An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 9

Comments 67


Sometimes your wife cries in bed alone because she wants to hang out with you and you’d rather do anything else.

Don’t say you want to be with her. It’s a lie. You don’t. You like watching sports and playing video games and poker and going out with your guy friends and gambling and fishing and drinking and watching movies and TV shows more than you like hanging out with her.

Sometimes she sobs, broken and abandoned.

Because the knight on TV just saved the princess and is going to love her and protect her and make her orgasm every day, forever. Happily Ever After.

And you don’t even want to be in the same room as her. Maybe she’ll talk to you and ask you about your day. Maybe she’ll want to share details of her day.

But you don’t want to talk about it. You definitely don’t want to listen to it.

You just need some ‘Me’ time.

Why can’t she just enjoy doing the things she likes while I enjoy the things I like?

That’s the question, isn’t it?

Why can’t she think and feel like a man thinks and feels?

I mean, it’s not like she’s doing anything to make ME feel good! We used to have great sex! What happened to the blow jobs!? Just look around! I pay for all this for HER! Her hair. Her nails. Her spa treatments. Her jewelry. Her car. Her house. Our kids.

I work hard. And I only have so much time to unwind. This is how I do it. Why can’t she appreciate that? Why can’t she respect me enough to give me space?

Sometimes she panics. The kind where you’re so scared that your hair falls out a little. The kind where you’re so sad and afraid that even your kids know something is wrong.

Maybe you think she’s fat and ugly, she wonders.

Maybe you’re having an affair or wishing you were, she questions.

Maybe you’re going to leave her, she fears.

All you want her to do is treat you like she used to back when she respected and wanted you.

All she wants you to do is treat her like you used to back when you loved and wanted her.

You retreat from her because her neediness is a turnoff and makes you feel bad.

And she keeps chasing, making you want to retreat even more.

You want to be married. You want to keep your family intact. You probably even love her in your own way.

But she doesn’t feel like your best friend anymore. Because she makes you feel inadequate. So you pull away. And when you pull away, she gets even more scared. Feels even less safe.

Divorce or an affair seems inevitable.

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My wife and I didn’t like the same things.

So when we fell into the rhythm of marriage and domesticated life, we were often at odds about how to spend our time.

I like watching sports.

She likes watching shows about weddings.

I like watching thrillers, science fiction and gritty dramas that don’t sugarcoat the human condition.

She likes watching romantic comedies and things that make her laugh and feel good (which isn’t dumb).

I like playing poker.

She likes skiing.

I like writing.

She likes dancing.

I always thought the fairest, simplest, most-diplomatic thing was for her and I to do what both of us wanted when we disagreed. Agree to disagree! Everybody does what they want and gets their way! Everyone’s happy!

But that’s not how it is in real life.

Because many of the things my wife wanted required contributions from me. A family activity. What a drag. A home-improvement project. The horror. A healthy sex life. Gasp!

I said what any true asshole would: “Why is it that all of the things you want require something from me? How is that fair?”

You hear it from a table of golfers having beers after a round on a Saturday afternoon.

You hear it from a defensive husband pleading his case to a therapist or marriage counselor or an empathetic buddy.

Sometimes, you simply think it when your wife or girlfriend is “inconveniencing” you with a request to spend time together.

It’s the refrain of assholes, worldwide: “What’s wrong with a little ‘Me’ time?”

The Successful, Still-Married Me

A friend sent me a link this morning.

A writer who seems to care about the same things I care about: Seth Adam Smith.

I like this guy. He reminds me of me, except he’s actually successful and relevant. And probably a much-better person.

He once wrote a post called Marriage Isn’t For You. He became famous (by writer standards) after that post received 2.2 million views in 36 hours.

I hope you’ll read it, because it’s really fantastic.

Smith was freaking out about getting married, asking himself: “Am I ready? Is Kim the right person to marry? Will she make me happy?

Smith writes:

“Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in, marking that moment as one we will never forget.

My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, ‘Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.’

It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.

My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s ‘Walmart philosophy,’ which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.

No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, ‘What’s in it for me?’ while Love asks, ‘What can I give?’”

If you’re single, and you don’t have anyone who needs you and you like it that way, then there’s NOTHING wrong with a little YOU time. In fact, have YOU time for the rest of your life. There are no reasons you should feel guilty about that if that’s what’s in your heart.

