How to Be Comfortable Alone on Valentine’s Day

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guy sitting alone at restaurant
Totally NOT this. I promise. (Image/Its Box Office Forums)

If I’m hospitalized or incapacitated from a car accident or emergency health problem, my ex-wife will be the first person anyone calls.

That’s because, even four years after our divorce, she’s still my emergency contact.

In a reverse-scenario, I’m probably the fourth person to get an emergency call about her. Yes, I’m aware of how pathetic that sounds.

On a night where she might go out for dinner, drinks and whatever else with her boyfriend if our son wasn’t at home with her, I’ll sit alone in my kitchen writing things for a client after grabbing a takeout dinner on the drive home later.

I have no way to prove I’m not just writing this in some lame attempt to sound cool or tough, but I have exactly ZERO problems with my Valentine’s Day plans today.

I want to talk about why, because I think the things that make people feel lonely on Valentine’s Day are the same things that compel people to marry someone before they’re ready, or to ignore their partner’s behavioral red flags, or jump into a relationship super-fast after a breakup or divorce and ultimately suffer for that choice.

I remember when it wasn’t this way.

I remember how excruciating it is when your body is still learning how to operate with entire pieces of your insides missing. Crying, even though you never cry. Unable to breathe, even though you’re always breathing.

I remember.

Because Valentine’s Day is hard for a lot of people. We like to associate that feeling with single people and maybe feel sorry for them as if they’re all alone because no one will ever like them or find them worthy.

To be sure, many divorced people will be afraid of that. I was afraid of that. Maybe still am.

But I don’t think single people are the loneliest people. I think people in broken marriages, or people who are the givers in one-way relationships that just haven’t broken yet, are the loneliest people.

Being married or carrying the “In a Relationship” label DOES NOT prevent loneliness.

Connectivity to others prevents loneliness, regardless of whether you share an address or exchange bodily fluids with them.

Self-love (self-compassion and respect, not narcissism) and self-acceptance prevents loneliness.

And something else does, too: Getting used to being alone.

The Reason I’m Single

Save it, dicks. Of course not everyone finds me attractive. Of course not everyone likes me.

But that’s not why I’m single.

I’m intentionally single today in a way I wasn’t four years ago, and I want you to understand why because it matters.

I am divorced primarily because I spent years taking my wife for granted, leaning on her to do most of the heavy lifting of Life and household management, including paying our bills, coordinating our social calendars, planning holidays, developing a caretaking system for our newborn, and executing the day-to-day management of everything required of working adults with a child and a mortgage in the 21st century.

I think MOST divorce today stems from this same toxic condition.

I can’t speak for other guys. Just me.

I grew up in a small Ohio town. When we were all together for large holiday gatherings, or when I visited friends’ houses, or just my experience with my mom at home, I almost exclusively watched wives and mothers doing things like cooking, clearing the table afterward, broom-sweeping the floor, washing dishes, changing baby diapers, folding laundry, vacuuming carpet, cleaning bathrooms, etc.

I’ve heard so many men call this stuff “women’s work” and seen so many men retreat to the living-room recliner after dinner to let their wives, mothers, sisters, daughters take care of the cleanup, that I felt OFFENDED by my wife wanting me to do more housework.

I’ve had four years to think about this, and finally see it for what it is.

First, I was a baby and small child, and everyone did everything for me.

Then, I was in grade school and high school, and all I had to do was show up, get decent grades, and have fun with my friends the rest of the time. My parents did all of the heavy lifting.

Then, I was in college where even the super-rare chores were things I was doing with my best friends, usually while drinking beer or after sharing a joint.

Then, I was with my girlfriend. The same one who, 16 years later, would be my Life-emergency contact despite being divorced for four years.

In other words, every second of my existence from my earliest memory until the moment my wife walked out the door and never came back consisted of me having almost no life responsibilities other than staying alive, and a constant support system INSIDE the walls of wherever I called home.

Later, I either had my best friend or my wife under the same roof. An adult I could count on to back me up, and trust with everything I have including my favorite little human on Earth. Someone I could talk to. A living, breathing human being exchanging stories, ideas, hugs, kisses, comfort.

Then the only vinyl record I’d ever heard, the same one spinning for 33 years straight, screeched to a halt, and all that shit drove away in a white SUV with a woman I used to know behind the wheel, and the other half of my entire world sitting in the backseat.

I freaked.

Some of you remember.

I remember.

So when people are having a hard time on Valentine’s Day, I’m not inclined to tell them to suck it up because breaking on the inside feels so much worse than breaking on the outside and I learned the hard way that’s not something you can know until you, just, know.

I Vowed I’d Never Do That Again

Not to my son.

Not to my partner.

Not to myself.

Because it does feel scary sometimes. I can’t hitch my wagon to someone who I’m not EXTREMELY confident I could potentially have a life-long marriage with.

No settling. NONE.

But someone else isn’t what scares me.

I scare me. Must be this tall to ride.

I won’t be with someone just because I want something from them, including the comfort of not being alone.

So, here’s the task I’ve given myself: Get comfortable alone. Get comfortable taking care of yourself. Get self-sufficient in all of the areas you spent your life relying on others. 

Because my biggest relationship failing was that. Relying on others to take care of things for me.

And that’s not okay. Life is hard enough. We can’t expect others to carry all of our things too.

And that’s where I am today. Right now.

That’s where many single people are. They’re not unlovable or unsexable rejects. They’re not all a bunch of emotional charity cases.

They’re just walking the path for the first time without a trail guide and learning to find their own way.

Maybe all of that changes tomorrow. Or maybe in three years. Or maybe never.

In the meantime, I must arrive at a place where I have complete and total faith in myself, and where I demonstrate a strong capacity for self-care and self-sustainability.

THEN. Then I can be a good partner to someone else in a way I wasn’t in my marriage. Maybe other people are that way too.

I don’t think we can NEED someone else.

That’s a bad power dynamic, and frankly, unattractive—so we’ll have a hard time finding viable partners like that anyway.

But we can be whole all on our own.

We MUST be whole on our own.

Because I think when we’re whole all on our own, we’ll be ready to deliver on the things we talk about around here.

How to Get Comfortable With Change

We have a tendency to resist all kinds of changes because change is uncomfortable.

We struggle with loss because life changes dramatically, and it’s uncomfortable.

We feel uncomfortable behind the wheel of a strange car, or sleeping in a strange bed, or moving to a new town, or starting a new job.

But, inevitably, if we stay alive long enough, the new things become familiar.

The new things become the new normal.

And we get comfortable.

Step 1 – Breathe.

Step 2 – Do your best at whatever you’re doing.

Step 3 – Repeat.

We all want painkillers or life hacks or magic fast-forward buttons to zip us past the shit storms, and we so rarely stop to feel grateful for the opportunity to gradually adjust to things in a sustainable way. No one would ever succeed at, or be comfortable with ANYTHING if we always hit the “Easy” button every time things got hard.

And things do get hard.

So, hug.



But also.




Because tomorrow comes. Just by breathing.

You start the journey crying in your kitchen alone wondering when the journey will end and someone will save you.

But after enough steps, you realize the journey NEVER ends.

And that it’s you who has to save yourself.

And that you can’t save others. You can only encourage them to save themselves.

Not with heroics or anything dramatic, but by doing the simplest thing we do absent-mindedly more than 20,000 times per day and 8 million times per year.

Just breathe. Everything’s going to be okay.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

123 thoughts on “How to Be Comfortable Alone on Valentine’s Day”

  1. “…I don’t think single people are the loneliest people. I think people in broken marriages, or people who are the givers in one-way relationships that just haven’t broken yet, are the loneliest people…” Duuuuude I (along with everyone else in my sphere of life) worried GREATLY that I would be so lonely. It seemed like the natural consequence. But then, it turned out that I never was lonely…ever. My friends, my faith, my hope were too powerful to be overcome by loneliness. It’s weird how sometimes we want to lean into it…the pity of it all. but 4 years later, I’m so glad I never surrendered to loneliness…or more accurately, I wasn’t given the opportunity to surrender to it. I am having my best Vday ever and I hope you are too.


  2. “I won’t be with someone just because I want something from them, including the comfort of not being alone.”

    This resonates with me because as my husband and i struggle (I want out), he says that he is afraid he’ll be alone the rest of his life. And i tell you, he will until he sees that no one is responsible for his happiness but him. Not me. Not the kids. And no one person should shoulder the responsibility of making him happy as he expected me to do even as he treated me like the enemy. So kudo to you. I directed him to your blog in hopes that he would see himself but I think he decided it didn’t represent him well (it does). While I know I am imperfect and welcome the opportunity for someone to tell me what I need to do better to be better wife, mother, person,, I also need to find comfort in being alone and not falling into the traps you speak about.

