An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 13

Comments 82

Sooooo. I’ve totally masturbated before.

Maybe once. Or maybe 87 million times. Truthfully, I don’t want to talk about it because it makes me really uncomfortable and I can’t stop thinking about my mom or grandma reading this and saying: “Heavens to Betsy! Did you know that Matt played Diddle-Me-Elmo!?”, or thinking about everyone I knew in high school sitting around going: “Ha! I knew that dude wanked it!” and then making plans to announce it at our next high school reunion. It makes me want to set myself on fire. But THAT feeling is precisely why I’m talking about it.

I can’t write about shitty husbandry with intellectual honesty if we don’t talk about pornography and masturbation. According to a 2015 NBC News report, porn is a $97 billion industry worldwide, with about $12 billion of that in the United States alone. What that means is, mathematically, EVERY American, including newborn babies and nuns and 90-year-olds, spends $40 annually on porn. And that’s with virtually unlimited free pornography available on the internet.

Conclusion: You totally wank it too, you Pervy McPerversons. It’ll be our little secret.

Many—maybe even most—relationships that go south, do so because we’re too afraid to talk about things for fear of judgment or rejection, and then our partners end up believing things about us which aren’t true, and you spend years with your marriage never really having a chance because no one knew the real story. Our partners were literally—at least a part of them—someone other than who we thought.

I wasn’t who my wife thought because I never told her who I really was, sexually. When two people promise to never have sex with anyone else again, it stands to reason that—unless you despise orgasms, physical intimacy, or prefer sexual repression—you and your partner MUST make your bedroom (or wherever!) experiences really good, to avoid craving something more or different in ways that will ultimately destroy your relationship.

And then there’s the flipside. The people who are so cavalier and shameless about it that they don’t see any downside to pornography or “taking care of things themselves,” which I can only get behind if all their cards are on the table with their significant others. If one or both of them are lying about, or hiding, that part of them, it can only end badly. More on that in a bit.

Why didn’t I talk to my wife about it? I was afraid. I was afraid that if I told my wife the unfiltered truth she’d think I was some sex-crazed perv or deviant and not love me anymore. That she’d think I was a freak. That she’d somehow reject me.

I wasn’t smart enough to see the big picture and choose bravery. If your ultimate goal is to marry for life, you CANNOT be too afraid to discuss true things with your partner. In addition to actually having a good chance to stay married for life, it also just feels so much better when people choose you even after knowing things about you that make you feel insecure.

I understand there are a lot of people out there who can’t understand what the fuss is about. Some people will shout it from the rooftops: “Of course I masturbate! I have my best orgasms with my vibrator!” or will be like one of my college buddies who was the first person I’d ever heard talk about it casually and without embarassment. It took 19-ish years for me to hear someone speak about it in front of others.

Remember The 40-Year-Old Virgin? I handled all masturbation-related conversation even worse than Steve Carell’s Andy did. And I’m a little bit jealous of the self-assuredness of Paul Rudd’s hilarious David.

Andy: [motioning to David’s box of porn] “I don’t want this stuff, okay? Because I don’t do that, that much.”

David: “What, masturbate?”

Andy: “Yeah.”

David: [who has been standing in the doorway, fully clothed, for only a couple minutes] “Dude, I’ve jacked it twice since I’ve been here.”

Why This is Dangerous

If sex is unimportant to you AND your spouse, then it probably doesn’t matter very much.

If you hate long-term monogamous relationships or were forced into marriage, or just really want to divorce, then this isn’t a problem for you.

But if your marriage is important to you, and you’re like 99 percent of people who really like sex, even if it’s a big secret to everyone who knows them, then this matters. A lot.


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I grew up in a little Ohio town with conservative Catholic parents. I went to Catholic school, attended church on Sundays, was part of religious-based activities from first grade through high school graduation, and only “knew” a few things about masturbation as a kid:

1. It’s a sin and depending on what God decides on Judgment Day, could lead to eternal damnation. Imagine that for a minute. The shittiest time in your life you can think of. The worst you’ve ever felt. So, like, a few weeks after divorce, and your ex is dating someone else, and you’re crying and afraid of everything, and then one day you’re like, working it out in the shower or wherever, drenched in loneliness and shame, while everyone else in the world watches because you’re secretly the star of a real-life The Truman Show, and then someone randomly emails you the video with a note: “Everyone knows, loser!!! Even your mom and grandma!!!” and then you look out the side window of your house and there’s your 70-year-old neighbor lady pointing and laughing at you. And then, because you’re in hell for jerking it, you have to feel THAT FEELING for ETERNITY. Not two weeks. Not 1,000 years. FOREVER. That’s what we’re taught. And, you know, maybe it’s true. I don’t have any way of knowing. I just know when you are afraid of THAT your entire childhood and combine it with #2, your marriage can get really shitty.

2. That’s weird and gross! I can’t talk about that! No one else does it! You can tell because everyone at school makes jokes about it! No chance any of these other adults in church would ever do something like that! True story: Catholics go to confession, where we tell a priest in private about the things we feel guilty for, and then God through the intercession of the priest forgives our sins. And even though I’m not a very good Catholic, I’ve been to confession in adulthood. So, I mention this to the priest one time when I was still married, and he can tell I’m feeling nervous and uncomfortable talking about it. So, he asks: “How often?” I told him. And he replied: “That’s it!? You’re not even trying!” Made me snort. Maybe God or the pope or really pious people would frown at him cracking that joke. But it was a huge moment for me in terms of really understanding that most things that make us uncomfortable are things that many, maybe most, other people also feel uncomfortable with. Because so many of us are kind of the same underneath all our masks. Which is awesome to understand when you’re having conversations like this.

3. Just letting “things” build up seemed wholly unsustainable. I don’t think most young people think: Gee, what can I do right now for fun? I know! Diddle myself! I think they think: Good God, man. I totally need to do it with someone. But I’m like 14 and don’t know how, and we’re supposed to wait until we’re married, and premarital sex is a sin too! But that seems like an even-BIGGER sin than this other sin. So, I guess I’ll watch this weird scrambled TV channel that is mostly snowy static, but I can totally see a naked boob once in a while. Or whatever.

So I didn’t talk to my wife about it. I don’t want to blame Jesus and my parents and my Catholic upbringing for my failed marriage. We’re all responsible for our choices. But that’s seriously the reason all the sex stuff got weird. Fear and shame related to beliefs about sex that were unhealthy in the context of marriage.

I had, and in some ways, have, legit guilt-shame issues about sex. And I’m guessing many kids who grew up in religious or conservative homes, or small towns like me, ALSO have some of those conflicting feelings swirling around, and maybe many people outgrow it. I’m working on outgrowing it. But it takes courage for me to talk or write about this. And maybe it does for you, too.

It’s the same fear that kept me from talking to my wife openly and honestly about sex.

Even the most-religious and conservative teachings I’ve heard about marriage don’t address what marital sex is supposed to look like. But no matter what that is? If you’re doing it together, and not hurting other people in the process? How can that be wrong? Be honest with the people you love. They NEED access to what’s inside and underneath the masks, or your relationship will suffer badly.

What it Looks Like for Many People

One of the most common stories you hear about is the guy who sneaks to the computer late at night or when no one else is home, and looks at porn photos or watches videos.

I’m not much of a porn consumer, and I’m not just saying that. Real people just seem hotter to me than “fake” people in photos or videos, and that’s always been true. I think relative to people who consume adult material, I’m probably in the bottom 5 percent.

But I’ve still been the guy whose wife turned on the computer to find some pop-up web page that had been minimized with a bunch of porn images on it, even though it’s never been a major thing.

Maybe some wives don’t care.

But I know some do. Some do because it makes them feel insecure, as if they are not good enough to make their husbands feel good or satisfy him sexually. Some do because their sex lives are inconsistent or seemingly non-existent, and she’s asking herself all these questions about why because she wants to reconnect with him in the bedroom, and then she finds porn.

