It seems so unreasonable when you put it that way: My wife left me because sometimes I leave dishes by the sink.
It makes her seem ridiculous; and makes me seem like a victim of unfair expectations.
We like to point fingers at other things to explain why something went wrong, like when Biff Tannen crashed George McFly’s car and spilled beer on his clothes, but it was all George’s fault for not telling him the car had a blind spot.
This bad thing happened because of this, that, and the other thing. Not because of anything I did!
Sometimes I leave used drinking glasses by the kitchen sink, just inches away from the dishwasher.
It isn’t a big deal to me now. It wasn’t a big deal to me when I was married. But it WAS a big deal to her.
Every time she’d walk into the kitchen and find a drinking glass by the sink, she moved incrementally closer to moving out and ending our marriage. I just didn’t know it yet. But even if I had, I fear I wouldn’t have worked as hard to change my behavior as I would have stubbornly tried to get her to see things my way.
The idiom “to cut off your nose to spite your face” was created for such occasions.
Men Are Not Children, Even Though We Behave Like Them
Feeling respected by others is important to men.
Feeling respected by one’s wife is essential to living a purposeful and meaningful life. Maybe I thought my wife should respect me simply because I exchanged vows with her. It wouldn’t be the first time I acted entitled. One thing I know for sure is that I never connected putting a dish in the dishwasher with earning my wife’s respect.
Yesterday I responded to a comment by @insanitybytes22, in which she suggested things wives and mothers can do to help men as an olive branch instead of blaming men for every marital breakdown. I appreciated her saying so.
But I remember my wife often saying how exhausting it was for her to have to tell me what to do all the time. It’s why the sexiest thing a man can say to his partner is “I got this,” and then take care of whatever needs taken care of.
I always reasoned: “If you just tell me what you want me to do, I’ll gladly do it.”
But she didn’t want to be my mother. She wanted to be my partner, and she wanted me to apply all of my intelligence and learning capabilities to the logistics of managing our lives and household.
She wanted me to figure out all of the things that need done, and devise my own method of task management.
I wish I could remember what seemed so unreasonable to me about that at the time.
Men Can Do Things
Men invented heavy machines that can fly in the air reliably and safely. Men proved the heliocentric model of the solar system, establishing that the Earth orbits the Sun. Men design and build skyscrapers, and take hearts and other human organs from dead people and replace the corresponding failing organs inside of living people, and then those people stay alive afterward. Which is insane.
Men are totally good at stuff.
Men are perfectly capable of doing a lot of these things our wives complain about. What we are not good at is being psychic, or accurately predicting how our wives might feel about any given thing because male and female emotional responses tend to differ pretty dramatically.
‘Hey Matt! Why would you leave a glass by the sink instead of putting it in the dishwasher?’
- I may want to use it again.
- I don’t care if a glass is sitting by the sink unless guests are coming over.
- I will never care about a glass sitting by the sink. Ever. It’s impossible. It’s like asking me to make myself interested in crocheting, or to enjoy yardwork. I don’t want to crochet things. And it’s hard for me to imagine a scenario in which doing a bunch of work in my yard sounds more appealing than ANY of several thousand less-sucky things which could be done.
There is only ONE reason I will ever stop leaving that glass by the sink. A lesson I learned much too late: Because I love and respect my partner, and it REALLY matters to her. I understand that when I leave that glass there, it hurts her— literally causes her pain—because it feels to her like I just said: “Hey. I don’t respect you or value your thoughts and opinions. Not taking four seconds to put my glass in the dishwasher is more important to me than you are.”
All the sudden, it’s not about something as benign and meaningless as a (quasi) dirty dish.
Now, it’s a meaningful act of love and sacrifice, and really? Four seconds? That doesn’t seem like the kind of thing too big to do for the person who sacrifices daily for me.
I don’t have to understand WHY she cares so much about that stupid glass.
I just have to understand and respect that she DOES. Then caring about her = putting glass in dishwasher.
Caring about her = keeping your laundry off the floor.
Caring about her = thoughtfully not tracking dirt or whatever on the floor she worked hard to clean.
Caring about her = taking care of kid-related things so she can just chill out for a little bit and not worry about anything.
Caring about her = “Hey babe. Is there anything I can do today or pick up on my way home that will make your day better?”
Caring about her = a million little things that say “I love you” more than speaking the words ever can.
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”.
Yes, It’s That Simple
The man capable of that behavioral change—even when he doesn’t understand her or agree with her thought-process—can have a great relationship.
Men want to fight for their right to leave that glass there. It might look like this:
“Eat shit, wife,” we think. “I sacrifice a lot for you, and you’re going to get on me about ONE glass by the sink? THAT little bullshit glass that takes a few seconds to put in the dishwasher, which I’ll gladly do when I know I’m done with it, is so important to you that you want to give me crap about it? You want to take an otherwise peaceful evening and have an argument with me, and tell me how I’m getting something wrong and failing you, over this glass? After all of the big things I do to make our life possible—things I never hear a “thank you” for (and don’t ask for)—you’re going to elevate a glass by the sink into a marriage problem? I couldn’t be THAT petty if I tried. And I need to dig my heels in on this one. If you want that glass in the dishwasher, put it in there yourself without telling me about it. Otherwise, I’ll put it away when people are coming over, or when I’m done with it. This is a bullshit fight that feels unfair and I’m not just going to bend over for you.”
The man DOES NOT want to divorce his wife because she’s nagging him about the glass thing which he thinks is totally irrational. He wants her to agree with him that when you put life in perspective, a glass being by the sink when no one is going to see it anyway, and the solution takes four seconds, is just not a big problem. She should recognize how petty and meaningless it is in the grand scheme of life, he thinks, and he keeps waiting for her to agree with him.
She will never agree with him, because it’s not about the glass for her. The glass situation could be ANY situation in which she feels unappreciated and disrespected by her husband.
The wife doesn’t want to divorce her husband because he leaves used drinking glasses by the sink.
She wants to divorce him because she feels like he doesn’t respect or appreciate her, which suggests he doesn’t love her, and she can’t count on him to be her lifelong partner. She can’t trust him. She can’t be safe with him. Thus, she must leave and find a new situation in which she can feel content and secure.
In theory, the man wants to fight this fight, because he thinks he’s right (and I agree with him): The dirty glass is not more important than marital peace.
If his wife thought and felt like him, he’d be right to defend himself. Unfortunately, most guys don’t know that she’s NOT fighting about the glass. She’s fighting for acknowledgment, respect, validation, and his love.
If he KNEW that—if he fully understood this secret she has never explained to him in a way that doesn’t make her sound crazy to him (causing him to dismiss it as an inconsequential passing moment of emo-ness), and that this drinking glass situation and all similar arguments will eventually end his marriage, I believe he WOULD rethink which battles he chose to fight, and would be more apt to take action doing things he understands to make his wife feel loved and safe.
I think a lot of times, wives don’t agree with me. They don’t think it’s possible that their husbands don’t know how their actions make her feel because she has told him, sometimes with tears in her eyes, over and over and over and over again how upset it makes her and how much it hurts.
And this is important: Telling a man something that doesn’t make sense to him once, or a million times, doesn’t make him “know” something. Right or wrong, he would never feel hurt if the same situation were reversed so he doesn’t think his wife SHOULD hurt. It’s like, he doesn’t think she has the right to (and then use it as a weapon against him) because it feels unfair.
“I never get upset with you about things you do that I don’t like!” men reason, as if their wives are INTENTIONALLY choosing to feel hurt and miserable.
When you choose to love someone, it becomes your pleasure to do things that enhance their lives and bring you closer together, rather than a chore.
It’s not: Sonofabitch, I have to do this bullshit thing for my wife again. It’s: I’m grateful for another opportunity to demonstrate to my wife that she comes first and that I can be counted on to be there for her, and needn’t look elsewhere for happiness and fulfillment.
Once someone figures out how to help a man equate the glass situation (which does not, and will never, affect him emotionally) with DEEPLY wounding his wife and making her feel sad, alone, unloved, abandoned, disrespected, afraid, etc. … Once men really grasp that and accept it as true even though it doesn’t make sense to them?
Everything changes forever.
4,877 thoughts on “She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink”
Does your wife (ex) read your column? Does she find it entertaining, or does it make her angry?
She used to. I can’t be certain she does now. We don’t discuss it. If she does read it, I doubt she finds it entertaining, but I’m also certain it doesn’t make her angry. She’s not shy. If she’s pissed, I’ll hear about it.
We have found a very nice balance, she and I, supporting one another as best we can post-marriage on behalf of our son.
I don’t write much about it intentionally. But considering where we were just three years ago, I am extraordinarily proud of where we are today.
You should be proud. Just because things fell apart doesn’t mean you have to stay there.
Good for you two!!!
Would you stop writing the column if she didn’t like it? This is the post of someone who still doesn’t get it. If she doesn’t like you leaving something by the sink she needs to put it in the dishwasher. Just like you may not like something she does. If she is going to take something that small and turn it into something so serious she has a problem. My wife leaves crap all over and it bugs me so I move it. I don’t take it as an affront to my wedding vows. It sounds like you have apologized for being normal which it probably what got you in trouble in the first place. If you establish a pattern of ass kissing the “partner” comes to expect more ass kissing. If you establish mutual respect for each others idiosyncrasies from the get go I don’t think you will ever find this. Just some advice from someone who is still happily married to my original wife for 20 years who leaves crap all over the house (26 years together total).
You’re doing it right now. The thing I’m talking about.
You think because it doesn’t bother you, that it SHOULDN’T bother her.
It’s a logical fallacy, and causes more affairs and divorce than any other belief.
You’re an anomaly, Brian. By virtue of being married (and together) for 26 years, you’re an anomaly. And you know it, because more than half of the people you know have gotten divorced. It’s a statistical certainty.
I think it’s awesome that you’ve found a way to make it work. It’s GREAT. It means you have something really great about your psychological makeup and chemistry, and it probably also means that your wife has some exceptional qualities and you appreciate those MORE than you resent her shortcomings.
But, with all due respect, if you’re advising married men to fight this fight? To challenge their wives every time they have a disagreement because “the Man Way is the right way”?
They’re going to get divorced. They just are.
If you and I talk about things women do that upset us, our lists will look similar, just as when women discuss things that men do that upset them, their lists look similar.
Until BOTH lists are respected, acknowledged, and considered equally valid by men, relationships will continue to break, and kids will continue to have their worlds ripped apart.
And, for what? Because “It’s My Way or the Highway?”
I’m sorry. But, that only perpetuates the problem.
I do appreciate you reading and commenting. Thank you.
My wife just emailed me this article and told me to read it. I read it. I agree with you. We have been married for almost 8 years and together for 12. We have moved all over the world together and I know there are things that I do that just grind her gears down to the bone, but there are things she does as well. Either you learn to accept each other and love each other and yourself, or you let petty things get in the middle and take you down. IF it isn’t the dishes then it will be something else, her unhappiness has nothing to do with you, there will always be something. one thing I have learned is I have to be happy and awesome because that’s what she needs is an awesome and happy husband. When you are resposible for your own happinness nothing anybody does bothers you.
Sorry Matt, but if it wasn’t the dishes it would be something else and you really need to come to terms with the fact that it had more to do with her.
“She wants to divorce him because she feels like he doesn’t respect or appreciate her, which suggests he doesn’t love her, and she can’t count on him to be her lifelong partner” I think that statement says it the best, she needs to look inward and see that this is all her. She doesn’t love herself, she doesn’t respect herself, people CAN’T make people feel anyway that a fact! It is all a choice, a personal choice, happiness, sadness, love it is all a personal choice and that is how I choose to live my life. She chose this and I feel like you are still there three years ago asking yourself what could I have done differently. I think she didn’t love herself, blamed you because we are a society of people who do no wrong, and you are still there asking yourself what could I have done differently.
BRO – quit living in the past, realize you did the best you could, realize she made a choice and live in the PRESENT
What is so hard about metaphor, I wonder? She didn’t leave because I left dishes by the sink.
You and Brian can go ahead and agree all you want.
Your way = shitty marriage.
And that’s your choice to make. I wish you all the luck in the world, because even though we don’t agree, I promise you I want you two to stay married forever.
I really hope you find a way. Thanks for commenting.
I’m not anomaly, there are plenty of people who stay married their whole lives, over half. Because so many continue to make the same mistakes. You have taken the advice of someone who has done it right and turned it into the exception. I think if you ask any of the long time married couples how they did it you will certainly hear, “don’t sweat the small stuff” regularly. Turning a cup into a battle is exactly what I said you shouldn’t do and if you find yourself dating someone that does that you shouldn’t get married. All the first divorces I’ve seen were based on relationships where the men did whatever they were told to get to the nooky. It established a bad basis for the relationship long term. It made the woman happy because she got what she wanted (treated like a queen) and the man happy because he got what he wanted (sex not withheld). As far as 50% divorce rate, once you break the seal it appears people pull the trigger on that much more easily resulting in 3-4 divorces. Again probably because they ignore the advice of those who have figured it out and instead listen to the theories of those who haven’t.
As a woman, while I found it impressive that the author was able to come to this conclusion, for my marriage I find that Brian’s perspective is more fruitful.
I’m not saying that you are wrong, maybe if you had taken the time to put a dish in the dishwasher you would still be married. I’m not sure on that one. Again, reminding you that I am a woman, I find the cup in dish washer or cup in sink argument to be quite petty. When I eat a bowl of cereal in the mornings I literally always sit the milk (almond so it doesn’t spoil rapidly) out until I’m finished with it. I have literally done this since I was old enough to prepare my own bowl of cereal. Now that I’m married, a stay at home mom with an unusually intelligent and equally mischievous 16 month old, I often forget to put the milk away.
That, among many other things, drives my husband nutty. But he doesn’t make it into a huge issue and decide that “because you left the milk out you don’t respect me”. There is a huge leap between a cup (or milk) left in an undesired location and lack of respect. In between the two there are clearly much larger issues.
My husband, when he cleans up, stuffs things in random bags. My guess is that due to his height and muscular build, his clothing and shoes didn’t always fit in their purposed location within his childhood room. Thus, he improvised. I find it annoying nonetheless mostly because it makes it difficult to find anything. My son’s baby crayons have been missing for months. I haven’t even mentioned this annoyance to him much. Probably only once. Instead, when he cleans up I later go through the bag and put the items elsewhere. I wouldn’t equate his behavior to disrespect because he respects me in literally COUNTLESS other ways. He works extremely hard so that my son can have me with him 24/7. He’s the top employee on his team at work because he gets up and prays at 4 am before heading to work and then comes home and helps me straighten up. He listens to my feelings and responds to my needs. So a bag full of miscellaneous items or almond milk on the center island is an annoyance but not a sign of the level of respect we have for one another.
My advice, and I haven’t been married nearly as long as Brian, but my husband and I have been through extremely trying times together (the most recent being the loss of our daughter at 19 weeks gestation), would be to not allow these small issues to impact your view on one another. Keep it in perspective. Try to gain an understanding for why your partner does what he or she does because, honestly, “I don’t want to dirty up a million cups every time I want a drink” is actually quite reasonable. And finally, if there is a problem within the marriage or if one partner feels there is a lack of respect, deal with that problem but don’t allow yourself to be illogical because of it. Communicate your feelings to your partner and deal with it together.
I’ll also add that you cannot have true love between you and your partner without patience. So if there is something you are in communication about and it doesn’t change immediately, work with each other and show some understanding. Say to yourself, “hey, she or he has been leaving a cup by the sink for 20 plus years. It may not change in a few days”.
“He listens to my feelings and responds to my needs”. And that’s the big difference. The cup by the dishwasher is a metaphor for Matt not doing either of those things, which magnifies everything.
Your husband listening to you and responding to your needs mean that his habit of putting stuff in random bags means that it just stays an annoying habit.No more
And a big P.S., I don’t think it doesn’t bother my wife, I know it doesn’t because I….. hold on this is a big one… talk to her!
I’m reading this for the first time in six years and am annoyed all over again. I’m not leaving this reply for Brian. I’m leaving this reply for any new readers who are looking at this comment thread. And I just want to point out the obvious for anyone who’s missing it:
The notion of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff IS totally good advice under a very specific set of circumstances. It is. If you are not bothered by so-called “small things” you will definitely have less conflict in your relationships than if one or both of you do sweat the so-called small things.
But that advice is also tantamount to saying: “If I poke you in the arm with a needle every day, I want you to not react to it, since in the grand scheme of things, it’s a relatively minor pain. Stop being a wimp and making a big deal out of it!”
If you want to maintain Safety and Trust in your relationships — and I implore you to want to because it’s the most important ingredient there is for health and longevity — then please realize that we don’t get to decide what is and what is not painful for other people.
Brian’s advice six years ago is exactly the same as hurting someone, and then telling them they’re overreacting or that they should not be hurt, because we don’t believe the incident was as harmful or painful as they’re claiming. And you’re free to take that approach, but you WILL lose the trust of the other person over time if that’s your approach.
Brian wasn’t calculating for the fact that his wife was NOT hurt by a dish by the sink. Which is great! Some people like shellfish. Some people don’t. Some people have nut allergies. Some people don’t. Some people are afraid of heights. Some people aren’t.
Different people have radically different experiences when they live through certain moments. And if you want to have Safety and Trust in your relationships, it’s really important that you honor the way THEY experience things. If someone is afraid of heights, and you are constantly forcing them onto hot air balloons or ferris wheels or mountain cliff ledges, they will probably stop wanting to be around you.
If a dish by the sink (or literally ANYTHING) hurts or upsets or otherwise is a negative experience for your relationship partner, we MUST honor their experiences if we want to maintain trust and a healthy relationship with them.
Brian is confusing winning the lottery of his wife’s personality and individual characteristics with advice that can apply universally to all people. I beg you to not buy into it unless you like slowly destroying your most important relationships.
I’m curious Matt, were there any things your wife did that drove you crazy? If so, did she accommodate your requests? Genuinly curious
Hi Matthew, I’m new to your blog and it really resonates with me. In the old thread you say
“If you and I talk about things women do that upset us, our lists will look similar, just as when women discuss things that men do that upset them, their lists look similar. Until BOTH lists are respected, acknowledged, and considered equally valid by men, relationships will continue to break, and kids will continue to have their worlds ripped apart.” As a wife, I’d be really interested to know what your list would look like if you’re happy to share.
Love this so much – what you write is so true. I can’t understand why people are taking the glass by the sink so literally – it’s not about the glass!!!!
Brian’s point is valid, but also beside the point. If Matt realized early on that putting the cup in the dishwasher was important to his wife, he could have decided that A…she wasn’t the one for him, or B…that this was a small, kind thing he could do to make the person he was committed to happy. Or he could have started with B, then moved to A if– as Brian intimates–he begins to feel hen pecked.
Bur Matt’s posts serve a different purpose.
Matt’s posts are for people who don’t even know that A & B are options. Matt’s post are for the person who doesn’t even understand the cup in the dishwasher is important to their partner, and so they are not even engaging with their partner on the topic. The partners are in different realities. Matt talked to his wife. And his wife talked to him. He just wasn’t hearing her. So he couldn’t choose between A & B. She (rightly, IMHO) felt invisible because of it.
I was in a marriage for 18 years where I felt invisible. There was no room for compromise or getting my needs met, because I was always being ‘too sensitive’ or ‘making a big deal out of nothing.’ I certainly had things I needed to do differently in that marriage, and I am a more self assertive and independent person today. Perhaps I used to be the kind of woman that Brian warns about. But my husband did not want the divorce I chose, and perhaps we could have learned together how to compromise if I had semi-regularly felt that my opinions and needs were one of his priorities.
““Hey. I don’t respect you or value your thoughts and opinions. Not taking four seconds to put my glass in the dishwasher is more important to me than you are.”
