My Podcast Conversation with Therapist Lesli Doares

Comments 37
radio on air microphone

I’m still working on a more sensible way to share audio content than to create a new post every time I have something.

But until then, I must settle for this. Sorry.

I was a guest recently on marriage counselor and coach Lesli Doares‘ podcast, Happily Ever After Is Just The Beginning! Our philosophies about modern-day marriage, it turns out, align very closely, and it was very flattering that she cared even a little bit about what I had to say.

The podcast episode is about 30 minutes. I don’t think it went as well as my first-ever radio interview last month, but maybe some of you will like it anyway.

You can listen to or download the podcast episode here at Web TalkRadio, or check out the “What Causes Divorce Isn’t What You Think” episode free on iTunes here.

The conversation covers mostly familiar territory for regular readers of this blog, but perhaps you’ll gain value from Lesli’s thoughts, or take pleasure in whatever stumbly dorkness I display with a few strange voice inflections, probably because I was trying to sound smarter than I am.

37 thoughts on “My Podcast Conversation with Therapist Lesli Doares”

  1. Matt, did you ever dream in all the pain from your divorce that you’d be able to reach other humans as you do? I was pondering on it yesterday actually. Something beautiful from the ashes….

  2. Hi Matt,

    That was a good podcast! You both had some interesting points and questions. I noticed you were hesitant to talk about things along gender lines, maybe because of the “I’m a Little Bit Sexist” post comments. I’d like to throw out my thoughts on this.

    Science indicates there are biological differences between men and women as a big group. There are certainly cultural differences as well that enhance the differences. But, this is the key point for me, there are bigger differences WITHIN the groups than BETWEEN the groups. In other words, as a group more men are taller than women but there are big variations between the heights of individual men and women. Knowing the differences as a big group is just a starting point when getting to know an individual in the same way that knowing someone is American helps you understand why they respond to things differently than a Korean but there are many variations in what Americans think (see political election!).

    I teach ESL classes with women from many different countries, they view things very differently because of their different culture. Gender is very much like that. My husband definitely experiences things differently than I do because he is both biologically different than me and also grew up in “boy” culture and I grew up in “girl” culture. But neither or us relates to some of the so called hardwired differences that John Gray and evolutionary psychologists with their very broad categorizations and why you might have received pushback from the comments.. Why? Because there are more differences WITHIN groups than BETWEEN groups.

    Gender is one important variable among many variables. My husband and I have different family cultures, different personalities, different attachment styles, different love languages etc. etc. These things are also important to understand why we see things differently. Learning “boy culture” did help me understand my husband better. But for me, it was learning about his “avoidant attachment” style and my “anxious attachment style” that helped me understand why two reasonable people couldn’t talk things out. Learning my love language was acts of service and that was last on his list explained a lot. Learning he has a different personality type that does not need external order to feel calm and I have the opposite all explained things to me. Lots of differences of which gender is one.

    I respond very well when people say that most men have more testosterone than women and this explains some of the differences we see in sex drive. This is good science. It explains things in a general way but it does not say that men have a higher sex drive than women. Because this is statement implies that ALL or virtually all men have a higher sex drive than ALL or virtually all of women. Again, there are more variations within groups than between, so there will be many men with a lower sex drive than many women and it is perfectly normal variation. That is why I do not like the work of John Gray and many evolutionary psychlogists because they take what is helpful as a general starting principle and make it a rule that is just wrong for many, many people. Sure a lot of people find it helpful because many people fall within the group of averages but it is a lazy and unhelpful analysis because it is not good science and it places TOO MUCH EMPHASIS on just one variable of many and there are more differences within the group than between the groups.

    I so admire the spirit of your willingness to learn new things. I have learned from reading your posts and the comments. Keep up the good work1

  3. As an example of using gender as a starting point, my husband has an avoidant attachment style and I have an anxious attachment style. This is a very common problematic style in marriage counseling. It is helpful to know that while the attachment styles are evenly split according to Dr. Dan Siegal. The avoidant man and anxious woman more often causes a problem in a relationship because of the cultural differences in gender we learn that make avoidant men more avoidant and dismissive than avoidant women as an example Biological differences often make it harder for men to stay engaged in an arguments as he becomes “flooded” more quickly according to Gottman’s research. But these are averages, and I had a hard time getting our counselor to accept that I become equally as flooded as my husband and that needed to be taken into account as a variation to the general rule.