And she’s like: “Wait a freaking minute. I totally want to have sex with you, even though you’re a shitty husband half the time, and I have actual body parts and a vagina and stuff, and you’re choosing airbrushed, fake-breasted electronic chicks on a screen and your hand over me!?”

So, guys. Mental exercise: Think of your best guy friend. Or one of her platonic guy friends or co-workers you know. And now, imagine your wife has rejected your sexual advances for a few weeks and you’re starting to worry about it or wonder why.

And you come home one day, and you find her masturbating while looking at a picture of your friend or another guy she knows, and moaning his name.

Got it?

That might be close to how she feels when she realizes you never touch her or tell her she’s sexy or beautiful or that you want her, but that you’re wanking it to internet chicks. It’s bad.

The Sexual Motivation Problem

You probably already know this, but you WILL get bored with pretty much everything in your life. It’s called “hedonic adaptation,” and it happens to everyone about everything. You get a new car, you get a new job, you get a bunch of money, you get a new TV, you get new clothes, you get a new romantic partner.

At first, it’s amazing. Everything feels good and it’s all rainbows and unicorns and orgasms.

Then, one day, and you don’t even notice it happening, it stops exciting you. Whatever new thing that made you feel awesome at first has now stopped generating those good feelings.

Hedonic adaptation is your brain naturally adjusting to positive life changes.

This means, you’re going to eventually “bore” of your partner in some form or fashion. It means, if the value of your relationship is measured in skin-deepness, that hot bartender or the new girl in accounting at your office is going to seem more attractive or exciting to you than the person you’re always with, in purely a base mammal sort of way.

This is why we choose to love our partners every day, and not be duped by how we sometimes “feel,” because feelings change constantly and always will.

This is why we actively practice gratitude for all that we have, instead of pining for what we don’t.

This is why we work daily to build profoundly honest and strong and intimately connected relationships, where something as superficial as a person’s physical appearance could NEVER feel more attractive to you than your partner.

This is why I’m championing mega-honesty about sex before and during marriage. Practice doing it with your spouse A LOT. Get awesome at it. Like, really, really, really awesome at it. Because, who wants to go bang some stranger who could never come close to doing it as well as your masterful partner who loves and respects you?

In Mark Manson’s Models: Attract Women Through Honesty, he tackles the subject of porn and masturbation in the context of dating, and does so without filtering it through the prism of religion or morality.

I think it applies to modern marriage, too. Here are some excerpts:

“Since the advent of internet pornography, it’s become easier than ever for men to satisfy their sexual urges… there’s an entire generation that has grown up always having access to as much pornography as they want since a young age…

“There’s no hard scientific evidence (yet) for porn addiction. But here’s something that is absolutely true: porn kills your motivation to pursue women in real life.”

Part of making your marriage awesome is making your wife feel respected, safe, loved, desired, and sexy so that you can have a kick-ass and bond-forming sex life together. When you stop pursuing your wife emotionally and sexually as you did when you were dating, she feels less respected, less loved, less desired, less sexy, and thusly, less safe. And even though that’s true, she may still want to have sex with you a lot. When you’re jerking it all the time, you eliminate your physical and psychological motivation to pursue your wife. When she expresses sexual interest in you because the kids are finally asleep, or because they’re spending the night at grandma’s, and you say “Um, I’m really tired tonight, babe. I just want to watch this movie,” but the truth is you just got off by yourself in the bathroom, maybe because you guessed incorrectly that she wouldn’t want to do it tonight, or maybe just because you never considered her at all, she’s going to feel rejected.

Like, it’s going to start to really hurt and pile up on top of all these other things we accidentally do to destroy our wives emotionally.

We are selfish creatures, we humans. Some more than others. If you selfishly want your marriage to be good and last forever, then you need to unselfishly communicate with your wife about your wants and desires, and take steps to build up your sexual motivation by devoting that energy toward her. Instead of expecting her to drop her panties on command, maybe you could do what needs done to make her want to.

Maybe even need to. That’s always fun.

Manson continues:

“There’s a bit of an epidemic of sexual apathy going on worldwide, where husbands, boyfriends, and even single men are turning to pornography rather than the real life women that they see walking around every day. And it makes sense why: it’s easier… the sex is more exciting, it’s available at any time… the girls never say no, and… there are no obligations or commitments involved.

“The problem is that there are some negative side effects. The first being that porn creates very, very unrealistic expectations about sex, about women, and about sexuality. Porn makes money by accentuating and exaggerating sexual ideals. Actual sex with an actual woman often involves awkward moments of figuring out what she likes, what you like, who likes it which way. It also involves ecstatic moments of emotional intimacy, something porn can never provide

“The other problem is that porn is so easy, that it encourages men to masturbate… a lot. And as we all know, as men, the more we masturbate, the more interested we become in food and television, and the less we become in women and accomplishing something…

“Science is starting to back this up. Orgasms, or more accurately, ejaculation in men, actually causes a depletion of various hormones and endorphins which often lead to useful behaviors as well as motivation.”

Maybe you’re totally comfortable discussing sex. That will really help you have open and honest conversations with your wife which can contribute to an amazing, and perhaps marriage-saving, sex life. I hope you’ll have them.

Or maybe you’re sometimes scared to talk about it like I was. Maybe you’re afraid to tell her because you’re afraid of rejection or her judgment.

Maybe you have some warped sense of moral duty to hide from your wife some of these things you feel on the inside.

But you have to figure out how to have the conversation. You owe it to her. You owe it to you. You owe it to any future children you have. Talk to her. Courageously. Because you may be surprised to discover she wants those things, too. No matter what, it might help her understand that she is desired and enjoyed much more than she believes.

You may be surprised to discover that little things like blindfolds and neckties and headphones blasting a sexy playlist and ice cubes and food and touching her there, and there, and right there, just like that, can play a major role in making your marriage the sustainable, healthy and joy-giving institution it’s designed to be.

This part of your life can destroy your marriage if you’re not honest with her.

This part of your life can make it phenomenal if you are.

Be brave.

Not tomorrow. Today.

You May Also Want to Read:

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 2

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 3

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 4

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 6

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 7

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 8

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 9

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 10

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 11

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 12


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82 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 13”

  1. Matt – one of the things that immediately struck me is your statement ‘Even the most-religious and conservative teachings I’ve heard about marriage don’t address what marital sex is supposed to look like.’ I grew up in the midwest – same as you – but unlike you I had a different religious teaching – one that taught me that sex within marriage is a good deed for emotional, personal and physical closeness. When I was first introduced to the concept that sex in marriage was a good deed and sex on the sabbath was a double good deed I giggled – I was only 12 or 13 at the time. Now, having been through marriage, divorce and now that odd singledom of the single parent who was married… I understand both what you said and what I learned from religion. You wonder what religion says this? Judaism. You can read more about it here : Now I can’t say that everything that is said about sexual orientation is valid – but if you take it at its simplest – sex within marriage is good, encouraged and something that joins more than two bodies – it allows two souls to get to know each other.

    1. I think religious couples would benefit profoundly from a more-honest look at sexual relationships.

      To be sure, Catholicism DOES NOT shame you about sex in marriage. But I do think when all the young people have all the natural feelings that everyone normally has, but those feelings are deemed immoral, possibly punishable by eternal damnation, it psychologically creates an environment of shame and secrecy.

      We grow up hiding our natural urges because we think something must be wrong with us.

      And because “decent people don’t discuss such things” people just grow up not knowing what the hell they’re doing.

      Then they get married and everything sometimes goes very, very badly.

      It’s hard to choose courage when you’re afraid. So I wish we taught kids to not be afraid, even if it’s as simple as: “Hey. Pretty much everyone feels these things. You are not alone. It’s okay to talk about this with people who love you.”

      That could really help, I think.

      Thank you for reading and sharing your experiences.

    1. I’m very sorry, but I can’t help you with that, Michelle. Somewhere in your email notifications will be an “Unsubscribe” link where you can manage your WordPress subscriptions.

