I Guess I’m a Little Bit Sexist

Comments 174
Man vs. Woman

A lot of people read my post about “dishes” (that wasn’t really about dishes) and came away believing I’m sexist, or that the post was.

At first I was annoyed. Because I took the accusations to mean: “You’re an asshole! You think women are better than men!” Or. “You’re an asshole! You think men are better than women!” 

I secretly feel proud of the fact members of BOTH genders leveled sexism charges against me for opposite reasons. That probably means I nailed it.

But then I kept thinking about it. Am I sexist?

And I settled on: Yes. I’m a little bit sexist, but not for all the reasons a bunch of strangers who didn’t understand what they read, nor had context from reading anything else I’ve written, said.

Here are the top two definitions for the word “sexism.” One of them applies to me, and one does not:

  1. prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially : discrimination against women
  2. behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex

Accusations of sexism in the context of discriminating against women OR men are baseless and ignorant. There is precisely zero evidence in my writing or behavior that suggests I believe one gender is BETTER than another. Nonsense.

However, do I harbor opinions and attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex?

Yep. Totally. And I guess that makes me a little bit sexist.

Libras are Wishy-Washy and Unable to Commit 

I don’t believe in astrology in any sort of predictive way. I don’t believe I should let horoscopes dictate my choices. But I DO believe that astrological personality profiles have merit. I don’t know what more I can do in life than observe what happens around me and accept as true things that seem so, and dismiss things that seem untrue.

And my honest, objective evaluation of astrological personality profiles is that they are GENERALLY true. Maybe not always. I have no way of knowing. But my guess is that many people born between September 22 and October 23 demonstrate commitment issues in some form or fashion.

Women do not ALWAYS obsess over weddings and love spa days and go to the bathroom in groups and pay attention to the latest fashion trends and like romantic comedies and receiving flowers from significant others.

But, do most? I think so.

Men do not ALWAYS love sports and demonstrate competitiveness and love to “bro out” with their buddies drinking beer or playing golf or playing cards or watching James Bond movies.

But, do most? I think so.

There’s a reason all the “It’s a Boy!” stuff is blue, and all the “It’s a Girl!” stuff is pink. There’s a reason marketing agencies market the Fifty Shades of Grey book series and laundry detergent to women, while marketing fantasy football advertisements and lawn equipment to men.

And it’s not because everyone is sexist, nor because men never do laundry, nor because women don’t sometimes play and enjoy fantasy football.

It’s because Things Men Like and Do, and Things Women Like and Do, are two lists that more often than not, look differently, and all the political correctness and baseless accusations in the world won’t make that any less true.

Understand and Celebrate the Differences

Men are not better than women. Women are not better than men. But men and women are MOSTLY different, and the more understanding and accepting we are of these differences (and acknowledging that they exist), the more quickly we can arrive to a future where there ISN’T much gender discrimination in mainstream society, and where boyfriends and girlfriends, and husbands and wives can begin to better understand why we do and feel many of the things we do that damage our relationships.

I think when we first accept that men and women are often wired differently, and then take time to learn how those common traits adversely affect marriages and opposite-sex relationships, we gain a MAJOR advantage in overcoming common marriage problems.

Read Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus and tell me it isn’t true.

Or my personal favorite: How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It.

Read Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti and tell me men and women don’t typically have observable and verifiable biological differences created by thousands of years of evolutionary science.

Back when we all lived in tribes and villages, men developed all of these traits in order to help them hunt and fight and mate successfully so the human race would survive. Women developed these traits in order to help them in supporting the village, raising children, caring for the sick, and gathering food and water so that the human race would survive.

Our minds and bodies still have reflexive and chemically driven responses to threats and fights and fears and emergencies and other life incidents. And because it’s 2016, and lions and bears don’t often attack us, and men aren’t out hunting for daily meals and battling other tribes, and women aren’t raising children in a village-like setting and having all that support and sense of community, these totally normal chemical and emotional responses to life events that helped us stay alive thousands of years ago now sometimes manifest as a wife getting upset about a dish by the sink, and a husband unable to understand why.

Then, when they try to talk to one another about it, using language they both speak, even though they are both educated and competent people, husbands and wives are totally befuddled by whatever their partners are saying, and often walk away angry and confused.

I don’t talk about these things in He/She and Husband/Wife terms to exclude people who experience these same fights in a gender-reversal way, or who are in same-sex relationships.

I don’t talk about these things in a generic Men Do This, and Women Do That way in order to alienate either gender or suggest one is better than another.


I think divorce is horrible. I want there to be less divorce in the world.

And I think as more people believe these things I’ve come to believe, fewer relationships and marriages will end in broken, sobbing, painful misery. I believe it with my entire heart and soul.

And since I want your relationships to be great, and your kids to grow up with both parents at home; and as I despise divorce and all it represents and am committed to reducing its frequency, I’m willing to piss off a few people along the way.

This is a secret most people don’t know. That a man and woman can sometimes talk about something, feel radically different things during the talk, never really be talking about the same thing, and that both can be “right.” And I believe when enough of us figure it out, the entire world changes.

Different is not the same as worse. Different is not the same as better. Different is just different.

And I’m going to keep saying it because it’s true and it’s important.

No matter how sexist you think it might be.

174 thoughts on “I Guess I’m a Little Bit Sexist”

  1. You know what? This world would never get that far if we all were not sexists in second sense of the word. There is an obvious difference between men and women, proven by physiologists, psychologists and the any other part of the science – you name it. the difference is not in terms of “worse” and “better”, but just in different characteristics. Every word of your post is a truth, no matter how people don’t like it. Half of them in 20 years will be divorced and saying “I wish I could accept the fact that my husband couldn’t find the jam in fridge so fast as I did (cause a) she put it there; b) men pay attention to different things – shape and not the details, to be general) and didn’t inflict so many petty conflicts about a stupid jar of jam”… I heard quite a few of those confessions…
    Thank you for your posts. Without men, sticking to Their roles and women, performing Theirs, – this world is going nowhere.

    1. You seem more sexist than the cartoon in this post! What is my role? As a single mom it is. certainly more than thinking about shoes, weddings, flowers or day spas!Ask me what is on my mind.

      1. Well, may be it’s not only about shoes and wedding? But you till are a Mother and most likely talk to your child not from the position of a Father. I think that’s the roles everyone is talking about, general WOMAN roles (house, mother and stuff, that no matter if you are wearing pants and smoke or whatever – you perform them and they are your priority over MAN’s roles) and even if right now you HAVE to take care of job and manly roles (cause you do what you gonna do in the situation) I think that when you have a Man on your side, you won’t ask him expect him to sit at home and breast feed, but most likely you’ll get into more womanly way of life. And enjoy it rightfully so.
        And you can call me a sexist or any other fancy word – I don’t really care about tags put on me not trying to put them on others.

      2. i can’t reply to this B H (sound it out) – annaprokofieva but I am a Strong woman, who is happy to know how to do more than sit around worrying about breaking a nail, and it doesn’t make me less womanly.

        1. And good for you, I think.

          No need to go that low with your “sound it out”)) It’s always possible to have a conversation without tags and things like that)))) wish you all the best))))

          1. I apologize for refering to you as a B H, but it annoyed me that you implied that I’m less than womanly, because I’ve learned to do tasks that males usually attend to, or that the right man will make me more womanly.

          2. Michelle, I did not imply any of that, trust me… As a psychologist, I saw women that are “typical” housewifes that were more manly than all the guys in their family all together. Besides, being womanly in Your sense of the word – it comes from inside and from you feeling like a woman. What I was talking about is that even thoough the roles nowadays are mixed up, but we find more happiness I think, in sticking to our gender ones… We all do what we have to do – I also lived on my own and was a provider and a plumber. But I do enjoy it more to play my traditional roles nowadays, when situation changed. I am not spending time it SPA, I don’t really care for it… But I feel more fullfilled and inspired, being closer to a Woman than to a Man… I hope you understand what I mean. And I apologize for giving that impression that you got, – I’m not even a judgemental type, nor I personally know you…

          3. No, I don’t get what you’re saying. I’ve learned to enjoy building things, and fixing things because the results of THOSE TASKS lasts longer than doing laundry, or making a meal, or any number of household tasks that need repeating and have become boring, since my family takes them as a given. But, when I’m able to solder a leaky pipe so people can take showers, or flush the toilet, then I’m somebody, and still feel 100% womanly.

          4. Well there is nothing wrong with the way you are. I am very happy for you. AT the end of the day, everyone is VERY different. Thank you for the discussion.

  2. The first time I read anything you wrote was the dishes story. I subscribed to your blog at that time. Simply put, I liked your style of writing.

    1. I loved the dish post – I started following your blog bc of it and then shared it with a friend. I even started a post based on my thoughts while reading (not posted yet).

    2. Me too Janice, I subscribed and I now print out the story of the week and my husband and I read it after the kids have gone to bed. We talk about it, and its really exciting because my husband isn’t a big “lets talk about our feelings” guy. If nothing else, its good writing and we are talking about things.

      Keep up the insightful and observant writing. It is honest, funny and wise.

  3. So well said, Matt. Viva la difference! Isn’t diversity were all the truth and beauty of our world resides?

    As to the accusations of sexism, take heart, I too have been called a sexist and also a misogynist, a label that confused me before it amused me. Later I was called a man hater, a rabid feminist, a liberal heathen, and eventually just plain old deranged. My point being, stay strong in knowing what is within your own heart, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.
    Also, if you manage to annoy all sides, pat yourself on the back, you’ve done well. Truth just has a way of bringing out impassioned feelings.

  4. You’re not only sexist, you generalize. Libras are non-committal? Women love spa days and obsess over fashion trends? Not all. Bye, Matt. Have fun in your fantasy world.

    1. Really, the Libra thing was just something I read on a random astrology site as a common personality trait.

      If someone could prove to me that Libras by and large don’t exhibit that trait, it would be the first time in my life where someone demonstrated that astrology personality profiles are dead wrong.

      Every time I read them, they ring true. *shrug*

      I don’t have a personal opinion about Libras. I’m not good enough at remembering birthdays to know who among my friends and family share the sign.

      Not to put too fine a point on it, but this entire post was about how I (and the world) generalizes, and that understanding our “general” differences can help men and women communicate in healthy and effective ways.

      I also specifically said not all members of a particular gender exhibit certain preferences or behaviors, but that it surely seems that most do.

      It’s almost as if you skimmed it and picked on some parts you didn’t like, and altogether ignored the point: Husband and wife communication is a MAJOR problem for MOST marriages.

      And as I want very badly for divorce to happen less and people to have better relationships and lives, learning how to overcome those communication problems is a super-helpful thing.

      Studying gender differences has been the single most important part of my journey toward understanding how relationships most commonly break.

      1. Hi Matt, Thanks for your reply. I am a Libra and do not fit the norm. Additionally, my two closest male friends and I know each other for years and can talk about anything. I”m sorry you had a bad experience with marriage. Not all my relationships worked out well, either, yet I gave up the men are from mars feeling long ago. One male friend talks his heart out when he’s going through a rough patch, and the other talks about it sporadically, enough to let me know what’s going on inside. I’ve 20 years on you in age and stopped generalizing about how men and women interact. There are always exceptions to the rule.

        1. Hi, back. I’m glad you came back.

          I understand. And you’re 100-percent correct. There are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule.

          And maybe you didn’t mean to use that figure of speech, just as I don’t always mean to exclude people with a turn of a phrase in my writing, but I feel like you just made my point for me.

          There is “a general rule.”

