The Things We Don’t Teach Men (And How It Ruins Everything)

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father holding baby son

The world fails men.

We fail everyone, but we fail men in particular. And that failure leads to a countless number of men—some incredibly smart, talented, strong, brave, and decent men—achieving positions of influence where they inevitably perpetuate the cycle of collectively failing men, and by proxy, all of the women and children in their sphere of influence.



Big brothers.

Best friends.

Business leaders.

Celebrity influencers.




Commanding officers.

Group leaders.


Teammates and tribesmen.

What men in these positions think, believe, do, feel and say affects countless people—the ripple effects of which can last for centuries.

Many of these guys are amazingly virtuous. Many are trying their best every day to live according to the values instilled in them. They’re simply following the examples of their male role models from their youth.

These aren’t evil men Muahahaha-ing and fist-bumping a bunch of other sadistic D-holes in the secret back room of their private male-only clubs. I mean, some are, but those dipshits aren’t hard to spot, nor are their crimes dangerously undetectable.

What is so dangerous about the world failing men is that we’ve created billions of very decent human beings who unknowingly walk around every day trying their God’s-honest best, but are accidentally napalming their homes and closest relationships.

It’s a problem.

Your Life Will Be Measured by Your Family and Friends—Not All That Other Stuff

Life is essentially a contest to see who can have the most people say truthful, authentically nice things about us at our funerals.

Men are taught that status is everything. It’s reinforced by women, because women are often attracted to high-status men. It’s reinforced by children, because children’s lives can often benefit in observable ways (financially and socially) from high-status fathers.

Men pursue wealth. Men pursue fame. Men pursue physical attractiveness. Men pursue business ventures, athletic competitions and hobbies where they succeed. Men pursue sexual conquests. Men pursue the accumulation of material possessions. Men pursue all of this shit that doesn’t mean a damn thing to ANYONE the second the doctor tells them they have terminal cancer, or discover their wife having an affair, or try to digest their child’s suicide note.

What men really want is to have PURPOSE.

And all of those aforementioned “successes” have a legitimate purpose in our personal lives. I’m not trying to trivialize success in personal ventures. It matters to all of us.

I’m only saying that most of us coast through much of life unaware of this obvious truth:

The #1 influence on how good our lives are is the quality of our human relationships.

No amount of money, possessions, career success, trophies on the shelf, notches on the bed post, nor fame can provide the peace and contentment we all crave down deep inside.

Fear. Sadness. Pain. Anxiety. Anger. Stress. Grief. Shame.

These are the mortal enemies of all of us, but surely for men.

When we put the people we care about, live near, and work with, first—selfless love, humble leadership, principle above profit—the only Life currency that actually matters starts to accumulate.

And then when we do that enough, more people will cry and share funny stories at our funerals instead of not give a crap we croaked because they kind of thought we were assholes anyway.

Most of What We Believe About Marriage and Relationships Is Wrong

It’s not our fault.

All we have to go in is our parents, who either divorced, or fumbled through marriage hiding most of the hard stuff from us because no one taught them any of this either.

Our marriages or long-term relationships (or lack thereof) ultimately prove to be the biggest influencers on our day-to-day lives. If our relationships are shitty, our lives are shitty.

Many men believe if they make money or experience personal success somehow, and showcase attractive characteristics while being generally nice and not cheating on their partners, that THAT is being a good husband and/or father.

Men think that being a good man automatically defaults them to “good husband” or “good father,” if they are married or have children. I thought the same thing.

But it’s a dirty lie we accidentally tell ourselves.

Good men can be colossally shitty husbands. You can have all the character and professional skills in the world and still demonstrate gross incompetence as a husband and father.

You can be a genius and still not know how to design and build skyscrapers or working space shuttles.

You can be a brilliant musician and still not know how to play several instruments.

You can be a GREAT guy and absolutely destroy your wife, causing her to cry for months and years before she eventually has an affair and/or files for divorce.

Men Have Done, and Will Do, Great Things

For all of the bad things men have done and will do in the future, guys are still pretty awesome.

For every horrible story you can tell me with a man at its center, I can share dozens more about guys who did great things—brave warriors, courageous leaders, wise teachers, loving husbands and fathers, genius inventors, inspiring artists, disciplined athletes, and brilliant thinkers who helped shape and change the world in positive ways with better ideas.

I still get the occasional note accusing me of man-bashing and betraying my own gender. The last thing I want to be is someone adding to the negativity.

What I’d like to be is a teacher because I think there are men out there who I’m capable of helping, even though I’ve always felt like an asshole trying. As if I somehow know more about life or relationships or anything than any other guys out there.

What’s worse than some know-it-all jerkoff acting like he knows more than you, or is in any way better than you?

Burning sensations while peeing? Traffic jams when you’re in a hurry? That whiny cartoon kid, Caillou?

Pretty sure that’s the entire list.

I’m not on any one group’s side. I’m on EVERYONE’S side. Men are going to have a lot to do with humanity’s future turnaround when the tenets of good relationships become common knowledge instead of the annoyingly huge secret they seem to be today.

Sometimes I Can Help, So I Must

I’m not better nor smarter than you. I’m probably worse and dumber.

But I might still be able to help.

Maybe not you. Maybe not your partner. Maybe not your friends nor family. But someone, probably.

I hit a couple of quasi-significant personal milestones recently.

I turned 38 about a week and a half ago.

We never feel as old as we are, right? That number doesn’t seem as significant to me as it did when my parents were my age. But 38-year-olds can know things. I’ve been eligible for the U.S. presidency for three years now.

Also, April 1 marked four years since my marriage ended. Four years that I have spent dissecting my failed relationship from every angle I could think of, and always asking: What could I have done differently that would have led to a happier result for my wife, son, friends and extended family?

If my divorce was someone else’s fault, then that means it’s a lottery. Dumb luck. It means I am a helpless slave and victim to the passing whims and fancies of whoever I date or marry, and have absolutely no control over what happens to me or my young son.

But if I’m responsible—and I am responsible—then there’s hope. I don’t have to be afraid of it happening again.

My marriage ending was the worst thing that ever happened to me. There is no close second-place thing. Yesterday morning while I was dropping my son off at school, he told me he doesn’t like Mondays because no matter which of his parents he just spent a fun weekend with, he knows he’s probably not going to see them again until Wednesday evening and that it makes him sad.

I’ve been thinking about that ever since. What that child has to carry because of me.

He’s in third grade, so he hasn’t asked me any hard questions yet. But he probably will someday.