I think a lot of people marry just because they think that’s what you do after high school or college. It’s what we see other adults do. It’s what we see on TV. It’s what our friends do.

Most guys think: No big deal! It’s just like having a girlfriend—forever! I can do that.

But it’s not like having a girlfriend forever. Marriage is NOT simply an agreement to never have sex with anyone else again.

It’s an exercise in giving more than you take.

In spending your days helping your wife have the best life she possibly can.

Sometimes that means sitting quietly at the dinner table listening to stories that may not interest you, but if you’re doing it right, you’ll care because of how much it matters to her.

Sometimes that means watching a movie or visiting a vacation destination that isn’t your first choice.

Sometimes it means you go to bed and have lots and lots of sex instead of watching Thursday Night Football.

We’re selfish and broken and messy.

So you ask: How can you expect me to give without asking for anything in return? What’s in it for me? 

I don’t know.

But I’m a good guesser.

And I’m pretty sure you get all the stuff that the world’s richest people can’t buy, but wish they could.






I’m pretty sure you get to live without fear and shame. That you get to walk tall with courage and pride. That you get to go to bed and wake up feeling confident and secure.

I’m pretty sure you get to keep your family.

And that your kids will grow up knowing how to secure theirs.

What happens when you make marriage not about you, but about the people you love?


Happily Ever After.

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. 7

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 8

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


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67 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 9”

    1. Thank you for sharing this. I’m sorry this resonated with you. That tends to be a bad thing, actually. I hope you have a beautiful day.

      1. No. Not a bad thing. My husband was a shitty husband…. but time heals all wounds, and with it has come the wisdom to do better in the future.
        My husband would also be able to say in many ways, that I was a shitty wife.

        I wish that things were different, but they are not… But if there ever is a next time, I will be and do better…. AND expect better. And that’s all that one can hope for in our situations isn’t it ?


    1. Thank you, Jenny.

      Maybe you didn’t like the others that much?

      I do seriously appreciate you reading. Very much. 🙂

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  9. I agree with simplyjenny….this IS the best one so far. Maybe it’s because you’ve touched so eloquently on all the things that were missing from my own marriage, the trajectory remarkably alike. I know you’ve said these things in other ways before….but this one, this one hit home. Tears even… You are such a wonderful writer, and you get it. I hope you do publish that book someday because I don’t care whether you have credentials or experience in some field some bozo thinks you need to have to write about this stuff…. you’ve been there, you’ve lived it, and I’m not sure you need anything else.

    1. Thank you very much, Robin.

      It really does mean a lot to me when people think this stuff matters. I do want to believe I have something here worth writing and discussing, but it’s really easy to let self-doubt creep in sometimes.

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate you very much.

  10. Each time I read one of these ‘open letters’ I think, “damn, I did that!” I wonder if I would have read these with an open mind back when I was committing these marriage killers and if so would I still be married today?

    1. Please try not to think about it in those those terms, Vince. I was oblivious and selfish and grossly negligent throughout my marriage. And I was emotionally ill-equipped to handle the fallout when she left.

      I only know some of theae things are bad because I did them.

      I’m the equivalent of the guy who murders someone and then feels really bad about it in prison.

      Maybe if she’d never have left, I’d still be doing all those things.

      I hope not.

      Always hope you’re doing well, sir. I’m losing track of the timeline, but in my experience, it slowly gets better as the days pass. I hope that’s how you’re experiencing it.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Always appreciate it.

    1. Hey Andi. That’s probably true of just about every divorced husband. Including me. Thank you for thinking it’s relevant. Hope you have a wonderful day.

  11. As usual, I loved your writing. Very honest and raw. And as usual, I can very much relate. On an unrelated note… Seth Adam Smith has asked me to be a contributing author on his website Forward Walking! We’re pals you know 🙂 (Ok, not pals, but writer buddies. Ok, not that either, but we’ve been chatting for months about this opportunity.) And he thinks I’m an “excellent writer” (He follows my blog) what?! I am directing him to this post, you knocked it out of the park!

    1. You’re too kind. But you know that already.

      Please promise me you’ll send me a link when your work shows up there. I can’t wait to see it.

      Thank you for your compliments and for the flattery of sharing my work. It means a great deal to me.