          And understand this “general rule” can REALLY help men, I believe, communicate effectively with their girlfriends and wives, possibly for the first time in their entire lives.

          And THAT can eliminate so many marriage and relationship problems that exist in the world. THAT can save families.

          I promise I know almost nothing is true for all the people all the time.

          But this is something I believe is mostly true for most people most of the time, and VERY GOOD things can come for it.

          Very, very, very good things. More smiles and less frowns. More happy and less sad. More forgiveness and less anger.

          More connection and less brokenness.

          More love. More deliberate, purposeful, meaningful expressions of love that can fundamentally change how husbands and wives commonly interact with one another.

          I just want marriage to succeed MOST of the time.

          That’s step one. Maybe the world can worry about improving from there, after that.

          But step-freaking-one is just getting it to break less often, and getting people talking about the right things.

          I’m sorry that I distracted from the point with a silly and somewhat thoughtless Libra comment (I seriously know nothing about common Libra traits per the astrology community).

          But I think I know A LOT about how men and women commonly build resentment toward one another incrementally over years of marriage, turning two good people who love one another, into angry adversaries who end up divorced with sad kids, sad families, and sad friends.

          It doesn’t have to be this way. And I believe the things I write can help the right person–the “people like me” man or woman–think about things differently.

          Maybe I’m crazy. I’m not sure. Most crazy people probably don’t know they’re crazy.

          But I don’t think I’m crazy, currently. And so long as I don’t think I’m crazy, I have to assume I’m not living in Fantasy Land.

          That this is real life, and that if something is meaningful to me, then it is likely also meaningful to others.

          And I feel compelled to write accordingly.

          Thank you for coming back and explaining your perspective and experiences. I get it, I promise.

    2. Actually, he said
      “Women do not ALWAYS obsess over weddings and love spa days and go to the bathroom in groups and pay attention to the latest fashion trends and like romantic comedies and receiving flowers from significant others.
      But do most? I think so.”

      Do I think that’s generalizing? Totally. Does he admit that? Yup. Is he simply sharing his point of view in the most disarming way possible? Absolutely.

      I’m guessing your a woman Libra that might have issues with commitment and judge yourself for enjoying spa days and fashion trends. And I say that very gently, because your reaction is EXACTLY like mine when someone says I’m controlling. If it does describe you, celebrate that … Because Librad are fun and spa days rock. ???

      1. Thank you for focusing on the positive.

        And let me add just a little extra fuel to the fire:

        My priority is marriage success. I don’t believe what I’ve written here is “sexist” in the derogatory way in which people use the word. I’m not a fan of discrimination.

        But if writing REALLY sexist content (the derogatory kind) showed itself to be the thing that helped men realize many of the same things I’ve realized, I would do it.

        Unless I’m clearly writing about things unrelated to marriage/divorce/relationships (which I sometimes do), the only thing I care about is helping another guy like me understand what I think and why.

        If that happened, I think fewer marriages would end (or fewer young couples would avoid the slow descent into horribleness that so many of us experience).

        I’m not going to sit here and listen to people bluster about how sometimes men read Good Housekeeping, and sometimes women read Guns & Ammo, so clearly I’m a sexist asshole, when none of that shit matters.

        The ONLY thing that matters is: We have communication problems in marriage. It causes a lot of very bad things to happen. We’ve all seen and/or experienced and/or are experiencing it. In my personal opinion (which I vow to change should I ever feel compelled to), chemical and biological differences consistent with our genders influences how we behave during conflict–and maybe more importantly–how we FEEL as it’s happening.

        Then, instead of wondering why we never seem to understand what one another are saying, we DO understand it, and then we can approach conflict resolution from a place of empathy and understanding.

        We don’t berate our children and call them worthless parasites because they don’t contribute to the household income. We don’t do that because we’re empathetic and we understand they’re just kids.

        If a wife can understand that her husband, a man, has some certain traits that are inherently part of him; and a husband can understand that his wife, a woman, has some traits that are inherently a part of her, and that those differences don’t suggest one of them is right or wrong, but that they are simply different–then everyone can smile and hug and forgive and love and get along just a little bit easier.

        When we hug those we love and say: “We’re totally doing it again. I’m sorry. I respect your thoughts and feelings, and I care WAY more about your heart and our marriage than I do about convincing you my feelings are more justified than your feelings. I love you.”

        You know, instead of stomping off with a: “You’re such an asshole, and living with you sucks!”

        I think the world gets infinitely more hopeful and beautiful.

        “Right” is not always popular. And my favorite part about this is: I don’t even care whether I’m “right.” (Though I’m convinced this stuff is true.)

        I KNOW this message can help a man understand his wife, and learn how to speak and behave in ways that save families.

        So I’m just going to keep saying it. Until someone convinces me otherwise. Or ’til I collapse.

    3. Really? That is what you came away with? , and Matt your doing a great job. My first read was the dishes story., and I signed up to get your e-mails…it was that good. Remember there will always be haters, finding fault. Matt Just continue, and ignore those type of people. Those people need to take a course ” reading to understand!” They are out to pick all the negative things no matter where they are :/

      1. Thank you, Dianne. I try really hard to be fair-minded and inoffensive. In fact, I probably try too hard, apologizing and defending too much.

        This is something I will get better at not doing.

  5. I think you have it backwards. Our culture creates the differences- by teaching children from the moment they are born that there are Things for Girls and Things for Boys. I have no doubt that if we forced pink stuff on boys (as was actually the case in the past), boys would like pink. And if we told girls that girls like football, most girls would like football.

    1. I just lost a huge and comprehensive response to this. And now I’m feeling defeated because it’s gone.

      Basically, I just said there are nature vs. nurture conversations to be had, and that’s great, but I don’t know that it benefits the guys I always hope have a Eureka! moment because of something clicking for them, and then they get to have a good marriage afterward and not lose their family.

      There is overwhelming evidence this information helps men.

      I love the book “How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It” because it was written by two PhDs, one female, one male, who share the findings of a trillion hours of lab work and therapy sessions with their clients or study participants.

      The conclusions speak for themselves.

      A rock and a like-sized hunk of metal are kind of the same in that they are both heavy-ish inanimate objects. But they are both different too. Observably.

      Saying so seems innocuous to me. I’m absolutely befuddled by the disagreement.

      I already acknowledged this stuff is generally true. There are VERY few absolutes in life.

      And I submit those who disagree with my premise are among the group of people who don’t experience gender differences in the way most of us do.

      And I think that’s more than okay.

      I believe strongly that when people believe this and understand how the communication and emotional breakdowns commonly occur, people can overcome the phenomenon most of us experience of The Same Fight happening over and over again.

      1. I think you’re right that in the end, men and women do see things differently (generally), so maybe it doesn’t make a huge difference how they got there. But as a woman, I just feel that it must be pointed out how much our cultures shape who we are, or we end up with beliefs about each other that are harmful. (Like that women are emotional and men are not, etc) But nobody is born liking pink, that I will stand by, and it can be proven by looking back at the history of gendered colors. Pink was once considered a masculine color, and so were high heeled shoes. Just interesting things to think about before generalizing that it has something to do with our innate brains.

        1. I’m plenty emotional, Kate. Every man is. Men don’t like to show emotion because it makes them feel shame. And the hallmark of male behavior (in the context of this save-marriage conversation) is the tendency to exhibit shame-avoidant behavior.

          Men withdraw when the feel ashamed after another frustrating fight with their wives.

          Their wives often interpret that as apathy on his part. Another example of him abandoning her, when that is not his intention at all.

          I don’t believe girls are born liking pink. I believe the marketing world’s tendency to market certain things to males and certain things to females reinforces my point that men and women are generally different.

          Here’s my take on the average marriage:

          Man and woman marry. Love and respect and want each other very much.

          Because men and women have naturally occurring emotional responses to certain situations and they are often radically different from one another, the husband and wife spend years accidentally pushing one another away because they’re just responding naturally to things (and it always seems like their partners are interpreting things differently or “taking it the wrong way.”)

          It just keeps happening for 5-10 years.

          Before long, those two people who loved and respected and wanted one another no longer feel any of those things. (Or just one of them does).

          More fighting. Sometimes affairs. Typically divorce.

          And I am of the VERY strong opinion, the husband and wife just spent years ACCIDENTALLY hurting one another’s feelings because they didn’t understand their partner was fundamentally wired to experience life and conflict and certain behaviors so much differently than they do.

          I’m not exaggerating. I believe 80-90 percent of divorce happens because of this accidental act of pushing one another away.

          I think it’s EXTREMELY important. I’m sorry we are talking about spas and pink balloons. Those were just supposed to be symbolic.

          What we should be talking about is that stupid dish sitting by the sink.

          Because THAT’s what I’m talking about.

          1. But WHY do men feel shame? Because our culture teaches men that they should be shamed by their emotions. The same way our culture teaches men that women are fragile and irrational and shouldn’t be taken seriously. You didn’t get these faulty ideas out of the air, they are taught to you every second of every day. Trying to break that pattern is awesome and admirable. An even better thing to do would be to stop teaching these stereotypes to our children, so maybe in the future men will not be taught to feel shame for emotions or to dismiss the feelings of women.

      2. Thanks for this: “Because men and women have naturally occurring emotional responses to certain situations and they are often radically different from one another, the husband and wife spend years accidentally pushing one another away because they’re just responding naturally to things (and it always seems like their partners are interpreting things differently or “taking it the wrong way.’)”

        So insightful and true in my experience, too.

      3. I’m interested in this book mostly because it seems to contradict everything I’ve read about what makes a relationship a healthy one and basic common sense about problem solving. Men surely receive criticism at work and are expected to talk through any issues with their behaviour, work related performance etc and are then expected to act on this information and ensure they are doing what is expected of them. Surely men if they were just to ignore this criticism and pretend it hadn’t happened as they seem to do in relationships then they would all lose their jobs sooner or later. If they have the ability to cope with criticism constructively in the workplace, why do they suddenly lose this ability when they’re at home? I’ve read as much as I can in the free preview in amazon so I’m only going on that obviously.

      4. Could I suggest you read a book called Wifework by Susan Maushart, Matt? It’s about marriage and divorce and attempts to explain why two thirds to three quarters of all divorces are instigated by women. It offers a huge amount of evidence that I personally believe goes against your theory that women and men push each other away based on biological or evolutionary differences but I’d be curious to know what you make of it.

        Wifework pools a lot of research (albeit from the 90s when the book was written) that shows fairly comprehensively that most men are happy enough in their marriages to want to stay while most women are unhappy enough in their marriages to want to leave (although plenty stay for the kids and just live with the depression). This doesn’t have much to do with different evolutionary responses and more to do with the fact that most wives actively and consciously work towards meeting their husbands emotional needs while most husbands give their wives’ emotional needs next to no thought at all. The author proposes that if men stopped seeing emotional labour as women’s work (much as they saw housework as being womens’ work in the 50s) and started doing what was needed to meet their wives’ needs then marriage today would work for both genders and not just for men.

        Much of what you have said elsewhere on this blog would seem to be in line with this book’s main premise. For example you advocate for men doing emotional labour to meet their spouses’ emotional needs when you say that they should ask their wives about their day and cultivate an interest in things their wives are interested in simply because their wives are interested in them. You also advocate for men to demonstrate that they accept and respect their wives feelings even if they don’t understand them.

