An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 7

Comments 101
Men have been competing for centuries. But we aren't competitive about excelling at marriage. Why?
Men have been competing for centuries. But we aren’t competitive about excelling at marriage. Why?

Divorce and broken homes and dysfunctional relationships are a global epidemic.

Men have the most power to help solve the problem.


Because women are better at relationships than men. They are. A broad generalization? Sure. A stereotype that isn’t true 100-percent of the time? Yep. But mostly correct? Totally.

I think about it all the time because I’m still trying to figure things out 13 months after my wife left and I became a single guy with a son I only see half the time.

There are a bunch of really shitty things that happen in this world. I focus on divorce because I lived a mostly charmed life prior to turning 30 when I lost a job, and later, my family. So divorce represents the worst thing that ever happened to me. I didn’t take it very well. I freaked out, actually. I was so scared. And then I was shocked by the realization that I could feel that afraid. And then I got EVEN MORE afraid because now I had fear to fear as well.

Sometimes I feel like a wimp because divorce was so hard for me while other people suffer through more-brutal, less-common traumatic life events.

But then I remind myself that I’m not insane. (I don’t think.) Divorce WAS (is) hard. Very. I didn’t just make it up in my head. It’s a brutal thing. It was shitty as a four-year-old boy when my parents got divorced and I didn’t get to see my dad very much. It was shitty when I was in my 20s and my mom and stepdad (who I love dearly) divorced. And the worst thing that ever happened to me happened 13 months ago when my wife moved out because she found life with me intolerable.

And now I only see my son half the time and spend most of my life feeling regret and shame and uncertainty.

Men can lead the way on fixing this. Men can take our 50-percent divorce rate, make it our bitch, and change the world.

Changing the world is not an exaggeration.

Imagine a world where only 5-10 percent of couples divorced. How much ugliness would go away if that were true?

Men have the power to reduce instances of marital infidelity. Men have the power to save billions of dollars in therapy bills for couples, divorced individuals and affected children. Men have the power to stop feeling ashamed. We have the power to be the heroes all of us secretly or not-so-secretly want to be.

We can save the day.


By being awesome at marriage.


Shameless Book Plug: Order My New Book “This is How Your Marriage Ends” Today

My new book released on March 22, 2022. It is, aside from becoming a father, the highlight of my life. I don’t think it sucks. Hopefully you won’t think so either. I took the lessons of my divorce shared throughout this blog, combined it with some new stories, some coaching client stories, and the ideas I try to share in my coaching calls, and tried to make the book I would have needed to understand how my behavior was inadvertently destroying my marriage and to develop meaningful relationship skills. If you believe in what I’m doing here and want to support the mission, you ordering this book would be the best thing I could ever ask for. And someday, if you like it, maybe tell a friend. Thank you so much. Order “This is How Your Marriage Ends: A Hopeful Approach to Saving Relationships”.


You Know, It’s Funny

It’s a big fucking mystery to me why guys don’t want to do this. I sucked at it, too.

Men are the most-competitive species on planet earth. Men will race a stranger in the car next to them from stoplight to stoplight. Men will argue for hours about the most-pointless things imaginable. Men make games out of EVERYTHING, and then work their asses off to win them.

You’ve all seen it (or done it) before.

So, someone answer me this. I’m DYING for the answer. Because I’m not smart enough to figure it out despite my best efforts.

Why aren’t men competitive about being good at marriage?

I’ll argue with you all night about something inconsequential, like whether that shitty movie we watched involved Timothy Olyphant or lookalike Josh Duhamel. Or worse—I’ll try to “win” an opinion-based argument that can’t be won because there is no right answer.

I’m very competitive.

Yet, I didn’t compete to be the best husband and father I could be. Not for the vast majority of my marriage, anyway.

Could there be a higher calling? How could I be so lazy? So negligent?

Men seem more interested in winning a fight against their own spouse than they are at showing other husbands and fathers how much better they can be at marriage than the next guy. (Essentially leading by example and pushing others to greatness along the way.)

Why wouldn’t you want your wife to think she has the perfect guy? To be proud of you? To brag to her friends and family about how great you are, or how hard you try?

Why wouldn’t you want to be the best father imaginable?

What matters if not that?

Just be good at marriage, assholes! If you’re not good at it, try to be! Learn how. Figure stuff out.

It’s not like it’s some big secret. We know how to fly satellites into asteroids flying by our planet at 20,000-plus miles per hour. We know how to split atoms. We know how to build aircraft. Weapons. Buildings. Vehicles. Separate conjoined twins. Transplant hearts. Clone things.

What humans have accomplished just in the past century boggles the mind. Men have played such an enormous role in all that progress.

Yet, we STILL haven’t figured out that the women in our lives don’t think and feel as we do. We STILL haven’t figured out that treating women like men will break a bunch of things. We STILL haven’t figured out why our behavior consistently makes the women in our lives respond the way they do.

In other words, we’re smart! But we’re really stupid, too.

We’re strong! But we’re really weak, too.

We’re courageous! But we’re really afraid, too.

The information is out there. There’s not some great mystery to unlocking the secrets of failed relationships. We have tried-and-true formulas for breaking up marriages and they’re happening every day. And if everyone is okay with this, then just keep doing what you’re doing.

But me?

I’m exhausted. It’s the worst shit I’ve ever gone through by far, and I just can’t believe more people aren’t committed to the cause given just how many of us are affected by it. We’re raising broken, angry kids destined to grow up and repeat our mistakes.

Plus, doesn’t it just suck? If you’re honest with yourself? Are you really happier now than you were back in the good days of your relationship?

Life’s a Game

It is.

Everything is. And I’m not trying to suggest there aren’t things we should be taking seriously. I am taking this seriously. I’m not suggesting women are a prize to be won by cheap psychological ploys. By a game, per se.

The alpha-beta thing—the “red pill” bullshit—that so many people are thinking and talking about? It’s ridiculous. Common sense and life experience tell us all we need to know about the alpha-beta dynamics in a relationship.

Women need you to have alpha traits in order to find you sexually desirable and to feel safe. That’s caveman shit.

