Hey, Can We Talk About a Few Things?

Comments 67

can we talk?
The irony has never been lost on me.

Some divorced guy who shortchanged his marriage offering something that looks and smells like marriage advice. Thousands of people think: “Who’s this asshole, and how could ANYTHING he says possibly matter?”

Plenty have said as much in comments, which means a trillion more thought it without exerting the energy to type it.

And I get it. I promise. I’ve tried hard to not be Advice Guy, and I’ve gotten sucked in at times playing amateur-hour therapist to people because they’ve asked me to, or because I had strong feelings about some aspect of marriage and relationships.

But that’s never what I wanted to be.

What I wanted to be was a real-life human being who was maybe a little bit more honest than most people about a bunch of these Life things we don’t usually talk about because it feels unsafe.

The truth makes people uncomfortable. It’s socially awkward to tell too much of it in the wrong setting. And the amount of vulnerability required to let others inside our REAL thoughts and our REAL fears and our REAL hearts is too much for most of us, most of the time. The vast majority of people I know have no idea I write things here. I don’t tell them.

Maybe I’m afraid.

I often wonder if that person over here or that other one over there has read something I’ve written, and when they’re talking to me, thinks less of me for it but keeps it to themselves trying to be polite.

There are plenty of people in my life with whom I used to have good relationships, and now I don’t. Maybe some of the writing is why.

I’ll probably never know.

But one thing is certain. If what I write here is going to mess with my head and fuel my occasional insecurities and adversely impact my real-life human relationships, then it damn sure better matter.

Which raises an important question.

Does it Matter Anymore?

One of the awesomest writers and speakers in the whole Human Being/Relationships/Life genre is a woman named Glennon Doyle Melton. She’s badass, but not in a fight-you-in-a-dark-alley sort-of way. She just really gets it, I think. We have a similar writing style, a friend pointed out back when I didn’t know who Glennon was. And we sorta do, but she’s better.

The closest thing to a gripe I have with Glennon is that she doesn’t write for me. She is 100-percent, unapologetically writing for women, which is a shame because I’m sure underneath all that she is, lives a bunch of insightful things that could benefit men, too.

As a writer and aspiring author, I try to pay attention to her because she’s like, my female spirit animal, or whatever. I don’t really know what spirit animals are.

So, let me set the stage for the next thing: Glennon is the bestselling author of “Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life” (which I haven’t read, but will) and whose second book “Love Warrior” is set to release in five weeks.

It’s a book about her marriage, and how she and her husband powered through the human messiness that affects all of us and our relationships. She’s likely to sell many, many, many copies.

She has a speaking tour, traveling around the country speaking to groups from a stage, smacking audiences with the same openness and vulnerability she infuses into her writing.

And despite the protest of some of her staff members and marketing people at the publishing company charged with promoting the new book launch, Glennon announced on her blog Momastery today that she and her husband (a central figure in her writing) have separated.

She’s choosing courage and authenticity over masks and book sales. She’s choosing vulnerability over staying hidden. She’s choosing truth over bullshit, even when bullshit feels safer and is infinitely more profitable.

Carry on, warrior, indeed.

Which brings us to me, to the things we discuss here, and to this important question: How much longer can I sit at the keyboard—with ANY semblance of integrity—writing about relationship stuff?

This all started because I got divorced and it sucked and I broke so hard that I didn’t know what to do with myself, and a therapist I spoke to drunk on the phone one night told me I should start writing things down.

She asked me to call her back and let her know how it was going. I never did.

My divorce happened a few months later, but April 1, 2013 is the day the world changed for me. The day before, on Easter Sunday, she took off her ring and said she was leaving. And I remember that moment just fine.

But it still felt the same. I’d spent the past 18 months in the guest room, crying sometimes like a colossal wimp. And then after work Monday, she was gone. A little boy was, too.

And then I cried some more, but it stopped feeling wimpy after a while, because it was all very hard, and it wasn’t a figment of my imagination.

IT ACTUALLY WAS DIFFICULT. For real. And I wasn’t weak or crazy. That’s when—despite being 34 years old—I finally figured out what empathy was, and how epically short I’d fallen of providing a requisite amount to my wife for the previous dozen or so years.

The stories mattered because they were real. Some were raw. Because I was teetering constantly between various states of Broken and Angry and Sad and Hopeful and Introspective and Intoxicated.

Even though my parents divorced when I was 4, and it was really hard, I didn’t know how hard divorce was.

That felt important to me. Divorce is hard. And all this time, when I’d hear about a couple divorcing, I’d think: Ehhhh. People get divorced all the time. I don’t want to do it, or put my son through what I went through, and it totally sucks to be them, but at least no one died or anything!

I never respected its significance. I was fundamentally broken on the inside. It hurts so much for a while, you have trouble doing anything more than staring into space, your body fully tensed, trying not to cry again, and almost forgetting to breathe.

When being alive feels that way every second of your existence for months or years, people start asking themselves whether being alive is actually the attractive proposition they’d always believed it to be.

If divorce is THIS hard, and HALF of all married couples do this, and MOST relationships are ending for reasons so few of us can even explain, then this is a bona fide social crisis. An emergency. Because this FEELS like the end of the world, regardless of whether it is. And if it FEELS like the end of the world, what difference does it make whether it actually is? Right now is real. Right now matters. And millions and millions of others are feeling this same way right this second. I need to tell other guys out there what I think I’ve learned.