  12. Reblogged this on You'll Soon Be Flying and commented:
    It is not very often over this past year with you here, my loyal readers, that I choose to reblog something. This is one such blog post worthy of sharing. Mark is an incredibly honest writer. Whether or not you’ve ever been divorced, or even married, most of us, if we’ve ever found ourselves past the comfort zone and floundering in the complacency zone in a relationship can at some point relate to the feelings he uncovers in this piece. Mark also mentions Seth Adam Smith. I also love his take on all things marriage. Two of his blog pieces on the topic have gone viral, “Marriage Is Not For You” made him an overnight sensation last November, reaching more than 60 million views. And more recently, his views in his piece, “Forget About Feelings, Real Love Is A Deliberate Choice” is circulating around the internet once more. These two men, both with different viewpoints on marriage, are equally hitting all the right notes. Marriage is important. It’s refreshing seeing two men starting the dialogue in such a real and authentic way. Who says guys don’t want happily ever after too?
    Give them both a read.
    Seth’s site can be found here:

    P.S. To leave you with a tiny teaser… you may start finding me popping up on one of Seth Adam Smith’s websites soon! Official introduction coming shortly… Stay tuned!

    1. 1. Sorry about the failure to respond. I suck sometimes. Seriously.

      2. I do know that wives commit marriage crimes, too. But I’m in the business of accepting and preaching personal responsibility. I want men to do that.

      I’ll let wives and other women worry about how they can grow and be better tomorrow.

      Thank you for reading and commenting here. I’ve done an inadequate job staying on top of comments for a few months.

  13. I’m another of those who read this and thought it was your best-to-date as well. I’m of the opinion that a great many marriages fail, and countless more are living unhappily in their marriages, because societally we misunderstand the very nature of marriage. We enter marriage without fully understanding what it means to even BE married, let alone how to.

    I can remember my pastor trying to explain to us (at the tender age of 22 and BOY were we stupid!) that to be married meant to live sacrificially for the other and to always seek the other’s highest good. And of course at 22 we thought we got that…OF COURSE we would make sacrifices for one another, but our idea of “sacrificing” pretty much amounted to acquiescing to the other when we didn’t really care much one way or the other about the outcome.

    We just celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary last week. We’ve learned a lot – mostly through our mistakes – about what living sacrificially actually looks like. We’ve also learned that even after 26 years, we’ve still only scratched the surface of what we have left to learn. It never ends. Every day we have to make to choice to live for the other, to seek their highest good. Every day we have to choose to love in a way that is truly loving.

    This is the most important thing that you have to say, Matt. Choosing to put the best interests of our partner ahead of our own does not equal a lifetime of misery for the sacrificial partner. It doesn’t make you a doormat or mean that you are weak. On the contrary, living this way demonstrates considerable strength and, I think, a great deal of courage.

    In a society that places high value on individualism and freedom, it seems counter-intuitive to NOT demand that our needs be met even when it is at the expense of someone we love. But that is exactly what the commitment to be a spouse is! And it is the environment where love grows best.

    Please keep writing about this! I know I am the choir to your preaching (not that I think you’re being preachy…you know what I mean I hope!) I just wanted to affirm for you that what you are writing about matters. A whole lot.

    1. I can’t believe I never responded to your wonderfully written and encouraging comment.

      26 years!

      That’s wonderful, and seems to be getting more and more rare. I love hearing it.

      Thank you for walking the walk. I can’t apologize enough for my failure to respond.

      I hope you had a wonderful holidays.

      1. So nice to hear from you Matt, and no apologies necessary…wishing you and your little guy much love, health and happiness for the new year!

  14. Jenniferostermeier

    Dude! Love this so much! Couldn’t stop reading! I highly recommend anyone make or female to read this. Great work 🙂

    1. I can’t apologize enough for not replying before today.

      Thank you very much for reading, liking it, and your kind words.

  15. I just read all 9 letters in one go this afternoon, haha. Seriously, this is some of the best internet advice I have ever read, hands down. The majority of what you find online in terms of relationship advice is horribly sexist and unrealistic. This is just great. Now if I could just figure out a way to get my significant other to read these without him getting angry at me, that would be great!

    By the way – I bet you get soooo many marriage offers from women reading your blog now! 😛

    1. 1. I’m sorry I took forever to reply. I’m irresponsible.

