The Taxonomy of Married Men, Vol. 2

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loss of self-awareness
First we took Husbands, and split them into two groups — Good Men and Bad Men.

And this isn’t about “nice guys” versus “bad boys.” Non-conformist “bad boys” engaging in mischief with sometimes aggressive, daring and tough exteriors can still be very good men. We’re talking about character. Not personality type.

Women are often attracted to men who do bad things. But good, healthy people are not attracted to BAD people. (Think Adolf Hitler, not James Dean.) I’m comfortable saying that people should NOT marry, remain married to, or have children with fundamentally bad people.

(Read The Taxonomy of Married Men, Vol. 1 here)

So now we have Husbands who are Good Men, and we’re splitting them into two groups — Good Husbands and Bad Husbands.

Lots of good men are lousy husbands. Being a husband is a skill. Just like playing instruments, flying helicopters and performing heart surgery. A very good person can be bad at marriage. It’s an important distinction. Good husbands can’t benefit from anything I ever think or write, so we’re honing in on Good Men Who Are Bad Husbands.

We split them into two groups, as well: The ones who don’t know they’re bad husbands (which I guesstimate to be about 85% of all married men — yes, I’m serious about that), and the ones who DO know and are trying to be better (which mostly include men on the brink of losing their family, and in their desperate search for answers, realized as I did that they’d been accidentally messing up for all these years).

I’m operating under the assumption that no GOOD man could KNOW he’s a bad husband and intentionally refuse to alter his behaviors. Because that would make him a bad man.

Conclusion: Troubled Marriages Worth Saving Only Involve Good Men

I’m probably biased. I — perhaps delusionally — think of myself as a “good” man. I’m not always nice. I don’t always do the right thing. I certainly upset people now and then. But I know who I try to be, and I’ll share a humanity foxhole with anyone else trying to be this way too.

And I’ll go to bat for these husbands and fathers over and over and over and over and over again, if they demonstrate the humility and effort required to evolve on behalf of their wives and children.

And MANY men will.

The powerful influence of simple AWARENESS in our lives can’t be overstated. People are willing to change when they understand WHY change is needed.

Most men who repeatedly hurt their wives simply don’t know why the behavior changes are needed.

A good man armed with correct information changes the entire world for his wife and children.

Beautiful things. Hero shit.

And we should all be doing a bit more of that.

The Things Good Men Who Are Bad Husbands Don’t Know

For the same reason husbands sometimes believe their wives get disproportionally sad or angry over things that would never upset them (dirty dishes by the sink; Bree and Monica at work going to lunch without asking her to join, or simply his laid-back non-committal attitude about upcoming weekend plans), wives sometimes have trouble believing their husbands aren’t fully aware of how hurt they feel.

It makes sense, too.

  1. She’s told him a bunch of times already. Using the very language they both have spoken their entire lives. She doesn’t remember saying it in code, or anything.
  2. She FEELS it. The gross feeling. The feeling that comes when we feel disrespected or unloved or outright rejected. Things happen. She feels shitty because of those things. Those things = Pain. His inability to understand how these things that make her life miserable make just as much sense and are just as valid as his inability to understand how things he considers to be harmless can cause pain in others.

Every Failing Relationship (With Good People) is Rooted in Unawareness

Good people simply do not hurt one another on purpose. We don’t.

We do it thoughtlessly, and our crime is not the thoughtless things we do, but rather our lack of respect for our partners’ expressed pain and our unwillingness to put forth the energy to changing whatever’s required for the pain to stop.

It’s the idea that changes the world. But most people don’t know about it.

Marriages rarely die from big, dramatic things. It’s death by 10,000 paper cuts.

What most married people — OFTEN husbands — don’t know is that what kills marriages, precipitating affairs and divorce, are an incalculable amount of moments pushing two people apart so minutely that we can’t detect that shift. Some cancer and heart disease goes undetected until the symptoms show up and it’s too late to save us.

That’s what marriage is, too.

We don’t work hard to avoid things that end our marriages because they don’t hurt enough to register with us as they’re happening.

It’s The Undetectable Death.

If two spouses find themselves arguing or fighting (without resolution) about these things, then The Marriage Death Watch has already begun:

  • Time spent watching sports and/or managing fantasy teams
  • Time spent playing video games or on their phone
  • Time spent working at a job
  • Time spent tinkering in the garage or in the yard
  • Time spent on any individual hobbies or interests which don’t include the rest of the family

These things are felt and interpreted by the spouse who is hurting as rejection and abandonment.

Men are most often the offending party.

He would rather play video games than play with his children. They miss him so much, and he doesn’t care at all. It hurts me to see my children rejected by their own father, she thinks.

Here’s the other big one:

He’s never romantic. EVER. He never tells me I’m pretty or makes me feel as if he’s interested in pursuing me. I have to beg him to come to bed, and he usually says no. If the choice is between me and watching football, he always chooses football. I don’t see nor feel evidence that my husband loves me anymore, she thinks.

Sometimes fears, anxieties and insecurities start to rear their ugly heads. Very little good has ever happened as a result of the stories we make up in our own minds to try to make sense of why the behavior of people we love makes us feel so bad.

Is he REALLY working late tonight?

Is he REALLY going to the gym?

Is he REALLY “just friends” with Joanna at work?

All the sudden, a decent man who works hard, tried to keep his body in shape, and has a respectful and professional relationship with a co-worker, creates feelings of uncertainty and suspicion.

And then, sometimes another thing happens.

She learns that he’s jerking off to internet porn on the family computer or on his phone. It makes her feel ugly and rejected in ways she’s never felt before.

Oh my God. I ask him all the time to come to bed with me, and he always says no. We haven’t had sex in over a month. And now he’s getting himself off while watching THAT on the internet? He PREFERS strangers on a screen and his own hand to me.

If you live a secret life, no matter how innocent you consider it since you’re “not hurting anyone!,” your marriage will probably end, and it will totally be your fault.

Spouses SHARE life. That’s the design. And when you deny or hide parts of yourself — no matter how innocent or noble you think it might be — things will eventually crash and burn.

You can’t NOT do the work of the shoveling coal in your marriage every day and expect your spouse to not notice since she/he MUST shovel enough coal to compensate for the deficit you leave.

The Good Men Must Wake Up

Like Neo in the Matrix.

It’s a little bit harder to see the world as it really is. Life is less convenient. But it’s Truth. And good men seek truth.

We are unaware.

We either stay unaware or become aware.

Once we’re aware, we make good choices. Selfless ones, that put those we love ahead of ourselves.

What we see looks convincing enough. It looks real. So when the person next to us reacts differently than we would, we scream: “YOU’RE WRONG!!!”

And that’s what ends us.

The simple, hard-to-detect realization that they’re not wrong. They’re just different.

Wrong is intolerable.

But different is beautiful.

And once we see the beautiful Different instead of the ugly and hate-inducing Wrong, our relationships can thrive.

It’s a story I keep telling over and over again, and maybe everyone who gets it is bored by it, but it’s too important to not talk about.

It’s the idea that changes the world. But most people don’t know about it.

It’s not a secret. There are simply so many people who NEVER think about this, that the idea never spreads far and wide enough to impact the critical mass of humanity we need for this to always be top of mind.

But someday, that’s going to change.

And all of the good men righting their shitty husband wrongs will be the catalyst.

174 thoughts on “The Taxonomy of Married Men, Vol. 2”

  1. I swore I wasn’t going to participate in comments, but….I need help with this one.

    I have a Good Man who is a Shitty Husband. He now has the awareness of what was shitty about how he acted and treated me, but things aren’t changing very quickly. And his awareness is delayed. He still reacts defensively to every single concern or complaint or request for something different that I verbalize. The difference is that before therapy, he would almost never get to the point of recognizing that he was defensive. Now, he does. But it can take hours or days to see it or apologize. The next day, it will be the same defensive response.

    So, as much as I wish awareness was the key. I know it’s not. I’ve been living in his struggle to actually change such ingrained behavior and reactions for the past few years, and it sucks. It’s almost WORSE because you know they know – but it’s still not changing. At least not at the speed you’d like. You stop having hope that things will get better because he just doesn’t get it yet. HE GETS IT. But it doesn’t mean everything gets better. By the way, he’s also been diagnosed with adult ADD. I struggle with how much this impacts all of our issues. Sometimes I think it’s a big part, and sometimes I think it’s not.

    I’d love to hear thoughts on this concept that even in Good Men, awareness isn’t always the magic key. And what does THAT then mean??

    1. Ugh.

      Here’s Harriet Lerner on the pace of change: ” As a psychotherapist I know that substantive change often occurs slowly, sometimes at glacial speed”

      Something is happening with you guys though, even if it’s slow! That’s cause for encouragement. That he gets it seems like a great start.

      I don’t know, but here are three suggestions that come to mind:

      Can he take one of the problems that he’s now aware of but still defensive about and focus on that for a good while? Say two months? And then add the next problem for the next two months? So at the end of a year, six problem areas will hopefully be much better. Obviously, if you were, pardon me, shitty about some things, you’d do the same.

      Can you schedule a weekly talk, so you two don’t have to think about your conflicts, the defensiveness etc all the time?

      Boundaries to protect yourself. Check out Jack Ito or any other teacher about boundaries who appeals to you. Just as an example, if he’s spendy of your common money, but gets defensive when you want to talk about creating a budget that would involve a fair compromise and refuses to participate? Then you’re going to create a separate account (tell him this in advance though, “if you’re not willing to create a budget with me and stick with it, I’ll have to separate my finances”). Not as punishment, but to take care of yourself in a situation where someone else is careless wih your money. You may prefer the first solution, that he creates a budget with you and sticks with it, but even if that doesn’t happen, you’ll have taken good care of yoursel with the second best option.


      Good luck!

      1. Yes, something IS happening. One of our big problems is that I didn’t enforce boundaries early in the relationship (as Matt has written about) and thought it was okay for WAAAAY too long. Things got awful before we got the right help, including 2 years of therapy with someone who had great intentions, but completely missed the boat on what we needed. I think we finally have the right help.

          1. It’s an EFT therapist (emotionally focused therapy) and has gotten much more to the bottom of our issues than the previous one who frequently just fell back on the more old school methods of teachings us to argue “nicer.” LOL! The last one didn’t even scratch the surface of our background and upbringings and why we do the things we do in a marriage. For my husband, this was a huge component that was never addressed. He never had an emotional connection with anyone and didn’t even know what that MEANT because he was raised by a mother with emotional problems and mental illness that couldn’t teach him. He spent his entire childhood around boys his own age and away from his own family.

          2. Oh I’m so glad you’ve found a good therapist!

            EFT is a powerful form of healing painful wounds in a marriage.

            Your husband sounds like he’s trying hard to learn emotional connections that he never experienced himself. That shows how much he loves you to go outside his comfort zone to make you feel loved.

            I can totally relate though to how frustrating it must be for you that it is taking so long to be treated in a respectful, loving way.

            Takes an extraordinary amount of patience and maturity.

            You must be a fierce woman to love that deeply!

            Glad you added your comments.

    2. In this instance, I’d say that I didn’t mean to make a distinction between general Awareness and the all-important Self-Awareness.

      Awareness doesn’t do us much good if we don’t go through the sometimes-painful and inconvenient process of correcting or adjusting or behavior in order for the Accidental Bad Things to stop happening.

      I don’t know how much you’ve read from me, but I too was diagnosed with adult ADHD late in life (last year, nearly three years after my marriage ended), and it’s abundantly clear to me that had my wife and I been aware of it, we might have been able to structure our lives in a such a way so that me being me wasn’t such an energy drain and burden on her.

      I am capable, in ways many people can’t believe is possible, of dropping the ball in many, many, many life areas, and it’s rarely laziness.

      My brain simply does what it does.

      It’s not that hard to remember the four things we have to remember every day growing up and into early adulthood.

      But when we’re ACTUAL adults with actual responsibilities and people counting on us, that list of four things turns into dozens. Maybe hundreds. Maybe more.

      And somewhere along the way, the sheer amount of things I’m supposed to keep track of in a given day or week (combined with all of the new information coming in constantaly) flipped from managable to something I couldn’t/can’t keep up with.

      God knows I sympathize with how maddening it must feel to do all of Life’s heavy lifting for both of you and any children or other dependents/responsibilities you have.

      But I, too, can uniquely empathize with a good man who feels overwhelmed at times, and carries the shame of letting down those he loves most.

      That said. Let’s not act like ADD/ADHD is more than what it is.

      It can contribute to inattention and focus on things — sometimes important things.

      But that doesn’t mean we can’t put systems in place (even if it’s harder!) to make sure we don’t accidentally neglect important things.

      Google Calendar. Phone reminders. A note system in a place guaranteed to be seen every day. These are things that help.

      Meditation helps.

      And any other activity designed to trigger within us the reminder to keep our life priorities in order.

      That our wives and family and friends matter infinitely more than all the other crap we devote so much time and energy to.

      And even the most ADD person in the history of the universe was/is capable of having priorities.

      I don’t know what your specific life looks like. I don’t know what events trigger these feelings for you, and which of them on his part fall into laziness vs. an innocent result of his brain operating differently than yours.

      But I do know that a Good Man whose wife refers to him as such is likely to be the caliber of human being willing to figure out how he can meet you where you need him to be.

