a marriage begins to fall apart.

  14. There is never a point in fighting. Be it physical or verbal. Fighting never solves anything, and only proves who has the bigger fist or mouth. Marriage is a give and take, I know this, I am surviving my second one quite well and will be celebrating 6 years of marriage next month.

    You do hit the nail on the head though mate, you have to get into the trenches with her, and you do have to know how to dread her around from time to time. Men are seen as the leaders of everything, and this is wrong; while women are seen as the followers of everything, and this is also wrong. Both have integral parts that they must be able to do; and when life flips the script to make you do role reversals; well you just gotta roll with those punches.

    Simpleton’s advice to people: Be open and honest with yourself and then your partner. If you feel a certain way (like the woman expressing her view on the very *nice* husband she has) say so. Don’t cause a fight or a scene with it; but do express your viewpoint. If it can’t be handled or corrected, then the relationship wasn’t built on strong foundations. I know this from personal experience. My first wife loved making all the decisions, even after I put my foot down and said something she didn’t want to hear. My second wife makes more of the decisions now; as I am totally out of my element in this country; where I did most of it while we were in the USA.

    It really is about finding that middle ground people.

    1. Thank you very much for sharing your experiences and being part of this conversation. I really appreciate your time.

  15. Matt, I could hug and kiss you! OMG! Finally! YES!!!! I couldn’t even finish reading the post..and I missed yesterday’s (I have some catching up 😐 ). This is what my “nice” husband turned into…a monster. Yes, all of it was left up to me to decide, every friggin bit (sorry) from the finances to the small stuff–which laundry detergent to use–homework help and school functions to other social things..vacations–all details–it drove me crazy–which restaurant or no restaurant. I just wanted him to take more of a part. We quit doing things..no..he quit doing everything and left it to me. Then he took his arse to another female to play the poor pity me thing. He is still doing it…

    I became the mom…I didn’t want to be mom…I wanted to be his lover, the apple of his eye, a partner, not just the decision maker. Finally, later in our marriage I said something about us not working together. He took it to mean that I didn’t appreciated what he did and told me that he did so much more than any of his friends….. Gasp! Thanks for letting me vent. I didn’t mean to get carried away but you hit this dead on! Thanks!!! Keep talking. Hopefully someone is listening.

    1. I’m so sorry. Yes. I get it. I know it. I did it.

      This has been a pretty bittersweet experience having my writing validated while simultaneously driving home just how blind and culpable I was in my failed relationship.

      I hope some good can come from it.

      1. Don’t apologize! 🙂 You aren’t blind. It takes years for us to see how we get to certain places along the way. I did things in my marriage that weren’t the best and he did things. It was a good marriage until we became too independent so therefore he and I both messed up except he chose to step out and not look back. It takes 2 to make it.

        Please don’t get lost in this. You have a great talent of bringing the real world to your blog. So many people are in the same boat–guys and girls. And, you seem to be a Teddy bear…Teddy bears get hurt and I am sorry. Don’t let my words tear you down. They were because of my crappy situation right now–not to validate anything for you but for all of us. I hope that makes sense. 🙂

  16. Wow! this actually brought tears – not only did I experience this, but he was not a “nice guy” on top of it. He wanted to make the life changing decisions ALONE, but wanted me to do EVERYTHING else – including him. I was his employee and really frankly a bother to him unless he wanted something. We (me and the kids) are just a bother – to be seen not heard. My fault for staying with this type of person. Thank you for articulating this! Gone are the days of the “traditional” family. It’s time many men realize that and that mothers teach their boys that as well!

    1. I’m very sorry to hear that. Very sorry. It’s pretty bad when it’s not just a good guy oblivious of his errors, but a callous and selfish person who just doesn’t care at all.

      Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate your time.

  17. Unfortunately I can relate to your Open Letter to Shitty Husbands posts all too well because I lived on the receiving end of this deal for a long time.
    My ex-husband was one of the few nice guys I had ever dated and he always maintained that he loved me more than I loved him (because he was more “romantic” and emotionally sensitive). What he didn’t understand is that loving isn’t just feeling something and saying something, loving is also DOING. Not like grand romantic gestures but doing the every day things and being an active participant in your life together.

    1. Yes. Yes, yes and more yes. It’s all very frustrating to see it happen over and over again.

      I hope I’m adequately communicating my strong belief that MANY husbands and fathers literally do not comprehend or understand the damage they’re causing.

  18. First of all, Matt, I’m honored that my comment resonated with you and earned a spot in your post today. This is my favorite volume in your shitty husband series. It made me cry with tears of happiness. Finally, a guy “gets it”…and not in the “alright, alright, I’ll help more around the house if it’ll shut you up” kind of way, but in the “I understand and I want to be a better partner” way. Perhaps there’s hope for the nice guys (and girls) after all!

    I definitely identified with the comments made by gymbunny81 (“…he talks about how I kept him ‘under the thumb’ as if I was a controlling bitch! But that’s where he put himself and that’s who he made me.”) and Poor Little Rich White Mexican (“getting my way all the time was my normal. He taught it to me and then practiced it with me for years”). I didn’t like who I had become because of my ex’s “niceness.” Always getting my way and being in charge…it sounds good, but it’s exhausting and turns you into someone you never wanted to be, as garden2day so eloquently put it (“I became the mom…I didn’t want to be mom…I wanted to be his lover, the apple of his eye, a partner, not just the decision maker”).

    I’m so happy that John said this was going to help him make his marriage better. And I’m hopeful that Aurora can use your words to start a conversation with her new husband that I strongly believe, if he truly listens, will save their marriage.

    Very, very good things happening on your blog the past few days! I’m honored to read your words and be a part of the discussion. Thank you so much, Matt!

    1. Thank you, T. I have no way of knowing whether any actual good can happen in real life. But that is my hope and prayer.

      I really don’t want to see all of this brokenness out there. Some of it is so unnecessary and wasteful.

  19. I am into my 21st year of marriage and we’ve been together more than half of our lives. He is a wonderful guy, but we struggled through a lot of “him being real nice” years and it really gets to the point where the pain and the anger feel more powerful than the love. Fortunately, we were able to survive as a couple with some major adjustments. I had to speak up and patiently make him understand how unfair it is to be the working mom of three kids, be responsible for every decision within the family and the social circle and still have the energy and will to be the sexy lover he required. It must have made sense, since here we are, a lot of years after that still working arm in arm to be happy, first as a couple and then as a family.
    Your post is so accurate, heartfelt and true… thanks so much Matt for sharing your journey with all of us… I love reading your blog!

    1. Congratulations on 21 years. But more importantly, on fighting through the horribleness almost every couple experiences and coming out with a happy, inspiring story to tell.

      Thank you for liking this stuff. And thank you for really walking the walk and leading by example.

  20. Matt, like jessiesgirl, I’m honored that you used my comment too, and this open letter is a great follow up.

    I remember a friend saying to me at the time of the break-up, that marriage was like a steam train. You both have to be throwing the coals into the fire. Sometimes both working together, other times taking turns. If one of you stops, the other can keep going for a while longer, and so you each give and take to keep the train moving. However if one half stops altogether, the other eventually just runs out of steam. And the train stops. And that’s it.

    1. That’s a pretty amazing analogy that sounds VERY accurate to me. Thank you for sharing. I may have to quote you again some day. 🙂

  21. Thank you so much for this post. You’ve managed to crystallize and articulate exactly where the love-killing resentment came from in my marriage. I truly thought I was the only one, that I was the controlling bitch he claimed. Really, I was just so tired. My divorce is almost final and even though I’m now a single mom with two teenage daughters, I’m not so exhausted anymore. Which speaks volumes for me.

    Really, thank you and all the commenters. May I reblog this post?

    1. By all means! Reblog away. And thank you.

      I’m so sorry you went through it. And I’m so sorry I was the same kind of husband that made you feel that way and eventually broke a home for your children.

  22. tl;dr version: There are two parties in a relationship. They BOTH are responsible for speaking up if something isn’t feeling right.

    Super long version: This is my first read of your blog so please forgive me if the following sentiment has already been expressed. 🙂 There is a difference between being a shitty husband and being a husband who doesn’t know that he’s doing anything “wrong” until it’s too late. (Of course, and I’m sure you’ll agree with me, this entire relationship dynamic can be reversed. It can also apply to same-sex couples, parent/adult child relationships, and even, to an extent, roommates. For the purposes of this conversation, though, I’m going to take the stance that I am personally familiar with: one party in a romantic heterosexual relationship.)

    My husband is “blessed” to have a wife who is going to school for her psychology degree. (I’m sure you can see why I typed “blessed” in quotations. 🙂 ) We have three children (5, 2, and almost 1) and I am a full time student. Up until January 2013, though, I worked outside the home at a full time job. Our relationship was great until I quit my job to go to school; at that point it started it’s slow descent. I couldn’t quite figure it out. I thought maybe he didn’t take my school seriously enough because I’m taking online classes (to save on daycare costs) so most of my studying is done at naptime or after they’re I bed. But he constantly was telling me how proud he was of me and telling the kids how hard I work, etc. He told other people how proud he was. He had no objections to bathing the kids at night and putting them to bed while I dove into my homework. Yet, I found myself becoming irrationally angry when he took naps on the weekends while the baby slept instead of doing yard work while I was doing homework. Or when he would watch TV with the kids on Saturdays instead of folding laundry or inspiring them to help pick up their rooms while I spent three hours grocery shopping.

    I was angry at him and hurt and frustrated at his lack of involvement, but he was frustrated because he felt like it was “never enough”. I would ask him to fold the laundry and he would, but then I would be irritated because the bathroom still needed to be cleaned. Meanwhile, I was trying to write a term paper and juggle two kids it a stomach flu. (Or something. It’s always something when you have Littles running around, isn’t it? lol) I had to decide between the term paper and the bathroom. Naturally, the term paper won out, but I was still hurt and upset because he wasn’t cleaning the bathroom. Yet, we both try not to lash out at one another when we have internal or external stressor that aren’t related to the other one. It’s been our “policy” throughout our relationship. So, instead of asking him to help out a little more and clean the bathroom I’d convince myself that I was projecting my stress onto him. “He didn’t enroll in classes, that was me. He works 60+ hours per week, of course he’s tired. I “work” that much, too, between school and the kids/house, but this is what I signed up for. We’re just going to have to cope with the mess until school is done. It’s not forever.” That kind of self-talk. And I wasn’t trying to avoid an argument, I just was convinced that I was inventing the problems in my head.

    The purpose of the last two paragraphs was to illustrate that it is possible to both be oblivious to the actual problem or, even worse, to be aware to flat a problem exists, but not know how to get to the root. We are excellent communicators and it took us a year to get to the point where I was able to say: “I feel unappreciated and unsupported. You tell me that I need to come to bed earlier than 1AM, but I have to get my homework done. And when it takes me until 9:30PM to fold the 7 baskets of laundry that have been piling up for the last week, that means I won’t start my homework until about 10:00. If you really want me to sleep more, then I need you to help more. And I need you to just do things because they need done. I don’t want to have to ask you to fold laundry or to clean the toilet. You’re 34 years old. You know when the time has come to clean the toilet. I can’t mother three children AND you. I need you to be my partner in this.”

    It’s important to realize that I was not blameless in our breakdown in communication and understanding. I am a “control freak” and I like things to be “just so”. Before I was in school (and before we had three kids) I would freak out if things weren’t done to my specifications and so I would just tell I’m not to worry about it and do it myself. But, there comes a point where we all have to eat our words and I realized that a load of towels that are all folded the wrong way and hang over the edge of the shelf in the linen closet is better than a load of clean towels sitting in a laundry basket – or a load of dirty towels!

    It’s also important to realize that my husband *is* a nice guy and a good man. He’s an amazing father to all three kids. He is patient with them and teaches them new things. He encourages them to be creative and to be leaders while respecting authority. He is neither a jealous nor controlling man. He doesn’t ever call or text to “check up” on me or snoop in my phone or computer. He loves me truly and deeply and he respects me. And I respect him. But neither one of us could understand the disconnect.

    I just want you to be fair to yourself and to all the other partners out there who might not understand what exactly they’re doing wrong: that doesn’t make you a shitty human being. There are two parties in a relationship. If you didn’t realize that you were doing anything wrong, that means that she didn’t tell you until she was already checked out. You’re only partly to blame. I just really don’t like self-hating statements like, “I was a shitty husband.” Unless you beat her or emotionally abused her, you were not a shitty husband. You were a husband who made mistakes. And that’s OK. You have to forgive yourself for that, friend.

