The Search for Answers: ‘My Husband is an Asshole’

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(Image courtesy of The Guardian.)
(Image courtesy of The Guardian.)

Maybe she was a housewife home alone. Maybe she was crying.

“My husband is an asshole,” she typed into Google.

More and more often, someone like her finds one of my An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands posts. Usually Vol. 1.

They’re getting 250-300 reads a day now, which is a lot relative to most of the posts here.

People are out there broken and looking for answers—probably easy ones—but there aren’t any.

When your marriage is falling apart, there are no magic how-to manuals on the internet to save you. No YouTube videos that show you how to do it better. No Buzzfeed lists to give you pointers.

A part of you dies.

So she types: “shitty husband” into the search engine and she stumbles upon this place.

Anne read Vol. 6. She wrote me:

“This article is as if you have observed my husband since we got married. Thank you for your articles… We do not have children, but everything else is spot on. He thinks I’m the only woman like this and to ‘require less’ when I beg for some attention and help. I am not sure if I can hang on much longer… Thank you for making me believe that it ISN’T just me, that my feelings matter, and I deserve more.”

It’s funny. Things are so different now. Inside me. I was so sad and angry. And it was easy to go off on all these subjects related to marriage where I see guys doing the wrong thing and a bunch of marriages falling apart. Some guys aren’t particularly good people. (That probably applies to some women, too.) And they don’t feel any remorse for violating their marital covenants or abandoning their families.

But I’ve come to believe that most guys are good guys that do want to keep their families intact. Even the really shitty husbands. I don’t think they’re bad men. I think many times they’re good men who just happen to be bad at marriage.

I think learning how to be good at marriage is like learning how to be good at selling pharmaceuticals or smoking ribs or developing commercial real estate. I think it’s a learned skill.

I was angry at all the men who had what I wanted—what I missed. My family. And I was pissed at them for taking their wives and children for granted just like I had.

Some people need to figure things out for themselves.

Some people need to learn the hard way.

Megan wrote:

“I’ve read every single one of these letters now, and they’ve taken the wind out of my sails. It’s incredible really. This is exactly, down to the smallest detail, what I’m going through. I’m pre-divorce, but I’ve told myself I’ll give it 3 more years, until our youngest is 6. And I have some way to support myself, and maybe somehow my husband will care.”

I don’t think about this stuff nearly as much as I used to.

As time marches on, I get further and further away from being a husband. It was so shocking at first. I felt so lost. So without purpose. I was supposed to be a partner. Someone’s husband.

And then I wasn’t. It felt like overnight even though it was a long time coming. I freaked out. Panicked.

It felt hard just to be alive.

But then I got a lot better because that’s what happens if you just keep waking up every day. I was writing and writing and writing, including these posts about what I perceive to be my shortcomings in marriage, and by extension, the shortcomings of so many other men out there.

As I see it, I’m super-average. Nothing extraordinary. And because of that, I figure there must be many people out there who feel how I feel and think how think and do many of the same things I do.

That doesn’t bode well for their marriages.

Stella wrote:

“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 onto you years ago. Maybe it would’ve saved millions of tears and tons of arguments.”

It’s so good for me to read these comments. To be reminded that all those painful keystrokes served a purpose.

That all those ideas—all those feelings inside me—have merit and are shared by many others.

I have no idea whether I have what it takes to be a good husband. I’ve never been one before.

But I feel certain I understand the choices and behaviors that helped facilitate my divorce, and how making better choices and behaving differently in the future could prove a better way to co-exist with a partner.

It’s all still theory at this point.

But this stuff matters to people. And that matters to me.

Morgan wrote:

“I found your blog today after googling “shitty husband” (why I was googling that particular phrase probably doesn’t have to be explained). I read all the open letters during the Murray State basketball game today, which speaks volumes to how much I related to and enjoyed it. I laughed. Even shed a tear or two… it definitely had an impact on me… a positive one. So thanks for that… for your honest take on how much work this whole marriage thing is, for reminding me that I am not perfect in this, but most of all, for reassuring me that I’m not the only girl struggling with a shitty husband, and that there is hope.”

Yes, Morgan.


Our hearts don’t have to stay broken. They mend. Like magic.

With just a little care, a little honesty, and the perfect amount of time.

And I believe strongly that hearts can heal within a troubled marriage where two hearts were always supposed to beat as one.

Things break.

But they don’t always die.

Then we give just a little bit more than we did before.

Speak to each other just a little bit smarter than we did before.

Forgive just a little bit more than we did before.

Hug just a little bit longer than we did before.

Love just a little bit harder than we did before.

All these people. Desperate for answers. Trying to save that which matters most.

“Husband is a first-rate piece of shit,” someone typed.

You’re not the only one.

Broken people. Shitty husbands.

But we don’t have to be.