      Is it possible he still doesn’t realize just HOW bad it is?

      Because for me? Looming deadlines with severe consequences are incredibly motivating.

      Sometimes, they’re the only things.

      1. Yes, I remember that you were also diagnosed as an adult, Matt. My husband is now seeing a separate expert in adult ADHD and it’s effects on relationships to get those systems you talk about in place in addition to our marriage therapy. The ADHD obviously caused a lot of issues before it was addressed. Our first marriage therapist years ago insisted he did not have it at all. He did. He does. We finally have the right people in place to help manage that one. It absolutely created the Mom dynamic you talk about. I can see that aspect of our issues already getting much better after the past few months of work with this expert.

        The issue that is moving at a snail’s pace is the knee jerk reactions to me that happen whenever I try to connect with him on something bothering me if it has anything at all to do with him or is a criticism on any level. Despite quite a few appointments of addressing this with our therapist, reading, watching videos she’s recommended, etc…he still falls into the trap of defensiveness as his first response. It can take many forms – picking out inaccuracies in my statements in an effort to prove the situation isn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be, deflecting, defending, minimizing, etc. He KNOWS he did it after the fact. But it takes a while to get there. I guess I do need to focus on the fact that he does now see it in hindsight. For years, he never did. That IS progress on some level. Unfortunately, we waited far too long to get the right help and were side tracked by a subpar therapist and our relationship deteriorated badly. I recognize us in your recent posts about couples that get beyond repair. The odds are truly stacked against us, but I’m here because I won’t raise my kids in a split home. The benefit of that is that it leaves a lot of time for things to improve because college is still a long way off 😉

        What’s interesting is that for him, looming deadlines and severe consequences are NOT motivating. In fact, he seems to sink even lower and withdraw and defend more. He definitely knows how bad it is. I admit I’ve been extremely blunt in that regard. Our therapist thinks that’s part of his problem. He’s so petrified that anything he says or does could be the last straw that he is finding it very difficult to put into action the changes we’ve discussed with her. I’m told him a million times that I’m not actually leaving because I will put a cohesive home for our kids above my own relationship happiness any day of the week (while they aren’t getting a perfect example of a relationship, they also aren’t being actively harmed by our current state as we keep it very much away from them and have an overall positive life together in their eyes. It’s certainly a much better situation for them than a divorce) . But he is still operating as a deer in headlights much of the time. We’ve discussed this, and it’s his biggest obstacle right now – himself and his own panic and depression over the possibility of losing his family.

        Again – I try to recognize the progress, small and slow as it might be, but the fact that it’s gotten so bad for so long means I’ve lost my patience. My biggest piece of advice to people is to address issues as soon as possible because it’s a long, hard climb back when you wait too long.

        1. Is he working with a therapist to lower the “flooding” responses biologically?

          I’ve found through reading and experience that it’s almost impossible to not respond defensively or in other unhealthy ways when your body is flooded with a “fight, flight, or freeze” response.

          Got to calm the body down before the cognitive parts can show up.

          Your comment about him looking like a deer in headlights is what I was thinking of.

          1. Yes, we’ve talked about that, but he’s still struggling. I suspect he literally needs to not respond to most topics I bring up until he has time to think and breathe. In fact, perhaps we might be at the point of only discussing things in the therapist’s office for a while or if I write them down to him so he can’t just blurt out a response immediately. Right now, it’s still very automatic and happens so quickly. It’s literally a reflex for him.

          2. My husband and I both respond with “flooding” and have improved tremendously by finding ways to soothe the biology.

            We did a variety of things.

            Mindfulness meditation.

            Body scanning relaxation exercises (where you purposefully tense and relax each area of your body)

            Listening to audio files of the Brent Atkinson program which gets you to record your spouse and practicing calming yourself when your spouse is not there.

            Lots of other stuff.

            That made a huuuuge difference. Once that automatic “threat” response is broken it’s much much easier and faster to make progress.

          3. Hey Wifey,

            This might be stating the obvious, but be sure celebrate the small successes along the way. When he does come through for you (ie stays present and doesn’t go defensive) be sure to acknowledge it, thank him for it, let him know how much it means to you that he is trying. “Thank you for staying present with me baby; it makes me feel safe.” Something like that. Positive reinforcement.

            Writing things down for him instead of immediately discussing what’s bothering you sounds like a great strategy to me. Try to “set him up for success” – that is, try to use an approach that will allow him to stay in control and exercise his new skills rather than revert to his old ways of handling things. Success breeds success and as he has more successes he will become more confident in his new patterns of behaviour.

            I bet you in 6 – 9 months, you will see a big difference! Try to hang in there ☺

        2. Wifey,
          I am a processor and tend towards defensiveness when I feel at all attacked or put on the spot so I can relate a bit to your husband’s mechanisms. Being aware on a large, theoretical scale does not always mean we’re aware in the moment. Old habits die hard.

          Have you tried stopping mid-argument/discussion and pointing out that he’s getting defensive? I do this with one of my sons who has a hard time respecting boundaries. He just pushes and pushes and before you know it we’re both getting angry and frustrated. When I stop him and say “Dude, you are not respecting the boundaries I’m setting and that’s not okay.” it breaks the cycle of us going round and about each arguing our points without even hearing the other person and getting more and more worked up. Obviously that has to be done slightly differently in a partner dynamic than it is in a parent-child dynamic.
          Also, when an issue is escalating and you see the defense mechanisms kicking in it might help to stop and tell him you’re going to email him your concerns so that he has time to go over them before you guys revisit the problem. It’s a lot easier to avoid anything that can be construed as blame via a directly worded email than it is in person. As someone who needs time to think things through, knowing what’s coming before it’s actually discussed helps me.

          You’re dealing with cycles of behaviour that have gone on for years and years. It’s going to take a whole lot of work and time to break them and form better relationship dynamics, but you are very right that investing the time and energy to work through things is much better for everyone than trying to raise your children in a split home. Divorce really sucks and it’s way harder on the kids than we realize it will be. And once you’re divorced and trying to co-parent you STILL have to deal with the crappy relationship dynamics you had in your marriage only now there’s layers and layers of hurt and bad stuff from the divorce process heaped on top of them…. So hang in there and keep at it.

        3. Wifey, I used to freeze when pressure built also and then I read an article that said 20% of the population suffers from anxiety because they cannot metabolize folic acid into its usable form which calms the brain. I now take folinic acid which I buy on Amazon as Megafolinic, along with vitamin B12 and it has changed my life. I no longer have crippling anxiety. This might help your husband too.

      2. Matt,

        I did not know that you have a diagnosis of ADHD. That explains a great deal to me, especially about your writing style.

        I wish that you would add a line saying “I am ADHD” to your tagline(?) of “I am single”, “I am divorced”, et al. It certainly would have helped my understanding of your posts and comments.

        1. This seems oddly passive-aggressive to me. What is your end goal in such a request? What is the benefit of Matt going beyond disclosing that he’s ADHD to actually heralding it? Are his thoughts and beliefs somehow less worthy because of it? Forgive me if this comes off as a bit hyperbolic (*throws a knowingly look over to gottmanfan*), but this sounds like the same sort of thought process that led to Jewish people having to wear a visible Star of David so non-Jews could be “forewarned” who they were dealing with.

          1. My end goal is not to be negative but to help other readers in their understanding of Matt’s writing. As I said, knowing that Matt is ADHD gives me much greater understanding of his posts and comments. For example, I find his writing style to be “jumpy”, not a linear progression of thought. In the past, I have found that strange, now I know a possible reason.

            Does ADHD make Matt less important, or his thoughts and beliefs less so? No. However, it does give me insight that I consider important.

            I understand that disclosure and broadcasting are different. However, when disclosure is limited to those who happen to be aware of it, those unaware do not have the benefit of that information.

            If Matt did acknowledge his ADHD as I suggested, it would be his choice and not something forced on him by others like the Nazis did with the Jews.

            As to the general concept of forewarning, it can have positive benefits. For example, blind people with dark glasses and a cane, or “Student Driver” signage on cars (I wish there was something similar for DUI offenders). On the other hand, I do not think it should be extended to every possible label.

            I have a son with Aspergers (ASD). Because others commonly find his behavior peculiar, I often perceive an obligation to explain to them that his behavior is related to ASD. I do this as an apology of sorts, and to also help them understand his behavior. I do not think he should have a forewarning visual symbol, but I can see possible value.

            Finally, I find it disturbing that my comment elicits your response. Is it possible for anyone today to say anything without it being interpreted as some kind of evil? Must every statement be approved by the thought police?

            Note: I wanted to be fully aggressive and say that it’s none of your business. However, as you can see, I have tried to address your concerns.

          2. In Ohio, you get these fancy-pants generic yellow license plates after multiple DUI/DWI offenses. (I don’t know how many.)

            We generically refer to them as “party plates.” And I think they’re a good thing. That’s a good idea.

            My only exception to your request would be that I don’t believe a lot of people understand ADHD well enough to see the label, and then apply the appropriate lens to view it in its proper context.

            I think if people were to see the ADHD label (and they’re not already intimately familiar with it), they’re likely to make up whatever story in their minds they have about it, making anything I’m writing even less clear to them.

            I do jump around a lot. And it doesn’t always work.

            But I think it does sometimes. I think sometimes, the right metaphor illustrates the right idea for the right person at the right time.

            And I think that’s important.

            To be sure, I’m just some asshole with a blog. There is no compelling reason to care what I think or say, unless you’re one of the few people who’ve read enough and cared enough to decide that it matters to them.

            For the 99.999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999% of everyone else, I’d hate to throw ADHD at them as one of the first things they see and give them even MORE reasons to not care.

            Because some of this stuff matters for that right person at that right time.

            Not because of me.

            Because of them.

            But if they think ADHDers could never contribute anything relevant to society for whatever reason, then they’ll never stick around long enough to think about something differently.

            And that’d be sad.

          3. Perhaps I have heard of states having plates for DUI offenders, but have no conscious memory of it. I have heard of judges occasionally requiring a convicted offender to do things like wear a sandwich board describing their offense on a busy street for some period of time.

            I won’t claim to understand ADHD well, but I understand the generalities well enough to know that it is not some form of insanity. As a Christian, I have experienced more than enough disdain because my beliefs are not in line with others. So, I know that thinking, believing, or acting differently does not justify ignoring what others might say and believe.

            My guess is that the average reader is unlikely to go to your About page. Perhaps you could put it there, so the more serious reader could find the information. Whatever the case, I am glad that I am now aware of it.

            As an example of understanding your behavior with this information, I present “For the 99.999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999% of everyone else, 😀

          4. I think putting it on the About page is a super-reasonable suggestion/solution. I can, and perhaps should, do that.

            Now, let’s hope I don’t forget! 😉

          5. My 6year old daughter probably has ADHD, and it’s my favorite thing about her, but also the thing that frustrates me the most. Her way of thinking about everything is just so different. She does some bizarre things, but her insight into other things is so spot on. She is so sweet and kind, she thinks about everyone before herself. She says hi to everyone she sees, in case they’re having a bad day.
            The part that can be frustrating is her impulse control. She does whatever she thinks of without thinking. I feel like i need to give a disclaimer on her when we go places, because people are just mean.
            I think any downsides to ADHD are more than made up for in all the ideas they have. My daughter just sees the world in such a different way. I know she’s going to grow up into this amazing person, and i don’t want some other persons idea of her ruin the positive attitude she has. And so many people are so rude about anyone who is different from them.

          6. I’m not an expert on ADHD by any means but I would never have thought Matt’s writing was a reflection of anything but his personal style and journalism background.

            We’ve discussed before on these comments his “storytelling” style on this blog. I’m not sure if that’s part of the “jumpy” style refered to or not.

            I guess writing style preference, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

            Either way, I definitely know Matt writes much more effectively than I do to communicate relationship ideas in a way many people can relate to and use to change. The dishes post is exhibit a.

          7. Well, OKRickety, I won’t belabor the issue other than to say I feel it’s bad, tacky and mean-spirited form and your justification likely at least somewhat disingenuous in the sense that your commentary here is nearly always marked by criticism of Matt’s philosophy (which I don’t begrudge you), so it doesn’t take a lot of rope to tie “that explains a lot” to “now I understand why your ramblings are useless shit”. You say you find Matt’s writing jumpy, and ADHD helps explain it. But I and untold others really love Matt’s style (he’s begged by several readers on a weekly basis to write a full book), so isn’t it just as possible you have a reading comprehension challenge? And if you were diagnosed with a condition that might shed some light on that struggle, would you feel compelled to announce it before you posted your own thoughts here? Oh hell, look at me–I went ahead and belabored it after all.

            But you’re right. Absolutely none of my business.

            (*turns to Matt*)

            My friend, your writing kicks ASS.

          8. After civilly discussing my suggestion re. ADHD with Matt, I suggested putting it on his About page. He thinks that is reasonable, and is considering doing it.

            Matt also asked how I thought knowing this diagnosis helped me in understanding his writing. I have provided a reply that I hope will be helpful. If I thought Matt’s “ramblings are useless shit”, I would not have made the effort.

            I daresay my reading comprehension is at least average. It’s certainly good enough to get the gist of these last two comments from you to me.