    1. That was a long comment just to tell me to take it easy on myself. 😉

      The “shitty” label is somewhat tongue-and-cheek. I enjoy discussing intellectual things with some immature flair. Sort of my schtick.

      I’m a decent guy. I am. And I did love and try hard. I have a ton of redeeming qualities.

      But I also believe in accepting responsibility for one’s lot in life. I am here in very large part because of me. I like to write. So I see it as my duty to write things like this and maybe reach a few people who “get” me.

      I hope a lot of people do.

      I don’t think life should be so full if emotional turmoil for so many. I want to explore all the reasons things are as they are.

      And change them. For myself. And for anyone who chooses to walk a similar path.

      I can’t thank you enough for reading and taking the time to write your very thoughtful and personal comment. It really means a lot. Thank you.

  23. Thank you so much for sharing this. I;m so sorry you had to learn it the hard way. This is a huge part of why my ex and I ended it a few months ago after almost two years. I constantly felt everything was up to me. I like having an active role in planning and decision-making, but in a partnership, your partner must assist with these things, and my partner simply refused to step up to the plate, leading to exactly what you said, resentment. My biggest regret of the relationship was the resentment, the deep-seeded anger at feeling like I was the sole person responsible for every aspect of our relationship, and after a while, I just couldn’t take it anymore.

    1. There must be millions and millions of women who have felt what you felt and millions and millions of men who have done what I’ve done.

      The only thing I know to do is work harder at being a person. Maybe a bunch of us doing that can change things. Feels worth trying.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that. You can send it to anyone you want! In my experience, no one cares about blog posts from random guys on the internet. Especially guys. Hard to blame them. After all, I don’t know that any of this is true. I just think it is.

      1. Haha, I shared the post on my Facebook…I’m passive-aggressively hoping the right people will read mine, too! MSFMP: looks like we’re both bitches! haha

        But in all seriousness, I agree with you, Matt. I think it’s real. And women are definitely capable of playing the “nice guy” role, too, so please don;t think I’m man-hating! (Man-hating, no, but bitter, eh, slightly…lol)

        1. You are more than entitled to feel bitter. It’s hard when our lives are made difficult or torn apart because of the actions of the people we love most. It feels very frustrating. And unfair.

          Writing about it. Talking about it. Pretty healthy ways to deal, I think. 🙂

  24. Many, many years ago I had to end a great relationship with a VERY nice guy. But I recognized that he was “too nice” and it drove me NUTS to have this “puppy dog” who was so eager to please, if I heard “whatever you want, baby” one more time I was going to throttle him! I also recognized, in myself, the potential to take too much advantage of this “nice” guy and that if I continued long-term with him that I would destroy the “nice” in him.
    Recently I reconnected on a social networking site. He’s still a very nice guy, but it appears he’s found an equally nice woman. I am so happy I broke his heart years ago!

      1. Happy! He and his wife are very happy together…. they somehow found the balance that I knew 25 years ago that we would never achieve. I knew he and I would only destroy each other.

        1. Good. Your unselfishness and ability to love from afar is a wonderful example of what I think we’re all called to do. Thank you for sharing your story with us. 🙂

  25. Wow.. it’s amazing how people can feel so similar. Everything you wrote, I can compare to my own life. The sad truth is that sometimes( more often than not) we realize too late. When everything we have ever wanted is gone. It’s so sad living with a broken heart. It makes life that much harder. If only we could have seen what we had and taken it’s worth for what it is.. priceless….

    Great Job Matt, you impress me every time!

    1. Thank you. Yes. It is sad. And fascinating. And all of that. I really appreciate that you read and feel and think about this stuff.

      It’s so nice of you to say that you care about what I write.

  26. Ohh….yes! Yes! A MILLION times, YES! I know we all wish we could write a letter to our younger selves. Having said that, I adore that you used the word: choose. We choose to love in the same way we choose to ignore, or dismiss, or overlook.
    I only recently discovered your blog and haven’t had much time to peruse (honestly, the name & picture choice had me hooked!) but I hope to choose to spend more time reading your thoughts. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much. Choosing to love is an idea that has become very important to me.

      We are so tempted to “follow our hearts.” To do what we “feel.”

      And those feelings are shallow and fickle and occasionally meaningless.

      Lust, infatuation, jealousy, anger. Those don’t last. But they’re very powerful.

      If we are not wise. Not disciplined. We throw it all away. Because of feelings.

      We must choose to rise above. It’s critical to making marriage and loving, committed relationships work, I think.

      1. I think you just like to see us type: YES! Hahah! In all seriousness, this is something that (unfortunately) takes a very long time to learn.

        I do find it interesting that, in some ways, your response seems to have given more power to the negative feeling of lust, infatuation, jealousy, and anger. I would say, having read several of your posts by now (Don’t tell my boss!) that you have learned the significant power of choice, love, and intention. Those win over the negatives every time…especially when we lead with a choice to love intentionally.

        P.s. I hope you don’t mind responses to responses. I am a huge fan of intelligent discussions about irrational thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Yep, I’m a weirdo!

        1. If you want, we can just have a comment back-and-forth all day and make it a contest to see how many comment followers unsubscribe because we annoy them so much. 🙂

          Thank you for reading more posts. I really appreciate it. I get sensitive about what more serious-minded people might think of my immature antics.

          I just can’t help myself sometimes. I’m still a big kid. And I hope I always am.

      2. Now that could be fun! 🙂 Except for the part where you could lose followers!!! That would be sad because people (women included) need to see these kinds of thoughts expressed.

        And before we get way out of hand deciding that I am serious minded…Kung Fu Panda is possibly my favorite movie of all time. Yep. Being a big kid ROCKS! HaHA!

        1. Fair enough. 🙂

          I just mean I tend to be VERY juvenile and immature with occasional topic and word choices.

          And I’m sensitive to what people might think of me for making those choices.

          But I advertise right upfront that I make bad decisions.

          I’m not sure whether that’s a fair warning or a self-fulfilling prophecy at this point.

          I use bad language I’m not proud of. I talk about sex. I make fun of things. I do lots of things that are inconsistent with some of the more serious topics I want to address here.

          But I just can’t help it. I can’t.

          In fact, I’m going juvenile with my post today. I apologize in advance.

      3. Is there such a word as “pre-apology”? Does this mean I should “pre-accept” your offered “pre-apology”? Yikes! Lots of pre’s all up in here!

        In case no one has told you this before, which I highly doubt considering your number of comments on this post alone, this IS your blog. Your choices are yours. Good, bad, juvenile, or grown-up…all yours. Those who don’t appreciate specific posts won’t re-read them.

        Having said all of that…I believe the only posts I have read so far have been rather serious in nature. Is it weird that I’m looking fun to a self-professed Juvenile Post? Probably. That’s okay with me.

  27. Reblogged this on 3kids2cats1divorce and commented:
    This guy and his commenters have had the nail right on the head. It’s a long post (I never reblog so y’know it’s awesome…) and well worth the read. If you’ve felt alone, if your ex ever called you a controlling bitch, this post is for you.

  28. You hit this one out of the park, Matt. You have such a knack for putting into words things that are hard to put into words. This really resonated with me. The sad thing is that in the early years of my marriage we really worked at things being equal, but somewhere along the way he started to retreat. The more he held back, the more I took over, until one day he was claiming he “didn’t know how” to do things that, years earlier, I had learned FROM HIM!

    This is definitely the best yet of your “Shitty Husbands” series. I have to echo what another commenter said– next time around you are going to be an awesome husband. Lucky gal, whoever she may be.

  29. You’re going to make me blush and stuff. Thank you.

    I feel a million miles away from being in a relationship situation like that. But I hope more than anything that maybe a few guys will read some of this stuff and care and grow a little from it.

    We’ll never know. But it’s a nice thought. 🙂

  30. You do articulate. Today, I think you put yourself out there, for your own growth of course, but it’s like you laid yourself down on the tracks and let yourself be run over. And I know your doing it to do whatever you can to stop the foolery that leads to loss and pain. I wish I knew a pack of idiot males to give this to. I would, and I’ll keep my eyes open, maybe my sons some day if they get stupid.

    But when I first read your post, my mind didn’t wrap around it. My day went on like I’d eaten a bad meal. Toward the end, I was livid. And that was interesting. But I’m not mad at you or your post. Best I can tell, I’m furious, I just didn’t know why. It helped to read comments of women who have felt like a “controlling bitch.” I’d like the shove your post in my Ex’s face, but then I’d just be a bitch again.

    I think by you writing about being “shitty” to your wife, somewhere in the nonsense corners of myself, there was room for me to just be righteously pissed off at him. I’ll still work to be my better self, speak up in a loving way, but today you wrote something down with such conviction it validated something I wasn’t aware needed validation. You took on his faults, the ones he never acknowledged, said sorry to me, and asked my forgiveness, and so I heal a little more.

    1. You occasionally give me too much credit. This feels like one of those times. But, Dorothy, I really appreciate it.

      I have no idea what everyone’s been through. I just know some of it can be avoided. And there can be a little less brokenness. And there can be just a little more light.

      This is the only way I know how to contribute to that cause.

      1. Yes, appreciate it. If it feels like too much, chalk it up to the synchronicity of you merely saying something unassuming but well timed to land in ears that seep it into a mind searching for those words.

        Perhaps you’re just saying simple things that anyone could say, you’re just saying it at the right time to the right audience. But isn’t that all it is? Bob Dylan can’t sing for shit, but he spoke for a generation.

        But stay humble, stay hungry, stay right where you are until you’ve exhausted it for yourself. I’m not inclined anymore to quibble with circumstance. I endeavor to take what’s generously given, even if the giver is giving unknowingly.

        If what you say effects me, I like telling you, so you can know, for a moment, that your words, for today, dropped in the pond of my experience, ripples out the goodness you intended. I don’t care if you’re not sure how you’re doing it, or even if you can keep doing it. That’s just the artist’s dilemma.

        Also, you don’t have to know where we’re all coming from. Your intention is pure, as are your convictions, and that’s what comes across.

        There is just a little more light.

        1. If I ever stumble into some money, I’m going to hire you to just write me nice notes every day.

          You’re wonderful, Dorothy. Thank you so much.

  31. SUPERBLY executed. I don’t have time to read all these great comments, so hoping this one observation of mine is not redundant. You make mention about a very slight percentage (5%) of involvement when planning the wedding. This is quite possibly universal, with few exceptions. I have a sneaking suspicion this is where “the stage originally gets set.” Women (dreaming about weddings from age 6?) will make strong preferences known. Correct me if I’m wrong, but guys see this overt behavior and think, “Whoa…she wants what she wants. Well ok, this kinda thing doesn’t really matter to me. Let her have her dream. I’ll just fade away here….” and then that generalizes, projects, and carries over into everyday life. Until we have a nice little pattern going, that nobody really notices until it’s too late. But make no mistake, the subconscious of both parties IS noticing. And it’s transmitting the damage from the inside, out. Just a thought. Scapegoat the wedding…lol. Seriously, I am a big believer that far too much time, energy, and money goes into those five hours and that it takes away from half (or more) of the period of time during the “engagement” when the couple should be “engaging in one learning about the other” and getting to know the nuances about him/herself within the confines of the relationship. Not so much about white cake vs. marble with cream cheese filling.

    Loved this post! You will Publish Book. You will Publish Book. You will Publish Book. Do you hypnotize easily?
    Stephanie

    1. You’re a pretty awesome lady. Even of what you said isn’t true, it’s still an incredibly relevant and worthwhile theory

      Make the wedding the scapegoat. Amazing. I need to think about this more. A lot more. I can’t see the value in crushing the dreams of a little girl on her most-important day.

      But I do realize it’s all sentimental. None of that shit matters and it never will. Not if the two people don’t actually live with the conviction of those vows. And we have now proven, I think, that more than half of us never do.

      I’d love to write a book. 🙂 I don’t hypnotize easily, I don’t think. But I don’t know how to take all of this and package it into something useful, interesting, relevant, and most importantly, new and unique. If it can’t help someone, it’s not worth writing.

      But I promise to try. Thank you for being part of the conversation. Super smart. Super funny. Never enough people like that. 🙂

      1. Thank you, Matt. Just for kicks, google “Make my blog into a book” and one company will come up high in the search that allows you to click a button and instantly view (for free)what your blog would look like as a book. Kinda fun and might get you to do what we ALL obviously want you to! ;-). (Besides be happy). Anyhow, I departed from my typical humor posting last night and I would be particularly honored if you would let me know what you think? It’s called “The Write Way To Die.”