That hurt to read those words because this happened in my marriage – it wasn’t about glasses but rather about many things deemed “woman’s work” which I am not a fan of at all. I am not as sensitive about many things but his outlook on a bunch of little things is what made me close off to him years before our actual divorce. I knew I would not spend my years after kids with a person like him. My husband never tried to understand what you have so eloquently and simply explained.
In my narrow once married opinion, It is THIS article that can help the woman’s husband from
P.S. Will You Marry Me?
I’m sorry, Jayne. I know that different things trigger different memories and feelings.
It IS sad. Even though I accept responsibility for my marriage ending, there are still things that happened that hurt very much.
Once in a while, telling an old story makes me feel some of it. Not often anymore. But, sometimes.
I’m glad you liked that last post. Anytime something I’ve written really hits home for people, I earmark it as something to make sure gets included in this book project I’m doing a bad job of finishing.
Thank you, as always, for reading and being part of the conversation.
Did you just propose in a blog comment, Jayne? I love it.
I feel like maybe we should have dinner first!
You didn’t cause the hurt I felt – it’s my interpretation of his actions that hurt. I don’t think he intentionally set out to have me feel these things at all. That’s psychopathic. I take responsibility to a point. We women have our dysfunctional ways too. It’s working them out and understanding them that makes life better…I think. The marriage sentiment will be forever there Matt. Your understanding of this issue made me so happy that I wanted to scoop you up like a found diamond! (Your understanding actually validated my perspective of his attitude as a “simple” issue of recognition rather than me having another complaint. He saw anything that “disturbed” his own view as a challenge or it was me complaining and saying that he was wrong so we never got passed that. It will forever be left without any closure. Fun times!! We all learn at our own speed. I learned that my needs were worth divorcing him for.
I bet nine out of 10 divorcees who read this comment will know exactly what you mean, Jayne. Just like I do.
So, is a winter wedding good for you?!
Wonderful post!! Wonderful and eerily familiar. I often look back at my marriage (and subsequent divorce) and realize that my shortcomings could have been eliminated had I just “put the glass in the dishwasher”.
It is amazing how much clarity has washed over me 3 years after my divorce. The main reason that my marriage ended was I consistently mistook her searching for respect/appreciation for nagging. Hindsight….
Ha. Yeah. You and I speak the same language.
Thank you for “getting it.”
I spend most of my time thinking about, and writing about, stuff like this. The question I always get asked is: “How can I get my husband to understand this stuff now, rather then before it’s too late?”
Or better yet, I wonder: How could we get young people, pre-marriage, to grasp these things people on the other side of divorce recognize as true?
It’s the thing I wrestle with, because if there WAS some magic way to do so, we’d be doing humanity an incredible service.
I’m trying to learn that you can never talk to everyone, and even if you could, most won’t listen.
So you write for the one. That one faceless stranger who will.
And you validating what I’ve written here helps with all of that. With that one person who is paying attention.
Thank you very much for reading and being part of the conversation.
This was very insightful, mature and relatable. It’s nice to read as a woman – an ex-wife – that a man understands we don’t want to nag and there’s more to it than the complaint. We could probably do a better job explaining to our husbands this as well. It’s great for both sides and I think helps us all realize what it is that really gets us upset deep down. Thanks for writing this 🙂
Thank you for saying so.
I feel like anyone who has ever even dated seriously will quickly identify the metaphor.
The disconnect begins when husbands and boyfriends behave as if their wives’ and girlfriends’ feelings are “wrong.”
X happens. She feels Y. She didn’t decide to. She just did.
Moving forward, when X happens, she will feel Y. And Y is shitty and miserable and “Please just stop doing this! For me. Please.”
And he says: “I don’t think it makes sense that X causes you to feel bad, because it doesn’t cause me to feel bad, thus I’m not going to acknowledge or validate your feelings.”
Like something’s wrong with her emotional calibration since it’s different from his.
The same thing is true in reverse, by the way. “Men are silly because they (insert any common male behavior women often roll their eyes at here).”
A husband may never understand how a glass by the sink could be elevated to something worthy of a fight. But so long as he respects that it matters THAT much to her, not only will they never fight about it ever again, she’ll feel loved and secure in ways that will benefit other aspects of their relationship as well.
So true. Applies to both. Lessons learned indeed. I feel like I’m a better partner now because I learned what I should’ve done better and what I will never tolerate again. Although I’m not proud I’m divorced, I will be better the next time around due to my experience 🙂
I’m in the heat of this right now in my marriage. He doesn’t grasp why X makes me feel the way I do…so as much as I hurt from X, he doesn’t get it…so won’t stop. Thanks for giving me something to show him
I wish you could kidnap or ADULT-nap my ex-husband and really re-train him to think this way. Unfortunately, it is too late for us, but I’m definitely gonna hire you for the next husband for CIA mind control, er, I mean sensitive training…lol.
Don’t train him, miss!
Simply choose one who doesn’t require it. It will save you $50,000 in billing for my super-secret CIA mind-control services. 🙂
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I was never really able to communicate to my husband why the empty glass was so damn important. After a while I just stopped saying anything about it and lowered my expectations. It hurt a lot and I grew to really resent it. It’s different now. Somewhere along the line he figured it out. Its never going to be his forte, but he tries, he really does, and now even if the glass is only making it into the dishwasher 1 time out of 5, I think to myself “He is so sweet to me!” And then I kiss him a lot. So it works out well for both of us ?
Sounds like you were once at the place most wives get to, only you refused to quit.
You presevered. And now, life is better. I hope you’d say it’s really good.
Hard to imagine a better marriage story.
Actually Matt, I was the shitty spouse and I’m very thankful my husband didn’t give up on me. Life IS better, even if we took the scenic route to get here.
Pretty close to my story. Even though my husband doesn’t really get my feelings about being neat and organized, I do believe that he does make attempts. And that makes all the difference in my attitude towards him, which is exactly this article has tried to explain. That “he does care about such things because it matters to ME”. And like you mentioned it is definitely not 100% conversion but it’s the effort that counts. Also, slowly I’ve learnt to take things easy without getting pissed off for every detail of our homes. I now have slowly managed to accept the sheets not being changed as often as I thought they should do. Or sometimes I fold his blanket after he’s left without pointing it out to him that he did it again. It’s been 3 years since we married and too soon to get to a conclusion that we have figured it out but I hope we continue to get better at being married.
Congratulations on three years ☺
Sad situation but beautifully written.
Thank you very much for reading and commenting, Carli.
Really well said, Matt.
There is often a power struggle going on within marriage and I think it’s a good thing, it’s closely entwined with attraction and desire. However, one thing about men is that they tend to just go into battle mode when they feel as if they are being attacked. They protect, defend, man the battle stations. But that gets really complicated when they feel as if they have to defend themselves against the one they have a desire to love and protect.
So while I think you are 100% right about caring, about the importance of taking your wife’s feelings into consideration, the other half of the equation really requires wives to surrender some things, like the need for control over that glass. Or the need to believe that a hubby should “just get it” and the fact that he doesn’t reads like rejection. We really have to lower our expectations, soften our tone, and let go of some of our need for control.
When husbands die, when wives become widows, what we often do is go about the house seeking evidence of that glass on the sink or piles of socks on the floor. Those are the things we miss the most, the aggravating little things that we used to try to control and rid our world of.
“When husbands die, when wives become widows, what we often do is go about the house seeking evidence of that glass on the sink or piles of socks on the floor. Those are the things we miss the most, the aggravating little things that we used to try to control and rid our world of.”
That’ll stick with me for a long time.
This really got to me too. I’ve been in this situation where it seems like I am constantly battling my husband with dishes, making the bed, keeping clothes off the floor and then I found I need to “soften my tone” because I do know he is a man of pure heart and he really doesn’t understand that one way I show my love towards him is by turning our house into a home. This is a man who works hard, adores me through all my faults, and would step in front of a speeding bullet for me without hesitation. I’ve learned to not be so hard on him and accept his faults as he does mine. Maybe it’s a kind of reverse psychology because I’ve noticed since doing this, he does take more effort for things that do matter to me. When I think there could be life without him, those little things just don’t seem so important.
Thank you for your last post that linked me here. This is just amazing and ditto to your comments. Trust me, I’ve got a few widows in my life and I see that in them. And how they gripped about that glasses and then what????
Insanity, your husband is very much alive, so your “we” is not truthful. Just saying.
My husband is alive and well and I am very blessed. That “we” however is a universal we, we wives, we sisters, really do tend to miss the little things that used to make us crazy.
Interesting perspective. My parents were married for almost 52 years, and one of the things that my mom said, though she grieved DEEPLY, was she at least didn’t have to pick up after him any more.
I’m going to have to take issue with part of this reply. I was married for 15 years when my wife died unexpectedly, and the aggravating little things that bugged me then, I don’t miss in the least. I miss her laughter when it snowed, and pausing the TV show to discuss what we just saw, but I definitely don’t miss the flashes of temper or the insecurity she finally was able to beat. What annoyed me then, would still annoy me now if she were here. And I still wish she were here.
‘But my wife didn’t want to be my mother.’
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Or to leave every decision up to her, and then use that to turn around and blame her because something didn’t flow the way you desired.
I wasn’t perfect. Never aspire to be. But I also never wanted to be the CEO of my family with all the hard decisions and everyone depending on me solely…including my spouse. With no support. And with a retort of how my own faults are not recognized enough when I WOULD ask for something I needed (like not feeling like I was #3 after work and kids). Partnership. That’s all.
“Or to leave every decision up to her…”
This is a lesson married female readers of this blog taught me in the comments section of one of my posts one day.
It’s the very premise of An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 6, which before Vol. 1 took off in Google search results last year, was the most-shared post I’d ever written.
“I never get upset with you about things you do that I don’t like!” men reason, as if their wives are INTENTIONALLY choosing to feel hurt and miserable.” << Is exactly what my husband reasons!! And nothing I say makes him know anything ever so I will be sending him this. For whatever reason it all makes sense when it comes from you. Thanks Matt! I always love reading.
Right. I was dumb.
I thought, because I didn’t bitch and nag about anything she did, that she shouldn’t do it to me.
But that’s not what’s happening. Something is causing her PAIN. Internally. It hurts. And then we tell her she’s wrong and dumb. And then it hurts more.
If our wives made us HURT (like they do when the have an affair or leave us), we absolutely say and do things about it.
I thought I was making an apples-to-apples comparison by projecting my life experience and feelings on her.
Another lesson learned.
Yeah, see, I actually resorted to the tactic of trying to ‘make him hurt’ like I hurt, see if he could somehow understand that way…yeah, that was dumb… Obviously.
This. The importance of not confusing our projections with understanding.
I love this whole post and wish I couldn’t identify with it so strongly. I feel disrespected every day because of these “dishes,” and I want to be a mom, but not to my husband. The inexpressible sentiment I’ve been trying so hard to pinpoint has been nicely illustrated in this post – but I wish that I could change how I feel so that I could be a better wife, but don’t think that would automatically make him a better husband. I think that once I start to compromise my feelings, his natural inclination would be to regress – keep more “dishes” out. And that is a dangerous slope towards living with a quality of life below what I wish for myself. So, who do I bend to – him or me?
Well-established and strongly enforced boundaries should exist before people ever decide to live together.
We’re just all young and ignorant and don’t know what we don’t know, so we do it anyway, not realizing there will be a problem.
I guess the second-best thing is to enforce them after the fact.
Far be it from me to act like I know what’s best for you (I certainly don’t), but if I was your friend and you were just asking me what I thought?
I’d say put energy into being the best wife you can be every day REGARDLESS of what might come from it. At least you were always your best self.
That doesn’t mean compromise values, or be a doormat.
Kind AND firm is a thing. It doesn’t necessarily feel “nice.” But when it’s authentic, it feels fair.
I think you’re allowed to give a lot to your marriage, and drop the hammer if and when he’s failing you.
Marriage is about sacrifice.
But it’s not about misery and subjecting oneself to abuse or neglect.
There’s a line that exists between those two places, and only you can know when it’s been crossed.
Very well said, as always.
I think both sides miss the point of most fights, but I agree that most men don’t realize that we women do equate the dirty clothes lying next to the basket and not IN the basket as a personal reflection of our worth to them. On the same note men do the same thing with sex, if they aren’t getting any it must be because they are not loved or found attractive, and to women we think that’s absurd.
I love that you are bringing awareness through the eyes of a man. Hopefully someone catches on before another family is torn apart
Thank you so much Dawn. I don’t know how much awareness I’m bringing.
But I promise to keep doing my best. Have a great weekend!
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This was EXCELLENT but I’m so sorry you learned the lesson too late. Or is it? My husband and I divorced over a similar thing. I wanted to go to church, he didn’t. Thank God, after we moved states apart, we realized our mistakes, reconciled and remarried!! We’ve blogged about it in the beginning of our blog. We’re now full time RVers, traveling around the southeast as we enjoy our two baby grandsons. We had lived 800 miles away and this was a great solution….
Anyway, I’m going to reblog this and share on social media. I’m passionate about marriages!
Apologies for the delayed response, Debbie. Thank you very much for liking this, for sharing it, and for leaving such a nice comment. I’m passionate about marriages, too. I think it’s really hard on people when they end (harder than most of us talk about), and I view it as being a MUCH BIGGER social problem than society seems to give it credit for.
This is my tiny way of trying to be part of the solution.
Reblogged this on Real life…. and commented:
This is refreshingly WONDERFUL! I’m so passionate about marriages and if only every man read this before he drives his wife to divorce, marriages would be saved….and guess what? It’s a two-way street. He now realizes his wife needed to be respected. But guess what, so do men! Husbands and wives, read this together and examine your marriage….
“Men Are Not Children, Even Though We Behave Like Them”… and when a woman spends all day trying to raise a boy into the man she married, the last thing she feels like, is having sex with the child she just had to remind to do 100 things, like the other kids she is raising. Some things are endearing, are little things we pretend annoy us and become a long term inside joke, but the majority of them become festering ‘issues’ which force us into a state of resentment, where at we first we fight to correct them and later we become indifferent to them or we decide to leave them behind.
All partners require training. Either they haven’t learned enough lessons from their mother before they left home, or they failed to learn it from various relationships as they grew up. Lastly, if they didn’t learn it from the woman who was desperate to stay married to him, then ‘maybe’ he learns it when she leaves and his entire life changes. Then he will be a better man for the next woman in his life because of the training he had from the relationship failure. If he doesn’t learn the lesson and repeats it in future relationships, then he is hopeless. He is un-trainable. And he will continue to hurt the woman that come into his life. Unintentionally, of course. He simply thinks all the women he chooses have the exact same issue instead of thinking that the real issue and common theme, is actually himself.
I’m glad you said that. The sex thing.
So, for men, sex is this really big, important thing. Superficially, they want to get off a lot. Meaningfully, physical sex grows the marital bonds of emotional intimacy inside him in the same ways feeling truly loved, respected, appreciated, validated, etc. (from things like putting the glass in the sink, metaphorically or otherwise) grows the bonds of emotional intimacy within her.
So, when he’s a childish douchebag, and she stops wanting him physically, it starts this chain reaction and unhealthy cycle of pushing one another way through very different means.
He wants to have sex (maybe selfishly, but also because to him that’s the answer to “how do we fix this disconnect we feel?”). And she doesn’t because she needs to feel connected BEFORE doing it.
She wants him to exhibit certain behaviors, like taking care of shit, and taking care of her, and being responsible and respectful because to her, that’s the answer to “how do we fix this disconnect we feel?”)
Both things will help.
But I think in most relationships, neither partner recognizes how important each thing is to the other person.
And certainly in the case of sex, I think the man is often far to ignorant to ever connect this disagreement with his wife, with the fundamental breakdown of his sex life.
What usually follows for undisciplined human beings (which, let’s face it, includes MOST people) ends up being very bad.
More time apart. Porn. Physical and/or emotional affairs. BOOM.
Then it’s all over.
Because one or both members of a relationship couldn’t swallow their pride for five seconds and try to give their spouse the thing they needed.
And I believe that most of the time, neither person ever–even once–thought about human behavior and relationships dynamics on a sciencey level like that.
Because no one ever teaches us.
Then we learn the hard way.
Then we have these conversations in blog comments.
“I think the man is often far to ignorant to ever connect this disagreement with his wife, with the fundamental breakdown of his sex life.”
You know Matt, this is really true. Well perhaps men are not ignorant per se, but many are very resistant to understanding what has caused the lack of attraction and desire. There are all these myths floating around, women just have low sex drives, women are just mean, crazy, punitive and controlling, etc, etc. Not to be impolite here, but I have often found myself wanting to say to some men, “stop, it’s not all about you, all of the time!” The fact that sex is a symbiotic act with cause and effect going on, often eludes many men. If we could capture the nature of female desire and somehow explain to men how to cultivate it, I think a lot of healing could happen in marriages.
Some men also misspell the word “too.” 😉
Writing this comment got me thinking, so I’m going to post about it soon-ish.
So, this comment… This, THIS is marriage and real and heartbreaking and probably the only reason my marriage is here. I have been married since 17… I am now 38. For 21 years I have grown up with a man who leaves dirty socks on top of the freezer and puts pocketsful of hardware in bowls on the kitchen counter, but he also works unti 10 pm and puts a hand on me every time I walk by. In all honesty, we shouldn’t be able to work together. I love reading and hiking and crafting and scifi and Magic and was the oldest of four. I like scrabble and mismatched china and am far too easily amused. He likes hunting and video games and car audio and woodworking. He’s an only child who grew up well-off and regrets every poor choice he has ever made. We are both intelligent, capable people, but we don’t have much in common–except beautiful children and a ridiculous stubborn streak.
And the combined powers of sex and the “okay, Baby”.
Frequently, it is me that realizes the disconnect is becoming a chasm and that we need time… time to spend in each other’s arms really looking into the soul we are joined to, time to sweat and give and take and hold and release. because I realized very early that sex isn’t a tool or a treat, but the deepest level of foundation to him. Not to say it isn’t fun, or playful or silly, but at the core, it reassures him like nothing else. Me wanting him means I love him and respect him and that he is MAN.
And then, there are the days where I am disgruntled and out of sorts and irritated and yell about glasses by the sink and call him a stupid head and demand he acknowledge that all this is his fault, that I am not crazy, but upset and hurt and the damn socks were IN the freezer this time… And he sees the tears I’m not crying and hears something other than the vitriol I am spewing and says “okay, Baby” and kisses me on the cheek as he puts the glass in the dishwasher( or more in keeping with him, back in the cabinet?). And he means it. it is okay. He gets that I am broken, and need him to put me back together, I need hugs and confirmation that my efforts are seen that my patience and tolerance are great but not infallible and that I NEED to know I am loved…
More good days than bad and great ones sprinkled in… That is marriage success.
I am happy I found you this morning, and appreciate you sharing your journey with the world
“All partners require training…if they didn’t learn it from the woman who was desperate to stay married to him, then ‘maybe’ he learns it when she leaves and his entire life changes.”
I find this section of your comment telling. So are you saying that all partners need training, including women, or are you saying all partners need training, but just the men?
ALL partners require training. Most women have no idea how important sex is to men, to convey an emotional connectedness. It’s their currency. It’s what they aren’t doing with their buddies. Most men don’t analyze or think beyond what’s in front of their noses unless it arises as a distraction from something else.
A relationship is a done deal once you are married because a man had a task to achieve, did it and moved on. Now his task is to pay bills. And/Or be a good father. His list very seldom involves talking to his wife about feelings or their marriage or how much her life has changed since becoming a mother. Not unless she brings it up and forces him to. It’s almost always done under duress or as a result of ‘her’ being upset. Not because he sees a need to maintain anything.