      The reason we don’t have super-subscription power is because I could force everyone in the world with an email address to be a subscriber. Which would be bad.

      I’m sorry you don’t like it, Michelle. Thank you for giving it a shot.

  2. Well said, Matt and very brave of you.

    The blame/shame game really has no place in marriage, but than again, many people tend to have shame issues around sexuality. Our ability to shame one gender or the other for things that are completely natural is really quite unprecedented. And rather horrifying.

    One thing that I think women really need to know is that sex is different for men, that it is vitally important, that it is relationship and connection. To not have sex with a man is like a man never speaking to his wife. Or plugging his ears when you try to speak to him. It cuts off communication. Many women don’t know this, or worse they are given the impression that men are just sleezy and always wanting sex, sex that has no meaning for them.

    If you think about it, traditionally women spend years fending off sexual advances…..until we are married, when we are suddenly supposed to flip a switch and be enthusiastic about sex. Culturally we are doomed, we are expected to control and suppress our own desires and the desires of men…. or fail miserably and become a fallen woman. Women are sexually shamed relentlessly, often by other women, and it is really a no win situation. We’re bad either way. Than men enter the picture and many want someone pure,virginal, or at least not a woman who was out kissing frogs and managed to fall into the whole pond. Conversely however, men also want us to be wise and knowledgeable, porn stars in the bedroom. Porn stars who have had no practice.

    The only way I know to heal all these cultural/sexual wounds is to become knowledgeable, and to talk about them, to communicate with one another.

    1. What a fantastic comment.

      Thank you.

      I’ve been putting this off for a long time. I’ve never published anything that made me feel as nervous and afraid as this one did. Not even close.

      But it’s exactly what you said. This is all very bad for human relationships on a million levels. And I know it’s uncomfortable for a lot of people. It’s very uncomfortable for me.

      Like visiting the proctologist to make sure we don’t have prostate cancer.

      Very unpleasant. But when executed dutifully, can help one avoid some terrible life circumstances.

      Thank you for writing out another angle to all of this, in a way that really made sense to me, and probably a bunch of other people.

    2. IB, you are so right on the money. Many women face a no-win situation from day one despite having had real clues to what a great guy before marriage! I truly believe one of the strongest and wisest things any guy can to to keep from pushing his wife in conflicting direction or pressuring her unrealistically is to just exercise the self control to never be immersed in so much sexuality and sexual imagery as our society pushes on everyone. But even so people absolutely have to be patient and loving and. Communicate openly and kindly in mattage and in the bedroom.

    3. “One thing that I think women really need to know is that sex is different for men, that it is vitally important, that it is relationship and connection. To not have sex with a man is like a man never speaking to his wife. Or plugging his ears when you try to speak to him. It cuts off communication”

      I don’t think that men & women are all that different in this respect. Many women also find sex “vitally important, that it is relationship and connection.” I think that any differences are far more the result of the cultural & societal training we receive than anything biological or ‘hardwired’ in our brains or psyches. As you say, women ARE sexually shamed relentlessly, and expected to control or repress our desires. This WILL make a difference in how most women treat sex in or out of a relationship, consciously and unconsciously. The cultural messages for men about both sex and emotions are both different, and even less healthy…and then we wonder why they can’t seem to meet in the middle. It takes a lot of both cultural and self awareness to unpack and unlearn these messages and work towards eradicating these externally imposed differences, and before anyone can do that they have to be able to see that they exist at all, which seems to be even harder for most people to do in the first place.

      1. MaybeTheExToBe

        Agreed, I think sex can be really important to making a woman feel connected in a relationship too, but there are a couple extra things that I think (at least some?) women need that (at least most?) men seem not to need.

        Firstly the sex needs to be *good*. It seems like for a guy, sex is a bit like pizza, so even if it’s bad, it’s still good. For a woman it can be painful, degrading, upsetting and humiliating, and I’m not talking about rape. Feeling like you’re being used as a self-cleaning jizzrag by a guy who has picked up too many weird ideas from porn and not enough ideas from what you’ve been asking him to do in bed over the course of several years of marriage, and having him set strict rules about how he does and does not want sex to happen when you can’t even remember the last time you’ve had a partnered orgasm or if you’ve ever had, does not feel any better when you love that guy and he ostensibly loves you. I’ve been with my husband for the better half of a decade and it’s like banging an amnesiac with motor control difficulties because I can’t even get him to touch me how I like to be touched for more than a couple days at a time. It’s not that complicated — I like to be touched with the flat of the hand and I prefer a slightly firmer touch because otherwise I get ticklish. Still every time he will start off with very gentle fingertip touches and then when I laugh he gets mad at me, as if it’s my fault. Oh, and he won’t initiate, because being turned down makes him feel bad, and he doesn’t want me to initiate unless he’s already interested in having sex because turning me down makes him feel inadequate. And he’s not interested in fooling around and seeing where it goes because it makes him feel led on, so I should only initiate if I’m 100% sure I’m interested in PIV or a BJ. Of course, it’s my fault we’re not having sex, right? And hubby thinks my body is just too *complicated* and it’s super difficult to bring me to orgasm but I can knock out three in a half hour if I’m doing it myself. It’s not rocket science, I’ve tried to show him how to do it many, many times.

        Related to the above, there needs to be some sense of respect and connection before I (and other women I’ve talked to) can have enjoyable sex. Due to the above situation and other similar situations in our domestic life, I don’t feel very respected or connected. If the sex I’m having is about mutual pleasure then that increases my feeing of connection, but if I’m just being used as a hole and it’s yet another chore he expects me to do, then it makes me feel incredibly dehumanized and alone. I think there is a serious problem in my relationship and maybe in other people’s relationships, where there is this pattern of incredibly one-sided sex going on and afterwards the man feels like the relationship is stronger, but really he’s just taken another swing at the foundations with a sledgehammer. I have to wonder how often this dynamic leads to a “surprise” divorce, even when the wife has explicitly told him how she feels about this.

        1. Please tell me you are no longer married and living the life you describe…please.

  3. Mark Gungor is the only pastor I’ve ever heard who addresses sex from a Christian perspective. He has a show you can listen to online or podcast. He’s hilarious too.

    1. I’ve heard of Mark, but I’ve never actually heard him speak. I’m sure I’d be interested in doing so.

      And good for him. I have a really hard time believing God wants everyone to never talk about it, considering omniscience and everything, and knowing that by not doing so, millions of people’s marriages are going to fail.

      But that’s just me. I would never presume to know what Absolute Truth is. But I’m not afraid to share some of my guesses.

      Thank you so much for the recommendation. I really appreciate it.

  4. We had been married a year, and despite my ex agreeing he didn’t want Porn in our marriage, I found a lot of crazy stuff on the computer we shared. Porn where there were marks and welts on women, links to videos, pictures. After a while, I could tell when my ex, who already had abusive tendencies, was looking at the stuff. His attitude toward and treatment of me changed. Instead of working on intimacy between us when times were hard, he would scurry off to the office and engage in his fantasies. It wasn’t a huge factor in my decision to finally leave – the verbal abuse was really a part of that – but it was one step in not caring how his actions impacted me.

    It came and went over the years. We both grew up in Christian households, and sex talk was a little difficult for me, at first. (It didn’t help that he, also, interpreted even innocuous comments as criticism. If you’re always stressed that someone is going to get angry, instead of try to have a deep conversation, it kind of puts a damper on vulnerability and honesty.) I think that goes both ways – women trying to understand what their husband wants from Porn without shutting their husbands/S.O’s out, and men creating a safe place where a woman really wants to be vulnerable and might be willing to try more things or talk about sex and what they like.

    Women masturbate too. Girls and women are not necessarily uninterested in sex as culture promotes. We are all individuals on a spectrum.