    There are common things each gender thinks in these avoidant/anxious patterns, these are good to know because they are a good starting point especially to help a person who has a hard time articulating what they think or feel. BUT, it is equally important to allow for individual differences and adjust accordingly which is often resisted in my experience as “politically correct.”

    So, I hope you won’t throw out all your gender analysis because I think it IS important to understand the differences both biologically and culturally.

  4. You did great, and very thoughtful. This podcast might just be the opener I need to introduce my husband to what’s going on with us and start real conversation that will either lead to understanding or the end, but we can’t stay like this anymore.
    Thank you Matt and Lesli

  5. Very nicely done 🙂 I thought you sounded well prepared and comfortable chatting with the host.
    But WTF? You can’t say “shitty” on the radio?

  6. My husband found your blog from a Facebook share and we have been reading your posts since then. He said your ‘She Divorced Me…’ article hit him like a ton of bricks!
    Just know that for all the angry/defensive/you’re ignorant comments people have posted-you have made a positive difference in a LOT of lives.
    Our children thank you (even though they don’t know how close we were to a divorce) because communication in *this* marriage is much better and *this* family will stay together. Thanks for sharing your stories.

  7. Great Podcast, Matt. I am a fellow writer and have my own blog called “Sweating the Small Stuff” which I mention only because when I started it a few years ago, I got a lot of weird looks as I was deliberately contracting the famous book’s title… but the reality is that most of us women DO sweat the small stuff because our lives ARE all about the small stuff. Your posts reminded me of one I wrote a while back and I thought you might get a chuckle…

    To be fair, I haven’t written anything new in quote some time because I’ve been drowning in small stuff and haven’t made the time, but your posts have inspired me to get back at it. Thanks for that! Now if only I can encourage my husband to read your posts and “See the light”! 🙂


  8. I think in the podcast you said something like (paraphrasing here) that you expected your wife to grant you the courtesy of not starting a marital fight about an incident you considered to be “minor” in the grand scheme of things. I did not hear you or the counselor address why this was unreasonable on your part. It is a concept I still have trouble with, to be honest. How is one supposed to determine what is “minor” and what is not? If nothing is “minor” to one’s wife, and no credit is given to the husband by the wife for the lack of “cardinal sins” being committed by him, then the marriage would feel to me like an intolerable “walking on eggshells” kind of experience. That said, I understand that refusing to acknowledge or address anything brought up by one’s wife is equally harmful.

    1. LisaR Gottman Girl


      That is a great question that many men seem to have so I will throw out a few of my thoughts. Assuming these are reasonable loving people, the goal is NOT for you to walk on eggshells and agree to whatever your wife is upset about. It’s really about a Goldilocks attitude which is “I don’t care about the glass that much but I do care about you, tell me why it is so important to you?” You want to express curiosity about what this REPRESENTS to her because it’s not really about the dishes. Your caring curiosity will help her feel you are on the same team and then you both can have a reasonable discussion about how to handle the stupid dishes. If you develop a consistent attitude toward her concerns, it will be much easier for her to laugh at things and bring them up in a soft way.

      What about if she is mean about it? Well then you calmly say, “Honey, I really want to hear about why these dishes are so important but it would be much easier for me to respond if you could phrase that differently. I know it’s hard because these dishes represent something to you and I want to find a way we can both work together”.

      You are not dismissive that’s too hard, you are not a walking on eggshells doormat, that’s too soft, you are her curious and caring best friend and husband which is the Goldilocks position.

    2. LisaR Gottman Girl


      I forgot to add this part. What do you do if she continues to say in a mean tone or phrasing after you asked her not to?

      You don’t stand there and take it and you’d don’t yell back. You say “I know you are upset and I want to work on this together but I cannot have you speak to me this way. I am going to go downstairs for 20 minutes or for a walk or whatever) to give us both some time to calm down then I’m coming back and we can talk this through. This is “standing up for yourself without making a big deal out of having to stand up for yourself” per Brent Atkinson.

      You then come back later and try the nice approach again when things are calmer. If she is still talking disrespectfully at that point stop and try again the next day. If you both cannot talk it through reasonably the next day, you need to book a marriage counselor to work on your skills of working together successfully on whatever the topic is. DO NOT IGNORE it or JUST GIVE IN, this might work short term but leads to unhappiness long term. These are just skills that can be learned but they are critical to a happy marriage.