  32. One Parent Short

    After a difficult marriage and a heartbreaking divorce I feel almost panicked that if my beautiful, bright sons leave home with only one piece of advice ringing in their ears it is to be patient enough to marry the right one for the right reasons. It never once occurred to me to say “be the right one, for the right reasons”. There may still be time. Thank you so much for this bright light of marital insight.

    (Sorry if this is mildly out of context – but hey you can’t always choose the source of your epiphanies!)

    1. I think there are bad people out there plotting horrible things all the time. And I think our intelligence communities and agencies stop the vast, vast majority from happening.

      So, we get a short bullet point in a mostly unread police blotter, rather than the biggest, saddest story of a generation (9-11-2001).

      Because the horribleness never took place. There’s no drama. But there’s infinitely more peace.

      It can be the same with our children. If we teach them about marriage. Really talk to them. Because most of us don’t know how hard it is until we find ourselves in the highest-stakes and most-painful situations of our lives.

      If you can get through to your sons, they can save a bunch of lives. No one will really ever point to some big, important event. It will just be a whisper.

      But that whisper will save lives. For your sons. For their wives. For your future grandchildren. And great grandchildren. For all their friends. And co-workers. For your friends. And the in-laws. And every holiday get-together forever.

      People–as a general rule–don’t respect the ripple effects and severity of divorce. I’m not going to stop talking about it though.

      Because this world can be better. And this is one of the ways.

      Thank you for loving your sons so much that you’d want to help them with this. It’s such an important gift.

      Thank you for reading and saying hi. I appreciate it so much.

  33. It must take half your day just keeping up with the comments 🙂

    It’s during this time in my life that I do the most thinking about who I am, what I’ve been and how I could have done things better. The “how I could have done things better” part is something I think about the most. I’ve picked myself apart, beat myself up and made promises to myself to do better in the future.

    Self reflection is good and we both know sometimes we learn lessons too late in the game. But I know too that it takes two to make things work. Unfair expectations and lack of communication are killers of a marriage. Being the nice “yes dear” kind of guy only happens when the other allows it to happen. I think a wife should speak up instead of allowing resentment to build.

    1. I hope you know this about me, but you might not…

      I believe STRONGLY that women are culpable in destroying their marriages. Sometimes the wives are the biggest problem.

      However.

      1. I can only write about being a guy. About being a husband.
      2. I want people to self reflect and take responsibility for their lives. If I constantly think about and write about all the ways I feel I was treated unfairly, I will never grow.

      It’s up to wives and women to search inside themselves for things they can do better or differently. And it’s NOT my place to tell these people who hurt in nearly identical ways in which I created hurt in my wife, to tell them how. Because I have no idea. Because I don’t have any idea about anything. I just know what happened to me.

      You’re right. You are. Quite right.

      And as always, I appreciate you taking a minute to weigh in and think about this stuff.

      Hope things are going okay. As well as they can. Always wishing you and your family, well.

  34. Pingback: An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 6 | Preface & Epilogue

  35. I did not realize that the outcome of my marriage was part of a psychological plague. Did you hit a nerve or what? I may have to respond further on my blog.
    Matt, you’ve got real talent. I also think you were a real lazy shit at times and since I didn’t have to live with you, I don’t care now. You see it. Seeing it is half way there.

    1. I was a lazy shit.

      It cost me everything that ever mattered.

      There are lessons there. Thank you for forgiving me. I really am trying to be better.

  36. Pingback: The Other Side of the Story- A Response to MBTTTR | Journey of Endings; the Lonely Doctor

  37. Matt, though we all have our flaws, you take the time to recognize them and that. is. incredible. I don’t know you past a thumbnail and you’re writing and I just love you as a person. You surprise me everyday. I’m so glad I stumbled on your blog when I started writing. It’s been amazing to read your journey. You’re going to be totally okay, dude. Better than that. Thanks for being the only thing you know how to be-you.

    Oh yeah, and great post. ha

    1. Thank you so much Lara. You’ve been supporting this stuff and following along for quite a while.

      I appreciate it very, very much.

      Always trying to grow and be more. I hope other people will, too. 🙂

  38. Yep. I’m married to a nice guy myself. Yes, it takes two to tango, but sometimes…

    We are fast coming up on our 19th wedding anniversaries and have weathered a lot of storms together. I have been accused by others in our lives of being a “controlling bitch,” though thankfully not him. He’s had a tough wake-up call the last few years as my health has plummeted and more and more responsibilty has fallen on his shoulders.

    Thank you, Matt, for posting this. It’s spot on! 🙂

    Wordsgood

    1. You’re welcome. First, thoughts and prayers for your health coming your way. Second, I’m sorry people are calling you names. I hope they’re men. Third, thank you for taking a minute to let me know you thought that this was relevant. I goof off a fair amount and I sometimes wonder whether this stuff has any credibility. It’s really nice when people validate it.

      Thank you so much. And to many healthy years…

    1. I always wonder how people will react to something like this. Especially guys. I really appreciate that you think it’s valuable enough to share. Thank you, Martin. Very much.

  39. Really nice girls can be shitty wives, too.

    When my first marriage was breaking up, I learned that a person is: how they feel and what they want. When I didn’t honestly bring those things to the table, I didn’t bring myself.

    What I did was a variation of what you did. Instead of withholding who I was, I tried to give the “right” answers. What do you want for dinner? (you love fresh-killed squirrel, so of course that’s what I want). And then it morphed into, what kind of wedding do you want? (your family is Catholic? OK. I’m not, but a Catholic wedding with mass is great. I’ll write the vows so you and your family like them. And I’ll wear the white dress you pick out and buy for me.)

    When I learned to be me, it was too late. I discovered that my husband had fallen in love with the girl who liked to eat squirrels, not the vegan.

    [When my father realized that he had been a shitty husband/father, he gave my sister and me the book Wounded Woman, Healing the Father-Daughter Relationship – his counselor had recommended it for him to read. This book might be useful/relevant for other women here who might be feeling the impact of a father who kept his distance.]

    1. Yes.

      Some of this is simply a lesson in honesty.

      Being honest with others. With people who’s approval we crave and are scared to be honest with.

      But most importantly, I think? With ourselves.

      Thank you for saying hi and sharing your stories.

  40. Matt- i came late to this one, and think it’s one of your best and smartest posts. It’s interesting that you frame doing this necessary work as “grabbing your balls,” because what you are asking men to do is to participate in women’s work that they generally think is beneath them. It’s why getting them to take part is so hard: shitty husbands like this win twice, by seeming nice by letting the woman “have her way,” and by avoiding the mundane bureaucratic work of the household and the relationship. I hope this blog post prompts some change out there, because organized feminism hasn’t made much of a dent in this problem.

    1. Nor will it, I don’t think.

      Lot of misplaced pride and ego among guys. I think I see the big picture pretty well, and I’m still totally capable of typical male ego. It’s sad.

      I don’t think we’re going to fix this through reasonable arguments from the women in their lives.

      I think they need to A. Learn the hard way (like me), or B. Get competitive. Because men are competitive. And they have an innate desire to want to excel and be the best at things. It’s time for guys to think about what it really takes to be “the best” at being a husband. Or a father. Or a whatever.

      Maybe then, there’s hope.

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    1. They need someone to shoot down and make the bad guy, right? They need someone to reject and belittle, so it might as well be the husband. Listen, wives, you immediately asserted dominance the minute you said, “You’re not wearing that, are you?”. You don’t want his actual opinion, you want him to agree with you. Now, when you condition them to finally do so, you cry and whine because they’re doing it? You send him to the couch when he disagrees with the bathroom tiling, you force him to rattle off a bunch of choices and shoot him down for hours in regards to food. Then, when he ignores it and picks something, you whine that he’s not listening to you. I’ll get replies of “I don’t do that!”. I know I will. If that’s true, then listen to yourself the next time your husband makes a decision, or opposes one of your decisions. You’ll fly off the handle, and bam! He’s on the couch or moving out.Guarantee it.

      1. Don’t guess love will be troubling you much in this life Lyle. What a hateful response to this man’s beautiful work in the service of decreasing human suffering for all of us, men and women. .

    2. I ran across your blog after typing in to Google, “why is my husband nice to everyone but me?” Yes, that is where I am. After nearly 12 years I am so at a loss that I am resorting to Google to help me figure out my life. Pathetic. But it did lead me to this which has been such an incredible eye opener.

      My husband is tall (there is a shortage of tall men-haha no pun intended), smart, REALLY funny, classically handsome (he even has the Superman “butt” chin for Pete’s sake), works hard, is a great provider. Good in bed, actually very good. Took on my two children from a previous marriage…and I am leaving him. Sounds crazy right? That’s what I have been telling myself for longer than I care to admit.

      The flip side of that coin is he is at best neglectful, at worst, abusive. His father and mother have a marriage that has largely consisted of them living separate lives. He did not witness affection, therefore he cannot seem to express it. His mother did everything while his father worked. I bet you can guess the dynamics in our household. On top of this for many years I stood by him while dragging him through breaking habits and hang ups that you just can’t maintain while being a grown up. I won’t go into details. There was of course, lying, sneaking and backslides. I still deal with his excessive drinking and Jekyll/Hyde personality after too many.

      That’s where (most times, but not all times) the real hateful stuff comes in. He yells, like at the top of his lungs. Names, filthy things, he does not care if the children hear. He has had “tantrums” breaking things and yes there have been times things got physical. And I am not innocent in that equation.

      Even when sober, he does not care “to be bothered” with my problems, concerns or frustrations. If I am having a tough time at work (or fill in the blank) he sits mutely, staring at the TV, sometimes audibly sighing until I am finished. He does not offer a response. If I press for one, it generally consists of me being to blame in some way for the situation. I am then told how I complain “all the time” so what does it matter. And besides, it stresses him out. Don’t I know how tired he is from work?

      He is quick to judge and almost non existent to praise.

      His joy in life is doing anything, literally anything away from me and the kids. If I am at work, he will consistently leave our 12 year old for hours upon hours to hang out with friends, citing she is old enough to pick up the phone if there was an emergency. I guess 911 is the baby sitter?? My one stint in the hospital (I was terrified) he left me to go hunting with a buddy. He in fact did not even make it to the hospital, going straight from work. He once left me in a bar to go smoke for almost an hour with a complete bunch of strangers. Getting drunk with his friends on my birthday. Ruining countless dates by starting arguments because he had one too many. The examples go on and on.

      I don’t know if it was a lack of relationship with his father or what, but he seems to have an unnatural need for male companionship. If you are thinking what I think you may be thinking, yes, I have thought that too. I don’t think it is the case, but who knows…all I know is again, he’d rather be anywhere, doing anything before being with his family. We stress him out. He’s just “trying to live his life.” And boy, does everyone else think he is just the GREATEST! And he is…for them.

      His defense strategy for this behavior is he sacrifices everything for us. He works very hard to provide for us. (He does.) He has always let me do whatever I want (true, mostly because he doesn’t care). In a nut shell, he brings home the majority of the money, mows the lawn, does the major house repair so he’s done his part.

      Which is also why he cannot be bothered with cleaning, cooking, errands, bill paying, managing of appointments, health care or well…anything beyond “his part” which I listed above. In addition to all those things he can’t be bothered with, I manage the kids (including discipline), ran his books for multiple years for his business while holding down a job myself.

      And he wonders why I am inexplicably upset, stressed or lately, depressed. I mean, what’s the problem right?

      Lately I had a real breakdown, crying on the couch. The whole bit. He left, spent the entire day gone, coming home after 9pm. When I finally nailed him down to talk he responded with how I needed to suck it up and get a life.

      How do you find time to fit in a life when you’re single handedly managing a house and job? Hmmm…

      Even reading my own words I think what a loser! Why would she stay?! I think it is a combination of life events and choices that conditioned me to “accept this”. I am from a broken home and while my father did fight to keep me from my completely incapable mother, he was also an alcoholic. In my early teens, I began to act out, eventually leaving at 14 to be married. Yes. Married. At 14. And no, I was not pregnant. I was separated from my family for many years and grew up feeling abandoned and let down by those who should have loved me most and not given up on me.

      After that marriage ended (shocker!), I went on to marry my own alcoholic who was very abusive, both physically and mentally. As a result I continued to make bad decisions and did not develop a proper career for myself.

      After ten years and two kids, I finally left and about two year later, met my current husband. Anyone would seem like a dream after what I had come out of.

      And in some ways he is. And I hate him all the more for it. Because I see what could be but that he won’t let it.

      Anyways, I have quite taken over here and go on far too long. But my desire is to say THANK YOU. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! Reading these posts and the comments make me see I am NOT crazy and do not have unrealistic expectations of what a functional, respectful marriage looks like.