    I think men sometimes forget that, even if times are changing now (albeit slowly), most of us in our 20s and onward grew up in a culture that shamed women for expressing curiosity and interest in sex or the feelings that arise from and around it. Although I know it isn’t as common, I didn’t have sex before I got married, and I was fine with that at the time. I do regret, however, that I didn’t feel more comfortable talking about it beforehand. All that to say, is that a husband who asks and broaches these topics might be surprised. I’m sure sex is a vulnerable topic for anyone, but as a woman, the last thing you want is for your husband to lose respect for you. So cultivating an environment where she feels safe and respected enough to talk about those things is absolutely something a man/husband can really contribute to. And having a very active ‘porn’ life? Is something that is going to make many women feel less secure.

    Just a few rambling thoughts.

    1. The importance of sharing EVERYTHING with the person you want to marry, or are married to, cannot be overstated.

      If I’m ever in another long-term, committed relationship, we’re going to openly discuss every freaking thing under the sun.

      Because now I know just how bad hiding things should be.

      I don’t want to get into TMI territory anymore than I already have in this post, but when I talk about hiding things from my wife, I’m not talking about anything particularly scary.

      On the shock-value chart, this stuff would live below the Fifty Shades threshold, which a trillion people read and enjoyed.

      I never considered how hard it might be for people to talk about things that interest them that MOST of us would consider extreme or weird or scary. Such as what you talk about here with your ex.

      That really complicates things, I bet.

      Thank you very much for sharing that and being part of the conversation. I appreciate it very much. These are real problems real married people have. I hope people will have the talks they need to have.

      1. I hear you, about the discussing everything under the sun, and agree whole-heartedly. The take away from this for me, and I hope for others, is that communication is so very important. -About everything, even the difficult things-. I greatly appreciate, from the other side of the gender aisle, you broaching this topic. Because it’s spot-on, and so very integral to intimacy (emotional and physical).

      2. I’ve been thinking about that necessity that we have to be able to openly and comfortably talk about everything under the sun. I don’t think I’ll ever allow for a new relationship without that! But admittedly, I’m not sure how I’ll get there ahead of time in order to trust again since I don’t want to create temptation towards that heavy duty physical intimacy before marriage any more than will already be a natural thing to deal with if I’m falling for someone someday! I guess someday I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

    2. Thank you for saying sex can be a thing for women. I love sex, sex is my favourite, sex is stress relief, and fun. I like it. Always have.

      I suggest men try and turn on their woman, not insane abusive entrappment, not punishing her with treatment which wouldn’t work on a well developed and mature teenager, or making her agree with your idea from the bible or whatever, that she is submissive and less open to sex. None of these things deal with the women, and who she is, and meeting her where she’s at. Not how you think she should be, not how she is in your head, not how she fails, not the things she doesn’t know, just WHERE SHE IS, meet her, where she is, maybe she likes sex, maybe she prefers being second in command in certain places in your life, but first in command of children and having them, who knows, but it depends where SHE is.

  5. Matt, thank you so much for your bravery to write so honestly and post an article like this. Well done and well said! Pornography/masturbation sabotage so many marriages. Whether a person is religious or non-religious, whether you believe in the concept of sin and accountability to God or not, what you wrote is so relationally real. Your insight is profound. One additional thought on pornography: not only does it contribute to the destruction of marriages, steal away confidence and joy in real sex, and encourage violence against women and children, it is, itself, sex trafficking. It is not a victimless crime. Most of the models/actresses involved in this business live a horrific life.

    1. Removing from the conversation your observation (which is probably true, but I admittedly am not educated on) that porn is not a victimless industry (because I can’t rationalize that), I’ve never considered couples who maybe watch adult movies together as a shared experience, as doing something wrong or bad. In that one context, (and minus any moral hangups someone might have) it would seem predominantly harmless.

      In every other sense, I consider pornography and its heavy consumption to be very damaging to both individuals psychologically, and couples in virtually every way.

      Thanks a lot for reading and commenting. The kind words mean a lot.

  6. Yes, Yes, Yes, The connection of shame and guilt with our sexuality is so problematic for relationships. Being raised Catholic as well seems like it contributed to the sin/shame dynamic in my marriage.

    I spent years in accountability groups trying to get control over my porn “addiction”, which would repeat over and over again in cycles. I would go through confession and forgiveness and accountability and I never made it past 90 days.

    Now days I don’t consider porn as an addiction anymore than I consider protein as an addiction.

    It is important to distinguish that porn is not the goal. Orgasm is the goal, but porn gives a shortcut to reach that goal. I am not going to give up being a meat-eating man but I don’t have to be a cannibal to feed my needs that can be manifested in porn use. Porn can be that cannibalistic mechanism that eats you and others in the process when it is done in secret or at the expense of the subject. I would consider my tastes fairly vanilla, but have stumbled upon enough to be ashamed of what my gender has done to exploit women in terrible ways.

    The distinction is that masturbation does not have to equal porn use. I understand that my porn use destroyed my wife’s self image and am still repairing the damage done. I can’t stop being sexual but I can control what I view. If I had used the opportunity to explain that to her, I believe it would have saved me from years of the sin/shame cycle.

    I believe that even the most conservative groups must come to terms that we are always sexual beings, and to deny that is to deny our selves and stop being ashamed of it. Let me know if you find an explicit verse in the bible that says to not masturbate. I haven’t found one.

    Yes talk about it. Masturbate if you have to. Agree on what is in-bounds within the relationship and be true to your self.

    1. In my experience, my being a little to open to discussion about anything, people I’ve known who believe masturbation is a sin have looked for, and sometimes found in certain translations, passages that use the phrase “abusers of self” but without the modification of “with mankind”. I did not agree with them. I think there are things people do sexually and otherwise that better fit the idea of hurting one’s self. But I did stop my kids at the very young ages when the first self-touch stuff starts and simply and gently explain that it’s wiser and I think that they will benefit, no matter how good or interesting that feels, if they wait to explore such feelings until they can do so as adults and with one person only within marriage. I truly think that early age experience leading to self-control but hopefully without inherent shame is a good path to set them on.

  7. This is incredible, so true. The downside to porn and masturbation is that it decreases real intimacy, destroys trust, and it contributes to using people as a means to an end, rather than loving them unselfishly. I love your commitment to speak so truthfully about the consequences of something that many see as a ‘right’ or ‘expected behavior.’
    I would think any woman would feel insecure in a relationship where she is aging and going through the changes of child birth, knowing her man is jerking off to Victoria’s secret every day. And the same for men, you shouldn’t have to fear putting on a few pounds or losing your hair because your wife is using her vibrator and picturing Channing Tatum’s Magic Mike scenes.
    Intimacy is sweeter, it seems, when firm boundaries are set and there is selflessness and self control.
    I am single and actually stopped for this reason. I couldn’t stop picturing my ex boyfriends and ex husband, and I thought I need to be getting ready for a new husband mentally, and this nonsense is not helping me let go of the past(:

    1. It makes no sense at all to me that you people think porn destroys intimacy. I’m a married women who doesn’t want to have sex every day of my life. What’s wrong with my husband ‘helping himself’ when I’m not feeling good? Women masturbate too. If you’re so down on yourself that you’re jealous of women in porn, I feel bad for you.

      1. Good. Feel bad for me. I do. I am jealous of the women on porn. Not because they’re more attractive than me. Not because they’re more skilled than me. Not because I’m “so down on myself”. But because the “sh**y” husband I had left me with the feeling he preferred them OVER me. It wasn’t a matter of “self-serve” when the full-service pump was out of order. There were times Ms. More Than Ready Willing and Able was left in the bed because girls on film were easier. If that kind of destruction to intimacy makes no sense, I feel bad for you.

      2. I wasn’t jealous of my husband’s porn use until I found out he was lying to me about its frequency/intensity and that he was using it to avoid having to deal with the issues in our sex life. If you’re afraid that your marriage might be on the rocks, for ANY reason, and you want to save it, seriously evaluating your porn usage would be a very good idea. Because a marriage on the rocks typically leads to intimacy issues even if they weren’t already a factor, and many men turn to porn to avoid dealing with intimacy issues. In the spirit of your comment, I’m sure there are women who fall into this trap too, but that doesn’t mean that anyone is being irrational or pity-worthy for having a problem with being neglected by their spouse for porn.