  9. If I may hazard my own theory on this question, you’re shooting yourself in the foot by trying to determine what’s “minor” and what isn’t, and that will always spell certain doom. The question should never be, is my wife making a mountain out of a molehill here? The question should never be, is it fair that my wife is making everything I perceive as minor into something major? In fact, there shouldn’t be a question at all. There will be a multitude of things in life that will matter to your wife that, on their own virtues, won’t matter one whit to you. This will be due to a myriad of reasons–gender, upbringing, personal tastes, etc. The only thing that matters is that “X” is important to your wife. That’s it. Really. End of story. Something matters to your wife enough for her to verbalize it and request your assistance with it; resisting whatever it is (assuming it’s not as morally outrageous as planning a murder) should never rank in importance over your wife’s needs. Pleasing your wife and setting her mind and heart at ease should 100% of the time outrank you feeling like you’re doing her some kind of service by illustrating the error in her thinking.

    LisaR Gottman Girl has proven to be a fountain of great insight on this blog, but honestly, I don’t really agree with her statement that every time your wife asks you to do something for which you don’t feel similar motivation, or in which you don’t see value, that you should initiate a dialog seeking to understand why it’s important to her. That’s a fool’s errand. Again, she’s a woman, you’re a man. She had a different upbringing and history than you. She has different tastes and sensibilities than you. Her explanation may provide some hazy insight, but in the end, like people arguing politics or religion, it’s probably not going to change your mind about the inherent worth of her request. And, frankly, I’d have to assume that most woman would want to strangle you after the third or fourth time you delayed resolution of her request with another “Tell me why this matters to you…” line of inquiry. If it matters enough for her to ask, show her love, grace and benefit of the doubt by smiling and replying, “You bet, honey, I’m on it!” Don’t worry about being right, worry about staying married. Don’t worry about winning a battle, worry about not losing her.

    1. Travis,

      I like your answer! I also like my answer! I think if we blend then together we have a awesome answer!!

      I agree with you that not every little thing needs to be analyzed. That is annoying and this is where I agree with you answer If the thing does not matter to you and seems to not not matter that much at this point to her then if the wife asks you to change something minor, the default should be “sure” and vice versa for something the husband brings up. End of problem.

      I didn’t make this clear enough but my answer was more for situations where one side or the other is triggered by something the other has done so there is some intensity involved. That’s why knowing it represents matters to understand the intensity. Maybe the dishes represent her vow to not live her mothers life in having to clean up after everyone and THAT is why it triggers her. Knowing that helps the husband to see it is not about the dishes and he can explain his trigger of “I swore I’d never be one of those husbands who walks on eggs shells and is controlled by his domineering wife”. They can then have a conversation to understand each other and empathize with each other and work out some solution for the silly dishes.

    2. LisaR Gottman Girl


      You said “you don’t feel similar motivation, or in which you don’t see value, that you should initiate a dialog seeking to understand why it’s important to her. That’s a fool’s errand. Again, she’s a woman, you’re a man. She had a different upbringing and history than you. She has different tastes and sensibilities than you. Her explanation may provide some hazy insight, but in the end, like people arguing politics or religion, it’s probably not going to change your mind about the inherent worth of her request”

      I respect so much the changes you have made in your marriage and the eloquent way you write about it! This is probably an example right here of both of us having different backgrounds that cause us to look at this question slightly differently. I totally agree the goal is not to get information like a judge giving a ruling of whether the wife’s request logically makes sense to the husband. Absolutely agree that is the road to unhappiness. Ironically, although this is stereotypically a male response, in my marriage I am the one who really struggles with this. That’s why it helps me tremendously to understand WHY he is thinking this way. It helps me be empathetic to the INTENSE reactions that make no sense otherwise.

      Since I have bit mentioned Gottman In the last 10 minutes ? I am compelled to say that this is one of the Gottman’s techniques to understand conflicts to understand the story behind the intense feelings. Partly it is to resolve the conflict with more empathy on both sides, partly it is to deepen your friendship (which is the key to a great marriage) in the same way you can have discussions with friends with very different political or religious views to understand them as people not to change minds.