            Speaking of reading comprehension, did you read my reply to your first comment? You ask if I would feel compelled to announce my own condition before posting here. Well, I stated in regard to my ASD son’s behavior that “I often perceive an obligation to explain to them that his behavior is related to ASD”. I know that’s not announcing my own condition, but I think it shows my perspective, and, yes, I believe I would feel compelled to let others know of my condition if I thought it would help them. I think that would be courteous to them as well as helpful to me in communicating with them.

            I think it would be appropriate for you to reconsider your opinion of me. I have formed a strong opinion of you and it’s not very good, as you would probably suppose.

          9. After civilly discussing my ADHD suggestion with Matt, I suggested he put it in his About page. He thinks that is a reasonable suggestion and is considering it, if not planning on it.

            Matt also asked how awareness of his ADHD impacted my understanding of his writing. I have provided a reply that I hope is helpful. If I thought Matt’s “ramblings are useless shit”, I would not have bothered.

            I think my reading comprehension is at least average. It is certainly good enough to understand the gist of your last two comments to me.

            Speaking of reading comprehension, did you read my previous reply to you? You now ask if I would feel compelled to announce my own condition. In my previous reply to you, I said regarding my ASD son’s behavior that “I often perceive an obligation to explain to them that his behavior is related to ASD”. I know that is not my own condition, but, yes, I think I would feel compelled to tell others of my condition. I think this would be courteous to them as well as likely to help my communications with them.

            I think it would be appropriate for you to reconsider your opinion of me. Based on these and other comments you have made, I have formed a strong opinion of you and it is not very good, as you would probably suppose.

            If Matt finds my comments objectionable, I expect, based on previous threads, that he will express it directly to me.

          10. To be sure, I wrote “I Make Bad Decisions,” long before realizing this was going on.

            That is also hyperbolic, but ultimately the same thing.

            I make bad decisions. Up and down the decision-making spectrum.

            Some percentage of that can be chalked up to ADHD. As I have always been, and likely will always be, me, I don’t have any basis for comparison.

        2. Right. I can be a bit all over the place.

          I’m curious, though. What would that context help you understand (either in terms of the posts or comments) that would give you clarity you didn’t have prior?

          That’s a real question. If there’s something I can do that might make something suck less for people, it’s my pleasure to try.

  2. Matt: “Women are often attracted to men who do bad things. But good, healthy people are not attracted to BAD people. (Think Adolph Hitler, not James Dean.)”

    But the truth is, women in huge numbers would literally swoon over Adolf (not “Adolph”) Hilter. Beautiful movie starlets would fawn over him. He would constantly receive huge numbers of love notes and such from women all over Europe. Very attractive and even famous women who scored a private audience with him would say how magnetic and charming they found his personality to be, though he always remained a gentleman. They always remarked especially on his bright blue eyes and his way of putting them at ease, when these women were usually understandably nervous to meet the Head Poobah.

    That’s one of the big reasons he refused to marry his long-time love, Eva Braun, until the very end – as a shrewd politician he knew that the day he made Frauleine Braun into Frau Hitler, he would lose some of his rockstar status that he had with women.

    The guy was a total Alpha Male, and as usual, the vast majority of women can’t help but be very attracted to that. There’s a lesson there. Do you honestly think gorgeous movie starlets would have been fawning over him, and countless average Jane’s swooning over him, if he had remained an obscure Austrian painter of landscapes and scenery…struggling to put food on the table?

    If you want to be a big hit with women, work at becoming an alpha male. That’s the lesson here.

    1. From John Gottman:

      “So now we have produced our magnum opus, our great work together, The Man’s Guide to Women.

      Here’s the big, untold story. From the beginning of a relationship, from the very first smolderingly hot glance and the stirring attraction that the right woman will generate in a man, how a man understands a woman’s emotions and responds to them will determine everything in the rest of his life. That’s the bottom line.

      How a man understands and responds to a woman will determine his eventual wealth, his social status, his energy and motivation for life, his resilience, his mental and physical health, how well his immune system works, how well he copes with stress, his happiness at home and at work, his self-confidence, his friendships, his connection to his children, how his children turn out, and actually how long he will live.

      No other single thing in a man’s life will be as important as how he understands and responds to a woman’s emotions.”

      1. “We reveal the one thing all women are looking when they search for a man, and that quality is trustworthiness. Our research shows that women’s two major complaints about men are 1) He’s not there for me, and 2) There is not enough emotional connection. Men’s two major complaints are 1) There’s too much fighting, and 2) There’s not enough sex. Our research has revealed that to address all four of these complaints, men need to know how to do just one thing that women desperately need: he needs to be able to attune to her negative emotions. We teach that skill in this book.”

        1. (Pats self on back.)

          Is it pathetic that I feel a sense of pride about coming to the same conclusion as Dr. Gottman, having still never read any of his books or seen any of his data?

          I think it is.

          But whatever. I like it anyway.

          1. Okrickety,

            Someone is actually asking me to write about Gottman? Be still my heart.❤️?

            You ask a great question I’ll respond when I have more time.

      2. I’m thinking, if women had more opportunities to be rich and powerful while at the same time being (as a general rule) considered attractive and family-material by the opposite sex, many would loose their current appetite for alphas (those who have that appetite). If you can own something in and for yourself, you won’t have to obsess about it in others is the depth psychology perspective (I believe).

        Personally, I’d take an obsucre and broke Austrian landscape painter over Hitler in my bed, home or my life any day.

        1. “I’m thinking, if women had more opportunities to be rich and powerful while at the same time being (as a general rule) considered attractive and family-material by the opposite sex”

          In other words, if only men and women were completely identical. Sorry, not the case and never will be. Masculine and feminine are not the same thing. There are things that men find attractive in women, and things women find attractive in men.

          Men and women are different. And that’s a very good thing!

          “Personally, I’d take an obsucre and broke Austrian landscape painter over Hitler in my bed, home or my life any day.”

          This is why any guy who wants to be successful with women must observe their actions, and ignore what they SAY they want. Talk is cheap. Sure women will say they prefer the obscure painter over the Head of State with the power and the weight of the world on his shoulders. But again, watch their ACTIONS. It wasn’t for an obscure painter that all those women would swoon and all those beautiful movie starlets would come calling.

          Watch for actions, not words.

          1. From John Gottman

            “The initial approach of a man toward a woman is now well-researched. The outcome of the first approach can be predicted with 90% accuracy by reading a small list of the woman’s nonverbal signals. Yes, she controls her response to his approach, but he can learn to read our list of signals. There are also things he can do that make her interested, like occupying space, being confident but not arrogant, and being affectionate toward his friends.

            First impressions last a lifetime – they matter. We talk about the science of the first date, the first conversation, the first kiss, and the importance of eye contact. We teach men how to be inviting, to open up and make room for her, and how important it is to be yourself. Yes, it’s not rocket science, and it’s actually really not that complex, but there are a few things men can learn that will make a huge difference.”

          2. I agree, watch for actions, not words.

            “In other words, if only men and women were completely identical.”

            I would disagree those are just other words to use for what I was trying to say. Humans have organized their societies in a myriad of different ways. Patriarchy, matriarchy, more egalitarian societies. I don’t discount that there are biological differences and drives at work. But I don’t discount the importance of our emotional make up and the social conditioning and demands of our environments either. Some of the kinds of things men and women will look for, even with their actions, in each type of society (patriarchy, matirarchy, egalitarian society) will be different.

            I read somewhere (sorry couldn’t find it) that the two most important factors for whether or not a woman is happy in a marriage in the USA today is 1.)whether or not her husband is sensitive to her emotional cues and 2.) if he’s good about helping with housework. I’m inclined to think that a 100 years ago the two top factors would have been something different.

            What you want in a mate will to some degree change with what society demands of you, and what it affords you as a man or a woman. Certainly biology plays into it too, no doubt about that, but it’s not everything. It also makes sense even biologically to seek in a mate what will help you in the environment you’re currently in, no?

    2. 1. Thank you for the spelling correction. I mean that sincerely.

      2. However, that is NOT the lesson here. Not even close. We’re discussing character. How many women want to bang some dude is not on my radar, and certainly little measure of his value to the people around him.

      That Hitler was somehow good at conning and manipulating people into liking him is pretty much the 180-degree polar opposite of the substantive characteristics I would encourage wives to look for in their husbands.

      3. I’m going to try and overlook the fact that you honed in on a throwaway line in this post about Adolf stupid Hitler, which I only used to make a distinction, AND that you know a lot about him and write about him in admiring ways.

      Murdering people is not okay, Jeff. Whatever impressive or redeeming qualities you think he demonstrated in life doesn’t make him worthy of the time and thought I just put into writing this response.

      1. Matt,

        You’re missing the point. I’m not going to get into the politics of who was responsible for the catastrophe we call WWII. There was plenty of blame to go around on that score, as usual for any war. The only constant is that the only folks we know for sure had no part in it were the poor shlubs sent out to do the fighting and dying, on all sides. Some things never change,

        However this blog isn’t about politics, but relationships, marriage, and gender dynamics. I made my comment from that point of view. Whatever you think of Hitler, there is no question he was an alpha male. In fact, an alpha’s alpha! If my take on things is correct, this means you can expect there would be droves of women basically throwing themselves at him…both for sexual favors and for marriage. So I’m submitting my ideas to the test here – if no women were interested in him, that would prove big problems for my gender theories.

        But lo and behold, he was a total rockstar to women (as I pointed out above). He could have had any woman he wanted – for either a short fling or for marriage. That’s the reality. Reality is not what you say it is – it’s what the facts show it to be. And the reality proven (again) here is that women in general as a group just cannot resist an alpha male. It’s hardwired into their DNA. And that remains the case whether or not you want it to be so, or not. It just is.

        As to whether Hitler would have made a good husband, well we can guess that it’s unlikely he’d be the exception to the rule that men at that level of power rarely make good husbands. They have little time to devote to their wives, and they face constant temptation from a steady stream of beautiful women who would love to get with a man at that level of power. (Think Bill Clinton as another example). So I can agree it’s doubtful Hitler would have made a good husband, but that didn’t stop thousands of women from throwing themselves at him…any one of whom would have jumped at the chance to get wifed up by him.

        So again, what’s the lesson here? In my humble opinion, it’s that a young man who wants succes with women should seek first to become an alpha male. Then the women will come. I followed this path myself, and as a result, during my dating heyday of my ’20’s I had plenty of options when it came to dating attractive girls. Then, if you’re interested in marriage, it only comes down to choosing the best of the lot. Choose wisely, because a lot of your happiness or misery in life will flow from this decision.

        P.S. Being an “alpha male” isn’t just about money – you don’t have to be greedy and materialistic to qualify. (Even less is it necessary to reach the heights of becoming a Head of State or a famous rock singer). Certainly having an adequate financial basis is part of it, but that can also be outweighed by the power, status, and respect you get from others. And a lot of it also your attitude and the way you carry yourself – not being a dick, but neither taking much crap from anyone either. And this applies also (especially?) to the people you’re dating.

        Oh, and if you have to tell her you’re an alpha male, then you aren’t.

        1. “The only constant is that the only folks we know for sure had no part in it were the poor shlubs sent out to do the fighting and dying, on all sides. Some things never change,”

          I think we can finally agree on something! 8)

  3. Matt: “We split them into two groups, as well: The ones who don’t know they’re bad husbands (which I guesstimate to be about 85% of all married men — yes, I’m serious about that),”

    Wow. Seems pretty extreme to me.

    1. Does more than half of all people who got married on purpose getting divorced, and a large percentage of those still married reporting anger, sadness and dissatisfaction seem extreme to you?

      It’s INSANE how many people who marry on purpose and reportedly WANT to stay married, end up divorced.

      As much as I sometimes disagree with you, Jeff, if your relationship is what you describe it to be, you and your wife understand one another, communicate, and are in alignment RE: expectations for your marriage partner.

      Maybe you don’t realize how uncommon that is.

      Anyway. I think MOST people are wrong about MOST things. Every day. All the time.

      Including me.

      In that vein, I think blindly giving 15% of married men the assumption of meeting my high standards of what good husbandry looks like is pretty generous.

    2. “Maybe you don’t realize how uncommon that is.”

      Well, I know we consider ourselves very blessed….just as I encourage my kids to think of something to be grateful for, everyday. And we certainly do consider our home life to be a retreat and oasis from the all the noise and problems in the world – we even call it “our little bubble”.

      But I hadn’t thought things were that bad out there. I knew they are trending in a bad direction though – all you have to do is visit a men’s site and all the advice to the younger guys is “Don’t ever get married. Don’t fall for it. Modern women are all damaged and not worth the effort, and will screw you over in the end. Just play the field, and ‘hit it and quit it’.”

      But if you’re correct in your stats, then it has truly gotten worse than I had thought. Such a terrible shame. Marriage and family can be such a beautiful thing. And I know that as a Catholic, you understand marriage to be not just a contract, but a holy sacrament. The husband represents Christ, the wife represents His Bride, the Church.

  4. This was a great article and it was like reading my story with my wife. It was almost to late for me but I discovered all that you were talking about. In fact it was my Wife who sent me this.

  5. Matt,

    Great article. I appreciate you’re honesty and humility which enable you to articulate what I believe a lot of us are thinking but have failed to put down in words. Thank you for keeping it real.