        But from what I read of the “How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It.” book on the amazon preview, it advocates for men to continue to ignore their wives’ needs (“intimate conversation” is the second most important emotional need a woman has according to “His Needs, Her Needs” – by Willard F Harley) and gives them a legitimate reason to continue refusing to engage; that this is just how they are due to biology and cannot be changed when in fact being able to talk through relationship problems is actually a skill that is completely learnable. The solution seems to be that women must just switch this need off and think warm positive thoughts about her husband which to me sounds like a pretty unsatisfactory solution for a woman. But I haven’t read the whole thing. Maybe I’ve got the wrong end of the stick?

    2. Thank you Kate! I engage Matt on this point frequently and I thought the “Dishes” post showed real advances in his understanding of why men do things like leave the dishes by the sink– namely, because they like it and are allowed/invited to do so by a society that has labeled “have others service your needs” a “masculine” trait. I am sad to see this Men/Mars-Women/Venus stuff on here today.

      A rock and a like-sized hunk of metal are the same and different in their physical properties. Culture and society determine which one has value and which one is just a mass.

      1. This is (probably) the last time I will engage on this today, as I stand by every paragraph (minus the Libra thing I know NOTHING about).

        And I’ll reiterate something I’ve said previously for #1:

        1. There is, in my estimation, overwhelming evidence that the two genders GENERALLY/MORE OFTEN THAN NOT/MOST OF THE TIME/BUT CERTAINLY NOT ALWAYS have fundamental chemistry differences that affect how our mind and bodies work, and (more importantly for the purposes of what I write and why) THIS is the very concept that helped me understand what I need to understand to make sense of the communication problems that end marriages.

        2. This was in my post:
        “Accusations of sexism in the context of discriminating against women OR men are baseless and ignorant. There is precisely zero evidence in my writing or behavior that suggests I believe one gender is BETTER than another. Nonsense.”

        3. This was too:
        “Men are not better than women. Women are not better than men. But men and women are MOSTLY different, and the more understanding and accepting we are of these differences (and acknowledging that they exist), the more quickly we can arrive to a future where there ISN’T much gender discrimination in mainstream society, and where boyfriends and girlfriends, and husbands and wives can begin to better understand why we do and feel many of the things we do that damage our relationships.”

        4. This, I think, settles the matter in terms of applying “value” to things that are “different” RE: my writing:

        “I don’t talk about these things in He/She and Husband/Wife terms to exclude people who experience these same fights in a gender-reversal way, or who are in same-sex relationships.

        “I don’t talk about these things in a generic Men Do This, and Women Do That way in order to alienate either gender or suggest one is better than another…”

        “Different is not the same as worse. Different is not the same as better. Different is just different.

        “And I’m going to keep saying it because it’s true and it’s important.”

  6. Love the excitement and the energy you bring to this. Yes I agree you are hitting the nail on the head.

    1. Yes! Thank you.

      “Different” does NOT = “Bad.”

      Gender, religion, culture, geography, hobbies and interests, subject matter.

      I’m not sure what value there is from trying to get everyone to be “the same.” Sounds REALLY boring and counterproductive.

      And frankly, discriminatory. Let people be who they are.

  7. This is so true. I think those who try to be a contrarian voice do so just to be contrarian. I am a very strong female…lots of leadership skills and confidence. Truly and intimidating personality. People at my work are ALWAYS afraid to come into my office. (It makes perfect sense that my Ex would be drawn to someone like me). Even now, in his “new relationship” he self-identifies in the more submissive, female-esque role. And with all those dynamics in place your assessment of gender roles is very accurate to both of us. Don’t sweat those other comments. You’re totally on to something here. Keep being the voice you set out to be. (*coughcoughAlberta?cough*)

    1. I don’t think it’s about being contrarian.

      I think women have been discriminated against, undermined, and undervalued for a LONG time by many men in positions of power.

      There are a LOT of people (and sadly–women are among them) who believe women are inherently less capable than men. And that’s bullshit. There is no evidence men are are somehow more capable–in the grand scheme of life–than women.

      Everything’s case-by-case.

      In the context of marriage in the 21st century, I think there’s evidence that women are more capable than men, and I say so all the time.

      And this same thing happens in reverse. Some outraged guy who does a great job in his marriage and whose wife leaves dishes by the sink gets all pissed off, ignoring the fact that MOST of the time, wives and mothers manage households and perform a higher percentage of tasks than they do. Also, wives and mothers frequently demonstrate more competence in the areas of communication and trying to proactively work on marriage, while men commonly dismiss wives’ concern because he doesn’t want to talk about it right now because the game’s about to start.

      When we deny these things, we are, as a society, being intellectually dishonest, and I can’t figure out why. To be “fair”?

      Truth is fair.

      Truth is just.

      Let’s just let truth be truth, and not try to manipulate it because it seems non-inclusive to a small percentage of people who are special/unique/awesome enough to not be in these generalized silos.

      I’m jealous of them. I love uniqueness. But on this topic, I’m not unique. I’m like most guys.

      And most guys need to know this.

  8. Once again, Matt, you really nailed it.
    I believe in celebrating all of our diversity. In recognizing it, we are better able to avoid projecting our own subjective realities onto others, by allowing that we are not all the same, and being able to reject what does not fit.
    No one should have to fit anybody else’s preconceived notions.
    I am not afraid to hold a door open for another man, or offer a cigar to a woman…better to just do, and not assume…I have no interest in football, for instance, and my wife tends to only kiss me when she wants sex..
    I think that there is nothing wrong with allowing for the recognition of what fits and what doesn’t…you’re either guilty for not recognizing or guilty for recognizing our similarities as well as our differences.
    Too often, offense is in the ear of the beholder, because of the prejudices they bring to the table; in labeling us as sexist pigs, they engage in their own prejudices and pre-conceived stereotypes.
    Chazz Vincent

    1. Thank you, Chazz. Always great to hear from you.

      I agree with everything you just wrote.

      There is no One-Size-Fits-All thing that applies to everyone. There just isn’t.

      I think people are very different. And I think it’s beautiful. It’s the Human Mosaic, and I love it.

      Once in a while, our differences can cause societal problems.

      Discrimination examples are obvious. Caustic political rancor is another. Poor communication in relationships is a third, and the one I often think and write about.

  9. It didn’t take me long to realize you were not talking just dishes….I thought this to be a great read and enjoyed enough to become a ‘Follower’…by the way, I’m a 61yr. old female.

    1. Thank you for taking time to read and comment, Tami. I’m flattered you read a new post. Have a great day, please.

  10. Hey Matt – while I tend to agree that some parts of this post seem overly general and even a little derogatory (I have to disagree about the things you list that “most” women and men enjoy…) I know your intentions are really great and you’re not trying to be an asshole. 🙂 I’m gonna keep reading though…because the real meaning in your posts is pretty profound (where to succeed in marriage everyone has to give 100 percent), even if you really believe girls are hard-wired to obsess over weddings and enjoy spa days… 🙂

    1. I do NOT believe women are hard-wired to obsess over weddings and spa days! 🙂

      I believe women are USUALLY hard wired for specific chemical and emotional responses to certain life events. That fear and trust play major roles in the female experience in ways they do not always in males. And that shame-avoidant behaviors in males is a byproduct of biology/environmental conditioning, and that we are affected much more by shame-related emotions than women.

      I offer the “It’s a Boy!” stuff being blue and women reading bridal magazines instead of men, and the tool and lawn equipment industry’s tendency to market to men as relatable examples to illustrate the point.

      Men are hard wired for things emotionally. (Not football, beer, video games, muscle cars).

      Women are hard wired for things emotionally (not spa days, or flower bouquets, or gossip magazines).

      But those meaningless preferences we see in pop culture, in my estimation, help people visualize what we need to visualize to communicate effectively about a dish left by the sink:

      We see the entire situation VERY differently, and when we fight about it, we are speaking different languages.

      There are well over 3,000 comments on the dishes post which illustrate the point quite effectively.

      Thank you for reading. I apologize for poorly communicating my meaning.

      No. You are not hard wired to like spas. A lot of women just happen to like them.

      If a man can understand that, just like his wife likes spas even though going to one sounds like a super not-fun time to him, his wife is also experiencing a dirty dish radically different than he is, their marriage has a real chance.

      And that’s all I care about.

      1. Haha – I can’t argue with most of that logic, nor would I want to…mostly, because I can tell you like to win. 🙂

        I actually agree with most of what you say and (like I said) I think your intentions are really great. I think you are helping a lot of real people in internet land to better understand themselves and their partners. (Thank you for that!!)

        But, outside of the differences that are natural (and possibly chemically or otherwise hardwired between men and women) I think your very passionate reactions and responses to readers’ (sometimes very passionate) comments illustrate another very important factor in the success or failure of a relationship: Some men like to argue. Some women like to argue. Or, more aptly, some men and women get great satisfaction in being “right” or winning a debate. This absolutely is not a gender-specific trait. So, while you’ve touched on this from a gender-specific perspective, the reality is that when you have two spouses who both really like to argue a point, just to be right or to win, it doesn’t matter if it’s a dish in by the sink or whether a dress is white and gold or blue and black, there is NO winner.

        So, I think it’s important that people with this personality trait recognize it in themselves and understand that arguing with the person you love, for the sake of winning, is going to cause you both to lose.

        Keep up the great work, Matt.


        1. I’m an Aries! (I read that we are headstrong and ENJOY lively debate–and it seems generally true. 😉 )

          Argumentativeness is not a trait I would link to gender but I’ve never thought about it before either.

          To your point, my inclination to defend my positions has, multiple times in my life, caused hurt feelings in others.

          And in the spirit of the dish example, was my introduction to: “I didn’t mean to hurt that person, but I now realize it happened anyway. I should apologize and assure them that moving forward, I’ll work hard to not do so again.”

          (Solid dress color reference!)

          Thank you for the kind, supportive (and I suspect, patient) comments. I appreciate very much you giving me the benefit of the doubt and believing my intentions are good.

          1. That’s very funny. Thank you for sharing that fun little exercise with the rest of us. It did fit the theme rather nicely.

            Though I’m the first to say when we discuss these things, there will always be exceptions. Not many absolutes in this life.

            But whatever motivates people to reject these ideas is something I haven’t found a way to understand empathetically just yet.

            It all seems a little too obvious, but I am not other people. So, who knows. But I’m very much open to having someone vehemently against what I’m saying here explain it to me.

            Adulthood has taught me it’s not very smart to disagree with someone unless you can make the opposing argument, proving you’ve considered all sides.

            I think I’ve done that on this subject, but I’ve been wrong 89 trillion times before. Maybe this is like those times.

          2. Well, I’m not vehemently opposed to anything, and I really don’t believe in having strong beliefs in any one direction…because I’ve been proven wrong far too many times:) But, I can take a stab at explaining why some people might take offence to the generalizations:

            1. Their life experience has taught them something very different than your life experience. If they’ve lived a very different “normal” than you, it’s hard to accept your generalization as truth. Such as a woman who is totally not into spa treatments and who is surrounded by women who are totally not into spa treatments. It would be very difficult for her to accept as truth that “most” women are. Especially when coming from a 30-something divorced man. So, her truth is that someone saying most women are into spa treatments is nothing more than a damaging stereotype that perpetuates the idea of woman as flakes who like to spend money and be pampered. Your truth: harmless (?) observation that most women you know (?) enjoy spa treatments, plus the main stream media tells you they do, so it must be true, yes? No. But, this does not lessen the fact that you had no malicious intentions and were trying to help people whose truths are similar to yours. So you = good guy. 🙂


            2. They just like to argue.

          3. I write this stuff VERY fast with zero planning and little thought.

            I find it very hard to believe that the average spa’s customer base isn’t 85-ish percent female, just as I’d expect a baseball card shop’s customer base to be 85-ish (probably higher) percent male.