That’s when he’ll realize that his father failed his mother, and by proxy, him. That I made his life shittier than necessary because I too often made things about me when they needed to be about them—him and his mom.

When we put others first, our lives are satisfying and filled with meaning.

When we put ourselves first, we damage others—often without realizing it—and that damage can change the trajectory of our lives and of those closest to us. And then we inadvertantly damage ourselves.

It can ruin us. Poison us. Break us.

Broken people raising broken children.

Broken fathers raising broken sons.

Broken men raising broken boys and girls who don’t always learn how to be whole again. Girls who may never learn what it’s supposed to look and feel like when a husband loves a wife. Boys who may never learn what it looks like to love and serve our families, to lead humbly, and how the rewards of unbreakable marriage and family is much greater than the short-term highs of their individual pursuits.

Boys and girls become the new men and women.

And then they don’t teach their sons the things they needed to know. So the boys grow up repeating the sins of their fathers.

Not because they’re bad. Just because they didn’t know better. Because their parents didn’t know. And their grandparents didn’t know. And neither did anyone else.

Marriage is difficult, and everyone “knows” it just like we know that fire can burn us.

Still we often learn the hard way while our relationships crumble around us just like we can only feel the intense pain of severe burning in the middle of the fire.

And too often, for a long time afterward.

NOTE: Some may cover familiar territory but the next several posts will cover topics I believe are The Things We Don’t Teach Men. The things we aren’t teaching people. Things that are critical to couples and families not breaking from within on account of a bunch of good people who just didn’t know better. Yes, it’s a huge pile of broad generalizations. But as the emails from guys “like me” continue to come in, I am always struck by how similar all the stories are. Time to talk more about it.

94 thoughts on “The Things We Don’t Teach Men (And How It Ruins Everything)”

  1. While I am not a divorced parent, I appreciate and respect your honesty. It is true, we must put others first. If we are only obsessed with ourselves, our own needs and material possessions, we do ALL a great disservice. You are correct the world fails men frequently. I have my own thoughts that as well. Thank you for sharing yours.

  2. Amen, Matt.

    Like it or not, if we want to fix a broken world we must start with the men. Not because there is anything particularly wrong with men, but because all else flows outward from there.

    You see this problem in a lot of churches, people want a youth ministry, they want a woman’s ministry, but men’s ministry is one of the least addressed issues,something hardly anyone pours funds into. Men are just kind of left to fend for themselves, or worse it is just assumed that the whole world revolves around men anyway, so there’s really no reason to address their needs at all.

    1. I have to be honest I’m puzzled about uour first paragraph. I feel the need to ask a question, but I’m not quite sure what it is. Can you explain to me ” because all else flows outward from there” ?

      1. All else flows outward, I was thinking of the health and well being of our families, the safety and security of our kids, the protection of women, the economy, low crime rates, just this whole slew of things that men bring to the table. And in their absence, these things all begin to fall apart. We can invest in kids,intervene, fund programs, but nothing replaces a dad in their lives. It’s far more efficient and cost effective to invest in good dads then it is to fix troubled kids, for example.

    2. I agree in part. Men do have roles that significantly influence the world around them. Yes, men do need help, encouragement, and training to be better men. As you allude, this seems to be lacking in today’s Western society.

      However, I disagree with your emphasis on men being the starting point for fixing a broken world. That is, “we must start with the men” (emphasis mine). That easily leads to a “victim mentality”, where others excuse their poor behavior based on the failure of men, both individually and corporately, rather than taking the better path regardless. Or behavior takes a bargaining perspective, where “I’ll do right if you do right.”.

      In short, all people should behave better but it is not necessary that men do so first.

      1. In terms of the economy, of the well being of families, of how you go about repairing a community, men are absolutely the key. That may offend the pride, that may imply there is some kind of blame being doled out, but like it or not, it is the truth. It is actually the precise opposite of a victim mentality, it is about taking responsibility and standing up.

        To sit down and complain that it “not necessary that men do so first” really amounts to emotional immaturity and feelings of powerlessness. That is bargaining, it is excuse making, it is perpetual victimhood.

        1. Biblically, God places the responsibility of leading a family on the man. He is placed “in charge” of the family, and the wife is to be a helper. A partner, a co-pilot. So, if the wife is a co-pilot, and the husband is the pilot, then, absolutely, men are they key to the direction the family goes. However, co-plilots can foul stuff up too. There is no blame to be placed on one vs the other gender, we each have our roles. However, too many cooks in the kitchen causes just as many problems as no head chef leading the team.

          Beleiveing in God, or not, the bible has some really great advice on how to live life in this world with meaning. Matt, I see much truth, even biblically supported truth in your writing and thought processes. You are on to something and I applaud your “ministry”.

          It might be wise to preface your work as “ministering” to men, only, though. If things get muddled with female, male points of view too much, it gets really easy to fall into unhelpful arguments. You are looking at things from a man’s point of view, which is natural, so, your advice and help will most likely be more helpful to men. It doesn’t mean women can’t learn from it, but the intended audience is men. For example, April from Peaceful blog writes specifically for women only. Although there are men who read and respond, She does not pretend to try to minister to men about how they should be, it makes women feel justified that something is wrong with the men, instead of doing the real work of looking inside themselves and seeing what they truly have sone control over…their own thoughts, feelings, words, actons etc. Her husband may give a viewpoint here and there, but, there again, he is a man. It kerps the deliverables squarely on those able to deliver.

          I personally read your blog because I am trying to understand men. I would be turned off of it if it degraded to a he should/she should think and do kind of cat fight.

          It’s great stuff, I just wish I could get my husband to read it before it’s too late. I’m really losing steam to try to kerp this marriage together. In the mean time, I am trying every day to live a life I can be proud of when I lay down at night to sleep. Keep up the great work!

          1. while I’m not a big fan of old testament doctrine, I see you point…however, unfortunately, most men in matt’s position (former position, I guess) aren’t unhappily married, don’t believe that their wives are really, either, and therefore aren’t looking for or interested in blogs like his. as for the women who follow him, I think they (at least I) find hope in seeing that it is possible for men to come around and “get it”. From my short time following this blog, most of the men who find it and relate do so after its too late–she’s already left. his posts also give me a little more empathy towards my husband who tends to disregard how I feel about the marriage–empathy in realizing “oh, its not the he doesnt love me, he just doesn’t BELIEVE me when I tell him these things, but maybe instead of leaving, i’ll show him this blog and he’ll ‘get it’ before its too late”. Have you tried sharing any of the posts with your husband? I did and it helped. Temporarily. But I’m sticking with it and hoping he will read more. Best of luck to you. I think matt’s work can help a lot of marriages…

          2. I am going to suppose that “I’m not a big fan of old testament doctrine” is because you believe that the statement “Biblically, God places the responsibility of leading a family on the man.” is only true in the Old Testament. There are many, myself included, who believe that this is true in the New Testament as well. If you disagree, perhaps that is responsible for some of the difficulties you experience in your marriage.