  6. Matt,

    I am assuming you’ve heard the really old joke about “just doing it until I need glasses”. Well, for some reason I sense that the logic of that reasoning is at work in some men’s response to a wife’s pointed call for a change in behavior.

    In other words, a half-hearted change, maybe a 45 degree turn will forestall complaint and criticism until she forgets or decides to accept what is offered. We will never know what will motivate ALL men to change in substantive ways before it is too late and worse still is the fact that change, as was mentioned before, occurs at glacial speed.

    On a slightly different note, some wise folk have said that the benefits of change must substantially outweigh the pain of the status quo. Terry Real has mentioned in his book “How Can I get Through To You?” that men often say, “…well, suppose I do change and she doesn’t. Suppose she still nags or finds something else to complain about?”. His answer (not particularly helpful in the eyes of the man) is that he will challenge the wife with the same intensity that he challenges the husband. BUT THE HUSBAND MUST GO FIRST! This is a nod to the uneven power dynamic present in most marriages.

    1. Ignoring the fact that I disagree with the premise that the husband must go first, it is my experience and perception that most therapists and other so-called experts do not seem to be willing to ever challenge the wife to make changes.

      1. Ok rickety,

        I’d love to swap bad marriage counseling stories! Seriously it’s a crime that people go and don’t get the help they need. But our experiences may be quite different in that most books and therapists in my view focus on what women need to do differently.

        This blog is the exception that rule as others have commented.

        I’m not sure of the quote Marilyn is referring to (but I’d love clarification Marilyn). I’m a big fan of Terry Real and he challenges both men and women in the materials I have read. He empathizes with the challenges men have to express vulnerability because that is often discouraged in our culture for men.

        As I understand it, the order depends on the particular couples dynamic. The “grandiose” person is challenged to give up that one up position. He is running a seminar this week on “grandiose women” so there’s plenty of that to go around.

        The non grandiose person is encouraged to cheer small changes and give up the critical stance so new dynamics can emerge.

        1. It is amazing to me that women say books and therapists (and preachers) focus on how the women need to change, but men perceive the opposite. I wish I had the money and time to research and find the truth, but I expect people would ignore it and believe their own perceptions instead.

          I did read a book by Terry Real years ago and, as I remember it, found him to be relatively balanced regarding the sexes. I found this to be contrary to most of my sources which were and are primarily “Christian”. It is my disappointed opinion that “Christian” books and material predominately teach that “the husband is the problem”, except for the extremists who believe in totalitarian control of the wife and family.

          “The non grandiose person is encouraged to cheer small changes and give up the critical stance so new dynamics can emerge.”

          It is my opinion that women find this incredibly difficult to do. In effect, they want perfection NOW and anything less is unacceptable! (That may also be true for men, but let’s suppose men are the more egregious offenders.)

          “This blog is the exception that rule as others have commented.”

          Assuming that is what others believe, then that would explain why the vast majority of commenters (and probably readers, too) are women. The reason being that, in my opinion, Matt almost always writes with the perspective that the man is the one who holds primary fault.

          1. It might be a chicken and egg thing because for whatever reason the vast, vast majority of books and relationship material is purchased and consumed by women. I believe Terry Real said it was 90%.

            So even on this blog with a perspective of writing to men on how to not be shirt wives you will get the “average” result of far more women than men commenting.

            I would be very interested in the Christisn marriage books that you feel blame the husbands. I’ve read quite a few myself so perhaps we could compare ideas of why our thoughts differ.

            Also, of course women find it difficult to not criticize. It’s a very hard thing to get to that level of maturity. It’s necessary but hard.

            And it’s one of the 4 primary relationship offenses that predict marriage problems. It’s also a positional offense. The one who brings up the subject tends to have to learn not to be critical.

            Gottman’s research shows that in heterosexual marriages 80% of the time the wife brings up the subject (again chicken and egg question for why).

            She brings something up because she wants change. It’s on her to not be critical (hard!). It’s on the receivers end (usually the husband) to not be defensive or stonewall (hard!) Neither can be contemptuous because that’s the kiss of death.

          2. Let me try that again.

            So even on this blog with a perspective of writing to men on how to not be a shitty husband you will get the “average” result of far more women than men commenting.

          3. I read several relationship blogs. Those written by women on what they can do are not populated by men as yiur theory on this blog would suggest.

          4. I do not believe there is a corollary that men would have interest in relationship blogs by women who were focusing on women’s faults/failures and what they should do to improve their relationships. My theory is that the women who do not like blogs like those might well gravitate to a blog like this one because of the greater focus on men’s faults/failures and what men should do to improve the relationships.

            For whatever it’s worth, I doubt that very many men have any interest in any relationship blog.

          5. Agreed.

            Most men find this place because their wives are about to leave them, or because they already have, and their desperately searching Google for explanations.

            They’re not interested until it hurts enough.

          6. And that “hurts enough” partly explains why women are over represented in relationship blogs too.

            Women are hurting in their relationship for YEARS before their husbands are.

          7. If I am exhibit A then I read BOTH types of blogs. Because I am trying to get a diversity of male and female points of views.

            And I learn best by interacting though intelligent dialogue like we are having now.

            Some men do populate relationship blogs. There are of course the redpill/mgtow guys.

            And places like Harley’s marriage builders discussion forum has more than average men. They are there usually when their wife is at the “walk away wife” stage.

            It seems many men who show up here do so at that point as well.

          8. Rickety,
            I actually came here because I thoughts Matt’s writing was humorous, and REAL. I felt like he was speaking from the heart about his own experience. It just so happened that a lot of women agreed with him (possibly because that was also their experience- on the other end of having a “Shitty husband”). Not because it was any sort of husband or male bashing.

            I believe Matt had an authentic realization, and the people here nodding their heads are just affirmation of that.

            Also, I am still going to write you- and I promise, its not full of contradiction. I am really more interested in having a greater understanding than proving my understanding is right.

            I will say this again and again, as a reminder to myself even more than to anyone else.

          9. gottmanfan,

            There is little doubt that women are far more interested in talking, reading, whatever about relationships. That, of course, extends to the internet.

            “Also, of course women find it difficult to not criticize.”

            Quoting from Terry Real in The New Rules of Marriage, he says:
            “In the last generation women have radically changed and men, by and large, have not.
            The new marriage takes the stability, the building of a life together, that was the whole of marriage a generation ago, and grafts onto it the expectations of a lifelong romance–deep talks, exciting times, and great sex.”

            Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love and Respect, teaches that a man’s greatest need is respect and a woman’s greatest need is love.

            So, women’s expectations of marriage has increased, men don’t meet those expectations, and women criticize the men rather than respecting them. That is a recipe for dysfunctional marriages and, of course, often results in divorce.

            I think the new expectation of lifelong romance is truly impossible. With hedonic adaptation, one is required to continually up the ante in order to feed the emotional sinkhole of romance.

            “I would be very interested in the Christisn marriage books that you feel blame the husbands.”

            I am unable to pinpoint any specifics, so it may only be my perception. I did have a quick look on Amazon at Love Must Be Tough by James Dobson. It appears that he discusses affairs at length and that all of his detailed examples have the men having the affair.

            My perceptions are based on books, videos, and audio (radio) over the years. I think almost anything by Gary Smalley and much of Dennis Rainey and James Dobson are harder on the men than on the women. There is no doubt that the movie Fireproof places the entire fault and responsibility to change on the husband, but has no criticism of the wife’s terrible behavior.

            An egregious example showing the attitude of Christian experts towards men and woman is in the article WHY MAN AND WOMAN ARE NOT EQUAL. In it, Glenn T. Stanton, Director of Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family, states:

            “Women create, shape, and maintain human culture. Manners exist because women exist. Worthy men adjust their behavior when a woman enters the room. They become better creatures. Civilization arises and endures because women have expectations of themselves and of those around them.
            Man and woman are not equal. He owes what he is to her.”

            In other words, women are special, but men must change. With that attitude, would it be surprising that these people would create material that focuses on men’s deficiencies and considers women to be acceptable as they are? Of course not!

          10. If you’ll allow me some leeway and loose definitions:

            Are you honestly suggesting that in your everyday life, you perceive the average man and the average woman to demonstrate the same level of competence, investment, emotional intelligence, effort, and requisite behavior as to foster good, healthy, strong marriages?

            Because I’m in no way picking on anyone. I call everything like I see it, even when it’s unpopular and my parents and friends are disappointed in me afterward.

            I HONESTLY perceive women (on average, and not BECAUSE they are women, but simply that people who are female do this) to be objectively better at marriage and relationships than men.

            Marriage requires things. Women give more of those things than men do.

            Not always. Most of the time.

            I’m shocked people could view it any other way, but I am always open to new ideas.

          11. Matt,

            I really don’t have much insight into people’s marriages in my everyday life. From what insight I have gotten, I would suppose that women probably have better emotional intelligence but I’m not so certain about the rest. I think that both sexes have a tendency to direct their efforts in directions that are less than ideal. If one is unappreciative and complains, then what happens to the relationship?

            “Marriage requires things. Women give more of those things than men do. Not always. Most of the time.”

            I wonder if those marriage requirements are skewed to the woman’s perspective. For example, let’s say a marriage requirement is intimacy. For a woman, that is likely to be talking, cuddling, being together, etc. For a man, that is likely to mean sex. Depending on the definition, there is a huge difference. Both are high-priority needs of the individuals. I know this is stereotypical, but suppose they haven’t had sex for a week, he spends the entire evening fixing her car and then wants to have sex, but she rejects the idea because he didn’t talk and cuddle with her for an hour that evening, ignoring the fact that he has done that for the last several days. In essence, she is saying that she must get her intimacy need met every single day before he can get his need met occasionally. That is not balanced, but skewed to the wife’s desire. Here’s the $64 question: Is the average wife more willing to invest her time and effort in sex for his benefit, than the average husband is more willing to invest his time and effort into talking, cuddling, etc.?

            Yes, I am focusing on sex and I am thinking from my perspective. Sex is one thing that I am quite certain is a huge deal for most men (and some women). I cannot tell if sex is in some way a part of the list you gave.

          12. Here love languages come into play. As you know libido and love languages are not the same thing.

            So if you have a love language disconnect the spouse can be working very hard to make their spouse feel loved and the spouse feels unloved because their language is not being spoken.

            Different sex drives in another thing altogether.

            Matt has a higher view of women then I do as I have annoyed him in the past by disagreeing.

            But women in general are still expected to be more relational. And that comes with it having to do more adjusting to keep relationships going and all the emotional labor involved.

            But men, as you point out l, have their own needs that may or may not get met. Sex in your example here. (Although I feel compelled to point out that in 25% of marriages the wife has the higher libido per Michele Weiner Davis).

            The whole goal is to figure out how to get your relationship to some healthy mature place so that you each care what the others needs are and work together to meet them in some reasonable way.

            That requires huge maturity and differentiation growth from both men and women.

          13. Ok,

            We could have a long conversation about the Love and Respect book. The part I thought was good is where he describes the “vulnerability cycle” (called many things in different models like EFT) though he calls it the crazy cycle I think. This is also the same cycle Matt describes in his dishes post.

            Person A does something that makes person B feel unloved/disrespected etc. person b then responds in a way that makes the other person feel unloved/disrespected etc and then the cycle escalates.

            This part of the book is good and I can see why it’s so helpful to people in the way understanding that cycle was when I read about it in EFT books.

            It’s the dichotomous men need respect vs women need love framing I disagree with. As you know he bases it on Ephesians 5 and sees it as prescriptive for genders. I don’t believe that is good exegesis or good marriage advice.

            Like the Mars/Venus books many will find themselves in those descriptions because they fall within gender averages. But that doesn’t mean that describing something as it is is the presents what should be.

            Paul’s message was extraordinary in that culture.

            Anyway, it’s arbitrary framing to say that women need love and men need respect. I, for example would pick respect over love if I had to choose. Of course we need both to thrive in a marriage. How we feel respected and loved might well be different by gender (on average) but varies by culture.

            That’s Terry Real’s point. The culture has changed for what we need to feel satisfied in a marriage. The quote from him reflects somewhat hyperbolic language. I agree with you that reasonable expectations are necessary. And Real makes that point himself in other places.

            Real’s point too is that women’s roles have changed more than men’s. There have been significant changes for fatherhood. Men are much more involved with their young children then 50 years ago.

            But is it fair to men that marriage expectations have changed? Well no in one sense if they are happy with the status quo. But Real says most men aren’t unhappy in their marriages, they’re unhappy their wife is unhappy.

            I will post more in the next comment.

          14. The thing I liked about Terry Real’s first book I Don’t Want To Talk About It is he describes how boys and men are raised to be invulnerable. To be overly emotional and weak is to be unmanly.

            This is the culture that has not changed enough to make most men able to respond to their wives with emotional attunement.

            And so is it fair that men have to change so much to make their wives happy so they can be happy?

            Well if in the process emotional intelligence is improved than I would say yes. Emotional intelligence needed to be a good parent too.

            Restoring the parts of human emotion that has been deemed unmanly and rejecting the idea that to be vulnerable is to be weak. To reject the idea that accept influence from a woman is to be henpecked or emasculated or a pu$$y.

            Plenty on stuff women need to work on too no question (like setting boundaries and not criticizing) But Gottman’s research shows that the critical piece to a happy marriage is the man accepting his wife’s influence. He has to reject all those ideas that see that as “losing”.