            I probably should have reverse engineered it and chose my words more carefully.

            Fine. Maybe MOST women aren’t into spas. I accept that. Maybe MOST men into collecting baseball cards.

            But I think it’s safe to assume which gender more commonly prefers which activity.

            I think a guy “like me” (which is who I try to write for) reading this post, might be able to make the connection between Things My Wife Likes That I Don’t (regardless of what they are) and My Wife Responds Differently to a Dish by the Sink.

            If dude never accepts that his wife is (in this emotional pain sense) fundamentally different than him, then I’m afraid The Same Fight® repeats forever.

            I couldn’t believe this to be more important, so I wish I wasn’t talking about spas, which is my fault for writing and publishing thoughtlessly.

            Though, to be sure, it’s what I always do. Write for an hour and hit Publish.

            There’s probably a better way.


          4. Please remember that I was only responding to your comment that you couldn’t understand empathetically as to why some people were offended (or something, I’m on my iPad so I can’t easily see). I took a stab at explaining why that might be. Even though I know what your post was about and that your intentions were good.

            You are writing for yourself and for people like you, but doing so in a place where people with different ideas and beliefs have the opportunity to read, think about and respond to your ideas. This is good, this is bad.

            This means everyone, including you, has the opportunity to walk away a little more enlightened than they were before. It also means assholes get to pass judgment in judgy pious ways and assign labels that may or may not fit.

            But….and take this or leave it….it seems like, at this point, after reading all the comments, your sensitivity over people commenting on what you wrote and not getting what you wanted them to get, is making you defensive and unable to see that, despite what you “meant” people are responding to what they heard or understood, kinda like your wife and the glass. Only you’re not understanding them because it’s not what you meant and they’re stupid and crazy for talking about how they felt when it’s not offensive to you and….shit. This is sounding familiar.

            And, the crazy part is, man/woman = largely irrelevant. It’s that we ALL read the same thing and felt something different. So, really, it’s both an opportunity for you to teach and to learn and to stop, breath, and realize that other people being offended by your words is no different than you being offended by theirs. Unless they’re the dickheads that are obviously just being mean. Then, no one gives a shit about them anyways.

            Also, I’m a write/publish gal, too. So fingers crossed that this is coming across with as much love and kindness as is intended.

          5. It is coming across as you intended. I promise.

            I AM defensive. But don’t read “anger” or “malice” in my tone, please. It is not present. 🙂

    2. I just want to add a little story to this post (I am also a sag. woman btw). I moved to a very rural area (the ozarks) from a much more progressive lifestyle (metro detroit) and found the treatment based on gender quite different. I had a patient that was an old truck driver, probably in his early 70’s and had been driving the majority of his adult life, having served in the military and so on. He told me about how much he hated going to the cities. He had to deliver in California once and decided to use a day to see the sights and stay in a nice hotel. He made the mistake of holding the door open for a lady entering the hotel. She berated him, loudly, in front of anyone standing there for having the AUDACITY to do something for her that she could do for herself. Now, this is an “aw shucks’ good ole boy who was taught that you treat a lady like a lady. You carry her groceries, you pull out her chair, you open her door. She humiliated him so much he remembered the incident as if it happened the day before. Everyone’s life experience is different, I agree, But men are different than women in many ways. Why can’t we be feminists and still be feminine?
      I married a good ole boy here in the Ozarks and I understand the problems you describe pertaining to not understanding each other when trying to communicate thru problems. It as if you are reading my daily mail. But..having said that…
      I do not care much for spa days or shoes or other things that are stereotypically “girly” I very much enjoy my husband meeting me at the car to carry the groceries, holding open the door for me, getting out of bed to turn up the heat, or on the fan immediately because I have mentioned I am too cold or hot and the hundreds of other things he does every day to let me know that he loves me and puts me on a pedestal. What is so wrong about being different? I, personally, love feeling cherished. His dad taught him this.

      1. bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit

        Why focus on the fact that the old guy opened the door for a lady being an act of respect for women? The fact she was a woman had nothing to do with it and the fact that she REACTED to his actions had nothing to do with the gender. She reacted this way because SHE IS A BITCH!

        You could easily flip the story around if he were the ASSHOLE. Say he opened the door for that lady and she didn’t acknowledge it because her mind was preoccupied. He might have said something like “your WELCOME”, making her feel bad for not thanking him. We see it happen. Men or women opening doors for men or women. It happened to me last year. A lady opened the door and I was not aware as I was looking the other direction and just went with he flow.

        That being said… Gender has NOTHING to do with it and just being a KIND person does.

  11. Personally, I hope you are not letting these people comments affect you. I am a woman and I did not see it as sexist at all. I took it for what it was. It is very easy for people to jump to conclusions or place judgements based on their own lives and preconceived notions without taking the time to throughly comprehend what they were reading. To be more specific what your intended message may have been. I truly believe you are onto something and I personally have been using your blog to help me understand “men” thus my husband so I could be proactive in healing the parts of our marriage that are broken. Truth, it’s working. We have a long way to go but by taking a step back, looking at the situation a little different and being willing to compromise for the better has made obvious improvements. Let’s be honest we are all a little sexist in some regard or another even the one’s irrationally or emotionally commenting. So keep being you, keep doing what you do. You are awesome!!

    1. Thank you very much.

      I am infinitely more sensitive to criticism than I should be. I have an “I want everyone to like me” complex.

      It’s not healthy. 🙂

      Thank you for your kind and supportive comment.

  12. I loved this post and I know I’m not alone in wishing I could express myself as well. Or so bravely – in this PC world where ‘equal’ means ‘the same as’. I can see it will be fun to follow how many different groups you manage to stir up. With only this one you’re taking on astrologists (and being dropped by everyone who thinks that’s bunk) as well as those who believe the differences between genders is perpetuated by society and not biology. If you could avoid dragging blonds into this I’d appreciate it.

    1. Thank you. It’s preposterous in every sense of the word to suggest I don’t believe men and women to be equal.

      Just different. And I think different is good. 🙂

  13. You know, I’ve been wondering for years now: Are certain things marketed to us because we stereotypically like them, or do we stereotypically like them because they’re marketed toward us, or is it just a cycle of the two feeding off of each other? Would those stereotypes change if we actively stopped using them? I don’t fit most of the stereotypes for my gender, and neither do the majority of people I know. Maybe it’s just easier to subscribe to that and move along?

    1. I don’t really think about it in those terms.

      I think: Most men experience emotion and conflict this way, and women experience emotion and conflict that way, and until they BOTH understand that and practice empathy during disagreement, marriages will continue to fail more than half the time.

      It’s that simple.

      I understand there are exceptions to the rule. I say it every time I write in generalities, and to be sure, I often write in generalities.

      You might say, I write for the 80 percent. It’s simply not possible to cover every possible angle and eventuality and special exception in one short piece of writing.

      So, I just tackle one little idea at a time, and do the best I can to say what I believe and why.

      Thank you so much for reading and being part of the conversation.

  14. Totally agree. When we understand more and celebrate our differences and what we’re good at, we can be more compassionate. It’s tough when only one in the relationship wants to understand, I think that’s where a lot of differences go unnoticed. Usually the woman wants to talk and the man trivializes it. If women can compromise on not bombarding their partners with long winded conversations that feel like blame and men can open up to listen differently while understanding that women need to feel connected then big change is possible. Thank you again for your articulate, clear post. ?

    1. This is one common example of what I mean. And a good one.

      It’s not always true. It’s just mostly true. And yes, the husbands and wives in an applicable relationship situation would very much benefit from understanding that.

      Just because some marriages AREN’T like that doesn’t make it less true that many (I believe “most”) are.

  15. These are the reasons I feel for every reality tv stars everywhere…on a global stage, under that kind of scrutiny, I couldn’t imagine the performance pressure. I screw up a lot as it is, I don’t need the voices of 1000’s of strangers who don’t know me, added to my inner dialogue. First off, I feel like the only way we are going to dispel stereotypes is by talking about them and 2nd, I think a lot of the problems with generalizations are the wording; you say obsessive, I say enthusiastic (shrugs shoulders) Unless you’re saying it while also limiting my opportunities in life, I’m going to correct you with a smile and a wink and carry on with my day. Really, even if you ARE trying to hold me back, stopping the conversation or even correcting inequality is not going to stop a jerk from being a jerk, be he/she sexist, racist or just generally petty. I don’t believe there is a finish line for the human race, just an endless journey to be the best possible versions of ourselves and that, that’s going to take some trial and error and communication. Good Luck Sir and keep exploring

    1. “Obsessing” vs. “enthusiastic.”

      That is subtle and nuanced enough that I would have NEVER on my own considered my word choice there as noteworthy.

      That’s interesting. I’ll think about that a lot more.

      I hope you’ll trust that “obsess” was a very casual reference.

      I am the freaking king of hyperbole.

      I don’t mean “obsess” in a literal dictionary-style definition of the word, certainly.

      More like how I mean it when I say “I’m obsessed with eating authentic pho,” or “I’m obsessed with the new Lord Huron album.”

      I don’t actually obsess over them.

      Enthusiastic is a more accurate word for people who aren’t mind readers.

      You’ve given me something interesting to think about from a writing standpoint. I appreciate that very much.

  16. Libras aren’t unable to commit. We’re just too smart to commit to someone who believes shit like that.

      1. You’ll sleep alone without a Libra to keep you company. I’ve been married to one for 35 years. She’s never waivered in her commitment to me after four kids, three layoffs, a foreclosure, cancer, the list goes on.

        1. 1. That’s a great story.

          2. This post wasn’t about astrology. It was about common differences men and women exhibit that are correlated with marriages ending. The astrology example was to illustrate how in my experience, astrology personality profiles seem mostly true.

          3. I don’t personally know any Libras with commitment issues. I simply picked one stereotype about one sign arbitrarily to use as a sub-head. It’s also possible the person who wrote the Libra personality stereotype info is a lousy astrologist and got it wrong.

          4. But seriously. This wasn’t about astrology. I promise. I’m sure most Libras are amazing, as I tend to like most people.

    1. It’s just something I randomly read on a site called dailyhoroscope.com while I was writing the post.

      I probably should have used Aries since I am one, and totally fit the description.

      I’m sure you’re extremely smart and phenomenal at commitment. I apologize for the subhead suggesting otherwise. The post was NOT about astrology.

      It was about how some things are generally true, even when some people say they aren’t.

      That’s the great thing about truth. It gets to be itself no matter what.

  17. belief3ninesfine

    Hey Matt ~

    Like others here, a friend recommended your “dishes” post, and I started following you because of it. She said when she showed it to her husband, he said “you could have written this.”

    I also reposted it to FB (something I rarely do) and oh, my my . . .

    I got some of the same reactions ~ from fewer people (some of whom didn’t read the whole post) but still.

    So I’m going to post this one ~ and say (as I should’ve on the last one): good on ya. It takes courage to dig into something that’s hurt you and be objective enough to accept your share of the responsibility for the pain you both suffered ~ and even more so to put it out there in the hopes of helping someone else avoid the same mistakes, the same pain.