  8. Thank-you for writing this. I grew up hearing some shaming things but also just as much or more of the message that sex within marriage is beautiful and loving and not shameful.on the other hand I had a dad with flaws who was a shaker and I was molested three different times by three different perps. Weirdly I think my husband had more hang ups from the shame angle and projected a lot of crappola on me when there might have been a lot less issue with some pretty simple ways to make it all go a lot more smoothly like this simple easy guideline for 95% or more of your married life: go to bed with your spouse at a reasonable time or slightly early time and hold her or seduce her then rather than stare at your computer for a few hours and then want sex in the middle of the night. It’s a repeatable observable fact that women need more sleep than men and it’s also well documented that a huge percentage of our society is walking around sleep deprived at any given time. Get your sleep regularly and help make sure that your spouse g to plenty of sleep too. It’s foundational to healthy functioning.

    I’ll say ditto to nearly any porn-can-kill-a-marriage message. It really is destructive when it’s you, when it’s your partner, when it’s together. It’s a big hot mess of a trap. Pardon the pun.

    And then I’d say to both men and women, be careful how much stuff you think you’ve figured out about your spouses “issues” when you may be incredibly far off base no matter how good you normally are at that and no matter how many clues you think you have! Stop living in your own head and learn to really get to know each other! If you feel you can’t communicate openly or it never works to try then get help rather than trying to figure it out in your head!

    1. Oh dear. Sorry about the typos…posting tired. My dad was not a shaker. He was a shamer.

  9. Finally!! I thought we were NEVER gonna get around to talking about it!

    Actually, I have nothing intelligent to add to the conversation. Since we were talking about sex, I felt compelled to say something immature. 😀

  10. I write erotic ménage romance, the type of books which have been called ‘mommy porn’. Unlike most erotica and porn movies, erotic romance is about love and relationships. It also has lots of explicit sex shared by two or more people, as part of their relationship. Matt’s blog provides an amazing view into the mind of a guy, for research purposes as well as my own growth.

    Men tend to be visual (watching porn) while women often prefer reading explicit passages and seeing it play out in their own minds. Men have complained they can never be the tall, handsome, Alpha hero their wife reads about, just as women complain they cannot be porn stars. I remind those men that women take longer to warm up sexually so reading is a form of foreplay.

    If they share the experience — he cleans the kitchen while she reads, knowing she is getting warmed up for him to join her, and perhaps act a few things out –then it is a positive thing for their relationship. Matt has pointed out before how relieving a wife of the mental and physical strain of doing chores allows her the emotional energy to anticipate and enjoy sharing sex with him (I’m paraphrasing).

    Fantasy is healthy as long as it is only a part of your relationship. It is the hiding and shame which destroys trust, and therefore love. Yes, many women masturbate while reading erotic books — I’ve often said there’s a reason e-books only require one hand to read, LOL. When in a supportive relationship they also read these hot books and then happily turn to their balding, pot-bellied, loving husbands for the real thing.

    Because, as Matt points out, quoting from Manson “ecstatic moments of emotional intimacy (is) something porn can never provide “.

  11. That Squirrel Again

    Maybe “ecstatic moment of emotional intimacy” are going to be increasingly difficult to come by, not through anybody’s fault, but simply because as time goes by, an ever-increasing number of stars have to come into alignment for the ecstatic part to even be visible on the horizon.

    It’s easy for the sex to be great when the most complicated day-to-day question you have to ask yourselves is whether there’s time for a quickie in the kitchen while the pasta’s on.

    Instead of two people merely having the desire and no other considerations the way it is early on in most relationships and marriages, there has to be the desire, and the time, and the energy, and are the kids sleeping?, and is their homework done?, and shit-there’s-four-birthday-parties-this-month, and mom-fell-again-today, and DAMMIT-THE-CAT-IS-VOMITING-AT-THE-FOOT-OF-THE-BED-DAMMIT, and, and, and, and…countless little time-sucks that do nothing but eat into the available time for any kind of intimacy, let alone the kind with the ice cubes and the food and the Al Green music and the Dremel and the so on and so forth.

    It’s a wonder people procreate at all after the first couple of kids.

    Porn? Ain’t nobody got time for that, either. It’s like going to a record store (stay with me here, kids) where none of the albums are filed correctly. You’ll be there all damn day sifting through crap looking for that one Elvis Costello record, never knowing that the idiot clerk put it in the comedy section behind the Abbott & Costello record.

  12. You make several totally valid points about the risks of avoiding sex with your partner to indulge yourself, and I also agree very strongly that communication is key!

    But I have to say, having been happily unmarried to the same man for 21 years, that in a long-term everyday relationship there are times when one person really needs an orgasm for stress relief and sanity and just having one damn thing go right today, and the other person is dramatically not in the mood or drowning in snot or deeply asleep–and at those times, masturbation can be GOOD for the relationship. It shouldn’t be a secret (in general; reporting every specific incident is unnecessary) but it shouldn’t be forbidden. I have tried the alternative, where I wake him up or follow him from room to room whining about my needs while he repeatedly begs me to leave him alone, and it always ends in a terrible argument that just increases the tension. When the roles are reversed, I’m likely to say okay when I want to say no and then express my resentment for days afterward so that we’re both miserable. So I hope that nobody’s reading you as saying, “Nobody in a relationship should ever masturbate because it’s always wrong.” That’s too strong a statement. What I’d say is that when you have a partner and want sex, you should always seek sex with your partner first before deciding to go it alone.

    1. Because I’m a little insecure and uncomfortable discussing this topic, I avoided diving into too much detail. But yes. I agree with you 100%. I even said it to a co-worker on our commute in this morning during a discussion about this post: The “marriage problems” in this are…

      1. Hiding porn from your partner because she/he views it as a betrayal.

      2. Dishonesty.

      3. Damaging your sex life with your partner by taking care of yourself INSTEAD OF devoting that energy to her/him; particularly if they’re feeling neglected in the physical intimacy department.

      I view “taking care of yourself” as more of a life-maintenance issue like popping an Advil when you have a headache.

      It can’t be some huge secret part of your life in a marriage, nor can it be part of a reoccuring pattern of behavior (ESPECIALLY when it’s combined with all the other little things spouses do to accidentally or neglectfully push one another away) that will erode the very foundation of loving, intimate relationships/marriages.

      Thank you for your thoughts.

      I agree with them whole-heartedly. I apologize if my intention wasn’t clear.

      This was not an easy thing for me to write about. Like, by far, the most vulnerable and embarassing thing, ever.

      But it had to be done. Because this does adversely affect relationships when people aren’t being honest and communicating. A lot.

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  15. My soon-to-be ex-husband decided to replace having sex with me to watch porn instead. I used to beg him to be intimate with me. He completely shut me out to take care of his own needs and not mine. Fourteen years together meant nothing. I meant nothing. I was and am so damaged by this. I’m not sure I will ever completely recover. He knew exactly what he was doing to my self-image. I don’t even think after all this I’m completely against porn–but I am against it as a total replacement for intimacy with your spouse. In my mind and experience, that’s downright abusive.

    1. You absolutely can recover. I know it hurts right now and everything is raw so it might be hard to imagine getting over it, let alone things being better, but it can be that way. I personally know at least 3 women whose first husbands were terrible. Abusive. Cheating. You name it. (In my opinion porn is another way of cheating, especially when it’s used in place of intimacy with your spouse). These women are amazing women and we’re blessed with second husbands who love them dearly and treat them like queens. That can be your story too. There is hope. Just don’t settle next time. You’re worth it!

  16. Wow! Wish my ex had access to your blog years ago… but looking back… I don’t think I would’ve wanted to save that. I don’t even know how I got into that in the first place.
    Porn used to disgust me (he was a collector and i was a straight up catholic schoolgirl) but I decided to be open about it to make my marriage work. I thought we could do it together to kinda spice thing up and I wanted to meet him halfway but he won’t have it.