    The difference is Matt, I find peace in solitude. My husband finds terror.

    1. And my husband said, “Jesus, that guy’s blog is harsh. It’s too intense. He’s a jerk.” And stopped reading. Hit too close to home, I guess. Now what?

      1. He’s under no obligation to like it!

        Some people like subtitled movies, listening to opera, canned spinach, face tattoos, pistachio ice cream and kinky full-body latex sex suits.

        Others have different tastes.

        And I would never involve myself in a specific marriage discussion with people I don’t know and have no context for why anyone thinks or feels what they do.

        But I would say this about marriage, in general.

        A person needn’t agree with his/her spouse’s opinions regarding the quality of some piece of writing, or the writer.

        A person needn’t agree with some idiot writer’s opinions on some internet blog about relationships or anything else.

        But a person MUST value his/her spouse’s opinion about the quality of their marriage, or particular experiences within said marriage.

        When you tell your partner what they think and feel is wrong, or doesn’t matter, they stop wanting to be your partner.

        I’m pretty sure that’s true 100% of the time in every life situation where success is based on two people working together.

        But, who knows?

        I’m just some divorced asshole.

        1. I on the other hand love the “harshness” but I’m a realist…and in a world full of darkness, I totally appreciate your demonstration of vulnerability.

  3. Superb, Matt.

    As a widow I have felt incredibly lonely. I felt lonely sometimes in my marriage, too – and he was a great guy! Since my husband’s death I’ve kept working, learned to manage money and bill paying (he was a CPA), take care of the yard, get the trash out, shovel the walks during winter, do home repairs, clean the garage, fix what breaks, and meal-plan for one. I also maintain relationships with family and friends. I’ve become self-sufficient.

    ‘So, here’s the task I’ve given myself: Get comfortable alone. Get comfortable taking care of yourself. Get self-sufficient in all of the areas you spent your life relying on others.’ ~ Matt

    In freak-out moments when I doubt myself I have learned talk (to me) reassuringly (the way my husband used to do).

    Today, Valentine’s Day, I enjoyed a nice breakfast solo and walked the dog while looking at gorgeous mountain vistas. I feel happy to share this lovely day with me.

    1. Anne Marie ( also my wife’s name) my condolences for your loss….moving forward undaunted as you have is an inspiration and warms the heart. I will take a lesson from you in the line ” in freak out moments when I doubt myself I have learned to talk ( to me) reassuringly…….. my wife is the reassurance voice in our lives insuring we don’t borrow trouble but realize things aren’t always as bad as they might be. I am usually the one who does the mountain moving and the talking down off ledges we work well together we love well together but are equipped to function alone….hopefully we won’t have to…. bless you

  4. Matt…what you have written is truly the embodiment of “getting it”. The level of rationality and maturity in this piece is a pride inducing tear jerker for me. Anyone struggling with the range of emotional physical and social strife associated with loneliness,break up,and the malaise included in same needs to read this as comfort and courage will follow. Matt, I’ve mentioned ,ad nauseam, about the fight for your relationship,but I have also mentioned the fight participants….your lover , outside influences, social degradae, family, religious influences and the number one foe…yourself. Learning to defeat and repatriate your feelings, self esteem , convoluted beliefs, socially infused representations of accepted norms and a host lollygag is by far the only path to self repair….. Bless you my young friend you are not alone by any means….you have you

    1. I’ve certainly had a significant amount of choking up following reading some of his posts.

  5. ‘People who are the givers in one-way relationships that just haven’t broken yet’……..this really resonates with me and I am often wondering when I will reach my breaking point. I imagine it’s different for everyone. No one wants to give up too easy yet no one should have to put up with bullshit for years on end either. I am having a hard time finding that line, it seems to shift on me me. I take the few scraps I get and think I should be grateful for them. At least I used to.

    Also ‘You can’t save others, you can only encourage them to save themselves’. This is a hard lesson because you don’t want to give up, but have no other choice sometimes when others don’t want to own their shit. This is perfect because you are supportive yet not investing too much, which can be emotionally draining.

    Really enjoyed this blog, it gives me courage. Keep up the excellent work.

  6. I like this. It’s good to be accountable to yourself. I have a running joke with my partner about my virtues and vices, some of which made it into a post on my site. It goes something like, “I’m not getting what I want? OK, fine. I will be PATIENT, but please note that it is not one of my virtues!” Transparency is a good thing.

  7. Apart from being a great father, I don’t think there is much more important work than “Get comfortable alone. Get comfortable taking care of yourself. Get self-sufficient in all of the areas you spent your life relying on others. ”

    Thank you for sharing this. I feel like I know similar work, and the necessity of it.

    It may sound weird, but I am really proud of you. – Like I am sure many here are.
    Proud of your determination.

    Amen (so be it).

    Cheering you on !

  8. I think being with someone just cuz you don’t want to be alone is a horrible thing to do. Not only is it unfair to the other person but you are torturing yourself too. I feel Valentine’s Day is just another day. If your partner only shows love on Feb 14, I would think the relationship is not that loving at all.

  9. Thanks for the post and thanks for sharing. I think learning to live on your own is important because if you dont and you make your partner take care of you it is not very fair.

  10. Amen, Matt! There’s a big difference between being lonely and deliberately seeking some solitude. Solitude, being comfortable being alone with yourself is a delightful thing.

  11. The thing about men doing more of what’s traditionally considered “women’s work” is very dependent on the situation. I think a lot of women out there expect their husbands to do half or at least 1/3 of the household chores and 1/2 of the child rearing. As a concrete absolute. And if their husbands don’t do this, or grumble about it, then they’re bad. The problem is, it shouldn’t be a concrete absolute.

    If the husband is the bread-winner, and the wife stays at home, why would the husband do half of the household tasks and child rearing? This would mean he’s doing way more than the wife, and likely not even being appreciated very much for it. If a husband is working 40hrs a week and a wife is not working outside of the home, it’s not fair to expect him to do half of the household and child rearing. However, it’s even more unfair if he’s working 60+ hours a week and his wife is not working outside of the home.

    I see many cases like this. I’m a stay-at-home wife. I live in an upscale neighborhood with giant houses. I see many stay-at-home wives criticizing their husbands for not doing their “share,” and giving no credit to the fact that their husbands work 60 hours a week. Because many in society have come to view it as a concrete absolute that husbands must do half of household work and child-rearing, or else they’re chauvinistic pigs. They act like their husbands are lazy. And many also feel that their husbands don’t do enough to “earn” sex, but that’s another branch of the matter.

    Here’s one example. It’s a real example, but I’ll call them April and John. They have a huge house with eight bedrooms and two kitchens. Their master bathroom is the size of a large bedroom, and has a built in fireplace and a whirlpool tub. They have a two-bedroom guest house, which is larger than the homes of most people. They have a private tennis court, a pool, and an indoor basketball court. They have two children in elementary school and a dog. Amazing set up. The husband makes good money, and he works very hard for it. He’s started his own companies, he’s worked for years at a time doing 60-80hrs a week, and when not starting a company, he works between 55-60 hours a week. He wife, April, has an active social life, goes on bi-annual trips with her girlfriends, and is on three tennis teams. She does not work outside the home. They do a fairly good job splitting the child rearing, though she takes the lead, but they do not split the household tasks, which is a huge source of strife.

    The first two years of marriage, April did all the housework without much complaint. But these past ten years, she has essentially refused to do all of it. She has declared she will only do half. She complains feverntly with her friends about their lazy husbands who think they’re above housework. They refuse them sex and they frequently start arguments with their husbands over housework. The house gets messier and messier. The result of April’s half-strike is this: She no longer allows the kids to have friends over, for fear they’ll tell their parents what a mess the house is. The kitchen table has nearly a week’s worth of cereal bowls, each pushed back a bit more before every breakfast. A social worker would probably write up a report.

    Even though April does not work outside the home, and her husband works full time plus, she feels hurt and angry that he doesn’t “contribute.” She feels he thinks he’s better than her. She doesn’t realize it isn’t about that. Why should she be this queen who can socialize as much as she wants, play on three tennis teams, and go shopping without anxiety, while her husband pays her way, works like a dog, and then comes home and does housework with her? These women think they’re feminists, but they’re not–they’re radical feminists.

    Did April’s veto of half the housework result in her husband realizing his “superior” ways and beginning to do his “fair share”? No.