  10. Makes sense, and I totally understand where you’re coming from. I must confess, if it helps explain my original dissension with part of what you’d written, that I’m feeling very divided about where I see Matt’s blog going after the watershed “Dishes by the Sink” post–not in any way with Matt’s subsequent writings, but with huge swaths of his readers’ comments. That “Dishes” article seems to have opened a kind of Pandora’s box of theoretical discussions (in several of which I have admittedly participated), about the disparate psychological, emotional, cultural, et al, natures of men and women. The compelling (and sometimes not so compelling…*looks sidelong at our “Matt’s a big pussy” brethren*) perspectives truly make for fascinating reading; however, I find myself in a growing panic that the fundamental shining virtue of this blog–a practical, no-frills, down-to-brass-tacks, come-to-Jesus-talk from one man to as many of his fellow men as he can reach about how to recognize themselves as the unwittingly toxic Flint water in the plumbing of their own marriages, and save their families before the poisoning becomes fatal–is being obfuscated with all our high-level theorizing.

    In my experience, and judging by the stories told in vast numbers here, men tend to be outstandingly clueless at picking up the clues of their wives’ growing marital despair so that’s all precious time lost when they could have been trying to right the sails of their relationship. Complicating the issue further is that, when a wife reaches her breaking point, she usually is only able to provide the slimmest of opportunities for her husband to begin to pull both of them back from the edge of the abyss. In short, there’s simply no time for a bunch of philosophizing and ruminating and conjecturing. Though I’ve always been a fan of theoretical discourse and consideration, as I get older, I’m starting to recognize a great deal more value in, and necessity for, nose-to-the-grindstone practicality. “Could it maybe…?” is progressively less interesting to me as a line of inquiry over “Will it definitely…:?” Though I was, mercifully, able to rectify my own crumbling marriage at the eleventh-and-a-half hour a couple of weeks before even finding this blog, when I did (with, like most of us, the “Dishes” article), I saw the exact same reasoning process and practical action steps being espoused that I’d successfully applied to my own situation being mirrored right back at me. As such, I recognized that this blog offered the best chance I’d ever come across for men weathering similar marital crises to get access to some exceedingly practical, useful advice presented (and this is where Matt has the edge over all comers, in my opinion) in a voice and manner that clearly and powerfully clicks with the male mind. I still want this defining characteristic of Must Be This Tall to Ride to always shine brightly through all the collegiate speculation and conjecture that’s been steadily mounting here since mid-January because, frankly, I don’t want any male readers using all of it as an excuse to spend too much time moving around the inner furniture of their muddled minds instead of jumping off their asses and putting in the necessary effort of giving their wives a better life through demonstrable husbandly actions.

    1. Travis,

      Thanks for explaining your reasoning. Makes perfect sense. You were able to understand your mistakes in the nick of time and make HUGE adjustments, this takes so much humility and courage to recognize what needs to happen and I also salute your wife for being willing to give you a chance to show those changes. You want men to be able to read posts and comments to “get it” in time to save their marriages. You are worried that all this theoretical talk about why marriages fail in these common ways will prevent men from seeing their part in the mess. I’m with you there. We NEED men to get it.

      But, Matt said this in this podcasts, the majority of letters he gets are from frustrated wives. They can’t figure out why their husband doesn’t “get it”. They try and try and try for years until they just give up and divorce. The theoretical stuff is an attempt to understand WHY this happens other than that men just suck. It is tempting to read Matt’s admission that he was solely responsible for his marriage’s failure and think see men just suck and women are just better at relationship skills and are the only ones who really care.

      The theory tells us, no women, you contributed a lot to the situation because you kept telling your husband over and over about the dishes and didn’t take any boundary setting or actions to FORCE him to understand the importance of this EARLY in the process. That is where women need to learn new skills and attitudes. BOTH sides are contributing to this sadly common reason for divorce. The theory tells us the reasons for this that don’t make people evil but also show what they are doing wrong and how to correct it.

      Also, the depending on the man’s personality (because there are more differences within groups than between groups) the theory from someone who uses science will convince them to reconsider their view in ways that only personal stories will not. My husband is one of those science, theory loving people as am I. It is not either or though. The best way to get someone to understand something is to hear BOTH right brain stories from real people like Matt and you and to also hear the LEFT brain scientific and theoretical explanations for why things turned out so badly for two nice people. And both right brain success stories combined with left brained science backed solutions give you a roadmap for how to fix it for both men and women.