        2. Either you misunderstand, or you think you are turning the tables. I did not encourage a victim mentality for men, but suggested that others (meaning, primarily, wives) might try to excuse their own failure to behave well on the failure of men to lead as they should.

          While the ideal, and best, resolution of society’s ills requires men to do the right thing, my comment was intended to point out that failure of men to do so does not excuse others from doing the right thing. Do you agree, or are you going to continue to point your finger at men only?

          1. “I did not encourage a victim mentality for men, but suggested that others (meaning, primarily, wives) might try to excuse their own failure to behave well on the failure of men to lead as they should.”

            That is exactly the kind of thinking that creates a victim mentality and renders so many men powerless. When we’re focused on ourselves,on what we should be doing, it’s really none of our business what anyone else is doing.

          2. “That is exactly the kind of thinking that creates a victim mentality and renders so many men powerless.”

            A victim mentality on the part of others (not the men) renders men powerless? That’s ridiculous!

            “When we’re focused on ourselves, on what we should be doing, it’s really none of our business what anyone else is doing.”

            If you extrapolate that to its logical conclusion, no one should ever state or even imply that anyone else’s behavior is sub-standard and should be changed for the better. What would society become?

            If nothing else, why don’t you follow that belief yourself? Instead, you say “Like it or not, if we want to fix a broken world we must start with the men.” If that’s not making other people’s (in this case, men’s) business your business, I don’t know what is.

          3. “If nothing else, why don’t you follow that belief yourself? Instead, you say “Like it or not, if we want to fix a broken world we must start with the men.”

            I actually do follow that belief myself. So when something goes wrong in my life or my marriage hits a snag, I don’t say, alas, men are just terrible leaders.

            However, the personal is NOT political. That fact does not alter the truth and the research that clearly does point to the importance and significance of men, the way the health and well being of a community flows outward from men. If you want to fix a culture you must fix the men first. If you want to destroy a culture, you just wipe out the men first.

            No matter what women do, no matter how perfect women were to be, which obviously we are not, we simply do not have the means, the ability to fill the role that men have. We can’t do what men can do when it comes fatherhood,marriage, husbandry, shaping the culture. Women make awesome single parents for example, we can even kill ourselves trying, but we simply cannot replace fathers.

          4. As you often do, you avoid answering the simple questions. For example, “Do you agree, or are you going to continue to point your finger at men only?”

            For now, I am tired of it.

  3. Pingback: Menz….. | See, there's this thing called biology...

  4. That part about Monday morning school drop-offs and being sad about not seeing them again until Wednesday really rings true for anyone in a divorced / coparenting situation. But keep in mind – at least the kids in these scenarios still have two parents that love them and are actively involved in their lives. In some ways, that may actually be BETTER for the kids – at least compared to the all-too-common married scenario where one parent is always away at work and barely even sees the kids, and the other parent is the one doing all the school drop-offs.

    Divorce sucks – hands down the worst thing that’s happened to my own life as well. But the silver lining is that I now am spending much more quality time with my kids, in a much less combative environment than when we all lived in one house together. Divorce can often lead to positive outcomes.

  5. Another great post! I’ve shared it in both my Twitter and Facebook feeds! Thanks for your honesty and introspection!

  6. happy belated birthday, matt…you DEFINITELY help others and there is much we can learn from your experience…keep it coming!

  7. It’s Society. In order to fit in, get the basics- a house, a car, food, clothes and anything beyond that, is about how much money you can make. That is the American Society. You need lots of money to do right by your children in today’s world. You need to buy all sorts of insurance, house, car, rental, health insurance, the list goes on. It’s all excruciatingly expensive and out of control for the average person, who is now the working poor, much less the lower income workers. Better income equals freedom, security, health, success, happiness and vacations. People are having mental issues, depression, anxiety etc. because they can’t keep up with the current lifestyle demands in a capitalistic oligarchy.Young people are graduating college and starting out with low incomes like never before. Employers are taking advantage of young Americans. They would rather pay below a living wage. They can do this by outsourcing workers and pay them at a poverty level. It is difficult to be idealistic when you are just struggling to survive.

    1. What you just described is an unhealthy, unsustainable way of life.

      Enough people using better ideas to change things strikes me as EXACTLY what we need.

      We always have two choices:

      Accept that we are powerless and submit to random chance.

      Or accept responsibility for making things better. Every single shitty thing in life can be made better or can be replaced by an entirely new and improved way.

      Human history is dominated by that very thing. Us replacing the old way with the new, better ways.

      It is VERY difficult to be idealistic when we’re just struggling to survive.

      It IS hard.

      But I know a secret: I can do hard things.

      And so can you.

  8. In regard to regrets. Sadly, hindsight is 20/20 for all of us. We don’t come into this world knowing everything we end up learning along the way. The good news is that some of us do learn along the way. Some people never do and continue to mess up themselves and other people. You have to forgive yourself. Let go of the past. You will drive yourself crazy! Don’t live in the past. Be the best possible parent you can be right now in your present situation. Your son will learn from you and be that better man for it. Don’t drag your son or anyone else down with your wallowing about the past. Sorry, talking from experience.

    1. Please trust that no one is wallowing, Patty.

      Exactly zero amounts of wallowing happening.

      The writing isn’t about me, Patty. It’s about other people.

      I don’t write these things for me. I write these things because some of the people who read are not in the past. Who don’t have regrets because these things helped them stave off the death knell in their marriages or long-term relationships.

      It’s not about me. This doesn’t pay very well. (Net earnings over four years is approximately $0.00, if you don’t count expenses and time spent.)

      This is for every husband, wife and child who deserves to keep their family together.

      Some couples should part.

      Most shouldn’t, and wouldn’t, if they knew all the things BEFORE it all went bad.

      Those are the people who need our support. Yours and mine.