    After years of almost no sex, living in a pig sty on par with a trailer-park drug-house, being berated or given the cold shoulder almost daily, and not being allowed to have his own mother visit, let alone any friends, John DID have a realization. He realized he deserved better. A lot better. He divorced April. He met someone who appreciates his hard work and doesn’t expect him to work in the house because he’s with a Woman, and women shouldn’t be “degraded” into doing all of the housework. His new wife also doesn’t work outside the home, just like April, but unlike April, his new wife feels darn lucky she doesn’t have to work, lives in a mansion, and is free to pursue her hobbies and interests as she sees fit. She keeps the house clean and cooks, happily.

    As for April, she remarried also. Her new husband works 40 hours a week (which I’m not minimizing). And he does half the housework, just like she always wanted. But guess who else works 40 hours a week? April. No more lavish spending, no more vacations several times a year, no more private tennis court of guest house. April now lives in a good-sized single home, which is kept fairly clean. Money isn’t everything, and indeed, April
    Is less sour than she used to be, but my point is that she had no reason to be sour in the first place.

    April and John used to live in my neighborhood. Now Anna and John live in my neighborhood.

    Women, if you don’t work outside the home and your husband works full time or full time plus, do the housework. It’s not an insult to you as a woman. It doesn’t mean your husband thinks you’re less than he is. It means you need to BOTH work to keep things going. And if you chose not to have a career, do not think an additude and a messy house will teach him a lesson. Do YOUR “fair share.”

    Men, if you are like John, then I suggest marital counseling. Find a female therapist, but make sure she’s not a radical feminist. Feminist, fine, but not radical. And if that doesn’t work, find your Anna.

    I’m not saying this was your situation, Matt, but it is a common scenario.

    1. Out of pure curiosity, why did April and John – with their eight bedroom house with a pool – not just….. hire a cleaner?

      I’m baffled.

      1. #ThingsIWasWonderingButDidNotType

        Ella’s story is a really good example of how important context is to any particular set of facts.

        Jeff punched Deanna. (That’s horrible.)

        Jeff punched Deanna, but she deserved it. (Still kind-of horrible.)

        Jeff punched Deanna because Jeff is a policeman and Deanna just shot two of his fellow officers in a drug raid, and it was the safest way to subdue her without killing her. (Changes everything.)

        I write in a lot of generalities here because there’s kind of no other way to do it, unless everything I ever write is going to remain exclusively first-person, which seems not-awesome to me.

        I think most divorce stems from some fundamental disrespect, selfishness, thoughtlessness, poor communication, and a general lack of empathy. That’s the story of the common divorce today.

        And I believe it usually happens because of this Accidental Sexism thing men do where they spent their lives having their grandmothers and mothers do everything for them, and watching their grandfathers and fathers go off to work and NOT do that type of household/life-management work, that they simply believe (through no real fault of their own) that “that’s just the way it is.”

        Inevitably, shit hits the fan later, and people cling to their beliefs, and people fight against admitting that the way they were brought up and the lessons their parents taught them might have been “wrong” or “untrue.”

        And I think all of that’s okay.

        People accidentally causing harm (even though it still hurts and causes significant damage) is still preferable to people intentionally causing harm.

        I don’t think that can be overstated.

        No one in the history or future of humanity should want to be married to, and have children with, the kind of person who INTENTIONALLY causes harm. Who intentionally does the wrong thing. Who intentionally hurts people.

        That’s a problem. You don’t even want to live in the same town as people like that, let alone share an address or a lifetime of raising children.

        I think it’s important to forgive people who accidentally hurt their spouses.

        Where the innocent become guilty, is when it is brought to their attention repeatedly, over and over and over and over and over again, that [insert accidentally hurtful behavior here] is painful and damaging the relationship, but the accidentally hurtful person says “Welllll. I don’t agree. I don’t agree that what I’m doing hurts, so it’s your problem to deal with. I’m not changing.”

        Then, I think it should be obvious to every fair-minded and sane human why the person being hurt might want to choose a life where that doesn’t happen to them.

        My crimes, taken one at a time, were not great. Dishes. House cleaning on Saturday morning. Arguments over movies. Preferring a personal hobby over an afternoon family gathering. Not wanting to go snow skiing. Etc.

        They’re all so minor, no one thinks they’re a big deal.

        Painted the right (or wrong) way, one might say my ex-wife was a petty, oversensitive ingrate.

        But that’s not what she was.

        She was someone who spent years tolerating my stubborn indifference to her personal feelings when they didn’t align with mine, because I labeled my opinions Correct, and her opinions, Incorrect.

        I didn’t think housework was as important as she did.

        I didn’t think it warranted an argument. So we’d argue ABOUT whether an argument was even worth having.

        It was so layered, so nuanced, so pervasive, that we’d go round and round and round, having the exact same fight for years.

        And she took it.

        I honestly believed I was right. Because IN ISOLATION, I could make a compelling argument for whatever we were discussing. Always.

        But as a whole?

        I just never saw it. No one ever asked me: “Do you love your wife more than you love NOT doing housework on Saturday morning?”

        No one ever asked: “If the argument you’re having now makes your wife feel so hurt, sad and alone that she’s going to sacrifice half of her young child’s life JUST to escape you… if it hurts her THAT much, is this really an argument you can win? Is it really an argument you WANT to win?”

        I didn’t want to clean the damn bathroom. Who knows why.

        But if I could have known that cleaning the bathrooms without putting up a fight every time… or if I could have known that PROACTIVELY doing various things was THE WAY to demonstrate the love I felt but didn’t communicate… then I would have cleaned the bathrooms all the time without having to be asked.

        I would have had a very specific purpose for doing so, and it would have felt valuable and worth it to me.


        Telling the right story to the right person the right way. Everyone learns, thinks, and feels things differently, so there’s never a one-size-fits all thing we can do.

        The one-size-fits-all advice is simply to figure out HOW to communicate the things that matter most accurately to the people who matter most.

        We fail in this, daily. Maybe we always will.

        But recognizing that THAT is the problem, and not all of the things we usually focus on is what will save people.

        No one knows.

        They just keep fighting to win the day, not realizing the Win-Loss record will have no bearing on the outcome.

        Win or lose, the fights themselves destroy what was once beautiful and good.

        Everyone loses. No one gets what they want.

        All because they heard about Jeff punching Deanna, and afterward, never tried to understand why.

        1. Yes. The little things individually are just single bricks but when you stack them up they become an almost insurmountable wall of resentment and sadness.

          Damn this topic is 🙁

          1. Ha!

            Sad, indeed. That’s why I keep writing about it. Because it matters to me very much and I think it matters very much to a bunch of other people who don’t yet realize it.

            They won’t know until their spouse leaves or has an affair, and then they lose half or most of their chidren’s childhood.

            THEN, it will matter to them. But then, it’s too late.

            Once in a while, someone who isn’t there yet figures it out early enough to prevent it from ever happening.

            Then some child somewhere gets to have both of their parents at home, growing up safe and happy and healthy with a front-row seat to what love and marriage is supposed to look like.

            It’s super-sad.

            But that’s what compels people to change.

    2. I can attest, I know a couple like April and John. Hubs makes awesome money, they live in a mansion, wife doesn’t work, kids in private school, luxury cars, the best of everything, AND they have domestic help in the form of regular maid service.

      The wife is still not happy. When she’s at kids’ tennis lessons, all she does is complain to the other wives. About how her hubs wants sex from her (oh, the horror!), about how she’s pised at him for this or that, about how she’ll go out and spend his money cause she’s mad ar him (isn’t it her money too?), about how she’s having papers drawn up to divorce him (and they have 3 small kids!)

      I don’t know how she thinks her life will improve if she divorces him, or how she could do that to her kids. We will see if she follows through or not. I feel bad for her hubs, but it just goes to show what I always say – be very careful whom you marry, and keep in mind that MOST young women today are not wife material. For women reading this who ARE good wives, you may be inclined to be offended by that…but if you think about it, it’s actually a compliment. It’s saying that as a good wife, far from being a dime a dozen, you are in the minority and are a good catch! Because it seems being a good wife has become a lost art…so you are bucking the trend, and kudos to you for that.

      Btw, the wife I’m talking about is def. not doing herself any favors in the eyes of the other moms. My wife was friendly with her and our kids used to play together. But as she’s seen this behavior from her, my wife has concluded the woman is nuts and has really reduced contact with her. A lot of the other wives (not being stupid) have done the same, as they gossip about her. No one agrees with her. So she is slowly being ostracized by all the other moms, and if she does file for divorce the other moms will cut her off completely. That’s how it works, I’ve seen it before. We’ll see if it helps (by serving as a wake up call) or just makes her more nutty and angry.

