The Magical Power of Writing for Two Years (and a Bit About Marriage)

Comments 22


The date came and went without me noticing.

June 21 was the two-year anniversary of my first post here. You can’t read it anymore because I privatized it. I privatized it because I said angry things about my ex-wife. She is my son’s mother and my relationship with her means more to me than having a published account of the worst thing that ever happened to me.

It won’t be long before I start publishing my last name. I will publish books. I want to write for larger publications. I’ll have to use my full name, and protecting people I care about matters to me. Even if they’re just someone that I used to know.

It took two years to get here.

The Advice Guy

I don’t want to be Advice Guy. That guy is usually an asshole. Plus, I don’t really know anything. If you forced me to offer the world life advice; that would be my contribution: Stop pretending you KNOW anything about anything. You don’t know. And there’s freedom in being honest about it.

Better to ask questions. Better to seek truth.

There is something about writing that gives you an aura of credibility that you don’t really deserve, but it doesn’t rid you of your responsibility to help when people want it.

I’ve published about 450,000 words here in the past two years. And for reasons that don’t fully make sense to me, some people think that means I know things.

I never know things. I just think things.

On Marriage

People ask me to advise them on marriage ALL THE TIME. Several times per week, wives email me asking for marriage advice or at least for suggestions on how they might get their husbands to understand the things they believe I do based on what they’ve read.

It happens so often now that I’ve actually looked into acquiring certification for marriage coaching. Because, you may recall, I’m nothing more than one divorced guy who failed at marriage in his only attempt.

I think every marriage reaches a breaking point. And the choices made by each (or either) spouse during that time determines the union’s fate.

I think, generally speaking, everyone gets married (the first time) LONG before they’re ready. Ironically, you’re never ready for marriage until you’re already married and THEN demonstrate good (read: unselfish) decision making.

I think we grow up seeing all these married people around us, so we’re all programmed from Day 1: When you get older and become an adult, you get married! It’s just what you do!

All we see from these marriages are the masks everyone wears. We’re kids! No one is going to tell us how it really is. That he NEVER says thank you or demonstrates appreciation for all her hard work cooking or cleaning or taking care of his laundry. That she constantly tears him down and never encourages him. That he’d rather jerk off thinking about her cousin or his old college fling than have sex with her. That she spends half her day swapping complaints with her girlfriend about what an inattentive asshole he is while both of them fantasize about one another’s husband.

We send our kids off to school to learn about the World Wars and the Periodic Table and The Old Man and the Sea and about our solar system and Algebra II. And that’s great. We should all be learning things.

But when the kids are 30, clinically depressed and fantasizing sexually or otherwise about other people and other lives because no one EVER was honest with them about what it takes to make marriage work, I have to ask: Are we really teaching people things that matter? How much good is Hemingway and knowing the atomic number for Boron really doing them? When they’re broken and sobbing on the floor?

I think men and women are biologically different to varying degrees, and that, because of a misplaced desire for political correctness, or because people are sexist and believe their gender is “correct” or “better,” very few people ever bother to learn about gender differences.

So guys walk around their entire lives thinking women are overly emotional and crazy.

And girls walk around their entire lives thinking men are dense and are only motivated by competition and sex (but mostly just sex).

Guys think that over time, women will come around and “get it.” Start thinking “the right way.” Like a man!

Women think that over time, their man will come around and “get it.” That he will finally start understanding her and seeing her for who she truly is. The he will start thinking and communicating and doing things “the right way.” Like a woman!

Usually, 5-10 years later, it’s all fucked and broken.

All because no one bothered to teach us important things about love and communication. Because no one ever really showed us what it looks like to give more than we take. And how by giving more than we take, we actually GET MORE, and create a life of love and abundance.

No, we all hurt too much from that mean thing he said.

We all hurt too much because she is so disrespectful and makes us feel like failures.

Resentment grows. Communication lessens. Sexual interest and attraction fades. You grow apart and die on the inside.

THIS IS THE SAME THING THAT HAPPENS TO EVERYONE. You’re not a freak. None of it’s good. But it is normal.

It happened to me. And now it’s happening to you. And I don’t know how to stop it. I don’t know how to make people care as much as they should. And I’m sorry.

I am so sorry that I don’t know how.

On Writing

People like to ask about writing sometimes, too.

My advice on writing is infinitely shorter.

1. Read writers who write how you want to write. Also read other things. Basically, just read. A lot.

2. Write often. Use fewer words than me.

3. Bleed when you write. (It’s a metaphor. Please don’t cut yourself.) Write about things that frighten and embarrass you. That sadden or anger you. Because you need to learn (and constantly be reminded of) something really important: We are all super-similar and you are never the only one. And you get to be the brave one that helps people realize that simple, but sometimes life-changing truth. Don’t take it for granted.