    You appear to have evolved so much… too bad your marriage didn’t work out but you we’re a caterpillar then and look at you now. Obviously it brought you where you had to be. We all have our own journeys to make… it’s either like a flight of stairs or forks in the road that leads to different destinations.

    Kudos to you and goodluck… I love reading your blogs and I wish all men would find time to read and understand them.

  17. I totally agree with your assessment of shame and sex. I’m catholic and proud of that fact. But my whole life I was taught how wrong and terrible sex is outside of marriage and that if you, as a woman, decide to have premarital sex that you’re now and forever damaged goods (funny that the men were never described that way, boys will be boys.) It’s not surprising to me that the wedding doesn’t magically transform sex after marriage into this good wholesome amazing experience. After it being drilled into your head for years how bad it is to even think about having sex with someone, it’s kind of hard to change that perception. And it’s crushing to realize that even after the vows, you feel kind of dirty and ashamed to do it.

    I don’t think it’s an issue with the church per se, it’s an issue with how christians tend to teach their children about sex. I know that wasn’t really the point of this post, but it struck a nerve because it’s something that has really negatively affected my marriage as well.

    I really enjoy your blog, keep it up!

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  19. This is me. Not so much the masturbation chapter. But i’m Screwed up to the letter. I’m starting now! Making it better and not getting comfortable!

  20. These articles no matter which one I read is sad and makes me cry. Everything that has been said give or take a few things, is spot on!. I have been with my husband for 26yrs, almost 18 yrs married. He would rather play video games and watch porn then have sex and watch a movie with me. He did this after we talked about things and we were going to try to fix things that needed attention in this marriage. I have stories and I am very good at cliff notes (lols) but It’s hard to begin where. I am so hurt and I always thought I didn’t like to tell people my private business. I have realised that I am just embarrassed that I kept loving someone who did these things to me. I just wanted to say they are helpful and I hope it a few men that read this and not all just women. We already know all this stuff. I think we always hope and have faith because we want things to be okay and are willing to try. Its hard when its one sided and your in a marriage alone.
    Thank you for sharing your story and all the comments too. No one wants to admit that some one hurt them.

    1. Oh gosh. Are you a possible future me? So many long and serious discussions and promises to change and nothing changes. I don’t think I can take this for another 2 decades!!

  21. I stumbled upon your site today and found this a refreshingly frank look into the unspoken side of many men. I speak from perhaps the polar opposite of your circumstances Matt, but I hope I can round out the perspective to some extent. I’m in my 12th year of a relationship with a man whom I care for deeply – but due to a number of factors, not least of which is the medication he needs to take to control his severe social anxiety condition, we have been unable to engage in sex for many years, but we have made this work for us. There is of course still intimacy in the form of kissing and cuddling etc but our strongest bond is our caring and respect for each other in day to day life.

    I think many men grow up with ideas that masturbation is something dirty, and for me, compiled on that was the dirty secret I kept to myself about being gay and not wanting anyone to find out. Porn and erotic imagery got me through those times and actually helped me to accept a few things – that there were other gay people, and that there were other people who were not only ok with wanking, they were ok enough with it to agree to be photographed for strangers to look at.

    Among many gay men there is no shame associated with wanking and most of my friends, none of whom I have the slightest sexual interest in, are quite happy to openly discuss it.

    I think the key is to be open and transparent to your partner (girlfriend, boyfriend, wife or husband) about sex, to the point you can comfortably discuss even your most sordid sexual fantasies. Opening yourself up and letting them know the true ‘you’ means that mysteries become discussion points and you end up turning suspicion and apprehension into trust and support – because that other person has stopped keeping secrets from you. In a broader sense, transparency also affords you an understanding of whether that person is truly compatible with you as it uncovers your true moral position about topics far outside the realm of sex.

    My situation is not ideal as sex is an important and healthy part of life and of course I have needs like anyone else which cannot be always be addressed with a hand. I’m not someone who wants or enjoys random encounters and so the hook up apps aren’t the answer, not to mention I will not put my health at risk through promiscuity. Enter the (gasp) non-traditional relationship model.

    A few years ago I met an asexual man who shared many interests with me and we quickly became close friends. An odd thing happened, we fell in love and he decided he wanted to have sex with me. The situation was: one man unable to have sex, one man not wanting sex with anyone else, and me who loved them both. Some long discussions took place where we were all open, honest and transparent. Fast forward to today and my partner and I have never been closer or happier, my boyfriend and I have a mutually exclusive, mind blowingly amazing sex life and when the three of us are together, sex is not a factor and we all get on like 3 best mates.

    This situation certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and definitely won’t work for most people, but it came to be because no one deceived anyone else, everyone was honest and transparent about their needs and intentions, and we laid down clear rules for respecting each other.

    Also, we stopped worrying about one of us leaving and started devoting that would-be wasted energy to enjoying every moment we have together now. This last point is key in any relationship in my opinion, whether straight, gay, polyamourous or other.

    Back to the good old classic wank… I think many (particularly straight) men are conditioned so strongly that this is a bad or dirty practice, and so they are too emotionally constipated to discuss it with their partners. But masturbation can be an incredible powerful method of foreplay – if a man can get over the stigma he’s made for himself in his mind. Instead of hiding in the shadows, this could be an experience shared with a partner and an invitation for her (or him) to join in or lend a helping hand. So come on straight guys, get it out and show off for your lady instead of hiding behind the diodes of your computer screen! As for porn, this varies from couple to couple, but some couples find it incredibly sexy to get naked and look at porn together… I see no shame in this if both parties are in agreement.

    I suspect some people who read this will think of me in disgust or that I’m slightly crazy, but I will point out that through openness and honesty I have love in my life without deceit, not to mention a partner with whom I can explore my sexual fantasies without worry or shame about what he might think of me.

    Remember – it’s your body and your life, you *should* want to explore every possible way to find and experience pleasure, why hide this from someone you love when they very well might be able to help you out?

  22. I have a shitty husband. There are so many issues I have with this man but I am only going to address the sex. The sex sucks because it is all about him. My husband is more than overweight and all he wants to do is put his iPad on his fat belly and watch porn while having me blow him. Zero foreplay no kissing, no touching just him getting out of the shower, or cleaning it off and telling me, ” I’m ready.” When I have discussed my concerns he yells at me like I called his mom a $&@/-. and makes it like I am the problem and don’t deserve intimacy. Don’t know how much longer I can do this. I have needs too.

    1. OMG!! Gross, gross and more gross… I’d be telling him to not let the door hit him in the backside as he leaves. Let him look after himself. How degraded you must feel. You have exactly ONE life on this earth – ONE chance. Don’t waste another minute in this situation. There is a whole world of experiences out there – you are in one that nobody would choose. Choose another without this ‘man’….

    2. That is the most degrading thing I’ve ever read. Ever. And sickening. No one is forcing you to do this. It is below human standards. Your husband sounds like a crummy, sweaty slob who somehow managed to take control over your mind, probably using fear tactics and childish anger. I’m sorry that he fooled you into behaving this way. Men are meant to protect women, not submit them to cruel psychological torture. I’m very sorry. Please see that this is wrong and please find your inner strength to see through his lies and trickery.

  23. I’ve been reading these posts all day while crying. Everything I read rang true, but even still I couldn’t stop the thoughts of, “but maybe it is really me that is the problem”. He sure thinks it is. Even as I was reading he came home early and started fighting with me. Even excusing having not kissed me goodbye and telling me he loved me this morning because I was in a bad mood last night.

    But what does he expect? I’ve made my entire life about him and our kids. So much so I hardly know who I am or what I want anymore. I watch the shows he wants to watch, play the video games he likes to play, cook the food he likes to eat, talk about the things he wants to talk about, have the kind of sex he likes when he wants it, had kids he wanted that i didnt…. It has made me resentful.