      1. If anyone is curious what it looks like to place a judgment value on another person’s life experience, now you know.

        This is EXACTLY what I’m talking about, because I used to say things just like this, except I was probably more polite.

        It’s easy to assume the worst about a snobby, bitchy, entitled, spoiled, trophy wife.

        But maybe that’s not what this woman is.

        Maybe people just call her that even though she’s never been that.

        Maybe she doesn’t value mansions and money and vacations and private schools as much as she values how it feels to wake up in the morning and feel loved and cherished by her husband.

        Maybe when you don’t feel loved and cherished by your workaholic husband who may or may not be sleeping with his secretary, you can’t imagine a future where everything is okay for you and your kids.

        And maybe ALL that matters to her is knowing that her family is TOGETHER. Regardless of the money and the window dressing.

        Maybe all she cares about is what’s real inside of her and her deep love for her children, and her deep desire to share a life with her husband to help them grow into the best people they can be.

        Jeff, you don’t get to decide what people care about. You don’t get to decide whether someone has a right to care or not care about something.

        And you’re going to spend your life struggling to connect with people who don’t already love you if you think YOU get to dictate the value of THEIR individual life experiences.

        I really wish you’d stop commenting here, man, because you always, always, always, always, always seem to miss the fucking point.

        You are you. Be you.

        Outside of you are 7 billion+ other people. They are all Yous, also. Just as you are an individual being with thoughts and experiences, so too are they.

        But all of their thoughts and experiences are different than yours since they didn’t all get the exact same genetic materials and upbringing as you.

        It’s NORMAL and RIGHT that these people are different than you. It’s mathematically correct that not all people are identical.

        I’d consider it a huge win for humanity if you’d acknowledge this truth.

        Being like you doesn’t lead to happy marriage, Jeff. Being like you leads to happy marriage IF you’re married to someone specifically like your wife (and that’s me generously giving you credit for not being someone who lies in internet comments on blogs you skim and disagree with).

        Being like you leads to very unhappy marriages when wives are NOT like your wife.

        You are good for her. She is good for you.

        But OTHER people have different things going on, and require different conditions to be met in order for things to function correctly.

        And Jeff.

        When we LOVE people. When we promise to love and honor and serve them for our entire lives?

        We put forth energy and effort into creating a life where people don’t feel empty, unloved, unwanted, invalidated and ultimately in pain every day because their perception is their spouse doesn’t love or respect them.

        One wonders what you have against such an idea.

        1. “Maybe she doesn’t value mansions and money and vacations and private schools as much as she values how it feels to wake up in the morning and feel loved and cherished by her husband.”

          I doubt this, as she is pushing him to upgrade their already extravagant mansion to something even more expensive, with direct waterfront on the intracoastal. But you’re right that I don’t have a window into her soul, no argument there.

          Honestly, I don’t really even know the woman. But the scenario regarding her I described came from my wife and some of the other moms, who have spent a lot of time with her over the past few years. They certainly feel they know her well enough at this point to make some judgments – as I said, if she follows through on her threat to file for divorce, she will immediately find herself friendless. All the other moms (including my wife) have pretty much decided to cut her off completely in that case and shun her.

          It is what it is. I would feel really bad for her 3 kids, and I would imagine the divorce would get nasty. Hope it doesn’t come to that, and she finds some contentment in her life, but that’s not up to me.

          P.S. She does indeed suspect her hubby is at least flirting with other women, if not outright cheating. But here’s the thing – SHE WON’T GIVE HIM SEX! And that’s like number one on the list of wifely duties! “Have sex with husband” – I mean, it’s right there, lol. So what does she expect? Turning sex into a weapon and cutting the husband off is extremely passive-aggressive and causes massive damage in a marriage. No wife should do this if she hopes to salvage her marriage. I don’t think they understand how hurtful it is from the husband’s point of view, to be denied sex from your wife…esp when you work so hard to support her.

          P.P.S. I agree that my having a happy marriage is due to the person I married being a good match for me, just as I am a good match for her. Who could argue this? It seems self-evident – marry the person who’s a good match for you if you intend to have a successful marriage. Good advice, indeed. That’s why I have said repeatedly I would never marry a feminist. See, that would be a bad match.

          1. Re-read my post. I said while I hardly know her, I’m going by what I’m told from my wife (and by extension, the other moms in her circle). These other women know her pretty well after several years, and certainly feel able to form some judgments at this point.

            As I said, it’s now at the point that this woman is already being squeezed out by the rest of the social circle (basically, her fellow moms)…and will be dropped entirely and shunned if she goes ahead with her threat to file divorce and blow up her family. No one will have anything to do with her at that point.

            Again, I feel bad for the kids.

          2. You’re judging this woman based, not on first hand knowledge, but on what others have told you.

            I don’t care how dependable the source, I sure hope people aren’t making judgements about me based on what is, essentially, gossip.

            You objected strenuously when your intentions (you know what I’m referring to) were characterized in a particular light. But you’re ok with doing that to somebody else.

            You could at least be consistent, Jeff. The respect that you demand for yourself, you also owe to others.

          3. It’s really abusive. Jeff probably doesn’t see it, but he suffers from an affliction quite common to those red pills and that is the inability to empathize with women in any manner. We are the enemy. Because we are the enemy it is okay to be disrespectful towards us, to gossip, to assume the worst, and to bully us into compliance, so “none of the other moms will like you, no other man will ever want you.” It’s flat out emotional abuse based on a pathological need for power and control over women.

          4. Lol, now you’re a shrink IB? Well, as you may imagine, I put about as much stock in any diagnosis you make of my mental outlook as you would if I did so you for you. Namely, zero.

            But that’s not the best part. You and Anita are judging me for judging this other woman. (Never mind that I’m only relating an interesting story that was connected to the April and John story above)

            So you’re being judgmental about me being (supposedly) judgmental! Lol, too funny! Rarely have I seen hypocrisy rise to such heights, you can’t make this up!

          5. I don’t have to be a shrink to discern that you are bad mouthing a woman you don’t even know, for the sole purpose of being disrespectful towards women in general. Gossip about that women has absolutely nothing to do with Matt’s post and serves no other purpose beyond providing you the opportunity to cluck like and old hen and tsk tsk about the horrors of women.

            If I spoke about men the way you speak about women, I’d be abusive and dripping with contempt and disrespect. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

          6. “I don’t have to be a shrink to discern that you are bad mouthing a woman you don’t even know,”

            IB, why are you being so judgmental? Shame on you!

          7. Even you, Jeff, I think, might recognize the irony of IB and Anita’s observations in light of the fact they’ve been the closest thing you’ve had to defenders around here.

            I won’t ask you to admit it publicly, because it requires a Herculean effort to stand in front of the mirror and ask yourself the really hard questions that make you squirm.

            So, no need to respond to this.

            But I’d encourage you — and I mean this from a God’s-honest good place — to ask yourself the hard, uncomfortable questions, and answer them to yourself in the rawest, most-honest way possible:

            “Is it possible I believe things that aren’t true, and is it possible that because of those beliefs, I am accidentally bringing harm to others and myself?”


            “What can I start or stop doing to change that?”

            Because I don’t think you’re evil, sir.

            But denying that you cause damage will never make it untrue. I’m an expert on that one.

            If people say you hurt them, please believe them.

            There’s a fair chance you’ll enjoy being someone who tries to build people up rather than tear them down.

            A legacy steeped in goodwill rather than divisiveness.

          8. Matt,

            I mean really, how far is “special snowflakism” to be carried? They are “hurt” (and no doubt, “emotionally abused”) because I posted a story about events in my own backyard that are similar to the prior post about “April and John”? All I did was describe the situation and point out the resulting actions of the other moms, even making sure to say that I don’t personally know the woman…but this is where we are at with her right now, in our social circle.

            The irony is, they are just making the point that women should not be trusted to run a country or a business, because they are not capable of controlling their emotions. Any little criticism or (as in this case) even something they just don’t like to hear is “triggering” and “emotional abuse”. The whole thing has gotten so far to the extreme that people are just sick of it. And part of this backlash was electing Trump.

            I don’t insult or attack anyone, and I try to be polite. But I cannot agree with their opinions. Any more than they will agree with me.

          9. Jeff.

            It’s not reasonable to say “they are just making the point that women should not be trusted to run a country or a business, because they are not capable of controlling their emotions”

            … AND say…

            “I don’t insult or attack anyone, and I try to be polite”…

            … in the same comment.

            That IS insulting. That IS an attack on women. That IS impolite.