      I am pragmatic, the vast vast majority of people reading anything relationship oriented including this blog are women. I hope you and Matt reach many men and help them “get it”. That is ideal! But most women need to know what relationship skills THEY are missing that most men are not. Most women tend to think they are great at relationships and men are inferior. But, the ability to effectively deal with someone who doesn’t “get it” and help/force them to make changes based on boundaries and action and certain ways of talking about things is a critical relationship for your over controlling mother or your dismissive husband. That skill learned by women WILL save far more marriages than trying to get men to “get it” by education or classes or blogs etc. Because of nature/nuture men WILL NOT read these in any significant numbers until it is too late to save the marriage, women will.

      Both approaches are needed for both men and women. All right I’ll stop with all my theorizing now ?

      1. Lisa R, I appreciate very much you sharing what you’ve learned about practical/action-oriented boundaries. Thank you. 🙂 If you feel like continuing to educate us all for free (let’s just be honest here), I will certainly be appreciative. (But don’t bust any of your boundaries in the process! ;)) Best of luck to you with everything. Your man is a lucky ducky!

      2. …and just to be clear, this was not a kind of hidden criticism on what you were saying Travis B. Just… getting to it matters for sure! I know in my own life in all kinds of situations that reading and reading and reading about something can really be a way to procrastinate aswell.

        By the way, in our previous exchange you mentioned that you were a bit uncomfortable adressing me as Donkey, and let me just assure you that I take no offense in you doing so in this context. 🙂 For a second there you almost had me tempted to change my nick-name to “Bitch”. I’m sure that would make for some uncomfortable exhanges. “Bitch, you need to understand that…”, “Bitch, what are you saying?” Hahaha! 8)

      3. Hey Donkey!

        Love your sense of humor!. I hope I don’t come across as a know it all trying to educate people. I probably do but really that is not my intention, so I apologize to everyone if I come across as trying to educate people in a know it all way or if I have been posting too long and too many comments. Believe me, if anyone needs to work on things and develop new relationship skills, it’s me. This is stuff I am desperately trying to learn to unlearn years of what I thought a healthy relationship should look like and how a healthy adult responds when people don’t treat you well. I’m sort of a book/idea person and I have read a lot of them to try improve my marriage so that is why I reference those things. I certainly don’t know how to practice what I preach yet though I am working very hard on it and am getting better every day.

        I’m just excited to find this blog and read the thoughtful posts and throw out ideas that have helped me after so many years of pain and confusion in the hope it might help someone else not have to go through that. I’m learning lots of new ways to think about things and try to improve from reading the posts and comments from such smart people. I always learn best when being challenged to think about things by people who have different life stories and points of views or who can recommend different books so I really appreciate all the interaction in the comments.

        Thanks for your kind words. I look forward to learning more from you!

      4. LisaR,

        Well, that’s one theory, I suppose…

        (*drumroll*, *cymbal crash*)

        It looks as though our discussion is highlighting two different virtues to Matt’s blog. You (quite understandably) are delighted that so many women have access to a rare and clear insight into the mindset of males who want to/think they are contributing strongly and healthily to their marriages, but are nonetheless failing miserably. I, on the other hand, am becoming increasingly disturbed by the fact that so few men (from what I can observe anyway) show up here to learn the practical, useful advice of which Matt regularly proffers and, of those who do, far too many of them want to waste precious time challenging Matt’s assertions, or self-destructively traffic in “But what about what she could do to be a better wife?!” lamentations.

        Let me be very clear–I’m honestly delighted to see and hear that some many wives are finding a great deal of clarity, perspective, reassurance and reinforcement on this blog. Anything that helps strengthen our collective relationships in a great victory, and it looks like dozens upon dozens of women are receiving a kind of crucial tonic for their spirits by being here, so please let me fully clarify that I in no way wish to stifle the conversations that are providing such peace of mind. All that said, however, I can’t help but shake the feeling that 90%+ of the recurring readership here is not Matt’s target audience, so I get cold sweats when one of the few men who isn’t here to just prove what an alpha-male badass he is by peeing all over Matt’s hydrant and calling him a “pussy” arrives and starts in with a bunch of theoretical questions. There’s no time to lose for us men; I implore each of them to simply take Matt’s advice at face value and run with it. There will be time enough for those types of “higher thought” questions after your wife has taken her clothes out of the luggage and put them back in the closet.