    Best wishes ~

    1. Thank you very much for taking time to read and comment and offer encouragement. This stuff really matters to me.

  18. Very true Kate. Men are taught to be the knight in shining armor and women are supposed to do it all and make it look easy. Stereotypes are simply an oversimplified image or idea. When we share our stories, our individualism and humanity, we begin to break down stereotypes. Our culture teaches it but as active members of society we can teach bravery and curiosity. To our friends, our families, our co-workers and even strangers. We can ask questions about beliefs and show gratitude and compassion when others judge.When we start with our part and what we add to the equation, shift happens. I realize I’ve probably added more than I should in the comments of this but I really wanted to add to your thought process ☺️

  19. Love your insight and your style, Matt. This is such an important subject and you handle it with such disarming humility, honesty and grace. I’m not sure what people on both sides of this debate are objecting to, because what you wrote isn’t at all what they seem to be understanding. I think the hurt runs so deep that we tend to project our experience or feelings onto what someone else innocently says when it comes to a trigger topic like this–another factor to take into consideration that greatly complicates our attempts at communication.

    But I want to recommend another good book about male-female communication. You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, by Deborah Tannen. Her research is very hard to refute and her writing is engaging. We don’t just make this stuff up; men and women are different! We see things differently, feel things differently, and communicate differently. Different is not pejorative. It should enrich us.

    1. That sounds like exactly the kind of book I want to read. To me, as insane as it might seem to some people, it’s this Not Understanding Each Other Even Though We Both Speak the Same Language thing that causes 90+% of our problems.

      When a guy befuddled by his wife’s behavior finally makes the connection, it can change everything about their relationship.

      It’s too simple AND too complicated all at the same time. We shouldn’t stop talking about it.

      Thank you.

  20. Erica Hirlinger

    ???????? words don’t describe how much I agree with this post. So clapping hand emojis will do.

    1. Thank you, Erica. I didn’t realize it was going to give me heartburn reminiscent of the dishes post.

      I’m grateful for your time and support.

  21. wow, I hadn’t considered you to be sexist until this post! All the things that you mentioned either / both sexes mostly liking are so cliche, shallow, and boring! I always thought that those kinds of generalizations were marketed to us, to make us buy products, or feel like there is something wrong with ourselves if we didn’t like what they market. Why didn’t you say, MOST men, or women that YOU know are interested in the topics that you mentioned? I don’t fit that mold, neither do most people I associate with.

    1. Because this post wasn’t about products being marketed to men or women (even though the products I mentioned ARE specifically marketed to one gender over another.)

      This post is about the different ways men and women respond emotionally to things that happen to us.

      Please don’t get hung up on meaningless examples.

      If you play fantasy football and all the men you know read bridal magazines, that’s perfectly fine.

      It doesn’t negate the reality that men and women experience life and relationships and conflict differently, and NOT knowing it causes most divorces.

      1. Why give meaningless examples? Nothing on your lists for men or women interests me. Give examples of our differences in communications styles if that’s your intention, but the examples that you cited make you seem sexist.
        And your cartoon implies we never think about sex.

        1. I specifically state that I’m sexist, Michelle. That’s the title of the post. I AM sexist. Just don’t accuse me of discrimination, or believing one gender is better than another.

          Because that’s bullshit, and then we’ll have a fight, and it will be because you and I experience things, think, and feel differently… and just maybe… general differences between us… wait for it… have a little bit to do with our gender.

          It’s not a certainty. It’s just a possibility.

          I pray you can believe no malice was intended, and that no matter what you and your friends like, I think you are all smart and talented people.

          1. I think we are experiencing a difference in communication styles, right now. Because I am a female, you aren’t addressing my question, “why give meaningless examples?” What happened, Matt, did you catch too much flack from guys, for trying to hear, or understand a feminine perspective so now you’ve reverted to sterotypes about shallow sh##?

          2. What I would ask you to do, I guess, would be to only read from the subhead “Understand and Celebrate the Differences” on down. Because that’s the only part of the post that really matters.

            I write things in ways that make sense to me, so that people like me can learn things faster than I did, and hopefully have more successful relationships than I did.

            I’m sorry the bridal mags mostly being for women, and fantasy football mostly being for men thing distracted so much from the message.

            But, make no mistake, I’m sitting here thoughtfully (not stubbornly) disagreeing with you.

            Even though you’re only addressing things that have NOTHING to do with the point of me writing this, I’m still willing to disagree about the part you’re focusing on.

            I regret wording it as I did.

            Maybe most women do not like bridal magazines. Maybe bridal magazines are simply mostly read by women.

            Maybe most men don’t like James Bond movies. Maybe just most people who buy The Complete 007 Collection happen to be men.

            Maybe most women don’t like shopping for purses at Coach. Maybe just most of Coach’s customers are women.

            Maybe most men don’t like putting lift kits and off-road tires on their pickup truck. Maybe just most lift kit buyers and off-road enthusiasts happen to be men.

            I’m not going to waste much more energy having this side conversation.

            Here. I’ll rewrite the post in three sentences, avoiding sexism triggers:

            Men and women often respond to things, and communicate, differently than one another, and it has been observed in a trillion hours of interviews and lab studies with opposite-sex couples by smart people with PhDs who shared their findings. Male-female couples who don’t learn about this frequently get divorced and their lives suck more afterward. I’d like that to stop.

          3. well maybe it’s a cultural difference between us then, but one thing that I know from the nature of our conversation, is that you are insisting that you mean something other than what your words have actually demonstrated, while nothing that I brought to your attention has been directly addressed. Continue in your sexist communication style, and miss out on knowing how we are alike, rather than how we differ.

  22. Matt – Like so many others have previously stated, I came to your blog via the “Dish Post” I have shared it with friends and have enjoyed your older posts as well. You write from a place of vulnerabilitly, honesty and integrity. You are insightful and I find you hilarious at times. Do you ever get tired of defending yourself to people who obviously don’t take the time to actually read your posts?

    Its NOT about the dish! He wasn’t dissing “Libras”! Geez – I don’t know how you keep your sanity!

    I’m a Woman who likes spa days and pink, A LIBRA (October 8th), a divorcee, a mother, from NE Ohio (near a National park) and Divorce sucks. I wish your blog would have been around when I was going through mine. We, my ex and I, each contributed to the divorce in a million “dish in the sink” ways…if your words resonate with and save even one couple form the hell of divorce than your time spent writing will have surely have been worth the frustration of having to explain yourself. Keep doing what you do! I enjoy every word!

    1. Thank you. I think it’s important for people to be able to disagree with me or tell me why I’m wrong. I welcome the dialogue. But I do have a tendency to care a little too much what people think. It’s not a good thing to be when you put yourself out there.

      I’m overly defensive. I probably need to let people react naturally and accept the criticism without explaining 14 times why I chose to say or believe something.

      I don’t fully understand how someone could read every word of this post and have a problem with it. I suspect people stopped around “Girls like pink, and boys like blue” and missed all the important stuff about healthy communication in marriage.

      But that’s probably because I write too much. Just like I’m doing now.

      Brevity — not my strong suit.

  23. Like you, I enjoy a healthy debate and great conversation! But at least make an effort to come to the table with an informed opinion and the facts…

    I encourage you to stay true to you.

  24. Matt, I love a good debate and I especially enjoy your kindness towards others, but you really have to grow a thick skin on the internet and to stand your ground without apologies. Take it from me, I know how brutal and downright abusive it can get. I’m just saying, don’t apologize, don’t back track, and don’t second guess yourself. People will have feelings about what you write, but that doesn’t mean the feelings are about you. Don’t take it personally.

    That’s a really good lesson for marriage too, don’t take everything personally. People’s feelings are not always all about you.

    1. I was just having this conversation offline.

      Yes. I need to care less about everyone liking me since they won’t. 🙂

        1. Considering 500 guys have called me the world’s biggest asshole in the past week, there is a certain amount of poetic irony involved.

          I’m missing something. You might be able to help.

          I contend that men and women are different and that it is okay. I think differences are interesting and worth sharing and celebrating.

          Is there something inherently discriminatory about perceiving people to be equal, but different?

          Is it inappropriate in some way to NOT aspire to see humanity be viewed as “the same”?

          All humans are equal. All humans have equal worth. But not all humans are “the same.”

          Is that hate speech? Is that something I should feel ashamed of believing and saying?

          1. Just repeating what I’ve read in books that changed my life for the better and totally jibe with my life experience.

          2. I know. But you pondered whether or not pointing out that men and women are different was hate speak… When what some people actually took as hate speak was when you said that most women are the same and most men are the same. There is a very vital difference. But it seems that you, as you may have been with that glass, are focussing on being right (and righteously outraged) instead of perceptive, open and humble.

            In any case, you earned this large following because you have an innate ability to see and write about truth. Your intentions are incredibly noble in helping fellow humans, men AND women, see how they can possibly repair their damaged relationships. And you are making a difference.

          3. FYI: I read your post. There were a couple things I instinctively wanted to “Yeah, but!” and get defensive about.

            But I don’t want to lose sight of my primary takeaway. The one about how I learned something important and powerful in my marriage, and then failed to display that understanding in a like situation (minus the love and marriage part… but still). That didn’t feel like an unreasonable observation or unfair criticism.

            I stumbled on this passage from the post just before it:

            “A critical lesson of my divorce: We must allow others to have their own individual human experiences, and accept that they’re real even when they react to something differently than we do, or describe a conflicting feeling.

            “What that means is, some people can be called an asshole and it’s funny, and some people can be called an asshole and it REALLY upsets them. One is not rational while the other is irrational. One is not logical while the other is illogical. It’s simply two separate people experiencing the SAME thing two DIFFERENT ways. It’s not right or wrong. It just IS.”

            This might have been an opportunity to communicate more effectively, tapping into my understanding of how two people can experience the same thing quite differently.

            You go out of your way to use kind words, and to not level criticisms without first offering praise and compliments. I appreciate that.

            More importantly, I appreciate that, even though I’m almost certainly going to continue to feel defensive and annoyed when people react negatively to things I write from time to time because I don’t always do the right thing, you have given me something very important to think about.

            Sure, blog commenters DO NOT = spouse.

            But maybe when we practice what we preach in all walks of life, we can more effectively do so in marriage as well. So, thank you.

          4. I REALLY appreciate this response. I was almost scared to post that post. For a couple of reasons. 1. I hate conflict. And I was afraid you would hate it and be mad. 2. I am acutely aware that I really have no business writing about YOUR post or YOUR reaction to YOUR readers’ comments. I mean, who the hell am I? A 39-year old mom to a gaggle of kids, a public servant and someone who has been typing random words into a blog for all of five minutes.

            But, for whatever reason the whole situation was eating at me. And the post was swirling in my mind. And I had to figure it out. But I didn’t have to publish. And I would have understood if you were pissed that I did.

            So thank you for your very thoughtful response to a post that would not leave me alone until I wrote it.

          5. You (the universal “you,” not you specifically) are not likely to rid me of my various flaws or curb all of my less-than-stellar behaviors. But my desire to grow and think and challenge beliefs (even my own) and stretch a bit further and walk a higher path are legit.

            Growth isn’t comfortable.

            I know what I meant when I wrote this post and I know why it’s so important to me and why I think it can be important to other guys like me. I stand by that.

            But there needs to be a higher level of discourse in the exchange of ideas (and sometimes criticism or negative backlash) afterward.

            I’ve never had hundreds of strangers tell me I thought or did something I didn’t believe I thought or did before.

            It’s something I’ll need improve. A lot. Even if it doesn’t show up in the next comment, or the one after that, you’ve helped. With the right tone, thoughts and combination of words that make sense to me.

            No matter what your reason for caring, thank you for caring.

          6. See? There’s a gender divide in the frickin’ comments! Irony, anyone?

            And I’m sorry, but I’m not buying the whole “cultural indoctrination” argument. Does it exist? Yes. Duh. Does it account for all gender differences? I highly doubt it.