  9. The only thing I think we’re failing to realize is that the two choices mentioned can both be present. Things happen to all of us that are completely out of our control. That’s a fact. Shitty things happen and they will continue to happen to all of us.
    What I take away from this blog is that we can do our part to change things. We can accept responsibility in some of the bad things and change how we behave when we’re slammed with the unexpected. I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer here but as much as we can strive to be better, teach our kids better, do better for our partner, we’re all going to get blindsided with something we couldn’t control. Sometimes it’s a death in the family, people get sick, people lose jobs and yes sometimes even people leave marriages because they simply didn’t want it anymore. It’s life and sometimes it’s pretty sucky.
    However, growing from our mistakes and learning from roles we did play in bad things that happen to us kind of makes it a beautiful thing. That’s the legacy you leave your kids. I am not going to lie and say that divorce is be all and end all for your child’s relationship success in the future. I call absolute bull shit on that one. I completely agree with most points on this post but that part of it. What matters is how you show your kids to love. I’m not talking about how you love them either(although that’s huge) I’m talking about the interactions you have as an adult. It could be a new girlfriend or boyfriend, the way you talk to your parents, even the way you treat animals. THAT is how you determine future relationships. You can also show them that sometimes things don’t work out and you’ve strived to be better because of it. Undoubtedly divorce sucks for kids. I just really don’t think it defines how we deal with relationships throughout our lives.
    With that being said, I see no wallowing here. Just awesome advice.

  10. Matt…..WOW!…all I can say. While I am a recovering shitty husband I can say for sure my recovery has been from the introspection of the why’s and what’s and who’s etc. I saw so much the shittyhusbandaholic I was in this post that it brought me to a place , now so uncomfortable,that I needed a breather to read forward. I was president of my local school board( still a member), founder of a neighborhood community organization,chief executive of a scholarship fund, a long time senior well respected supervisor at my work place, a member of the board of directors of a crime prevention committee, a board member of a feeding outreach organization,a youth sports coach, a former political figure, a sports booster club fundraiser/organizer and have held high level positions in state and federal government, and host of other entries for my obituary. Many of the awards and accolades I have received over the years have come from people and groups that have no real clue who or what I am. The greatest accolade I have ever received is a kiss and an ” I’m proud of you ” from my beautiful Anne. The ingraved trinkets,the certificates of appreciation, the plaques and all the other tangible items hold no place of honor higher that our wedding photo. That wasn’t always so. I was intoxicated with the attention, with feelings of accomplishment on behalf of others and by default for myself. But to look into those beautiful hazel eyes as they beam back at me means more than anything. We sometimes can’t help being impressed with ourselves, being self indulgent, but reality sometimes comes with a kick in the ass and view very different as once perceived. I have seen some shitty things in people…I hope for better in my children…..daily either my wife or I are approached by sometimes total strangers to tell us how wonderful one or more of our kids is. That is trophy enough along with sharing a great relationship with Anne.

    1. I’m very happy to hear that you were able to realize what’s most important. What led you to this realization? Or maybe I should be asking, what facilitated you to realize what needed changing and what motivated you to make those changes despite the blow to your pride at having realized you had been a bad husband and/or a bad father, and despite the humongous intentional, prolonged effort it took for you to make these changes?

      From what I’ve seen, there are many men who *are* informed by their wives of the way that their behaviors, patterns, and modes of living are hurting her and their family. However, they are unwilling to make the necessary changes because 1) he doesn’t see why he should take responsibility for how he makes her feel — she should be responsible for her own feelings; men are usually more independently-minded and less accustomed to considering other people’s feelings; 2) since men generally have more power in the marriage and have less to lose if the marriage fails (for both biological and emotional reasons, because women usually invest more into their marriages than their husbands, by default and by the very way that women are wired), he is usually less perturbed by disharmony within the family, and is therefore less motivated to change anything; 3) as mentioned previously, a ton of intentional, prolonged effort is required to make lasting changes (change of habits).

      Therefore, I can understand why it is so difficult to persuade a man to change for the benefit of his wife and family. And that is why there is such an overwhelming need for resources such as the blogpost that we are currently commenting on. Which is why my heart fills with joy (really, it does) every time I see a man commit himself to change for the betterment of his marriage and his family. I think that it would be very helpful to men who have perhaps never really realized just how much damage he is unintentionally wreaking on his beloved wife and children if you would explain the process in which you had come to this realization, decision, and commitment. Let me reiterate my two-part question: 1) What facilitated you to realize what needed changing and 2) what motivated you to make those changes despite the blow to your pride at having realized you had been a bad husband and/or a bad father, and despite the humongous intentional, prolonged effort it took for you to make these changes?

      1. Hi Holly.. I’d like to start with wishing you and your family all the best. I’d also like to clear up a few things. At no time did I ever believe I was a bad husband I was a Shitty husband, there is a difference. And never ever was a bad father. Please don’t take that as being overly defensive I truly don’t intend to come off that way. Over the last few years I’ve posted some of the details of our early marital trials and tribulations, some are not pretty and quite a number of those events from then keep me up nights to this day 30 years later. To answer your questions I would have to say that identifying the underlying problem is crucial for a resolution. I came to the realization that I wanted what I wanted all along, for my wife and I to have a happy productive and successful relationship. I knew too that I wasn’t solely the problem. For me it was a question of maturity, clarity, understanding, communication, setting and adhering to boundaries and understanding deal breakers. I knew what I had to do , I had to grow up and put my man pants on. I also had to have courage enough to help my wife through her struggles as she did with me. With lots of communication, forgiveness, and realignment of our goals as a couple we started to make headway and fight our way out of the dark place we were in. The thoughts of losing the love of my life , divorce , upheaval of our children’s lives, the possibly of spouse poachers making a play for either of us in our vulnerable States and the comments opinions and down right gossipy nastiness by So called family and friends clearly were some of the facilitation factors for my transformation. My wife came to her epiphanies on her own and with a willingness by both of us ,great council from a gifted therapist, our parish pastor, and small group of true loving friends we put it back together.

  11. Absolutely great post! Provoking approaches, but I agree. Particularly the reinforcement of what men are pursuing in order to fit in and earn respect according to the values of our societies. Strong men need to become more independent from such social values. Change in education is required (philosophy and psychology to be taught). I will look out for more of such posts of you. Thanks and all the best!

    1. I agree with Mathias, but I’d like to see more proactive ideas for remedying the problem. I think the trend with Millennials is more introspective and health-oriented so there is hope.

      1. Hi Susie. Great point. I agree too.

        In a perfect world, one of two things happens. Someone starts an educational program for middle schoolers. High schoolers. College kids. Young adults. Married adults, and we get the RIGHT stories in front of the right people, being told the right ways, at the right times.

        School tours. Businesses. Churches. Wherever large groups gather.