      It has given me courage to do what I should have a long time ago. As a Christian (another wonderful thing he has done for me-like I said, Jekyll and Hyde) it pains me greatly to divorce. Please pray for me, my kids and for my husband too.

    3. I am so appreciative of your thoughts, honesty, and assertive advice to shitty husbands. Mine just left me and your blog is cheering me up because he fits all these traits.

  43. I read all 7 volumes and loved every single word. AWESOME. Thank you. I know that my spouse will not read it, which makes me sad, but it is what it is. The first thing he asked me when I told him what I was reading and suggested that he read it, because “it’s him and me” to a “T” right now…he asked if it was one hundred pages long. I said it was about 7, internet long lol…

    But I still thought…am I or our relationship not worth one hundred pages of words? (-_-) He doesn’t get that he is about to end up single. I don’t think he will get it, until I am gone.

    Thanks again…best read of the year for me!

    1. Most marriages/relationships seem to fail for the same reasons. Over and over and over again.

      I really think we can do a better job. I think men have a huge role to play.

      Thank you for investing time and emotion in these posts. Best wishes for you as you try to reconnect with him. I hope you believe it’s possible. He just needs to want it as much as you.

      1. I wish my shitty husband just needed to help out and so forth. For me, my life with him has been one criticism after another. He doesn’t like the way I dress, the way I walk, the way I sit. He wants me to be quiet when we are out with others. He gives me a list of what his mother, sister, and brother say are wrong with me. He allows them to be cruel or completely ignore me.

        Sex involved ripping my tongue out of my mouth, shredding my lip, and the claiming quite vehemently that he had no idea; couldn’t taste my blood. He didn’t realize he had hurt me in other ways to explicit and awful to mention here. He broke my thumb and claims he didn’t hear it snap. Claims he didn’t notice me not being able to use my hand for weeks after the incident.

        I finally grew a pair and started fighting back. I told someone. They didn’t believe me. I finally told someone that did. It was the other manager at his job. He knows I will press charges if he hurts my body again.

        He still insists that I go to family events whrere his family ignores me.

        I do none of the things I once did. I no longer run, dance, or even exist. I’m the walking dead. If my children didn’t have medical needs I would leave him. But I can’t afford their care on my own.

        Everyone thinks he is such a nice godly man. He knows a lot about the bible. He rarely attempts sex anymore and this is a good thing. Instead he stays up on his computer until all hours of the night. That isn’t much better. Except now instead of raping my body, he rapes my soul.

        I have tried to get him to understand what he is doing. He has amazing ways to justify all the things he does and allows others to do.

        He would tell you that he is a good husband. He does the dishes sometimes and if I say I’m going to ask someone else he will finally fix the ceiling fan that hasn’t worked in over a year. He will say he pays the bills and that all his money goes on us as if we are some huge inconvenience to his life. He will also do and say anything he can to avoid having to take responsibility for his family’s actions. But he takes the dog out every day. I can no longer even look at him without feeling repulsed. My fear has been replaced with contempt. The admiration and hope I once had for him has been replaced with disappointment and hopelessness.

        I find out things he has said are not true and he says feels he is justified in lying to me.

        I once did everything and anything he asked me to do. Even that wasn’t ever enough. He feels wronged that I started to fight back. He feels he is the victim. At least he feels something. I feel numb most days unless I have my regular nightmares where he and his family are chasing me with knives. I used to wake up in a panic. Now j just wake up wishing they would finally catch up to me and do what they will with the knives.

        My sons no longer value women. They say derogatory things about women and treat me with the same indifference that he does.

        I was once a woman of faith. I had a servant’s heart. Now I question the existence of a God that would allow someone to do so much evil to me- unpunished. I no longer serve but spend most of my time hidden in my house.

        I will never understand why I wasn’t worthy of being respected, honored, and protected. My life is truly like living in the movie the invasion of the body snatchers. He looks human on the outside but inside he is a monster.

        1. Your personal life and your personal choice are none of my business. It was brave of you to share. Thank you. But I need to say this:

          I advocate fighting to make marriage work. But only when two people legitimately aspire to living up to their marital vows.

          Sounds like this has not and is not happening in your marriage.

          Don’t live in fear and misery, fear of physical harm and psychological torture.

          Thoughts and prayers for you and your children.

        2. You absolutely are worthy of being respected, honored, and protected and your husband is not doing that and instead is harming you then acting like he didn’t know he had or acts unconcerned about your pain and is controlling and disrespectful towards you and is allowing his family members to disrespect you then all of those things are different forms of domestic abuse and domestic violence. Also, your husband my be a narcissist, at the very least he may just be a piece of shit and an abuser. But regardless of anything that he is or isn’t, you and your children are what’s important. And if you are feeling like you described in your comment then the situation you’re in is an incredibly unhealthy place to be. Regardless of what care your children may require, the damage caused by what that are living in has the potential to also cause them long-lasting emotional trauma in their lives. You and your children deserve a healthier life. Don’t let fear hold you back from standing up for yourself and your duty to protect your family. Even if its from your husband. Seek help from qualified experts and professionals if you think there’s any salvageable relationship left but if there is nothing left worth fighting for then speak to an attorney. If you don’t already keep a journal then start. They are usually admissible in court and may be considered as evidence backing you up. If he is narcissist you can expect to be drug thru the mud so be prepared for any kind of bullshit to be thrown at you. Don’t let it phase you tho. Keep fighting. And accept nothing less than what you need to take care of your kids medical needs and also yourself and your needs when discussing alimony. Never let him see vulnerabilities and don’t let him win. And once you start to separate your life from him do not, I repeat, DO NOT WAIVER IN YOUR DECISION TO LEAVE HIM! It will be worse if you try to leave then change your mind and stay. He will assume he is in complete control of you and since you won’t or can’t leave anyways he can now behave however with out any restraint. The hell you feel now will not compare to what torture your life would be if you stayed after deciding to leave. Once your gone go no contact. Period. Even willingness to argue to him would likely be willingness to come back and consent to his abuse. There are two sides to any story but if what you wrote is your absolute and unfluffed truth then you have to save yourself and your children from that as soon as possible. And don’t give him even an inch of footing in your life after that. You deserve so much better. And you are not hopeless. He may very well be though. But you don’t have to save him. You do have to save yourself and your kids. I am praying for you. It isnt easy but it is possible and there’s a way out always. You can do this. I hope u know that.

    2. Very interesting and insightful read. Thank you for putting it all out there, sometimes it’s nice to know others are going through the same thing. I struggle daily with an inner battle, is it because I’m a shitty wife? Or because he’s a shitty husband? Both are true, and I take on a lot of the blame for our problems. But as a stay at home taxi mom who home schools, Mother’s Day is a day I unfortunately get my hopes up for every year. And just like always, I sound up cleaning while who got in a two hour nap. I’m thankful for the card he gave me! It’s just that it was another day for us. I get meals for the kids, I do laundry, I referee fights, etc. Then I get to the breaking point where I say screw it all and refuse to do anything else, then he asks if I’m in a bad mood because it’s mothers day (in his usual condescending tone). Your letters have helped me to think of ways to approach this with him when he gets home tonight. And yes, after 8 years of marriage, I’m starting to think of another man. It scares me, because I can’t help myself and I don’t see myself ever physically cheating, but the thought alone feels unfaithful.

      1. Dang…all these letters are far too relatable. I’m finally divorcing after 22 years (6 years of homeschooling). The toll with an un-involved but nice husband finally got to be too much. Don’t let it go on for 22 years. I hope you can make things better, if not, I hope you can find the courage to leave. I know that for me it was very difficult since I hadn’t worked for 17 years and am almost 45 and needing to suddenly find a way to support myself. We are separated now, and although it is very hard and sucks in so many ways, it is also really freeing and nice. I wish he knew and understood all these small ways he killed our marriage (and I know I contributed in my ways as well). Good luck.

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  46. Brilliant! I am full of admiration and was taken by surprise by the warts and all sincerity. Your insight is a real gift.

    My story: I said to my husband 13 odd years ago, “Do you know how hurtful it is for me for you to sit back and make me be the Captain of this ship? I am mentally and physically exhausted and sometimes I actually HATE you for it…. HATE ….YOU!! It’s like you think so little of me, you don’t care,even though you can see how at times I’m barely hanging in there by a thread. I resent that if I were one of your workmates or just a friend, you would be the first one there to help shoulder that load, but with me there isn’t even a flicker of recognition that I am buckling.
    I don’t want to be the Captain of this ship any more, it’s chipping away at my health and my soul, please… I’m begging you step up because I need this. I need you because I just can’t do it anymore”.

    No, it didn’t help at the time. Not one iota. Roughly four years later I disengaged from my job, my friends, life and him. I went into a deep depression that hung over me every waking moment for nearly sixteen months. It was only then that he truly ‘got it’.

    When my depressive state lifted I had another twelve months of having a mix of resentment and anger towards him. I seriously, for the first time, contemplated divorce, I had blamed him., probably somewhat unfairly, a 100% for my depression. No doubt he contributed, but where and how did I allow for our relationship dynamics to progress to that state? Was it a slow barely noticeable force where he took a step back one at a time? Did I buy into that being a “good” wife meant stoically accepting that it was my duty to be “all” and above all never expect nor complain? I actually understand his contribution to it more than mine. It’s not about blame or guilt, I just want to know where I was in it.

    For us, we ended up for the first time in twenty years truly, cliché as it sounds, connecting honestly. We are mostly (have the odd snap) very happy- home at last.

    1. I also felt like this, I took on more and more out of love as he was stressed about other stuff. But by not actively giving back the responsibility when that time had passed I actually allowed, almost invited, being treated like this. Unfortunately we didn’t make it, but there are additional reasons. I do often look back tho, and wonder how different it would have been if I just did a few things differently early on in the marriage.

    2. I checked out years ago because of this. I don’t care anymore if the house is a mess, or if I am. As long as the kids get fed and have clean clothes to put on, it’s a good day. I do still make sure the bills get paid (If I didn’t, we wouldn’t have utilities.) because he can’t be bothered to manage a budget or log on to pay them. I do still make sure there is food in the house, as soon as the kids are grown and on their own, I can stop doing all of that too.

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  51. This article is as if you have observed my husband since we got married. Thank you for your articles. I sent him the links specifically with columes 2,4,6 and 9 to read. We do not have children, but everything else is spot on. He thinks I’m the only woman like this and to “require less” when I beg for some attention and help. I am not sure if I can hang on much longer. I fear that he will not realize what he lost until I am gone. I pray it doesn’t come to that. Thank you for making me believe that it ISNT just me, that my feelings matter, and I deserve more.

    1. Marriage is so hard because even good people who care have a difficult time with it.

      I dropped this link into another comment recently, and I may have even referenced it in this very post. It’s worth doing again…

      http://www.amazon.com/Improve-Marriage-Without-Talking-About-ebook/dp/B001PSEQ6U/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424889919&sr=1-1&keywords=how+to+improve+your+marriage+without+talking+about+it

      I think that book is a game changer. The problem? I’m pretty nice and conscientious and even I wouldn’t read a book my wife wanted me to read when asked (“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” which is a pretty similar premise).

      This book, though? As a husband and man? It spoke to me in ways no other book has. Helping me realize why men and women have trouble communicating with one another. Helping me understand myself better. Helping me understand my wife better. Helping me to realize one of the most important life lessons in the world that your husband (just like me) didn’t/doesn’t understand: This happens to EVERYONE. You are not alone. And the things you experience, think and feel are very similar to how other frustrated married couples going through hard times think and feel.

      It’s common because EVERYONE does it. That’s why therapists and PhDs can write these books that can make so many people go: “Holy shit!!! That’s ME!”

      I love that feeling. The one you get when you realize you’re not the only one and that you’ve somehow stumbled on some universal piece of code that makes us all human.

      Your husband is probably a really good guy. And he gets really confused when you’re upset because he would NEVER get upset about the things you get upset about. He knows he’s not crazy. So you MUST be crazy. That’s what he thinks.

      But you’re not crazy, Anne. He’s not crazy. My wife wasn’t crazy. I’m not crazy. It’s just, you speak Portuguese and I speak Mandarin. You speak French and I speak German.

      And we don’t get one another because we are fundamentally different on the inside.

      And I think once the husband understands–in his heart and soul–that his wife is a radically different person experiencing everything differently than him… and once the wife understands throughout her entire being that her husband isn’t some emotionless, totally oblivious robot, that both partners can find a way to speak the same language, or AT LEAST understand that different languages are being spoken so that feelings aren’t being hurt and fighting isn’t taking place.