4. Take off the mask. You spend every second of your life trying to be who you think your parents, friends, boss, kids, lover, neighbors, or whoever, want you to be. It’s exhausting trying to be so many people and we always fail at it, because it’s hard enough just being one person. Always be you. It organically filters out all the people you don’t want in your life without exerting any energy. And it organically attracts all of the people you do want to be part of it. And it makes you come alive. This is hard to do in real life, even though we should try. But dammit, you better do it when you’re punching the keys. Make courageousness a habit.

Writing makes me see the world differently.

Writing allows me to see myself differently.

So that I can grow and change and think and love and share and be better today than I was yesterday.

All it takes is a willingness to leave a tiny imprint of your soul in the words. Bare and vulnerable.

Not everyone will care.

But someone will.

And that’s where the magic lives.

22 thoughts on “The Magical Power of Writing for Two Years (and a Bit About Marriage)”

    1. Thank you! Not often, but sometimes, I run into someone in real life who read these things and I have a temporary bout with terror. But then it passes.

      Comments like yours make me feel better.

      I can never be sure how much any of this matters, but if people feel encouraged, then it was beyond worth it.

      I appreciate you taking time out of your life to read and comment. Thank you very much.

      1. I appreciate reading your words of wisdom and truth. You have a great sense of humor and a quick wit and at the same time, manage to stay humble.

        I also wonder how much any of what I say matters and yes, every once in a great while, someone reaches out to tell me it does. So…we write, we learn, we heal and we grow. Keep on writing!

  1. Beautiful – your honest self-analysis is always refreshing. Marriages have so many breaking points where each have to make a decision. It never ends. Loved this post.

  2. You might want to rethink this – it made me laugh immediately.
    2. Write often. Use fewer words than me.
    If not for all of your words, you wouldn’t be as revealing and relatable and possibly warm, but that’s me.

    1. Thank you, Jayne. I think it’s a matter of: No matter how important it might be, does it matter if no one ever reads it? 850 words is probably the magic number for blog posts. I eclipse that almost every time. I probably lose a ton of people because of it. 🙂

  3. Unfortunately I think many fall into the trap of trying to find the secret recipe to quick fixes – getting skinny, getting buff, a happy marriage, more sex, success and riches etc. However, what many fail to realize is that just about everything takes hard work and a willingness to self reflect and make improvements. Looking at the self, as oppose to fixating on the other. To hope, persevere, endure and to weather storms. You right, we all fall but not all get back up and are willing to try again. I agree – writing about life and life events don’t make experts but are shared experiences and perspectives. Hopefully positive and wise lessons are learned that inspire and stir others to think. I have really enjoy reading your posts and the realness in your sharing! Thank you for sharing.

    1. I think you write about everything in this life that really matters, so it means a lot to me that you value some of the things you’ve read here.

      I appreciate your generosity. Thank you very much for being part of the conversation and leaving this note.

  4. It seems an unfortunate truth, but sometimes we have to experience pain to gain wisdom. And I think this whole journey has made you wise, Matt. Looking forward to wherever your writing takes you next.

    1. It’s an excellent observation, and I’m genuinely afraid it’s true. Without the cuts and burns and scars, we can never know what needs to be done and what needs to be avoided.

      It’s possible we have no choice but to learn the hard way.

      Thanks for saying hi. 🙂

  5. Hey sweetie. You know it’s funny because, after my 12 year nightmare relationship, I thought about going back to school to finish my abnormal psych studies and perchance become sort of a relationship counselor or something. You know, put all those years of Hell and learning to good use by advising others on what to do (or what not to do!). Of course, going through all the relation”shit” that I still endure today, I now realize how little I actually know or will ever know, maybe haha…
    Still a long way to go.
    All of us.
    P.S. I’d say ‘happy WP anniversary’ but, seems like it’d be a pretty grim acknowledgement. I’ll just say that I’m glad to have stumbled across your page and your very raw and intriguing thoughts. *hugs* Best of luck to you going forward…and to all of us here in the WP Break-ups Club heh.

    1. There are little scrawny wimpy non-athletic shrimps who are GENIUSES about football or wrestling or rugby or battlefield strategy because they can outthink and outfox opponents.

      Just because you’ve had relationship issues doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be able to help others. I hope that doesn’t discourage you. 🙂

      Always nice to hear from you, Jade thanks for saying hi. Hope all is well for you.

  6. Hello Matt. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts for several months. I have two questions. What is your opinion of people who post photos of almost everything they eat on FaceBook?
    Have you stopped robbing convenience stores?

    1. Hello back!

      Thanks for reading.

      I’m a huge fan of good food and I’m not opposed to beautiful food photos, but on a scale of 1-10, I’d rate the coolness factor of posting most meals on FB at around a 2.

      I have not, as I recall, ever robbed a convenience store. However, I don’t like to pigeonhole myself, so I’m going to leave the option open as a possible choice in the future.

    1. Thank you very much, Yvonne. I appreciate so much that you take time to read it. Hope you’re having a beautiful day.

    1. Awesome to hear from you. Your family crosses my mind pretty often. Always rooting from Ohio. Have a great weekend.

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Matt Fray

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