Women need you to have beta traits so she can trust you not to treat her like shit or abandon her after procreation. That’s evolution.

It’s not an either-or situation. You must have both to win at marriage in the 21st century. If you’re an alpha, you’re not reading this, and even if you do, you don’t listen to other people because you think you’re right all the time and you’ll just learn the hard way. Probably with herpes on your penis. (Learning how to make women feel emotionally safe might make you more awesome. Life tip. Do with it what you will.)

And if you’re a beta, learn about all of the reasons the alphas get all the chicks. There are things they do which are not morally reprehensible (Physical fitness. Expertise. Confidence.) which can help you become a more-balanced, more-attractive, more successful human being.

Why Aren’t You Competitive About Marriage?

I’m talking to you, Average Guy Like Me. Guy who is a little bit lazy around the house because you feel like you work so hard at your job, providing for your family.

You watch television. Ball games. You play video games. You have your escapes—weekend hobbies you do to “take a break” from your wife or family.

In moderation, none of that is a problem.

But if you’re a shitty husband like me, you might not even know how much damage you’re causing. There are all of these things happening behind the scenes in your life and you don’t even realize it.

You might love her. You might want to stay married. But you’re procrastinating on the most-important thing you can ever do for yourself: Teach yourself how to be good at marriage.

I don’t have any answers. I tried to save my marriage. Too little, too late. She was having none of it.

But the answers are out there. And you owe it to your wife. Your children. Your parents. Your friends. Yourself. You owe it to every guy that doesn’t want to lose his family. To figure this out.

It’s a game.

A game we can win. With coaching and good advice. With how-to manuals. With patience and love and support from our partners who appreciate the effort we’re putting in.

You can get good at the game, just as you can get good at your job, or get good at your video games, or get good at some other challenge.

Heroes rise up.

The brave swallow pride.

A true competitor finds a way to win at all costs.

So, do it. Win at marriage.

The alternative is to live like me. Where your kindergarten son at school draws pictures of his family you helped destroy, and proudly hands it to you: “Look dad! It’s you and mommy and me and my leopard gecko and the dog mommy’s going to get me.”

A fake life that my sweet kid concocted for his teacher yesterday and handed me this morning. (He inherited my artistic talents.)

Be the picture, man.

Win the game.

Mommy and daddy aren't holding hands. But my son wishes we were. Please put in the work.
Mommy and daddy aren’t holding hands. But my son wishes we were. Please put in the work.

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. 6

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

101 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 7”

  1. You are absolutely right. Men have a huge responsibility in the relationships in their lives. Sad that so many men don’t realize this. In thinking about the people you know and love, it’s easy to think about how one single man has caused a mess of his life and the lives of those around him that can literally go on for generations. We such an incredible impact on our families, and one we can never take lightly. Glad to read someone else who gets it. Great post man!

    1. Really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Thank you so much.

      There isn’t a cause I care more about, in large part because I think a little will and want-to could fix so much of what ails us in the relationship department.

      Again. Thank you.

    2. Men don’t respect women. That’s the problem. They think they’re better than us.

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience. This is something you should pitch to Huff Post or a similar publication! I think many young couples should read this – not just guys – but gals too!

    1. That’s very nice of you to say.

      I still don’t put my last name on my work. But the day is coming when that won’t be true anymore.

      Once I lose the anonymity, I will consider submitting work in other places, and I’m so flattered you think this is content worthy of that. Thank you so much for saying so.

      I also really appreciate you thinking that people can legitimately benefit from it. That really means a lot to me.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and say hi. 🙂

    2. I agree. Reading this as a women is helping and preparing me for marriage and choosing the right guy. Or at least deciding if the guy I am with will be up for marriage.

    1. Thank you so much, Irene.

      I really appreciate your time and feedback. Hope all is well with you!

        1. I’m very sorry to hear that, Irene. 🙁

          I hope you’re able to get that problem solved sooner rather than later. And I hope you have a great weekend.

    1. If something about this somehow made you feel better, or validated or whatever, then you are quite welcome.

      Thank you for the note. I appreciate it very much.

      1. I say thank you because I have NEVER, NEVER ever heard a man say the things that you have been writing regarding marriage. Yes, we see men fight for all kinds of things, but when it comes to marriage, some get all “duh” on the subject. Men can figure out all kinds of other complicated things, but not their marriages and that just makes me sad and then angry. I feel like my ex-husband would have moved heaven and hell to fix another problem/situation he was dealing with, but he gave up so easily with trying to fix us. So, I say thank you, Matt, for being so honest and open with your feelings in regards to your divorce and your journey.

        1. I KNOW we — we being society, the human race, a group of people who care — can help fight this fight.

          I am not exceptional. I am just a guy. I know there are millions of guys out there just like me. And I know they think and feel things just like I think and feel things.

          And maybe — just maybe — a small percentage of those guys can benefit from thinking about things the way I have grown to do. Maybe they’ll pay attention because they’ll recognize truth in the message. Because they see that their lives turned out just like mine. Because I say bad words, and messed things up, and watch football, and play cards, and drink beer, and play golf, and laugh at dick-and-fart jokes just like them.

          Maybe that will earn me a little street credit. And maybe because I’m not a therapist or have a PhD (not that there’s anything wrong with that, obviously), or preach, or pretend to have all the answers, they will take a moment to think things out for themselves.

          I don’t think I can teach anyone ANYTHING. I’m not qualified. I have no credibility. I’m nobody.

          But I am decent at asking questions.

          And if we ask the right questions, smart guys will answer those questions themselves.

          And if they’re honest about it, they’ll come to many of the same conclusions I have.

          I have no delusions of grandeur. But I do think there’s a chance we can be a very small part of the solution.

          Maybe a kid gets to keep his parents because of it. Maybe a wife gets to feel the love and respect she deserves. And maybe the husband gets to keep his family.

          A redemption story. Where a guy saved the world for the people in his life that matter most, and for himself.

          That’s how powerful asking the right questions can be.

          And that’s how important marriage and family and love are.

          I encourage no one to get married.

          But I encourage EVERYONE who gets married to do it right.