      Six-second hugs. So the oxytocin kicks in.

      Lots of eye contact and gentle voices.

      Being in the same place at the same time, even if there isn’t much to talk about.

      And respecting and appreciating that everyone involved has different personal goals and feelings, but that BOTH actually want the marriage to work in the end.

      I’m pretty sure that’s how we get it done. That, and good friends. That, and a little grace. That, and maybe a few extra drinks and some messed-up sheets.

      You have my very best wishes on this journey.

      That grass isn’t greener anywhere else.

      Six-second hugs!

      They work.

      Thank you so much for reading and taking time to comment.

      1. Matt, these words are jewels, they speak so much. Thank you for writing this. I wish I stumbled upon this blog earlier…

    2. You aren’t alone at all. When we fight it’s 90% THIS that I’m trying to get him to understand. He goes to work and leave everything else to me. It’s demoralizing to know that a good paid housekeeper and personal assistant could replace me for him. I want more than that.

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  53. Your letters have been mesmerising for me. I am that wife, the wife that was unloved, unsupported, under valued by her shitty husband. The man who is such a ‘nice’ guy he couldn’t possibly be a shitty husband. It wasn’t him it was me that was crazy, needy, insecure and just not a nice person. If sometimes I felt overwhelmed by the enormity of managing the house, two kids, two part time jobs, renovate the house and deal with the debt whilst he worked away all week, then I must be crazy! At least that is what I was made to think. I even apologised over and over again for being the bad person I was. My husband was such a ‘nice’ guy he didn’t need to apologise for anything. The only difference is it was my shitty husband that left me because I was such a shitty wife. Maybe one day he may realise every thing I did for him and appreciate me for the wife I was.

  54. I don’t know you. But I thank God for you. I googled “my husband is an asshole” and there it was. I expected to find result after result of angry wives. I found you. After vol 1 I was in full breakdown. I couldn’t stop crying. By vol 6 I was on the floor locked in my bathroom. It feels like someone reached inside me and laid me bare for the world. As I read my husband played (and is currently playing) video games. I begged him to watch something with me. I begged him to play board games with the kids and I. He didn’t even acknowledge my presence. I am sorry that you had to go through what you’ve been through. I hate to say that after 13 years I will be going through it as well. But its like you said: the misery of the divorce will be less (for me anyway) then the misery I’d feel everyday I continue this marriage.

  55. I spent an hour drafting my woes and just erased the entire thing.

    Your words truly touched me. I can only hope that you reach the many men out there who have the power to be not just “good guys’, but become GREAT MEN.

    My husband is a “great guy”. He works hard. I have not, and will never, take that away from him. He’s made ends meet when I have faltered in my “bread winning” responsibilities these past few years.

    Somewhere along the line, the rivalry we had, turned into a one-sided vendetta, and sex went from something I really enjoyed to being compulsory to being completely unwanted with him.

    He spent eight of the last ten years playing video games and/or watching Steven Segal movies or westerns. (Yay! 🙁 )

    He’s mad at the world and has been for most of his life. (You can see it in the pictures of him as a kid, too!)

    I know that he sings my praises to other people.

    I’m sure that he loves me.

    In August of last year, he had a partial amputation of one of his feet due to complications associated with diabetes. He had an average of 8-10 doctors appointments every week. He had a PICC line in his arm and three bags of antibiotics pumped into his body every day, starting at 5 AM.

    I dropped everything professionally and worked to build a new business, that was starting to see some headway and profit, in the hospital cafeteria and between appointments, wound changes, followup surgeries, picking up prescriptions, taking care of the house, taking care of the kids, taking care of the pets, and etc.

    Oh and, did I fail to mention that I slipped, fell, and herniated three disks in my lower back just prior to his hospital stay and put off any followup care for me until he had become more stabilized. (I was also lugging around a 50 pound wheelchair and lifting it to and from the trunk and backseat of our cars during this whole time.)

    For the first time in 14 years, he was NORMAL, like he’d finally cleared the cobwebs from his eyes, looked around and realized that he had a good thing going with people that he loved and cared for (and, more importantly, loved and cared for him back).

    He went back to work in December of last year.

    I’ll admit that, after the holidays, after the constant running, I had no idea what I was doing, and how to kick start my company again. I was in a malaise and went to Psychiatrist to get help.

    Since February, I’ve been slowly rebuilding my business and repairing relationships with clients that were sympathetic to what I was going through, but had businesses of their own to run. Things are starting to pick up again.

    During that same time, I saw my husband, that I had grown used to actually and genuinely liking and loving again, disappear back to where he was before.

    Before his illness, I would fantasize about walking out after the kids grew up. (I spent a lot of time figuring out how exactly I was going to do it, too.)

    In December of last year, I started to play video games myself while he followed the same routine he had done for the previous year….

    1. Come home.
    2. Yell at the kids.
    3. Change his clothes.
    4. Turn on the television.
    5. Wait to be served his dinner. (Sometimes he would switch things up and come to the kitchen to get his food himself.)
    6. Wait for someone to pick up his dishes and ask him if there was anything else he needed.
    7. Come out a few times for something to drink.
    8. Yell at the kids some more or complain about whatever was on television. (Take your pick, both items do equal time.)
    9. Wait for me to come to bed.
    10. Bitch about his work.
    11. Interrogate me about how my business was going.
    12. Tell me how much “better” I had it than he does because I can work for myself (and how much he wishes that he had that kind of backing).
    13. Tell me how I was either doing something wrong with my business or would tell me that I had just “lost” money when a deal would fall through.
    14. Tell me that I must live in la-la land because I didn’t stress out about things like he did.
    15. Tell me that he, unlike most people, don’t think that life is too short, but that life is too long and his life, in particular, is shitty and he can’t wait for it to end.
    16. Take a shower.
    17. Go to bed and either get a blowjob or explain how, although he would never cheat on his woman, he could understand why men did when their wives withheld sex because they were using their lack of wanting to fuck as a weapon. Doesn’t matter how the day had gone for her… What mean things were said to her by her husband… Just that sex should be somehow a mandatory thing. To hell with interactions between coming home to the bed!

    Before that time, substitute items 4 through 8 with hide in his office upstairs and either play video games or play guitar really really really loud so that the entire house vibrated with the din of someone who is literally tone deaf. (He would admit to this.)

    I admit it. Since his reverting back to his good old “self” that I had truly become to loath and stayed only to finish raising our kids, I pulled back and avoided confrontation. I played video games. I folded myself into our kids for friendship. (Yes, I continued to parent… I just didn’t seek conversation where it wasn’t necessary.)

    I’ve been holding onto those four months where I felt like I had a partner that truly saw me and valued me with the hope that he would come back!

    Two weeks ago my oldest son was admitted into the emergency room and transferred/medivaced to the children’s hospital because the doctors thought he had a perforated esophagus. (I took him when my husband was tired and was hoping that it would remedy itself by morning. I do not blame him. I was tired, too. )

    They kept him for two days.

    We went home for a night to grab a few hours of sleep when my husband started in on a 2 1/2 hour long lecture about how he was being used, how I was a failure in my business, how I was a failure at being a parent and did nothing at home other than vacuum every couple of weeks, and even spent about 30 minutes on my weight.

    Oh and, I was also informed that, during that four months that I’ve been hanging onto like a life preserver, he was a doormat. (Yes, you read that right… He was the doormat.)

    I remember spending over an hour in the car one day when I took him to his office to pick up some paperwork because everyone wanted to talk to him. He was upstairs chatting it up while I stayed in a stuffier and stuffier car.

    I’ve NEVER (not even now) brought that up to him.

    When I brought up the fact that I had set everything of my own on hold during that time, I was told that all “dictators think that are victims”. (I’ve checked the quote with my son.)

    All this was in front of our 13 year old son. (Who started timing my talking… I got a whole 15 minutes and 47 seconds to speak during the time!)

    For the first time in my entire adult life, I asked my husband to take his hands off of me the other night. I didn’t even mean to say it. It just slipped out.

    It wasn’t that I didn’t want sex. It wasn’t that I had someone (anyone) else in mind.

    I’ve apologized.

    I’ve tried talking about it.

    He honestly thinks that it was all me and that everything from his gripes to the timing of his diatribe were warranted and that I am going to make things worse by trying to discuss any of what transpired two weeks ago tonight.

    I will admit to not being your typical female.

    I don’t expect a guy to “get” what I want. I will straight up tell him.

    I won’t talk about my problems just to vent. (Please excuse this extremely long-winded post to the contrary.)

    I always treated sex just like the guys for most of my life.

    I am heart broken by this recent turn of events and it hurts even more when the guy I sleep next to can’t understand that the only time during our relationship I felt valued and not like an albatross around his neck has been shattered and that his entire life (at least in his eyes) is shit.

    Who wouldn’t be attracted to that and want to fuck the shit out of it? Huh?

    This is the third time I’ve rewritten this. Every time I’ve erased it out of feelings of guilt because, although it would sound otherwise, he really is a nice guy.

    I don’t understand why he would want to stay with anyone that he believes is a part of his shitty existence and who is so unattractive, he felt the need to do a half hour of fat commentary in front of his son.

    I don’t expect anyone to help me, but me.

    Thank you for your blog. Thank you for allowing me to vent here.

      1. Update: We split up about 6 days before you posted your replies.

        He’s in counseling for abusers. (Who, coincidentally, are often thought of at “nice guys”. It is kinda their “thing”.)

        The house is quiet, peaceful, and their seems to finally be time to concentrate on something other than how terrible the last 16 years have been! 🙂

        Breathing deeply and without suffocating is a wonderful and new thing for me and my boys, but it is not a commodity that we will ever be forced to live without again!

        If anyone’s relationship has the turmoil and derision that was in mine, please seek help before the damage is done and permanent.

        I don’t really know if my shitty husband will ever learn to take responsibility for his words and actions. I don’t know if he will ever seek redemption through atonement and genuine remorse for his entitlement and abuse issues. Those are his issues.

        I do know that we are taking this one step at a time and hoping for the best, but keeping a very watchful eye on where this goes from here.

  56. I’m that guy that thinks I’m so nice and so good to my wife, and sit there and wonder why my wife thinks that I don’t show her enough attention or that I don’t love her as much as I once did. I’m pretty ignorant to what my wife is really thinking and feeling. But I aim to change ALL that. Count on it!

  57. Tempted to text this link to my soon to be ex. How would that go over anyway? He hasn’t even asked how I’m doing since last March, but who’s counting? It’s my fault he says, I’m harsh. I told him last August I’d put down harsh if he wanted to try to talk and I did. For 3 weeks. He didn’t call. When I called him after the third week and told him he’d had his chance I was hurt and angry. He told me he was right. See? You’re harsh.

    I don’t want to ruin my childrens’ lives but he’s now entitled and emotionally abusive. I think had anyone told him these things much sooner and had that person not been me we wouldn’t be where we are now. I’ve since learned my value and its much higher than the price tag he puts on me. I hate to bail on the beautiful life I imagined with exactly him. I accept his faults and failings. I tried not to nag and whine when he chose any other activity besides spending time with me. He killed us. I couldn’t keep it together when he became abusive on top of it. I tried for 16 years. I didn’t like who I became out of my desperation of needing help and wanting comraderie and wanting to fight the world back to back and enjoy each other when we grew old. I’m sure if I texted him this link he’d read the tagline and roll his eyes and remember what a bitch I am.

    1. In the long run, your children will thank you. (Don’t do what I did and wait until they come to you and ask you to do so.)

  58. Since you are going back to 2001 if a time machine is invented please email me a copy of this letter! Thanks for the insight.

    1. I sent the link to him in a text message, no word about what it is. The title of the post will get his attention mine read it and pretty much got the hint. I have already moved out so anything I give him he will eat up because he wants me home. He even thanked me for this post and said he would read them all. He’s going the extra mile to show me we can have an amazing marriage.

  59. I have a nice husband. We have been married for 17years. Oh he makes most of the decisions. He contola everything in our lives. What we may or may not do. I have a decent full day job as does he. We both receives decent salaries. We have 3 kids. Because I baked afterhours before I recieved a good steady job. He still expects me to do it daily. We have no personal feelings because as he puts it he ia not someone who speaks from his heart or talks about his feelings. I recently accepted a position at my company in a management position this required me to leave home and stay at a guesthouse. Leaving my kids and our animals and also accept challenges way out of my comfort zone for the good of the family. It killed me to do this and still it is unfair of me to complain about this because he was left with all the care of the children. Now that I am home he hardly speaks to me and when i ask to go somewhere I am unreasonable in expecting him to make time for me and him. He is always the funniest guy at any gathering always pretending to put me first. When I asked for a divorce he to me I can get out he ia not leaving the kids. I am paying all the bills. I tell him exactly when and why I apent money. Yet his account is a mistery and he recievs all the cake money. Am I being unfair. There is no longer any mention of love between us. Should our relationship not be more important than anything else in our lives?? I hate this life!!