          15. gottmanfan,

            If it hasn’t been obvious already, my worldview is based on the belief that the Bible is inspired by God and the New Testament is the standard that Christians should use in their lives.

            I see Eggerichs’ concept to be biblically correct, it fits my experience, and I think that any anomalies are likely to be the result of environmental influence.

            Yes, Paul’s message was extraordinary in that culture. I think it still is today, in that it is considered excessively sexist by many.

            Even if Terry Real’s quote is hyperbolic, and I’m not certain it is, problems arise when men don’t meet the expectations of women. (The opposite is true, too, but the quote supposes that women’s expectations have greatly increased, but not those of men.) In fact, the evidence suggests men are not meeting them and marriages are not successful.

            You suggest that cultural changes could affect men’s behavior and improve it. Perhaps that is true and perhaps it would be an improvement.

            I see a problem that can arise. Logically, as expectations increase, fewer men can attain them, and eventually the expectations are truly unattainable by any man. (Note: I think that Christian women’s expectations for marriage are even higher than non-Christian women’s.) As it stands today, I think many men have already decided that marriage is not an attractive situation, and many women are unhappy in their marriages and deciding to divorce. Statistics do show the percentage of people married in the US has been declining for some time (decades, I think).

            Let’s suppose that the pendulum has already swung too far and the expectations for marriage by women today are actually unattainable by the vast majority of men. If so, then women need to realize that their expectations are unreasonable and change them accordingly. If they don’t, then marriage is likely to die even faster than it is today.

            ‘But Gottman’s research shows that the critical piece to a happy marriage is the man accepting his wife’s influence. He has to reject all those ideas that see that as “losing”.’

            I think a husband should consider his wife’s influence. My biggest concern is that she may think she always knows best, so she does not want influence, but control. The complaint may be “He won’t listen to me.”, but the real meaning is “He won’t do what I want”.

          16. Okrickety,

            Yes I was aware that your views as expressed in comments I’ve read are consistent with evangelical Complementarians.

            I am also a Christian though not a Complementarian though I am very familiar with their beliefs having spent decades around them.

            So we have to agree to disagree on the biblically correct nature of Eggerichs’ framing.

            And it appears that our life experiences are different as well because it does not match my experience as you say it does yours.

            All I can say to the expectations for men is that there are many facets to why marriage is not as automatic as in the past as part of the expected thing to do.

            There is more and more differences in marriage by class. College educated people who marry are much less likely to get divorced than high school graduates for example. Those without college degrees are more likely to not marry before having kids etc etc

            So there are a lot of complicated social things going affecting marriage and divorce rates.

            Gottman’s research on accepting influence is quite interesting. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read his books or not but I recommend his materials.

            Gottman’s research found that your concern about women wanting to control is part of why they resist her influence. But most women already accept influence because of nature/nurture. His research shows that in the average marriage she wants a partnership not control.

            Anyway, thanks for the cordial dialogue on these lasts few threads. I know we don’t agree on everything but it was good to swap ideas with you.

          17. If I find the time, I may look into Gottman’s work. I just realized that there was some reason I had negative perceptions of Gottman. It is because of the Guttmacher Institute, who I detest. The names are similar enough that I was making a subconscious non-existent connection.

            I have enjoyed the conversations, too, and appreciate your attitude and willingness to discuss without rancor. I don’t doubt that we may do so again. Do any two people agree on everything? I doubt it, and am reasonably certain that I don’t agree on everything with anyone. 🙂

          18. Ok Rickety,

            I could write a of stuff about focus on the family but suffice it to say my understanding of it is they base their views partly on a separate sphere model like the Victorians had. Women’s sphere is in the home and she makes everything more civilized etc.

            Men’s sphere is outside the home and they are to use their manly urges to mold the world.

            Problematic I agree. Because it clouds a lot of areas including that men have animalistic sex urges and its women’s responsibility to “tame” those by understanding men’s inability to do so.

            That’s one way women are called to a higher level of change then men under these models.

            Where women are often “blamed” for their husbands affairs either directly or indirectly. Where they are called ton”forgive” rather than the men called to “purity”. Boys will be boys right?

          19. That caught me by surprise. That’s not how I read Stanton’s article, nor how I’ve ever perceived their family model.

            As to the sexuality model you describe, I don’t think that describes their approach.

            And I really disagree with your belief that they expect more change from women than they do from men.

            I don’t know how you got your understanding of Focus on the Family, but it differs greatly from mine.

          20. You’re right ok rickety. I was speaking generally on my own experiences. I was not responding directly to the article posted. I will try and read it tomorrow.

            I have listened and read quite a few focus on the family stuff. The separate spheres stuff I was referring to was a dvd series by focus on the family that had a model of various spheres of dominion etc

            And I will link to you a blog post I just read yesterday for why I think much of those who share the underlying sphere view get into what I am talking about.

            But I our experiences might be quite different I don’t know.

          21. I had seen Sheila’s post already and was disappointed in her. I think Gary Thomas is quite good but does not seem to be popular (my supposition is that he doesn’t tickle ears enough). Reading his post, I was content with what he wrote, but when I read the comments, it took some time before my blood pressure went down and my anger subsided. I should not have been surprised as I have seen commenters respond similarly before.

            As you can tell, we have a difference of opinion on this. I expect we could discuss it civilly but I don’t know the place for it. I am quite certain that Matt is not going to post anything on it since it seems to be a Christian-only issue.

          22. Well perhaps we should end on a high note since I agreed more with Sheila based on many life experiences. I don’t think Gary Thomas meant his post in the way many commenters were responding but it struck a nerve with other messages received.

            Thanks for the cordial discussions okrickety.

          23. I love Jesus. But there are people who don’t for a million different reasons that I don’t know about and are not my business.

            Good marriages and healthy families are important even for people who believe things or who pray in ways that differ from me. Some people don’t believe in any higher power at all. They, too, will make the world and themselves better with healthy relationship skills.

            I think Christianty, most specifically the very ultra-specific teachings and example set by Jesus during his three-year ministry are important to the world.

            But when you couch everything through that prism, you automatically filter out and exclude every person who doesn’t share the belief system.

            Politics do that too.

            Sometimes other things divide us.

            I hope those paying attention understand the motivation behind some of my choices.

          24. Matt,

            I don’t know that I totally agree with your reasoning about avoiding Christian references, but I recognize it is your choice. As you have noticed, I hope, I do not post here with an intensely Christian focus because of your choice. I do sometimes reference it though if I feel it is relevant. By the way, I see you didn’t respond to my questions about your “hard question”. Send it to me privately?

          25. Okrickety

            I read the link you provided and I can kind of see how you would find that favoring women. I still seems to me to reflect the Victorian separate spheres concept I got reading the quotes you provided.

            Here’s a quote from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for comparison.

            “Early Victorian gender prescriptions featured men as industrious breadwinners and women as their loyal helpmeets. Reinforced by social philosophers like Auguste Comte, Arthur Schopenhauer, Herbert Spencer, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and John Ruskin, this developed into a mid-century doctrine of ‘separate spheres’, whereby men were figured as competitors in the amoral, economic realm while women were positioned as either decorative trophies or spiritual guardians of men’s immortal souls. From the 1860s, to this social construct the Darwinian theory of ‘survival of the fittest’ added a pseudo-scientific dimension which placed men higher on the evolutionary ladder.

            ‘The man’s power is active, progressive, defensive. He is eminently the doer, the creator, the discoverer, the defender. His intellect is for speculation, and invention; his energy for adventure, for war, and for conquest… But the woman’s power is for rule, not for battle – and her intellect is not for invention or creation, but for sweet ordering, arrangement, and decision… She must be enduringly, incorruptibly good; instinctively, infallibly wise -wise, not for self-development, but for self-renunciation: wise, not that she may set herself above her husband, but that she many never fail from his side.’ (John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies, 1865, part II)”

          26. Okrickety,

            Let me agree with you on the movie fireproof. It has been several years since I have seen it but I do seem to remember that I thought both the husband and the wife were not great.

          27. Nor is the film’s production quality or acting. The corresponding Love Dares book is the only aspect I’ve found to have merit, but even that would fall on deaf ears outside of active, Bible-reading Christians.

          28. Ok rickety,

            My favorite Christian Marriage books are The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman and Bill Harleys books.

            I’ve seen you mention Harleys books before so I assume you find them not blaming of men?

            I like his very practical approach that doesn’t put too much focus on gender roles.

          29. I think Gary Chapman is balanced.

            Supposing you mean Willard Harley, I perceive his material to be quite balanced to the sexes. I suppose he does not focus on gender roles in his recommended actions, but he does consider the sexes to be quite different as exemplified in his book His Needs, Her Needs. I will note that I do not think he ever claims to be Christian, nor does his material contain any “Christian” or biblical statements. So, I do not claim it to be Christian, but it does seem to be in line with Christian belief.

            I think the most valuable resource he provides is Personal History Questionnaire. I think it would be extremely beneficial for all couples considering marriage to complete this separately and discuss it (preferably during premarital counseling). It could also be very helpful to married couples, especially those more recently wed.

            I do find the questionnaire lacking in that, for some reason, it does not ask about abortion, rape (unless you consider rape to be sexual abuse, which it is, but deserves its own question), and is somewhat weak on sexual abuse. I have emailed with these concerns but never had a response.

          30. Yes dr Harley. I used to listen to his radio show and his wife called him bill so I picked that up there.

            He is a Christian and does present it very clearly on his radio show and on tv appearances I have seen.

          31. He is I think a northern Baptist and believes in mutual submission. That’s why he puts so much emphasis on enthusiastic agreement rather than make headship.

            He is quite theologically conservative in many other ways.

            I found his his needs/her needs books to have Mars/Venus gender assumptions which I don’t relate to but many people do.

            But overall his books and other materials are quite good.

          32. “He is I think a northern Baptist and believes in mutual submission. That’s why he puts so much emphasis on enthusiastic agreement rather than make headship.”

            That would make sense. Philosophically, I don’t think it is possible to always have enthusiastic agreement, but maybe that’s just my own personality or I am misunderstanding something.

            I don’t believe in mutual submission, but that is a topic for another time, if ever.

          33. The time for more discussion of submission has been used up for me. Lol.

            However Harley’s policy of joint agreement and what he means by enthusiastic agreement would be good discussion sometime.

      2. Just curious, why do you disagree with “the husband must go first”?

        I know my husband would agree with it, as he believes he is to be a servant leader in our relationship and if someone must go first then it is to be him.

        You don’t agree?

        1. My specific objection is that the husband “must” go first.

          There is an important concept in this statement from Terry Real (and similar from Michele Weiner-Davis and maybe others):
          “And while there are no guarantees, powerful and unexpected things do happen–with or without your partner’s deliberate participation–when you move beyond your habitual role.”

          In other words, changes by one partner change the dynamics of the relationship and the other partner will often change in response, even without deliberate intent. It is important to note that this works both positively and negatively. That is, positive change likely leads to positive change, and negative to negative.

          Suppose the husband is not willing to admit to his failures and make changes. If the wife refuses to make needed changes in her behavior, then the marriage is unlikely to improve. If the wife makes changes, the husband may make changes and the marriage will improve.

          For the Christian reader, this is in line with Peter’s teaching in 1 Peter 3:1 (NASB) “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,

          In a Christian marriage, I believe the husband should lead. But sometimes that may not be “servant leadership”. Suppose a husband’s failure is that he has not been leading spiritually, and the wife’s failure is excessive drinking. He changes and leads spiritually, teaching her that her drinking is sin, encouraging her to stop the behavior, and setting boundaries for himself and any children. Hopefully, she will stop her drinking, but, regardless, the husband made the right changes and led as God desires.

        1. If I’ve understood Real correctly, he wants the “blatant” partner to go first, and then the “latent” partner, no matter the gender. But in the majority of cases Real see, the man is the blatant partner.

          I hear different opinions on this subject. Some thinks therapists side with the women (why they do that when it happens, I don’t know), others think they side more with the men (because many men are resistant to therapy and so to keep him there, the therapist has to play nice).

          1. The thing that I love about Terry Real is he does not believe in therapist neutrality.

            He will call out bad behavior/attitude and say “what you are doing is making your spouse miserable and is causing damage to your marriage

            You need to stop it. And I will help you figure out how.”

            Most therapists are trained to remain neutral and never appear to “side” with one or the other spouse. Doesn’t seem logical to me.

            Most marriages have both spouses behaving in ways that cause problems. But sometimes one spouse is causing more than 50% of the damage.

            And he calls that out to correctly diagnose what’s really going on. So you can get the appropriate “cure” in the right dosages with an accurate analysis.

            I’ve seen him on several videos etc calling out women but his speciality is reaching men.

          2. I had not heard of Terry Real before reading this, and WOW. I’m really relating to what I found with a quick google search. Which of his books covers what? I’m interested in the blatant vs latent explanation.

            I’ve been really struggling with our therapists neutrality lately. Even on the occasion when I go alone because my husband is out of town, when I talk about anything that is a criticism of him or describe what behaviors are driving me bonkers, she does this, “Well, perhaps he is afraid, sad, worried about…” until I want to scream. He’s been well validated and comforted in therapy for several months now especially as he was dipping into depression and becoming very detached (more than usual) recently. It’s been all about getting him into a better frame of mind, and I’m over it and ready for a little sympathy of my own for goodness sake. In my experience, female therapists are quite empathetic to the man in a couples session. I have frequently noticed a lot of praise and “you’re a good guy who’s just scared” talk. It’s annoying as hell.