          Men get it wrong a lot. A LOT.

          And we have to change people’s minds and hearts.

          We have made so much progress in so many other social areas, including racism and sexism and bigotry.

          Society has come so far.

          That same battle can be won with heterosexual men.

          We just need enough people to care.

          I care.

  3. Oh…that sweet picture. My heart is all throbby… =D

    you write all this stuff and I seriously wonder why (even though it makes such sense) it feels like a guy who gets it is an impossibility to find. It’s as if you are the only person who has learned anything. . .and you live in ohio. What about the rest of us women? You better get crackin’ on that book. Single women everywhere are depending on it!!

    Jk…..sort of. :-/

    1. Plenty of guys are learning. I’ve been reading more and more about alpha males. One of the things they’re pretty bad at is introspection and self-discovery. I’m sure that is a factor as well.

  4. I remember asking my ex why he wouldn’t fight for our marriage/ our relationship. I remember recognizing that he would work out (Crossfit) to the point of puking and be so proud that he earned a tshirt saying as much; yet when it came to working on our relationship he just didn’t seem to have any fight in him. He complained that I was ‘never satisfied’ with what little he gave – which was never any of the very little I ever asked for. It would be like going to McDonalds and merely asking for an order of fries and a bigmac, but only getting a single cheeseburger…are you supposed to tell them ‘thanks’?! No, you explain how they got your order incorrect and politely ask for them to give you what you ordered/needed/asked for/paid for to begin with…it’s not like I was expecting a steak and complained when I got the bigmac.
    Anyway…thanks for the good post. I think you’re in a minority….but a positive direction one! I’ll take it! 🙂

    1. It’s an all-too-common story which makes it all the more sad. I’m so sorry. I really am.

      1. That’s alright, he’s learning all the right ways to be now with his girlfriend/mistress he plans on marrying. Maybe he could take your advice to plan on making their marriage more successful than ours had been. (trying not to be bitter, sorry, it comes out on occasion) I do appreciate your posts and your perspective. 🙂

        1. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being bitter about that. I would be too, and wouldn’t feel the slightest bit guilty about it.

          I’m very sorry you have to watch and feel all that.

  5. Seeing as how I’m not a guy, I probably have the wrong answer. With that said, I think there’s two. First, and the biggest of the two is pride. Men are, or can be very proud. To admit that they are making mistakes is difficult for them. They like to think that everything is peachy, when in fact everything is crashing down. They close their eyes to reality, thinking that the woman is ‘off her rocker’. It’s not the guy. They’re not the problem. Pride.

    Second, is that the man feels that he can get away with not wooing his wife anymore, because now he has her. She’s his. Where’s she going to go? Wrong! Once she feels unneeded and unloved, she’ll leave. Maybe not physically, at least not right away, but her heart will leave.

    It sounds like you’re angry with yourself and that’s understandable. However, we all make mistakes. When we do, it’s our job to turn them into lessons and better ourselves. Don’t be angry for something you can no longer control. Use it and continue to share it. Men need to hear your words. Hopefully some will listen. It helps us women also, because we learn from you, that men really do care. They’re not the best at showing it. So, thank you.

    1. I think both of your observations are generally true.

      And yes. I’m a little angry with myself. I only had one job. One thing to get right in this life that REALLY mattered. All husbands/fathers do. And half of us muck it up. It’s really disappointing.

        1. I don’t think there are any guarantees of that. But I appreciate and admire the optimism. I do try to think that way.

  6. I think there are a lot of fairy tales about perfect marriages. If most people were honest, being married isn’t easy. I give in to things I never thought I would because it makes my husband happy. I love to see the light in his eyes when he is doing what he loves. I’m sure it’s the same for him.

    But, there are times–like years–where we aren’t the best of friends. We struggle, but we haven’t given up.

    Don’t take all the blame, Matt. It takes two to mess up a marriage. When one isn’t willing to try a new way to work through the rough patches, the one left willing to make the changes can’t feel blame for the failure of the marriage.

    It takes two to commit, two to work hard, two to compromise, two to love, two to respect, two to let each other know what they are feeling and experiencing before it’s too late.

    1. It does. It does! I really do understand and grasp that. I just really believe in accepting responsibility. I think we need to accept more blame and take less credit. In all our endeavors.

      Thank you for sticking up for me. I really appreciate it. Hope you have a great weekend. 🙂

      1. Arisleyda Concepcion Vasquez

        Yes if they just take responsibility for their behavior. Living in denial and dismiss it is emotionally abusive, some man they don’t understand the risk of this. Women are creatures willing to forget anything when they love but to be asking for honesty is destroying themselves.

  7. Many years ago I set up the following:

    The candles were lit. Our favorite wine poured, after chilling to just the right temperature. I had changed into something, well lets just say he thought he was in for a good time.

    I sat down next to him on the couch and put my arm around him, laid my head on his shoulder, kissed him gently on the neck just where he liked it.

    Then I whispered, “Honey, we need to talk”.

    For months, and this was in the early days of our marriage, we had been battling those common issues all marriages go through. Dishes, toilet seats, making of the bed. We had been fighting for our own space and respect. Unfortunately because of circumstances we had not lived together before we married so this was all new, add to this he moved into my home and from a foreign country, different culture.

    After 30 minutes or so of back and forth about why he didn’t care if the bed was made when he got into it at night (I cared that it was made all day), he didn’t think he should have to move a dish from the sink to the dishwasher (I did), or put the seat down at night and on and on. I finally said this:

    “Honey, you don’t have to care about what I care about, don’t have to love what I love. You have to love me enough to care that I am happy, the small things make me the happiest.”

    For most of our marriage, that worked, for both of us.

    1. I’ve written something like that before. Men will NEVER give a shit about all the things their wives/girlfriends care about. The key is not to try. The key is to care that THEY care.

      Guys are slow learners on much of this stuff.

  8. Is this a rant? I think this is a rant. It’s a great rant.

    Men need to hear this message. Also, men don’t talk about relationships and marriage with each other, which is an essential part of competition. You’ve got the right idea here Matt. Men need to be comfortable talking to each other about marriage. Creating that space to talk would help get the conversation (and competition) going. I’m a part of a men’s group that tries to do just that. It is fascinating to be a part of that group.