            Seriously, man.

            I would never ask you to agree with someone else’s opinion.

            I would ask you to care enough about other people to NOT say and do things that HURT them, even if those words and actions are not something that hurt you.

            It’s funny, because it’s essentially all I write about. It would be awesome if you’d engage in the conversation.

            Not asking you to agree with anyone.

            I’m asking you to exercise the humility necessary to arrive at a place where you can admit things you do hurt other people, and then decide whether you’re going to be the kind of person who intentionally hurts other people, or not.

            You NEVER need to agree with someone else’s opinion.

            But the difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy relationship, is whether you can disagree with someone without trying to invalidate or hurt them.

            You don’t need to agree with the opinion that you often use demeaning and sexist language that hurts others in your comments.

            But you DO need (at least here) to respect others enough to accept that their experiences differ radically from yours.

            Someone said this to me the other day:

            If I touch your arm, it doesn’t hurt.

            If I touch your arm with third-degree burns on it, it will be as painful as anything you’ve ever experienced.

            You need to have the intellectual integrity and empathy skills necessary to not dismiss people who say touching their arm hurts them.

            And if you try hard enough, I believe you can get there.

            The gift you’ll be giving your children on that day will profoundly affect the rest of their lives.

            And I’m rooting for them, and for you.

          10. I’m not a special snowflake, I’m actually an avalanche. It’s best not to pee on my leg and try to tell me it’s raining.

            If I were to say men cannot be trusted to run a country or a business because they are all wildebeests with a propensity to violence and sexual immorality, that would be wrong, disrespectful,emotionally abusive. It is designed to make men feel small, defective, incapable. That is emotional abuse. If you want me to care about how men are portrayed in the media, on TV sitcoms, in our family court system,then you’re going to have to act in a manner that engenders some empathy towards your basic humanity. The amount of contempt and disrespect that comes from the red pills does not lead me to care about things like justice, it leads me to conclude, “well tough luck bud, what goes around comes around, and anyone acting as pathetically disrespectful and contemptuous of women as you do, deserve whatever is thrown at you.”

          11. I don’t recall saying I was hurt or emotionally abused. I am neither. My concern is not for myself, but rather for the poor woman whose reputation is being publicly besmirched (by a guy who admits he doesn’t even really know her, whose information comes to him second and even third hand) in a forum where she is not able to defend herself against the accusations.

            See Jeff, you’re assuming that I’m objecting to what you said because you said it about a woman, but that’s because you don’t actually know me.

            If you did, you would know that I DON’T CARE about gender, I care about PEOPLE, especially those who would attack them when they have no opportunity to defend themselves.

            I mean, do I really have to tell you that’s not cool?

            Shame on you, Jeff. Both for gossiping and for defending your gossiping.

          12. “If I were to say men cannot be trusted to run a country or a business because they are all wildebeests with a propensity to violence and sexual immorality, that would be wrong, disrespectful,emotionally abusive. It is designed to make men feel small, defective, incapable. That is emotional abuse.”

            Doesn’t hurt my feelings none. But then, I’m not a special snowflake who walks around always looking for a reason to be offended. And the “emotional abuse” thing? That just silly. It’s like what we called “name calling” as kids is now “verbal assault”, lol.

            I’m telling you, this is a big part of why the country elected Trump. People are sick of this politically correct gobbledygook. His election was partly a backlash against it.

            And yes, I fear that if women were totally in charge, we’d lose the First Amendment in a heartbeat. Most women believe that their right not to be “emotionally abused” (which could mean anything, of course) trumps your right to free speech and free expression. You see it all the time, even on this board. If Matt were a female, I’d bet you dollars to donuts he’d already have banned anyone with a different opinion.

            IB and Anita, stop worrying about who’ll be “hurt” by a different opinion. Instead, just state your own opinion. We’re all adults here. We can handle a free flow of ideas and opinions. Well, at least some of us can.

          13. Sigh. Emotional abuse is not silly, it’s very real. This idea that our words don’t matter, that bullying is not a real thing is false. Men have incredibly high suicide rates for just that reason, they are taught that feelings and emotional abuse are not real and that kind of mindset can have devastating consequences.

            53% of women voted for Donald Trump. Trump would not be in office today if it weren’t for women voting for him. So your stereotypes are not as cut and dry as you believe.

            There’s a fine line between forced politically correct speech and simply being a donkey’s behind because you think it’s your “right.”

    3. Hi Ella,

      I totally get why someone would be upset that their partner doesn’t share equittably in the housework. Really disrespectful in my opinion, if the person who does more isn’t ok with it. But if one person stays home (and is reasonably healthy), and this is agreed upon, while the other person works full time and then some? Not fair that housework should be split 50-50! :O

      I can understand though that if someone is chasing after kids all the day or whatever, they are plenty busy and there is still a lot of housework left when their partner comes home, and the stay at home person wants their partner to share *that* work. That seems only fair to me. But it doesn’t seem to me that you were talking about that.

      But yeah, if April is happier working 40 hours and splitting housework with a spouse who also works 40 hours, that sounds like a valid choice aswell. Not everyone is suited to stay at home. Too bad she and John couldn’t work it out. 🙁

  12. Matt – I can’t stand it No words eyes leaking like a mother. Being whole in ourselves; it’s the answer. Ur killin me Smalls

          1. This is one of those typing moments where I’m not sure what’s actually being asked or said, because I can’t read the tone.

            If your question is in fun, the response is:

            Highly unlikely anytime soon!

            If your question is serious, the response is:

            While I won’t discuss the details of my dating life here, I hope you believe if things were going the route of marriage, I’d be incorporating real-world, real-time anecdotes as part of all that we discuss here, and that I wouldn’t keep something like that a secret.

            Assuming MBTTTR doesn’t go away some day, I suspect everyone will know when I have a relationship status change.

          2. I’m highly likely to be influenced by anyone I’d exchange vows with, but as we stand today Anita, I’m not sure I’ll invite my parents.

            With due respect to everyone who loves weddings and has big ones (mine was pretty big), my perception of what matters and what does not in a marriage, has soured me on almost all wedding-related activites moving forward.

            It all feels so hollow.

            Like a super-expensive masquerade ball designed to give a stage production of how great your life and love is to all of your friends and extended family.

            Inauthenticity destroys things.

            I don’t want to ever do anything relationship-based that involves me wearing a mask for others as I had to the final year or two of my marriage.

            I don’t mean to take a light-hearted question and turn it all depressing.

            But it seemed like a good time to say something I’ve never said before.

            If I ever again say “I do,” it’s going to be for her, and only for her.

            Witnesses will be whoever is required to make it official (and obviously whoever she wants, which could certainly include you Anita!).

            But I’m out of the showbiz business.

            I didn’t know what I was doing when I got married.

            I thought it was important to pretend near the end.

            And now I believe it’s important to never pretend.

            Whoever will play a key role in strengthening a marriage should be at people’s wedding ceremonies.

            Whoever won’t?

            I’d rather spend that money on regular proactive sessions with a marriage counselor while everything is still good and beautiful, and concentrate on keeping it that way.

            Maybe that sounds dumb.

          3. “It all feels so hollow.”

            Recently someone said we should all get married in hospital gowns with an IV pole, so everyone knows they are marrying a wounded and broken person. It is kind of tragic that we get all dressed up, fake if you will, and this is the best you will ever look, this is the last time your spouse will ever see the illusion of who and what you are. It struck me as darkly humorous, because there is truth there, kind of like living your entire life still trying to celebrate your high school football days.

            One thing that really helped our marriage to be successful was a complete lack of expectation. We were both horribly hung over, neither very pleased about the idea, and having few illusions about one another. Our wedding pictures look like mug shots. From that crappy and negative perspective,we really had nowhere to go but up, and that’s really what happened. Marriage has just gotten better and better. There was a diamond hiding in that hospital gown. 🙂

          4. God no, not dumb at all.

            Its the Marriage itself that matters. We get it all backwards. If we would put even half as much effort in to our marriages as we do to attending to the details of the wedding, I think we’d all be much happier for it. It’s just ONE day out of the rest of your lives.

            My husband and I had an open wedding. The reception was limited to our families and closest friends, but the wedding ceremony was open to EVERYONE who cared to come. Many friends of my parents and siblings (and practically the entire congregation of my church) attended the wedding ceremony to lend their support to the marriage. It meant a lot.

            The party is fun, but it’s the marriage that matters.

  13. Matt, I’m curious – and you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to – but I’m wondering why your ex-wife is still your emergency contact? Does she know, and is she ok with it?