    All my opinions and wants and needs mean nothing. You want to go to school and start a career…. to bad, you have to stay home with the kids. You want to move cause the house is to small for 4 kids…. no, I don’t want to move until we can buy something in a few years. You need to see a doctor because your feeling suicidal…. quit trying to get attention. You like that show…. that is the stupidest show I’ve ever seen. You heard that where…. can’t you think for yourself. You’re reading feminism crap again… that is stupid, sexism doesn’t exist anymore. And on it goes everyday and he doesn’t even see it when I point it out.

    I feel defeated. I keep trying to save my marriage, but I’m not even doing that for myself. I’m doing it for my kids and I am starting to feel like they would be better off away from him as well. He spend almost all his time with them yelling now-a-days. I’m starting to realize that he only seemed like a good father when the kids were little because he was a good playmate. As they grow older he can’t seem to handle actual parenting.

    Don’t even get me started on sex. The man masterbates and watches porn so much I am amazed he has any feeling left in his dick. He has thousands of porn videos and every time I borrow his phone there is porn on it. Yet he can hardly keep an erection when we have sex anymore. He even admits it is from watching so much porn but then blames me. If we had sex more he wouldn’t watch so much porn. Yet more sex would be every day, probably multiple times a day. If we go more than two days without sex he gets biligerent. And sex with him takes forever. 45 minutes is a quicky with him and I’m usually in a lot of pain by the time he finished. To say nothing about how infrequent my orgasms are.

    I know my husband loves me despite all of this. He just really sucks at showing it. He is like a large, selfish child. I also know love isn’t enough, not for me. I’m becoming an old women and I’m not even 30 yet. I blame him and resent him for it. So now I’m trying to find the courage to leave because I don’t ever think he will find the courage to be the man I need. If only I could get him to read these, but I know from experience he won’t. And then even if he did he wouldn’t see the connection to himself.

    1. Wow Zoe, are we married to the same man child? 🙂 Sorry I know you are hurting and feel your pain is all I am saying. Your husband sounds like a clone of mine, down to the narcissistic control over what to eat for dinner (mine will only eat what he likes and grew up with. I grew up with casseroles and he refuses to eat then because they are poor people food-his words), to what hair color I am supposed to have, to when sex can happen, to where I can work and how much money I am required to make or he will divorce me, etc. At least I am lucky in that I had my GI Bill to use to get an education so if he eventually dumps me or I finally get tired of being rejected and ignored I can leave. My sister went through the same thing as you as well. She was wise and went and got an education so when her husband eventually left her for one of her coworkers she was at least able to support herself and her kids. My advice to you would be to do the same-get an education in any way possible so you can be self supporting. Even if you have small children at home, there are online programs at almost all legit colleges now. Stick it out until you graduate and then bail if you are still miserable. Perhaps he will change at the prospect of losing you, but from experience with my sister and others and my own situation, he will likely not ever change and will only get worse over time. Mine did and he got physically abusive. He is on meds for it now but he is still emotionally abusive and neglects my son and me. I have considered leaving many times but dont want to hurt my son and am trying to hold out until he graduates high school to bail. You are young still and have your whole life ahead of you. Get a degree in something you enjoy, then you will have more options available to you for a happy life for you and your children, and eventually will find a man who loves and appreciates you! Good luck to you and hang in there!

    2. “I know my husband loves me despite all of this. He just really sucks at showing it.”

      Quoting Maya Angelou here, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

      I hope your situation is changing for the better. Your husband won’t.

  24. Great article! My situation is a bit 180 from the typical man chasing uninterested woman issue. My husband is a porn user and always has been, which at first was kind of shocking because I always thought of men using porn primarily when they were single or unfulfilled in their marital bed. Not the case with my marriage however. He has used it from day one and would reject me even when we were first married, then I’d find it on the family computer and think wth, I’m right here and willing! I confronted him about it once and he yelled at me, “you just don’t do it for me anymore!” Now I can possibly see if we had been married for 40 years and I’d let myself go drastically, but I am 5’5″ 118 pounds with size C boobs, blue eyes, and a masters degree and full time job. I have to say I was dumbfounded and still tear up when I remember what he said. A part of me left the marriage that day and will never come back. That was several years ago, but our sex life is now almost nonexistent. He has since retired from the military and after a half dozen wartime deployments he is now back in college and surrounded by 21 year old females who he thinks are just great. He is studying to be a photographer and all he wants to do now is go on weekend photoshoots with these girls and other models and college kids, and has no time for sex. I guess my question is, does anyone think there is hope in saving this relationship? The fact that he would rather spend time with this young people than me or his son is hard for me to grasp. He is 45 by the way and I am 41, still 5’5″ and 118 pounds. He is short and chubby but I still make efforts to sedeuce him or hell, even get him to look up from the iPad at me without being annoyed. Anyone have any advice? We’ve been married 18 years this January. Thanks

    1. Oh and my husband also name calls like yours and always has, and belittles my opinions, down to my ideas for my son’s school projects. I have a masters in accounting but I’m still a stupid bitch. I realize it isn’t me though, it is his way of establishing control. They use it to beat you down and make you feel worthless, a tried and true control tactic. When he is mean and demeaning, try to tell yourself that it isn’t true and just his way of trying to control you. Walk away and find something fun to do. Take your kids to the park. Go for a run. Anything to get away from him and find some peace and happiness. You sound like a great wife and mom and deserve better.

    2. That’s a sad story.

      I almost never openly advocate divorce. I’ll simply say: Your situation is quite opposite of what I perceive healthy relationships to look like.

      Love yourself. You deserve it.

      When we exercise the appropriate amount of self-love, we treat everyone (including ourselves) with the necessary amount of love and respect to have great relationships.

      That means we hold people around us to high behavior standards, otherwise, we stop being around them.

  25. Just read all of these. I feel so sick and sad inside. My husband is the quintessential man you are talking about, with a few exceptions. Never initiates and rarely wants sex, attributes this to me, never has all of his half of the bill money, rarely affectionate or sweer, thinks im a nag, criticizes me….etc. Im no angel myself but I imagine you already know that. My question is- what do I do? Do I ask him to read these, or the book you reference? Do I just give up and bail, or give him an ultimatum? Every relationship book I have read advises to be sweet and loving to your husband and things will all turn around (obviously a simplification, but not by much). This never creates lasting change for me. I have two kids, a four year old and an infant. I don’t need my husband financially at all. I love my husband but he’s an effing ass and I feel like I also hate him. Any advice appreciated. Thanks for your writing.

  26. I just finished reading all these blogs. The next
    girl you become involved with will be the
    luckiest girl in the world. What I wouldn’t give
    to have my husband realize these things.
    Thanks for shining a light in a very dark place.

  27. 9 years of dating, 11 years of marriage, a 5 year old son… I’ve lived through nearly every stage and step of your 13 volumes. After more than 20 years with my husband, my high school sweetheart, all of this happened as if you had written the script for us (and although I was never unfaithful, I did think about it in my loneliest moments–and those thoughts only made me lonelier). I wish there were more volumes… 14, 15, and beyond. I’d like to think you know what’s next for me and my soon-to-be-ex. I feel your pain so intensely–I know it myself. I’m so conflicted while I read your letters–euphoric at having my experiences articulated and validated by a man and piercing devastation that what I’ve endured is so nauseatingly common. Thank you for sharing; thank you for simply being vulnerable and demonstrating that there ARE men willing to delve into the emotional arena. The day that masculinity and emotion are no longer treated as mutually exclusive in our society will be one for celebration. (“The God’s have been angered by all the celebratin’!”) 😉
    Wishing you continued growth and recovery…

  28. Nobody is really sat down regardless of religion or anything else and told anything about sex, if your told it’s part of marriage then you may feel you’ve let the other person down if it no good, nobody is sat down and told about credit or fianances, nobody is sat down and told about problems and stress, nobody is told about children. And yet all the above happen, it can be overwhelming, freighting , I get the let’s look at this thing, break it down, sort it out, but a small minority are listening , most people get together for love, or lust, the don’t want to reflect on the journey before it’s begun. Reflection happens at the end, a 50th wedding anniversary , a death, or divorce.