    1. These kinds of situations are complicated and make you feel like you’re being selfish because you have these feelings. I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt (a couple of times), and lot them.

      The strange thing that I’m learning through my own journey is that trauma can be just as binding as love (if not more so), but it isn’t a healthy thing and leads to a myriad of maladies including PTSD for you and your children.

      When a spouse puts you in a position where you feel helpless and straightjacketed into a rigid set of hoops that you have to jump through (which, at the beginning, you do happily), the number of hoops needed to hop through tend to be more and more difficult to surmount and numerous. The demands on you emotionally and physically are just impossible to meet.

      Then you find yourself putting yourself down, your partner putting you down, and ignoring you, leaving you to deal with what he perceives of as your inadequacies alone.

      Taking money and controlling the finances are his way of keeping you there, fearful of how you’re going to live without him, without options, and unsure of your own footing.

      If and when you’re ready, reach out to the link below:

      http://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/help-for-abused-and-battered-women.htm

      If your husband is tracking your data, phone, and/or computer, go to a public library.

      Please stay safe both physically and emotionally.

  60. I feel like I’m living each and everyone one of your posts… Through the female point of view though! I’ve tried to get my husband to read but every time he’s says why would I wanna read something about shitty husbands? It’s crazy how you’ve really nailed what women want from their husbands. It’s really simple but I don’t know why men have to make it complicated?!?

  61. Pingback: An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 12 | Must Be This Tall To Ride

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  63. Thank you for sharing your perspective here. I wish I had been able to explain things as well to my ex. Reading what you write unburdens me of some of the guilt of leaving a nice guy who loved me and was not abusive or addicted or dishonest. I guess if I could write my version of your blog it would be “do not let him make you his mom” “do not clean up after him every day and do the shopping and cook the food and take on all the financial planning and dictor’s visits and vacations and holidays and manage everyone’s birthdays and all of it while paying most of the bills because you will not be able to keep that up and your resentment will eventually grown bigger than either of you can manage”. I married someone else the week our divorce was finalized which I am not proud of. He is an adult and equal partner.i’m so glad that my son has a better role model now. But if I could go back and just stop being his mom all those years ago I would because I know he would have stepped up. He has had to in the years we’ve been divorced.

  64. You have written what every wife thinks & feels but doesn’t know how to communicate effectively to her husband. Now how do I get him to read this & take it seriously? I do still love him & want to be married forever to him but I am miserable and think of divorce often. Very often. After almost 24 years of marriage, I’m not even sure how we have made it this far. All I do know, is that I love him & I want it to work. So how do I get him to care? To try? To start by reading your articles that are spot on?

    Thank you so very much!

  65. Thank you for this. It gives me tons of perspective. Someone blames us as women for being bossy. Fear makes us control. We don’t always know how to stop it. We need push back. We never thought that overly expressing our opinions would make you guys stop engaging at all. I don’t think it’s fair to place all of the blame on that. Respectfully, I think it’s an excuse. Where else would someone just give in and let someone keep them from doing what they knew they were responsible for doing? Out of love men could explain to us what our opinions are doing to you. Giving up and giving in tells us that you don’t care even if that isn’t true.

  66. How I WISH with all my heart that I had read this during marriage! It’s taught me more about marriage than when I was married! I left my husband of (26 years) 8 months ago (Feb). Why did I wait so long to leave? The first 2 years were great, honeymoon period and all that. He was a nice guy. Never abusive or hurtful, but here’s my HUGE error….I thought that it was “fair” that he work full time while I stay at home with the kids. There’s your 50/50, right? I thought I was being a “nag” if I asked him to pick up his dirty laundry off the floor. So I did it all to keep the peace. All the decisions, most of the housework. 3 kids under 5, and I still did 95% of it. Then, even when going back to work part time, I still did 95% of it, despite ex-hubby “promising” to share the housework more. He didn’t. That’s when the deep resentment started to set in. Every time he left dirty footprints on the clean floor, (and expected me to clean it up) a small nail of resignation and resentment was hammered in my heart. Every time he spat in the bathroom sink (which I wash my face in) and didn’t clean it was another nail. And so on.
    And I simply couldn’t understand why I was feeling so resentful! A dirty footprint isn’t such a huge thing, is it? NOW I know why!!!!

    I’m free now. Of course, I deeply regret the hurt that leaving has had on my ex and our kids (now adults), but I simply couldn’t be in a loveless marriage for the next 30 years of my life.
    In fact, you know what he said to me when I came to collect my stuff?
    “You only cooked twice a week!” (it was a lot more than that) and,
    “Why didn’t you have a career”?

    And the real kicker? He said to my mother…..
    “All I thought I had to do was get married and that was it”.

    Thank you SO MUCH, Matt, for taking the time and deep humility to write these letters and posts.
    I hope and pray like crazy that you meet an awesome girl and have your happily ever after.
    F.

  67. My husband is a nice guy too. But I have to do everything. I make all the decisions for our son and the household. It is tiring. I stay at home right now so I pretty much feel like any complaint I have is not valid since I don’t have a job. I am made to feel like an ungrateful wench if I make any requests of him. He mostly just reminds me of how hard he works to support our family. Yes, of course I appreciate he works hard. I make all the meals. Get up at night to attend to our son if he needs it. Clean the house. Run the errands. 7 days a week, 24/7. I plan to go back to work. Mostly to empower myself. My father in law sits around while my mother in law does everything. I guess that is what my husband learned. I just wished my husband would say “stay in bed this morning. I got this” or the coffee would be made by him. Just once. He is very self absorbed. He is not abusive or cheats. He just never thinks of anyone but himself. He reminds me of an 8 year old child. Not very attractive.

    1. I hear your pain, Kris! Like you, I always felt like an ungrateful wench if I complained about my ex’s general laziness. (He worked, I stayed at home).
      My advice? Get your husband to read all these letters. MAKE him read them.
      Then (do what I wish I had done 26 years ago) give him an ultimatum. Either he starts to treat you with the respect you deserve or you are out of there.
      I’m all for counseling. Perhaps he would be willing to try that? If he really loves you, he will see how much this is upsetting you, and be willing to change. And the bonus of him changing, is that you will be a happier wife, so it’s a win win situation!
      I’m not “pro divorce” but there comes a time when enough is enough.
      Hope that helps. 🙂
      Frances

  68. To be honest. Being fully engaged and a partner in decision making is hard as shit. Early in marriage it’s easy, but as kids, house, careers and everything else piles up over the years, the disagreements start to pile up. Most men want to cut right to solving problems, most women want to discuss, as time pressures mount, it gets harder for guys to take the time to discuss. They want to solve, which turns them in their wife’s eyes into a control freak.
    After the control freak stage comes the resigned stage where guys totally check out.
    It sucks. I guess I would suggest…guys…try and listen more and ladies, this is your husband not your girlfriend so at some point let him express his solution

  69. what’s your advise for women in this situation. I’m sure your wife reached out to you 100,000 times. What are we doing wrong in addressing it?

  70. My husbands believes this was all written by a woman… he is doing nearly everything you say here. And slowly but surely I will get to the point where I dont care anymore. I have a very hard time getting the message accross and I think it is because he chooses not to listen.

    1. Saying “this was written by a woman” is what someone would say when they believe Men are Right, and Women are Wrong.

      Or, at the very least: That men and women are different (which I’m okay with people believing, because there’s a lot of evidence of this), and that he’s simply not going to validate the female point of view because he doesn’t agree with it or doesn’t want to.

      I think that’s fine if you’re a single man.

      I think it’s really, really bad when you promised to love, honor and serve your female partner for the rest of your life.

      Everyone has choices to make. In marriage, when you make too many choices that are all about yourself, bad shit tends to happen.

      If that sounds like “something a woman would say,” then so be it. I haven’t seen any evidence that men function better in relationships than women. Quite the opposite.

      So, if keeping a marriage or family together is a value one holds, perhaps thinking and talking “like a woman” on a few of these matters is exactly what’s needed in order to not find oneself depressed and living alone in your 40s.

      Another choice is to double-down on the Man Card and see how that works out.

      With a 50% divorce rate, 70% of which are initiated by wives, I’d say The Man Way doesn’t have an amazing track record.

  71. He helped with 25% of housework and felt it wasn’t enough and wants to make YOU do more. Holy shit.

    1. I’m not going to invest much time and energy in your trolling, but because this is such a critical piece of any marriage or relationship involving cohabitation, I should address it.

      I don’t care who does what percentage of housework. Both can do a ton. Both can do very little. One can do a lot more than the other.

      The only thing that really matters is that any two people choosing to share a life and space together be in philosophical alignment.

      There’s no one-size-fits-all model. I just believe MOST of the time, that wives tend to do the most housework and child rearing.

      And much of time, that’s perfectly okay with the wife/mother.

      But some of the time, it’s not. Some of the time, every day feels shitty because she’s managing households and calendars and responsibilities for multiple people: herself, her children, and frequently, her husband.

      It puts her into a maternal role with someone who is supposed to be her partner, and she stops wanting to have sex with him — because moms don’t want to bang their kids.

      It’s really quite simple. When someone feels fucked over every day BECAUSE of their partner (a partner who promised in front of everyone they knew that they wouldn’t fuck over their partner, but do the opposite), the marriage is on borrowed time, and will end one way or another.

      Here are the options:

      1. Don’t marry.
      2. Marry and don’t give enough to it, and break your vows.
      3. Marry and do it well.

      You don’t think I believe wives don’t screw up their relationships or mistreat their husbands?

      You don’t think I believe many men are great husbands and fathers?

      Don’t be a disingenuous sack. If you want to know what I think, ask me.

      But you cherry-picking one-liners out of context, OR saying ridiculous things like I want to “make” guys do more housework or anything, is ridiculous.

      I tried to tell you, but you responded “Huh?” like an asshole.

      My sole purpose here is to help people UNDERSTAND WHY certain shit goes down in their marriages. It doesn’t apply to all people. It just tends to apply to most. It’s a math thing.

      I’m not advocating marriage. I’m sure as shit not trying to shame men, but I can appreciate how my self-flaggelation in the early days of writing here would cause you to draw that conclusion.

      I want people who want to have a good marriage and not get a divorce and make their kids sad to not accidentally do a bunch of thoughtless little things that they don’t even realize will lead to divorce.

      People used to smoke without knowing it causes cancer.

      People do shit in their relationships that they don’t know will ruin them.

      And everything here is saying: “Hey. You’re probably a good person, and you probably don’t want to hurt your spouse and/or get divorced. This thing you’re doing that seems innocent and benign is actually really bad for the other person, and if you don’t stop, fuckness will ensue.”

      I have no idea what you find so offensive about it. Whereas, I think it’s really damn obvious what’s offensive about you.

  72. Ypu got this right on the head! You just wrote my story. Why oh why have men forgotten how to be men? Women’s lib and women’s rights are one thing. But that doesn’t mean we want to BE men. We still want our man to be strong. To take charge. To kill the dragons and make us feel safe. To open our door and make us feel precious. We may still want to have “work” outside the home to contribute. To challenge our minds. But that doesn’t excuse him from being the actual provider. We still need men to be men.

    1. Sad But Better Off

      My husband decided to come out as a crossdresser. Apparently, he saw how his dad just sat in his chair and bellowed orders at his mom, and she took care of EVERYTHING, and he decided once we got married, that even though I held down a high-paying, stressful job, owned the condo we initially lived in, made all the social plans, cooked all the dinners for friend and family (lots of them), that it was too stressful for HIM when I suggested he at least have a decision about what damn food to serve, and he needed to dress in women’s clothing to deal with it. This was devastating to our sex life, which was already heading toward life support, and insulting on so many levels, because it implied that in order for life to be less stressful for him, he had to become a woman. Meanwhile, I was losing my hair from all the stress on me, because I could not talk about his mommy issues and his crossdressing to anyone. It was very lonely for me. Don’t let them make you their mommy. We are finally getting a divorce (he did not come out as a crossdresser until we were married for 10 years and together 13, now going on 20 years together total, so I tried to deal with it, it almost killed me, and we have a lot of combined assests now, so it will be a bitch, but I am so sick of his victimhood), and it is very hard, but in the long run, I will be better off. His lack of communication was also a deal-breaker. I used to ask him to please, please talk to me, but he couldn’t. He used to blame his father for his issues, because his dad “yelled all the time”, then when his dad got old and feeble, he turned on me. When they make you make all the decisions, eventually they will resent it. When I finally said “no more”, our social life died, he resented it and felt isolated, and moved out. Go figure. I guess my only advice is make sure you know a person before saying “I do”. Love is blind, and we are only as sick as our secrets.