    Also, I think I saw a possible title to your book in this post:

    Be Awesome At Marriage

    Have a nice weekend bud.

    1. Well. It was rant-esqe, I guess. 🙂

      You’ve had a nice, long marital run. You’ve said before. So you approving of the general message matters to me.

      I’m grateful for your time and encouragement, sir. Very much.

    2. I think men do talk about marriage, and they are in competition over marriage, but the end goal of that competition is to see whose marriage is the worst/most to bear…making the “bear” that handles it the longest the winner…or the bear that takes the least sh*t from his nagging, ungrateful, let-herself-go, all-she-cares-about-is-the-house-and-kids, gold-digger, nag, nag nag, and tells her where to step off the soonest is the winner. If all she cares about is the kids, let her have them all to herself—by herself. If all she cares about is $$$$, I’ll fight her tooth and nail, be damned if I pay for her shopping sprees or a new man in MY house, OR OR OR I’ll prove myself broke so I don’t have to pay. I don’t care if I go to jail……or, If I can’t beat her in court, I’ll just kill her…….literally, stalk her, intimidate her, make her afraid for her life, hire a hitman……or I’ll talk about her so bad it’ll kill her emotionally…..that guy’s the winner in the modern-day men’s marriage competition.

  9. pretzel8logic

    Hey Matt. I believe men and women are not meant to pair up for life. Religion has pushed this format and it hasn’t been working out well at all. Knowing what we do about the different needs of men and women, I am not surprised that long-term marriages are rare.

    1. Hey. I appreciate the take. And the evidence supports that view in a lot of respects. I just can’t reconcile raising children without both parents on purpose.

      If procreation wasn’t involved, is really second guess the idea altogether.

  10. Your son has a leopard gecko? Fun! One of mine has a leopard gecko. You know they live forever, right? We’ve had ours for almost seven years now.

    If people realized how terrible divorce was or if getting a divorce seemed harder to do maybe more people would try to save their marriages. Recently someone about to file for divorce asked me if I had any advice, I said “don’t, just don’t do it.” She thought I was kidding: I wasn’t.

    1. Yes. Totally has a leopard gecko. At mom’s. Which is my preferred location. They live 10-plus years, I believe.

      I concur with your advice. The question should be: To marry, or not to marry?

      Once you say yes to that? Just make it work. Divorce is bullshit.

      1. Well if you’re going to have a pet I think a leopard gecko is the way to go. They’re pretty easy keepers. And yeah, 10-15 years.

        Not only is to marry or not to marry the question that should be asked but it should be asked & considered seriously. If people spent as much time & effort preparing for the marriage as they do for the wedding day there would probably be less divorce….because less people would get married just to do it.

          1. In our home the gecko is a pet we observe more than interact with. Though I hear leopard geckos can become friendly & sociable if you handle them enough. Clearly we do not.

            There are some good & thorough marriage prep programs but even when they’re used so many people lie to themselves or ignore signs of problems. It’s easier to do that than call off a wedding that shouldn’t be after the dress is bought/invitations sent out/hall booked or whatever.
            That’s a problem.

          2. We learn too late in life how to be honest with others. And more importantly, with ourselves.

  11. I have too felt the pain. The pain of my parents’ divorce, and my near-separation from my husband. (We are giving it another go.) Just the thought of splitting up from my husband was painful, and I can’t imagine what a divorce would do to a person.

    This is a post every attached man should read, before it is too late. Thank you for writing this. Maybe it will save a few marriages, or relationships.

    Much peace.

    1. Thank you, Nadia. I don’t think there are a large percentage of men that will read AND get it or take my word for it.

      But maybe just one. I can live with that.

    2. Sad but true.
      When I was 20 I had an encounter with a random woman. She asked if I had a boyfriend (pretty sure she wanted to set me up with her son). When I to her I was engaged she freaked out saying “Don’t do it! You’re making a big mistake.” She had g married very young too and was going through a bad divorce at the time. This unsettled me a bit but I still ignored the warning signs. When you’re twenty you still think you know everything.
      Of course, our mistakes make us who we are so maybe making so many big ones so young was a good thing.

  12. Just try and keep what you’ve learned in mind, Matt, and you will have an amazing relationship next time. And there will be a next time.


  13. Saying as much may not make me the most popular person on this blog, but I think feminism has some insights into the question of why men don’t compete to be good at marriage. Many men feel like they don’t need to be good at marriage because they can always go out and get another woman– indeed, one who is younger, hotter, more willing to look up to them, etc. Why can they get those women? Because many women look to men to provide them with money, security, and status. Feminism is about trying to create the conditions in which women don’t feel like they need men for that stuff. If they quit playing the game and making themselves available to any guy who offers them (fake) security (in whatever form–financial, psychic, whatever), men might need to rethink their attitudes towards their relationships. As some other folks have mentioned here, the “ol’ ball and chain” might look a lot more attractive and worthy of work if you weren’t so confident you could just replace her. It sounds like everyone who’s concerned about this issue hopes to take a step towards resolving it by making a personal commitment to not participating in the bs dimension of male-female relationships– I give Matt credit for calling on people to do that. And since you’re at it, why not call yourself a feminist, since ending that bs is what feminist is about. (Despite what you hear to the contrary on Fox news.)

  14. I’ve missed reading you, Matt. I agree, a lot of men could become great at marriage with some coaching. I haven’t read all the feedback, but I imagine there’s quite a discussion going on. Perhaps this has been said above, but I feel like all married people need to do the work to make a marriage, and a family, if there are kids, strong. I know plenty of shitty wives who could do with some coaching too.

  15. Yet another brilliant post Matt.

    (In my opinion)Most of the new husbands are trying not to repeat the mistakes their fathers made and most of the new wives are being protective and defensive of their lives when they reflect on how their mothers struggled without the man. It’s a different world when one comes from a broken home. You know how only one person lives and organise the household. This is where we pick up bad habits and without proper counselling we fall prey to the same devastation when we get married.
    This confusion will carry on till there are more stable homes and successful marriages to raise well balanced individuals, who will know the value of companionship and fight to keep it. Till then… I wonder!