        We say it over and over and over again.

        Life imitates art.

        We get artists to buy in. Movies and television shows introducing these ideas into their stories. Education through modeling.

        Like the love & marriage equivalent of the totally fantastic 13 Reasons Why (about teenage bullying and suicide) on Netflix.

        This isn’t easy. I’ve talked to several people about this and it’s like, no one ever has time.

        People don’t have time because they need money to live.

        A lot of money will be required to get started without a huge group of people buying in.

        Eventually, these messages must be so well known and widespread that they are common topics of conversation at home, and hopefully part of formal education in school.

        It’s the thing in life that causes the most damage that no one has built a “cause” around.

        Someone must build the “cause.”

        I’d love to be a part of it. I struggle with the process because I can’t even keep up with laundry and my third-grader’s extracurricular activities.

        But I’m with you. Proactive ideas. Action.

        That’s all that’s left.

        I wish I was confident I was someone to help lead that fight, but I know where my strengths are. It tends not to be anything requiring organization or task management. Sadly.

        1. i agree wholeheartedy…I’ve emailed brene brown asking for a kids curriculum. I know she has a curriculum for teachers, but I don’t know how widely it is used. I guess it starts with this little tribe here…

  12. Matt, I’m sorry that you had to go through what you have to find your calling – but i believe you have.
    I can’t tell you how much you are helping a man like me : 45 yrs old, 2 young kids and 6 months into a separation that smacked me sideways…but really I should of seen it coming a mile away.
    Because I was an arsehole. A good man and a good dad…but an arse because i was so blind to the fact that just being a good bloke who cares a heap and works hard is not nearly enough.
    Keep it up Matt. Right now you’re my best friend. My only friend…and I mean that.

    1. Don’t be afraid to reach out, sir.

      If you truly don’t have anyone in your life who “gets it.”

      I can’t help. But I can just “get it.”

      Turns out that finding people who understand is one of the things that helps.

      Appreciate the note. Rooting for you and your family.

  13. When the time comes to talk to your son, I have no doubt you’ll find the right words to explain and teach and communicate and love.

      1. You def will Matt – there will come a time when you’ll need to have some very difficult, emotional and nuanced conversations with ur son.. but it won’t be ur 9yr old son.. he’ll be 14, 15, 16yo – and much more mature enuf to process the info you give him. I just had a super difficult talk this morn with my 15yo – one that I had been sidestepping for a while b/c of my anxiety re: how she would process it… yes, it was hard to tell her, but she processed it like a champ – and you know what? kudos to me, cuz of all the hard work I’ve put into cultivating her EQ up to this point – and you’ll do the same. by the time he’s older and starts asking the really deep questions (and they will!), you AND he will be ready for some real, no bs talk. keep on keepin’ on Matt.. you are a f’n rockstar for the work ur doing..✊

  14. While I do agree with some points in this blog, there are many women that will treat a man wrong. Example, I have two children that their mother has done the best job possible to not allow me any types of interaction with my children. Am I a criminal? No. have I been convicted of any crimes? No. I work and I do everything in my power on a day to day basis to lead a peaceful life. So again, do not put all the blame on men, there are women who are guilty of treating children’s fathers badly because that man failed to live up to the woman’s expectations and in all reality had no intentions of staying in a relationship with that person. Essentially, I want a baby and here is the sucker that will give me what I want.

  15. Pingback: Emotions Matter, Are Normal, and You’re Not a Weak Pussy for Having Them | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  16. Matt, this was both humbling and inspiring. Have you ever read the book “Real Boys’ Voices,” by William S. Pollack? It might be a therapeutic read for you.
    We all have our faults, and I admire that you have recognized some of your own and shared them with us. I wish you nothing but the best as you continue to grow.

    1. I don’t know that title. But a good book recommendation is always greatly appreciated. That you insta-recommended it suggests strongly that it would be wise of me to check it out.

      Thank you very much.

  17. Matt, be the best you can be without turning it into a gender issue. Then move on. Stop beating yourself up. Relationships work when both partners recognize the issues and work on it. You were such an awful partner, you say, that your wife felt the need to cheat on you, then divorce you. She could possibly have divorced you first, then it wouldn’t have been cheating, would it? And the cheat, I’m guessing, got to be primary carer of your children. Great role model.

    1. I think you have some bad information.

      I’ve never used the word “cheating.” And I’m not beating myself up. I’m using first-person stories to share ideas that not enough people are talking about.

      Or at least, I’m trying to.

      Step 1 is accepting responsibility for one’s actions and life circumstances.

      1. wow.. amazing how the same blog post can land so very differently with each reader… and how what you designedly write about is very much indeed a gender issue. I’m certain there is a blog somewhere that covers female POV in the same vein… this is not that blog.

  18. Another awesome piece. I like the point about putting others first… that’s a major key. Putting others first is one of the only ways that you can truly understand where the other is coming from. Thanks for sharing.

  19. I just love your blog. I find that there is so much truth in your raw honesty. As a wife of a checked out, emotionally neglectful husband for the last 2 years (20 years married), I’m trying to hold on and be patient for him to wake up to the truths you have discovered. I had lots to work on in me, too. Im not innocent, for sure. I don’t want a divorce, but I just don’t know what would wake him up. He seems so stuck…in the past, in his mind, in his emotions…or lack thereof. Any advice?

    I read your blog to get a snapshot into the mind of a man to hopefully better understand the way they think. It’s an effort to not just focus on my own pain, but to try to move forward, mature, grow up.

    I have to say that when/if you decide to get in a relationship, the things you have learned will make you a fantastic husband one day. I think your best days are ahead of you still. But keep loving that little boy. There will be beauty from these ashes too. Im cheeting for you.Thanks again.

    1. Hey Lmsdaily115,
      I really should not be the one suggesting you with these tips, but I really couldn’t resist the temptation to help another fair soul like me, who seems to be in some really desperate need for help.
      So, you are currently having some really bad time with a person you once thought was the very purpose of your existence. And, to some aspects, maybe he did, too.
      But, since the last two years, you are waiting for him to understand you, comprehend your pain, see your tears hidden inside your heart?
      And, he isnt?
      I would like to beg you please dont wait for his mind to suddenly realize out of the blue that you have been crying for him for these two long years. Dont wait untill he realizes that you miss the old ‘him’ and please dont wait untill he finally sees a tear protruding out of your eye when he is not home. That is never ever going to happen, at least in the next five year or so by which you two may have already divorced and started living seperately. Please, dont wait for good things to happen. Face the bad thing and fuck the shit out of it!