            Interestingly, I’ve been reflecting on and writing about this very thing recently, the gender differences present in my children. I was already raising two sons when I was blessed with a daughter. I didn’t set out to raise my children along gender lines. My goal was to raise them as individuals. But I can’t deny that parenting a daughter is different from raising a son. I observed gender differences first hand. I’m not talking about the boys preferring Hot Wheels and my daughter preferring Barbie. I’m talking about differences to how they related to one another. How they approached conflict and how they resolved it. As a mom, I had to adjust my parenting strategies accordingly. It took me a while to figure that out.

            So no, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with acknowledging that there are observable gender differences that cultural conditioning can’t entirely account for. I think that’s just being honest.

            *shrugs* FWIW…

      1. It would have made absolutely no difference at all – there would be plenty of people it didn’t apply to and people would point that out! But I think this blog is getting people talking about a really important issue and that’s fantastic.

  25. Ming Hua Matthew Ting.

    I’m so touched when you shared that you are divorced and yet you hate divorce. It is true men and women are created different. You believe it (as I deduce from what I read in your post). I also believe it. The only difference between you and me is I believe, literally, men and women are “created” different. Comes June 2016 I’m married for 40 years. The main reason why I’m and will still be until I die is because I also believe in the Creator who provided me with the “operating manual” on how to operate/maintain a successful marriage (for that matter a successful life). Wishing you every success.

  26. bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit

    We should commit to the process of the relationship and not the outcome… Be KIND always… communicate and give every day.

      1. I loved this video. It touches on so many things I never thought about until I was divorced, and crying, and taking stock of my life.

        The part about how we behave when we’re children is so key and something I’ve read, written, and thought a lot about. It’s beautiful to just… do. Without judgment or expectation or fear or agenda. We just do the thing we want to do in that moment.

        It’s a shame life in the Rat Race and the insecurities and guilt and shame we collect growing into adults deprives of us of that innocence and joy.

        This video, without using the same words I use, also reiterates something important you said.

        It’s another point that changed my entire life philosophy in the past three years.

        So many of us have these things in our heads that we want:

        Money, Love, Sex, Drugs, Houses, Cars, Jobs, Toys, Experiences, Skills, Children, Friends, Pets, whatever.

        We all have our own lists.

        We want those things because we all think: “When I get these things, or check these things off my list, I will complete my goals and be happy.”

        We think when we acquire or achieve what we desire that we will somehow elevate to some new plane of existence. More enlightened. More Feel-Good. More happy.

        And it’s just not true. I mean, it can be. But it’s more about mindset and the stories about ourselves and life that we choose to believe than it is about Getting New Car = Me Being Happy.

        Because that’s not how it works.

        Even love and children and our families–the “things” most of us value most–cannot, on their own, make us feel good all the time, nor sustain it.

        A lot of people roll their eyes because they’ve never thought about it before. It sounds to them like hippie, New Age, spiritualism crap.

        It all begins with gratitude.

        “I am so thankful for the many blessings in my life. For another day to be alive, and learn, and explore, and experience, and love, and feel loved, and meet new people, and have new adventures.

        “I am so blessed to have Life. Thank you.”

        And then things start to change.

        Thank you so much for reading and for sharing this video. The message couldn’t be more important. I hadn’t seen it before, and I appreciate you introducing me to it.

  27. Matt, stop wasting your time and happiness by reading the comments of all these haters. The numbers don’t lie. You are obviously drawing a huge crowd and helping a lot of people. Don’t be discouraged by all the negativity. There is way more positive to focus on.

    1. Right above your comment there’s a great 4-ish minute video. And at one point in it, it talks about how people who made an impact were authentic and stayed true to their beliefs and their goals without worrying about what the world thought of them.

      But, of course, because truth has a way of prevailing, and because the world is mostly filled with very good, very decent people, these heroes are beloved and respected by many, and their impact can be felt every day of our lives when we look for it.

      None of us need to go on a world-changing mission, of course. But no matter what we’re doing in life, if we do so authentically and purposefully and with fortitude and integrity, we can have meaningful impacts on others, no matter how small the reach might be.

      I think we can all live with that.

      You should see the emails I get from husbands and wives thanking me for writing something that finally got through to one or both of them in a way that made them feel as if it “saved” their marriage and/or family.

      No amount of internet-screaming or criticism, can or will take that way from me.

      Other than my son, this is the most important work I’ve ever done.

      Thank you very much for your encouragement.

      1. bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit

        Thank you for watching it Matt. I posted this video on my Facebook just after I left my husband last June. I’m very glad to have stubbled on it. It does resonate big with me.

        I’m not very good at communicating my thoughts on paper as you are, but I knew you would enjoy it and thought it was fitting to your post and these comments.

        Love your mind Matt. Keep up the good work.


    2. He’s not wasting his time reading intelligent responses to his article. Everyone is not going to agree with him. And comments pointing out things that aren’t clear are helpful because they help a writer see how he can more effectively communicate. Your comment? A waste of time. Don’t discredit the people who actually read it and thought about it and had concerns or comments that don’t agree. I can’t believe the author actually supported a stupid comment like this. If you can’t think for yourself, too bad for you, but don’t suggest the writer ignore the smart people who have something to say about this.

      1. Careful, Lane.

        Half of what you said is great, and half is bullshit.

        Sara was trying to encourage me, which is an equally valid action as criticism.

        Voicing agreement and affirmation is not less valid than voicing outrage or disagreement.

        You called her comment a waste of time and stupid. It’s close to an attack.

        And suggesting everyone disagreeing with me is “smart,” suggests everyone agreeing with me AND my post is “not smart.”

        Believe what you believe. Speak freely and honestly about those things.

        But labeling things “stupid” that challenge your beliefs is EXACTLY the same irresponsible and dangerous behavior husbands and wives display while fighting with one another, unintentionally sealing the fate of their doomed marriages.

      2. Not bullshit. Your comment responses are better than the posts. That’s a compliment, by the way. Your dialogue with your readers is the best part of this blog. You teach. You learn. You clarify. You find new ideas to write about. Dialogue is a good thing for a writer. Her comment seemed to put down anyone who was opening the door for that dialogue.

        My marriage is in good shape. We’re a team. I started reading your blog a long time ago for the humorous stuff you write, but every once in a while I get fed up reading comments where some pandering idiot suggests that a writer shouldn’t question their logic because she thinks it’s good and that your numbers tell the story. Noted, you feel the need to defend people like that, because they are supportive of you. But let’s not pretend Sara said something valid about the article, I can’t tell from her comment if she even read it. So no, not bullshit, even if you call it that, Matt.

        1. Okay. Ignoring all the noise, thank you.

          Earlier, when I said half of your comment was great, what I meant was that I agree strongly that people should read, and think, and challenge, or at least speak their minds as they feel compelled too. (Which I think includes Sara, but whatever.)

          I have learned MANY valuable lessons from reading highly intelligent, thoughtful, well written comments which introduced me to new ideas or another way to think about things.

          This topic (gender differences and their impact on communication habits in marriage) in particular is not one where I’m likely to say: “Oh! I never thought of that before! You’re totally right!”

          Because I think about this every day.

          I think it’s foolish to deny that most of the time, common male behavior and emotional responses often conflict with common female behavior and emotional responses, and that it spawns the death of intimacy and trust in marriages.

          I REALLY give a shit about this divorce thing.

          People denying something I believe to be a keystone aspect of husband reform because they think what I’m saying somehow equates to gender inequality or discrimination pisses me off and flies in the face of my primary motivation for writing.

          I CARE. I care about wives and mothers being treated by their husbands in the ways they need to feel loved and content in their marriages. THAT’s how we get people to stay married.

          Everyone saying what I’ve written here is somehow not true or whatever, feels a lot to me like people care more about political correctness than intact families.

          I don’t like it. It’s dangerous.

      3. Maybe it’s not about political correctness. Perhaps people just can’t get past certain parts of it to understand the important part of it. I agree with your logic most of the time. I think most people do, it’s sound. But when you say you believe in horoscopes, you kind of discredit yourself, whether you like it or not. I realize you will not like that I said that. I think of it like a beautiful glass window overlooking a breathtaking scenic view. But there’s a slimy booger in the middle of the glass. Can you appreciate the view with the booger there? Or are you going to say something about how someone should clean it off? The part people get hung up on is the booger.

        And I tried to ignore the “noise” in your comment, but there was waaaaaay too much.

        1. But, Lane. I DON’T believe in horoscopes. And I specifically said so. I said, in my experience, astrological personality profiles were “generally” accurate.

          Those are two very different things.

          I think commenters discredit themselves when they tell me what I say or believe and it’s inaccurate. And I’ve been dealing with that a lot the past week and a half.

      4. Then it’s how you’re saying it. I read it again. It’s not crystal clear. This proves my point. What you didn’t make clear in the article, you can clarify in the comments. Saying that horoscopes are generally accurate is probably enough of a red flag for a lot of people.

        They don’t discredit themselves for not understanding you. They’re giving you a chance to try and be clear before they click away and never come back. I know you want everyone to agree with you and say nice things, but honesty is better. It leads to a more solid understanding of what you’re really trying to say in your posts.

        1. Fair enough.

          But the details matter. A LOT.

          For example, you did it again. I didn’t say horoscopes are accurate.

          A horoscope is a daily or weekly or monthly forecast that people who believe in astrology use to make major life decisions about love and money and whatever.

          In my experience, there is little to be gained from reading or believing in the predictive power of horoscopes. I equate them to fortunes out of fortune cookies.

          There is a separate thing.

          It is the 12 signs of the Zodiac. Each sign is based on approximately one month-long period throughout the year.

          I am an Aries which is a stubborn, pain in the ass sign, and I strongly suspect you’re one of those too.

          Each Zodiac sign has general personality traits associated with them.

          And, in my experience, the astrological personality profiles align with all of the real human beings I know who belong to them.

          I believe astrological personality profiles–not horoscopes–are GENERALLY accurate.

          And I wager if you spent a little time reading about them, you’d agree. It’s a fascinating and interesting phenomenon.

          And I think it’s an excellent analogy for GENERALIZING common male and female behaviors in the interest of relaying digestible information.

          No one even said they didn’t get it.

          They just wanted to scream because I suggested spas and bridal publications are more often used by women than men.

          And I’m still trying to figure out why.

      5. LOL. Ok, Buddy. I don’t think you understand, still. But it doesn’t matter. Maybe it will hit you when you’re shopping later. Or driving to the gym. Or putting away those dishes! I don’t know. My wife rolled her eyes at your post, but she hopes you find an intelligent mate and we both look forward to reading about that. 🙂

        Thanks for the convo. Keep learning.

      6. I just read the conversation between you and Matt. He completely contradicted himself with what he replied to me, “please don’t get hung up on meaningless examples” and what he replied to you, “But the details matter, A LOT.” I would have liked to address him, but no reply button is available for that option.

        I think your conversation with Matt, as well as the conversations with him and 365 days of musings, are the closest to points I wanted to make, but lost my patience.

    1. That I’m a little bit sexist? Or that by and large, men and women commonly exhibit different tendencies, none of which are more valuable or correct than another, but that often drive opposite-sex couples apart, so humanity should be aware of this dynamic in order to have successful relationships?