It turns out, 60-70 percent of readers ended up being their wives, most of them corroborating my beliefs with a bunch of “Finally! A man who gets it” comments.

Relationship Avoidance After Divorce: It’s a Thing

I haven’t had a girlfriend since my divorce. You know, in the She’s Wearing My Varsity Jacket and Everyone in School Knows We’re a Thing kind-of way.

Maybe I’m afraid.

In those initial months following the world changing on April 1, 2013, my life was defined by the void in the center of it.

The black hole of despair needed filled. I was kind of obsessed with thoughts of dating and how difficult I perceived it to be for a mid-30s single father to meet available (and compatible) people.

I whined about it a lot in blog posts and to friends.

Every trip to the grocery store, or night out with friends, or dinner at a restaurant was a reminder of everything missing in my life.

I can’t tell you what changed. I can’t point to any one, specific thing. But at some point over the past 40 months, the black hole of despair disappeared.

New things filled the void. An evolving relationship with my son. A healing and respectful relationship with his mother. New life adventures, including new writing opportunities, a new business venture, and new human connections.

When friends ask about my dating life, my response now is a million miles away from three years ago when I was feeling sorry for myself all the time: “Honestly? I don’t even think about dating. I go out with people sometimes who I already know, but there are all these other life things happening. Who has time for first dates?”

To which I was recently challenged—fairly, I think.

The spirit of that challenge being: How long can you write with authenticity about that guy you used to be or about relationships when you’re unwilling to show up and be in them yourself? Aren’t you worried about being an observer of your own life, rather than living it?

And what do you say to that?

I don’t know.

I think Glennon said it best in today’s post:

“As you’ll read in Love Warrior, Craig and I endured serious trauma a few years ago. We suffered. My God, we suffered. I was broken, just completely shattered. And then we healed. It was beautiful.

“And this is what I learned: You can be shattered and then you can put yourself back together piece by piece.

“But what can happen over time is this: You wake up one day and realize that you have put yourself back together completely differently. That you are whole, finally, and strong – but you are now a different shape, a different size. This sort of change — the change that occurs when you sit inside your own pain — it’s revolutionary. When you let yourself die, there is suddenly one day: new life. You are Different. New. And no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot fit into your old life anymore. You are like a snake trying to fit into old, dead skin, or a butterfly trying to crawl back into the cocoon, or new wine trying to pour itself back into an old wineskin. This new you is equal parts undeniable and terrifying.

“Because you just do not fit. And suddenly you know that. And you have become a woman who doesn’t ignore her knowing. Who doesn’t pretend she doesn’t know. Because pretending makes you sick. And because you never promised yourself an easy life, but you did promise yourself a true one. You did promise – back when you were putting yourself back together – that you’d never betray you again.”

I’m not who I used to be.

Not when I was a kid. Not when I was a young adult. Not when I was married. Not when I was broken after divorce.

I picked up a bunch of those scattered pieces and got most of them put back together again.

And I mostly look the part. But I am new. I am different.




God, I hope so.

I don’t know what I’m afraid of, or even IF I’m afraid. Maybe I’m afraid of being hurt again. Maybe I’m afraid I’m not strong enough to walk the walk when the feelings fade and difficulty ensues. Or maybe it’s something else.

But here I am, 40 months removed from marriage, and talking about marriage, having not once put into practice most of the things we talk about here in the context of a committed relationship. One of my best friends got divorced one week before me, and just recently got engaged.

What does that make me?

I don’t know.

I started this because it made me feel better.

I kept writing when I realized it accidentally helped others and made them feel better.

And I guess now I’m looking for whatever’s next. As long as it matters to someone, somehow, I’m not even sure I care what it is. I just want it to matter because I do care about THAT.

Because you all saved my life.

Because you matter very much.

I should tell you more often. Because that matters too.

67 thoughts on “Hey, Can We Talk About a Few Things?”

  1. There’s no agreed upon time table for putting yourself back together or for dating again after divorce. Quite frankly I wish I would’ve waited 40 months, too. It certainly doesn’t look like you’re standing still to me. It looks like you’re observing and learning and healing and looking inward. That is growth, although it does not look the same for every person, it’s still growth. Glennon is a badass in her courage and ability to move forward with love, grace and vulnerability. You are no less of a badass because you aren’t in a new relationship. You’re still vulnerable, still thinking, still healing… which equals moving forward. Carry on, Warrior. Keep writing. Keep growing. Keep thinking. Go at your own pace, it is fast enough.

  2. Matt,
    It matters because you write from the heart. It doesn’t hurt at all that you are sharp, and funny, either :).
    I think I get where you are coming from (I think I sensed that myself, too- but being the slightly compulsive dependent type that I am, I have hung around).

    It is always a joy reading your work. You are a wonderful human being that makes other people feel heard and appreciated. I have said before that it didn’t make sense for you to come to the knowledge and the understanding that you have, for you to not someday use it.

    So what ever happens here, I just want to thank you and wish you the best of luck.
    Some lady (the right lady) is going to be very, very lucky!
    (Don’t forget the 6 minute hugs!!!)

      1. Hah, thanks for asking!

        I’m reading “The five things you cannot change” by David Richo and “The Chalice and the Blade”. Both intriguing, to me at least.