If you put a 25yr shingle on your roof, it doesn’t mean that shingle stays in that new condition for 25yrs then suddenly falls off the roof, rotten. It deteriorates over time. And lots can impact it’s lifespan. The more harsh weather, the more storm damage, the more dramatic the change of weather, the sooner the damage accrues. A 25yr shingle has the ‘potential’ to last 25 years in perfect circumstances.
The same can be said of a marriage. But not many marriages are blessed with perfect conditions. Most have financial and emotional issues, job stress, creating or blending family stress, raising children, dealing with parental loss or tragedies along the way. All of them rip at the fabric of that stability and when added together can contribute to the premature failure of what was once, something solid.
Yet even for women who keep having sex with their partners who are acting like assholes, the problem remains that the man has NO motivation to try and work on ‘their issues. Why should he? He is still getting regular sex and if she was mad at him and had sex with him, then what ever she was mad at has magically disappeared. Again, sex is his currency and the transaction means the end of the deal of her being upset.
If a woman continues to have sex with a man and then tried to discuss their issues afterwards, it confuses him. Because they had sex it means everything should be fine. This means she is simply ‘starting’ another fight. He sees no correlation to the same topic being a continuous thread with a sex break in the middle. So, why is it up to the woman to withhold sex from him, as a motivator to try and get him to listen to her concerns or issues?
On Monday, a woman could say, “If you want to have sex on Wednesday night, then I expect you to talk to me about A,B and C between now and then and I need you to do A and B without being asked.” Wednesday night comes around and he either gets a nice shiny good job sticker or not. And how do you think it makes a woman feel to treat her partner like a 4 year old child with a reward system? Sexy? Lustful? No.
It pisses you off that you have to teach him basic courtesy. The only way a woman ends up having sex with a man like this, is when they are desperate for it and forget to withhold it; which then pisses them off afterwards because all you’ve taught him is to just wait a little longer for sex and he STILL can get away with not talking to you about anything that’s relevant.
And many women are immature and have no idea how to talk to men so they understand what they need. They expect a man to simply ‘know’. How are they to know if they’ve never been taught? Which is why a reasonable person tries to teach them what is needed before they decide to leave. The unfortunate thing is so many men are used to not listening that when his partner does leave, it comes as a total blind sided surprise to him.
Ultimately, in many relationships, one partner is more dominant or mature in the relationship than the other. This is who does most of the leg work for making the relationship work.
Great post. Hindsight can be an effective teacher.
One of its lessons is that smart husbands do not turn their wives into their mothers. Another, that empathy is really difficult, especially with our intimates.
Thank you. And yes. Empathy. An underappreciated word and concept for people in relationships.
Practicing it effectively would seem to me to be the difference between who makes it and who doesn’t.
And I don’t just mean “who stays married.” Because LOTS of miserable people technically stay married.
I mean, who has a meaningful and satisfying marriage that gives life purpose instead of feeling like a chore or prison sentence.
Sometimes leaving an empty glass by the sink is just leaving an empty glass by the sink. It is NOT a three demensional mental chess match on relationship management.
That’s especially true for me. That’s how it always was. I did stuff absentmindedly but was interpreted (incorrectly) as some sort of intentional act of disrespect.
Never the case.
However, and I’ve written this a few other times, the excuse that you ACCIDENTALLY hurt your wife’s feelings only works the first time.
After that? No matter how unintentional or non-malicious something was, if it’s a behavior she told you HURTS, and you didn’t take steps to avoid it, then you’re guilty of neglect.
She’s either insane or a liar, or she’s telling the truth and we owe her four freaking seconds to put the glass in the dishwasher.
I agree it’s not a chess match for most men.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not a crime to not do anything about it.
“After that? No matter how unintentional or non-malicious something was, if it’s a behavior she told you HURTS, and you didn’t take steps to avoid it, then you’re guilty of neglect.”
I disagree with this implicitly. It’s not fair to a husband, wife, child or anybody for that matter to be indirectly upset at someone for a behaviour that has nothing to do with what they are really mad about. That’s called being passive agressive. If you’re mad about something someone has done and continues to do then address THAT issue and not the one you imagine in your head it represents.
The problem I have with your post is that you fall on your sword, do a mea culpa and take the full blame for an outcome of a behaviour that you are only partially to responsible for. Should you have put the metaphorical empty glass in the diswasher instead of by the sink? Yeah, probably. But that doesn’t mean that your metaphorical wife gets a pass for projecting her own insecurities and misperceptions on a simple act of not properly putting away a piece of glassware.
I think you raise fair points. I would never argue that everything wives feel they want or need are gospel truths, and every time a man doesn’t behave as she prefers, he’s somehow in the wrong.
I have a few thoughts. They’re not entirely connected.
1. Wives get things wrong. You may have highlighted one of them. As someone who has no idea what it’s like to be female or a wife, I feel strongly it’s not my place to tell women how to behave. I’m of the opinion that a husband who treats his wife optimally will almost never run into these situations in the first place because she will not have lots of irrational fear and insecurity.
2. RE: treating wives optimally. I understand that dishes are left by sinks, and toilet seats are left up, and loaves of bread are forgotten at the supermarket, and pants are absent-mindedly left on the bed or wherever. And it’s irrational to me to interpret it as a personal affront, or as a deliberate act of disrespect. If it hurts the person we claim to love? And we don’t take steps to adjust behavior? I’m sorry, but that seems callous and petty to me. And frankly, it will end in break up or divorce. Every time.
3. Your point about how shitty and unfair passive-aggressive projecting is, is well taken. But more simply put, not unlike the dish by the sink, it’s not some grand conspiracy to fight with us or to play power grab games. It really just hurts, and then there’s an emotional reaction. I’m TOTALLY OKAY with refusing to be in a partnership with someone who exhibits those behaviors. I think it’s fair and reasonable to break up with someone who demonstrates unhealthy emotional control or whatever.
But, do it BEFORE YOU’RE MARRIED.
Marriage has to matter. Either that, or we need to get rid of it because it causes a shit ton of problems legally and logistically (and spiritually, if that’s part of your life).
I love strong boundaries. I think they make healthy relationships. But they need to be established and enforced during courtship and not retroactively argued for once Til Death Do Us Part vows were exchanged or children were created.
Afterward? Trying to rob our spouses of the right to “feel” as they feel does little more than guarantee a shitty marriage, and eventual divorce. Two things I’d like people to avoid.
Thank you for having this conversation.
I think you make excellent points. I don’t disagree with them. But I think maybe I disagree with when and how to apply them.
I tend to agree with you that if certain type of behaviour is a deal breaker for either a man or woman then it should be dealt with prior to marriage, but unfortunately things like passsive agressiveness — in both men and women — doesn’t really surface until a critical crisis highlights the behaviour. I was married for over 16 years, so I have much experience with the give and take of compromise and acceptance of the various pet peeves that people may have with their mate or spouse. There are definitely deal breakers that should be given much consideration in a relationship. I
t’s really the job of both parties the figure out what those values are, but in mind they are things such as trust, respect and honesty. An idiocentric behaviour such as leaving an empty glass by the sink or leaving the toilet seat up is NOT one of those IMO. And associating hidden meanings to unrelated behaviours and getting mad at a spouse for not ‘getting it’ why they are mad about said behaviour is akin to saying ‘I don’t like the way you think because it’s different to way I think. So instead of adapting to your way of thinking I’m going to get mad at you until you change to way I think.’
My now-ex was notorious for this type of behaviour. Many times she would blow up at me for something that I had no idea what. And when I would ask her she would just say ‘You know what you did and why I’m mad about it.’ It was like living in a psyhological minefield and now that I’m out of that nightmare I have vowed that I will never tolerate that type of behaviour again — EVER!
I’m sorry for the emotional abuse you suffered. Psychological minefields are not fun.
I think Matt makes some really good points however. I’m married to a wonderful man, but I accommodate some of his quirks, many of his quirks, because that’s what love compels me to do. Whether he should feel that way or whether or not what he feels is rational, is somewhat irrelevant. The point is to honor and respect what he does feel.
I think this can be challenging for many men because they dont always grasp how important it is for wives to feel as if they are being seen and heard. Not necessarily agreed with, but listened to as if we are actual people. Men tend to think they have to fix things, when in fact, “fixing it” can be as simple as acknowledging that glasses on the edge of the sink make her crazy.
By no means do I claim to have been a perfect husband nor am blame free of the failure of my marriage. There are plenty of things that I did to contribute to the failure and I take full responsibility for my actions, but I disagree emphatically that a ‘most’ marriages fail because a husband fails to give the marriage what it needs to be successful. Marriage is a partnership with mutual responsibilty and blame on both sides of the matrimonial isle. I take issue with the trendy self flagellation many men have taken on various blogs taking the bullet for their failed marriages when in reality both parties have blame in the dissolution of a marriage. To highlight the shortcomings of one side without acknowledging the infuence of the other is disingenuous and false.
Well, here’s the deal with blame. She or he who picks it up, holds all the power. To hand responsibility (blame) off to your spouse, is to hand your own power away. So if I perceive the condition of my own marriage as entirely my responsibility, and it’s failures as entirely my fault, than I’ve got the power to transform and make marriage what I want it to be.
Hubby taught me that long ago, by taking responsibility for things whether they were his fault or not. That example of what it truly means to lead, goes a long way towards softening your spouse’s heart.
Rather then self flagellation, it can actually be an act of empowerment. We cannot change other people, but we can change ourselves, and often changing ourselves, changes the whole story.
Powerfully important and true stuff there. (Also applies to work, team sports, friendships, family dynamics, and every other interpersonal relationship situation imaginable.)
I take no issue with any of that. I trust that you know exactly what you experienced and that you know what you did or didn’t do to contribute positively or negatively.
I, personally believe most (55 percent? 68 percent? 77 percent?) marriages ultimately end because the husband fails to give what needs given to make a marriage healthy and last. (I mean, the marriage ends and view it as being more his fault than hers.)
There MUST be some percentage of failed marriages that are mostly the result of the wife being shittier than the husband.
I’m sorry if you were in one of those.
Here’s what I think I know: For me, I look back and remember all these little moments of conflict. All these “little things” that seemed so inconsequential. And I would fight my ass off in an effort to “win” these little battles because, kind of like you’re saying here, I thought it was bullshit that these things that seemed so inconsequential to me were made out to be these big marriage problems. I thought it was foolish and petty.
I pride myself a pragmatist.
Post-marriage? My little son only being here half the time? The excruciating (and I do mean excruciating) pain of the last year of the broken marriage and first 18-ish months after separating? All the headaches and not-that-fun occasional loneliness? Combined with how selfish and superficial my motivations were for battling her on things like housework or whether I should go play poker?
I think my wrongs were “more wrong” than hers.
And I think millions of other marriages are exactly like mine. And I think many of those guys, their wives and their children will have better lives if they rethink the way they do things and talk to, and treat, one another.
So I write these stories.
I do fall on the sword. And I mostly try to do so without pointing fingers at her. I need to trust smart people to understand that accepting responsibility for their lot in life is always a better path to self-improvement that blaming others for their problems and never searching inward for answers.
According to lots of comments and emails I get, countless wives are smart enough to do that exact thing and rethink how they talk to their husbands.
I probably come off like I think I’m a knowitall much of the time (I promise I know how much I don’t know). But what I really want to be is someone who tells first-person stories so that once in a while, someone who can identify with it might have a better marriage afterward and not take the same path I did.
That’s always been the goal.
I appreciate you trying to keep things in their proper context and fairly assigning blame as you see it.
Nothing like the end of a marriage to teach us what we will and will not tolerate in the next chapter of our lives.
Wish you well, sir.
My spouse is notorious for never putting anything away. ever. It is placed on the nearest flat surface. Of course, it was an issue for me in trying to organize little children and having to clean up after an adult first. It created many battles and he never once changed to putting anything away. All it did was upset me and endanger our toddlers.
When our kids were little, he would leave out the tools he was using when we were doing renovations. On the floor or on the edge of a counter or on a diningroom table. It didn’t matter. He would leave it and walk away, not thinking about the consequences. There were several times I discovered a toddler just as they were about to do something dangerous with something their father had carelessly left out.
The crisis came one day as I came downstairs through the livingroom, stopped to pick up a couple of toys on my way into the kitchen and heard giggling and a cupboard door banging. Coming around the corner I witnessed my 18 month old reaching and stretching as far as possible, up on his little toes so he could reach the handle of the drywall saw that was left on the edge of the kitchen counter.
As it turned end over end and fell down like a hatchet onto my babies head, it nicked his ear and because he was hurt, he flinched to the side and the saw JUST missed his neck to cut into the material of his onesie. To say I was furious with his father was an understatement. However I never said another word about what he left on the counters or floors.
From that day forward and for the next 7 months, I threw anything he left out, into the backyard and eventually under a solid 5 feet of built up snow. When he asked where ‘xx’ was, I’d say “I didn’t use it, you did. Didn’t you put it away?” Over the winter he had to keep buying new tools to replace the ones he couldn’t find. He had to buy new glasses to replace the ones which were lost.
And in the spring, when the snow started to melt, he discovered I hadn’t wasted my time in cleaning up after him and he cleaned up the backyard of his missing items. He was no less angry than I was when he purposefully injured my child by his carelessness. Because in my eyes, that’s what he did. He purposely injured our child. Because he was too lazy, irresponsible, ignorant, selfish…to put things he used away.
Was I being passive aggressive or was I simply responding to an untenable situation, which I could not control or coerce my spouse into behaving in an appropriate manner? We all view situations with the shades of our own past, coloring them.
When I ‘hear’ Matt write, I hear the words I wish had come from my spouse. Words that would have made me love him. Respect him. Want him. There are many people who act like immature idiots in a marriage and that role is not always relegated to the man. Ultimately his blog is entirely about communication. The failure of which lead to many things which he has had to adjust to and as a result grow from.
It takes a remarkable amount of introspection and self awareness to discover that you are accountable and culpable for the demise of a relationship based on the hindsight you have, once it is over. It is a brutally painful process to be that honest with yourself. Not all people can do it and that’s why the end up repeating mistakes.
Spot on !!! Now can we clone you? LOL
But on a more serious note, I always communicated to my husband what it meant for me to “leave the dishes by the sink”. (I’m not sure why women think that you men can read our minds)……But for me, having disabilities makes it very hard for me to expand my energy into doing things (chores or what have you) so I expect some respect when it comes to helping me maintain those chores, etc. If I ask you to not do something, at least have the courtesy to not to do it WHEN YOU SAID YOU WEREN”T GOING TO DO IT. Action vs words is HUGE! That has been our biggest stress and unfortunately I developed Adrenal Fatigue from this stress (my body was already run down from all the car accident injuries so that didn’t help). I eat very well, have recently lost 100 pounds, I go to the gym, but meanwhile, this person (my hubby) was making me sick. He didn’t have that right! That for me was enough for me to want to leave him after all we have been through.
What we have recently discovered is that he is ADD and that is changing everything for the better actually. With ADD, he met almost all the criteria: short attention span, trouble listening carefully to directions, frequently misplaces things, easily distracted, poor listening skills, poor organization, trouble maintaining an organized work/life, easily overwhelmed by tasks of daily living, poor financial management, failure to see other’s needs, trouble with authority, rage outbursts, etc. Such a blessing in disguise really because I thought he was doing these things on purpose! Now I am learning NOT to take these things so personally and we are trying to find the proper tools to work around this.
Who would of known that a “disorder” was the cause of most of our issues? I certainly did not. Sure does make me wonder if it was the cause of my first marriage…..
Hi Jody. Thank you for reading and commenting.
I was married nine years.
I was divorced for two before being diagnosed with ADHD at 36 years old. I always thought it was a fake, made-up thing. Then I read a bunch of stuff (like hard-to-argue-with brain scans from neurologists and other medical experts) that convinced me otherwise.
I do sometimes wonder to what extent some of my poor habits consistent with ADD/ADHD behaviors contributed to her leaving.
I think it was a VERY large contributor. Awareness is a very, very, very, very, very, very, very big deal.
Attention issues aside, being AWARE of how our spouses think and feel — UNDERSTANDING wholly that it’s NOT the same way we think and feel — and really accepting that and respecting it, is, in my estimation, the biggest differentiator between couples who will make it and couples who won’t.
Near as I can tell, a man or woman’s inability or unwillingness to empathize with or respect their partner’s differences (without demanding wholesale change from them) seems to be the thing most likely to break down the relationship over time, and end in divorce.
It seems too simple to let that be the thing that ends so many families. Yet, I believe that’s exactly what’s doing it.
So, I’m just going to keep talking about it and be grateful for the few willing to listen.
Thanks for being part of the conversation.
I totally agree with you! Being aware and understanding, accepting, respecting… And don’t forget to put our gosh darn egos aside! This was my first time finding your site and I look forward to more of your posts (am now reading your past posts with huge interest). Keep it up!! and All my best!
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I’m going through a pretty crappy time in my marriage right now…I’m thinking of leaving.
In my case, it’s not the dishes in the sink–my husband is always good about stuff like that. He ‘respects’ me in that aspect.
Instead, we lack a very important emotional connection that I deeply desire. More so than I desire a clean sink. He doesn’t touch me in a way that makes me feel sexy or desired. When we kiss, it’s these annoying pecks. We don’t go on dates or visit new places. I feel like my wings have been clipped and I’m dying a little bit each day in a way.
Relationships are tough. I am not proud to say it, but because I felt so distant from my partner, I made a great connection with another man who thinks more like me–who sees the world more like I do and I’m really happy when we’re together. I wish I felt like that with my husband. I wish we had more in common and were more deeply connected to each other than we are.
I know he’s hurt and sad. I was hurt and sad for years. I showed it–we talked. I asked him to go to counseling (couples and individual) and he said yes, but never did any research on it. And so now we’re here…
Wishing you the best and sending you lots of self love as you transition to what’s next.
Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing a very personal story.
Your story isn’t particularly unique (and God knows I don’t intend that as an insult or slight of any kind). I just mean, I’ve come to learn that any time we feel voids, we are prone to fill them.
This happens in some form or fashion in virtually every relationship. If it’s not another person, it’s work, or a hobby, or an addiction, or a social life independent of their partner.
To be sure, “dishes by the sink” is a metaphor.
And making ones partner feel loved, desired and cherished, for the purposes of this writing, are totally “dishes.”
Thank you for saying nice things. I hope you and your husband find the healing and understanding necessary to get to wherever you guys want to be in the most-cooperative, least-painful way possible.
I pretty much gagged on your emo dork sensitve-guy breast-beating, dude. And I’m a feminist-sympathizing male, for god’s sake. Oh, your premise is sound enough, mutual respect and trying to understand your spouse’s needs, but your dish-by-the-sink example only left me thinking you need badly to grow a pair, and that you don’t realize how narrow of an escape you made from a harridan that would bail on you over such an inconsequential matter.
Well, gee whiz. Glad you didn’t gag too hard. Thanks for all the helpful feedback. Maybe some day I’ll grow up and be really tough and ballsy, and have killer relationships like yours.
I’m not trying to do a drive-by ass-kicking. You make some valid points about an important topic and your article is well written. I just disagree with your choice of examples…it makes your ex sound like the Wife from Hell and you like a whiny victim. If you were trying to make it sting by painting an irritating picture, you succeeded, but I don’t feel it enhances your argument.
I know I’m not the most gifted and engaging writer in the world and that most people–not just you–don’t read every word, but I don’t believe someone with your vocabulary and education level could read this and actually conclude that I believe my divorce was, literally, the result of dishes being left by the sink.
This post isn’t about me. This post is about men not correlating the little arguments they deem inconsequential with the fundamental breakdown of their relationship.
I hate to sound like such a cocky shithead, but you might want to read it again through the prism of “maybe emo dork guy is right about this” because I’m totally right about this, and these metaphorical dish situations are why we have a marriage failure rate exceeding 50 percent.