  73. Thank you Matthew for this blog and all your observations. I have a shitty husband. I lost him years ago when he started having major health problems. He uses his illness as an excuse so we have no life. I am isolated and miserable living with a man who wants no part of me. Some day I will leave….hopefully soon.

  74. I am so glad I found this blog! Like many of you who have already vented your thoughts, anger & cries for help, I am facing a lot of issues with a lazy, shitty husband who seemingly thinks it’s ok & normal to take his wife for granted after saying “I do”.

    I have only been married to my husband for almost 4 years & from early observations I highly suspect he is a narcissist, combined with severe depression, autism & possible ADHD. He believes he has nothing wrong with him, yet he’s always right about everything he says & does & I’m always wrong. I had no idea he was like this until after vows were exchanged. After that moment, I noticed something was very wrong when he got up from his seat next to me after we finished our meal at the wedding reception & left me on my own. He didn’t even want to invite my family along, in fact, he pushed all my family away so that I wouldn’t have anyone to lean on for support in case I ran into difficulties later on.

    I guess the real reason he asked me to marry him was to take advantage of me because I’m a self-employed cleaner. Because he can’t clean up after himself, he thought he would take advantage of my skills & use me, like he’s done with every one of his other so-called “mates” that he only contacts when he wants something done, otherwise he’s got no friends at all. His 3 girls from his previous marriage don’t want to have anything more to do with him, which is understandable from what I’ve heard about how he treated them & his ex-wife. He was an alcoholic & treated them all quite badly. None of them have made any effort whatsoever to contact him. Who could blame them after being treated like dirt!

    Living almost 30 km from the nearest town I am socially isolated. I don’t & can’t have kids – due to having a hysterectomy, & only having the internet, tv, 2 cockatiels & cat to keep me from going insane. I talk to myself a lot when I go for long walks & also when I’m up in the shed. I have spoken with counsellors over the phone about the situation I’m in but no-one seems interested in wanting to come out & visit me in person (which is what I heavily crave for). I really wish a psychologist could come out & spend a few days observing this man’s behaviour because I know there’s something mentally wrong with him, but I can’t put my finger on what it is.

    Our nearest neighbour is 500m away. In fact, I’ve observed that he has difficulties getting along with any of them. No-one in our locality likes him at all & of course, when that happens, the wife also gets a bad name/reputation.

    He’s also finding it difficult to find work which is also why he’s feeling depressed. Because he’s in his late 60s, no employer wants to employ mature-age workers that have years of experience under their belt. I’m also suspecting that his personality traits may also have something to do with why he can’t secure any work here. He told me not long ago that he has been contemplating suicide for the past 12 months. I have advised him non-stop to seek counselling but refuses to. I just simply feel that he has a lot more issues going on in his life than he’s telling me. I’m also beginning to think that it’s my fault that I’m the cause of his bouts of depression. He’s on antidepressants but I can definitely tell they’re not working.

    I have lived with him since he had his house passed by council to move in & start living in. Sadly though, the house remains unfinished. I am still waiting for an exhaust fan to be installed in the kitchen, a light to be put in above the kitchen sink & a couple of skylights installed in the very dark hallway. He thinks there is nothing wrong with a dark hallway but I am very much against it for safety reasons. One should not have to flick on a lightswitch in the middle of the day! I am also still waiting patiently for a carport to be erected outside my bedroom so I can park my car under it instead of leaving it up in the shed. Nothing is finished & it’s depressing me to the point that nothing will ever get done because all he’s interested in is showing off his plumbing skills whilst the house was under construction & since he started getting depressed he spends more time in his bedroom watching tv or sleeping, leaving me on my own most days. It gets very lonely out here with no-one to have a meaningful conversation with. He gave very little thought or consideration as to what I wanted in the house. When I moved in he told me not to bring too much furniture. I later gathered that I was an afterthought & that I wasn’t meant to be living out here with him. I feel like a spare of the moment convenience that just happened to pop into his life without giving a moment’s thought about my wants & needs. He’s got me trapped out here because he’s pushed all my friends away & doesn’t want to associate with people lower than him.

    I have since discovered that he also lies & denies things he knows he’s done wrong & tries sneaky ways to get out of being punished. He hates being told what to do by authority figures, except if it’s something to do with work safety (of which he’s overly-compliant when it comes to safety issues). He even lied to the police once after he hit a car in a carpark & drove off to find another park without leaving his particulars with the other driver. The entire incident was captured on CCTV so there was no way he could lie about that. When the police interviewed him, he lied about the whole thing. But when they interviewed me, I told them the truth because I witnessed everything. He ended up losing demerit points off his driver licence & he also looked down on me because I told the police the truth. If i’d have covered for him I would have been in trouble too. He’s hit other cars since then as well & denied everything when questioned by insurance companies, even when I was sitting right next to him! I was too scared to speak up & tell them the truth for fear of being abused after getting back home. He seems to think that because we live out of town away from others, he thinks it’s ok to be abusive to me because no-one can hear anything because we live a fair distance away from our other neighbours.

    He has type 2 diabetes but chooses not to follow the advice that his GP & endocrinologist advise him to eat & drink. He won’t do his daily BSLs because he afraid of needles. Even the word exercise is foreign to him because he keeps making up excuses that he can’t exercise due to arthritis in his knees. HELLO…. exercise is the best thing for arthritis so I can’t understand why he hates being active. He has also started smoking again after his cardiologist strongly advised him to give it up due to a weakening heart valve, which will lead to eventual replacing, but the cardiologist will only operate after he quits smoking. It’s like he doesn’t want to take responsibility for himself or his belongings. It frustrates me that he proposed to me under the influence of alcohol & yet now treats me like an employee. If he so desperately wanted a cleaner, why didn’t he employ someone to come out & clean for him on a permanent basis rather than marrying me & treating me as a live-in housekeeper?

    He has a sensitive side to his personality too. I have great difficulty communicating with him because if I say anything that I don’t approve of that he’s done, he literally runs away into a corner & sulks or gets the shits & storms off without giving me a chance to explain anything. He doesn’t understand the concept of compromise & sacrifice, which are both extremely important factors in marriage. I wouldn’t put it past him if he’s already involved with another older woman because I feel that the novelty has worn off between me & him & he’s tired of me. We never do anything together anymore. I beg for him to come walking with me but his response is always the same. I’ve given up all hope expecting him to share what I enjoy in life which is getting out & enjoying the great outdoors.

    As for the physical side of the marriage, there’s nothing happening in the bedroom because he has erectile dysfunction. There was more physical affection happening before the marriage to what there is now which is absolutely nothing & very disappointing from my point of view. For the past 3 years we haven’t slept in the same bed because he’s too heavy & snores, resulting in me getting little or poor sleep, thus waking up cranky & irritable & taking this out on each other for the rest of the day. I’m so very tempted to go out & have a fling, but I know in my heart it is wrong to indulge in an affair & not what marriage is supposed to be, which comes down to having good communication skills, being able to trust & confide in eachother as well as look after one another in sickness & in health.

    On the upside, he is a very intelligent man when it comes to plumbing, draining & gasfitting, but it sickens me that he simply doesn’t care about looking after himself. I can’t do this for him because it’s his body & he lacks the sense of personal responsibility. He needs a major wake-up call with his deteriorating health because if he doesn’t, he will die. I honestly don’t know what’s keeping him alive because he has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, depression & other medical issues. I think the tablets he’s taking are what’s keeping him going. As it is I’m burnt out from the constant picking up of clothes & empty plastic water bottles all over his bedroom floor which he deliberately does to make me work. Sometimes I feel like I’m his mother & he’s like a boy in a man’s body & tries to cover it as best he can.

    Basically he’s a man full of excuses to get out of his share of housework & taking on responsibility for things he’s used. He has a very annoying habit of getting an item out of a draw & not putting it away after he’s finished with it. I’ve noticed it’s always left up to me to put things away so that they don’t get misplaced, which has occurred many times since I moved in with him. He is so lazy that he won’t take out his own rubbish or take dirty plates out to the sink from his bedroom. He won’t clean out the kitty litter or birdcage. I’m still expected to clean out my pet’s areas even when I don’t feel like it. He very rarely cleans the stove-top down after he’s cooked on it. That’s usually always left up to me to do & then he wonders why I get cranky… He won’t do washing up because tells me he’s lost the grip on his fingers? Well, that’s what he tells me. What a load of rot! Again, it comes down to him not looking after himself, but solely depending on someone else to do it for him & that’s another issue which I think he has – dependency disorder. I suspect he’s used people all his life, not realising that losing friends in the process.

    I honestly cannot understand why he chose to build a house & shed on 300 acres so far away from civilisation, knowing full well that he has chronic health conditions & has very little knowledge about how to manage a rural property. It seems like he doesn’t give a bugger about his health, just as long as he’s got someone to clean up after him. From what I gather I am definitely caught up in a marriage of convenience & I found this out the hard way.
    His shed is another topic that I also want to share. In all my life I have never known a tradesperson not to look after their tools & keep them organised. The interior of his shed looks like a bomb has gone off it in. I can’t understand for the life of me how he manages to find anything. He’s always losing something & when this happens, he goes out & buys a replacement. Then a few a weeks later when he’s looking for something else, the original lost item will show up. I have never known anyone to waste money like he does. I was always taught to be careful with money but he’s the opposite. He hasn’t any idea how to budget or stick to buying necessities, but instead chooses to waste it on items we don’t need. I can see that all of his money-managing was left up to his ex-wife. I had absolutely no idea about this at all until one day he told me that she used to do all his books when he was boss of his plumbing business. That was when he had 20 men working under him. I now have a pretty good idea as to why they all left. They had had enough of bossed around & treated like dirt. I guess that’s why he treats me like an employee by controlling me like he is still a boss & prefers to be in control & gets a kick out of bossing others around.

    My advice to all young women out there who have been swept off their feet by an older man & he proposes to you with all the bells & whistles plus offers that seem too good to be true:
    I HONESTLY BEG YOU TO PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DON’T RUSH YOURSELF INTO ANYTHING YOU’RE NOT SURE OF ABOUT HIM, especially if the man happens to be a divorcee. Do your homework thoroughly & try to find out as much information about him as you can first before you even think of deciding to committing spending the rest of your life with him. I have lost many friends & family members due to this huge mistake I’ve made with my life & I can’t stress this enough. Be very, very careful, especially when he proposes to you whilst under the influence of alcohol & asks you to drink as well (even if you’re a non-drinker). He needs to learn to accept you for the way you are & not try to change you in any shape, form or manner or the way you do things to suit his wants & desires. He wanted me to cut my hair short because he likes short hair on women. I never did cut my hair short because I interpret that as a form of control. Besides, I hate short hair because it makes me look like a boy.

    I also think that it should be made compulsory for any man contemplating a life-long commitment with another human should learn the basics of cleaning BEFORE they leave home (ironing, washing, generally cleaning up after themselves). By actively sharing the household chores it makes a huge difference in a relationship because then it’s not so much of a burden on the other’s shoulders expected to have to do it ALL the time. It’s simply not fair leaving all the cleaning up to one person to do because they will eventually burn out. Unfortunately, some men were never taught anything by their mothers before they got married & it’s sad that there are still women out there that are taken advantage of. It depresses me that I’m one of them.

    1. Hi Cindy

      Seems to me as though you married a total loser. He won’t change. You MUST leave. You say you have only been married for 4 years. Where were you living before? Can you go back to that place, or start out on your own? You mention that you are self-employed. This means you are an independent and potentially free woman.
      I was stuck in a loveless marriage to a lazy man for 26 years. Don’t make the same mistake I did. I’m now FREE and loving it!

      Remember: “If you do nothing, nothing will change”.

      He clearly has no idea of what marriage is about. Annul the marriage in your mind and heart and make a bid for glorious FREEDOM. You won’t regret it.
      His mental state and poor health are HIS concerns, NOT yours.
      Wishing you all the strength, courage and will to do this.
      xxxxx

      1. Hi Frances

        Thank you so much for your concerns.

        It really annoys me that men like my husband do actually exist & it’s sad that he doesn’t give the love & affection I crave for. The temptation for me to go out & have a fling is always on my mind because I know I won’t get any physical contact from him that I so much desire.