      2. Thank you so much for reading and liking it.

      3. I almost never get marriage proposals, but I love that you think I might be.

  16. I just read all of your “letters”…I am that wife who has disengaged after many years of not having my husband listen and really “hear”…my walls are so high and thick I don’t know if they can come down…this last letter struck me the most because during a recent “discussion” his answer was “I would, but to what end. What’s in it for me?”…
    I guess I’m not enough of a prize after 20 years of marriage…I wish he could have read this before I hit this point…

    1. It’s a very hard thing to love as hard as you need to after everything breaks. I think men have a unique ability to wait until the bitter end to figure out where they went wrong versus being proactive and building a beautiful marriage from day one. I’m very sorry. I wish I knew what to say. Nobody tells us how hard all this is. And even when they do we think it will never be us.

      Wishing you peace in the new year.

      1. Thank you for your kind reply…some insight (hindsight 20 years of marriage and three teenage children) from a wife…being “nice” and not expressing needs comes at a price…from the start it needs to be a two way street…I’m as equally to blame for when I did decide it was time to start asking more the die was already cast…and for the husbands PLEASE don’t wait until it’s too late…just because your wife is quiet and doesn’t ask doesn’t mean she isn’t dying inside…she needs you to be strong and supportive and to treat her like she is the center of your universe…believe me if you do that she will reply ten fold…because once she has tried too many times, the fear of trying again and ending up in the same place is too much…

  17. Just read all these ‘letters’ in one sitting, with slightly misty eyes. Living in hope that my beautiful girls and I one day become enough. Where there’s love there’s hope.
    Keep up the good work ☺️

    1. Thank you so much. It means a lot to me that it resonated with you and made you feel something.

      I wish you and your daughters the same.

      I’m grateful for you taking time to leave this note.

  18. Wow. I just read all the letters and I wept. I wish my husband had read them long ago. Though he probably wouldn’t have cared anyway. Instead while you we’re writing this one I was discovering his affair. I guess he had reason
    & it was really simple- he stopped choosing to love his wife & decided cheating was ok. Some people don’t cheat because they weren’t getting enough out of the marriage. Sometimes they cheat because they weren’t putting enough INTO it. I spent years so busy taking care of everyone trying constant to work at my marriage while he just checked out. More then I ever realized. So much that after we separated (he chose the ow when I found out and just walked out on me & our kids, she then Immediately Dumped him so karma at least right?) that I sadly realized that living without him wasn’t that different then living with him. I just cooked less
    Food & had less
    Clothes to wash. After over 15 years of marriage the idea of living without him Seemed So scary until I realized me and the kids had been living without him present For a long time. I had been married and alone for so long and hadn’t realized it. I was just so used to being ignored and neglected. I was no perfect wife. I’m Not trying to pretend I was. But I didn’t cheat and I tried so damn hard at my marriage. So thank you for this. For making me Feel understood. Validated. Not just a crazy emotional Girl. For making me feel like maybe
    Some men actually want to put in the work for a marriage.

    1. Thank you for saying that. Aside from the unlikely possibility that some guy read this stuff and rethink his choices, people figuring out they’re not the only ones thinking or feeling a certain way matters a lot to me.

      I’m very sorry to hear about everything in your personal life. There aren’t words.

  19. So much respect and gratitude to you for these posts! How did you figure all this out?! How do you understand me so well? I’ve just read all 9 of the letters to shitty husbands, and it helped me gain perspective in my own relationship. Basically everything you’ve written speaks to me, but especially: a man (or woman) can be a good human being(faithful, hard working towards a better future, not an addict or abuser etc.) but still be a shitty life partner. That’s the argument I find myself in whenever I express my dissatisfaction with my husband for not helping me with the day to day mundane shit that needs to happen. It didn’t seem to make a lot of sense in his mind or my own that a person can be both. It does now.
    And B. Divorce IS aweful for everyone, especially when kids are involved, and I don’t actually want to go that route even though it seems more appealing at times.
    Again, thank you! You’ve helped me sort through some confusion :):)

  20. I’m sitting here crying my eyes out because everything you wrote is so true and I hope my last ditch effort of sending it to my husband of 19 years, might wake him up because no matter how many times I try to talk to him about feeling alone and unloved, he gets the stupid deer-in-the-headlights look on his face. I used to want to cry or slap it off his face but now I don’t even try to talk to him because it’s too frustrating and I’m sick of banging my head against the wall. I wish I would have stumbled on to you years ago. Maybe it would’ve saved millions of tears and tons of arguments.