        I desperately hope that these recent radio appearances helps get the word out to the rest of my brethren. I’m sure it fills Matt with no shortage of pride and fulfillment that his words have positively touched the lives of so many women, but I’m sure he’s constantly nagged by the nerve-wracking thought, “But they’re not the ones I’m speaking directly trying to speak to.”

        Oh, and Donkey, you were HYSTERICAL, bitch! 😉

        1. Only four years late to the party! I’ve been reading this thread with a great deal of interest.

          In “What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You” by David Murrow, he says that men don’t look at equality in the same way. Women will want to share tasks, divide areas up equally, whereas men will see certain areas as their responsibility and others as women’s. And once something is seen as a “woman’s responsibility” then a man detaches from it.

          Michael Gurian in “Lessons in Lifelong Intimacy” says that couples need to establish “domains” within the home for clarity and to establish boundaries.

          Relationships are seen as a “woman’s responsibility” and “domain”. So men will just switch off and Matt’s message will fly above their radar.

          Lesli Doares focuses on men claiming or reclaiming relational responsibility within their marriages and maybe that’s a way of wording it, reclaiming territory.

          Yeah I know, I’m cringing too, but I think that it’s a majority of men who would want practical guidance in saving their marriages and to attract them, maybe the message needs to be reworded to appeal, whilst keeping the essence of the content.

          It’s a tricky balancing act.

      5. Wow, forgive all the spelling and grammatical issues with that last post. That’s what I get for writing while multi-tasking. Oh, and I forgot to mention, LisaR, that you should question nothing about your fascinating and eye-opening observations here. Their value to many of us is self-evident.

      6. Lisa R, just to be clear, I didn’t mean to imply that you were a know it all. And in any case… if you happen to stumble across some of my previous comments you’ll see that they’re quite….lengthy. 😉 Sometimes I can’t stop myself from making a point that’s probably been made 1000 times before on this blog. I guess this comic explains it all 8):

        A point that makes someone think “Geez of course I know that!”, will make someone else have an aha-moment. I think practical boundaries is something I need more of in my life in general. And hearing that “boundaries are important” is quite different from reading practical examples like you provided. 🙂

        Travs B: Hihihihi!

      7. We all have our hang-ups and one my greatest is proper spelling and grammar; I’m having cold sweats and heart palpitations (and a shocking tendency toward over-dramatic hyperbole, apparently) at the thought that the points I was making in my last post were clouded because of the errors I made with them so, even if it’s just for my own peace of mind and no one else’s, I’d like to correct those spelling and grammar oversights now.

        Revised sentences:

        “Anything that helps strengthen our collective relationships IS a great victory…”

        “All that said, however, I can’t shake the feeling that 90%+ of the recurring readership here is not Matt’s target audience…”

        “I desperately hope that these recent radio appearances HELP get the word out to the rest of my brethren.”

        “I’m sure it fills Matt with no shortage of pride and fulfillment that his words have positively touched the lives of so many women, but I’m sure he’s constantly nagged by the nerve-wracking thought, “But they’re not the ones I’m trying to speak DIRECTLY to.”

        There. Whew. I, for one, feel a lot better.

    2. Travis,

      That’s funny about your grammar obsession. I have a similar thing about when I am unclear in communicating my point, (which is sadly often) so let me take another stab. You said based on my comment that: “It looks as though our discussion is highlighting two different virtues to Matt’s blog. You (quite understandably) are delighted that so many women have access to a rare and clear insight into the mindset of males who want to/think they are contributing strongly and healthily to their marriages, but are nonetheless failing miserably. I, on the other hand, am becoming increasingly disturbed by the fact that so few men (from what I can observe anyway) show up here to learn the practical, useful advice of which Matt regularly proffers and, of those who do, far too many of them want to waste precious time challenging Matt’s assertions, or self-destructively traffic in “But what about what she could do to be a better wife?!” lamentations.”