        It’s also annoying that he doesn’t know how to maintain anything. Each time I sit in his car, I have to pick up all the rubbish he puts on my seat. Is that an indication of a lack of respect for me? I strongly believe so. I got so worked up about the dirt my vacuum collected from his bedroom floor that I dumped it all over his sheets. He is simply blind & doesn’t care about living in filth or mess. I can’t stand it!

        Unfortunately, I cannot go back to where I was living before as it was my father’s house & I put it on the market as it was too much for him to look after.

        I think I would have to either go into share accommodation or move into a caravan, definitely somewhere closer to civilisation away from the social isolation I’m currently experiencing. Only problem is I have pets & I’d have to either give them away or put them up for adoption.

        I am self employed but I don’t have enough income coming in to fully support myself, except off my savings.

        I do agree with you 100% that he hasn’t the foggiest idea about how to treat a woman he’s supposed to be committed to for life. I feel that a law needs to be introduced for any person (man or woman) who has a diagnosed mental health disorder, not be allowed to enter into a lifelong commitment. Many would kick up a stink about this because it’s discrimination but from my point of view, it would save many broken hearts & dead-end, love-less marriages.

        I strongly suspect the following re: his childhood:
        1. he had a very strict upbringing;
        2. he had difficulties getting along with others when he was younger (possible autism);
        3. he was spoilt as a child, therefore parents did everything for him;
        4. he may have been subject to domestic violence.

        He does have an older sister who is intellectually disabled & is in an institution. I knew absolutely nothing about her until he brought her up suddenly in conversation one day. She is unable to talk or communicate fluently. Husband has made no effort to visit her since he was 3 because she hits out at people she’s never seen & this obviously upsets him a lot. I believe there is a strong possibility that they have both inherited mental health issues from their parents. My father also has mental health issues but I’ve noticed since he’s grown older he’s mellowed down a lot.

        Anyway, thanks again much for taking the time to read what I’m going through. It’s just so disheartening that there are a lot of men out there who take advantage of young innocent women because they have mental health issues which they don’t want them to find out about until it’s too late.

        Wish me luck in getting out & finding freedom again!

        Cindy

        1. HI Cindy

          Your story is so tragic. In Australia, the law is that when a couple separates, each spouse will receive the assets shared 50/50. So you do have some legal clout.
          Please seek legal assistance. Don’t let this ruin your life.

          But you know something? It’s taken me ages to realise this…. but….a lot of my loveless marriage was MY FAULT too! I rushed into it too soon, without really “vetting” my to-be husband. If I had taken the time to really know him, rather than letting the ‘rush” of first love take over, I could have avoided many years of disappointment.

          We as women are so desperate for the love and validation of a man, we will blindly ignore the red flags. Time to change that.

          Be strong. Take no crap from anyone. Say NO and move on.

          Love Frances

  75. Pingback: Ways wives ruin their marriages | Katie Sterling

  76. I’m sitting next to my husband, telling him about how it couldn’t be said better than this. But, he’s an asshole, and paid no attention or showed any interest in this letter to shitty husbands that has me in tears.

    1. I don’t have to courage to send this to my husband or team him about it. Power to you. I hope things are better for you as of late.

  77. I’m reading this after my husband today got mad because I wanted to take a nap. I’m a full time working mother and he works 70+ hours a week so I’m kinda both a sahm and a working mom. I’m literally sitting on the floor crying reading this as he walks by and puts on a TV show. Didn’t even ask why I’m crying. Oh well. I’ll put till with it for now because of my son. But boy am I lonely and feel pretty bad and myself.

  78. Your words made me tearful and gave me the strength to talk to my husband about this, and ask him what I do that make him feel this way too.

    It was a good conversation and I am thankful.

  79. Wives… You want him to step up and make decisions? Then let him make them. They might be wrong. Who gives a shit. If you can’t delegate some control then that is on you. I wish he would decide on dinner “I am not in the mood for what you picked up.” I am a nice guy who goes with the flow and if it doesn’t work out it isn’t a big deal. If I am the one that messes up then it is a big deal.

    Ask yourself this honest question. Do I want to have him make decisions or is it? I want him to make decisions as long as it is exactly what I would do.

  80. Sorry I’m overwhelming the editor with new posts, but practically every one of these open letters makes me say Yeah!!! Wow!!! Why is Matt the only male blogger on the planet who seems to get it?

    I’ve been married for close to fourteen years. And more or less annually since before we were even married, I’ve tried to have The Conversation. The one in which you ask, ‘which direction are we generally steering this ship (like, what are our long term goals? where do we want to live? do we want to be rich or just get by? do we want to have lots of stuff or value experiences or celebrate minimalism? what kind of a budget are we realistically looking at? why are we in partnership together, what do we expect that to look like, what are we both hoping to get / to feel / to give?) and how will we do this and who will be responsible for what?)

    Over the years I’ve heard:

    You’re doing a great job, keep it up.

    You can’t just spring this on me.

    *This* again?

    I’m just too ____ to deal with this. Tired. Hot. Cold. Hungry. Overwhelmed. Busy with Hobby X or Entertainment Y. Unsure about my job.

    Even, I swear to God, “I don’t know, I have to pee.”

    I get it, there are psychological factors about his life and past that make it uncomfortable to make decisions or “run the ship”. When he does try to run the ship it’s usually in an abrupt and man-splainy way that’s difficult to make peace with – jumping in to “direct” a process that’s been going on without him for years. But still … I have to pee. That sort of sums it up.

  81. I honestly can not express how amazing this article is x completely on point x it’s amazing how differently we see things once it’s over and then it’s too late x

  82. It makes me feel like a house servant. Sure, I might be the head housekeeper, head gardener, head governess and head of event coordination, but I still feel like the hired help. For example, yesterday, I took a day off from my usual routine of housework and childcare to paint the front porch. When I came inside, tired and sweaty from a long day, the house was a mess, dishes were in the sink and no food had been started. My heart just sank. I think I am finally at the point where I am going to start talking to lawyers and find out what my options are if I leave.

    Let me describe my husband first. He is the kind of guy who is constantly told “you’re such a great guy, your wife is lucky to have you”. And he is a nice, decent guy who I know loves me and our child. . We are friends and enjoy each other’s company. We travel well together. We tend to have similar values about raising our son. There are good things there and that is what has kept me holding on to hope. He works hard at his job and I have few worries when it comes to material goods. I appreciate that. What bothers me is how apathetic he is about anything that he doesn’t see as important. He just doesn’t care, even if I get upset about needing help or more support. He stands there, says nothing except a weak little “sorry”, sulks like a scolded child and then doesn’t change anything. Any discussion we have, it feels like he just pretends to listen so I will get it over with so he can go back to whatever he was doing. It’s like he knows I will get upset about something, but that he thinks if I get mad or I cry then it’s like he paid the punishment for whatever he didn’t do, and we’re even, so he still doesn’t have to change. Basically, he treats me like I am his mom and he is a rebellious teen who is always looking for little ways to show that I can’t control him. But I don’t want control, I just want him to do what he says he will. It’s passive aggression.

    I have been working so hard for the last few years to change anything about myself and my own behavior to try and make our marriage work. I have given up drinking any alcohol, began working out (to the point that I became a certified personal trainer), I try not to nag or complain on a daily basis to make the home a fun, relaxing place to return to. I am a skilled chef and cook all our meals. I also do all the dishes, cleaning, organizing, laundry and all of the scheduling and planning. I do the lion’s share of grocery shopping as well, even though he knows this is a task I hate, for reasons I will get to.

    We have a severely disable child. I do at least 75% of his care and 100% of the research into his disabilities and finding the right doctors and specialists. Our child’s disabilities come with a shortened lifespan, but being prepared can do a lot to extend the time and quality of his life. But I need time to plan for it, and my husband is absolutely zero help because his life philosophy is that nothing needs to be worried about until the problem hits you in the face. (And then he just calls his dad and gets bailed out, which probably explains a lot of the problem). Our son is non-verbal and still needs to wear diapers, so I have given up any hope of a career of my own so I can care for him. We would literally have to pay a full salary to a specialist if I were to go back to work. When I met my husband, I was extremely driven in my career and he knew this was important to me. Yet no matter how many times we sit down to talk about how we can get me back to work, he says nothing or makes excuses about how he really can’t change his schedule. He could, but it would require some work and planning, so instead his attitude is “meh”. I am starting a home business to make some money on the side, but his apathy has made it much more difficult than it should be.

    Let’s not even talk about sex. He plays video games all night, then sleeps on the couch, so it’s a non-issue. Our sex life was okay when I was initiating about 95% of the encounters, although I didn’t realize it at the time. I nearly died when our child was born, and getting my groove back was hard after I recovered. Instead of picking up some of the slack to try to build me back up, he started watching porn and sleeping in a different room. I truly don’t think he is cheating or malicious. He is just lazy and apathetic to an extreme and always chooses the path of least resistance.

    The path of least resistance is the main reason these problems will never be solved. It’s easier for him to pay me lip service in a discussion about it, but still not do anything to change. An example is that I went away due to a family emergency for a few days. I had to leave detailed instructions on what our son needed and he promised me he would never slack off when it came to our child and that I was a bitch for even suggesting it. When I was brushing my son’s teeth the night I came home, I realized that he had not brushed our son’s teeth once in 4 days. I noticed by accident, because I had used the last of the toothpaste before I left and the new one was still in the box under the sink. (Oh, yeah, my husband doesn’t brush his teeth anymore either. Because apathy). I admit, I absolutely exploded. He was baffled and kept saying “It was just an accident. I didn’t mean to. You’re crazy.” He doesn’t get it. I can’t trust him to have my back. He’s just another burden to me. Oh, and when I had to go away again a few weeks later, he did the same thing again. He just lets me yell and continues on like nothing ever happened.

    I think I am finally done. I know I didn’t say many nice things about him, but he isn’t a terrible man. He just puts literally everything in his life before me as a priority in his life. It took me eleven years to get to the point that I have no more hope. He will never change and thinks as long as he’s happy, it’s fine. I am lonely even though I am never alone. I deserve to feel like I am at least in the top 5 priorities in my partner’s life. I gave up so many of my own dreams just to be treated like anything I want or need is an inconvenience.

  83. Pingback: An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 15 | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  84. I know this is an old post at this point, but I wanted to pop in and say thank you for posting this. My husband is not a shitty husband. He’s a hard working, dear man, who makes me laugh, gets groceries, does pretty much all of the cooking because he knows I don’t like it, and is always open to soothing my anxiety and depression riddled brain. He’s truly wonderful.

    But WOW did the mental load part of this resonate with me. All the way back to our wedding, I’d ask him what he thinks about something, and he gives me some variation of “I don’t care” or “you’re so much better at this than me.” Now that we’re in our first home it’s gotten worse—not helped at all by the fact that he’s stuck out of town on National Guard orders. I’ll say something needs to be done, and know that I need to be the one to call around and find someone to do it. Or we need a piece of furniture, and I shop around online for hours, finally show him the one that I want, and he says, “I don’t like it,” while offering very little about what he WOULD like. I know some men reading this will think he’s like this because I always insist on what I want anyway, but I promise I don’t. I might push back a little bit, but am very willing to drop an idea, and keep looking around for a compromise. But when my side of this work takes 6 hours over the course of a few days, and his side is about 5 minutes of saying “no” at various times, without offering me almost any guidance at all, it is straight up frustrating and exhausting. He also tends to leave all scheduling and gift shopping to me, including for things for his own family. Why he thinks I would be better at that for people I don’t know very well, I have no idea. It’s just draining. It comes off as apathetic. And I have had the exact kinds of anxieties and worries that your friend expressed.

    “Am I bothering him too much?”

    “Am I annoying him?”

    “Am I enough?”

    “Why isn’t he as invested in the life we’re building together as I am?”

    Anyway, all this is to say thank you. As I said, I do not have a shitty husband. We had our shitty period (and he certainly did not bear all the blame there), and work hard to not end up there again. With a lot of explaining ahead of time, (“our marriage isn’t in any trouble, and this is a thing we’ve talked about. I’m not upset, I just want to chat about it,” and so on,) I shared this with him, to help explain how I feel when he does that stuff. It launched a healthy, productive conversation about something he’s been working on over the past year. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to express the feelings I experience when this happens, because I feel kind of silly for feeling that way. But the worries about being irrational don’t stop me from feeling what I feel! It was validating to see I’m not alone, and it helped him to understand how draining and stressful it is, when he doesn’t offer any contribution. We discussed some ideas, and some things he could take point on in the future, and I’m sure we’re going to be better off for it.

    Thanks again.

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