    My ex told me to win her back, I asked how? Honestly I couldn’t think of anything else I could do because I had moved heaven and earth to understand her and attend to her needs…at least I think I did… But she will disagree. It seems she didn’t care if I stayed or left…apparently she had moved on long before telling me. Oh well, life! Live and learn.
    Take it easy Matt, like the previous post we all don’t know… It will get better with time!

  16. Pingback: An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 6 | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  17. Pingback: An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5 | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  18. Pingback: An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1 | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  19. Pingback: Suddenly Realized that you are a shitty person. - Big O In DFW :)

  20. Pingback: An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 8 | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  21. I enjoyed reading your entries. I vame across them today as I sat here thinking seriously about divorcing my husband. Your posts could be about my marriage. He is not a bad guy, but so wrapped up in himself he cannot see anyone around him. We both work full time. When I get out, I am running kids to practice, making meals, potty training a toddler, rocking babies to sleep. He goes to the gym and complains because his clothes are running low and toys are out. Today he said something that a few years ago would have made me cry. Instead I found that it did not even faze me because I no longer cared. I love him but I have been pushed to the side for so long that I have created a mental barrier to protect myself. So now I am to the point that thinking about divorce almost seems like a relief. I am sick of having to beg for attention and help from the person who should be my rock. I wish he could have read thos earlier in our marriage. Perhaps it would have made him think…

  22. I have been with my wife for almost 7 years, since I’m 29 I think that’s pretty bad ass. Then I looked at ALL 7 volumes. Not because I was searching the world wide web to better myself as a husband, I got this text from my wife who is and always will be the best thing in my life

    “This man is really smart. I read all of his letters it made me cry. Please read these!”

    I read the first paragraph of volume 1 and all I could say was ” holy shit this guy lives in my house” that seems funny if your reading this post and sad on a biblical scale of your me. I feel horrible and want to go home right now and apologize for being me .

    What you wrote is brutal and almost hard to read, and you have gotten my attention. I’m am the nicest douche any woman could ask for. Thank you for helping me. I guess my wife (Nichole) still cares enough to send me that text at 1:45am. That means I still have a chance. I love them all very much and the lights staying on every month is a bad way of showing it. I got this, being a statistic sucks. Thanks Matt.

    1. I want to word this carefully. Because I dont want to sound dishonest.

      I use phrases like “shitty husband” and “destroy marriage” and “huge asshole” for effect.

      David, I dont really think you’re shitty. And the contents of this comment suggest you’re anything but an asshole.

      So, please forgive yourself for being human. And please give yourself credit for being the kind of man who cares enough about his wife to read some whiny asshole’s opinion on the Internet just because she asked you to.

      I might not have done that, David. Because I have a pride problem.

      And you did. Not only that. It mattered.

      Here’s what I think I learned about marriage: I think you can be a really good guy who cares a lot and accidentally break your marriage because husbands and wives speak different languages.

      You can love unconditionally and still break her heart and make her want to leave.

      I mention this book a lot: “How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It.” Bad, misleading title (I think). Life-changing content that explains why men and women sometimes don’t understand one another. If youre willing to go another step with this, I couldn’t recommend it more highly.

      David, thank you for taking the time to write me this note. It will be the best thing I read all week.

      I hope you’ll thank Nichole for me. She makes me believe that this stuff does matter and can help someone.

      And thank you for being one of the good guys.

      If you give more than you take. And she gives more than she takes. Then you both always have everything you need. And feel good throughout.

      Thanks for this. Means a lot.

      But not as much as fighting the good fight and achieving that “forever” that all of us really want.

      Rejoice, sir. You have it.

      1. I literally had “damn my pride” tattooed on my chest, funny I got the work done on 2010. I guess that means I have realized the issues and the problem minimum almost five years. I will read the book you suggested it can only help. Our marriage has problems, mostly me I think, I used to tell her she cares too much about things when we were in college, and again when we had kids. Almost as if it were a fault, pretty glad she cares to much about me. I don’t know why it took today and a strangers post to make me realize all this. There are two little boys (Andrew and Logan) asleep right now who will never thank you for this.

  23. Pingback: An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 2 | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  24. Pingback: An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 3 | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  25. Pingback: An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 4 | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  26. Men are not competitive about marriage, because they have already won their wife. The chase is over

  27. virtualkeyhole

    When we were in pre-marital counselling, my husband and I read this book called Men are Like Waffles, Women are like spaghetti. Huge book, a lot of people have read it now, but back then it was new, and had a theory about this.You hit it spot on when you say that “men and women speak different languages,” which is true, but this book goes further to say that men and women approach life and process it in completely different ways. Men are waffles. They like to proceed in an orderly fashion and handle one thing (one box) at a time. The secret is that men prefer to spend their time and energy in boxes in which they are successful, and tend to avoid or move on quickly from ones where they are not as successful That’s what competition is about at its basic physical level. He’s going for the rush of oxytocin and other endorphins (Happy hormones) he gets when he reaches the top or crosses the finish line.

    According to this theory, If you want to encourage your husband to compete for you and your marriage, you’ve got to do two things. You’ve got to make him feel like he (ideally) already is, or at least can be, successful in the marriage space, and two, break it down into achievable parts that come with a payoff. (Sex and food, for example.) Life changing for us. I’m really glad we worked on some of this stuff before we got married, and 10 years down the road the book still gives us some tools we can use when we’re in a tough spot.

    So yes, it’s your job as a husband to step up and handle your shit, but it’s my job as a wife to help you out by recognizing that you’re coming from a different place than I am and try to talk to you in a way that you can hear me, and doesn’t make you feel like garbage from the get-go. People are going to demonize me all over the place, here, but when I want my husband to listen to something serious I have to say, we either have a meal first or have sex first. Sometimes both. He’s relaxed and open and has a bunch of happy hormones running around, so he’s more positively disposed to what I’m saying. In return he dutifully pretends to give a crap about dust ruffles and hospital corners. Point being, marriage takes two willing and enthusiastic participants. You absolutely should, as a husband, hold yourself accountable for your choices, but so should your wife.