    If your wife is not aware that she is still your emergency contact, I would really encourage you to discuss that with her and make sure she’s ok with it. Otherwise you’ve obligated her yet again to take responsibility for your life. Which is kinda why she divorced you.

    Just something to think about…

    1. She’s aware. 🙂

      She’s my son’s mother. If I lived anywhere near where I have roots, surely a parent, or someone else would be the contact.

      The situation being what it is, she’s the right right choice. Promise.

      Your point is not without merit. But I think that would only apply if there was someone within a four-hour driving radius who would make more sense.

      I assure you there is not.

      For the record, I would seem infinitely less pathetic if I lived near my family and life-long friends.

  14. “I’ve heard so many men call this stuff “women’s work” and seen so many men retreat to the living-room recliner after dinner to let their wives, mothers, sisters, daughters take care of the cleanup.”

    I’m from Dublin, which by and large is a pretty liberal place to live. It’s the capital city, we’re all on pretty equal footing I think. When I go to visit extended family and encounter this sort of behaviour it both shocks me, and absolutely drives me up the wall.

    Why in God’s name would it make sense for the guys to sit around and watch TV while women prepare the food, set the table, etc. and then go sit around and watch TV again as soon as they’re finished eating?? I once met a guy in his mid-twenties who had never learned to even make pasta. He lived on a diet of pizzas and take-aways, and when he first told me this he didn’t seem embarrassed at all. He actually thought it was funny. He said he’d always had his mother and then girlfriends to cook for him.

    I like to think I’m usually not unkind, but I definitely shamed him that day. I felt he needed to see a normal human reaction to a man in his mid-twenties whose idea of cooking was putting a bag of popcorn in the microwave. I mean, that’s appalling. I then taught him how to use his hob and make some basic foods, so I wasn’t all mean.

    Guys should either help with a bit of everything, or take on the cleaning if the women do the cooking, or vice versa. Especially when it comes to holidays and things like that where there’s more than enough work to go around. I hope this practice dies a quick death because I think it’s damaging to relationships and life in general.

    1. Yes, yes, yes. I see this scenario a lot. No one wants to carry the brunt of the work. No men, no women, no one. Furthermore that’s a huge turn off.

    2. Oh, it’s damaging alright.

      I never thought of this as being unique to the United States. I can only assume you see this in Great Britain. In Italy. In Australia. In Japan. In Mexico.

      But I don’t honestly know.

      I like hearing that where you’re from, this is NOT the norm. That gives me hope.

      NOT because I think any type of work should be gender-specific.

      But as a matter of principle, it’s devastating to see children lose their foundational home because two people can’t agree on who should do a chore.

      Or more specifically — who can’t agree on what people are allowed to feel hurt by.

    3. “Guys should either help with a bit of everything, or take on the cleaning if the women do the cooking, or vice versa. Especially when it comes to holidays and things like that where there’s more than enough work to go around.”

      There may a part that you’re not seeing though. For example, growing up I would see what you describe at holiday parties – the women do all the set-up, the cooking, the serving, and so on…and then do the dishes and clean-up while the men play cards or watch football. This was normal. So basically exactly what you condemn. But here’s the thing:

      1. All the men were supporting their families financially by working full time while the women didn’t work. So just as the women weren’t expected to help pay the bills, neither were the men expected to help with housework. They each have their jobs. Plus, the women were happy to serve their husbands a nice holiday party and dinner as a reward and thank-you for working so hard to support their families.

      And believe me, the men did work hard. My dad was a union plumber, working big construction, and back when you lugged the heavy cast iron pipes (before they went to lighter PVC pipes in the 80’s and 90’s). It was hard, physical work that aged you before your time, but the men like my dad did it without complaint so that their wives could stay home and raise the kids and run the household (and even put two cars in the garage, two kids in private school, and pay for my college education). My dad would sleep till noon on weekends, because he NEEDED to…to recover from working so hard all week. And after working so hard, the men were still supposed to do the dishes and vacuuming? Seriously?

      2. The women didn’t WANT the men to help. I saw it with my own eyes as a wee lad. After the holiday dinner, while the men crowded around the dining table to play cards, drink beer, and smoke cigars, the women gathered in the kitchen to clean and do dishes…AND GOSSIP. They enjoyed this, you could tell – they enjoyed their gossiping just as the men enjoyed playing cards. Just the women, free to chat away while doing the dishes with no men hearing – the last thing they wanted was for one of their hubbies to hang out in there with them! (Me coming and going didn’t bother them, since I was only a child)

      So the moral is, be careful before you condemn. There may be more to the story than you realize.

      Now some might say “Yeah but if both are working full-time, then they should share housework and chores, since they are sharing the breadwinning.” But on that I cannot comment, as I have no experience with it. I have always supported my wife and children, as my dad did before me. I can’t even imagine being in the kind of marriage where both spouses work full-time, it’s totally foreign to me.

      (My wife did work part-time, a couple days a week, after we got married, until she was pregnant with our oldest. At that point – almost 15 years ago – she quit, and has never worked outside the home since. Nor will she ever). So yes, she waits on me, obeys me, serves me, and treats me as the king of the castle…but in like turn, I work hard to support our family and provide nicely for her, which she very much appreciates. It actually works really well. Feels like being grown-ups, if that makes sense to you.

      1. This is good, Jeff.

        Now apply all of what you just said to every other conversation you ever have here, please and EVERYTHING will be totally fine.

        “Be careful before you condemn. There may be more to the story than you realize.”

        “I can’t even imagine being in the kind of marriage where both spouses work full-time, it’s totally foreign to me.”

        Context matters, Jeff. Context ALWAYS matters.

        And it is my observation that you often attempt to project your experiences and opinions based on those experiences to OTHER people with radically DIFFERENT experiences.

        The two things don’t align. And it tends to come off fairly offensive to people who don’t know EXACTLY the context of what you’re saying, and why.

        We never have the entire story, Jeff.

        That’s why selflessness. Humility. Empathy. Forgiveness. Sacrifice. Fortitude.


        That’s why all of these things are required of people in their relationships if they’re to remain healthy and go the distance.

        All people have value. All people matter. But all people are ALSO different with different needs.

        The people with different needs are not Less Than.

        They just require a different approach.

        1. Matt,

          Nothing to disagree with here.

          I may not always sugar-coat my opinions, but I do try to be polite and show decent manners. People won’t always agree, but sometimes you can learn something even from someone you disagree with.


      2. On point 1 I will only say that unless the women are sitting around drinking mojitos and getting their nails done while nannies and cleaners do the brunt of the work, we’ll have to agree to disagree that the women “didn’t work.” I think that if a woman stays at home, then chores like hoovering, ironing, cleaning the bathroom, laundry and general tidying as well as looking after any children are her job, but that is also work. I don’t think it should be dismissed as a life that isn’t challenging and tiring in its own right, or not worth as much because it’s not a paid position.

        I also don’t think dinner parties or holiday feasts fall under that category. They are a LOT of work. Of course if you have multiple family members pitching in it is much easier, but if you’re trying to pull it together alone? And you’ve spent all of Saturday in the kitchen and you’re stressed out of your mind because you only have two arms and your husband is watching TV because he worked Monday to Friday? Not acceptable.

        I’ve seen parts of point 1 and point 2 at work in Spain, which is a self-described “machista” culture (translates as ‘male chauvinist’ which sounds far more negative than the Spanish sense of the word). As someone whose mother was a stay-at-home wife but who has not grown up in that culture at all, it seemed ridiculous to me that my female cousin who worked long hours as a physio for disabled children had to then come home and help with the chores at home while her brother sat reading a book. He was still a student in university and didn’t even have a part-time job. I mean… Seriously?

        My grandfather had the same sort of life that your father seems to have had, and I think that was another generation, and they were certainly very happy together. It worked perfectly for them until my grandmother died in her mid-seventies, leaving behind a heartbroken widower who couldn’t even make toast for himself. He then started the gruelling task of slowly building up his independence. He had no choice; he lived another sixteen years.

        Every so often he’d surprise me with a new culinary delight that I would pretend to love, because I loved him so much and he was trying so hard. Half-thawed, microwaved fish fingers were a particularly memorable meal.