            Hi Wifey,

            Yeah I can imagine you get frustrated.

            The link above is for Terry Real’s website. There are people trained in his techniques on the Relational Life Institute. There might be one near where you live.

            He also offers couples weekend workshops listed there.

            There are lectures free on YouTube and several free podcasts available or iTunes. Just search for Terry Real.

            His marriage book is called The New Rules of Marriage which you can get on Amazon.

            The book Marilyn was referring to is I Don’t Want To Talk About It which is about how men are raised to be invulnerable and how men’s depression often looks different than women’s.

            I found it very helpful for me to understand and be more empathetic to men.

          4. …maybe some can offer Skype counceling too, if they’re not close by. 🙂 Doesn’t hurt to ask, even if they don’t specifically state it.

          5. Hi Wifey,

            The following is an excerpt from Terry Real’s book “How Can I Get Through To You?”, first published in 2002, it is available from Amazon,

            “Conventional therapy has failed most couples. After thirty years of marital counseling, the divorce rate has decreased by not 1 percent. In a recent national survey, researcher John Gottman tested out one of therapy’s most cherished assumptions–that teaching couples to listen to one another empathetically, that improving their ‘communication skills’ leads to longer-lived, happier unions. Gottman reports that he was (as) surprised as any other clinician to find that his data did not support this view. “…Gottman found that the most reliable predictor of long-term marital success was a pattern in which the wives in non-offensive, clear ways, communicated their needs, and husbands willingly altered their behavior. Women, it turns out, want more than to be understood by their men, they want their men to change.

            “Derisively dubbed by journalists the “Yes,dear,” study, Gottman’s findings appeared in most major newspapers in the West, often accompanied by snide commentary. What the press and general public found interesting, amusing and difficult was the unidirectionality of needed change. A study finding that both men and women needed one another to listen and change would not have made the headlines. It was empirical data supporting “henpecking” that captured and repelled us. The thinly veiled subtext of the jokes was that ball-less men make for good husbands. But does a man’s willingness to listen to the woman he loves and change his own behavior CONSTITUTE A FORM OF CASTRATION? (Caps mine)
            A great many men, while too well informed to say it aloud, certainly act like it.”

  7. Hi Gottmanfan,

    The quote – and I am paraphrasing here- comes from the story about a father who finds his pre-teen son behind the barn vigorously masturbating. The father demands that the son stop immediately and tells the son about the sin that is masturbation and recounts all the punishment that will befall him if he continues the horrid behavior. The most devastating punishment is the certainty that the youngster WILL GO COMPLETELY BLIND.

    When the father finds the son, later that week again “self-pleasuring”, he demands an answer as to why the son would do so given the consequences. The son answers, “Well I decided to just do it until I needed glasses.”

  8. Hi OKRickety,

    I can certainly understand why you would disagree with this therapist’s decision to make the husband “go first”. I have read his books and almost reflexively understand and accept the validity of his decisions I understand that is not at all helpful/fair to people who have not read his books and may totally disagree with his premises.

    Also, this therapist fully supports men in their attempts to become “less shitty”. He, like Matt, does not unilaterally blame men for hurtful behavior. He does hold them RESPONSIBLE. His books tell memorable stories about how little boys are damaged by parental and societal abuse. He knows that the pain boys live with follow them into their relationships with often devastating consequences. He does not absolve women of their contributions to fractured relationships; he offers the kind of advice (at least it seems to me) that is wise and practical and will offer the greatest healing for the partners.

    1. The couple should choose a therapist who is compatible with their values. If they come at things from a Biblical perspective and Christian morals, they will almost certainly not do well with a secular therapist.

      For this reason, many couples will often go to clergy for counseling. Catholics to their priest, and Protestants to their pastor.

  9. Hi Donkey,

    You got it right with the blatant/latent description of how Real approaches therapy and he makes sure that responsibility is equally apportioned when assessing how to help the couple. He does BLAME most THERAPISTS for FAILING their clients — especially as gottman said — by maintaining a supposed neutrality. Real says he takes sides.
    He challenges the husband to change and only asks that IN THE MEANTIME the wife “draw in her fangs”.

    He tells the husband, at the very beginning, how close the wife may be to divorce, he describes what is necessary and essential to keep that from happening. HE DOES NOT MINCE WORDS. His comment is that “husbands for the most part are not stupid”; that most want to preserve their families and marriages. MOST are grateful that someone has finally been brutally honest with them

    1. Thanks Marilyn. 🙂 I actually haven’t read any of Real’s books. Just stuff here and there. But that adds up too.

    2. “He tells the husband, at the very beginning, how close the wife may be to divorce”

      Just a reminder, for those not aware – Catholics are not allowed to divorce. Under any circumstance.

      If there is very SERIOUS reason like repeated physical abuse, addiction, pattern of adultery, etc, then the couple can pursue a legal separation legitimately. But NOT divorce. While separated, they cannot remarry another partner – they must remain chaste until they either reconcile or one of the spouses die. Any sex with another partner during the separation, constitutes the mortal sin of adultery.

      (And for an annulment, there must have been a defect present from the beginning that rendered the marriage either null or at least dissolvable. An example would be if the marriage was never consummated, or if there was too close an affinity of blood between the two)

  10. To OKRickety and Donkey,

    I posted a comment ( more than an hour ago) about Terrance Real and his premise that the men “must go first” in the therapist’s chair. It has not appeared yet, I’m assuming it’s lost.

    It’s O.K. because gottmanfan gave an almost identical explanation that begins,”The thing that I love about Terry Real is he does not believe in therapist neutrality.” It was posted at 2:48.

  11. OKRickety,

    I keep stumbling over the frequency with which we use the word FAULT, as in, men are usually said to be at FAULT when marriages fail. Matt made it the focus of one of his previous blogs — pointing out the difference between FAULT and RESPONSIBILITY.
    He stated we cannot know all there is to know, yet we must act with integrity within the bounds of what we do know.

    In this current blog he said, “…and our crime is not the thoughtless things we do, but rather our lack of respect for our partners’ expressed pain and our unwillingness to put forth the energy to changing whatever’s required for the pain to stop.”

    I have not been able to understand exactly how those concepts overlap and get a subtle kind of synthesis. . Even in Matt’s quote he uses the word “CRIME” and yet implies some ameliorating factor is present because he says “BUT RATHER our lack of respect….” I bring this to your attention because I think you feel that “the guys” are being unfairly treated. I’d like to know your thoughts and feelings

    1. marilyn sims,

      I’m sorry it has taken so long to reply. It’s not my fault! Or is it? 🙂

      First, some concepts I developed from multiple internet sources:

      1. To be at fault is to be responsible for a failure, but you are not at fault for what others think or do.

      2. You are always responsible for all of your choices and responses.

      3. Finally, to blame is to hold responsible AND find fault with.

      “I keep stumbling over the frequency with which we use the word FAULT, as in, men are usually said to be at FAULT when marriages fail.”

      I think this should be stated as men are usually BLAMED when marriages fail. Although I think many men would say that the wives were to BLAME. Sometimes it depends on your perspective. In reality, they are probably both at fault.

      ‘In this current blog he said, “…and our crime is not the thoughtless things we do, but rather our lack of respect for our partners’ expressed pain and our unwillingness to put forth the energy to changing whatever’s required for the pain to stop.”’

      I think “failure” would be better than “crime”. Regardless, Matt doesn’t actually state a man is at fault here.

      Based on the above concepts, I think that the one who fails is at fault, but the other is responsible for the pain they experience. That sounds a little strange, but I’m not a philosopher. However, I am going to consider this further, because it suggests some interesting possibilities to me.

      1. Hi OKRickety,

        Thanks for the thoughtful response/clarification. I am laughing silently to myself because I have now managed to extend my terrain of “yes, but…” to express my consternation about the way our language colors our understanding and usage of words like failure, blame, responsibility, liability, fault , crime etc.

        Please keep me informed about the “interesting possibilities”.

  12. “What would that context help you understand (either in terms of the posts or comments) that would give you clarity you didn’t have prior?”

    You realize, of course, that this is only my perspective, and I have no professional or educational specialty in regard to writing.

    I don’t think knowing you have ADHD gives me more clarity, but it provides insight that I think will help me to hear your ideas better now, rather than being annoyed by the way you sometimes write. It is also entirely possible that what I perceive might be ADHD-related is actually not. And it’s possible that my perception is based on my own idiosyncrasies. That has been suggested many times.

    1. I think you use far too many one-sentence paragraphs. This may only be a stylistic preference, but I perceive one-sentence paragraphs to be a means to highlight important concepts. I also find this makes it harder to follow your thoughts — each paragraph break interrupts the flow for me.

    2. You are often long-winded (I know, the pot calling the kettle black). For example, in The Magic of Boundaries you give an example of “Girl meets Boy”. The concept was fine, but you kept extending the scenario. It was as if additional possibilities kept jumping into your mind as you wrote, and you felt compelled to include all of them.

    3. In the section in this Post about Unawareness, you began with unawareness leading to hurt and rejection, then you “jump” to fears, anxieties, and insecurities, and finish with a “jump” to the idea of a secret life. In my opinion, these concepts are not strongly related, and the “jumps” could be due to ADHD.

    4. In the previous post, Taxonomy V.1, I struggled with following the flow of the taxonomy. I don’t know if the following will display well in the comment or not. The taxonomy starts with this:
    1. Husbands
    A. Good men.
    B. Bad men.

    The next section has:
    2. Husbands Who Are Good Men
    A. Good husbands.
    B. Bad husbands.

    So? Well, for those of us who like systems, structure, etc., this is confusing. It appears to be an outline structure but “1.A.” has now become “2.”, which is not how an outline works. My supposition is that ADHD makes it difficult to organize information systematically.

    The result is that it was difficult for me to be certain I was following your concept clearly. If you had been able to do a diagram, I think it would have been easy to follow.

    I hope that helps. If not, c’est la vie.

  13. I posted this quote from the Gottman’s latest book “The Man’s Guide to Women” above. Ok rickety asked what they meant when referring to attuning to negative emotions which I will answer after the quote.

    “We reveal the one thing all women are looking when they search for a man, and that quality is trustworthiness. Our research shows that women’s two major complaints about men are 1) He’s not there for me, and 2) There is not enough emotional connection. Men’s two major complaints are 1) There’s too much fighting, and 2) There’s not enough sex. Our research has revealed that to address all four of these complaints, men need to know how to do just one thing that women desperately need: he needs to be able to attune to her negative emotions. We teach that skill in this book.”

    Ok they use the handy dandy acronym A TT U N E to help those with bad memories to learn how to get along with others. This particular book is written to men so that’s the language used here.

    Handy acronym attune.

    A is for undivided Attention during conversations. Put down the phone, book, remote etc really pay attention.

    TT is for Turn Towards. Physically turn towards your partner. This gives physical confirmation of your interest and attention.

    U is for Understand the goal is understanding by asking questions, showing genuine interest and attempting to understand why this is important to her.

    N is for Non defensively listen, don’t counterattack, make excuses, justify, argue, interrupt etc.

    E is for Empathize. Focus on understanding and and validating the underlying emotions.

    The next comment I will explain their reasoning why these may be even more important for men to learn to get what they want in their marriage.

  14. So, I’ve had this thought coming together in the back of my mind for a little while. Then today during a class discussion I think I got a missing piece. I’m sure some will hate this, but it’s something I think is close to being on target.

    So, there has been some discussion on women’s complaints that they want their husbands to be more emotionally available and tuned in to them. I have asked questions here regarding men’s desire to have the ‘relating part of the relationship’- which is basically the same question- “Do men want the emotional and relational part of the relationship.”

    For men, they usually don’t get that anything is missing. Most feel like because they are showing up and doing their job, they are doing well.
    But women who are strongly geared towards relationship- the emotional in-tunement and interaction is what they need to feel like they are more than a piece of furniture.

    Today we talked about a few things, and I want to stress that I am not trying to put anyone’s beliefs down, but it did dawn on me the consequences of having our family structures hierarchical in nature.

    While there definitely needs to be hierarchy between the parents and the children, having a hierarchy between the parents can be really counter productive to relationship. For those who are religious, and believe in the Trinity: the nature of God can be seen in the very relationship that creates the Trinity. The Spirit is not greater than Jesus and Jesus is not greater than the Spirit, and neither are greater or less than the Father. They all exist in relationship with each other. (The three are one…)

    So, when we place one particular person in charge of the family unit, we are actually placing them outside of the family unit.

    Picture a circle, which is the family, and some stickfigure standing on top of the circle. The stick figures relationship to the circle is not full engagement, IN the circle. He is outside of the circle, though he does communicate with it to some extent.

    Also,having the breadwinner “out in the world” most of the time and caregiver at home does something very similar. The breadwinner again is frequently outside of and out of touch with the family unit. They are not in touch with the everyday happenings in everyone elses life. So, again they are put outside of the sphere of the family.

    What women want is for the man to be brought back into the circle. We want the mans person to be present as much as his body is.