    Although I’ve read , digested and generally agree with all that’s said through out the letters, it’s old, I’ve done the things mentioned, I reserected a marriage that was doomed to failure, and I mean doomed , and that was 14 years ago.I’ve played the game of life , I am a shitty husband, (and am regularly reminded how shitty I am at everything, not just the husband bit) nether the less , because I’m fed up with the one way street this leads you up, you can give, give & give a little more, the suggestion is then keep giving, when the wind is blowing in one direction, the continuous hill your walking up makes you tired.
    I agree make her feel loved and all the things mentioned, what if by doing them you feel even more lonely , and what by doing that over a period of time you get tired, if you take you’re foot off the gas, everything just slows down, everything goes back to the way it was.
    Life changes, people change, and there are shitty husbands and shitty wives and shitty parents, and well, just shitty everything.
    When is it just enough, when do you come to the point when, enough, is enough.
    Forget the shitty husband label, maybe a better description would be shitty person.

    1. I’m sorry to read this, Bill.

      Rest assured I don’t believe being “shitty” is gender-specific.

      Marriages don’t work when two people aren’t BOTH doing the right things. It just so happens I’m only focusing on the things I know about on the husband end of the spectrum.

      Sometimes, very good men who are very good husbands are mistreated from the person they married, and that will certainly destroy a marriage and family.

      I don’t mean to be cryptic about this.

      Two people are supposed to LOVE one another. Like, hard.

      I don’t think I can get behind a marriage or relationship model that doesn’t have “I love you and vow to BEHAVE like it” at its core.

      Everyone who says: “Ehhhh. I don’t really love my spouse. I’m intentionally going to do things that hurt them and that damage our relationship and threaten our family” can go ahead and get their faces drop-kicked.

      All this nuance stuff we discuss here is BULLSHIT, if the premise isn’t two people HONESTLY loving one another and LEGITIMATELY trying to have a lasting marriage.

      If the very foundation is unreliable, then I’m not sure what the point is of discussing it further.

      I don’t believe in SHITTY marriages lasting between couples where one or both is actively sabotaging it.

      I believe in NOT DIVORCING due to common misunderstandings between two people who are trying their best and honestly want to stay married forever.

      Huge difference.

      Sounds like you’ve had some hard years. And I’m really, really, really sorry.

      And I hope for every hard night or morning you experienced, you can point to some side thing, like time with children, or whatever that provides a silver lining.

      These are hard things. Thank you very much for being part of the conversation.

  29. Pingback: How to Seduce Your Wife (Because Your Old Single-Guy Tactics Won’t Work) | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  30. My husband does not want to have sex he prefers going off into the bathroom and jerking off to porn sites. He loves boobs and I am a 34b . I dont think he’s sexually attracted to me because of this.

  31. I have just begun the process of trying to save my marriage of 30 years because of my issues replacing intimacy with masterbation. Reading your blog has made me feel so much better, like I still have hope. Thanks. I have spent the past several years dealing with eldercare issues, and my wife has suggested that I should start a blog about it. Maybe I will; it could help someone like your blog helped me. I’m going to read the rest of you entries immediately!

  32. Lonely Married Woman.

    OMFG this is a big one in our house.

    I am very kinky. My husband? Not so much.

    I am still in my early 30s, so I have a pretty strong sex drive.
    We got married not long before he turned 40. His libido has TANKED.

    The problem is, he has decided that, to make ABSOLUTELY SURE he doesn’t take advantage of me or accidentally coerce me into sex, he wants me to make the first move towards anything physical. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

    Kissing, cuddling, sex, anything. I am always the one making hte first move.

    At first, this wasn’t so bad. But the human brain is a funny thing.

    Even though I know, intellectually, the reason he’s not making any moves on me–even though I know he’s doing this for totally noble and praiseworthy reasons!–not getting a random hug or kiss, or even just “Hey honey, wanna have sex tonight?” makes me feel ugly and unloved.

    I know I’m not ugly. (I’m quite attractive, frankly.) I know that he thinks I’m beautiful, because he tells me all the time. BUT HE DOESN’T ACT LIKE HE WANTS ME.

    So I end up getting out the vibrator and the raunchy fanfics and having some “alone time.” (He knows that this happens. We used to watch porn together when we were dating to get us into the mood, or to laugh at the sort of ridiculous plot twists that ONLY happen in porn.)

    I keep telling him that I do, in fact, want him to approach me sexually some of the time. I’ve told him that, if I’m not asleep and I don’t actively SHOVE him away, I’m probably horny. (Not even exaggerating by much.) And I STTG he just WILL. NOT. LISTEN!

    Any tips?

    1. Honestly that coercion bit sounds like an excuse. He’s not making the first move because he doesn’t want sex as badly as you do, and making the first move means risking rejection. IMO. Don’t know what to do about the listening/information-absorbing issue as I’m trying to sort through the same problem with mine.

  33. Just want to offer mild counterpoints to a couple of the more misguided universal and/or gender-essentialist statements here:

    It’s perfectly normal and commonplace to have fantasies that you have no desire to act out in real life, and it’s not an act of betrayal to decline to discuss those with a sexual partner. Lots of fantasies take place in my head (where I can envision and control totally unrealistic participants and/or scenarios) that have absolutely no appeal in the real world.

    Sometimes I just don’t want to talk about these subjects even with a partner I completely trust, in the same way that I don’t need my partners to disclose all the details of their bowel movements. That’s great, honey, I’m glad you enjoyed it, but why exactly am I involved here?

    Porn, masturbation, etc. are like intrusive thoughts: they’re a problem if and when they are causing emotional distress, not before. We all have the occasional stray negative thought flit across our consciousness. There is no need to start shoveling down anti-psychotics like fistfuls of tic-tacs unless they are causing disruption in daily life.

  34. Yep, everything you wrote is true. I laughed, cried and shook my head in amazement while reading your open letters. Thanks to you, I feel validated about how I feel about my marriage of 10 years.
    I’m married to a shitty husband who confessed about having a porn addiction the entire time we were together (13 years!) I thought I could forgive and forget, but I can’t.

  35. I feel so sad reading both this article and virtually all of the comments. I grew up Catholic, believing love is for life and life is for love. Part of our human dignity is the ability to ask ourselves the Big Question: how will I use my freedom each day? Will I use it to take steps toward more love–a true gift of self–or away from love and concentrating on myself? Yes, the gift of self is often rejected…we human beings are not perfect, we don’t understand the mystery each person is, and it takes honesty (with ourselves and with God, and then with our beloved) and a great deal of emotional and spiritual maturity to love more each day.
    I’ve been married 47 years to a man, who, though he has hurt me sometimes from ignorance, has been a faithful husband whom I admire so much. We both believe sex is a language, a language of love, of total (and vulnerable) giving of ourselves. This language needs a “content”, which is all the little acts of love, appreciation, humor, thoughtfulness, understanding, service, cooperation, encouragement.
    I know many of your readers have truly suffered in their relationships….I hope they find healing and hope.

  36. I read all of these letters and have found myself angry as hell. It’s explains my divorce as well as my current relationship. What am I supposed to do with men like this? I hardly thinks it’s worth a chance if it all boils down to lack of effort. Nevertheless, I thank you for answering what they never could

  37. This was 100% wrote for a bored housewife to read not as actual advice for a husband.This is just pure simp dribble. Imagine if someone wrote an article for women and it started out “you’re a massive cunt, just accept that you’re a cunt.”

  38. Pingback: An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 15 | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  39. Matt, you’re awesome. I’m bookmarking your website for my future boyfriend/husband. My ex-boyfriend could have used your advice, but then he would have argued with it because he knew everything. Anyway, I think you’re a relationship saver. Thank you.

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Matt Fray

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