        As for intriguing thoughts…. well I do have some (they’re intriguing to me anyway, hehe) but not really the wherewithal to formulate them now. 🙂

        How about you, what are you reading/thinking these days? 🙂 And let me just applaud the assertiveness skills you showed the other day in the comment section! I think assertiveness can be a hard thing for both of us (correct me if I’m wrong). In any case, I was impressed!

        1. Donkey,
          Thanks for the encouragement! And you’re not wrong about needing to exercise assertiveness. I’ve mostly been reading pharmacology books that are doused in highly technical jargon. At this point I think I could tell you anything you ever wanted to know about schizophrenia. As far as intriguing thoughts, yes- a few but nothing too profound :). If you ever do have the werewithall to share, I’d love to hear them:).
          I have never heard of “The Blade and the Chalice”- it sounds like nice heroic fiction, though. Is it?
          I’m glad you’re keeping in touch with Lisa. I hope I didn’t offend her :/. Let her know she is missed. I guess Travis is doing Travis things. You guys were a really needed distraction for me, and really helped me have more confidence in ME- just by talking with me and engaging me.
          I had invested myself to much in something that didn’t invest in me back. I’m learning though.
          But you guys really made me feel a part of things, and valuable. I tend to be super sappy- so I hope you can deal when I say you guys are special to me. ❤️. :).

      2. Hey Lindbo,

        Hmm, I guess it’s within the realm of anthropology, yes. But it deals with old civilisations (pre the ancient greeks). But I’m not even half way through yet. 🙂

        I meant partnership not as in couples vs individuals or families, but partnership as in the opposite of hierarchical and more violent cultures. 🙂

        Here’s the link, if you’re interested: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=chalice+and+the+blade

        Good luck with your studies. 🙂 When will you be totally finished, do you think?

      3. Studies are scheduled to end about 9 months, and counting. ..
        I should graduate in May.
        Thanks for clarifying- your explanation makes more sense. Sort of cooperative communities vs. competitive communities.
        That does sound interesting, but I’m likely to wait for the movie version. :).
        No, I;m kidding. I may check it out. Right now, I don’t have time to read anything that requires attention for than 10 or 15 min at a time.

    1. You are so sweet Lindsey, thank you for saying this! 🙂 I’m touched and flattered that I’ve played some part in making you feel valuable/part of things/more confident. I’ve really apprieciated connecting with you too! 🙂 You have been so encouraging in general, and also generous in reaching out when I’ve been feeling down here on the blog.

      “The Chalice and the Blade” is by Riane Eisler and is not fiction at all (though I do love me some good fantasy). It’s about how humans used to live in more partnership oriented societies, lots of archeological findings and everything. I find it a bit dry to read , but very interesting (to me).

      So, are you swamped in your studies this days or is it ok?

      1. Donkey,
        I just finished finished (literally today) my psychopharmacology class, and am going to try like hell to have a rough draft of my research paper in by the end of this week. So,yes- up to my eyeballs with it all. But, it should slow down for a week or two before Fall starts. Thank you for asking, Donkey.
        The book sounds interesting- almost anthropology? Is it specifically partner oriented societies or famy oriented. I tend to assume (though I haven’t studied it at all ) that really, the last hundred years or so, and mostly in industrial countries would be more “partnership” focused, and really now- individual focused. Have there been other societies in the past similar to our current culture?

  3. Matt, I’m glad you’re sharing your thoughts and reflections and feelings with us! 🙂

    I know this is very late, but are we ok after the whole I-left-my-wife-alone-in-the hospital conversation?

    We probably still disagree on some things, but I really appreciated you both putting in time and effort to answer my questions and that you reached out when I was feeling down.

    We’re good on my end at least. 🙂

    1. Of course! I think I still have an unanswered question from you. I am almost never ignoring comments or questions for any reason other than time.

      All of the time I used to be able to spend engaging in comments is mostly being eaten up by a growing business.

      It’s yet another reminder of when good things happen over here, we must usually give up something else we were doing over there.

      It’s not ideal, and I’m sorry.

      You’re wonderful, and I’m glad you’re here. Thank you for still being here and saying hi.

      Lisa G. and Travis vanished on us! Hoping they’re well, and wishing the same for you.

      1. Thanks Matt, you’re great too! 🙂

        To be clear, I didn’t get the impression from anything you did or didn’t do/say didn’t say that we weren’t good, I just asked because I remember I said I’d follow up on it.

        Yeah, I don’t know what happened with Travis, but I’ve been in contact with Gottmanfan and she just needed a break for various reasons. Here’s to both their wellness and their swift return to us. 8) And to your wellness and continued presence!

      2. Hi Matt, Lindsey, Donkey, and all the regulars.

        Just wanted to let you know I am alive although I did almost die in June of Pulmonary Emboli and my heart freaking out because of the lack of oxygen because of the clots. Fun times! Slowly getting better, hopefully full recovery with time.

        But hey, it does put your marriage issues in proper perspective. I can tell I am getting back to normal because I am irritated by stupid stuff again 🙂

        1. @lisa g

          What?!? Good grief sista! That’s…really freakin scary! I am literally freaking out here. Prayers for you, your family, your healthcare team. You are returning to good health, I hope?

        2. You!!!

          Hi. Goodness. I’m speechless, but you made me laugh all at the same time with that excellent closing.

          I am so glad you’re alive in the context of a major health scare. I’m struggling to find the words.