I wish it wasn’t true. I wish it was something more complicated.
But it is true. And it’s not complicated.
We want to win fights more than we want to apologize for our unwillingness to bend a little on things our partners tell us hurts them, because we think they’re sensitive and overly critical since we don’t feel as they do at all.
We all think how we feel and experience life is “the way,” and don’t respect people who feel and experience things differently. It just doesn’t make sense to us.
When we let our wives be different than us, and we respect those differences even when we don’t understand and even when they inconvenience us, we all divorce infinitely less often than when we think “well, fuck you then, you naggy shrew.”
Accept that she’s different. Accept that you don’t understand why she thinks and feels differently. Accept that she doesn’t understand why you think and feel differently. Respect those differences and try not to be cocks to one another.
Life is better for all involved when this happens. Especially little kids whose lives get shattered and unsteady when their guardians and primary educators behave like assholes.
I think the culture of marriage in 2016 is in frighteningly bad shape. And I feel obligated to repeat what I know to be true and be happy with the small percentage of people who believe it, make better choices, and don’t ultimately break up their families only to figure out years later with a new partner that this dish-by-the-sink stuff is ALWAYS present, and feel shame and regret for all their childishness and lack of accountability they displayed, all while looking at Instagram photos of their kids on vacation with their new stepdad.
(prime example of people either commenting having not experienced what you have written about OR have habitually made the same mistake over and over again failing to grasp that their failure to grasp a simple premise is the causal effect of why the relationship(s) failed in the first place. I believe without having express knowledge of, Matts’ Balls have grown exponentially since his divorce.
Well, that was a mic drop if ever I saw one. Nicely put responses, Matt.
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As you get older, busier and more tired… A glass by the sink matters less and less. Anyone who pulls the “if you knew me and loved me, I wouldn’t have to tell you.” That’s called a silent contract. How can you live up to it? Agree about consideration and doing small things to enhance each other’s day/lives. Overall, nice twist. Communication, consideration, vulnerability, adventuring together… All good things!
I don’t doubt it. We all gain wisdom and perspective with age and experience.
The glass by the sink is more symbolic than anything. It’s just another item on the “Things Good Men Do That Can Make Them Bad Husbands” list I just made up in my head.
And most things on that list disappear once the lightbulb goes on.
Some men will never agree because they’re as convinced their “way” is as right as I believe mine is.
Some men will never agree because they’re not intellectually capable of it.
And some, when presented with the right information in the right way, will think “Whoa. That makes sense. And since I like being married to my wife, I’m going to do some things I didn’t want to do because making her feel good and not getting divorced seems WAY better than the alternative.”
I don’t care whether men treat their wives good to selfishly stay married and see their kids all the time, or because ACTIVELY loving and respecting their partner is the right thing to do.
Either way works for me.
I just want to see two totally intelligent and sane adults who–without coercion, made a conscious choice to marry one another and live together forever–NOT have it all fall apart because they like a few basic psychological and biological lessons about humanity just like I did.
Thanks for writing, Kimberly.
A friend says his wife left him over a freezer. He had a unique pet that required whole dead animals for food. He had a freezer in the garage just for this, but occasionally, he’d put the animals in the kitchen freezer, because “Meh, it’s the same, I’ll move them later”.
To her it wasn’t the same. He says if he’d known how much it meant to her, he’d have walked the 15 feet to the garage, every time. It’s a little easier for people to relate to a wife being upset about opening the freezer to make dinner & seeing whole, dead animals in there, but it’s the exact same thing as the glass on the counter. Or the seat up. Or or or.
It *feels like* it’s about respect, to the person it’s upsetting.
Living with people is HARD. It’s hard to live with your parents, it’s hard to live with a spouse, it’s hard to live with kids. It’s just hard. It takes work. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, because work isn’t bad. But there’s merit to acknowledging that it’s HARD.
Lastly, I really gained a lot of inner peace when I started looking at these differences between my husband & I as “cultural differences”. I’d never ever be pissed off at someone for eating with chopsticks instead of forks. Or not celebrating a holiday the same way I do. I wouldn’t INTERNALIZE IT the way I internalize the little differences between my husband & I. We’ve been raised differently. We’re different people. We see the world differently. We are each carrying different weight. I piss him off in 100 ways. He upsets me in 100 different ways. We make every effort to bring it down to say, 10 ways, but hey. We make an effort to be less annoying AND ALSO an effort to be less annoyed.
I never feel as stupid as when I’m screaming about glasses or laundry or him making himself something to eat without asking me if I want something, too. Who the hell cares, ya know?
Thanks for this. Thanks for getting the message out there, because most people don’t hear this until it’s too late.
I like how wise, thoughtful and measured this is.
Things can be conceptually simple to understand, and incredibly difficult and complicated to execute.
The infinite number of ways in which people can affect one another makes sharing space and resources with them (even when we love them above all things) a super-hard thing to do.
It’s not complicated to run a marathon.
You just run 26.2 miles. That’s it! That’s all you do. You do ONE activity for a very specific distance, and then you’ve completed a marathon.
But then you’re me who probably can’t run a 5K without heart palpatations, and you try to do this super-simple thing and epically fail and/or die.
Because it’s actually a very difficult thing to do. And everyone who has successfully done so (I’m not one of them) knew it was hard, and took a bunch of steps, and trained and trained and trained and trained to be able to do it.
And so it is with marriage.
People think once it stops feeling easy and romantic that they made a bad partner choice and everything starts to break.
For some reason, NO ONE seems to understand that it WILL get difficult no matter who we’re with.
We can collapse or withdraw or quit the race.
Or we can figure out what needs to be done to successfully finish.
Thanks for the great comment.
Oh & hey. I want to take a minute to throw this idea into the comments. I’d never want to be the husband. You guys carry some really heavy things on your shoulders.
I think back to when we went to a single income, with two kids. There were times when I grocery shopped for the week on $40. The weight of making that work was on me. That’s pretty heavy, figuring out how to feed 4 people on $40 a week. Once, we had $18 until payday. What do you even do with $18?
But I really didn’t carry the weight of being “less of a man” because I wasn’t providing more for my family. Society never once put that kind of weight on me. I had the weight of making it work, but once I left the grocery store, that was done. My husband was the one awake at night, mentally moving every penny, mentally questioning every decision that led us there, mentally weighing what was more vital, mentally worrying he wasn’t a good enough man, father or husband.
I trusted in him & in us as a unit. I knew we’d make it & I knew we’d move on to bigger, better things. I don’t know who he had to trust in to pay the bills. That shit’s heavy.
I don’t like how our current media portrays men as overgrown children. You’re not children. Sure, men have weaknesses, we all do. You’re carrying the weight of a family on your shoulders and that doesn’t get acknowledged & celebrated enough. Nah, we’ll just mock you on sitcoms for being fat & lazy & dumb.
Thank you for this post.
Thank you! I am a woman with a husband in sever depression because he lost his business through no fault of his own… Our society does not make it ok for him, and he is tortured by his “failure”. we have been through so much in the last 21 years, this is the lowest I have ever seen him, and it is all over the provider role!
Thank you, Eryn. I agree. Men are amazing at MANY things, and it would be really nice if women would focus on those and not on the bad stuff, because when we focus on positives and show appreciation for them, it’s a lot easier to talk about the areas that need improvement.
But to be sure, I do not believe men demonstrate proficiency at marriage and relationships. I think there is a “best way” to do most things. And it seems obvious to me that men are NOT doing things even close to “best” in their marriages.
There are several reasons why.
Men kick ass at lots of stuff. They strategize and execute, and often succeed. For reasons I don’t understand, men don’t approach their marriages and families that way.
They don’t sit around and think: “What are the things I can do to become an elite husband and father? How might I show my sons and daughters the path to marital greatness?”
Some people might roll their eyes at that.
But none of them will have felt the agony of every divorcee who didn’t want their marriage to end. It’s SOUL-CRUSHING and totally life-altering.
So, anyone who has been through it, or theoretically values their marriage should get it: Why not take men’s relentless drive for success in business and sports and hobbies and competitive challenges and apply those same skills and amount of energy to marriages, which matter WAY more than all those other things?
Reblogged this on Just Add Tea and commented:
The main reason for my old fights with the Boy…
Marriage becomes a lot easier when we get over “you” and “me” and look at life as “we”. Selfishness (on one side or both) is the underlying cause of marital trouble. Took us a few years to learn that, but our marriage is much richer and resilient because of it.
I’m happy to hear that. Still-married people are very much the minority when it comes to this blog’s readers and commenters.
Husband gives more than he takes to his wife.
Wife gives more than she takes to her husband.
Both people benefit from the intimacy-enhancing power of unselfishness, and get to feel good about all the “getting” they receive from their partner. They mutually lift one another up. It lasts forever.
I think it’s a great thing everyone interested in marriage should be striving for.
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I’m headed for divorce. It’s not a glass its thousands of dollars gambled away, 50,000!owed to the irs because of not doing taxes. My husband thinks I’m the problem because I’ve begged him not to do this so our family can have a future. I would take the glass by the sink any day but you know the saying every mind is a different world. Funny part is my husbands name is also Matt.
There aren’t a lot of divorce stories out there I can’t relate to, but you may have just introduced me to one.
I’m really big on advocating people to stick it out and work on ways to improve their relationships. With something like this, I refrain from saying so.
I’m sorry this is happening to you, and I wish there was more than a not-helpful apology in a blog comment I could do to help.
Best wishes to you and your family.
When I found the quote “You must live in such a way that the person you love feels free” it was a moment of enormous realization to me. Trying to live this type of love has changed my relationship for the better. Both of us treat eachother with respect and realize we are seperate individuals with seperate views. This sets up healthy boundaries that has made such a difference in what is important in our relationship. I just don’t think love has to be so complex as many people think it is.
Oops, the quote is “You must LOVE in such a way that the person you love feels free” – Tich Naht Hanh
I guess live and love are a little interchangeable here 🙂
Agreed. 🙂 Interchangable.
I like it. I’m glad you used the word “boundaries.” Lots of people don’t know what that means, and don’t realize how not having them is sending them down the painful and frustratnig path of divorce.
Boundaries. Strong ones. Supplemented by kindness. Not wimpyness. Fair, just, kindness.
Changes the world.
Thank you for reading and commenting.
As someone who isn’t divorced but still going through the same thing in my relationship it was nice to read this. I shared it with my husband, and I think it helped bridge the conversation he and I have been having over and over again. It really helped to see both sides of the issue laid out.
Hi Sara. Awesome to read that. Thank you so much for reading it and saying so.
Most of the things I write get affirmed by ex-wives who divorced guys just like me, or get challenged by formerly married or still-married guys who don’t want to change because they don’t think they should have to.
It’s really gratifying to read about an active relationships where something I wrote could be a conversation starter and maybe help someone see things a little differently.
Perspective. Seems like such a teeny, tiny little thing. But it’s very much not.
Thank you again for the note!
What a great article! You have eloquently explained what I have been trying to communicate to my husband. It’s not about the towels on the floor, the glass by the sink, or the lawn we (wives) have been asking for weeks to have mowed. It’s about how we feel everytime we see that glass, towel or Un-mowed loan. It’s about how what we feel for our partners, changes when we are confronted by a re-occurring issue. It’s about the unspoken message left on the sink, floor or yard.
We know that respect is important to our husbands and we want to give it. But it’s hard to do sometimes when we are confronted with evidence (glass, towel, loan etc) that we are not important, and that things that hurt or upset us are not worthy of attention. The glass says we are not worthy of consideration and our feelings are trivial and not respected. This realization starts to alienate us from our partners.
When we start to feel like we don’t have a partner but another child, respect and feeling of security, starts to fade quickly. But through this, we are desperately hoping we will be proved wrong, and are looking for any other “evidence” that is contrary to what we are seeing and feeling. Because we do want to, love, respect and honour our husbands.
Crushed it. You succintly summed it up perfectly.
The problem, as I see it, lies with all the guys who hear what you’re saying, but tell you that you’re wrong.
He loves and respects you, he thinks. So you saying you feel like he doesn’t is challenging his integrity. Especially over something he perceives as petty.
For him: Mowing the lawn < Peaceful marriage
You elevating the unmowed lawn to a problem so big that it's threatening the marriage feels INSANE and UPSETTING to a man who doesn't agree that an unmowed lawn warrants your feelings.
He doesn't feel that way about stuff. So you shouldn't either, he reasons.
He's "right." So, you're "wrong," and he doesn't have to change, ever.
Men have a VERY hard time with this. I sure did.
We have to remove our perceptions and experiences from the entire conversation, and simply accept that the things you say you feel are true.
We need to believe you.
When we BELIEVE that we are legitimately hurting you, we stop doing things to hurt you, because we never want you to feel hurt.
It's somehow amazingly simple and insanely complicated all at the same time.
Thank you for the nice comment.
This is really skirting around a more central issue of each partner having expectations for the other which are seldom spoken about and even less frequently open for negotiation. A partner should not automatically have to adopt the standards of the more-tidy or less-tidy member of the relationship. Tidiness does not break cleanly across sex and gender lines, either.
Your blog seems to boil down to simply change your habits and expectations to please your partner.
I better path might be to discuss and negotiate expectations with your partner and if you both agree on the goal, then change your habits to achieve that goal. The difference is that this is now your goal, too, not one imposed on you from some partner’s authority.
If your tidiness levels and goals are incompatible with those of your partner, perhaps you were too hasty in your partnership. Perhaps you are both happier now apart than you ever would have been together.
This is so true, and it applies both ways. I think what it comes down to is knowing that you are sharing living space, and everyone has those little thing that grate on the nerves. Knowing and respecting your partner enough to make those little stressors go away is critical to long-term success. My husband tries not to leave a pile of crumpled receipts on his nightstand and I look the other way regarding his messy desk. It’s give and take, and knowing that some things are important to the other person, even if it doesn’t make a lick of sense to you.
This was so on point I had to go check the byline to make sure you weren’t my ex-husband having a divine realization.
Thank you for this article. You’ve hit the nail on the head about why so many men are blindsided by a “sudden desire” from their wife for a divorce. They didn’t see the hurt and anger building because the things she was upset about seemed so trivial. I have an ex (duh) who refused to help with the ickier housework — toilets, tubs, floors, etc. His argument was that he didn’t like doing it. My response that “neither did I” didn’t seem to click with him. If I didn’t do it, it didn’t get done. But each time I relented and did all the “icky” jobs the resentment built. His not liking to do it was more important to him than sharing in the icky work so neither of us had to do it all.
Women (in general) do care more about the house than men. There are exceptions, of course, but the majority care more. So the glass by the sink, the refusal to clean a toilet, whatever, really does feel like a personal attack, and a clear representation (in our minds) of the lack of respect and value from our partner.
My husband of 27 years gets it. He mops all the floors, vacuums, and scoops the litter boxes. I scrub the bathrooms and kitchen and dust all the furniture. We both have icky jobs. And we both share in all the jobs. And we’re both pretty content and happy.
I’m glad this story had a happy ending. 27 years is awesome. And indicative of learning from experience.
I hope I can do the same.
This article is written from the perspective that men fail in regards to doing “meaningless” tasks about what a woman finds to be important to her. However, it fails to acknowledge that women also can and do fail in this way. As a stay at home father who does most of the housework including laundry, dishes, etc, I am often disappointed to find when my significant other piles dishes in the sink or leaves laundry laying everywhere waiting for me to walk the entire house and put things where they go. Replacing lids to toothpaste, cosmetics, hanging coats, putting toilet paper on the roll, the list goes on and on. It is aggravating and disappointing. And although I communicate about how disrespected it makes me feel or stresses me out, it hasn’t changed. I have basically accepted it for the betterment of our relationship and because we have children together. Also because there are other things she does well to contribute to the relationship. I often wonder if I’m making the right decision rather than trying to continue to force her to see my perspective. I just want to point out that it isn’t always men who fail in this regard. Women are just as guilty.
Fair point, sir.
I believe VERY strongly in the science of genetic gender differences and believe they’re ignored or overlooked at the peril of most marriages.
However, this “dishes by the sink” thing (which is really mostly a metaphor) is likely much more cultural than a byproduct of the presence or absence of Y chromosomes.
I write with both hyperbole and sweeping generalizations. I promise I’m aware that there are few absolutes, and that ALL men (even those in more traditional roles) are not negligent, selfish, irresponsible or lack understanding of the needs of their wives/girlfriends.
But make no mistake: MOST of the time, this is dead on, and MOST of the shitty divorce rate in this country is a byproduct of this truth.
I’ve been writing about this stuff for nearly three years. It’s been affirmed by a trillion (hyperbole!) married people, and punctuated by this particular post which is getting shared far and wide on Facebook by every single wife who’s feeling “Yes, dammit! This! This is what I’ve been talking about!”
It makes sense that, in your case, you feel the exact same way. Walking a mile in their shoes, so to speak.
I apologize (seriously) for being so man- and husband-focused, but this is what I ALWAYS do.
I won’t pretend to understand how wives and women feel. Because I have no idea what it’s like to be them. Only me.
So I write for “guys like me.”
We can do better. We MUST do better. Because the state of marriage is getting worse, not better, and as the population grows, all the shittiness gets magnified and multiplied.
This is how I try to help.
Thanks for reading.
Great insight. I think men feel similarly about lack of respect from their wives in other areas. Women just express it differently (in general), men express their actual frustration with what is not being done and equate it with disrespecting their desires (whether it be a clean house, laundry, back up when disciplining a child, or asking for help on a project important to them) where women address just the item that they equate to disrespect (not the actual feelings of disrespect).
Men need to better understand how their wife’s FEEL, but in turn I think woman can improve on how their husbands THINK. Communication works both ways.
Great article and something all husbands should read and DISCUSS with their wives.
I feel that this is very true but as women there are times that we allow the fears that we have get in the way of our relationships. My father hates folding and putting away his socks, undershirts, and underwear. They have sat in a laundry basket for as long as I can remember. The go from there to on his body, to the hamper, the wash, to that basket, never once seeing the drawer they are supposed to be in when not in use. This drove my mother nuts for years. And for all the reasons listed in this piece. I remember a lot of fights over this one stupid basket of laundry. I mean knock down drag out fights. My mother put all the rest of his laundry away and just needed him to do this one thing and he refused. He hates folding things. He would rather do something else with the 10mins it would take to fold things. She didn’t feel respected. He didn’t understand why it bothered her so much. He would eventually put them away when she would nag him enough. Then one magical day my mother had and epiphany. He wasn’t doing this because he didn’t respect her. He was just lazy. The house was his house too. She could deal with one laundry basket of clothes in an otherwise spotless house (my mother is a huge neat freak). She realized this fight was about her fears. Her insecurities. My dad did and does a lot to prove he loves her, so why was this basket showing the opposite. It was because of her own irrationality. Her own fears and emotions getting the best of her. She realized she was actually creating the issue and she let it go. My dad still has it sitting full in the corner of their room. She knows my dad loves and respects her. Those little things that irritate her to no end that he won’t do, do not mean that he doesn’t respect her anymore. My mom told me this story and about how she overcame this patch in her marriage. She told me, as women we let how we feel dictate things sometimes and when we don’t take the time to rationalize things and make concessions to our partners the relationship is doomed for failure. We have a tendency to put everything on our partners, male and otherwise. We need to realized, that in an otherwise healthy relationship, those little things don’t mean he doesn’t respect us. Our chokehold on these little things may actually mean that we don’t respect that our partners a human and flawed. If he does most of what is asked, helps with most chores, the kids and has a tendency to leave a glass by the sink or laundry in a basket, let it go. He loves you. He respects you. He just human. I’m sure you do things he can’t stand. But does he nag you about it? Probably not. Because you’re human.