  21. I just finished your blog and so much of what you realized after your divorce is how I feel right now in my marriage. In volume 6 your friend’s issue with making all of the decisions is one of the biggest arguments between my husband and myself. Thank you for writing this, I think if more people would read this it would save many marriages. And who knows maybe my husband will read it and possibly help save our marriage in time

    1. Thank you for reading and taking the time to write this note, Amanda. It’s really nice to hear (or read, rather) that people think these stories matter.

      Thoughts and prayers for your marriage.

      Human conflict is inevitable. Hearing this in a song playing as I type: “We’ve got the guts to keep love alive.” It’s about this very topic. Disagreements in relationships.

      I think that’s what it takes. Hope he meets you there.

      Thank you so much for reading.

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  23. FormerlyMrsClay

    I’m just finding your blog at this trying time. I even sent a few letters to him but know he will not read them as that’s work. We have lived together for 15 years and married 10 years. He forced marriage on me although I knew it wouldn’t work as he was too selfish. For 15 years, he has spent all his time on the video game while I go out alone. His reasoning was he didn’t drink, smoke or go out all the time. With going out alone, he began suspecting other things going on but still chose to stay home and accuse. He also rather talk to other people instead of me. I’m an introvert so when he finally got through to me to call, my calls were ignored because he was talking to more important people. I found out one of those people was an ex female co-worker he called at 6AM on our anniversary. When confronted, he would not call her but assured me nothing was going on. This is the same girl I found out he sent all my personal emails to five years prior. In the end, I threw the phone at him and he called police on me. That should have been the end of us as trust was never regained. Since then, he has threatened divorce, left for three days with no regards to where he’s going or where he’s been, filed for divorce, changed his mind and attempted to kick me out twice. His last request for me to get out was all I needed to get out. He of course apologized and begged me to stay. I told him to get help on his anger issues and take our 3 month break to focus on what he wants. Today, at month 2, he told me he would get help after lying how doctor didn’t want to prescribe medicine and how counselors would not return his calls. He also expressed him being uncomfortable taking pills and doing it only for me. Once I heard this, I told him don’t bother as he had 2 months to work on his issues yet he only give excuses. During these two months, he has gotten upset that I have sent waiver to court on divorce he filed and questions my involvement in making this marriage work. I’ve ask year after year for him to step up to lead the family as I had grown tired of wearing the pants. I was even attacked about my comments about duties of a husband. “What is the wife’s duties?” he demanded. I still recollect all those bad memories and time wasted on xbox for him to say I live in past. When he fails to take responsibility for his actions from the past and continues to repeat the same issues, it’s a real problem yet he’s beyond livid with me not wanting to devote more time into something that is obviously too much work for him to handle.

  24. This is all soo true!!!! I just wish my husband would wake up and smell the coffee before it’s too late!! I feel so sad sometimes I wish I was already in the withdrawal state….right now I’m still in the needy state and its much too painful here…

  25. “Sometimes it means you go to bed and have lots and lots of sex instead of watching Thursday Night Football.”

    Or here’s another version of that:

    You get to have mutually desired and enjoyed sex instead of sex 2-5 hours later with the most physically tired and emotionally drained version of her that happened to be in bed longing for you (possibly to hold her first or possibly just for sex with you) and maybe even crying about it for those 2-5 hours and who you can now unjustly mischaracterize any number of awful ways such as having no libido and no love for you, as cold or stiff or unkind in bed, as cruelly making you feel like an intruder or a rapist….there’s no end to the examples of hurtful and heinous things people can come up with and project on other people from either side of a relationship when all they really needed was some help and/or effort at understanding, compassion, cooperation or communication.

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  28. As I’m reading your words, I’m debating on whether or not to stay with my husband or run away as far from him as I can. Everyone thinks he’s perfect except for me and his ex wife. I’m convinced he’s never going to be anything but an inconsiderate ass who only wanted me for as long as the chase lasted, and now that he has me, he no longer has to try. Sorry to be so bitter, and to a stranger at that. I just feel terribly, miserably alone and have nobody I can say these things to. My husband is a jerk. I regret marrying him. I give tirelessly and he takes me for granted.