18 thoughts on “The Search for Answers: ‘My Husband is an Asshole’”

  1. Your words really do matter. You’re able to see and recognize what many women want their own husbands to see.

    I wish we taught marriage better, I wish we helped people to understand. I really think both men and women are a bit lost right now, about what to expect from each other, about how to communicate.

    1. I think you really get it. Thank you.

      We send kids to school and we teach them all these things about history and math and Greek mythology and astronomy and health and physical fitness and social studies, etc.

      More than 9 out of 10 will grow up to get married or enter into a long-term committed relationship (which for the purposes of our conversations here replicates the marriage dynamic). Yet we don’t help kids develop the skills necessary to succeed.

      We teach ALL THIS STUFF. And none of it matters half as much as the ability to have a healthy, functional home life.

      It’s really frustrating when I look back. We need–societally–to better prepare people. I believe that very strongly.

      We have a lot of work to do.

      Thank you for being part of the conversation.

  2. You know relationships run hot then they can turn around and run cold. Nothing is a constant. Just try to hang in until the hot comes back.

    1. Yeah, Leslie. People think it’s all roses and cupcakes and sex and magical unicorn rides all the time. So they keep searching for the “feeling” they liked so much from when they first fell in love.

      The grass-is-greener syndrome.

      But the grass is never greener. And people just keep looking for “feelings” in new relationships only to discover that the problem was always inside them.

      Gotta choose it.

      Gotta decide to give. To love.

      That’s what forever looks like.

  3. Your divorce and the following heartache probably weren’t worth it, but the resulting blog has touched a lot of people Matt. I think you have had meaningful impact on a lot of people’s lives. I know you didn’t do it for this, but it’s a nice legacy.

  4. Spot on Matt. As usual. And as usual; your writing about where you are, where you’ve been and how you continue to move forward draws us in…because you’re human and not infallible. Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much. It makes me feel good that you like it and I appreciate that it matters enough to you to want to share it with others. I appreciate your time very much.

    1. It’s true. Every marriage does need reminding. No days off.

      “‘Til death do us part.” Every day.

      It’s beautiful, I think.

      Thank you so much for reading, Jen.

  5. I believe I found your blog while in the early stages of a possible divorce. Reading your entries I remember relating but not in the way someone who searches for , “why is my husband an asshole” might. I could relate because I was kind of the one who fit those keywords. It was eye opening but too late for me. I always imagine some husband will read your blog, reflect then work harder to be a better husband.

    Then I wonder what might have been different for me had I read those things sooner. Would I have reflected and tried harder or would I just continue to be shitty? It seems like for some of us we don’t step up until it’s too late when things have gone beyond saving. I guess that’s just part of being a shitty husband.

    1. I remember, Vince.

      I was actually thinking about you yesterday about halfway through writing this. Wondering how you’re doing, because of all the people I connected with via this blog, you’re the one who most reminded me of me.

      You seemed, mentally and emotionally, to be in about the same place.

      You’re–what? A little over a year into the process? 14 or 15 months?

      How are you doing now?

      1. Hey, thanks for asking.

        She moved out in April of 2014 and the divorce was final in August. As sad as I was when it all happened I guess in a way I was kind of relieved too. The stress and sadness that comes from being with someone who is cold and disconnected was horrible. When she moved out it was still horrible but for different reasons. Eventually I kind of saw it as a gift. Now at almost a year after she moved out I can say I’m doing great.

        You know what’s really nice is when females expresses some interest in you. Suddenly you realized you might not be so unclean and broken. You start to believe in yourself in that way again and believe that you do have something to bring to the table. While I can’t say I have returned the interest yet it’s still nice to know I could give it another try and hopefully do better this time.

        1. Okay. I’m exactly one year ahead of you, time-wise. Both events.

          Next year is better.

          I hope you’ll believe me when I say I understand you perfectly.

          It feels good to be liked. Changes things.

  6. I belive there are no accidents. What was for you a healing process was meant to be public so that others will also hear the message. If I had read this while I was still married, would He have gotten the message? Who knows. At the time he was more interested in blaming me then in trying to find where he may have gone wrong.
    It’s good to see your evolution from pain to healing. Hopefully other people will be able to see that the pain is temporary. And it’s no accident you are on this path in a public manner.
    Xo Matt keep going!

    1. It was my primary motivation for writing in the beginning, Dawn. The pain.

      And then I began to empathize with everyone else feeling it too. Because it’s terrifying what your body is capable of when you’re all broken and mixed up inside.

      And yeah. I do hope someone reads and finds reassurance in the process. Because it can feel really dark, almost hopeless.

      But if you just keep getting out of bed every morning, everything gets better. Everything’s going to be okay. Always believed it. But it certainly feels better when it actually IS okay.

      Thank you for all of your support along the way. I hope you’re well and that life is delivering you very good things.

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