        I’m straying from the point here, but I suppose what I’m trying to say is that of course it can work. It works for some, and that’s okay. I’m not condemning. If a woman prefers it that way then who am I to judge? What I am saying is that it sets some men up for an incredibly lonely, difficult time of it at the end of their lives if they have never lifted a single finger for themselves and their wives leave them or die before them. What I am saying is that it’s not always about tit-for-tat. Sometimes it’s simple respect; ‘I see you working hard and you look like you could use a hand.’ Sometimes it’s just kindness; ‘I know the kids have been difficult today so I don’t mind putting on the dishwasher.’ In the grand scheme of things, does it kill you to pick up a teatowel and dry the dishes after she’s washed them? Sometimes it’s as simple as teamwork. Would you sit and idly scroll through your phone while watching a coworker struggle with something that could be accomplished much more easily and twice as fast with another pair of hands? If the answer is no, then why does that same generosity of your time and effort not extend to your wife?

        There is a huge gaping chasm between doing an exact equal share of the household chores and doing absolutely none. I just think there’s a happy middle ground that both can agree on (obviously this will depend on the couple. One couple might decide that the man takes out the bins and cleans the bathrooms because those are the jobs that the woman really hates while the husband doesn’t mind as much. Another couple might decide that the man puts on the laundry once a week and that’s it) that doesn’t make the man feel like a martyr and doesn’t make the woman feel like a workhorse.

        Essentially the problem arises when one person isn’t happy. Whether that person is the husband or the wife. If one person isn’t happy, then resentment sets it, and unspoken, unresolved resentment festers and turns the whole relationship septic until it’s beyond saving.

        Of course, if that’s what works in your marriage and you’re both happy then none of the above applies and there’s no issue, other than the fact that I think every person should master the basics of home life in case any unexpected and unpleasant surprises lie around the corner. But it sounds like you guys are happy together and that’s great. Everybody should be so lucky as to find their puzzle piece.

        1. Thanks for your thoughts, it’s always interesting to hear how things are done in another country and culture. We can get pretty insular here in the States. That’s what happens when you live in a country the size of a continent that produces almost all the movies, music, and tv shows you ever see.

          Nothing much to disagree with. Yeah, the wife and I know we’ve got it good and won’t do anything to screw this up. I wish everyone could experience how good marriage can be when it really works.

          And if God forbid, something happen to her, I know how to take care of myself. I lived alone for years before marriage, including in a 4 bdrm/3 ba house…and I managed to look after myself. I may have forgotten how to do laundry, but that’s not the end of the world.

          And I know housework and taking care of the kids can get exhausting. My wife is up at six every morn to get the kids ready, and drives to two different schools in the morning and then again in the afternoon…on different schedules. Sometimes she’s ready to pass out. When I see it’s starting to get to her, one of the things Ive done is get her a hotel room for a long weekend…usually one with a jacuzzi tub. And she can go and spend a few days there by herself, just resting and recuperating. And this is in addition to the four weeks vacation we take every year as a family. Anyway, this seems to help. I always remind her not to push herself too hard and to know her limits – I’m counting on her, and if she pushes herself to where she gets sick or has a breakdown, that’s no help to me at all.

          Patience, understanding, empathy, and a sense of humor go a long way. So does letting you spouse know she’s still sexy and attractive…and loved.

  15. Hey Matt – It’s nice to virtually meet you. I love your raw honesty. As such, I think you’ll also appreciate mine (I’m hoping). Sounds to me from your article that you struggle more with change (control issues) than actually missing your ex. And you’re right, plenty of marriages do fall apart because of this. I too divorced for this reason. I wanted to be his wife; not his mother. He too had me listed as his emergency contact for years after we divorced until I told him flat out to find someone else. We’re still good friends. But in all honesty, that experience has completely turned me off to the idea of ever marrying again. I’ve divorced thirteen years ago and I STILL have no desire to remarry out of fear that I’ll essentially be adopted yet another 30-something year old grown man. #nofun Best of luck in your endeavor.
    p.s. – If your goal is to ultimately find someone somewhere down the road then don’t stay single for too long. You’ll end up liking it too much. I know I did.

    1. “But in all honesty, that experience has completely turned me off to the idea of ever marrying again. I’ve divorced thirteen years ago and I STILL have no desire to remarry out of fear that I’ll essentially be adopted yet another 30-something year old grown man. #nofun Best of luck in your endeavor.
      p.s. – If your goal is to ultimately find someone somewhere down the road then don’t stay single for too long. You’ll end up liking it too much. I know I did.”

      Wow. Were you married a long time (if you don’t mind me asking)? You’re not the first person I hear about who gets out of the kind of relationship you describe and then just stay single because they like it so much, especially compared to what they had.

      1. No, I don’t mind at all. We were together for five years in total. Married for three years. I’m not one to drag things out. When something isn’t noticeably working I nip it in the bud as quickly as possible. While we were dating he was incredibly helpful and always up for doing everything together. As soon as we got married and had our daughter, he could hardly be removed from the couch. I stayed home with the baby for only one year. But I thought he would go back to “normal” once I went back to work. But….nope. He stayed in his new comfortable setting. I was raising our daughter, working full-time, studying part-time, taking care of of the house, dog, bills, etc…while he….just worked. I was already doing it on my own so there was no point in sticking around. I did give him fair warning the day my daughter was born. I explicitly told him, “Hey. I want this marriage to be for a lifetime. But I’ve only been a stay-at-home mom for a month and you’ve already completely changed.” It was almost as he if were doing me a favor of supporting me and his daughter. When I went back to work, I actually asked him if he’d be willing to be a stay-at-home-dad and go back to school. When he said he wanted to get a Bachelor’s in Photography, I told him I wanted a divorce. And now…here I am. Thirteen years later, two short years from turning forty and STILL not ready to “settle down” (I hate that expression). I don’t wish to settle. I wish to upgrade.

        1. “When I went back to work, I actually asked him if he’d be willing to be a stay-at-home-dad and go back to school. When he said he wanted to get a Bachelor’s in Photography, I told him I wanted a divorce. ”

          I must be mis-reading this, cause I don’t understand. You say you asked him if he was willing to go back to school. And when he said yes, you told him you wanted a divorce. What am I missing here?

          1. Jeff, what on earth was he going to do with a Bachelor’s in Photography??? C’mon man! Let’s be real here. LOL That was his way yet again of saying “Sure, I can do that as long as I can pick something that resembles a hobby and not a real career.” He’s forty-two now. Working construction part-time and doing a whole lot of absolutely nothing with his life.

          2. “Jeff, what on earth was he going to do with a Bachelor’s in Photography?”

            Uh, become a photographer I’m guessing? I have to say, it doesn’t seem unreasonable. Esp given that you encouraged him to consider going back to school.

            Now, if wanted to get a degree in art history or women’s studies, then yeah. I think you have a point.

          3. I will chime in as a working photographer. A bachelors degree is absolutely unnecessary unless you plan to teach.

          4. I won’t disagree. I see suckers constantly falling for the culinary school scam – dropping $50k (often taking on debt) for what? To be a short order cook at Chili’s or Friday’s?

            Globetrot, what course of study did you have in mind for him when you suggested school?

          5. He was had a knack for being able to fix any broken computer that his buddies would bring home for him to look at. I thought it only made sense for him to get into something IT related. But his response was that he was not a 9 to 5 kind of guy.

        2. “As soon as we got married and had our daughter, he could hardly be removed from the couch. I stayed home with the baby for only one year. But I thought he would go back to “normal” once I went back to work. But….nope. He stayed in his new comfortable setting. I was raising our daughter, working full-time, studying part-time, taking care of of the house, dog, bills, etc…while he….just worked.”

          I really don’t understand how someone can do what your ex did and still think they’re a decent partner, but apparently it happens. Glad you’re happy with your life now. 🙂

          1. Thanks but to be clear, I hate to use the old adage, but it really does take two to tango. I think if I had had a more tolerant and patient personality, I probably would have given him the rest of my life. But I’m too impatient and value my life and time too much. Honestly, he’s a super cool guy. Tons of fun when he’s not fused to the couch. He just wasn’t for me. And in all fairness, I think he knows it because he never remarried and has had plenty of women swarming around him willing to take on the task. I think he knows he’s not marriage material. lol

    2. I know a couple divorcing after 15 years because she got tired of being the mom. Well into his 40’s, he still won’t grow up – no sense of responsibility, happy to play video games and get high, takes money for bills and spends it on drugs and partying, etc. So I can sympathize with the wife in this case getting tired of being married to a boy she has to mother, rather than a man.

      But there is another side too. Namely, that back when they were dating and getting married, she loved this side of him. Oh, it was fun and exciting! A guy who takes his responsibilities seriously on the other hand? How boring! So she deliberately chose to marry a guy who is a party animal. Now years later, she’s angry that he’s hasn’t changed. Is that fair? Didn’t she marry him knowing what he was? Would the female readers here feel that it was fair for their husbands to divorce them because they are the same women they were at the time of their marriage? That their hubbies were happy to marry then? Who are the husbands to demand that the wives change who they are…if they didn’t like who their wives are, they didn’t have to marry them!