    Thanks for creating this blog and sharing your advice with the world. Hopefully some men read your words and do their best not to make their wives as miserable as I am.

  29. Your marriage is my marriage. Your words matter, this blog is like a cold glass of water in my face. I almost left him before Christmas, I was one foot out the door but he noticed finally and I told him as much. Its been 5 months and he is almost completely gone back to the way he was before. Is there anything your ex-wife could have said to you to make you realize what you know now? I don’t want to give up on my husband but I’m pretty sure if a man showed me a little bit of attention and lust I would stray. Your blog has made me realize that my feelings and issues matter and I deserve better.

    1. Matt…. I have been married to the love of my life for 33 years now…have we had some Missouri boat rides? Yes! Have we ever been near or at the divorce crossroads?yes!…it almost happened 25 years ago for a variety of reasons but thankfully we were able to settle the issues and make nice nice….do those issues resurface? Yes!…but we remember where we were 25 years ago and retreat to what we found was the most important thing about us that kept us together and applied same….what I would like to offer is a simple story that came to me as a revaluation when we separated 25 years ago and was sleeping in my car not wanting to run home to mommy…. in my neighborhood growing up in the 60s and 70s there was an older gentleman that had a beautiful tutone 1958 Cadillac…..every morning at precisely 8am he would come out of his house behind my childhood home,dressed impeccably , get in his Cadillac drive around the corner to the neighborhood mom and pop store drive back park bring his newspaper in the house come back out dressed in overalls then proceed to wash and wax his Cadillac….he did this everyday that I can recall…….he passed away in 1977 the year I graduated from high school……I just saw the Cadillac a week ago or so it was still immaculate…his care for that Cadillac made it endure its luster for 58 years and I’m sure will last longer……..that story occurred to me while I slept in the ” Hotel Pontiac” that the key to keeping anything worthwhile to you is deserving of your daily care….marriage is no different

  30. *sigh*
    It’s interesting…as a general rule, I’m highly altruistic. I’m an idealist but I accept the realities of this life. I agree with virtually everything you’re saying but there are these niggling concerns that pop up as I read this and other things on this blog.
    I’m struggling to pin down exactly what the issue is but I’ll try:

    I’m noticing a pattern in the messages put out for each sex.
    For women, the message seems to be about self-actualization and self-respect. Become who you are intended to be. Don’t let anyone hold you down. If someone doesn’t give you what you deserve, leave them behind…don’t let them hold you back. Become who you were meant to be. You can have it all and if you don’t have it the system and men are to blame.
    For men, the message is to give more to others. Don’t be selfish. The purpose of your life is to serve other people. Serve your community, serve your family, serve your wife. Are you mentally and physically drained? Has it been three years since you’ve done anything for yourself? Well, don’t worry about that. Your job is to bring value to other people’s lives. Give up your own interests while you go to college. Give up your own interests when you get married. Give up your own interests when you have kids. Give up your own interests when your kids leave and you have to try to rebuild your marital relationship. When your older and your joints hurt and your mind isn’t nearly as sharp as it used to be you can rest easy knowing that you rarely spent a moment to unwind and do something that wasn’t being demanded of you.

    Marriage is marketed as a relationship of mutual sacrifice but rarely do I ever see wives being encouraged to give more to their husbands. The subtext of virtually everything I have read is that wives always give exactly as much (but usually more) than their husbands and children need and that if husbands ask for more or something different from their wives then it’s patriarchal or ungrateful.

    Man, have I grown cynical over the past few years…

    1. I think this is a fair response to most of my writing, but that you’re not taking into account that I DO think wives have more to give, and do contribute to failing marriages.

      I just don’t write about them much.

      I’m for personal responsibility.

      So my general take is this (and there will always be a bunch of people to whom it won’t apply):

      Wives, on average, are the “better” spouse, in my opinion.

      I think there are behaviors that promote healthy relationships and healthy marriages, and I think of that laundry list of behaviors, women more often display them than men do.

      Same is true in reverse of negative behaviors. I see men doing them more often then women.

      That being what it is, I’m an advocate of personal responsiblilty.

      So I ask men to be great husbands. Be GREAT husbands and fathers, and give to your marriage. (OR, don’t get married, if you don’t want to give what’s necessary! That’s totally an option.)

      And once the day comes where men are the ones demonstrating proficiency at all of the marriage-nuturing behaviors, we can take a hard, critical look at all of the Shitty Wives behavior.