          I’m just glad you checked in. You’ve been missed. Your absence was not unnoticed. But I mostly just thought you were busy with life as we’re all prone to.

          Thank you so much for checking in. Please heal up, because your politely hilarious snark and wisdom are dearly missed and needed.

      3. Growing business,you say? Is it your personal business that’s coming along? 🙂

        1. Yes. Starting to get very busy. So, full-time job, single father 50% of the time, writing here, and a rapidly more-demanding consulting business.

          I’ve had to give up any things to accommodate. Social life (including dating things) and writing here (including the book project), have suffered.

          I’m made a formal request in the Universal Suggestion box to expand days to 36 hours, but thus far, I think the plan is to continue with how it is currently.



      4. Lisa- I’m with Antivan! I’m so glad you are alright! PE’s aren’t fun at all. I’m glad your recovering. I hope we hear more from you! I missed your smart-assed, evidence based comments :).

      5. Matt said, “Travis vanished on us!”

        Nope. Not once. I once told you I was a reader of yours for life and that was no line. I haven’t missed a single blog entry of yours since joining MBTTTR. I simply reached a point in early June where I personally (perhaps temporary) had grown weary of constant debates about what fairly and accurately comprises “the typical male experience” versus the female one. I had written a simple post complimenting you, Matt, on something I felt you’d written particularly astutely that eventually ended several posts later much farther down a rabbit hole than I’d never intended, and I realized I felt kind of exhausted and irritated by the course the discussion had taken, so ever since then, it’s just felt more fulfilling for me to enjoy and ruminate over your posts from a bit more of a remove, but they continue to be a regular and vitally important part of my online experience.

        Just yesterday (as of the time I write this, still unable to properly sleep, less than 24 hours ago), we laid my father-in-law to rest after a surprise heart attack. Through the entire ordeal of this week, I have attempted to keep as much of what I’ve read about from you and many of the MVPs in your readership over these many months top of mind as I devoted my every ounce of energy to guiding my wife and her mother through it as gracefully and lovingly as possible. This blog is a gift, and it continues to fortify my marriage. Whether I’m pontificating at length here in the comments section or silently absorbing the dialogue from the sidelines, I’m always here because the dialog is always essential.

        1. 1. Good to hear from you. For real. I was getting close to reaching out to check your vitals.

          2. I am beyond sorry to learn about your father-in-law. I’m so glad you have the context of remembering things I’d written about my experience there.

          It’s was simple, really. When something foundational gets pulled out from under someone, and they feel unsafe or unsteady because their spouse doesn’t provide that same emotional security, bad things ensue.

          But that’s a little too clinical for my tastes.

          If my spouse had her heart ripped out and her world turned upside down, and is feeling that horrible debilitating anguish that only comes from life’s worst moments, it’s kind of awesome to care about wanting to help someone through that.

          Thanks for checking in.

          Here’s to your wife, mother-in-law, and you navigating this tough stretch with peace and patience.

          Reach out anytime.

      6. Lisa, so sorry to hear of your personal trials. I wish you a swift and hearty recovery.

      7. Travis B.-
        I’m glad you’re still around! I do miss your “voice” on various topics. But hopefully you will weigh in when it’s too important not to :)…like, you know, when somebody tries to say that Twisted Sister was the best rock band of the 80’s, or the like 😉

        I just started reading “Wired for Dating” last night. It’s the dating version of the book “Wired for Love” that Lisa G. recommended. It has already been helpful to me. It likely has some of the same premises as the original , and you may already have insight to a lot of what the book is saying, but I thought I would throw that out there. ( I would assume that you will put as much effort into educating yourself about dating as you would about marriage…but I am sure that some things apply in both/all situations.)

      8. Travis,

        I’m so sorry to hear of your father in law’s sudden death. I admire so much your intense desire to support your wife and mother in law through this horribly painful time. That’s what real love looks like.

        Wishing you and your family comfort and love through this painful loss.

      1. Thank you all for your kind words and good wishes!

        I am getting better though it is frustratingly slow.

        Apparently when you almost die and they pump you full of various horrible drugs to control your high fever, lung fIlled with fluid, and heart beating irregularly and too fast as a result of a massive clot blocking oxygen on both sides of your lungs, your body rejects the notion of a quick recovery. Trauma recovery requires time and patience and gentleness with ourselves.

        It is a bit like recovering from a broken heart or divorce isn’t it? Or rebuilding a broken marriage. We want a quick recovery but trauma recovery require time and patience and gentleness with ourselves.

        The cardiologist says I have a 99% chance of my heart fully recovering from the strain but will take a few months to get over the trauma my poor heart has been through.

        Thanks to all for your comments!

      2. Gottmanfan – missed seeing you around, and the reason why you disappeared for a bit is scary. Good to hear you’re starting to feel better, and I hope you find yourself back to full strength soon.

      3. Hi Lisa,

        Wow, that must have been scary! So glad you are recovering.

        So the question we all want to know is if your husband left you alone in the hospital to go buy twinkies or if he sucked it up and ate off the vending machine…

  4. You are lovely.
    Nothing touches me as much as authentic, open, vulnerable sharing.
    What’s more powerful than connection with another?
    You don’t even know me, yet I feel a connection with you. You are a powerful writer because you are wonderfully open and you allow us to know you.
    Thank you.