    This isn’t about a power differential between men and women, it is about how we are or are not relating to one another.

    I don’t know if I really wrote anything that hasn’t been mentioned before, or if this has any real meaning for anyone. It was just something that did dawn on me and made sense to me.

    (I am obviously not as smart as Dr. T!!)


    1. “So, when we place one particular person in charge of the family unit, we are actually placing them outside of the family unit”

      Interesting point Lindsey!

      ” For those who are religious, and believe in the Trinity: the nature of God can be seen in the very relationship that creates the Trinity. The Spirit is not greater than Jesus and Jesus is not greater than the Spirit, and neither are greater or less than the Father. They all exist in relationship with each other. (The three are one…)”

      It’s hard for me to comment on this, though I find it interesting. I think it shows pretty well, at least, that people within the same fath arrive at very different conclusions as to what the family structure should be, or could be, with basis in the same religion.

      1. Thanks, Donkey.
        I included the Trinity stuff because I wanted to demonstrate the importance of relationship, and because (right or wrong) these are things I use to determine my own understanding. You’re right that not everyone understands it that way. – but, maybe some might :).

        If relationship was determined to not be important, then the structure wouldn’t matter.
        For me, both relationship and structure matter.

    2. A Christian, if he is to be faithful, must follow the Word of God. St. Paul says in his epistle, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” And in one of his epistles, St. Peter says “Wives, be subject to your husbands.”

      In addition, there is the teaching of Holy Mother Church. In his papal encyclical “Casti Connubii”, Pope Pius XI covers the topic of the sacrament of marriage. In the encyclical, he approvingly quotes his predecessor Pope Leo XIII who taught “The man is the ruler of the family, and the head of the woman; but because she is flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone, let her be subject and obedient to the man, not as a servant but as a companion, so that nothing be lacking of honor or of dignity in the obedience which she pays. Let divine charity be the constant guide of their mutual relations, both in him who rules and in her who obeys, since each bears the image, the one of Christ, the other of the Church.”

      So in both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, it could not be more clear that the husband is the head and ruler of the household, and the wife is to submit to him accordingly. This is the God-ordained order. To rebel against this order is to set oneself against God, and to make war against Him. It is to cry out with Lucifer, “Non Serviam!”

      Now people have free will, and if they choose to ignore this God-ordained heirarchy they can. Just as they can choose to ignore the commandments for sexual morality, and engage in fornication, homosexuality, adultery, etc. But if they choose to do so, they should not “deceive themselves” (to quote St. Paul) – their choices make them enemies of God and prevent them from inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven. Of course, while they yet live, it is never to late to repent, go to Confession, and receive forgiveness.

      Finally, if some women find this command to submit to their husband a “hard teaching” because of their own pride, I would recommend they remember that the downfall of Lucifer and the fallen angels was pride. And they should look to the example of the Mother of God and the saints and martyrs – they did not disregard the commands of God because they found them to be “hard teachings”. Instead, they submitted to them and obeyed without question, and this is why they are in Paradise today and for all eternity. Choose wisely.

      1. Jeff, I am really busy so I cant argue all points, but your first sentence -that being faithful = following the word of God. I just want to point out that the Bible wasn’t written when those words were spoken. Many believe that “The Word of God” , ie “The Logos” is speaking of Jesus himself. If we are following Jesus, we are following his character, not the rules. The bible is the Story of God, for sure. But it is not “The Word”.
        I am not really sure what the Catholic take is on the bible, even. I would welcome some insight into that – a balanced understanding (From more than one person would also be appreciated.)

        1. Just to note- this really saddens me.

          Jeff, I get you have your views- however I don’t think a single religious figure/leader from any Christian denomination would actually agree with about 90% of what you spew here

          Further, I have seen you out and out behave in the exact opposite of ways that you then so strictly and sternly demand of others. Frankly, it disgusts me.

          I know it is a risk to write anything here now days and it not be received and used as ammunition for or against someone.

          We are all guilty of this at this point.

          I don’t make any claims to be the most intelligent, or have the right answers. I like to discuss things in order to refine my knowledge and understanding.

          I don’t think that is why you write here, Jeff.

          Considering the 9:1 ratio that anything out of your proverbial mouth has any goodness in it, (and therefore is of little value to me), I am going to ask you to not reply to my comments.

        2. “I am not really sure what the Catholic take is on the bible, even. I would welcome some insight into that – a balanced understanding (From more than one person would also be appreciated.)”

          I’ll have a quick go.

          The Catholic view is that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and is free from all error and heresy. The canon of Scripture (which books are included) is determined by Holy Mother Church, who alone has the authority to do so.

          But having said that, a few cautions:

          A. The Bible was never intended to be a comprehensive catechism of the Faith (see my reply to Donkey below, where I elaborate)

          B. Many things in the Bible are difficult to discern and not everything is to be taken literally. Thus, a person reading the Bible and relying on his own interpretation of the text may come to believe grave errors. Therefore, it is incumbent on every faithful Catholic to submit to the Church’s teaching/explanation of these “difficult passages”. In this way, you preserve One Faith. As opposed to the Protestant side of things where you have religious anarchy – each person who has a new interpretation feels free to start a new church with a new faith, so now you have thousands of different denominations! Can anyone honestly believe this is what Our Lord intended?

          C. The writers of Scripture were “inspired” by God (specifically by the Third Divine Person, i.e. The Holy Spirit) in order to keep their writings free of all error. However, the writers were still writing the text themselves, using their words and the forms and idioms they were familiar with at the time. They were NOT mere transcribers, who simply took dictation from an angel, word for word, from the original Scripture written by God in Heaven. This is what the Muslims believe regarding the Koran. It is not and never has been part of Catholic teaching in regards Sacred Scripture.

          Anyway, I’ll just leave it there for now. Hope this helped.

        3. Linds: “I am going to ask you to not reply to my comments.”

          Fine, but it depends on what you consider “replying to your comments.”

          If you mean you would prefer I not ask you personal questions or get into details of your personal life, ok. I’ll try to remember to honor that request. If I forget, please feel free to remind me POLITELY.

          But if you mean I am not to comment on any ideas or concepts you bring up, then I cannot agree. Because I would be commenting on the IDEA you proposed, and my insight might be found helpful or at least interesting to another commenter. In this case, I am not getting into a personal discussion with you in regards your personal circumstance. I hope you can see the difference.

          Hope you find this fair. It comes with the territory of replying on a public blog. I myself previously asked Travis if he would stop replying to my comments (I said in return, I would do the same for him). He declined my request and said he would continue to respond at his leisure. Gott is the same. So no big deal, I have to accept that whoever wishes to reply to one of my comments is going to do so, even if I prefer they didn’t. So I do indeed accept it, and you must do likewise (if you plan to continue commenting)

          1. Jeff, when I post here, I am not directing my conversation towards you, nor do I care to hear your input.
            If you do choose to write, it will be ignored.

      2. Jeff Strand, if I’ve understood you correctly, in another thread you placed Tradition over Scripture (in helping you determine what values, behaviours etc you deem appropriate). And so since Tradition specifically condems slavery but Scripture does not, you don’t “have to”, for lack of a better way to express myself, explain why you support wifely submission but not slavery (I’m NOT equating the two however, so please don’t go there good folks), when there’s support for both in a literal interpretation of Scripture.

        All this to say, if you favour Tradition over Scripture in one place, I don’t see how you can use scripture as basis for your interpreations in other places, and still be honest/coherent in your logic

        In the case of wifely submission though, it seems like Scripture (assuming a literal exegesis) and Tradition (apart from the pope you have deemed to be a heretic) say the same thing.

        1. Donkey, either I misspoke or you misunderstood me. I do not value Tradition over Scripture, both are equally true and both compliment each other.

          Having said that, what Protestants tend to overlook is that the Bible is not a book. It is a library of many books. And all these various writers never intended to write a comprehensive catechism of the Faith. Indeed, how could they, when they would have no idea what specific topics the other writers would cover…or which books would actually be finally defined as sacred Scripture? (And indeed, the canon of Scripture was not settled by the Church definitively until the time of St. Augustine, around the beginning of the Fifth Century, AD)

          So when I see Protestants trying to use the Bible as a comprehensive catechism of the Faith, it reinforces a belief I have come to lately. Namely, that while there have been MANY heresies through the ages (Arianism, Manicheanism, Donatism, Albigentism, Monophysitism, Gnosticism, to name just a few), the Protestant heresy has to be one of the dumbest, most illogical, and most easily disproven of all the historical heresies. We just tend to forget this because this particular heresy has lasted so long (500 years and counting).

        2. Jeff Strand, you are certainly free to not respond, but if you are willing, I do wonder what your response is to the point I made in this comment.

          1. Donkey,

            Good to hear from you again.

            Did my reply at 1:50PM answer your question here, or do you wish me to elaborate on something?

      3. Jeff.

        I’m going to do the thing every Christian hates, and ask you to answer a hard question.

        If you don’t answer it in good faith (because I AM asking it in good faith as a life-long Catholic), I’m going to be very disappointed.

        If you are going to lean on Bible passages to support your beliefs, and use them as the basis for your disagreements with others, touting said verses as the irrefutable Word of God, how do you reconcile all of “God’s commands” in Leviticus?


        No eating fat or blood. (3:17)
        No letting your hair become unkempt. (10:6)
        No eating animals which don’t chew cud or have divided hooves (pig, turkey, chicken) (11:4-7)
        No eating or touching seafood that isn’t fish with fins or scales (like shellfish) (11:10-12)
        No going to church within 33 days of giving birth to boys or 66 days of giving birth to girls. (12:4-5)
        No having sex with a woman on her period (18:19)
        No reaping farmlands to the very edges of a field (19:9)
        No holding back the wages of an employee overnight (19:13)
        No bearing a grudge (19:18)
        No mixing fabrics in clothing (19:19)
        No cross-breeding animals (19:19)
        No planting different seeds in the same field (19:19)
        No eating fruit from trees within four years of planting them (19:23)
        No trimming your beard (19:27)
        No cutting your hair at the sides (19:27)
        No getting tattoos (19:28)
        No standing in the presence of the elderly (19:32)
        No selling land permanently (25:23)

        I want to know if you hold all of these commands from the same holy text as dearly as you do the line about wives submitting to their husbands.

        And if not, I want to know why.

        If humanity’s eternal salvation is at stake, then this is a matter of life and death.

        So let’s deal with it.

        1. Great question Matt.

          The reason is that those commands from the Torah (i.e. The Old Law) have been fulfilled and now superseded by the New Law, i.e. the regime of grace of the New Testament. This does not mean they are erased as if they were bad ideas, it means rather that they no longer apply under the new paradigm of Christ.

          To give a specific example. Under the Old Law, you had a class of priests required to be of the tribe of Levi. They would perform the animal sacrifices in the Temple. And this was God’s Law, AT THAT TIME. However, since Our Lord came and established His Holy Catholic Church, we have an entirely new class of priests. They are not Levites but mostly Gentiles, and the sacrifice they offer is not some animal but rather the offering is the spotless Agnus Dei (Lamb of God, i.e. Jesus Christ crucified), offered up to the Eternal Father at the consecration of the gifts during Holy Mass. It is the most pleasing sacrifice that can ever be offered to God.

          So there you see a complete break in the type of priesthood from the Old Law to the New Law. This transition was symbolized by the rending in two of the curtain over the Holy of Holies in the Temple, at the moment Our Lord expired on the cross. (This is referenced in the Gospels). Again, this is not to repudiate the old Levite priesthood as something bad – it’s to say rather that things are different now under the New Law and so the old priesthood is obsolete, i.e. has been fulfilled.

          Likewise, this applies to all the ritual laws of the Torah (like keeping kosher). These ritual laws are no longer applicable under the new paradigm of salvation that Our Lord established. However, the moral laws (like the 10 Commandments) do still apply.

          I’m not a theologian, but that’s the best I can sum it up. Again though, great question Matt.

          1. Well I AM a bit of a theologian (and a good one, too!) and you summed it up well. In Christ, the moral law has been fulfilled, though not set aside. It is the ceremonial law *and the legal code that accompanied it* that has been abrogated.

          2. Anita,
            “In Christ the moral law has been fulfilled”

            This is a good answer to Matt’s question, but doesn’t answer for Jeff’s behavior of disrespect of women and callousness towards others who are different than him. (Including the disrespect and callousness he has shown to readers here.)

            So Christ came to fulfill the law, not abolish it, and if you are in Christ ‘the moral law has been fulfilled.”

            I take this to mean that being in step with Christ, having the Spirit of Christ, will naturally guide you into moral behaviors. You will know right from wrong- and you will desire to do what is right… most of the time.

            Romans 2:13 puts it this way- “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in Gods sight, but it is those who obey the law that will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law- they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law.)”

            Jesus declared that the greatest commandment (read “law”) is to Love God and to Love neighbor.

            To sum those two ideas up, in Matt’s words “Be kind- it’s not that hard!”


            Just reading a list of rules, even a short list as the one above – wont really get you very far.

            You cant just read the words and say “oh- now I have the answer”, you have to have that answer as the truth in your own heart and mind.

            Living this out has 1000 times more to do with what goes on in a persons head and emotions than it does in actions (though actions are important).