    1. I’ve never read that book! I totally have to.

      I have to be the only single guy on planet earth totally enthralled by relationship books.

      This is such a great comment. I don’t have anything to add. You CLEARLY get it. All I want in the entire world is to be a guy that helps spread the message you have now heard and understand (perhaps much better than I do since you’re actually successfully married).

      Sometimes I think it’s possible that while some guys will never read something from a PhD, or some licensed therapist (because, freaking guys, you know?), maybe they’ll read some random asshole calling them out for being a shitty husband, and trying to talk to them the way regular people talk and not like a person with 14 diplomas on the wall. (I only have one and it’s not particularly impressive).

      Maybe that makes sense to people. Maybe it doesn’t. I’m going to keep trying anyway. Appreciate your time and contribution so much. Thank you.

    2. Update: Ordered the book. They have one specifically for single people, too. Ordered that, also. Thank you for the recommendation.

  28. “Women need you to have beta traits so she can trust you not to treat her like shit or abandon her after procreation. That’s evolution.”

    Oh my god… I said this exact thing to my husband last night. Almost verbatim.

  29. I wish that my husband would read this! Unfortunately, he is the one that wants out and me trying to explain what he has to lose is just seen as arguing and nagging. We both have kids from previous marriage and one kid together, I just can’t understand how he can stomach the idea of divorce.

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

  31. Pingback: An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 13 | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  32. I’ve been reading your articles for an hour with tears streaming down my face. I was this wife for 7 years I asked, begged and fought for the man who convinced me he wanted a family so bad, to actually help out and be an active part in the family he made me want too. He didn’t understand what I was asking instead took it as an attack on himself, that he didn’t do enough and was a shitty parent. After a while I got angry that I had let someone convince me that he wanted the same things I did but wasn’t willing to but in the extra time. That he was always to tired from work and wouldn’t see that I was also tired but i couldnt just sit around to. Because no matter how tired or upset i was dinner still had to be made, hw helped with, kids get baths, bedtime stories read. He was missing out on pivitol points in our girls lives on memories they would have for the rest of their lives. After a while i started getting resentful and mean. Why should i have to be the only one going the extra mile? Didn’t i agree and get into the realtionship with the idea we would share the parenting responsibilities so why am i doing it all alone. Sure he goes to work everyday and pays for the things we need but a paycheck does not make you daddy. My girls were not going to remember that daddy worked hard. They going to remember all the times daddy wasnt at family outings, all the times daddy wouldnt want to play because he was busy or to tired. I want to send these to my husband as a last ditch effort to get him to understand why we should fight for our marriage, not just for us but for our daughters too. I want to send him these posts but i dont think he would even read them. He would just chock it up to me begging him not to leave again and it’ll make him want to run away more. But thank you, because for years I thought I was just seeing the negative and never appreciating everything I had. For years I made excuses to myself about how it’s not really that bad, that it could be worse.

    1. I am that wife as well. I have sobbed reading these becasue it is a letter my husband will never read. When I tried to send it to him, he said he didn’t want to read about some guy “self deprecating”. Little did he know that is the best explanation ever written of how wives really feel and it is written by a man.
      He signed the divorce papers today. He is the household’s main source of income and I’m not asking for child support. We have a five year old son that i know he will support (at least fiscally) and I have no income or family to help but in all honesty, it is worth the struggle just to feel normal again. Not neglected. To release from the distraction of trying to fix something that’s broken. I’m sick of expelling all the air in my lungs while I plead for him to help me, to listen to me, to remmeber my birthday or remind him I have feelings. He is apathetic, depressed and hurting all the time and I have done all I can to try and help him but I can not continue being the mom/cheerleader that I have become and that he does not listen to. I need to be a mom to my son and cheerleader for myself. I am breaking free.
      He said he hopes i’m happier. I let him know I won’t be. Not for a long, long time. I will cry every night for months, drink in the dark alone and ignore the calls and texts from family and friends. I will hate myself for years for finding anyone else remotely attractive and I will be disgusted with myself the first or 100th time I have sex with anyone else after I leave him. But even though all that is true, it is worth it to be alone with my thoughts and be able to find value in myself without the influence of another’s lethargy.

      1. JessOly….you have me in tears with this post…. I’m a guy that was all the shifty husband you could ask for ( even though my wife says I wasn’t…she’s too sweet) . I missed so much of my family events and quality time with the kids and the most important person in my life , my wife Anne. I don’t know where it comes from I don’t understand how it’s not seen or felt through the actions lack of actions or feeling shifts from those that matter most. Was I an asshole? Yeah maybe. Was I insensitive ?clearly, am I sad I missed the best years of my kids lives ? There are days I look at them and say ” when did he or she get so grown up. The song by Harry Chapin “Cats in the Cradle ” fills me with self loathing . My wife didn’t fail anyone. I was a complete workaholic, I worked 2 jobs to afford our house , I had some momma’s boy issues and any time I had off I felt entitled to it being my time…so what did I Do? I went to meet friends for coffee( definitely an asshole move!) she felt lonely and against the wall with nobody to help her. This wasn’t what she signed up for. She was done…..wanted out. We split 7 years into our marriage, I was still working and I was living in my car. She was talking to a lawyer, a guy was trying to get her into his bed ( thankfully that didn’t happen) my kids were confused and their behavior changed . She refused counseling so I went by myself. I felt so shitty because I made her feel shitty. I prayed I went to counseling with both a certified counselor and our parish priest. I came to realize that the “poor me fellow” was the cause and needed a kick in the ass. She gave it to me. I did what I had to do to change,not who I was but HOW I was. I put on my man pants.She was able to see changes that were for the better and did some soul searching of her own and changed how she was as well. The changes were in sync. We got back together. We focused on the the going forward part but were mindful of what lead to that terrible time. It no longer consumes us. Our 33rd anniversary is coming soon. I love her more that ever and I feel loved more than ever. What I pray for you is that your heartbreak will subside and you will see that you were worth more than you got. I’ve said this in some of my previous posts marriage is work worth doing…it’s not rocket science because so much of what makes it better is obvious. If there is any advice I can offer to you or anyone else relative to the last few sentences of your post…Be strong and live. God bless you and your family.