      It may seem hard to right-away confront him but believe me that is the very thing you would want to do and you will be thanking me afterwards. Go in front of him when nobody else is in the home when he just got out of the shower (Its important, just out of the shower) one day and tell him everything that you have been delicately sewing up from those last two years in your mind. Tell him everything, tell him that you really love him and you dont want to lose the person whom you once thought to be the sole purpose of your existence, tell him you dont like how he behaves nowadays. Just throw out everything that had been building up in your heart for two years. And at last, say , “I want to start it all over again {husband’s name}, with you. I want you to be beside me while I take this journey, just like you always used to, in the past. Please?” And hug him tight (Literally, real tight) and kiss him on the cheeks. Your job will be done and in that very instant you will get the decision you have been craving from deep inside for a long time.

      If It’s a yes, then CHEERS!!! Mate. And problem solved.

      If it’s a no, then well you didnt have to spend a couple of years trying to rebuild a home that was never meant to be re-built.

      Good Luck.

      1. Whatwouldhavehappened. Thank you very much for your response. You summed it up very well. I will have to really wrap my mind around all of this that you suggest.

        My hang up is that I was actually the ass hole for a good 18 years. Then he snapped, asked for a divorce and it woke me right up. We haven’t divorced yet, but we are drifting farther and faster. I cleaned up my disrespectful and controling, perfectionistic, prideful ways and have literally done a 180° turn. I cant beleive how distorted my attitude was for so long. But now, I have a husband stewing in his past hurts and unable to forgive or move forward in life. Its like watching a house burn down, and nothing I can do about it. There was and is no abuse, drugs, alcohol, gambling, affairs or other “horrible” reasons to leave each other. Just 2 people with kids that got wrapped up in their own wants and desires and forgot how to put soneone else first in their lives over themselves. We got swept away with life.

        I came from a broken home (3 divorces), his parents are still together and he has no clue about the devistation of divorce. I started to see dangerous signs when he continued to work 18 hours a day, 7 days a week…just like my dad did. I missed him, wanted to spend time with him, but became a disrespectful , nagging, complaining shrew out of my frustration of never being heard or taken seriously. My warnings were ignored. I missed that he was trying to show his “love” by bringing home the bacon, but we were drowning in bacon. Had plenty of money, not enough emotional and spiritual support, or time together to enjoy the bacon. I’ll be honest, I have grown spiritually and have learned to toughen up. But I love him deeply, have forgiven it all and would love to start over, but I can’t do it alone. We all have free will, right?

        I realize I may end up losing my marriage, but I can’t afford to lose myself anymore. I have tried for 20 years to please this man I thought was my king. I realize it is an impossible task. So, I AM actually living life, finding joy and satisfaction in it, even with the “satellite of misery” circling the house. I no longer feel responsible for his bad attitude and hurtful words toward the kids, myself, his parents, society in general, the people in his life who are always dumber than him, morons of society or other derogatory cut down he has for anyone who is or thinks differently than him (including myself and everyone on this planet). I just try to deflect as much pain from reaching the kids as I can.

        I don’t understand why the timing of a “just out of the shower” talk so critical, I could use a bit of explanation on that. Frankly, I’m scared and exhausted at the idea. Scared of extending my neck out and trying to be vulnerable…again…telling him how I feel, with nothing landing on his planet; and exhausted at the idea of putting the energy into all of that only to be dismissed, unheard, ridiculed and mocked again. I’m tired of never being respected enough to even have my feelings heard, considered, or acknowledged.

        Some people just don’t want to get along with others. They feel comfort in their own misery and have zero compassion for anything someone they supposedly “love” is feeling. It’s only about them, what they can get others to do for them. Is it a midlife crisis? Do I have some newly formed narcissistic personality disorder demon inhabiting my once generous, loving and sweet husband? I don’t understand how one can just flip the switch to their humanity and stop caring about people.

        20 years.

        I will read and re-read your advice and I very much appreciate the man point of view. Thank you very sincerely.

        1. Lmsdaily115
          Hey, yours story seems a lot more tangled up than I thought. So, you have been a complete Asshole to him for 18 years, and now you want to start all over again. Okay, the first thing I will clear out is, why the shower thing?
          I think that every individual has his mood freshed up after having a nice shower and of course the talk you are going to make with him must be in the situation in which both of you are full of freshness. It need not necessarily be outside the shower, you can talk this matter at any time you think he feels the most happiest, like after watching a movie, or watching football or anything else.

          Also, you should be alone in the home not with any other individuals while making this apology. Personally, I think, as a male, that if my wife had been completely turned off for 18 long years, then I would have seeked for a very long, emotional and earnest apology from her. And, I would never like someone to listen or even eavesdrop our conversation, while my wife would have been asking for an apology. Also, I would never give any shit to whatever she said if my mood was off or if I had a very bad day at the office. I would have thought, “She had made the mistake, so she should be trying her best.”

          So, that is exactly what I suggest you to do. Ask him for an apology, very earnestly in the same situation I Previously described. Also, try your best. Don’t get disappointed if he doesn’t understand you at the first shot. You will have to confront him sooner or later. So, why Not do it now? And also, you should be the one to start the conversation. Never expect your husband to comfort you after what you have done. But, I don’t know the severity of things you are talking about that you did in the last 18 years. Even then, you should try as hard as you take the severity of your deed. Just do it.

          As I have told previously, If he says”YES” then CHEERS!!!
          Otherwise, you would not have spent your valuable time trying to build a broken house that was never meant to be built.

          BEST OF LUCK AGAIN.?

          1. Thank you for the clarification. The shower thing makes much more sense. I agree timing is ctitical. I have actually appologized many times for my wrongs. Very heartfelt, humble appologies. Once my eyes were opened, my attitude screeched to a halt and I genuinely worked at stopping all hurtful and disrespectful things. But I had to learn what those were first. I was honestly very clueless about what triggers men. I’m sure the reverse can be true as well.

            My wrongs were not any worse than he is doing now. “A complete asshole” might be a bit over kill. How does the saying go?….”hurt people hurt people.” But, in my change of heart, I realized that in my effort to be a perfect wife, mom, daughter, employee, etc., I had the expectation of perfection in others as well. Waaayyy too much pressure to put on others. I did not understand my own duty to be in charge of my own happiness…he always told me it was his job to make me happy. Young and dumb, I happily let him. So when I was not happy, I let him know about it. I thought I was communicating, I thought I was doing right. I had no idea I was secretly criticizing and emasculating him, discouraging him,etc. I felt dismissed and not heard, so I just got louder and more insistant. I eas destroying what i so desperately wanted. My expectations of marriage were not being met in my mind. We were both totally enmeshed and emotionally desperate for the others acceptance. I don’t think I understood how to deal with letting my husband be an authority over me. I fought him for control, instead of working with him. I had been in charge of me since 12 years old, so I was not about to give that up to anyone else. (Such crappy, self absorbed thinking). I actually don’t think I understood sacrificial love until he asked for a divorce. I, too, was a goid person, but bad marriage material. It happens to us women too, Matt!