Great points and nice insights into the woman’s mind and feelings. Much of what you said is true and also linked with a woman’s insecurities and need for validation. We want proof, daily, that you love us. (There, I said it, I am a woman!) I too, have had these same demands from my partner(s) over the years. But thankfully, I have grown up! I learned a few hard lessons from failed relationships way before I ever got married.
One more point I would like to add, though someone mentioned it above in a positive light (when I believe it is much more ominous!) is competition. Competition is NOT good in the relationship no matter how much it fuels the passion or attractiveness! It is my opinion instead that it is the TEAM mentality which benefits everyone. When you take the “win” out of every situation and option and instead balance it on the group gaining, you are both focused on getting it ALL done! It isn’t about that one glass, but about being more efficient in getting the chores done together. You do feel valued, appreciated, respected when you can see the other person taking those steps to make your life (and theirs) easier. When you work together, it becomes really HARD to find something to nag about. You see the trash is full and you say to yourself, as soon as I throw this waste away after lunch, I am going to take it out. But while you are still eating, you see him empty and take out the trash. Now, you look around thinking, that was really awesome, HOW CAN I HELP HIM? You both are always looking for ways to make THEIR lives better, easier, being more kind to each other… isn’t that what love really is? Marriage only lasts when you are willing to value each other. If you are only worried about your own happiness, you (and your marriage) will eventually fail. No one can go on forever without any sustenance. But when She puts His needs first, and He puts Her needs first, no one is ever NOT getting their needs met. You take care of each other. That is a marriage. That is how you make it successful. No one wins… you both do!
“No one wins… you both do!”
A point SORELY missed by all the battling of the sexes nonsense being thrown around in these comments.
OF COURSE men shouldn’t do whatever their wives want like a bunch of man-slave patsies.
When wives feel loved and secure on account of things like dishes being reliable put in the dishwasher, they DON’T “nag” or “bitch” or “demand” or whatever.
That’s the big argument from the Man crowd: “If you put the glass away, she’ll just find a new thing to complain about!,” totally missing the point that all of their wives’ behaviors they wish would go away WOULD go way if they’d just understand what we’re talking about right here.
You can lead a horse to water, and all that.
Thank you for reading and commenting.
Due to certain issues, and having learned that men communicate differently, I work at helping my husband understand the whys of my requests. Using the glass as an example:
Me: *after asking him a dozen times not to do it* Dearest? Why do you keep leaving the glass by the sink when I asked you not to?
Him: *explanation given*
Me: I see…
At this point I can either let the matter go if minor, offer a compromise if medium (could you put it on the other side so there’s less risk of knocking it over and breaking it?) or explain why I would be happier if he puts the damn glass in the dishwasher.
I’ve only had to go on to say “see, when you ignore my requests it feels like you’re silently saying ‘FUCK your feelings, I’ll do what I want’,” four or five times in eight years of marriage.
So far, so good. Now if he would just TELL me things instead of letting resentment fester, I could work on my own shortcomings…
Very good article. I explain it like this, If you care for your partner, care for the things they care about. Don’t belittle their (to you) inane passion for collecting troll dolls or call them stupid for crying over a movie. Don’t sigh over your partner gushing about baseball or car racing. You only need to care about them and that whatever it is that to them, should be met with consideration from you.
I have an example: my ex husband liked the toilet paper hung s certain way on the roll. He didn’t make demands, just mentioned it once in conversation. From that day on I hung it the way he liked because I knew it mattered to him. I couldn’t care less which way it hung and thought it was silly to think about something like that, but it mattered to him. He never told me to or asked me to, I choose to do it the way he liked because I cared for him.
If you cherish the person you are with it should make you feel good to see them not stressing over small stuff.
“If you care for your partner, care for the things they care about.”
But I don’t even think we need to go that far. Because, as I wrote, I CAN’T care about the glass by the sink. I can’t care about what happens on some TV show she likes that I don’t.
(I realize this is semantics, by the way…) But if we can just CARE that she cares, everything gets better overnight.
Here’s a thing. I don’t care. But she does. I DO care about her. So I’m going to respect this thing.
It IS really challenging to do sometimes.
But I’m having trouble determining why the concept seems so difficult for people to grasp.
Thanks for the comment.
Alpha Fucks Beta Bucks. You dodged a bullet
Right, right. Red pills and all that shit.
I’ve got bad news.
Red pill swallowers die alone, probably with herpes.
You’re in your mid-20s, right? And you think Rollo and Mystery are big studs who have it all figured out?
They have SOME things figured out.
But certainly not how to have someone there to keep you company and go to the doctor’s office with you when you’re 75 with liver spots and ugly toe nails.
Do you have any idea what your life expectancy is?
9 out of 10 adults get married. This is a fact. Trying to play the I’m a Man and You’re a Stupid Woman Out to Get Me card GUARANTEES 8 out of 10 of those will fail. With the anomaly being some boundary-less doormat wife I couldn’t stand to be around for 30 seconds.
Your way is perfectly fine for having lots of sex in your 20s and 30s, and maybe even 40s.
It’s also the way that makes marriages fail even MORE than they already do.
Good luck in 40 years, kid. Jerking the limp herpy stick to virtual reality porn and wondering what the hell you just invested your best years believing in with no discernible return on investment.
But I do wish you well.
This is very insightful and eloquent. As you said, should be training material pre-marriage, or at the very least post-divorce. I doubt most people who divorce spend the time trying to figure out what went wrong or how they could have done things differently. I found the comments interesting too…someone said it was a power struggle – I see it more of a balance – most days you both have good moments and you both have bad moments. As long as you both are still trying, they should come out about equal or hopefully with good outweighing the bad. It’s when the “bad” starts outweighing the good that we run into trouble. And the bad is different for everyone – for some it’s the glass, for some it’s the laundry, but it’s when it’s the glass AND the laundry AND the whatever all the time that things probably will run into trouble.
Oh and every single person should read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray, explains a lot about how the other gender thinks
With all due respect to Dr. Gray, this is the book that helped me get it for the first time, and the one I most recommend to anyone who feels like their marriage is falling apart and are desperately searching for ways to make it better:
THIS was the best part of the whole article, IMO:
~~But I remember my wife often saying how exhausting it was for her to have to tell me what to do all the time. It’s why the sexiest thing a man can say to his partner is “I got this,” and then take care of whatever needs taken care of.
I always reasoned: “If you just tell me what you want me to do, I’ll gladly do it.”
But she didn’t want to be my mother. She wanted to be my partner, and she wanted me to apply all of my intelligence and learning capabilities to the logistics of managing our lives and household.
She wanted me to figure out all of the things that need done, and devise my own method of task management.
I wish I could remember what seemed so unreasonable to me about that at the time.
Men Can Do Things
Men invented heavy machines that can fly in the air reliably and safely. Men proved the heliocentric model of the solar system, establishing that the Earth orbits the Sun. Men design and build skyscrapers, and take hearts and other human organs from dead people and replace the corresponding failing organs inside of living people, and then those people stay alive afterward. Which is insane.
Men are totally good at stuff.
Men are perfectly capable of doing a lot of these things our wives complain about. What we are not good at is being psychic, or accurately predicting how our wives might feel about any given thing because male and female emotional responses tend to differ pretty dramatically.~~
I used to have a husband that didn’t have any desire to be the leader in our family. The sad thing is, I deliberately chose my ex-husband because I had control issues at that time in my life, (he was six years younger than I) and I wanted, AND NEEDED to lead! But when I matured in the faith and Yah began to change me, and I asked him to lead, he did not want to or even know how. I grew to disrespect him, which really wasn’t fair.
My husband now? He wants to be the leader in our home, in every area, especially spiritually (he’s six years older than I am). I’m thrilled! His nature is to be kind, patient, gentle, diplomatic, etc., so right now we’re developing strategies on helping him to be more of a bossy butt. LOL Every day, he’s TELLING ME to do three things, minimum. It goes against everything in his nature to tell me to do anything, but he’s doing it! He knows it’s important, and it’s a growth process, but I hope one day he can order me around and not think twice. I know I don’t need to worry about him getting carried away with his He-Man role- we already have a great deal of respect, love, trust and devotion in place. And honestly, this is a turn-on! I want my husband in control and leading our home! It’s masculine and sexy to have a man know what he wants, and then tells you what he wants done and how. Am I into any kind of kink or weird stuff? HECK NO! LOL People who know me IRL will tell you I’m a strong personality. I’m not weak! I just enjoy having a man I can respect for a change! Carnal, selfish, rebellious feminists who want control and to lead are the weak ones! Domineering, selfish, unfeeling, harsh and hateful men are weak, too, as well as the limp-wristed, soft, weak, docile, unmotivated, lazy, and unambitious mama’s boys! Ick!
Here’s to strong men and women! May we bring glory to Yah, walking in unity of step, Yah ordained order and shalom!
This is a great article. But I think for most people (or at least for me) it doesn’t (didn’t) boil down to a single issue, like the cleaning of dishes, but a whole pattern of behaviors that collectively communicate immaturity and entitlement. It was the dishes, the laundry, the child care, the making of meals, the timeliness, the filing of the mail, the paying of the bills, and all kinds of other things that responsible adults do. I think that’s what you meant about managing your time and taking responsibility for things. Those 4 seconds of putting the dish away for your partner, time and time again, add up.
If it were just one thing, like “my partner is really bad about remembering to put his socks in the laundry after taking them off,” then I could work together with him on that, or learn to live with it, in the spirit of compromise. But when it’s a million things, you eventually decide this won’t work.
For me, it wasn’t so much about cleanliness, per se, as it was about inequitable division of labor and time. My partner would spend 30 minutes on dishes, think it was enough, then go off and have fun, while I spent at least 2 hours every night cleaning things up (after an 8-hour work day). That he didn’t even notice that I was working while he was playing was infuriating to me. That he made lame excuses when I said, “hey, I’m working and you’re playing, this isn’t fair” was infuriating to me. That I had to tell him the above sentence every f-ing night just got to be too much.
Someone posted this on Facebook and I’ve been engrossed reading it and the comments since. I made it 26 years before I couldn’t take it anymore. Yes, it’s a huge feeling of disrespect, but possibly more so for those of us who’s Love Language is Acts of Service. My sister doesn’t let these things bother her in her marriage much because she has Gift Giving as her primary, and he’s certainly got that covered!
Yes, I know it is just metaphor, but for those who read this and think, “But I did all that stuff! She was the one who was messy (or whatever)” it really comes down to loving people the way they need to be loved.. not the way we want to love them.
Just my 2 cents worth. Thank you, thank you for this post. I am excited to read more of your writings! =)
My wife sent me this article after she got done reading it(even stated she’s not implying anything just thought it was an interesting read).
We both discussed it and feel we have to respectfully disagree with the main point or what we feel is the main point, that even if you don’t understand you must bend to the requests of your SO. You must do what they ask no matter what, even if you don’t understand. We cannot get behind this way of thinking, because we both feel understanding is the MOST important part of our relationship. I used to leave wet towels after showering on the bed, I no longer do because she complained a couple 100 times and 1 day I just asked why. She stated she doesn’t want the towel to cause mildew on the bed, so I no longer leave the towel on the bed because I understand her reasoning behind it. However, there is no reasoning behind your Ex-wife’s want for you to not put the glass outside the side of the sink, you have very valid reasons behind not wanting to put it in the sink, the only one necessary, that you could use it later. That’s a perfectly valid reason on why you do it, why dirty a 2nd glass when I can reuse this one in 30 minutes, or an hour? It’s all about give and take and she was not giving any in this situation. She wasn’t listening to your reasoning which is perfectly valid so of course her non valid reasoning is not going to get any credit, I don’t find it to be your fault that she supported a non-valid reason. Why do you have to bend to her, when she could just as easily bend to you? We feel you had every right to argue and fight for your stance and if she wanted to bring it to a marital standpoint then we are honestly happy to see that you two have separated as it seems to be for the better.
That is NOT what the article says at all. I’d be curious which of you brought that up first. But if something trivial matters a lot to your partner, why not just do it? It costs you nothing but a few seconds. She may not even know why the glass bothers her so much. Maybe she was spanked frequently for doing so. Who knows? What is wrong with simply making your partner feel better when the way to do that is so very simple?
Anyone can justify their actions with a million reasons and they are all to cover the fact that the person is being lazy and does not care. It may be fine not to care if you live on your own but it is disrespectful if you are living with someone else. If your partner is OCD that is a different matter (so long as you make an effort). Clear your plate from the table, wash up immediately, put your clothes somewhere approximating the hamper…or someone else has to do it!
I am an untidy by nature female but I know I must clean up behind myself.
I think if you don’t have a problem cleaning up after yourself, or if you are a messy person it’s not a problem (because living in filth isn’t a problem to you)… When you love someone and they have a problem with a messy you help the person with their problem (even though you’re the one that’s messy) because you love them. If you’re not willing to help people with their problems then you shouldn’t be in a relationship. People also need to accept their partners as they are and not try to change them but lift them up constantly. No one is perfect. Everyone has different pet peeves. We need to learn to let things go and pick our battles and how to effectively communicate and how to listen… how to really listen to each other.
You may hear the words but do you hear the intention? Where they are coming from? Chances are they just love you and have really good intentions behind their words and actions…
If you read through this at all it’s not about that fucking one instance. I doubt your wife and you talked about this or she’d have pointed that out because most married women have to deal with obtuse, selfish husbands who expect women to think like men, “wait” for her to start doing that, hurt/frustrate her in the process, and also want to have sex. Wrong. You’re not fooling anyone. If you want to have an interesting sex life (and have a happy marriage overall) you have to stop lying to yourself that you’re the only one that gets what you want and grow the fuck up. There’s nothing wrong with putting a damn dish in the dishwasher, or whatever. Stop being lazy. Stop being a waste of breath. Don’t make your wife, or any person of any gender, have to tell you not to leave your gross fucking wet towel on the bed, or help keep your own house clean, your mind clear, your dick faithful, etc. Lazy asshole. Hopefully you soon learn to be a mature adult who doesn’t treat the world like it owes him something before she leaves you alone with your Vaseline and meaningless existence.
I refuse to fuel the fire of your rudeness. This is my opinionand it’s unfathomable that you’d sit here and attack me and calling me a liar. Please check yourself before talking so poorly about someone else. Also my wife said fuck off.
Hey Donovan. This is my fault, and I’m sorry. While I’m no fan of censorship, I’m also not a fan of treating one another like dicks.
I’m super-grateful you and your wife read this, discussed it, and then you took time out of your life to contribute to the bigger conversation.
I don’t necessarily agree with some of it, as you certainly don’t with me, but I promise I care about what you have to say.
There won’t be any more name-calling, and I’m sorry I allowed it to happen in the first place.
Comments are coming in at a rate I’ve never seen before, and I thoughtlessly approved one I shouldn’t have. I’m going to let it ride so there is context for this conversation.
But, one more time, I’m sorry I let personal attacks slip through. The only person I allow personal attacks on around here is me.
Thanks again for contributing.
It’s a very flattering and humbling experience to see so many people talking about their relationships because of this post.
Matt. I completely respect you. And it even took me awhile to find my comment because there are so many. I understand your blog post. We even agree to a lot posted however of course every relationship is different. Your reasonings and choices above would just never work between me and my wife. My wife loves reading your blog and sends me the ones she really enjoys from time to time. Please I encourage you never to accept that attacks on you as that’s just disgusting behavior. My wife and I want to say thank you so much for commenting and making us feel justified on how we choose to feel. We look forward to reading your future posts.
Awesome of you to say so. Thank you very much.
This is NOT about just the “one glass by the sink.” If we are talking about dishes, there’s usually a glass left somewhere else — say in the bedroom. There’s clothes left on the floor instead of in the hamper. The trash isn’t taken out, etc.
Now look at it as a metaphor (the bigger picture). Your relationship is this “house” with the glass in the kitchen, the glass in the bedroom, the clothes on the floor and stinky trash not being dealt with. It’s doomed to fail if it stays this way.
From experience I know people are usually clean or not so clean. More than likely, if there’s one glass in the kitchen, then there’s also some trash lying around the house (or relationship) that isn’t being dealt with – all over a matter of pride.
I’ll leave a cup on the counter to reuse it, yes but when I leave for work, it at least goes in the sink. I don’t know what the pets do when I’m not around and I certainly don’t want to drink after them!
My husband has said to me more than once “it’s just not as important to me as it is to you.” He understands the reason why, but it’s just not important to him (whatever is the issue at the time). That is hurtful to me. He’s saying “I know you care about this but I don’t.” I think that’s the message of this article. You may not understand why or agree that it is important but if it’s a simple thing, what’s wrong with just doing it?
Maybe another way to think about it: you spent an 8 hour day (or more) doing whatever work you do. You worked hard. It’s just the way you need it to be to keep everything flowing along and productive. Now, someone comes along and undoes your work. They have some reason or other why they feel they can undo your work. It may even be a valid reason TO THEM. But it doesn’t alter the fact that you are the one who put in all that effort and this person, thinking solely about his or her need, feels that your effort shouldn’t interfere with how he prefers it done. And by not taking that effort into consideration, you are showing incredible disregard for that person.
However, if the example set forth here is what you wish to dwell on, offer a compromise, put the glass in the dishwasher and, should you still want to use it, pull it back out. How’s that work for you?
I think making your spouse justify all of their feelings and needs in a way that you understand is really shallow and unloving. Emotions aren’t always rational, but they can be overwhelming. I do not understand why my husband loves building model airplanes. To me, it is the most boring activity in the universe. I don’t understand why he would want to spend our money on this hobby or why I have to give up space in our home to accommodate it. But you know what? It clearly is important to him, so we do spend the money and use the space. That’s what love is. My husband and I both have phobias that the other doesn’t understand. I can tell him all day long that his chances of dying in a car crash are much higher than his chances of dying in a plane crash. But when the plane takes off you bet I’m holding his hand and treating him kindly. Of course you don’t have to bend to EVERYTHING your spouse wants but what I usually see in situations like the one above is one partner doing all the bending and the other hiding behind their “logic” in order to avoid compromising a thing. It gets tiring. And it kills love.
It wasn’t about the dishes by the sink. As the author of this article as clearly stated, it was the fact that his wife didn’t feel respected and valued. I agree it’s definitely a give and receive both ways in a relationship for sure but maybe she did give? We don’t know it doesn’t say much about what annoyed him about things she did that he felt disrespected about either.
I’d just like to say I hear reasoning like his (for the empty glass) everyday and it’s often not as reasonable as you think. I’ve asked why the milk has been left out, response is ‘I’m still using it’, it’s been sat on the side for 3 days, and he doesn’t even realise! I think the glass is a metaphor for all those niggling things which when repetedly done shows a lack of respect for those you live with. I did notice that the article gives no reason as to why the wife was so upset about the glass, I guess he never asked so there could have been a perfectly reasonable reason as to why.
I can see what the two long term married guys are saying but I also see and have felt what you wrote about. I realized with men, crying or yelling and telling them you don’t feel respected doesn’t get you as far as telling them with out emotional intensity. I don’t know what it is but if you cry or yell they seem to actually hear you less. I think you are either being wrote off as a crazy irrational woman or they jump to just saying I’m sorry without actually listening. Being rational vs manipulative sets up for both parties actually getting what they want. Often this manipulation seems to be subconscious, as the person (often woman) doesn’t realize that her real feeling are to be respected. In the same regard, I see what those two gentle men are arguing. That these things will happen in all relationships and you can’t let this shit be what ends it. It means you both need to work on communication and mindfulness. Period. If the spouse who is not giving as much respect/appreciation could understand and empethize they would try some more methods to make spouse #2 feel that way (the dish may still never get put away but people show love and appreciation different ways). If they don’t, then they are a special breed of asshole. My husband still leaves his crap about, the difference is he no longer says “it doesn’t bother me why does it you?” He says “I’m sorry, you’re right”, and then deals with it st some point throught the day (if I don’t feel like doing it for him I pile it together and place it on his desk). Or if I just do it for him anyways, I don’t resent it anymore but I do tell him that I did it, he thanks me, and we move on. We have had some big arguments in out 10 years but we always take time to actually talk about it and the deeper emotions at play.