            Corinthians says:”If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship so that I may boast, I have gained nothing.” Corinthians 13: 1-3

            And 1st John says :”We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands (to love God and to Love neighbor). Whoever says “I know him”, but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But, if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him MUST LIVE AS JESUS DID.

            Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command, but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet, I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in Him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

            Anyone who claims to be in the light, but hates his brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother or sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.
            But anyone who hates his brother or sister is in the darkness, and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going because the darkness has blinded them.”

            Those are words straight from the bible. They are not my opinion.

            While I know not everyone agrees or subscribed to a Christian belief system, Jeff Strand claims to.

            In order to know God, an understanding of “Love” has to be in the believers heart.
            And it isn’t love only for those who love the person. It isn’t love for those who do nice things for the person and who makes them feel good. So- he cant point to his “wife” and claim he is demonstrating God’s love.

            It is love for Mankind.

            You can read that as empathy, or compassion- but it is acknowledgement and caring for the experience and struggles of other human beings.

            Jeff Strand has not demonstrated this, in fact he has bragged and boasted about his opinion of the exact opposite.

            So, here is my ultimate point- it doesn’t matter if Jeff Strand has been able to string together a fairly coherent theological understanding, that sounds half way like the truth.

            If he doesn’t have love for neighbor- he is still in darkness, stumbling around and lost.

            1 John 5 says “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, in him there is no darkeness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But, if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
            If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
            If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. ”

            Basically, I am challenging Jeff Strand to either start living up to the beliefs he is claiming, or stop claiming he is in relationship with God, or he is in anyway representative of who the Christian God is.

        2. Matt,

          You said you were “asking it in good faith”. Since I did not view it as a “hard question”, I am curious. Do you agree with Jeff’s answer? Would you have provided a relatively equivalent answer if you had been asked the same question at that time?

  15. As a frequent reader of MBTTTR, I just want to quote this from a previous thread.

    Post: There’s Gonna Be Some Changes Around Here

    Matt on Aug. 29, 2016 @ 2:52 pm:
    “Thank you for your kind offer.

    I’ve put in a formal request for all “wifely submission” messages moving forward to be banned from ongoing conversations on new posts, unless the conversation is VERY SPECIFICALLY about wifely submission.

    I’ve had just about enough of the bullshit.”

    As a frequent reader, I (and probably several others) am really looking forward to the changes that you talked about on that post because once again Jeff has hijacked the conversation and made it about wifely submission.

    1. You need to work on your reading comprehension.

      I did not “hijack the thread to make it about widely submission”. What happened was that Linds posted her opinion on hierarchy within the family, which automatically entails the submission of those lower in the heirarchy to those higher in it. She compared her idea of how this heirarchy should work to the relationship between the Divine Persons of the Most Holy and Blessed Trinity. She has the right to express her opinion, certainly.

      However, I then just politely posted my disagreement with her point and used the long-standing examples from Scripture and Tradition that I referenced in order to make my point. That’s it. And that’s how it’s SUPPOSED to work. You can choose to post agreement with someone, or if you disagree keep it polite and non-personal and that’s what I did.

      But I did not bring up submission within the family – Linds did (calling it a heirarchy) and I responded to it. So what’s the problem? If you don’t agree with me, that’s your right. I didn’t agree with Linds, but I didn’t try to censor her!

  16. Pingback: No, the Affair Didn’t Cause the Divorce | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  17. Matt,
    just FYI:
    I am sorry I wrote my post, sincerely. I knew there was a risk in writing that this AM, and now I am feeling really sore and tender- I have absolutely no desire to fight with him- or with anyone. It was authentically something that seemed to matter. That women want the relationship, and the hierarchy and tradition of two very separate roles (That of breadwinner and that of caregiver) have sort of distanced that relationship. There may have been a biological basis for the role division way back in the hunter/gatherer days- but that isnt the case anymore. We need shared interactions and roles. That is the discussion I had hoped would come out of it.

  18. This continues a thread from here


    I’m thinking in terms of Harley’s emotional needs rather than love languages. I think it’s entirely possible to speak the other’s love language well but still fail to meet their emotional needs.

    The most common emotional need for men is sexual fulfillment, but I expect that many people would not consider that to be a valid emotional need, but simply a hormonal drive. Instead, they, especially most women, would consider affection and conversation to be valid emotional needs. Therein lies one of the biggest problems in marriage today. A spouse may complain about lack of sex, but it is dismissed as only a physical drive rather than recognized as an emotional need.

    As a generality, women are more interested in the relationship but that interest and effort is oriented toward a woman’s emotional needs. I doubt that most would consider emotional needs of sexual fulfillment, recreational companionship, and an attractive spouse to be important to the relationship.

    You mentioned the emotional labor involved to keep a relationship going. Have you ever considered the emotional labor required for most men to meet a woman’s emotional needs of affection and conversation? I think it’s difficult and hedonic adaptation makes it even more so.

    “The whole goal is to figure out how to get your relationship to some healthy mature place so that you each care what the others needs are and work together to meet them in some reasonable way.

    “That requires huge maturity and differentiation growth from both men and women.”

    Excellent thought!

    1. I didn’t communicate my thoughts well about sex.

      I do think sex is a valid emotional need and a physical need. I seems common sense that libido will differ between spouses a great percentage of the time throughout a marriage.

      It is stereotypically the man with the higher libido. On average men have higher sex drives in marriage for nature/nurture reasons. However, that is not always the case per the 25% statistic I cited of marriages where women have the higher libidos.

      One of the things I didn’t like about Harley’s books us the way he uses surveys if his clients to make sweeping gender generalizations. I, for example, do not relate to the here for “romance” in the typical way women are supposed to.

      It’s the same beef I have with another blog I read written by a secular psychologist and couples therapist.

      She will say things like “men’s love language is sex” and all men’s discontent is solved with more sex. And then when asked she says that in 1/3 of the couples she sees the man has the lower interest in sex. Illogical.

      Anyway, I think it’s true that there are a lot of sexless marriages out there (defined as less than 10 times a year as I remember).

      I think it’s true that many men feel that they don’t get as much sex as they would like (or need).

      I think there are reasons for that both biological and sociological. Many men have been learned to suppress their emotionality and therefore sex is the only place they can give and receive intimacy.

      I also think conversely that women have often been socialized to think sex is more for the man (particularly in conservative Christian settings) and it’s not as enjoyable as it could be because of that.

      Having said all that, let’s assume you have one of the 75% of marriages where the man has the higher physical and emotional need for sex. Let’s assume you have a stereotypical woman who wants to talk to have her emotional needs met. And intimitely talking is hard for the man because he doesn’t enjoy it and/or doesn’t know the right things to say.

      What do they do?

      Well you do the same thing with emotional need differences that you do with love language differences and style (per Atkinson) differences.

      You work hard on your individual maturity and knowledge so you’re able to recognize each other as different people with valid but different needs.

      Doing that is half the battle. Because then you’re not seeing their differences as saying anything about you. You’re just different.

      Once you’re able to do that and you have even more maturity and knowledge under your belt. All those differences can be worked through. Trading back and forth with a loving willingness to see each other happy and an appreciation for how much the other person has to stretch to meet those needs that are not their own.

      And when the positivity ratio is Gottman’s 5:1, it much easier to be patient on the days when your needs don’t get met. Because you’re a team, not opponents.

      A few rambling thoughts.

      1. gottmanfan,

        You may see sex as a valid emotional need. But do most wives? I suspect they do not. If not, it is unlikely there will be any effort to meet that need.

        Whatever the need of the partner, success will be more likely if they are willing to accept even small improvements as important and demonstrate that they appreciate the change.

        1. I’m not sure what makes you suspect that most wives don’t see sex as a valid emotional need. That’s not my impression from my experiences or reading for most women.

          There is often a disconnect about the frequency maybe some women then get frustrated at the “biological drive” that is much higher than hers. And that starts to feel like it could be anyone to have sex with not HER. Just guessing.

          Another common disconnect is not having conditions necessary for the average woman’s more “responsive” sexual style. Meaning many women don’t feel the physical and or emotional need for sex but can enjoy it after sex has begun if relaxed.

          To be physically responsive most women need to be in a “relaxed” state of mind. Both parties need to contribute to enable this.

          Is that fair to a higher libido husband? Well no, it’s a pain to have to “do more” to get the average woman to be happy to have sex rather than as a duty or chore.

          Is it fair to the lower libido wife? Well no, it’s a pain to have to “do more” to get to the readiness of the average man for sex.

          And, like I said before, if both of you don’t have a healthy, mature loving attitude to want to meet each other’s needs then THAT’S the real problem. It’s really about a need for more individual and/or growth to get to that place.

          At that point sex is just the symptom of an underlying problem. Like a fever reflecting an infection.

          1. gottmanfan,

            “I’m not sure what makes you suspect that most wives don’t see sex as a valid emotional need. That’s not my impression from my experiences or reading for most women.”

            My suspicion is based on my own experience and what I have gleaned from what I have heard and read. My supposition is that women see sex as a valid emotional need only when it fits their viewpoint. That is, it is valid in that scenario, but it is not valid when she thinks he is just horny.

            From another angle, women often see men’s desire for sex as just a biological drive. As far as I know, there is no biological drive to affection, conversation, or any other of Harley’s needs. If women have not been told that men want sex for emotional need, it is no surprise they think it is just biological.

            Personally, I think disagreement about sex is the most frequent reason for divorce. Finances are often given, but I think people just don’t want to admit that they have sexual issues.

            “At that point sex is just the symptom of an underlying problem. Like a fever reflecting an infection.”

            Sex is also an excellent barometer for the state of a marriage. If you’re not having good sex regularly, the marriage has a problem.

          2. Okrickety,

            I think we agree on more than we disagree here.

            We may have different experiences in hearing and reading what women think about a man’s often higher sex drive.

            Regardless I agree with you that many women may view sex as only necessary when they find it understandable or reasonable by their criteria whatever that may be.

            In the same way that men use the understandable or reasonable criteria for their wives around sex.

            In my view , this isn’t so much about gender. This reflects the lack of good differentiation or maturity for being in a relationship.

            My husband and I are going through Brent Atkinson’s ebook. Matt has linked to a pdf Donkey presented for his list of common style differences. Like are you independence first or togetherness first?

            Disconnects here present challenges but the thing I like about Atkinson’s approach is that it focuses on accepting each other’s needs and styles as valid whether we share or understand them at all

            It doesn’t matter if a wife can’t understand her husband’s desire for more sex. It doesn’t matter if it’s biological or emotional or anything else.

            It matters that it matters to him.

            Of course it’s helpful to understand why something matters. But no spouse should have to justify something that is important to them.

            If a spouse is only granting what makes sense to them, you’re going to end up in an unhappy marriage sooner or later.

            I sgree that sex is one of the top reasons for things couples disagree. There are others too so that will vary by couple. My husband and I have our biggest conflict over that togetherness/independence things for example.

            And my mistake was a common one. Thinking his style was “wrong” and not being willing to make willing accommodations for his needs. He made the same mistakes for my needs that seemed “wrong” to me.

            Things have really improved since we have come to understand the need to accept each other’s differences and work together to fulfill each other’s needs in a reasonable way that requires both of us to stretch outside our comfort zone.

            Of course boundaries matter too. That’s where the give and take come into play. And both people need to have this differentiated attitude to have a great relationship.

            So I am agreeing with you that the problem is sex per se it’s the idea that one spouse of the other has to justify their needs or wants before the other spouse will consider meeting them.

            That is the real problem that needs to be addressed.

            PS I could make a good case that human connection through conversation of other means is biological because we literally go crazy if isolated.
            There is a reason why solitary confinement is an extreme form of punishment.

            But either way, it falls under the same thing as sex above. One should not need to justify a want or a need to a spouse before the spouse is willing to work to meet those needs.

            That’s the goal for a good marriage. Hard? Absolutely because we all see things through our own lens.

            But it’s important to get the right goal so effort can be focused correctly.

          3. Darn typos.

            So I am agreeing with you that the problem ISN’T sex per se it’s the idea that one spouse of the other has to justify their needs or wants before the other spouse will consider meeting them.

          4. So sex as a barometer for a good marriage may be because a couple has worked out a way to accomodate each other’s needs in many other ways as well.

          5. gottmanfan,

            “I think we agree on more than we disagree here.”

            Probably, and it helps that you do not insist that the woman’s viewpoint must be correct. In other words, I think your perspective is much more balanced than most. At least that’s my perception.

            “It doesn’t matter if a wife can’t understand her husband’s desire for more sex. It doesn’t matter if it’s biological or emotional or anything else.

            “It matters that it matters to him.

            It is my opinion that wives are seldom willing to consider this about sex, nor do they seem to care.

            It also matters that women may want affection or conversation to meet their emotional needs. Men may not consider this, even if they have been told.

            I do note that most often it would be easy to determine if the man’s sexual need was met (did they have sex or not?), but what constitutes enough affection or conversation to meet her need?

            Also, I suspect there is a another difference here between the sexes. The man is probably happy with sex, even if he has to ask for it. But I think many women think affection or conversation must be entirely at the man’s initiative in order for it to meet her need. If it’s important to her, why can’t she just ask for it?

        2. Okrickety,

          You said:

          “Whatever the need of the partner, success will be more likely if they are willing to accept even small improvements as important and demonstrate that they appreciate the change.”


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