      I am NOT delighted that so many women comment on this blog, I am DISTURBED that more men are not actively seeking out good material like this blog to work on their marriages. I hyperbolically can say that I am in the top 1% of people in the world who HATE HATE HATE that mostly women are the ones who are trying to seek out cures for the cancer in their marriages while many men only do it when their wives give them a stage 4 diagnosis when it is often too late to cure. In fact, you may note it is I, not my husband, who is typing this comment and not my smart well-meaning husband. I had a previous rant on a comment about my frustration that my book loving, smart husband has not read a single relationship book in the last year despite having a giant stack of other topics (including GOLF!) next to his bed. (ok I now realize that is not good relationship skills to type that but I indulge momentarily to make sure my point is clear, love you honey and thanks for all the other great stuff you do!) Men are not stupid or evil, there are many reasons why this happens (trying not to put too much theory here) but one of the key things is shame avoidance at being labeled the “bad guy” when they feel they are trying hard.

      OK, hopefully I have established my point that I HATE that the gender imbalance exists and that the vast, vast majorities of the comments are from women. It is not a pleasant support group feeling, it is a sad reminder of sick people seeking a cure for cancer and half of the solution are not showing up. My second point is the 90% female comment ratio you noted is average for relationship materials. There are exceptions, but THAT IS THE NORMAL RATIO of relationship material consumed by gender and let me emphasize that I HATE that. Matt’s post went viral and developed enough attention that the gender ratio self-leveled to the typical level of relationship material. Because he is presenting it in a “I screwed up my marriage and here’s why” only men who been given a stage 4 cancer diagnosis by their wives will be desperate enough to seek it out. Many men were undoubtably helped when their wives forwarded the posts or printed them out for him to read. These men either have good relationship skills and accepted the influence from their wives or have been given a Stage 3 or 4 cancer diagnosis that got his attention. I think Matt is a brilliant and funny writer and everyone can learn from his blog but the shame avoidance will be high for a lot of men to read a blog about “I screwed up my marriage and here’s why” even when presented with fantastic Terminator references. Some men can be helped for sure if they are in Stage 3 and make changes or their wife is willing to given them another chance in Stage 4 and every marriage saved is a miracle because it represents so many children who will grow up with their father.

      I am a pragmatic person, that why I make comments that have helped me understand and improve my “typical frustrated wife” who can’t get her husband to listen to her experience because I know that 90% of the people reading are women (and I HATE that) It would indeed be awesome if we had an equal number of men and women because we can learn so much with more diversity but it is what it is. Like you, I think I have discovered something that helped me get out of the bad cycle my marriage was in and I am trying to share it in the hopes it might help some people. I am seeking out this blog and smart people because I still do not have the answers and even when I do know what to do I have a hard time letting go of the resentment (as you can see from my evil comments about the books) so plenty of work for me to do. The good news is in non-abusive relationships you are BOTH the problem! Really, it’s good news because YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT besides suffering his perceived “selfishness” for years and then divorcing. Ideally, you should both have great relationship skills and know how to deal effectively with each other. I assume those are not the people reading this blog. If it doesn’t work like that you BOTH need to learn better skills. If you ask your husband to put the dishes in the dishwasher and you can have a reasonable resolution, no problem. If you can’t, you need to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. It’s like having a back up parachute when you are sky diving. The first one should work, but you need to have that second one in case it doesn’t or you will DIE or DIVORCE. if you don’t know how to effectively deal with someone who is not treating you well in a way that does not blame them or make it hard for them to give you what you want, you will not be able to have great relationships (including family and friends). THAT is what I did wrong that screwed up my marriage and I am so grateful to be learning new skills to accept that he is different and make it easy for him to give me what I need. My husband has also had to learn new skills of course and I’m grateful he is willing to learn too. This is entirely too long and theoretical but I just can’t help myself. This blog is like a bag of delicious Doritos, no self control, despite me best efforts. 🙂

      1. Great insights yet again, LisaR, and I appreciate that you’re willing to keep lobbing the conversational tennis ball back and forth across the net with me. Boiling things down to my essential frustration/concern, if we both agree that, at most, 10% of our participatory audience is male, and for the sake of argument, let’s say half of those are just here to spray alpha-male piss all over Matt, then I’m speaking about those meager leftovers who legitimately want to improve their marriages, but they want to hash over theoretical minutiae first before they’re willing to commit themselves to action. To me, it equates to a man who’s on the edge of his body shutting down from starvation being presented with a five-course meal, but before he digs in, he stops to ask if butter or margarine was used in its preparation, and what is the percentage of trans fats it contains, and we’re all the ingredients used organic, and does it contain any artificial sweeteners or colors, and why was iceberg lettuce used instead of Romaine, and on and on and on. Dudes, just shut up and eat the meal. Renew yourself, get back to a healthy and whole point, then you can hash out all the finer points of the “whys”. What Matt is offering here represents both your and your wife’s survival. Trust in it.