      It’s like when everyone felt so sorry for Sandra Bullock when her hubby of one year cheated on her. I was like, “Hold the phone. She married Jesse James. He’s a guy who’s majorly connected into the Harley and motorcycle gang culture, he hangs out constantly with other bikers, he’s covered in tattoos, and he’s been married twice before, one of whom was – wait for it – LITERALLY a porn star. And we’re supposed to be shocked he cheated on her and feel sorry for her? Why? She got what she wanted. She wanted the bad boy, so she got him. And this is what bad boys do. This is who she married.” And btw, she was 40 when she married him…certainly old enough to know better.

      So all this just shows the importance of choosing carefully whom you marry. If you marry a bad boy/Peter Pan/man child, then you can’t be surprised it will not end well. Men make the same mistake, marrying some skank because she’s hot and sexy – thence came the saying “You can’t make a ho a housewife.”

      Anyway, these were just general thoughts, spurred by that couple I know. Not saying it applies to the commenter I’m responding to…I don’t know anything about her.

      Parting shot:

      “The woman marries the man thinking he’ll change…but he doesn’t. The man marries the woman thinking she’ll never change…but she does”

      1. No offense taken whatsoever. I’m clear on who I am. To answer your question, when he and I were dating, he was working full-time, going to school part-time, had just opened his own business, etc…When we got married and moved in together, he was incredibly helpful. We both cleaned the house together. Did the grocery shopping together. He knew how to pay his bills. As SOON as I said I wanted to stay home for the first year of our daughter’s life (mind you, we could very comfortably afford it), he relinquished his entire life to me. Something that I NEVER asked for. As SOON as we got home with our newborn I asked him to join me for a a daily 5k walk. He picked the sofa over me. Lol He used to surf, skateboard, black belt in ju jitzu, etc…and then suddenly, there was a whole lot of nothing.

  16. Well, yesterday was my first “single” valentines in almost 20 years, but it was actually pretty great.

    went to work, planned on cooking frozen pizza for dinner for my boys and I, but then I got inspired and picked up some sushi on the way home.

    Read with my boys after dinner, played with them a bit, put them to bed, then settled in with some homework I needed to get done.

    All in all, a pretty good night.

    Then I compare it to my last few valentines – when I was married with a wife who was completely checked out on me. When I wanted to do “something” with her, but didn’t really know what to do because it was clear she was going through the motions and didn’t want to be with me.

    THAT was lonely.

    Yesterday? I pretty good day with myself and my kids? Not lonely at all.

    1. I hope it’s obvious to you that I don’t like that what you’ve been through.

      But I I do very much appreciate you making my point for me.

      Good to hear from you, Drew. I’m glad to learn you had a good day.

        1. It’s great you had an okay Valentine’s Day!
          My biggest question for you is what’s with sushi on Valentine’s Day? I dreamt of sushi all day so naturally I got Taco Bell for dinner.

          1. You are absolutely correct. Id be lying if I said I hadn’t eaten it atleast once every day over the past seven days.

            I. Love. It.

          2. omg, that sounds amazing.

            It has to be a periodic thing for me – mainly due to budget. As yes, I would happily eat it daily!

            Tuna nigiri sushi, with just the right amount of wasabi. Soooo good.

    2. I had sushi yesterday too! 🙂 Drew, if you don’t mind me saying so (and feel free to correct me of I’m wrong or tell me to stop psychoanalyzing), it seems to me that you already did a lot of the grieving over your relationship before it ended?

      1. What type of sushi did you have? I feel like I need to branch out but not to any sort of extreme.

        1. I’m sorry to disappoint, but I’m not much of an expert. It was a mixed package of what I think is pretty ordinary stuff. Some maki rolls, some well, sushi bites with salmon (I think?) and some kind of shrimp over rice. Not quite sure what exactly were in the maki rolls. I just ate them. 8)

      2. Yeah, I spent the better part of the past 4 years grieving – especially that first year. Hoping things would turn around perhaps, but slowly coming to terms with my new reality.

        Don’t get me wrong, the actual break still has hard days. Especially when we are in contact due to the kids, and periodically I see the person I remember. But I know that person never stays for long anymore, and we are no longer healthy together.

        Truly, life has been “lighter” since the split. Away from the tension, away from feeling like I’m constantly on eggshells.

        I DO wish things had turned out differently, but I’ve made my peace with things.

        1. Yeah, that all makes sense to me. That a lot of the grieving has already happened, but there’s also quite a bit left, it’s still hard, but that life still is “lighter”.

  17. Matt,

    Question for you. In your post, you seem to contrast being alone with being with a serious partner…basically on the level of spouses. With no in-between.

    So I’m curious, are you open to just doing some casual dating? In my opinion, you can learn a lot about yourself that way too. In between serious gf’s and before I met my spouse, I did a lot of casual dating – just a few dates per girl, then move on to the next one, that kind of thing. And I always felt that was a good experience. You learn a lot about yourself, what appeals to you, how you are with a certain type, etc. And you learn more about the opposite sex. Plus, when you meet Miss Right, you really feel the contrast of what you feel for her versus all the chicks you been dating.

    Just a thought.

    1. In the context of how busy I stay with work and parenting, I have a reasonably active dating life. (That’s a relative term. I’m sure it’s appalling to people who are super-active daters.)

      It’s something I mostly don’t write about because most people don’t want strangers on the internet judging them, and I don’t spend time with people I don’t like, respect and care about.

      This thing I do here always comes up in the first or second dinner conversation. I’m not going to put someone else’s life on display, even indirectly.

      One of two things has tended to happen:

      1. They get it, are in the same boat, and are comfortble with the dating situation as is, or

      2. They decide they want more from me, understand that I can’t or won’t give it because we’ve had all of the pertinent talks where everything I write about here is discussed, and sometimes we part ways at that point because our goals are no longer in alignment.

      It’s respectful, honest and kind, if also uncomfortable and/or painful the handful of times that has happened.

  18. The working to become whole part is very true because only a person who is whole in an of themselves can truly give to another person. Giving is actually the most solid base of a relationship… in my humble opinion anyway. At first, many of us enter relationships wondering what we can get from the other. After a while though, we realize that a relationship in which both people are constantly thinking of what they can give the other without sacrificing too much of themselves is the most sustainable. Thanks for sharing Matt. Happy Valentines day to you too.

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it said that way, but that’s EXACTLY it, good sir.

      “a relationship in which both people are constantly thinking of what they can give the other without sacrificing too much of themselves”

      I’ve used a steam train analogy in the past (which is also something someone else taught me).

      Where both people have to shovel coal to keep the fire burning hot enough for the engine to keep pulling the train.

      Two people shovelling coal at a high level is optimum.

      But you can still get it done with two people shovelling at a steady pace.

      If one person gets sick, or injured or is otherwise incapacitated by life, then the other person has to work harder to keep the train moving.

      One can shovel while the other rests.

      Then they can switch.

      But what is ultimately unsustainable is the idea that one person can do all the shovelling alone.

      Maybe for months. Maybe for years.

      But sooner or later, even if they wish they could continue, their body will give out.

      Not because they weren’t willing to sacrifice. Not because they’re selfish. But just because they did ALL of the shovelling for so long that they sacrificed too much of themselves to keep things moving.

      Mine is long-winded and tedious.

      Yours is succint and awesome.

      I really appreciate you sharing.

      1. Hey Matt. I am by no means perfect, but relish the opportunity to be a work in progress each day. I really enjoy your writing, and am looking forward to more of these in the future.

    2. “I will come to you, my friend, when I no longer need you. Then you will find a palace, not an almshouse” – Thoreau

  19. This. Guy. Matt. Just no words . Matt you just rip it every time. You’re killin’ me Smalls.

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  21. ladyinthemountains

    I was never so lonely than I was the last few years of my 23 year marriage. In the past four years, I have grown so much for myself that I rarely get lonely anymore. It has been a struggle but well worth the loneliness as I have learned to take care of myself. For so many years, I took care of my kids and husband. Now I take care of myself first, my kids second.

  22. Excellent advice, Matt.

    I was married to a pastor the first time around…so divorce wasn’t really on the menu. Until one day, I heard a speaker on a Christian station say, “Being alone isn’t the loneliest you can be. Being in the WRONG marriage is.” I felt like I had permission to leave!

    My mom is widowed (fairly recently.) She told me that she’s alone, but certainly not lonely. I admire her for that.

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