      1. That men and women have different tendencies, and that choosing to ignore that fact is crippling to a relationship. To understand the other person’s wants, needs, and desires, we all have to step back and think, “Hmmm.. maybe those wants, needs, and desires aren’t the exact match to mine. But that doesn’t make them any less valuable to me.” I’ve been reading your blog any chance I can, trying to delve into archives when I get a break at work. I feel like your way of looking at things is so similar to my fiances, as well as my own, and us discussing your thoughts on how to thrive or how to destroy a relationship has really helped us deal with some character flaws we both have. My flaw directly reflecting the proverbial dish by the sink.

        1. It means a lot to me Brooke that stuff you’re reading here is resulting in meaningful and substantive conversation between you and your future husband.

          I believe very, very strongly that by doing so, you’re laying the foundation for a lifetime of being able to talk to one another, to both feel secure in one another’s love and respect, and that when shit hits the fan one day (and shit ALWAYS hits the fan one day), you will be able to reliably and confidently lean on one another for the support you need to carry on.

          That’s the difference between the people who make it, and the people who don’t.

          I’m humbled and flattered to somehow be a tiny part of that.

          1. It’s been an issue for the last few months, or has just come to light in that time, and I happened upon your blog about the dishes one afternoon a day or two after a blowout argument over me not listening to him (as I said, my dish flaw). I realized I wasn’t doing a simple task, one that I would be livid about were it the other way around. It gave me such insight, so thank you for being brave enough to post about your troubles.

      2. What I’m wondering about is why you’re recommending a book about solving your problems without talking about them but then saying things like “I believe very, very strongly that by doing so, you’re laying the foundation for a lifetime of being able to talk to one another”. Genuine question. The title of the book seems to contradict your approach, which involves talking about relationship issues. What am I missing?

  28. That Squirrel Again

    I’m assuming that, since we’ve moved on to this discussion, that the dishes are finally done to everybody’s satisfaction?

  29. I thought your post on dishes was great! It didn’t come across sexist to me. It was a great rare man’s perspective. I wanted a date with you after reading it. Why? Because you have perspective on your part in things not working out and you’re not afraid to talk about it!

    1. You wanted to date! Rad.

      Thank you, Beth. I work hard at self-awareness. And yes, think talking about it matters.

  30. You just keep doing what you do. You’re obviously striking a chord with many people. And you’ll never make all of them happy. Look at all the ways we are different! But why can’t you focus on how we are alike? Look at all the ways we are similar! Aw, now you’re ignoring our uniqueness. Screw trying to please everyone all the time. I just wish your blog had crossed my path before my divorce (which is ongoing and awful and stupid). All the best to you.

    1. Thank you very much, Megan. Divorce IS awful and stupid. I’m sorry to hear you’re dealing with it.

      Here’s to the good that one day will come.

  31. “They just wanted to scream because I suggested spas and bridal publications are more often used by women than men. And I’m still trying to figure out why. ”

    Matt, the shrieking often stems from the fact that the things women value have traditionally been perceived as having less worth than the things men value. Look at football players, earning millions versus teachers and nurses, professions dominated by women, who earn very little. Even the monetary value we place on things screams of how much we value one but not the other. Spas, wedding mags, make up, these are the things of frivolity, of decadence, the unimportant luxuries you strike from your budget first, because they have less worth and value.

    Completely irrelevant, but I’m a Leo, love the color pink, and all things “girly,” including those spas and weddings and assorted pleasurable things. You would be surprised at how much outrage that confession can inspire, because women themselves have bought into these false ideas that what is perceived as masculine has more value than what is perceived as feminine. In our pink spas, we are doomed to exist in a gilded cage, never truly being seen or known for who we are.

    1. Well. I maybe don’t always act like I value certain opinions as much as others. I’ve been guilty of that my entire life.

      Politeness and kindness are traits to which I aspire.

      But I hope, to most people, the truth is clear: I don’t “rank” people or place value judgments on people based on gender, ethnicity, faith, education, economic status, capabilities, etc.

      Do I admire certain things? Yes. Do I secretly think some things are dumb? Yes.

      But do I think the value of any one human life somehow usurps another?

      It has never, is not, and will never be true.

      Just because some asshole rips on bridal magazines and thinks less of women who read them, does not mean I do.

      I will not accept guilt by association.

      I strive hard for fair-mindedness as best I can, and defend the dignity and respect of everyone that I see being mistreated.

      What you are saying makes perfect sense to me. I even alluded to some of these things in an earlier comment at the top of the thread to PoorLittleWhiteRichMexican.

      In this particular instance, I feel some people we’re unfair and disingenuous in their criticism of what I’d written here, and in almost every instance, it was regarding a sentence in the post unrelated to husband-and-wife communication patterns.


      Someday, I’m sure I’ll stop caring. This was never about winning popularity contests, even though I like winning those more than having everyone think I’m a dick.

      1. Matt, you’re personalizing. I hold you in high regard and do not believe you are the least bit sexist. However, you indicated puzzlement as to why some women responded so emotionally to your genderized spas and wedding mags reference. That is what is at the root of the “why,” because traditionally the things of women have been perceived as having less value. Some women can be defensive, touchy about that. That is the result of our lives, our culture, a desire to be perceived as relevant, as having value, in a world where far too often we are not valued.

        You are asking why as if you have done something wrong. You have done nothing wrong. This is a far bigger issue than you.

        “But I hope, to most people, the truth is clear…” It is to many of us. Your words are a treasure. Still others are going to misunderstand no matter what you say, because they are perceiving your words through their own experience.

        1. For sure! Totally personalizing. And you gave me the clarity and context I needed for understanding why others might be doing the same thing.

          It was very helpful.

          My comments about fair-mindedness were merely a side note explanation for why I’ve been extra-defensive on this one.

          But, yes. To be sure: We’re all personalizing and projecting.

          Frankly, the irony is rather thick. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go set a used glass by the sink.

  32. Pingback: A very long post about a post I read… | 365daysofmusings

  33. I thought it was a great article. I thought your only problem was responding to comments. After posting the article, you should have just sat back and watched the comments rather than respond to them. If people dont like your article, to hell with them. Let them get a life.

  34. I am a sexist, always have been and always will be. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a sexist in that you accept and acknowledge the very real differences between the genders and their roles within working relationships. I am so very good with being a sexist, I am also good with you being one. I wish more of us could stand up and beat our chests and say we are sexists, proudly.

    It’s all good Matt.

  35. Pingback: The Difference Between Knowing the Path and Walking the Path | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  36. I totally agree that many differences should be respected and considered. I don’t think preferring sex over intimate conversation is better or worse than the opposite. I don’t think needing to engage to feel connected is better or worse than just needing to be in the same room to feel connected.

    But some things ARE worse, and not just different (no matter if it’s a woman/man/gender fluid person doing it). Not doing your fair share of the housework/parenting/yardwork etc is worse, not just different, than doing your fair share (especially if your partner has brought it to your attention). That’s just as bad as if two people were sharing the housework/yardwork etc equally, but one person for some reason felt that it was mainly the other person’s responsibility to earn an income! Building on wandathefish’ comment that I’ve copied in below, accepting legitimate criticism at work if you’re not doing your fair share or whatever there and then adjusting accordingly, but not being willing to do the same with your partner/spouse, is worse and not just different from someone who accepts feedback and adjusts in both situations.

    “wandathefsh” commented (among other things): “Men surely receive criticism at work and are expected to talk through any issues with their behaviour, work related performance etc and are then expected to act on this information and ensure they are doing what is expected of them. Surely men if they were just to ignore this criticism and pretend it hadn’t happened as they seem to do in relationships then they would all lose their jobs sooner or later. If they have the ability to cope with criticism constructively in the workplace, why do they suddenly lose this ability when they’re at home?”

    Matt, I would really appreciate your thoughts on wandathefsh’s comment! I see it this way: When anyone does this, man/woman/gender fluid person, then it’s not just cluelesness or communication problems (if that were the case they wouldn’t have been able to adjust at work). It’s entitlement, taking your partner for granted and thinking that, for some reason, it’s ok to treat them badly.

  37. Hey, I really like the distinction of the two “sexisms” – so clearly put I feel like stealing it for my own blog :).
    As you say, the second one (attitudes) is obviously hard to avoid as it is largely caused by education, society etc. And even realising and admitting that these attitudes are sexist is a great start!
    However, when you say “most women enjoy wedding planning etc” so you conclude we are different, my question is: Do women enjoy weddings and pink and men football and blue because women have ovaries and men testicles, or is it because women saw their mothers enjoying weddings, and they see it on TV and whenever they want to play football people are like “What, football? You sure you don’t wanna do ballet instead?”
    My point is – we obviously do have some differences – but how many of those are really innate, natural behaviours, and how many of those are actually caused by the way we are being raised? I think we would be surprised how much influence the education has on what we believe is “typical girl” and “typical boy” likes and behaviours.

    1. I agree. I just don’t write well enough or think smart enough to convey it exactly.

      Do I think there are innate differences between men and women? Yes. Do I think education, behavior modeling, and culture are HUGE influences? Yes. Do I think centuries of behavior modeling can affect our biochemistry? Yes.

      I think if you stand in front of a mirror and say and feel “I am fat, worthless, ugly and stupid” enough times, you won’t just feel that way, but actually become those things. I think the brain is VERY powerful like that.

      And I think that if we feel and say “I am healthy, attractive, talented and smart” enough times, we will also become that.

      So, is it more nurture than nature in some respects? Perhaps. But I think the results are mostly the same.

      All of that said, what I mostly care about is that people in relationships learn how to speak to one another, and really grasp what empathy means RE: that thing doesn’t hurt me, but it does hurt them so I care.

      I think that is, in many ways, the very foundation on which to build a relationship that doesn’t sneak attack resentment, affairs, and other horrible things 5-10 years into a marriage the way so many couples experience life now.

      Thank you for asking thought-provoking questions and thinking about this. Makes it fun.

      1. I wish I had more to add, but this is very well said! If only more people actually understood the power of “you are whatever you think you are”, but also “you are whatever your close ones tell you you are”. It’s incredible how many people still think that calling someone fat will shame them into losing weight.

        And I also appreciate that once the blog is published, there is suddenly so much more to add to the topic, or so many better ways to express the core thoughts. I am sort of relieved it seems to be happening to you too – because I think your posts are brilliant.

        Looking forward to the next post 🙂

  38. Well, this was fun. (finishes popcorn)

    Being a Gemini, I can understand both sides of this. But I’m difficult to offend, so I’m going to go with the spirit of what you wrote and not get hung up on this word and that word being triggers to some (women, it seems. I may have missed the comments where men were feeling this was sexist, but I skimmed…) Heck, I’m a bigger football fan than the hubs is – but I don’t take it personally that you referenced wedding magazines. 🙂

    (And why do a lot of women like spas? Because that’s where YOUR needs come first, and you aren’t expected to prep, clean, or help. And how many women have ample opportunity for their needs to come first? And why is that? Food for thought.)

  39. “Read Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus and tell me it isn’t true.”

    Well, the single affirmation that men are “this” and women are “that” has been patiently debunked by psychology as a whole, yet this stereotype still prevails as it is a simple way for one not to try to understand another and reject – in block – all communication unless it is on one’s terms. Sad…

    1. I try really, really hard Richard to write in broad generalities, and make it abundantly clearly that I’m doing so.

      Nothing has ever been, nor ever will be, One Size Fits All.

      I write in the first person. This is the concept that helped me figure out why my marriage fell apart, and because of that, it’s the concept I believe will help MANY, not all, other guys keep their families together.

      I don’t think it’s quite as sad as you’re painting it here. But I do appreciate your time and thoughts.