  5. Matt, I am pretty much in the exact same boat with you. Early July 2013, my husband announced he was done being married to me, and since then — as much as I have wanted someone in my life — I have mostly been alone. The healing took longer than I anticipated/wanted (last month was really the first time I could honestly say I was good), and although I have met and started seeing someone since then, I am terrified. I’m not sure what I’m terrified of — that I’m going to screw this up? — but I am scared. I know others who started relationships pretty much right off the bat during or after their divorces, some of which have gone well while others not so much, and I have no idea how they managed it. At this point, I am trying to take this new whatever it is one day at a time and see where it goes.

  6. Matt, I love this post most of all. I have followed you for a few months and I will admit I have had a reaction like “Really?” to some of your posts. Others have hit home and this is one of them. I have married the wrong person three times. Yep. Three freaking times. The relationship I am in now is the healthiest one I ever had, and it’s the most unconventional. I love the piece in this about trauma and repairing yourself into something new. It resonated with me and I’m not sure how but I felt that was true for me. Having a better relationship with my exes was very important to me and it has worked well for our children. The second one I thankfully did not have children with, and he passed away from an overdose a few years ago. The father of my two younger children was like you- blindsided and unaware that the indifference hurt. I love how honest you are in this post and aim for that in my own writing. Thank you for continuing writing and sharing your experience. I find it to be valuable for myself.

    1. You married the wrong person 3 times, huh? So it was clearly all their fault – after all, they were “wrong”.

      And yet…what was the common denominator in those three marriages?

  7. gretchenjordan

    Hi! I stumbled across your blog on a Facebook post someone had shared on a Spouses of ADHD people support group. Your writing basically spelled out my 13 year marriage, and we have a four year old. My husband knew he had adhd as a kid, but has always been on again off again with medication and just being aware of his anger and defensiveness. Last summer I was on the verge of walking out. So anyways, I signed him up to get your emails. I don’t know if he ever reads them, but it’s helped me to know I’m not crazy to expect more from the relationship. And I read 2 books that you had mentioned on your blog that were also helpful (improving your relationship without talking about it and the other one by the same guy about walking on eggshells). Well, that was my attempt at telling you that your writing is making a difference in my life! And more writing on adult adhd would be helpful too. 🙂

  8. “I often wonder if that person over here or that other one over there has read something I’ve written, and when they’re talking to me, thinks less of me for it but keeps it to themselves trying to be polite.”

    Ha! Well I assure you Matt, I never keep anything to myself just to be polite. If I didn’t think you were wonderful, I’d say so. As to those thousands of imaginary people who complain about you, they’re pretty much all imaginary. And those few keyboard critics brave enough to show up and spout hostility? Pretty much always a total projection. Come on, people actually hate me and I’m totally cute. 🙂

    I loved this question, “Aren’t you worried about being an observer of your own life, rather than living it?” I am not. That is exactly what I am, an observer of my own life, and in that process, I am truly living. So it’s not an either or question. Writers are quite often just that, observers. Unless we’re holed up in a dark room and haven’t showered for 3 days, we’re also probably out living, too.

    You will change and grow. I think that’s half the fun of following you, watching to see where you will go next.

  9. Hi Matt,
    Thank you so much for continuing to write. I look so forward to your posts, and I get so excited when one pops up in my mail box. Just when I think you can’t get any more profound and real and true, you hit the mark again with something that resonates totally with me, and I feel a little better. Your posts are sunshine to me, lending light in dark days. Thank you and I wish you the best of luck with all of your projects and everything going on for you.

  10. Love this post and the clarity of voice. As a mostly voyeur to the comments section, it’s lovely watching regulars connect and reconnect through your words. So you’ve done that. Cheers to that, and to new business ventures and yes, hopefully to relationship ventures, in your own good time.

    1. It’s really great to hear from you, Jen. I’m so sorry I’ve been absent and disengaged. I don’t have any reasonable excuses. Everyone is busy.

      But seriously. I hope you and your family are well. Thanks for taking a minute to say hi. 🙂

  11. since you’ve opened the door here, I’m gonna say it. There is no question that you have a voice in the “how to have a healthy marriage” discussion based on your history and based on the fact that you have a spent a great deal of time thinking and reflecting DEEPLY on these issues. Singleness does not negate your contribution. Maybe you need to keep writing so that when the next real relationship comes, you’ll be good and ready.


    as your self-proclaimed die-hardest (most-die-hard?….whatevs) fan, who is always ten days behind you 😉 I would not be opposed to more ….’regular’ posts. I don’t mean the frequency. I mean…what’s going on in Matt’s life? so many of us feel more normal thanks to MBTTTR. Thanks to you. We stay because we love your style, your voice, your view of life. It makes us think and laugh and feel like we aren’t alone. I say, when you start feeling like the posts are too ‘advicey’…throw one up like the olden days; when you reflect back to childhood Matt, or the shenanigans of college Matt… or the Seinfeldian moments Single-adult Matt endures. I personally love life through your eye-gate. They make me see singleness in a healthy light.

    You have put so much into this blog and the fruit is tens of thousands of buds who check in with you multiple times a week. This community is not just looking for marriage advice every other day (Though many are)…. a lot of us come to feel normal. You have a gift for that. Don’t forget it, mister!

    Love ya, dude….

  12. Call her back, Matt. The crisis worker who told you to journal. Call her and let her know how things are going. Maybe she’s no longer there, but if she is, I bet it would mean a lot to her.