            I wanted to please my husband and make him proud of me as his wife, but his own criticism about marriage and his expectations killed me too. Pair that with sleep apnea and irtitability to everything, a non functioning thyroid and ADD, then he became a very emitiinally volitile person to be around. I tried to understand it, but i couldnt deny the hurt i felt either. I kept trying to “change”. I would be more like his mom and clean more, more like the flirty girl and give him more sex, whatever…it was never good enough. He knew it wasn’t really genuine, that I was not being myself. My motive might have been good, but my execution was sucky. I didn’t know I was doing those hurtful things. I was going off my feelings. The very moment I realized it, though, I ran to him and fell to my knees in sorrow, regret and deep appology. I knew the only thing I could control was me, my wirds, thoughts, actions. I had no control over anything else. So I started there. I continue to try to be a better me, irregardless of what he dies or says.

            But for 2 years, there has been no forgiveness. He feels it would be saying what I did was acceptable. He says he doesnt want a divorce, wants conbection, love etc., but he remains emotionally unavailble, behind his wall so nothing can hurt him again. I get it. Im trying to be patient with it all. Nothing like this is an instant fix, I get it. But without any vulnerability, there will be no connection. He is waiting to feel something before he takes action, and the truth is, action needs to be taken before he will feel something.

            There is nothing more I can do to show my deep regret to him. I have completely turned my attitude around, yet, his heart is stone cold to me. It’s like we did some kind of role reversal. At some point, I will have to accept I did all I could and the ball is in his court. Without true repentance AND forgiveness, we will not be able to move forward.

            My whole point here was that women have great capacity to screw shit up too, its not always the guys fault.

            But our knee jerk reactions to the hurts and wrongs of relationships will definately start and keep a vicious circle going unless one person consciously steps off of the hamster wheel and starts doing the right thing, not just reacting to the feelings. What is the right thing? Loving someone more than themselves. Or as Matt put it…giving more than we take.

            Thanks again.

  20. You’re right. I either misread what you said or read about the cheating elsewhere. It’s still an extremely negative piece that includes such statements as decent men ‘trying their God’s honest best … are accidentally napalming their homes and closest relationships.’ You feel that trying their best isn’t good enough, that in order to succeed men have to be selfless and humble.’ Your piece doesn’t take into account that relationships fail for a bunch of reasons and they are not all about what men did wrong to get them to that place. You say you’d like to be a teacher, but except for your experience of divorce and separation from your child, what makes you qualified to
    You say that ‘men are going to have a lot to do with humanity’s future.’ If you’re writing from the perspective of the early 20th century, then you’ve got a point. Some women may still be attracted to high status men, but mostly they’re busy out there creating their own high status professions.

    1. you calling this a ‘negative’ piece is highly subjective and offensively biased. Matt does not, nor has he ever made blanket statements as to why relationships fail. He has made it very clear that he is writing from his own POV & experiences – which are valid and absolutely do resonate with a majority of his readers – both male & female. Matt’s a pretty intelligent guy – I’m certain he’s aware that “relationships fail for a bunch of reasons.” He writes about ONE particular way in which they fail. He does not purport to be an overall relationship expert or therapist..if thatz what u expect or demand – then ur in the wrong place. He has experienced a very specific breakdown of his relationship – and he has been brave and selfless enuf to share that with us. If you would like other POVs, then the onus is on you to go find those POVs – not on Matt to provide.

      ‘trying their God’s honest best … are accidentally napalming their homes and closest relationships.’ is PRECISELY my experience with my ex.. so therefore, this resonates with me.. and others. I have no idea what itz like to be in a physically abusive relationship, so I have no intention of waxing prolific on the subject (Nor does Matt I presume). But THIS.. this right here what Matt talks about and what he has experienced, makes him ferociously qualified to be a teacher on the subject.

    2. I can’t put my finger on *exactly* why, but I had a similar negative reaction to reading this post, and several of the “shitty husband” themed posts here. A feeling of “jeez, this guy’s taking on WAAAAY too much of the shame ‘n blame for a failed marriage here, and he’s extending that and projecting it onto all other men…” And that’s where (for me) the feelings of negativity came from.

      You know who’s to blame in every single divorce on earth? People. Of any gender.

      Laying too much of the blame on any one side feels like you’re ignoring the other side’s equally important inputs to the problem. And if you’re laying a disproportionate share of the blame at your own feet, or at the feet of men in general? That’s what triggers a negative reaction in me (and maybe others?)

      That all said – it’s still interesting to read different perspectives on a problem that’s common for a lot of people (divorce). Thanks for keeping the posts coming!

      1. You seem both smart and informed. I haven’t read your writing yet because there are never enough hours in the day, and I can’t even keep up with laundry and dishes, and there are only 1 1/2 people living in my house.

        But I have strong beliefs that I believe are well thought-out.

        I understand how some of my stuff comes across in isolation, and that it’s not reasonable for people to know EVERYTHING I’ve written, and be able to piece it all together.

        But I don’t think I have irresponsible or irrational beliefs. I don’t think I am unfair. I don’t think I am anything less than a person who wants to see people learn things they don’t know, so that maybe they can avoid some of the negative life experiences I’ve had.

        It has never been, and will never be, for all people.

        But there are damn sure a lot of people out there like me. I have four years of internet data, emails and blog-comment feedback to prove that.

        I am NEVER afraid to be wrong. I’m never afraid to share my ideas, and be corrected.

        If you and I talk about or debate something, one of two things can happen — we can share a new and/or better idea with someone else, or we can let go of a bad or flawed idea ourselves, and replace it with the better one.

        So if there are any things you ever want to discuss here, I truly welcome those conversations. Without agenda, nor a desire to “win.”

        Just to share and learn.

        1. That “shame ‘n blame” thing is a real stumbling block for so many, Matt. People don’t seem to get that taking responsibility (blame,) puts you in the driver’s seat. It’s that fear of shame and blame that often keeps us trapped in victimhood. Pride perhaps keeps us from confronting it. Pride is always the flip side of shame.