I agree with you that tears backfire most of the time. I learnt that my husband is very invested in our relationship and when I complain or cry, he feels like a failure and shuts down. Somebody said they wrote emails when they’re upset – I can see why that would work. As for the glass mattering or not, we had to go to marriage therapy a few years back to talk about silly things that mattered a great deal, but it wasn’t the same things for me as for him. That wanting respect and expecting him to show he cared by not purposefully doing stuff he knew annoyed me was a big one for me, while he was saying he was showing he cared all the time but he thought I never noticed. Communication, people!!! Once we had a breakthrough on how the other’s brain worked (aka our individual perspectives), nothing was easier than just choosing to be loving. Must be working; we’ve been married 21 years! I hope a lot of people read this man’s story before they get to the point of no-return. Marriage isn’t a lump-sum investment; you need to keep the account active for it to yield returns!!!
Oh gods yes. My husband has learned that the calmer and quieter I get when I’m talking to him, the angrier I am. It’s a learned behavior for me, but it gets MUCH better results in terms of him actually listening to what I’m saying.
Good article! I always saw my husbands ‘glass’ as meaning ‘you can do this for me’. It made me resentful even though I tried to view putting things away as an act of love for my family.
YES! Me too. Always. Same with laundry on the floor, facial hair in the bathroom sink, dishes on the living room table etc. Trying hard to keep the same loving attitude.
Agree Karen. I have the same issue that even when I specifically ask him to do little chores when he’s off and I’m at work – like just load the dishwasher sometime during the day or just tidy up the living room a bit that day or something – and he doesn’t do it and then acts put out that he has to live in a messy house for however many years… well that’s damn disrespectful to me and it makes me so angry because it shows me what he thinks my role is in the relationship. We just had a big fight about it a few days ago actually.
Reblogged this on twopowers1 and commented:
In any relationship, respect is the name of the game.
These lines here:
“But she didn’t want to be my mother. She wanted to be my partner, and she wanted me to apply all of my intelligence and learning capabilities to the logistics of managing our lives and household.
She wanted me to figure out all of the things that need done, and devise my own method of task management.”
Basically sum up everything that I’m feeling right now, that’s what I’ve been trying to convey to someone but they don’t seem to understand it this way. This is it.
Thanks for putting it into words!
YES! The ex-husband was a horrible slob, and a very self-centered, immature person. My current wonderful, long-term guy is also very messy, but he is so generous, very thoughtful, always doing special “little things” for me and my dogs. Funny how it’s now a pleasure to tidy up after him, it no longer enrages me to do it. I do see him make the effort to be “neater” and it slays me every time. On the flip side, we challenge each other: he encourages me to do things just outside my comfort zone, and vice versa. i.e.: He makes me eat more / new vegetables, I nudge him to bill his clients at full value, instead of always less. In a word..? Partnership.
I see myself often in the “this is just not a big deal” category described here. So what happens when your spouse has not just one thing but she has a couple dozen things and if you actually tried to keep up with them all you wouldn’t have any time for yourself? Yet, she does say, if I don’t do them all that it hurts her and that I don’t respect her if I don’t do them. That you’ve told her she’s asking too much for them ALL to be done all the time. Yet, she doesn’t stop doing things that upset you – like shouting at the kids. Then she sends you this blog? .. If it was just one thing, one “pet peeve”, easy. But, 20-25?
Have you ever thought that your spouse doesn’t have any time to herself? Perhaps these 20-25 things means that she is constantly on the go, stressed and therefore taking it out on everyone around her. Why is your free time more important than hers? Has she ever complained that looking after the needs of you and your children ALL the time is too much to ask and therefore she just doesn’t do it? I’m not saying you’re in the wrong but perhaps it’s something you should think about, perhaps she’s just asking for a bit of help and someone to share the workload, as said above its a partnership.
So I do most of the work, I do kids pick up. I cook during the week and when she cooks at the weekend its basic pasta or she orders out. I am as busy as she is (hence my handle). She sits and plays around on her phone. A lot. She also recently has become addicted to PlayStation, which I thought was going to be more of a problem with the kids. She rages in a very bullying way when she hear any criticism. Any. Don’t judge me without knowing anything.
I promise I trust you to know what applies to you and what doesn’t. Thanks for being a husband and father who shows up big for his family. I hope can find a way to communicate you and your family’s needs effectively with your wife, and that she’ll be receptive to it.
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Who does the couple of dozen things that you are too “busy” to do, because you are doing things that you want to do (time for yourself)? I’m guessing, it’s her, adding to her work. Maybe she shouts at the kids because she’s stressed out, because you don’t help out. Do you look after your own kids? I mean, not just the fun stuff, but the boring, routine stuff? How much time does your wife have “for herself”? Frankly, you sound like a jerk.
See my reply above. Don’t judge without knowing anything, please.
Reblogged this on Shades of Grace and commented:
Love this. So right!
Now that’s seeing with more than your eyes. Love this. You may have just tapped into the female brain for a brief moment. Are you scared yet?
I can’t imagine being that hung up on a glass… but that’s because my husband and I have about the same notions of housekeeping. (Neither of us is particularly tidy.) But we have gone around on some issues where I felt unappreciated, and he didn’t really understand why. To be sure, I pick my battles! So does he. But after almost 36 years married, we still can annoy each other.
When I can’t engage verbally without being overly emotional, I resort to email. He does the same. Friends think we’re crazy, but having to write what you want to say is a powerful filter of things you might not want to verbalize because they’re not helpful. Somehow a written message is better remembered than a spoken one. And you can discuss the meat of the situation without going off on “you always” or “you never” tangents.
Very well written! As a new wife I thoroughly enjoyed your article and found it very insightful
I know it’s too little too late in your case, but here’s an article that sums up what goes on in a woman’s head when she’s about to leave
The tl;dr If she stops nagging and stops talking to you, everything is NOT OKAY.
Yeah, I had shut down, and didn’t realize it.
I wonder if my husband (or even myself) realized how close to divorce I was!!
I didn’t feel heard or appreciated in my marriage. In many ways I was “lucky”. My husband ended up dying of a massive heart attack. The divorce would most likely been bitter and ugly. We had 4 kids together.
I’ve learned SO much about communication, conflict resolution, and taking a stand for myself. Some great advice in the comments here!!
Reblogged this on smp19671 and commented:
I read half of this and balked, but then I went back and finished it.
You said everything that I have previously thought. Although I’m the boyfriend, there are still little things I don’t think matter, but she thinks it’s the world. I subsequently get irritated because in the scheme of things what we are arguing about really doesn’t matter. In reality, she’s attributed a whole lot more meaning to the subject than I have.
Love the article,It is very insightful. I am a female and I sometimes leave my cup by the sink as well. If I do this it is because I plan on using the cup again and I always tell people DON’T TOUCH MY CUP lmao. I definitely agree with you partner. She did not marry you to become your mother, so her having to tell you to do somethings when it probably was common sense to do is kind of annoying. Sometimes females get annoyed when a man always tell them “If you just tell me what to do, then I will do it.” We females feel as though after a certain time in a relationship, feel as though why must we always tell you guys what to do when you technically already know what needs to be done. That’s why women are always comparing men to children, just as children we are constantly telling them what to do over and over in order for them to get it, but as a grown man, you should already know.
People often think marriage is 50/50 give and take, but what marriage really is about is both giving 100%. Both going out of their way to put the other first. That requires knowing what your spouse needs though, which requires open communication. It’s also important to understand that everyone has a love language. It sounds like your ex wife’s love language is acts of service. For me the glass doesn’t mean much, but not taking 15 minutes a day to really talk to me without distractions or interuptions would make me feel the way your ex did because my love language is quality time. I would highly recommend reading 5 Love Languages and Four Seasons of Marriage both by Gary Chapman, as well as The Love Dare. Great, great advice and very eye opening.
“People often think marriage is 50/50 give and take, but what marriage really is about is both giving 100%. ”
*DING DING DING DING DING!* WE HAVE A WINNER
Good article. People say they ‘may’ use the glass later, however, if they don’t will they remember to go back and put the glass in the dishwasher? You have a dishwasher, dirtying up another glass later, as long as you put it in the dishwasher should be no big deal. Putting the laundry in the hamper rather than near it. One extra step may not seem a big deal but one extra step adds up over time. Why would you want your so to even think they may have to be responsible for those extra steps because you don’t care enough to do it yourself?
Guys, we don’t want to be your mother any more than you want us to be your mother. Be an adult and take care of your stuff. Afterall, is she doing your laundry or loading the majority of dishes in the dishwasher or doing the other necessary things that go with running a house? Isn’t that enough of their being your mother? Take care of your responsibilities.
There is much more wrong here than the glass by the sink. Period. End.
I can’t tell if you’re saying this to the people who don’t understand the point of the glass story or if you’re one of them…
Someone get this person a nobel peace prize.
This is the most perfect explanation I have ever heard. I hope it helps my husband understand that this is exactly how I feel sometimes about things as trivial as putting the toilet seat down.
You get it. Great writing too.
I loved reading this. I related to a lot of what was said about it not being about the glass but about the principles behind it. I work and my husband doesn’t so I feel disrespected when I come home to dishes after working 8+ hours to support us when he was home all day. He does do things when I ask him to but the fact that I have to ask when he has so much free time is frustrating. I feel that I got some insight into what’s going on in his mind and why he seems to be “blind” to these things that seem painfully obvious to me.
Wow Matt this was such a validating read for me. Thankyou for speaking from the other side of the fence so to speak. My partner and I have been together for 6 years, lived together for 4. He has very bad issues with clutter and dirty laundry, and I feel like he just doesn’t really have much to say to me as a person, friend, partner whatever. He is very simple and short, not rude just simple and short no depth no deep conversations EVER nothing like that. We don’t go out on dates, he doesn’t get me gifts anymore for my birthday or Christmas (not to sound entitled, I am not materialistic but the thought of just a homemade card would be sweeter than nothing on your birthday). I have read these comments and learned a lot and although I identify with a LOT of other comments on here.
See my problem is, I ask nicely, and he makes these promises to keep up on these little things he could do to show that he respects me, but NEVER does them. It is getting so bad that we are almost eemingly on repeat, going through the same questions/arguments/promise breaking DAILY. After a while I wonder, am I being a doormat, should I just leave? I demonstrate respect, I try to be nice and not naggy, why doesn’t it ever pay off? Why does he lie every day and never EVER make improvements??
Also, the fact that men perceive sex as currency just doesn’t make enough sense to me yet either..
He does not seem to want it or have a need for it at all unless I ask (which being a woman, doesn’t make you feel too sexy when you’re the only one who wants to instigate physical love). I know he isn’t having an affair or even thinking of it, he’s a GREAT guy, buy I can’t help but wonder. Am I in a relationship that will never grow from this? At what point am I a fool for trying ever more? All this talk of practice and “training” for BOTH roles, but I feel like I am embarrassing myself, slowly lowering my standards. Meanwhile, being lied to daily. I know I am being lied to, I tell him “you say this every time!! why doesn’t anything change?”
He always seems so genuine once I get really upset (cry or have a periodic meltdown) but aside from that….he is all talk.
TAKE IT FROM SOMEONE EMOTIONALLY STUCK IN A SAD REPEATETIVE TWILIGHT ZONE OF FALSE HOPE, don’t tolerate the lies after the first time. They will never stop, it is relentless how much a man can take advantage…IF YOU LET HIM.
id love to hear any responses or opinions, advice. Thankyou for the read!
Oh, honey, he’s obviously not interested in meeting you halfway here. You’re not happy, so why stay? (I am saying this metaphorically, I am all too aware of the many reasons we can’t just pack up and leave. But you can check out mentally/emotionally, if you need to.) *hugs*
It sounds like you’re stuck in a distancer-pursuer relationship pattern, my friend. The best thing you can do is show how much you appreciate yourself by finding activities you always wanted to do but were afraid to try…Want to learn about wine? Take that wine tasting class you always wanted to take. Want to get in shape? Join a gym and attend daily. Want to learn more about what makes you tick? Go to therapy. Want to try on a new profession? Enroll in a college class. Invite your friends to join you in these activities, or try them on your own. One of two things will happen if you do these things for you. Either your man will stand up and take notice that you are becoming the person you always wanted to be and it will inspire him to seek out you, this new and exciting person, OR you will see that he has no plan to break out of his comfort zone and develop the skills to maintain a relationship with a fabulous woman. And you will make the decision to leave. Either way, you will break out of YOUR comfort zone, and who knows, maybe you will gain some new perspective on what you need in a partner and how you need to go about communicating those needs to your partner. It’s a win-win situation!
Run as fast as you can I was stuck in a relationship like this for 25 years. He finally found a 20 year old and left. but you just described my ex-husband to a t.
i’m not even asking him to put it in the dishwasher. just put it in the sink and run water in it so gunk isn’t cemented to the bottom. the front passenger tire was low on my car, he stood in the driveway on 2 separate occasions and pointed it out. we have a fucking air compressor in our garage. do you think he put air in my tire? no. one of my co-workers filled up his personal air tank that he carries in his truck and aired my tire up in the parking lot at work. FUCK! and he doesn’t understand why I’m not aggressively initiating sex with him every night……I’m exhausted. I feel disrespected and unloved. when i tell him how i feel about this stuff, do you think i get an I’m sorry? no. I get “well, you shouldn’t feel that way. it’s not my intention to make you feel that way” and before anyone calls me a whiner, i work 40 hours a week on the same job for 19 years. he doesn’t have to tell me to sweep and mop, to do the dishes, to cook dinner, do the laundry, make the bed, clean the bathrooms or any of the other household chores i agreed to when we moved in together (we are now married). the deal was, i take care of the inside and he takes care of the outside, which includes vehicle maintenance and yard work. i hold up my end of the bargain and even help him with his stuff. if he’s working on cars, I’ll run back and forth to the garage fetching tools. I’ll move lawn furniture and the grandkids’ toys when he’s mowing……AND YOU CAN’T PUT A LOUSY PLATE IN THE SINK AND RUN WATER IN IT? yeah, I wish i had a dollar for every time I’ve considered leaving him…..one day, I’m not gonna think about it, I’m just gonna do it.
Fascinating blog… It makes me wonder about other things. I know this story is just a brief glimpse into your life and your relationship that you had with your wife. What I am curious about is… how often did you tell her you loved her? I mean how many times a day did you say “I love you.” “You are my princess.” “You are my heart.”? I don’t ask these things to make you sad, just to try to get insight on the habits that made up the core of your relationship. To say that your wife left you because you left dishes by the sink makes me think that something else was absent. Something very much like glue… or concrete…. love. Thank you for your time in writing this. Iron sharpens iron… and often times men are just dull edged when it comes to the needs of women.
Early on my wife and I established a house rule: If it matters to you, you do it.
Therefore I’ve got things like changing the oil in the car, the garbage, cleaning the floors, and lots of the cooking.
I’m sorry. If you still want to make it work, I have heard of people getting back together…
Best of luck.
That’s called: establishing and enforcing boundaries and communicating them.
That’s called: being good at marriage.
The dish thing is more metaphorical than literal. I’m sure it was the thing that annoyed her least.
It represents what I believe to be a consistent pattern of men failing their marriages because, when you boil it all down, he didn’t understand or believe the words coming out of her mouth.
I don’t care about the assholes who don’t value their marriages.
I care about the good men who accidentally destroy them through simple, accidental ignorance and neglect.
This is just one example (and I think every married person should be able to think of several examples that have nothing to do with dishes or chores) of a wife asking something from her husband and him failing or refusing to give it to her–not just because he’s a selfish asshole, but because when they speak to one another and describe things, neither of them know what the hell the other is talking about.
This does not apply to everyone. It simply applies to most.
Thank you very much for reading and being part of the conversation.
Mm. That’s fine if the actions are independent, and if there’s some kind of reasonable balance between them.
Some examples. I’m an excellent cook (I’m also a decent carpenter, a reasonable fill-in plumber, electrician, etc – oh, and I garden, and I like things reasonably uncluttered and am good at keeping them so. This isn’t a gender thing, and I have a lot of skills. Note, I’m not even touching my professional skills, at least not directly.) So much so that the majority of people I’ve lived with have been highly motivated to encourage me to cook for everyone. Some do this very well – say, in housemate situations back in college, by buying the groceries, managing dishes, maybe setting the table if we’re doing the sit down meal thing. Others – like, say, my ex-husband – would promise a lot to get me to cook, and then would take equally elaborate means of not following through.
Eventually I stopped cooking for him. But this was late in the demise of our relationship, and while it was the best solution that I could do on my own, I can’t say it was a good one. He liked my cooking. I like cooking, I like feeding people (and having them enjoy my food) and I like to show love through cooking. We might have worked out some other arrangement, but he didn’t like doing any work around the house or grounds.
Similarly, it may have mattered to me more that the living room not be littered with dirty clothes, but I don’t find that adequate reason that I should have been picking up his laundry. (Just to be clear, we were both software engineers at the time.)
“If it matters to you, you do it,” sounds great, until it turns into one person doing everything because the other person doesn’t care, or perhaps prefers to coast. …which, admittedly, it the reason I left. Or part of the reason, that, and that he broke pretty much every agreement he ever made with me.
I’m sorry you were treated that way. Our word, our promise, should matter to us. It reflects our hearts and our will. I’m sorry.
“If it matters to you, you do it” only works for couples who have a pretty even set of things that matter to them. Also, some chores aren’t about what matters to someone as much as what NEEDS to be done. Such as: paying the bills, washing dishes (eventually you will run out and have nothing to eat off of), buying groceries, caring for children, caring for pets, etc. You can’t simply say, “Well, changing the baby’s diaper matters more to you than me so you have to do it!” When one person ends up doing the vast majority of essential things (as women often do) and then gets stuck doing all the non-essential things too, under the argument of “well you’re the one who cares about it,” then yeah, it’s a recipe for divorce.
Right. The tone and attitude behind the statement is the hinge on which the whole thing hangs. My wife and I were very young and didn’t really know what mattered to us yet. It was more like as we discovered what we felt mattered we found the energy to be the person to take on the task we cared about. We did have to have quite a few sit down discussion meetings. But because we weren’t already established with a pattern of “This is how I do things” it was an easier slogan to adopt. We still use it. And when things feel unbalanced or unfair we talk it through. Lots of stuff neither of us cared about at first. Now we care about some things too much. Dumping everything on one person based on gender ain’t cool. It’s damaging.
I love this! I feel like this is talking about my marriage. I couldn’t get my husband to understand why it made me so mad. I guess I didn’t fully understand why it made be frustrated but after reading this it has opened my eyes. It isn’t his dirty boots and socks in the middle of the floor, it is the fact that I spent all day cleaning and he comes in and doesn’t acknowledge that I did anything. Again great post!!!!
Awe… I love this. So heart felt. So honest. So familiar for soooo many of us. Thank you for sharing 🙂 I am sharing this on my fb page for others 🙂
I really liked this! My husband and sometimes have these little debates and it’s always interesting to read the male perspective. Communication and respect is something I see missing in a lot of husbands or boyfriends today. This is especially true when it comes to children. It’s like you said, “Caring about her = taking care of kid-related things so she can just chill out for a little bit and not worry about anything.”
Did you always leave the glass by the sink?
Just sometimes. It’s totally a metaphor.
Stunning post, great story! I’ve just started my own blog too. It’s all about books and a chance for us all to read together, take a look at https://darrensharpewrites.wordpress.com and follow if you find it interesting! Many MANY more to come.