  13. This is a weird comment, but it’s what I am thinking. I really love Glennon Melton’s work on Momastery. She is fun, and real and brilliant (yes, likely very much your spirit animal, Matt 🙂
    I love her heart and what she does with it. I am amazed at what she has been able to do with her story.She has brought so much good and light into the world, and in real, substantial ways.
    But, the first (And last) time I picked up Carry on Warrior, I couldn’t get passed the first chapter.
    It was because she was going through this panicky thing, where she knew she was an alchoholic and she knew she was pregnant, and o my God- the world is collapsing.
    But, she got to call her sister. She got to reach out to someone in her need and find reprieve and refuge.
    I never did. I never had that option.
    And, I may be being the biggest, whinniest,most entitled person on the planet for felling this way, but- it is really hard to let that give me hope and inspiration because- it isn’t MY story.
    I guess I am still resentful. And, maybe I am not doing myself any favors by being that way, but it’s the truth.
    Anyway- I certainly do get hope and inspiration from lots of other things she does. It really isn’t about her, it’s totally about me.
    I am greatful for her voice, and even Matt’s voice in my life.
    But I think the thing that enables you guys to have such a clear, strong voice is the love you received throughout your life.
    I get caught in the trap of feeling like “he who has much will be given more,and he will have abundantly. But he who doesn’t have, even what he does have will be taken away.”
    And feeling how unfair that is, but it can be very true in regards to giving and accepting love.
    That’s why I still try to give. Why I still want to care and have a part in giving and receiving love.
    It’s just very, very easy to say “yeah, but..” and fold your arms and refuse.

    Anyway, make of that what you will. Told you it was a weird comment. I just have never had a chance to say it before.

    1. Because I can never be anyone but me, or know anything but my own first-person experience, I don’t always do an effective job of accounting for the life experiences and resulting worldviews of those whose stories were much different than mine.

      I had a hard time with my parents’ split as a child. Its defining characteristic was that my parents lived 500 miles apart, so in addition to not seeing my father often, I grew up in two entirely separate worlds which rarely collided.

      My friends and family in Illinois. My friends and family in Ohio. And very few of them knew one another, which meant very few people KNEW all of me.

      That came with its own problems growing up. Spending large amounts of time away from people I loved and cared about, no matter where I was.

      That said. I was unquestionably loved. I was treated well, cared for, and 100-percent loved every step of the way, and that may have been magnified somewhat by the whole absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder phenomenon.

      The closest thing to feeling unloved I ever experienced was the end of my marriage. And even then, I do believe I was loved, but that I accidentally punished her for it enough times to force her hand.

      I’ve been able to keep a mostly positive and hopeful outlook, and to assume good things will happen in the future because of all of the good things I’ve already experienced in life, most of which I didn’t earn.

      They were gifts. Total chance, that I was born into families who were kind, loving people, and who surrounded themselves with like-minded people.

      If it ever seems as if I take that for granted, or as if I display impatience or indifference to people who weren’t blessed with that foundation, I apologize. (I don’t think you’re accusing me of that, Linds. I just thought it needed said.)

      Marriage and relationships can be so hard.

      I can’t begin to imagine how hard it must be for people when the bad feelings and cycle of ugliness set in to deal with it effectively when their entire lives have taught them that they couldn’t count on others to love them as they are.

      Anyway, “weird” comments are welcome here. Please keep trying to give. Because that’s where the good lives.

    2. Lindsey, get ready for a weird comment from me. 🙂

      I’m so sorry. You do have your best friend now though, right?

      I know I sometimes read a story that’s similar but at the same time very different than mine, because I feel that they had some kind of privilige that changes the ball game entirely. I’m absolutely sure many will feel the same about me.

      Feeling loved as a child, that’s a very important one. I believe I was loved as a child in many ways (not in others), but for various reasons, I often didn’t feel it. It started very young,

      But on the other hand Lindsey, many people have recovered from not feeling loved as a child. Have you done any inner child work? John Bradshaw is a pioneer, but there are many other resources too. At the heart of it is becoming a loving parent to yourself, taking care of yourself in all ways, and, very importantly, feeling the pain of not feeling loved etc as a kid. Margaret Paul with Inner bonding is another resource, Teal Swan and JP Sears and Sheryl Paul too.

      Don’t feel pressured to look it up to be polite, I just know approaches like that have helped me, and maybe it resonnates with you too. 🙂 But if something else works for you, then do that. I heard on Youtube about a woman who used imagery of Jesus in her inner child work. Like, she remembered an episode from her childhood, or just felt some pain, she lets herself feel it (and we can store a lot of it, grief work can go on for many years and decades, there’s nothing wrong with you for not being over it all by now) and then imagines Jesus coming into the situation. I don’t know what she had Jesus do exactly, probably taking her in his arms, chasing off bullies, explaining to adults what they were making the child feel etc. So it can definitely work for religious people too. 🙂

      I believe this was the video, but I could be wrong. I think she only mentions it briefly.
      (I think they describe sort of an accurate method here, I don’t do it like that, being with the core feelings is the heart of it, plus taking care of ourselves)

      Hugs to you and all your inner children, if you want it! <3 I'm truly sorry for all they suffered, they didn't deserve it. I know they are all beautiful and good and worthy of joy and love.