      1. What I meant by sad, is the pervasive existence and pushing of the stereotypes like “men are A, women are B” (as depicted by Gray & co). Believing in any stereotype does not do justice to anyone, instead, it reinforces biases and logical fallacies and ultimately… stereotypes.

        The other aspect is, in order to understand why a relationship fails, it requires the involvement of a third party (typically psychologist or family therapist) before the relationship ends (as the individuals and situation might be far more complex than initially thought). Otherwise an individual, such as yourself, will be placed – after the separation – in an inextricable situation where memory – due to its frail and reconstructive nature – will be completely useless. I perfectly understand why you are doing that, as you have made yourself abundantly clear about it, but I also feel this is not quite as healthy as you might think it is.

        1. I won’t speak to how healthy it is, Richard. I’m certainly no medical expert.

          I would say it’s healthy to work through thoughts and feelings. That’s how this blog started. A therapist lady I was talking to amid a post-separation freakout told me I should be writing about it.

          That’s what I did. Much of that is gone as it does not serve the purpose I want this to serve.

          I appreciate your interest, so I’m going to state it very clearly, so you can view everything I write through the appropriate prism:

          I am against divorce.

          I am not pro-marriage. Being single is great. Having personal boundaries, and choosing to pursue selfish interests, and being unwilling to compromise those interests or let someone inside those boundaries is perfectly healthy.

          I ask those people to not marry.

          The problem is, most people get married young, they have no idea about anything (it’s not their fault), and they think marriage will be exactly like their relationship is now. Forever Boyfriend and Girlfriend.

          But then, 5-10 years in, life happens. All of these little things–a dish, the time and financial rigors of babies and young childeren, life trauma like an unexpected death–they all pile up.

          No matter how much you seem to disagree, I believe it’s MORE THAN demonstrable that women commonly think and feel and behave certain ways in their relationships; and that the same can be shown for men. They men often (not always) behave in certain predictable and frequently identified ways.

          These two ways repel one another in relationships.

          It’s why so many couples can identify with the phenomenon of repeating “The Same Fight” over and over and over again. They talk and talk, but no one ever agrees, and nothing ever changes. After YEARS of speaking the same language to one another.

          And I think I know (because it all hit me in the face one day while reading “How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It”) why this happens to people.

          I’m not going to be distracted by tangents related to advanced psychology and/or biology and/or neurology.

          I understand and respect what you are saying.

          Frankly, I don’t care what percentage of the “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” stuff is a byproduct of culture and behavior modeling, and which is fundamental to our genetic code.

          None of that shit matters. I don’t know how my iPhone works internally. I only know how to operate the software.

          I REALLY hate the concept of “the ends justifying the means,” but maybe a little of that is at play here.

          Maybe I don’t really care HOW a man comes to understand his wife and make new choices in his marriage, and ultimately finds long-term contentment and healthy intimacy rather than get divorced, see his kids on weekends, and sleep around wondering how his life ever got to this point.

          I just care that he does get it.

          Most people (according to the Rule of Thirds–about 66%) will either disagree with me or not give a shit whatsoever.

          So, one might say I’m writing for the 33%.

          The guy who is a good man, who deserves a long and healthy marriages, and whose spouse and children, extended family and friends, deserve the same.

          Maybe just 83 of them will ever read any of this stuff and care.

          Maybe just 14 will.

          Or maybe just one.

          It’s possible I’ll change my mind someday. I’m not afraid to do that when presented with the right information. But today? I know what I’m doing and why.

          And that mythical one guy and his family?

          They’re worth it.

  40. Once again, please answer the question that a previous reader (wandathefish) asked, and that I also politely mentioned:

    “Men surely receive criticism at work and are expected to talk through any issues with their behaviour, work related performance etc and are then expected to act on this information and ensure they are doing what is expected of them. Surely men if they were just to ignore this criticism and pretend it hadn’t happened as they seem to do in relationships then they would all lose their jobs sooner or later. If they have the ability to cope with criticism constructively in the workplace, why do they suddenly lose this ability when they’re at home?”

    I know you’re not obligated to respond and I’m not obligated to read. But it hurts and frustrates me when you take the time to reply to other people, yet you won’t give an answer to two readers who’re now wondering about your thoughts regarding the exact same thing.

    1. I am not Matt nor am I answering for him, but this “If they have the ability to cope with criticism constructively in the workplace, why do they suddenly lose this ability when they’re at home?”

      Why would a man even want to come home to an environment of criticism and job performance? Men need love, respect, a comfortable nest and refuge to rest in. Sure there are roles to fulfill and jobs to do, but love is not supposed to be about “constructive” criticism and job performance. Men need to simply be seen and known and enjoyed for who they are, somewhere in their lives.

      1. My point is: If both people work similar hours, all the houework/yardwork/childcare/petcare/car maintenance etc is a shared responsibility. (And, yes sometimes people have health problems or other things going on that makes the picture different). If one person stays home to look after kids (and I don’t care if it’s the man or the woman), then everything that happens when the other partner gets home from work is a shared responsibility. The partner who works can’t expect to sit on their ass all night while the other person chases after kid, does dishes or whatever.

        If a person, and agan I don’t care if it’s the man or the woman, is not doing their fair share, then they are failing the team. They’re being selfish, they’re basically saying that their health, well-being, rest and leisure is more important than their partner’s. If you (and I mean a generic you, not you personally) can only be bothered to do half of the 50 % that rightfully belongs to you, not only does your partner have to do their own 50 %, they have to take over the 25% you couldn’t be bothered to do. They do 75% percent and you do 25%. How is it not ok to call the 25%-person out on that selfishism?! Of course, a couple must discuss what’s necessary to do, divide responsibilities etc. But when that is done, if one person (again, man or woman) is not doing their part, how could they expect anything other than criticism? And it’s not fun for the other person to call out that kind of behaviour. That’s basically another burden.

        Think of these analogies: If you’re an architect and on a team (agan, a generic you not you personally) – your job is to design one house, your partner’s job is to design another house – if you decide to just not do your job because you’d rather do something else, you’re failing your partner, your team. Your teammate then has to design their own house and part of yours. If you’re playing goalie on a soccer team, but can’t be bothered to try to stop the balls coming at you, while your team mate who was assigned to play offense is doing their job, I think it’s legitimate to ciritcise you for that.

        Again, I want to make it clear that it doesn’t matter to me wether it’s a man or woman slacking off. I know of both kinds of relationships, but in this case Wandathefish mentioned men. How can it be that many men seem able to take legitimate criticism at work when they’re not doing their part, but can’t do the same at home?

        “Men need to simply be seen and known and enjoyed for who they are, somewhere in their lives”. So do women. But the kids still need to be fed and cleaned, and the dishes must be done, and I can’t fathom why two adults shouldn’t share that fairly so everyone has basically the same amount of down time. And if someone is not doing their fair share, well, they should get called out on it, and step up.

        I’ve repeated myself many times here, sorry about that. English isn’t my first language, I’m just trying to make sure I’m being very clear.

      2. ” a comfortable nest and refuge to rest in” doesn’t just happen. It takes cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning up, taking out the garbage, tidying, organizing, planning…. And when two people both work outside of the home, or when both people are home at the same time, the should both be responsible to make that happen, so that both can relax and enjoy the nest equally. It’s not fair for the man to leave all of it up the woman, nor is it fair for the woman to leave it up to the man. If someone isn’t doing their fair share of making that happen, well, I think they should be called out on that and they should step up. It’s not fair for one partner to have most of the work and stress while the other relaxes.

        1. “They do 75% percent and you do 25%..”

          Here’s my problem with this. I don’t believe anything is ever going to be 50/50 in marriage. It’s too much like trying to compare apples to oranges. One person is always going to earn more money, one person is always going to do more housework, etc. Somedays one will carry the whole load and sometimes the other will.

          “…well, I think they should be called out on that and they should step up.”

          Well, if that works, then go for it. My problem is that I don’t want to be someones mother, forced to emotionally invest in calling someone out and demanding they step it up. If I were over burdened then that would be like placing even more of a burden on me. Also, it’s a real romance killer.

          If I were married to someone who did not give much, I think I’d have to start lowering my expectations, letting go of things, accepting that this person is not going to do their fair share to “make it happen.” In which case, we just have to let go of whatever we are trying to make happen. I do think people these days expect entirely too much of themselves, two parents both working, while trying to raise a family, have a perfect house, do it all, have it all, etc.

  41. Hello insanitybytes22!

    I agree with you on many things. Having to call someone out on it is definitely an extra burden! I agree sooo much, lol! That’s why it makes me so upset when someone who is not doing their fair share and who’s being called out on it feels entitled to also be mad at their partner for “nagging” crticizing etc. (And name calling and all of that isn’t ok of course) It shouldn’t have to come to that (at least very rarely), people should just be able to sit down and discuss what needs to be done, who’s gone do it, remember to do it, to what standard etc. And then everyone should do their part.

    It sounds like you would be much better than me at letting things go. I definitely agree that many people do too much. No need to have perfect house, the most amazing birthdayparties, two fancy jobs etc. For me though, some things are not optionary, and I could not accept that a life partner didn’t do their fair share of that. A home needs to be cleaned sometimes. The dishes needs to be done. If people have kids, they do need to be taken to school to be cleaned and fed and socialized with other people and so on.

    And I also agree that nothing will ever be 50-50. And if it evens out more or less, that’s fine. But it’s not fine by me when it’s not close to 50-50 and one partner is obviously slacking off necessary tasks and isn’t willing to change, even when they’re being made aware of it (and we agree that it’s an extra burden to remind people etc). It seems so disrespectful and unfair to me.

    Thanks for being civil, I hope you have a nice day/evening/night.

    1. “…people should just be able to sit down and discuss what needs to be done, who’s gone do it, remember to do it, to what standard etc. And then everyone should do their part…”

      I’m laughing here, because you speak a lot about fairness, about what should be done, about how it ought to work out, and while I quite agree, we people seldom conform to what is reasonable. We’re more like children ourselves that way. There are feelings involved, bits of baggage, defiance.

      Needless to say if human nature made it possible for us to just sit down, discuss what needs to be done, and than everyone would graciously just do their part, the world would look a lot different than it does. Rarely are we ever so practical and reasonable.

      1. We agree, people should be fair and reasonable (and of course what’s fair can be discussed and will very etc) and often they’re not. And I’m not claiming to be a perfect or even very good/good/good enough angel in every aspect, I just want to make that clear.

        I can’t do anything about people who don’t do their part. And if these people can somehow escape the cognitive dissonance and still feel that “I don’t do my fair share so my partner has to do that much more, yet I’m still a great/nice/respectable partner who doesn’t deserve to be criticised or called out on not doing my part”, I can’t do much about that either. But I find it so awful and wrong and damagin, so when they do it in my presence so to speak, I can at least call them out on it sometimes, Hope I’m making sense to you.

        I just want to end with apologizing to you, Matt. Yes, I am a special snowflake, but not any more special than all the other snowflakes here, so there’s no good reason for me to be upset with you for not answering my question specifically. How you manage your time isn’t any of my business. I’ll just have to validate my own questions and thoughts, which is my job anyhow, I shouldn’t have tried to guilt you into doing it.

        Have a good day/evening everybody.

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  44. “Libras are Wishy-Washy and Unable to Commit” — oh, you did it! I am a Libra. That’s not “wishy washy”, it’s being flexible and able to see both sides of a question!

    1. I’m dying.

      I can’t believe you keep reading these old posts. I have a complex about all the times you read me go off on some reader I disagreed with, and assume you have a diagnosis for me that I’m not going to like. 🙂

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