I have been stubbornly trying to ask my husband to keep my kitchen table in a condition where I can use it for eating at a moment’s notice. It will not happen. Consequently, my twenty-three other behaviors he wishes I did, will never change either. Oh, we have talked about these. We have fought about these. We are irritated that these things happen, but we are not divorcing.
I am not going to stop caring about my kitchen table, but I love and care about all the million other things my husband does do right that perhaps I can pick up after my husband on this one instance.
What am I saying? I am saying that I believe that we all go through these things and ideas in a relationship where we think we have not done enough for the other person, or they think you have not done enough and if you cared about them enough and if you respected them, you would change. And sometimes we get bogged down by the little irritants to see the big picture, to see the person we fell in love with, the committed partner we decided to welcome in our lives back when smartphones ran on smoke signals.
Now, having been divorced once, and refusing to do that the second time, communicating and coming to some mutual understanding of our, sometimes chaotic, co-habitation realities is the key at least for me.
I should probably put my glass in the sink, now that I think about it.
You touched a nerve here. My husband leaves his cereal dish in the sink every single morning. In the sink that is inches away fro the dishwasher. I’ve put it in the dishwasher for almost 25 years. I’ve asked him about it for perhaps the past 5 years. Lately I’m leaving it in the sink to see if he EVER moves it to the dishwasher. Apparently will not happen. It’s making me nuts.
Hands down this is the most powerful post I have read all day! Love this male perspective on an age old issue with modern women. I’m so glad you saw past the glass but not at the expense of the marriage. My husband will drink a beer and leave the cap and sometimes the bottle on the counter just two steps away from the recycle bin! Use to drive me insane!!! Like really dude?? Am I your freakin maid after working all day just as hard as you and then start my second shift with our son!!! He won’t stop though and I am not divorcing him. Love him way to much and vested to much time, so it’s a battle I choose not to fight. We have learned to compliment and balance each other out really well. Lesson learned for you and her. I am an optimistic person and always root for reconciliation. Who knows what the future may hold. Excellent post! ? Chanel
Reblogged this on Prayyior's God Talk.
Excellent article! Excellent!
I say this as a man who has never been married. Still single (and ok with it) at 56. It’s very simple. I’ve noticed that couples who figure out their mutual respect issues tend to stay married. Other things do come between couples, but the main thing, the thing that really keeps people together is mutual respect, and actions based on the same. For what it’s worth.
This cup / glass in the sink situation was probably the tip of the something much bigger. I would agree that if one resists doing something simple is to give a reason…unless the other person is a neat freak. Which my partner is but for whatever reason, he does tolerate some of my messiness. I am responsible for creating my own mess, that for certain. But he has generously done some tidying of my stuff.
If a guy already doesn’t share cooking, household chores and child care several times per week, it most definitely will make a wife feel like she’s the maid. Unless, she leaves certain things lying around that should be organized.
I think she should be glad the glass made it to the kitchen. Some of us men aren’t the best at picking up after ourselves. But most of us men do what we are good at. For example, today I dug a 28″ deep trench from the power pole to the house for running a circuit. Personally, I don’t put any dishes in the dishwasher. I would be insulted if I were asked to. However, when my wife worked outside the house, I took turns doing the dishes.
“Personally, I don’t put any dishes in the dishwasher. I would be insulted if I were asked to.”
Why on earth would you feel insulted?
I definitely saw the repercussions of living with a male who really didn’t get what it meant to ‘just put the glass in the sink’. I had to take a step back and assess what my role was in the whole situation; Am I being unreasonable? Should I just put the glass in there myself? Is it better to just not mention anything?
You hit the nail on the head when you said; “Telling a man something that doesn’t make sense to him once, or a million times, doesn’t make him “know” something.”
Needless to say, things now are a lot better than before & it just comes down to the basic principle; ‘Actions speak louder than words’.
Thank you for such a great article!!
Wow. This is pure genius. I’m speechless.
So when you ask your husband to put away his clothes that have sat in a hamper for months, or ask for some help around the house (esp when he invites his parents over or friends over last minute) how is it that I should respond when he tells me “why can’t you do that, it only takes a few minutes? Why do you need someone to help with cleaning the cleaning house when there are mom’s with 5 or 6 kids that can do it all with out help?” Or my favorite that he tells me “you don’t work, you get to stay home!” O my freakin gawd. I only homeschool, do all the bedtime routine, discipline, pay all the bills, do all the laundry, all the dishes, all the errands, running kids to their activities, cook & plan all the meals, … shall I continue?.?!
My eye is twitching & I’m having heart palpatations just thinking of all this. Oh. & he gets mad at me b/c I don’t have “time for him”.
I want to buy you a drink *hug*
It wasn’t the dishes… it was a lack of communication. She never explained it, he never explained it. She didn’t listen when he honestly told her it didn’t matter to him and he never listened when she told him the clutter really bothered her. They both took a side and stubbornly refused to budge.
This reminds me of my marriage in ways that make me both angry and sad.
It’s a little hard for me to relate to just how gendered the casting of this is. When I was married, we both worked – in fact, I put down the down payment on the house, and had the stable job with the good insurance and the hefty stock options while my ex bounced from start-up to start-up. I never signed on to be in charge of the dishes, in fact, if anything, the opposite. I did expect to be doing an outsized share of the cooking – but mostly because I happen to be a particularly good cook. I’m also generally handy and mechanically adept – I was always the person repairing the sink, or up on the roof redoing the flashing around the skylight. My ex, it turned out, did not like any work around the house. Then he started putting down my career, and trying to get me to quit and be a housewife. (Ten years together – had he never met me? And I doubt getting me to quit my job would have magically made me less threatening.)
It’s entirely true true that I thought I was getting a partner. And we’d specifically discussed and agreed on a division of labor that wasn’t along traditional gender lines. But I also have no problem speaking up if something is bothering me. And I was pretty great at articulating how things felt to me (clearly and calmly – sometimes he said he didn’t think I was really upset, since I wasn’t shouting and crying. Of course, when I tried shouting and crying – not as an act, I was pretty heartsick and desperate by that point – he didn’t respond any better.)
…and none of it mattered.
There’s too much to go in to, and not much point. Eventually, the whole situation eroded away all my caring. I stuck with him through a number of mental health issues, and when, after he was stable, he was still an asshole, I left. Reading this, where it sounds like the relationships kind of dissolved by stumbling and misstep, I just wince.
If it were me (and I’m a woman) I’d put the glass in a specific place in the dishwasher and re-use it. I know that it’s my glass.
Reblogged this on evey.bumbaca.
I am finding myself in a situation like this. It is hard to stay in a relationship if you have no respect for your partner. You lose respect for them when they ignore your feelings and do not pay attention to details. I have been married for less than a year and find myself losing respect for my husband because he is not observant of things. For example, I gave him a grocery list as he was going to town and said he would stop by the store. He never turned the paper over to look at the back, thereby not getting 1/2 of the items. What 64 year old man is not smart enough to look on both sides of a piece of paper? I am having a hard time with this. The other 2 relationships in my life have been with men smarter than I am. I find it increasingly more difficult to stay.
I feel like I should show this to my husband because it so effectively puts into words, so many of the things I feel about our marriage… but at the same time, I don’t know if I *can* without it turning into an argument that won’t solve any of the problems.
YOU JUST EXPLAINED IT PERFECTLY.
I’m reallyy impressed goood job! Also, I really hope you and your wife didn’t get divorced, you seem like a nice fellow :/
It’s a division of labor issue for me. My husband and I both work jobs at about the same financial level and title, yet I end up with a majority of the household duties. He’s good about doing laundry but that’s it. And some days it pisses me off to come home from work and see not one glass but a whole pile of dirty dishes on the counter. He works from home and could have loaded them in the dishwasher at any point during the day.
So I come in and load dishes and start making dinner while he has done nothing to help me. I’ve discussed this with him repeatedly and nothing ever changes. Is it worth giving up over a decade of marriage? No.
Oh my. This was my marriage, and my divorce, and my current dysfunctional relationship. Thank you for understanding, even if it’s just cathartic, it eases some of my pain and fear of relationships. Thank you. Saving. Following. Loving.
This is so true it nearly made me cry.
It’s not about the glass.
WOW. I am so happy I stumbled on this post. After months of my husband just not “getting it” i feel like i can share this very well worded post with him that explains EXACTLY how i feel. Wonderfully written. Thank you – reblogging!
I showed this to my husband tonight – I absolutely loved it.
Reblogged this on giddy & gorgeous and commented:
This! This is EXACTLY IT! Ladies, send this link to your men, MEN! Listen up, this is good stuff (written by a dude!)
This moved me nearly to tears. So simple, eloquent, and insightful and wonderful to hear from a male’s voice. From a women’s perspective, I’d add that some of the biggest pain comes from feeling that he’s turned you into someone you don’t recognize; a nagging, upset, wife that you don’t particularly like and never wanted to be.
This moved me nearly to tears. So simple, eloquent, and insightful and wonderful to hear from a male’s voice. From a women’s perspective, I’d add that some of the biggest pain comes from feeling that he’s turned you into someone you don’t recognize; a nagging, upset, wife that you don’t particularly like and never wanted to be.
There are simply no words to express how deeply this has touched me. To know that I am not the only one to have experienced this. Every. Single. Word.
Perfectly said, I also had tears in my eyes. It took me 3 husbands and 25 years until I finally learned how to “speak husband” – wish I had read this sooner!
So why be that person? Seriously-other people can’t change YOU and you can’t change other people! You have control over YOUR REACTION to others or a situation only. Choose not to be a nagging wife and be his friend instead. Things don’t need to be perfect.
While it’s a good point that a husband should respect his wife’s opinions and wishes…that’s marriage….it goes both ways. A wife that freaks out over a glass is not being loving herself.
Sir, you have missed the point entirely…..
Please re-read this excellent article Roy. Your wife will thank you.
Nah I agree with him. It goes both ways. She feels disrespected because he’s not meeting her most trivial desires, then the same can be said inversely; she’s not respecting him by ignoring the most trivial details that he does not want to do and harping on him for it
I’m a wife and I agree with Indigo, she had issues as well. I do like the article and it does explain a lot of things from guys view, but read between the lines-the wife had self esteem issues. I should know because I did too. Before marriage my self stem was crushed by a situation. After I worked on improving myself, I can say this wife of his had self esteem issues.
I don’t think he did miss the point. I’ve learned to not take things like glasses left out personally. It was a mental shift toward more peace and partnership. when I see a glass left out, I 1) see it as evidence of a living presence of someone I love and 2) put the glass away myself if it’s time to do dishes, leave it if it’s not, so I will be where he left it, like he likes. I *used* to think the glass meant love, power, respect, etc. but it doesn’t – it’s a glass. I can’t tell you how much more peace is in our home as a result.
It’s about taking responsibility for my own feelings. The only times the glass makes me feel unloved & unheard is when I’m not caring for myself, and feeling stressed. *It’s not about the glass, or my husband.*
I think losing people I love made that shift easier. Being very close to someone who lost her 9-year-old daughter helped me see what’s really, really important. If my husband were to die right now, I would miss that freaking glass *so much*, like I’d miss the kids’ shoes in the doorway, or the spoons under the couch if, God forbid, something happened to them.
Jesus, just leave the glass – enjoy your time together. And if a glass on a counter leads to less enjoyment of the moment for you, put it away or do the inner work so you can accept what is, rather than fight it or take it personally.
When I am away for a long time from my fiancee and miss him so bad, I also miss all the things that annoy me when we are together. But we still want to solve those annoying things, and we want to do it together. So no, it’s not the issue of the wife “not being loving herself”.
I think Karen has it right here. The other point I would make is that putting the glass away doesn’t actually solve the problem. As the post so clearly states, it isn’t really about the glass – it is about feeling loved and respected. So if a partner doesn’t feel loved and respected, but the glasses all get put away, then what? It’ll be about something else: underwear on the floor, cheerios in the sink, trim on the house, toilet paper installed incorrectly, bed not made correctly, lights not turned off, etc…
What is the man supposed to do in this situation? There will be no rest, there will always be something not done correctly. So what inevitably happens is that the man surrenders to the honey-do list hoping that perhaps by doing everything that is asked, he might provide the comfort. This is why he doesn’t show initiative, or seems to have become completely stupid. The relationship has been redefined around chores – and not just any chores but the chores deemed most important by the wife. The man cannot predict what chore it is – so he surrenders his will. Is this the right reaction? probably not. But certainly a common one.
So no, I don’t accept that the glass should be more. If the glass is more, then everything else is, and you are fighting an unwinnable proxy war about underpants. The only solution is to get past the glass and find out what is the actual problem.
Dude, you still don’t get it, do you?? I too teared up when I read this, because I go through the same thing!!!!
For one thing, nowhere does it say that she was “freaking out.” For another, you have entirely missed the point here. If you know that it’s important for the person you live with to be in a clean tidy environment and you continually – day after day after day – refuse to clean up after yourself, what you are saying is, in effect, “I expect you to either clean up after me or live in my filth.” That’s not respectful and it’s not an unreasonable thing for the other person to get upset about. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a husband and wife or a husband and husband or a wife and wife or roommates or parents and children. In fact my sister (as a 30-year-old adult who had returned home a few months earlier) was asked by our parents to move out of their home for much the same reason.
It’s exhausting to live with an adult who acts like a child. Adults should know how to clean up after themselves without even being told. Adults should know not to leave lights on in unoccupied rooms, to change the empty toilet paper roll, to use a glass instead of drinking from the carton, etc. If you are an adult who wants an adult partner in life and your current partner doesn’t understand the above and acts like a child, leaving them is not “freaking out.” It’s a reasonable course of action.
Ok, I can see after perusing the comments you stirred up quite the debate and touched on a sensitive subject for a lot of women, but honestly I couldn’t care less if this post is valid or supported…I just loved reading it. It was like porn. In fact I almost stopped reading because it felt a little bit like cheating. I’m going to read it again and then invite my husband upstairs 😉 If I forget to tell you later, I had a really good time tonight
This resonated with me in a way I could never find the words to express to my husband! You are so right, it’s not about the dam glass! Thank you!
Totally correct–not a mother, a partner! My husband and I have been married eighteen years and a few of them have even been happy. For as long as I can remember he has leaned on me for emotional support, decision making, day-to-day household management, being an active participant in his ministry and orchestrating various other areas of our lives. It is exhausting! I can’t count the number of times he has said, “If you will just tell me what to do…” He is a smart man. Why, in the name of all that is Holy, he cannot figure out what needs to be done is beyond me. The tire is low? See that it gets changed. The porch is a disaster area? Pick it up. Water is exploding out of a pipe in the basement? Cut the water and call a plumber. I would love to hear him say, “I’ve got this.”
I’m a woman and I hope if/when I’m married I never become the kind of wife that is so obsessive about trivial things like this, or I hope that I never marry someone I can’t communicate with reasonably and come to a mutual agreement with.
When you get married you will understand this post. Unless you marry the author of this post of course 🙂
Not about the glass 🙂
The thing is, though, it isn’t a trivial thing when you ask someone over and over again, every day to do one thing and they never do it. If he puts his glass there every single day when it would only take a couple seconds to put it in the dish washer, and you ask him every time to please put his dishes into the machine instead of leaving them by the sink but he never listens to you, it isn’t “trivial”. If he doesn’t listen to you when you ask him to do something to help you – especially something as small as putting a glass into the dish washer – how are you supposed to trust that he won’t trivialize anything more important than a simple cup? You would come to expect him to argue with everything you ask, because if he doesn’t even want to deal with his cup after using it how could you expect him to want to do any given thing you ask of him? It may seem like a stretch, but little things build up quickly.
You’ve missed the entire point of the article. It isn’t about the glass.
This is my first read from your blog and i honestly love it. Gives a balance opinion of both sides but really my favourite was when you said ‘Men can do things’ because they actually can.
Well, I’m glad he became so introspective and developed such a sensible philosophy about love and marriage as he attempted to reconcile, to his satisfaction, in his mind, the pivotal link between her inability to tolerate him and his inability to please her.
I think that if his former wife had taken as much time to examine their relationship in the light of ying-yang and and the whole, ‘she’ is different than ‘he’ approach that he adopted, then they’d probably still be married. But she didn’t.
She was willing to walk away because she wasn’t willing to ‘figure it out’.
In essence; the dishes that got on her last nerve meant more to her than fighting for her marriage.
Makes me think perhaps it really wasn’t about the dishes. It is tho a most poetic excuse. It sounds better than, ‘irreconcilable differences’.
I think you missed the entire point of this article.
It’s as equally valid an outcome for the wife to learn to “let it go” for the exact same logic.
As woman in the midst of a divorce, I cannot even begin to express to you how totally accurate this is! One thing, it would have taken 10 minutes. I asked for it for 20 years! 10 minutes! I wasn’t even worth that.
One thought for husbands: has your wife ever started turning off the lights? No? Well according to this logic, divorce her because she doesn’t love and respect you.
I really want to go to sleep, Marcus. But you did a horrible job connecting dots, and I’d like to help before I do.
1. If your wife tells you that something you did or didn’t do HURTS her, maybe it’s true.
2. Your wife leaving lights on in a room she isn’t using and frustrating or annoying you IS NOT HURTING YOU.
3. Figure out what DOES hurt when she does it to you.
4. Next time you want to be a cock about not doing some little easy thing she’s asked about 14 million times, equate the HURT you feel from the painful incident to the HURT you’re inflicting by being a self-centered, stubborn, neglectful prick.
5. Wives, nor this post, equated divorce with a small disagreement over dishes.
6. You’re making the same piss-poor thinking mistake that I did. You think the dish is a dish because YOU only see a dish. But SHE sees the dish, she sees you saying “You don’t matter very much to me.”
7. So, once more, we’re not talking about chores and nuisances. We are talking about a human being slowly taking on damage. A person can only take so much.
Lastly? Just because it doesn’t make sense to you that it HURT her, does not mean that it didn’t.
This may not apply to your life specifically. But it applies to the vast majority of married men. Go ahead and read through the comments if you don’t think so.
Your knee-jerk and inaccurate response is WHY I got divorced and why millions of other guys will too.
There’s a better way.
“2. Your wife leaving lights on in a room she isn’t using and frustrating or annoying you IS NOT HURTING YOU. ”
It’s not? Maybe it is.
I relate very much to this article. I’m a man. And I feel hugely hurt, disrespected, and devalued by the behavior of a woman who refuses to comply with a couple of petty little requests that are more or less equivalent to “don’t leave the glass by the sink.” These little things frustrate and annoy me and put me in a bad mood and it wouldn’t take four seconds for her to do them as I ask and I’ve been asking for years. It makes me feel small and it makes me feel as if my desires about how a household ought to be run don’t matter to her.
This article is accurate.
It does work both ways, and the article doesn’t say it does not, as far as I can tell.
I turn off the lights! I clean all the dishes and the floors, the laundry, feed the animals, do yard work, plus I too have a full time job! Your comment particularly offends me, because right now, as I do many nights, I am packing a lunch for my husband to take to work, and he will most likely go out for lunch. But, he wants me to pack him a lunch, every work night. My job is 12 hour shifts, and I have to be up at 5:00am. This does not matter! But when asked 3 years ago, to put a piece of trim back onto the house after another repair had been made, he said “later”, and “later” is still yet to come.
I disagree Marcus. It’s not about putting the cup in the sink or not turning the lights off… in which I do both way more often than my husband. The point is, discovering her love language. If her love language is acts of service, not only does putting the cup in the sink matter but actually washing it matters as well. My husband’s love language is physical touch and it’s not all about intimacy. It’s the small touch as I walk passed him in the kitchen while he washes the cup.
Uhm, yea…he doesn’t do THAT either. Nice try.
I appreciate that you’ve analyzed this to the nth degree, but I must say that marriage is about the art of compromise, and if your wife couldn’t get past this, the dish by the sink wasn’t the problem. Truly.