      1. Hey Donkey,
        I really appreciate you reaching out.
        Yes, I’m still adopted by my BFF:), and!! To my JOY! I get to be their new on-call babysitter
        : D! I love being “Aunt Lindsey”, and it works out perfectly for everyone,.It’s things like this that I live for, I get to be a part of the family: )

        About growing up-To me, it isn’t so much about a lack of feeling loved, although there are times that is there, too (and I tend to call that “desolate”- it’s just emptiness), but it was the complete lack of parental presence that I feel effects me more than anything. To me, it’s more practical and behavioral than it is emotional, that’s because I feel like I have done a lot of emotional healing over the years.
        But, it kicks me in the gut sometimes when I realize I live exactly how I grew up. It reminds me of how much it DID effect my life.
        Jesus was a huge part of healing for me. In fact, for the few years after I was “saved” I felt filled and over flowing with love. I would even describe it as feeling “in love.” – it was that strong. That is a lot more rare these days…
        But, yes I do try to love myself and parent myself. A lot of times that means having to be really honest about some pretty mal-adaptive coping mechanisms, and not hating myself for them, but accepting them with understanding and a desire to do something different.
        I’ve not done inner child work, in any structured way, but I think I have done some in certain circumstances and situations.
        I have a slightlyr older friend who has a “retreat” curriculum that did spend some time on reviewing “vows” we make as children to protect ourselves. The whole point being that when we are in similar situations, even if there is no longer a threat there, we tend to immedietly view the current situation through the understanding of say an 8 year old, or a 12 year old, and our “vows” kick in. (Such as “I will never feel like this again”, or “I will always do this other thing” , or whatever it is.)
        I see the value in it.
        Where I am at right now though, isn’t so much in me needing to heal myself. I honeslty think this is as healed as I will get, at this point in time. I am sure there will be things that process “me” a little further in the future.
        I think right now, I too need to exercise what I have learned. (there’s the tie in!! &I totally didn’t mean to!)
        For me, I am super intimidated by people. I have felt like I am completely less than, that I am socially awkward (because I tend to limit my social interactions, do we see a vicious cycle there?…:). and that I will make social mistakes.
        But, really, truly and honestly this interesting thing has happened over the last few months,really- the things that used to feel so overwhelmingly complicated and outside of my ability to do, seem and feel really easy.I have thought on at least 2 or 3 occasions “why did this feel so difficult before?” People, and what they thought about me, has been an incredible fear. I am finally ok with myself enough to “been seen”, to be known, to just be myself, openly and honestly and not worry about being whatever expectations I have built up in my own mind.
        Anyway, I think I am finally ready, at 40+ to enjoy my life and to start living it.
        Whoo-hoo!…And I am not about to be regretful it took me this long, forget that. Wont waste another minute. 🙂
        I’ll check out the video,thank you for sharing it 🙂
        All my inner children thank you for the hug, and return it back : )

      2. Donkey,
        I just wanted to clarify because I know you like details :)…
        I pretty much grew up alone. My mom was home rarely, if ever, my sister left home when
        I was about 12. So there was a lot of “me time” growing up.
        It produced a lot of difficulties in my early 20’s, as well as social difficulties in school- I dropped out in the 9th grade…that’s why I have spent so much time in higher education as an adult. I’m finally wising up that I don’t have to keep getting degrees in order to call myself educated. Self education through reading and exploring topics may actually be much, much more impactful than a regimented and rushed, eat this and regurgitate it method that educational institutions offer. (Woops! Tangent!)
        Anyway- that’s how I grew up, and I feel like it still effects me in someways today.

    3. “I get caught in the trap of feeling like “he who has much will be given more,and he will have abundantly. But he who doesn’t have, even what he does have will be taken away.”
      And feeling how unfair that is, but it can be very true in regards to giving and accepting love.”

      I feel you, Lin! And I hope, after the awesome support you have offered me, this won’t feel trite what I’m writing since I certainly do know and am living how hard it is. But I have to tell you that even when it feels like the negative is winning you are loved. The single biggest factor in my recovery that I have been engaged in over the last several years was probably begging God to help me learn to feel the love and forgiveness rather than only knowing it exists in an academic way. I prayed and prayed for him to look into my heart and have compassion on me and the reasons why I struggled with those things and to help me learn to feel it, as the real thing that I should know it is. Without that help, honestly, everything else I worked for in EMDR, in my diet, in breath-work, in reading and meditating and journaling, might well have been too little too late. Because of the traumas of the last year, I’ve had to keep fighting and praying and giving up fighting and leaning into the still small voice to keep coming back to it day by day, but it is there. This world can be cruel. But love is still real and present and available.

      For all of the sadness, when it feels like the hardships of this life, the lack of love, and the mourning are permanent and more pain will eventually be returned remember this different take on that:

      …Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

      Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

      Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

      …Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.

      Much of our reward comes later, but even here on Earth everyday, I’m brought something I need, something that helps, something that shows the love and support of great people. Everyday I find new resources to use in my personal meditations. Hang in there, Hon!

      1. Not trite at all.
        “begging God to help me learn to feel the love and forgiveness rather than only knowing it exists in an academic way. “- Amen and Amen.
        Except the begging part, which I do- alot, but I am just saying this now because I know the angst that comes from the begging. Let’s trust that he heard, and that he will – I dont think there is much else that would give him such pleasure 🙂
        Thank you for the reminder of the Beatitudes. Hmmm…drink those in.
        I think I need to go read some and sit in those for a while.