      In the end, until husbands are operating properly within the framework of marriage, how can we even know what to ask of their wives?

      Just my take.

      It’s inconvenient. It’s damning. And I’m 100% part of the problem (or at least, was).

      But I think it’s true.

      And we should deal in true, real, actual things.

      Not bullshit things simply because they make us squirm less.

      A self-focused life is FINE. But it’s not all that conducive with marriage unless two people agree to marry but individually remain self-focused.

      I think self-focused people might find more life contentment NOT marrying.

      I’m not criticizing selfish behavior.

      I’m criticizing selfish behavior IN MARRIAGE.

      And I’m only doing so, because I know they can’t survive under those conditions.

      And I know what that does to children.

      And I know they deserve better.

      1. Fair enough, I suppose. Either sex is better situated to talk of their own bad behaviors and the motivations behind them. As men, you or I will likely get more bang for the buck in trying to understand ourselves as opposed to trying to psychoanalyze the women in our lives.
        That being said, marriage is highly synergistic and symbiotic. We react to and feed off the actions of each other. We need to understand our wives and they need to understand us. We can’t work on this idea that “The only reason my wife has bad behavior is because of my behavior. Her issues come as a result of me. If only I would stop being bad she could then become her perfect self.”
        All too often, women’s problems take the form of good behavior taken to the extreme. Being OCD, perfectionism, hard-working, schedule-making, craftiness, being punctual, being studious, etc. This is all “good” stuff and it’s hard to criticize. However, hinder her from being any of these or cause a ripple in the schedule and listen to the fountain of insults and character attacks poor forth.

  31. I read these posts and bawled my eyes out. I’ve been married over 25 years and am working hard to find everything ELSE in life to make myself happy because I’m not finding it at home. I am married to a Good Man. He doesn’t cheat, gamble or play golf and he tells me that often!!

  32. I saw a documentary some time ago where a guy had been divorced like 5 times and continually blamed his ex-wives for “trapping” him in bad marriages until, while blaming fiancée #6 for his own cold feet, he made some flip comment to a friend about “well I can always get divorced again.”

    And his friend sacked up enough to ask, “If you couldn’t divorce, do you think you’d be choosing different partners?”

    People are allowed to change their minds but the problem with divorce is that — as you know from experience — rarely do both partners check out at the exact same moment. To me, marriage isn’t so much a promise ’til death, but it IS a promise to keep trying until both parties agree to give up. (In the absence of abuse etc., obviously — or so I would hope.)

    It’s perfectly valid not to get married. Ever. (Asterisk: as long as you are up front with any partners about your long-term plans from the beginning! Stringing other people along is not cool!) People who don’t want to make the tough and scary promises are perfectly welcome to just not participate.

    My parents stayed fiercely married until my dad’s untimely death from a particularly gruesome form of cancer, and all through his horrific medical care, he kept telling my mom, “I didn’t know you loved me this much.” She, a girl who had a boyfriend for every day of the week in college but dropped them all because the non-exclusivity hurt my dad’s feelings 30years prior, just rolled her eyes and reminded him that she married him, didn’t she?

    They went through plenty of rough patches and they both put in serious, serious work. If either of them had tied the knot thinking “well, if it ever becomes inconvenient to me personally, I can just walk away,” they wouldn’t have been cut out for family life to begin with.

    And that’s OK! Better to recognize your own limitations than to cause suffering everywhere you go.

  33. Loved reading all the volumes. Read them all at one go. Well, I am the wife of a shitty husband who has to go on living with him due to kids’ medical problems. Any advice/ suggestions on how to cope with such a husband when you have no option of leaving?

  34. “[And she keeps chasing, making you want to retreat even more.
    You want to be married. You want to keep your family intact. You probably even love her in your own way.
    But she doesn’t feel like your best friend anymore. Because she makes you feel inadequate. So you pull away. And when you pull away, she gets even more scared. Feels even less safe.
    Divorce or an affair seems inevitable…]”

    I’d love to understand this better. Why do (SO MANY) guys feel like this? Is it their conscience poking at them finally? But they know they’re in deep and they don’t want to look at the big pile of proverbial laundry/dishes/trash that had built up and they feel overwhelmed and know they have no one else to blame?

    What is in there?

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

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Matt Fray

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