        1. I would also like to edit this by saying in my moments of assholery it was my wife that made all initial attempts at saving our marriage by going for counseling by herself as my ego and selfish machismo prevented me from acknowledging it’s worth. And as previously stated she was done by the time I came to my revelation and didn’t want to go to counseling any longer. After my re genesis and her belief that I had done a serious turnaround did she accompany me for further counseling.

  33. Pingback: Suddenly Realized that you are a shitty person. – Big O's blog. My Blog My Rules

  34. Kathy Ringering Wendt

    It’s one thing to be competitive about GETTING married and a whole other concept to be competitive a bout BEING/STAYING married. I think a huge obstacle is the societal view of women as an object, a second class citizen, womb/childcare worker, responsible for anything that even slightly resembles grunt work. All of these roles can have a positive flip side (though most of them are a real stretch) object/adored, second class/protected, childcare/roll model, grunt work/responsible, etc. I think the challenge would be to imagine a yourself, as a man, in these roles and consider how would they be fulfilling to you. If they don’t sound even remotely like something that you would enjoy, then you can be sure that the only reason your wife signed up to do them at all is that she loves you. Think about reciprocating. Do you love your wife enough to take on some of those things that NO ONE really enjoys doing all the time (especially all by herself).

    I believe that women want honesty. If you have NO intention of EVER helping your wife with the household tasks, tell her so….BEFORE she says I DO. If you think that giving her affection of ANY KIND (other than sex) is unreasonable, tell her BEFORE she says I DO. If you can’t even IMAGINE not getting to have sleep-overs with any girl you find attractive, please tell her Before that ring is on her finger…’s only fair. At least then she can make an informed decision before she signs on to be everything YOU ever dreamed of in a woman and hates her lonely life as a doormat.

  35. Matt… I really appreciate your thoughts although I have some difficulties with some of your conclusions……those I would like to take on after I read all of the shitty husband letters…what I do want to point out,is that on numerous occasions in your postings and responses you state a 50% divorce rate…that simply isn’t true…according to the US Census Bureau…the divorce rate as of 2009 was 30.8% and is showing signs of decline as more married couples are turning to self and professional help to strengthen their marriages. The rate listed by the Census Bureau includes those that have filed for divorce but not actually had it litigated and those in states where legal separation is a thing. So the optimism I have for marriage is not without statistical information. I commend you and some of your responders for keeping things frank but real and mostly respectful. What I would like to offer is the number of men and women that suffer from depression that have a social stigma about counseling and or medical treatment of same….this can lead to these feelings of resentment that may or may not have foundation but come with nasty solutions…like divorce

  36. When I read this it captured so many of the problems my husband and I were having….from the wanting to leave when I gave birth to our son…to ignoring me on my birthday…to blowing me off….to spending all his time with his friends and telling me he could he worse… but now we are on the road to recovery… thank you so much

    1. This was very nice to read.

      I’m so glad you guys are finding your way.

      It’s remarkable to me how similar everyone’s relationship problems tend to be. Nothing is identical from couple to couple, certainly, but the themes and patterns all eerily universal-ish seeming.

      Best wishes for you and your family, Sara. Thank you for the note.

  37. What we have here is a classic pussy beggar. If he is ever fortunate enough to land another woman then he will bow and scrape before her and do all her chores and worship her and leap through hoops over every wind of emotion that blows over her and she will despise him for it and dump his sorry ass. All you women reading delude yourselves. You will say you want a man JUST LIKE HIM, but somehow definitely NOT HIM and you can’t put your finger on why. I can. Would you like me to share?

    1. Ah, yes, wouldn’t I just love having a man tell me what I like and need. Because I certainly don’t know myself.

      Answering comments like this in a sarcastic way really goes against my principles, but today I couldn’t help myself. That makes me human…

      I am actually interested in how you land on the conclusion that you think you know better than the women themselves what they want and need, but I have a feeling asking you about this will not lead to a respectful discussion.

    2. Would I like you to share? No. I would like you to take your redpill nonsense elsewhere.

  38. Thank you for writing theses and sharing. I too have been a shitty husband…twice! I don’t have empathy, I didn’t respect her, and nurture her in a way that spoke to her. After months of fighting, she asked me to give her a reason to stay married to me; something in this that is benificial to her. Every reason I gave, came back to what I was getting out of the marriage. She makes ME feel good, she laughs at MY jokes, she doesn’t yell at me for the goofy dtuff I do (it’s happened to me eith others). I want to be better at “getting her”. All of our discussions turn into fights when I defend my position or justify reasons for my actions, or worse, voice an opinion, have her tell me that what I felt in that moment wasn’t the right answer and I try to change my answer (back-peddling). My relationship history is aweful. I passive-aggressively end all of them or the eomen sees through me and bugs out before I do. I really don’t want it to be like this. So I’m seeking help. But while I’m “looking for myself” she’s left here to suffer through me still not having empathy for the way I’ve made her feel, things that I have done. And without empathy she feels (and I agree with her to a point) that without it, i’ll never connect with her on the level that a husband and wife need to be connected on. I’ve asking forgiveness and she has, several times for the dame thing. See the pattern. Well, she’s tired of not feeling loved and appreciated and I have not made amends or clarified reasons for my past actions. So she’s likly going to leave me. Without her I would be a mess. No direction, no laughter, no confort or peace. See? I made it about me again. I’m not giving up, but She will no longer sit by and suffer while I journey into this without a time line for her as to when does this get better for her.

  39. Men aren’t the only problem in failed marriages. Sometimes people don’t belong together and if you can find happiness elsewhere then do that. This article is geared towards marriages that started with two people in love who let life get in the way, got conplacent and stopped putting in effort. These types of marriages still have a chance. This article is not for marriages that started for reasons other than love, where true love never existed and who finally came to the realization that pretending was wrong for everyone involved. This article feeds the female spouse into thinking she’s the victim and that men are weak because they chose divorce.