      2. fromscratchmom

        You are so right. Sometimes I am emotional and I have learned to just let myself feel it, rather than squashing it, and then I lay my emotions out before God but it is so good that he brings me back to not feeling it in a way that I have to keep on and on with that emotion, but rather it gets processed.

  14. It all matters. Your blog has been helpful for me during this process of my marriage crumbling and being rebuilt again. My husband wanted a divorce, then he met someone else, then he changed his mind and wanted us again then he changed his mind and wanted her again and finally 3 weeks ago he changed his mind and doesn’t want a divorce but a separation and wants no relationships for a while, but now he and I are reconnecting and falling in love again, but with the separation still looming and my husband’s fear a huge obstacle in the way of us truly reconciling.

    I mention all of that because I want to illustrate how life is different for everyone. We all take a different path. Everyone my husband and I know is skeptical of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, but it’s our journey to take.

    Your 40 months of grieving and processing is your path and it’s right for you, and everything you think and feel about it matters. Keep writing. Keep sharing. Take all the time you need to process and to feel comfortable with putting yourself out there again.
    There’s nothing wrong with not wanting another relationship. It will happen when it’s supposed to.
    Thank you for sharing your story. It really does matter.

  15. Her husband cheated on her. I’m not surprised she is leaving him. The person you are post-betrayal is fundamentally different from the trusting one who was abused. Your whole work breaks into a million tiny pieces that will never, ever fit back the same.

    We all change as we grow. The only constant is change, right?

    I have no idea if I will ever be able to trust again. And anyway I am in such a different part of my life than when I met my ex, he has stolen all those years from me and now I’m an older woman with kids looking for a second marriage.

    I struggle in that right now I cannot view marriage in that bubbly, joyous way I did before. I don’t want him to have taken that away from me.

  16. Holy crap. It never occurred to me that people would be like ‘who are you to be giving advice about marriage’ I was part of the oh-duuuuuuude-he-gets-it-and -is-spreading-the-word group. I was always apprciative of the insight and A-Ha moments you shared. I figured if someone’s’ going through the experience and wants to share I’m all for reading about it. I never thought anyone would come from a place of judgement when someone was being genuine and heartfelt about relationships. I appreciated your posts, I found them way later than you originally had posted, but I’ve read so many of them and find them them comforting and helpful and interesting. I hope you continue to post no matter what life stage you are in, letting others know what you learned in order to help them through the journey is something that always matters to someone.

  17. Thanks for writing and sharing. I’m on the cusp of divorce, debating between ripping off the band aid now and waiting (nine years) until my youngest is out of the house. Unfortunately I don’t (yet) buy into the noble notions of collaborative, cooperative powering through… I think you either are a match or you’re not, and that’s OK. I know that my wife and I just aren’t. We are maybe 60% a match, which seemed like enough when we got married, but now every day is just like “Jesus Christ seriously how much longer are we going to carry on this charade…” Anyway, thanks again.

    1. For what it’s worth, I’ve read that if someone is 51%, you should keep them.

      60% sounds pretty good! 🙂 I don’ think 100% is possible. With work, individually and as a couple, I would say chances are great you could get to 70% or 80%. Maybe higher. Sounds nice to me. 🙂

    2. Hey John,

      I don’t know anything about you, your wife, or your marriage. If the choice is now or later, I would go for now. Life is too short.

      But before that, may I suggest some soul searching? How much effort have you put into the relationship, and for how long? What was the result?

      If you never gave it your all because you are only a 60% match, or you just know it wouldn’t work or you are sure she wouldn’t respond, or whatever other excuse/reason for not working hard, then be honest with yourself and either choose to give it your all or choose not to and move on.

      Does your wife feel the same way? Does she think all is well? Have you had an honest discussion about how you feel?

      If you want to bounce some thoughts around, you will find lots of supportive, listening ears here.

  18. Post divorce relationship avoidance, it’s totally A Thing! Sometimes I think a crazy-busy pace of life is a mechanism for that avoidance because not having time to pursue a relationship or even be open to one is much safer than the alternative.

  19. I follow her as well but I really enjoy learning about relationships and communication from a man’s point of view. Thank you for keeping it real.
    I’m in the middle of a divorce that’s been a long time coming. I believe through improving communication skills that most marriages can be salvaged but mine was doomed from the beginning. It couldn’t be fixed if my life depended on it and believe me…I have tried. Only two ways out for me…dead or jump. I’ve jumped and I’m building my wings on the way down. I haven’t had love in so long that I cannot wait to brave it again. My new fearless self is going to be fine and I will fly high. You will too.
    Keep writing and keep your site up. Whoever I decide to fall for is going to have to educate themselves by reading your blog. Get out there and date because you have much to offer! Good luck!

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  22. I think it happens that one day you do not want to look in the mirror. Its hard, maybe there is shame, despair, age that wasnt there before…but is there new wisdom? For some time you stop looking in the mirror and its like sitting Shiva- your have died in that moment. You stop looking in the mirror because its so damn difficult to see the hollow emptiness. Divorce is like an emotional vampire…
    This post, it has no self pity, it does not need pity. It is straight up goods and so so honest that some of the loneliness kind of feels inspiring.
    Thank you for this magic, a truly wonderful read, Alexandra

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Matt Fray

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