  11. Fromscratchmom

    I enjoyed the podcast. And I’m trying to keep browsing comments to learn from the conversations. But…ugh…sometimes, I’m just too close to it all to look at everything rationally and benefit. I’m doing a cha cha in my mental/emotional state being in the middle of divorce. I’m dancing back and forth in so many areas and in so many ways. I have a great deal of time when I’m clear on my need and desire to totally let him go, to heal, to learn and grow and prepare to start over fresh. My emotion truly are catching up to the reality and to my thoughts. But everyday has its moments of having to pray and focus and maybe pull out the whole big bag of tricks to get appropriately refocused on reality. Ugh.

    Thank-you, Matt. And thank-you to the other commenters in general and to the male commenters in particular for all the good and sane conversation! It makes a difference that there are at least some people out there that are working on reality and on making their corner of the world a better place!

    1. Fromscratchmom,

      Take good care of yourself, you’ve been through a lot and are in the process of healing. I have learned a lot from reading your comments and am inspired at all the work you have done to be a better person!

  12. oh no! you got a therapist! Listen why dont you get a couple of mates together and go out for a long week of drinking and whoring. It will make you feel better and you wont need the therapist.

    1. I seriously think you might be retarded. I know that’s really rude to say. And that it’s impolite to mentally handicapped people. We don’t really say that anymore in polite conversation.

      But I’m dead serious. You’re the SHITTIEST comprehender of words and context and what shit really means, imaginable. And then you take it a step further by publicly commenting about it from a place of ignorance somewhere between the intellect of a piece of lint on the floor and a small spider I stepped on today.

      I mean, I appreciate you reading and shit. But PLEASE apply your brain to the process and ask good questions and demonstrate you actually understand the words on the screen before you go off half-cocked trying to play Internet Tough Guy.

      You can do it, if you try. I promise. Just maybe an extra two or three minutes is all it would take.

      Keep trying!

      1. Ha ha. I dont know if you actually read the crap that you write – but you should try it one day. But i have to give credit where credit is due – its good to see you got your balls back and are starting to fight back.

  13. Pingback: The Marriage Paradox | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  14. We are really enjoying reading your stuff in my house. It’s the first time I’ve seen a man writing about the systemic inequality of domestic life in a way that makes sense to us.

    We are one of the many couples in their 40s who are trying to map out a new way of doing marriage where both couples work full-time – and have done without a break while raising children – and where women are exhausted. It’s like you listened to our arguments.

    But please do more podcasts because I had to turn the interview with Lesli Doares off after 14 minutes because her interviewing style is so annoying. She keeps speaking for you, reframing your key points, and reducing your work to the same Venus/Mars/gratitude/ learn how to communicate stuff.

    Not that there’s anything wrong about that content, it’s just that it doesn’t address the fact that women and men are generally not on equal footing in a relationship. There is no level playing field.

    That whole dialogue about being grateful to a man for being a provider and being present in the early part of this interview makes me want to spit chips. A good man should not accept that there is one bar for him and a much higher bar for his wife – in any aspect of a relationship. What’s that joke? The man walked into a bar …. because it was set so low.

    Her anecdote about the shoes also felt like a ham-fisted attempt to frame your work in a way that removed the fact of gender inequality from the equation. A kind a weak how-about-sim

    I believe it is just commonsense that unless a man is willing to hold himself to the same standards as he (and society) holds his wife – then there is little possibility for happiness in the marriage regardless of how good they both are at communicated. If a women expects equality, and most do (just not Lesli apparently) then she is looking for a true and equal partner in a relationship – and everything else is secondary.

    Also on the communication style stuff – there is never enough analysis of how much of the ‘male communication style’ is simply what privilege and false entitlement looks like. As they say – “To the privileged, equality feels like oppression”

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Matt Fray

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