  40. If only there was a way to get my husband to read this, take it seriously and not get angry about it….so many good points are made in these letters for both men and women. If he just decided to spend time with me, connect with me, show me that I’m special to him (not with material gifts, but the gift of his time, attention and affection), I would be a much happier wife and we could be a much happier couple.

    1. Thank you, Michelle.

      I do think it’s possible. Everyone has realizations in different ways. Mine came from divorce.

      Smarter people learn BEFORE the horrible things happen. I’ll be hoping that’s the case here.

  41. I tried to send these to my husband. I asked him to just read and see if he related at all or could reflect in any way. He said he’s not reading some bullshit post written by a woman. We’ve been fighting for months about how little he shows he cares about me and my daughter. And his lack of compassion and empathy of me being a single mom caring for our newborn while he is deployed. My marriage is over it seems. I’ve begged and pleaded and asked him why it is that he is so cold and can’t empathize. He just doesn’t understand and won’t try.

    1. Tell him the “woman” who wrote this called him a huge pussy who is going to lose his family if he doesn’t learn something he doesn’t currently know. (I don’t think that’s a cool word to use in polite conversation — certainly not in that context. I just think it will get his attention.) Tell him the “woman” who wrote this can be emailed at any time and I’ll be happy to tell him in as few words as possible why he’s going to lose his family if he doesn’t do something about it, and that I’ll be happy to help him understand what he currently doesn’t know. All he has to do is ask.

      1. I could tell him that lol but he definitely would just get even more mad. Apparently all I do is bitch and get mad over nothing. And it came out that the only reason he married me is because a friend told him that it’s possible I was waiting on a ring and that once I had the baby my hormones would go back to normal. Hmm as if my hormones are the only reason I get upset over feeling like he just doesn’t care. I enjoy reading your posts though. It makes me feel like maybe I’m not just some psycho who nags for nothing. I totally recognize where I’m wrong at times. Sometimes I do act over the top and I give ultimatums which isn’t healthy in relationships. I get angry pretty quickly. It’s just been a long road of feeling invalidated any time I feel any way. When I catch him in lies it’s my fault for not trusting him and going through his phone. Just so much dysfunctional crap. I’m already divorced once after being cheated on that time. I can’t believe I’m headed for divorce number two. Thanks for replying though. You give hope that some men can take a step back. I guess it’s time for me to just focus on myself and my daughter and being a great mom.

  42. Hey Matt. I really enjoy all of your writing. You have important messages to share, and I hope you continue. I have thought a lot about your question of why men aren’t competitive about their relationships while being competitive with everything else. My thoughts on this are certainly not comprehensive, but I’ll give it a go anyway. I am a woman, however, so I know I cannot speak for the experience of men. But I have read a lot about this and try with as much empathy as I can muster to understand the mechanisms behind the acts of both men and women. I strongly believe that although we will never have the first-hand experience of other people, we can do our very best to understand them. I hope that if you, or anyone else who reads this, finds it too simplistic, offensive or just plain bullshit, that you comment on it while keeping in mind that this is just me trying to make sense of a highly complex issue.

    I think the main reason why men aren’t competitive about making their relationships work is that being a “good” husband goes against so many things they have been taught they should be.

    Let me explain…

    In this culture, men are raised to believe that showing weakness and vulnerability is not allowed. Vulnerability, accountability and susceptibility to others’ opinions is considered weak, not manly. Men judge and bully each other harshly for being pussies, a pushover, a crybaby or whipped if they actually listen to others and care about their feelings. In a “boys club” society, a man’s social status lies in the hands of fellow men, not the woman he dates/marries. Vulnerability is considered feminine, it is considered less. Among the most hurtful things you can say to a man is that he is behaving like a pussy/sissy/girl. Since men reject typical female qualities in themselves from a young age, it’s no wonder that women end up being considered less than men.

    Relationships challenge this whole concept of the stoic, invincible and infallible man who never is scared, doesn’t need anyone and doesn’t need anyone (particularly not a woman) to teach him anything. But being in a relationship is vulnerable and scary, and it shows us that none of us are lonely islands. To love and trust someone is perhaps the scariest thing we do in our lives, and men have been given a particularly bad card when it comes to dealing with it. So when the woman starts asking for vulnerability, susceptibility and accountability, men become confused and defensive. They are asked to be the very things they were taught (primarily by other men) to not be. I think you are absolutely correct when you say that one can be a good man while also being a shitty husband. But it seems as though men were taught to believe that as long as they adhere to the prescribed “rules” of what a man should be, it will be good enough for the woman. Their masculine attributes should be enough, so why is she asking for even more? They learn that a stoic and strong man is all she wants. Men are given mixed signals about how they should be. No wonder they get frustrated and say things like “I can never do anything right!” and “What do you want from me?!”.

    Not every man will go down the beautiful path of self-reflection as you have, and will instead take the easy road and start pointing fingers. Of course, the easiest person to point fingers at is the partner (this goes both ways, don’t get me wrong, but women might have slightly different motives). They think they just have to convince her that he is right, so his strength doesn’t have to be questioned. For many men, shedding the mask of stoicism, invulnerability and righteousness is harder than to live a life of unhappy relationships. So they continue to point fingers and keep the cycle going.

    I think the most important thing we can teach boys and men is that vulnerability is strength. To have the courage to show their “soft” sides, so that they can create a real connection with others, not just women. Both men and women need to shoulder this task. Women can be equally sexist in this way by expecting a man to not cry for example…

    Wow, that became a too long comment (I’m sorry about that).

    Also, these thoughts are not just taken out of thin air. It is a condensate of some of the knowledge I’ve gained from reading, among other things, books/articles by the Gottman couple, Brene Brown and Mark Greene, which I warmly recommend. I put a few links at the bottom.

    The Gottman Blog:
    Mark Green’s Facebook page:
    The Mask We Live In (documentary):

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

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top
Matt Fray

Get my latest writing!

Sign up for my free weekly email newsletter as I continue an on-going exploration of love and relationships.