I’ve been married 23 years. My husband will never ever remember how I like the toothpaste top ON the tube, or that the TP should go over, not under, the roll. These things annoy me most days, but balanced with everything else that constitutes our lives together, they mean nothing. It wasn’t the dish, it was the two of you, and that’s okay. Really and truly.
I do appreciate your thought process.
“These things annoy me most days, but balanced with everything else that constitutes our lives together, they mean nothing.” – that’s a thought process that works for you but not necessarily for everyone’s else’s marriage. There, “truly”, are couples who work out things exactly the way Matt does 🙂
I absolutely love this. It explains how I feel about my relationship but also shows me why he does not understand how I am feeling. Thank you!
so sorry best of luck
I’m an older gal who has health issues which cause me a great deal of pain. Daily I spend way too much time going behind my husband picking up after him. If I did not, our home would look like an episode of Hoarders by now. We’ve been married nearly 20 years. Since the beginning, I’ve asked him to PLEASE pick up his things. He just will not, no matter what. I’ve thought about leaving many times. And for all you naysayers, no, it’s not about the damn glass or the damn towel or the damn dirty underwear lying on the floor less than a foot from the basket — it’s about the lack of respect, just exactly like this blog says. I don’t know why it’s so difficult for you all,
and my husband, to figure it out. I’m too old now to leave and start over, so here I am, stuck picking up crap everyday and feeling unloved. It makes for a very unpleasant existence. Who’d think a “glass” could cause such problems?
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I was married for nineteen years. When I told him I wanted a divorce, it hurt both of us and I have been swimming in guilt for that pain I caused him.
Now, after reading your post, I’ve come to realize something. He couldn’t make me feel “safe” in his love. Twice in our marriage he told me he was “in love” with another woman and both times we went to counseling. I fought tooth and nail to save my marriage (I had to drag him to the counseling sessions, both times). We got back on track, but finally, after all that, I was too emotionally exhausted to keep fighting, to keep feeling the doubt, to keep pushing back the fear that once again I’d be hearing all about his feelings for another woman.
Thank you for those words. You put it in focus for me.
I’m a wife and I can hear myself talking in some of the lines there. It’s written simply and meaningfully.
I cannot know all nuances that comprised the author’s marriage, but I have been the wife in this situation, as have many others. I realize now, although the marriage died for this and other reasons, that I chose to a) equate small irritations with him not loving me “correctly” (ie, the way I deem he should behave/express his love) and b) I handed over a ton of my responsibility to choose to feel good and happy over to whether I liked his choices and what I decided they meant about him and me. Life is too short to go around feeling burned and victimized all the time.
Hey Colleen. Thank you for this.
Me, and every guy ever married having trouble connecting a glass by the sink with emotional pain, agrees (and probably told his wife in an argument that life is too short to feel hurt and victimized all the time.)
1. I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to be a woman and will never be so bold as to try to offer wives marriage advise. I think the psychological process of finding how to not let “the little things” bother you so much is as helpful to a relationship as a man trying to not dismiss them. So thank you.
2. I think people can learn to “control” their emotions more effectively, but it’s VERY hard, and is a pretty good idea to respect an involuntary emotional response as a sign something needs addressed.
3. When a husband grasps the glass thing and that “problem” goes away? All similar problems are likely to go away, too. When your wife thoroughly feels loved and respected and validated, SHE DOESN’T feel burned and victimized by the little things. Because the actual problem all along was mutual respect, thoughtful unselfishness, and connection.
Thank you for being part of the conversation.
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So Bad Buddy …….just enjoy new life
I love this. The way you really explain what the woman’s actually thinking. It’s funny because so many of the examples are things my ex and I always fought about. Except I was the one leaving my coffee mugs by the sink… Or on the table… Or in the bathroom lol. And he was always tracking mud and cement through my clean house. None the less, these things were just arguments we could pick and fight about instead of really talking about the bigger issues we had. Respect is absolutely key and what it comes down to. Props.
I like the originality of your approach in this article; the creative way you have handled the subject. This is superbly written. It can relate to this. We have to see beyond ‘the glass in the sink’ and get what the act means. It is the meaning that actually matters. And differences in ways of thinking, seeing and appreciating should be considered. At the end of the day, both spouses need to enter the other person’s shoes. I think this article will save many marriages.
I love this so much! Sadly, too often when husbands fail to do the little things, take the hints etc…they are actually disconnecting, detaching. Many times that is a sign of another, deeper problem. Guys..if you are disconnecting..ask yourself why. Are you paying attention to your life? Are you engaged in the moment? Are you truly connected? Maybe your mind is on more “important” things like work, the game, golf, the cute new secretary? Maybe you have addictions. Wives…be there, show up, be seen and be brave. YOU are the important thing.
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I’m sorry but your complete theory is Bullshit. The mere placing dishes by the sink may have been an irritant to her but she obviously has many issues with you. And furthermore, if you never left a dish out or in the sink, always doing that would probably grate on your nerves eventually, causing you to become the complainer… Making you the whimy bitchy one. If the ONLY reason was the dishes, she never loved you like she said, because live is patient, kind, longsuffering and not petty. So check your gauges on importance. Yes. It’s important to do your part in the housekeeping, but if leaving dishes is s reason for divorce, your marriage was crap to begin with. Now this is strictly my OPINION, and I’m no means is it trying to tell you what to do, but I think I’m right. Does anyone else think the way I do?
You’re the first person to get it and not get it all at the same time.
OF COURSE my wife didn’t end a nine-year marriage and put our son, herself, me and everyone we know through the very painful and difficult process of divorce.
And yes! Of course my inability to identify why something stupid like a dish left by the sink was indicative of other problems and part of an overarching thought process and pattern of behavior men commonly have which, over time, will destroy their marriage.
A husband wise enough to “get” the dirty dish thing will have no trouble connecting the dots between this specific conversations and every other virtually identical point of contention between he and his wife.
Thank you for reading and commenting, Jerry.
Oh man…. years ago we joked that we broke up over the dishes. HA! This article is mostly spot-on. A lot of what was said on the woman’s side (not all of it) was my inner dialog. I didn’t speak up for the longest time about how this bothered me because I figured it was MY issue to deal with and figure out why it bothered me so much (and what the writer stated about the man’s side was a part of why I didn’t bring it up). When I finally did speak my mind and answer the What’s Wrong question, I didn’t get the “Oh…that’s all? I can do that,” response I was hoping for [see article].
Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus. And, we broke up over the dishes. LOL LOL
Your article is so, so familiar. Sorry ’bout the marriage. In the ’70s, I read a book called “The Intimate Enemy — how to fight fair in love and marriage.” The term “gunnysacking,” a central theme in the book, explains your situation perfectly. And do us all a favor, either wash the glass by hand, or put it in the effin’ dishwasher so you’ll be ready for the next one. Good luck!
I would definitely leave my wife if she got upset with me over something like that. It’s just plain incompatibility.
See I have 1 massive argument about this. Its very well worded and completely true, but lacks a form of honesty.
If the glass getting left out made her feel disrespected or unappreciated, then why were these feelings not brought up and shared with the so called “love of your life”.
It seems to me that the real problem in this story isn’t a simple change to ones lifestyle or habits to respect your partner, its a communication issue.
You should be able to tell the love of your life, partner, or significant other that not respecting a simple request to put a glass away or fold the laundry, makes you feel the way it does.
Why should it be either partner’s responsibility to read minds?
Why let emotions control your actions in a way precived as sneaky or misleading?
Why not address a problem to its full extent?
Seems more like this relationship could have been saved with simple communication and general cleanliness….
But still… Good message!
Yeah I’m gonna have to agree with Missy on this one – while I appreciate your recognition that men and women process marital interactions differently, it’s a two-way street. Should you put your glass away? Definitely. Is it a sign that you don’t love and respect your wife? Absolutely not. If you’re capable of (eventually) understanding that your leaving that glass on the countertop is causing her emotional turmoil, she’s just as capable of (eventually) recognizing that for you, it’s just a glass. You’re not leaving it out to be disrespectful; in fact, you probably didn’t even realize you left it there.
On top of that, there are probably a million other little things you did every day to love and nurture and care for her. Sure, she’s perfectly capable of raking leaves, getting the oil changed, or swapping out that bum light bulb in the entry-way, but those are things you do – not because you necessarily enjoy them, but so she doesn’t have to.
So yeah, it’d be nice if men understood that often we interpret you leaving your dirty underwear in the floor means you don’t respect us enough to throw them in the hamper, but we women also need to stop taking everything so darn personally. Sometimes a glass on the countertop really is just a glass on the countertop. And hey, how bout we start recognizing and appreciating the little things our partners ARE doing for us, and stop trying to mould them into perfect little housemates?
Accept love as it’s given, rather than demanding that your partner show love the way you think they should. You’ll be a lot happier.
I think the glass by the sink is just one of many little things…it’s a symbol. Married people tend to take each other for granted and all these little petty things just add up and turn into a mountain that they can’t get past.
This is tough to really understand if your personality can’t see it intuitively. I’ve been married twice. The first to a otherwise decent man who, unfortunately, was totally oblivious to these small details that mean “I hear you.” Years of ignoring the big stuff, sure, but even the little habits that make you feel like a servant in your house, and model that servanthood in your marriage for your kids to take with them into their adulthoods…it’s dehumanizing, and it builds resentment that over time can look quite out of proportion when finally vented. Second marriage, I understand this so much more. He does a lot of small things that could aggravate me if I let them, so I don’t. I ask him a few minor habit changes that will make me not have to feel like I’m in the nag-or-repress deathloop, and he does them! And there is much rejoicing. And I change the things he asks of me that could drive him a little crazy too.
It’s a sweet life, but it took the difference of two entirely opposite male personalities to see the underground fight that persisted all through my first marriage…although we never ‘fought.’ This subtle stuff matters.
Thank you so much for writing this article. I think the more people who read this and understand it, the more relationships that will be saved. You really understand this perfectly. Don’t worry about the people giving you bad feedback, they’re the ones who just don’t get it. Even if their marriage is good now, who’s to say it won’t one day reach a breaking point because of this exact thing?
A good article. I appreciate your patience and being an understanding husband to your wife. I relate this situation to my uncle and aunt that happened to be like this. Thanks Matt~!
IMen and women are wired very differently. For women, love is a perfect mixture of respect, care, attention, affection, understanding and sharing. For men, it is different…. it is more like, “I am with you because I love you”. I loved reading this article
Simple…women want “men” not “boys” who still try to live their lives after they get married as they did when they were in their Mommy’s home. Men want to be treated like a man, but many do not want to grow up, be responsible, and act like a man! Selfishness keeps individuals from seeing another person’s point of view…even in marriage. This is why divorce rates are so high, besides the reason of infidelity. I invite you to visit my Blog during the month of February…I will be blogging on Relationships: Love, Romance, Intimacy & Passion. See you there! 🙂
I’ve learned to openly tell my husband what I need instead of hoping he will eventually show me the love I need. When it boils down to it, no loving partner could deny love to an open, confident request for love expressed in a certain way. Women need to have the confidence and trust to ask for what they need. Ie. Would you stroke my arm sometimes when you walk by and tell me you love me?. Although this might seem strange to ask for as most loving couples would express this type of affection, in my marriage I had to ask explicitly for it because my husband shows his love through acts such as doing housework unasked, taking baby for a nap, never complaining etc. he is a truly wonderful man! But I do need at least some affection to feel loved. He doesn’t really need it. I do. So I learned to ask and he learnt to give it. Great, insightful article!
Yes. It’s not about the dishes all over the couch, it’s the feeling that I have no room there because his mess is more important. It’s not that all the kitchen cabinets are always open, it’s that I’ve told him many times that I’m going to crack my head on one of them some day but he doesn’t seem to care. It’s not that there’s food wrappers all over the kitchen and living room, it’s that there’s garbage cans all over our house and I desperately want to believe that I am with a man who is capable of using them. I feel like he’s smarter and more able a person than he is showing himself to be, and that disappointment cuts pretty deep.
Reblogged this on pratispirouette and commented:
Its a wonderment to me that its the same approach and attitude between the genders, in any part of the globe! But the dissection is deep and an almost plead-like. The spotlight has to be on “But she didn’t want to be my mother. She wanted to be my partner, and she wanted me to apply all of my intelligence..”. Surprising that men are capable of amazing creativity, humongous or miniscule… yet its a matter of choice for them to , to label an act petty or not. In this instance, the mis-placed glass, might not be an act to disrespect, dislike or degrade… but certainly sets the women thinking about equality and balance in the marriage. That what if she were to be cultivating an irritable habit, would she be empathised and appealed for the deed to be done properly, with similar number of opportunities, patience and understanding? When that happens, a change in the psyche and approach can be expected.
Oh. My. God. Someone actually gets it. I’ve been saying this for years and thought I was overbearing, or too demanding, or … just plain wrong. Because somehow I’m always wrong, always the one looking for a fight, always the irrational one.
Even though to me, it’s not about right vs wrong; it’s about respect … caring for the other person … being a partner.
How dare you leave that funking glass by the sink you jerk off. Bahahaha. sobs while my guitar gently weeps…
Coming from another woman’s point…..being with someone that loves ALL of you is key….glasses anywhere and ALL….the place to be you and vice versa….support and encouragement to LOVE even if it’s NOT exactly what you love it’s WHO you love that matters…strip it down to the person and not the small things that clutter our perception of being able to grow, evolve and become our best self with another best self….choice of self is OURS to own not for anyone woman or man to conform
And there are divorces left and right for this reason ONLY…people are trying to change so much in oth ers they forget to share with others, including the ONE you LOVE most!
When I first read this i took a minute to collect my thoughts. Being on the verge of relationship catastrophe I read this and laughed at how inaccurate it sounded; hold on before you pick up the pitchforks. As I’m making tea for my headache I start to remember my Boyfriend of 5 years now telling me that I’m selfish and that i only care about myself and that i should want to do things for him as it is how he knows I love him. Im thinking of giving this a go and seeing how he reacts to it.
I am going to be annoying, and hope that if I comment it maybe will get my blog some attention. Check out my work in progress. Maybe someone will give a shit about what I have to say???
Good post, enjoyed reading it because I’ve been in that situation before, many times in fact.
And to everyone in the comments who don’t seem to understand this conundrum, let me explain why that one glass is so important, because it does make perfect sense. I’ll begin by asking you a question: Where you in charge of cleaning the kitchen, on the regular? Statistically, this seems unlikely, so I’m just going to assume it was one of your wife’s chores to clean the kitchen.
So if someone’s chores, besides paid work, possibly even child care duties, include cleaning a room and you deliberately place a dish, with military precision, next to the dishwasher instead of taking an extra three seconds out of your day, you are disrespecting all the work this person has put into keeping the kitchen clean. Why is it important to keep that kitchen clean, you ask? Bacteria. Simple, right? Same with leaving laundry on the floor, or leaving the bathroom a soggy mess, or sweeping crumbs from the counterpane to the floor. Your wife is showing her love and care by keeping your shared space healthy and comfy and nice, and then you come in and fuck it up.
Women like to be respected by their partners just as much as men do. Women like to have their work respected just as much as men do, especially all the unpaid work they put into shared living situations. The dirty glass may be just another dirty glass to you, to your wife it’s another thing to put away, another thing to clean in her presumably already busy day. From her perspective, that’s disrespectful as hell, even if she can’t articulate exactly why. You are effectively making your wife’s day busier with dozens of small things that add up over time. So either don’t leave a mess or clean up after yourself. As the article says, men can do stuff, so do it. Cleaning up after yourself when living with others is not an unfair expectation if you’re over the age of three.
Great Post! I wish I would have read this nine years ago! I definitely can relate to your post.
Beautiful message: once you do everything out of love and respect, it is more of a gesture rather than a chore.
I am still wrapping my head around how dead-on this is.
I divorced last year after fifteen years of marriage, including the last five years of marital turmoil. In 2011 we attended counseling while formally separated to try to save our marriage. I expressed in one session that I felt like I had so much work to keep up with in our home that when he put his dishes in the sink, it felt like he was saying “i know you do a ton of work around here. Here’s one more thing for you to do.” I felt unappreciated and completely disrespected.
Our counselor told me that my personality tends to take things personally. That my ex husband simply didn’t feel like putting the dishes in the dishwasher and that had nothing to do with me or my feelings.
We should have found a new counselor.
I am now in a new, remarkably eye opening relationship with a man who honors my feelings and respects and appreciates me, as I do him. We communicate and pay attention to each other’s wants and needs as we grow.
The dishes were a symptom in my marriage, but ignoring the symptoms is destructive.
I guess I would argue that the better solution would be to actually talk about why leaving the glass out or putting it away is important. I’m more of the glass out person, but my Husband does have his annoying habits he’s the leave the butter knife out guy. We have fought over both and have felt resentful over both, when an argument did blow up once we managed to actually talk about the why and were able to find the compromise that had helped kill the resentment factor. Neither of us really came closer to actually understanding why it mattered to the other person, both us us came closer to accepting that it did and both of us developed a means to shake off the resentment. I find that a lack of communication creates the bigger issues.
Yeah good point. Communication is key. After a few years I gave up on the cup issue (he does this too), and he moved the cup away from the edge (so I wouldn’t knock it over accidentally). But some other stuff has improved. Communication and compromise is so important from both partners.
Some of us have this conversation regularly. I’m pretty sure I have said exactly what this article says about ‘I’m not your mom, I don’t want to tell you to do things, I want you to notice and do it because it feels like you think I’m your maid when you leave messes everywhere.’ They still have to hear it.
Great article! Men and women are wired differently, meaning our brains do not think the same way. Just read through all the replies. Men mostly, miss the whole point of the article and he says it point blank: “It’s not about the dish!” Anyone who wants to understand it better and maybe save your marriage, look up a book titled Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus. I think there was a video of it also back in the early 90s. I’ve been married 25 years and countless times I have used what I learned to stay patient and communicate in a way he understands and he gets it….mostly. LOL
Actually, the neuroscience is increasingly going the other way – while there are some statistical differences in the underlying structures of men’s and women’s brains, overall, you can’t actually tell if a brain is “male” or “female” without a body attached, and a lot of the differences that are so hyped in the popular press seem to have more to do with men being larger than women and that sort of thing. (I can provide some links to the research if you’d like – I don’t know how technical a discussion you’d prefer. I’m a neurobiologist, so this is, in fact, my day job.)
There is almost certainly some hormonal difference (I find the experiences of transgender people very interesting in this regard) and there is definitely a huge amount of difference in socialization.
It is not the brain that matters but the estrogen and tester one.
I remember reading that certain parts of the female brain are typically larger than in the male (like the pfc or hippocampus) so I don’t understand why you would need “a body attached.”
The hypothalamus, pineal gland and pituitary glands regulate hormone and are located near and/or within the brain. So, the structure of the brain and these glands my not differ between male and females, but they definitely differ in function (the hormonal regulation/balance they create for a male versus a female). I am NOT in neuroscience, so I will defer to your expertise. Technically, maybe the above structures are not considered part of the brain, but are independent and considered to belong solely to the endocrine system. I believe most laymen would consider these glands as part of the brain and thus be correct in saying/believing that significant differences in emotional functions and the resulting affects on logical processing are caused by the brain.
Kikina- Previous studies had found some evidence that certain portions of brains varied in size by sex. HOWEVER more recent bigger studies have shown that this simply isn’t true. That there is no statistical difference in brain structure and sizes between male and female. Therefore: when looking as a specific brain, you can’t know if it was a male or female withoug other evidence (i.e. a skull or body).
I’m no neurologist, but I’m pretty sure that while brains might be physically indiscernable from one another, active brain scans show that the male and female brain tend to activate different brain regions in response to different events.
It’s HOW they work that really matters. Not how they appear.