I thought it was obvious that my wife didn’t—literally—want a divorce because of some dishes left by the sink.
I assumed no adult could possibly believe that. I was wrong.
Because many people gave the post the TL;DR treatment, or I did a lousy job of writing it, or they lacked the intellectual capacity to understand it, or never bothered to ask themselves the right questions because life is more comfortable when we’re secure in our personal beliefs, a frightening amount of people missed the point entirely.
My post “She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink” spent time as one of the most popular things on the internet over the weekend. As of this writing, it has been read more than 2.3 million times.
For context, my previous most popular post had been read about 100,000 times. Over the course of 2 ½ years.
As a writer, you’re like Cool! People are validating my work! But then the comments start rolling in.
“Be a man. Pussy.”
“Your wife was a nagging shrew and you’re better off without her if she would leave you over something petty like a glass by the sink.”
“You’re STILL missing the point if you think she left you because of dishes!”
“You’re a sackless fag.”
“You’re sexist because you wrote that ‘Men are capable of things’ as if women couldn’t do those things, too!”
“You’re sexist because you write about how horrible men are, but never talk about how women can be the problem too!”
My personal favorite was the Canadian high school girl who tweeted that my wife left because I write like “a whiny teenage girl.”
That was discouraging.
Things the Post Wasn’t About
It wasn’t about me.
It wasn’t about Men Vs. Women.
It wasn’t about encouraging men to be subservient husbands.
It wasn’t about propping up wives as the all-knowing and wise queens of how to structure relationships.
It wasn’t about complaints suggesting my wife nagged me over inconsequential things.
And for Pete’s freaking sake, IT WAS NOT ABOUT THE DAMN DISHES.
The “dishes” post has a thousand comments to the contrary, and each time I approved one of them I wanted to set myself on fire just a little bit more, because THAT—along with reading another new asshole call me a “mangina”—would feel infinitely less frustrating than all the people screaming on the internet while the entire point sailed a thousand miles over their heads.
Things the Post Was About
Understand something, please. Until five seconds ago, a thousand people AT MOST, were reading my posts. This “dishes” one? It was read 236 times the day it was published. And all of them “know” me, in that they’ve read dozens, maybe hundreds, of my posts, so they recognized the metaphor immediately.
Here’s my entire thing: I’m a child of divorce, and a few years ago I got divorced myself. I think divorce is very, very bad.
While I was trying and failing to save my marriage, I began a journey of introspection and self-discovery. I wanted to understand what I had done to help break the marriage, and discover tools to repair it OR at the very least, to make sure I wouldn’t repeat the same mistakes in a future relationship.
I read books. I read articles. I spoke with married people. I spoke with divorced people. And I started writing down ideas and publishing them.
More and more and more, people were saying: “Yes, this! You GET it!”
And if you read through the comments in the “dishes” post, you’ll see that the vast majority are echoing that.
I’m no smarter than anyone else. I’ve simply heard the same divorce stories so many times now that, combined with my not-too-distant memories of my marriage, I’ve been able to identify terrifyingly common behaviors by husbands and boyfriends that mirror my own that I now understand to be marriage and relationship killers.
As someone passionately against divorce, I feel compelled to share these ideas.
I am NOT a “Get Married” advocate. It’s clear most people are doing a terrible job in the partner-evaluation process, and overestimating their abilities to function as marriage partners, which mostly has to do with how we can’t know what we don’t know when we’re young.
And the adults shelter us from the ugly truth.
Mom and dad don’t tell you how they fantasize about running away, or sleeping with someone else who makes them feel desired and respected, or just how much more sad they feel today than they did when they were young. It’s because they want to preserve our innocence.
Our education system, shamefully, avoids the topic altogether.
But I am a “Stay Married” advocate. Unless we’re going to ban marriage or eliminate long-term monogamous relationships altogether, I think it behooves us to improve an institution that affects 95 percent of people AND fails more than half the time.
People thought the “dishes” post was about me and wanted to critique my marriage based on a headline they misinterpreted.
The “dishes” post is about trying to help husbands get from oblivious to enlightened RE: Why Their Wives Seem to Care About “Little” Things We Don’t Care About. Men don’t understand how a stupid glass by the sink could actually hurt. That sounds insane to him. Until he figures out how to believe it’s happening anyway, and then care about the glass BECAUSE he cares about his wife, these totally cliché and annoying Man Vs. Woman, But That’s Not Fair!!! whine festivals will continue.
People accused me of sexism.
I only write for husbands and about being a husband because that’s what I know. I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman, wife or mother. I’m going to leave the role-reversal writing on these topics to the people who do know what it’s like.
And OF COURSE sometimes wives are the dish-leaving culprits in a marriage! But that’s just not relevant to me writing for guys like me.
Husbands who are frustrated with their wives’ cleanliness habits are not likely to identify with my marriage whatsoever.
People accused me of preaching submission.
I’m the most stubborn mule I know. It’s a damn shame you can’t hear my high-and-mighty Piss off, you’re not the boss of me! voice. That was my ex-wife’s favorite. (Not.)
The most important lesson I’ve learned post-divorce is how critical it is for human beings to have well-communicated, strongly enforced boundaries. Boundaries which are ideally discussed and mutually respected during the dating process and long before anyone agrees to marry.
No, men. Your wives should never be domineering tyrants. But there can be no question that if you’re married to one of those, it’s because you allowed it to happen AND failed to demonstrate competence—either in the life areas which she now must control, or in the preservation of your self-respect or enforcement of your boundaries.
Wives are not better than husbands. Women are not better than men. (Nor the other way around.)
But I see a hell of a lot of men getting marriage wrong, and this is my way of trying to help.
All the evidence in the world that men are getting marriage wrong lives in the comments section of the “dishes” post.
The “dishes” post that wasn’t really about dishes at all.
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