          So, there are many things in my life that I clearly did not cause or create, but the only way to heal is to accept the risk of “shame and blame.” On the other side of taking up responsibility, we sometimes come out as totally blameless, as having picked up shame that doesn’t even belong to us! So there we are afraid of this phantom shame/blame thing that is not even necessarily real! A complete figment of our imaginations,something we make even bigger and huge by fearing it so much.

          It’s just one of my pet peeves in the world, Matt. If I could do one thing to heal the world, that would be it, I would wave a magic wand and remove people’s fear of shame and blame, because healing from absolutely everything, lives right on the other side.

          1. There’s a difference between being “afraid” of shame ‘n blame, and recognizing there’s a minimum/maximum effective dose. At some point taking on blame becomes unhealthy and self-defeating. Take responsibility for your shit. Just don’t go so far overboard that you’re crippled by it.

          2. Well, I guess I have a faith based perspective, so shame/blame is not something we’re supposed to take on and hang onto forever. We’re not supposed to wallow in it for all of eternity. We’re supposed to come out on the other side, the side that might say,well, you totally screwed up your marriage, you are to blame,but so what? You are forgiven, you are still loved, you are just like all the other people who have screwed up things in life. Stuff happens and you aren’t perfect.

            And of course in faith, we ask forgiveness and exchange our shame for grace.

        2. Thanks – always happy to engage in constructive and respectful discussions / debates.

          My writing in this “space” (relationships / divorce) is mostly focused on the financial aspects of a marriage dissolution. But the emotional & mental components (which your writing is focusing on) can definitely impact the tone and outcome of a divorce. I’ve seen people take widely varying approaches in the way they mentally and emotionally process and react during a divorce. Often with results they neither anticipate nor enjoy.

          I wrestled with my own emotions on how to handle “shame ‘n blame” in my own divorce, and watched others do the same. I can’t claim to have the answers, but the search for understanding is enriching.

    3. In any given 1,000- to 1,500-word post, there is only so much territory one can cover, Mary. I hope you don’t think the limits of my thoughts are all contained in this tiny little collection of words and sentences.

      If you’d like me to give you the bird’s-eye view of my general theories and “qualifications,” I’ll be happy to.

      Here’s the rundown:

      MOST people get married. Statistically, 95 percent of adults 18+ are either married, formerly married, or are planning on marrying one day.

      So, that’s 9.5 out of every 10 people. Significant, no?

      And of those people, what happens?

      Well, statistically, a young man asks a young woman to marry him. He usually spends $5,000+ on a ring, and has spent the better part of two or more years considering whether he should. When she says “Yes,” they plan a wedding, and on average, spend $30,000 on it and invite 300 or more of their closest friends and family.

      Two free-thinking adults with no one forcing this on them. They, all on their own, considered all of their options in life and thought: “Yes. I want to marry this very specific human being, and I understand it is a spiritual/legal contract for the rest of my life. I’m so confident about this, I’m going to sign the contract, and publically exchange vows in front of everyone I know, and spend a crap-ton of money on it.”

      So, they’re serious, right? Not coerced or anything. They mean this shit.

      But THEN. As sure as the sun rises and sets each day, one half of all of those people who did that get divorced. ONE HALF. Even though they’ve been married 5, 10, or even more years, share homes, financial resources, social circles, and children.

      70% of those divorces are initiated by the wives.

      Of the remaining half of people who stay married, what percentage of them report that their marriages are filled with love and happiness and contentment and mutual partnership and tons of life satisfaction?

      I don’t know. But I know damn well there are a TON of unhappily married people.

      So we have this thing — marriage. It’s significant because 95% of people are affected by it.

      And two people who, let’s be honest and real, are usually very decent, well-meaning people (not secretly masochistic or evil or plotting some huge emotional terrorist attack seven years from now to ruin the lives of spouses and children and extended families)… they’re failing.

      They’re failing at the thing that matters the most, hurts the most, is the most significant and foundational thing in our earthly day-to-day lives. The people we live with, rely on, know best, share the most resources with, do the most for, get the most from, etc., etc., etc.

      THOSE two people are so unhappy that they choose to end their marriage and go through a really difficult life event. According to the Holmes & Rahe Stress Scale, divorce is the #2 most stressful thing that can happen to a human being, following only the death of a spouse.

      Divorce is a big deal. It hurts people and changes their lives PROFOUNDLY.

      And I know why most divorce happens.

      At first, it was a simple educated guess, and I wrote about it in the first-person because MY story, it turns out, is A LOT of people’s stories.

      There wasn’t addiction, abuse, affairs, gambling problems, crime, etc. going on.

      We were just two pretty smart, pretty decent, totally well-intentioned people who married at 25 and accidentally harmed one another over the course of our marriage.

      That’s what MOST people do, Mary.

      How do I know?

      Because, possibly second only to the Gottman Institute, I have a MASSIVE data sample of blog comments and emails.

      “Oh my God. You’re describing my marriage exactly.”

      “It’s like you’re observing my life.”

      “Why aren’t more people talking about this? This is it exactly!”

      Maybe you don’t think my conclusions are valid. That’s okay. People disagree about all kinds of things.

      Wives, women, have PLENTY of culpability in the failing of marriage. Some are married to good guys who DO do the right things, and they’re largely responsible for the marriage failing. Others respond inappropriately and ineffectively to their husbands’ well-intentioned mistakes or misunderstandings.

      But, in my humble opinion, MOST of the time, men behave in marriage as I did.

      During a disagreement, we believe we are right, which means our wives MUST be wrong.

      We constantly deny our wives the right to care about things we deem meaningless.

      My most-commonly cited example is a dish left by the sink.

      Any woman who would end her marriage over a simple dish left by the sink is an overly emotional, control-freak, nagging, hard-to-please bitch, right? Someone without her priorities straight?

      But what about a man who hears his wife tell him dozens, perhaps HUNDREDS of times that something he is doing HURTS her? Causes her pain. Makes her feel unloved, unwanted and disrespected?

      And each time, hundreds of times, over and over and over again, he says: “You’re crazy. You’re wrong. Your feelings are stupid. I’m not changing, because I don’t agree that the things I’m doing actually hurts you. It wouldn’t hurt me. So it SHOULDN’T hurt you.”

      She can take it for a month. For a year. Sometimes for 10 years, especially when she has young children whose home she doesn’t want to break up.

      But sooner or later, the levee breaks.

      Sooner or later, when the person who vowed in front of everyone you both knew that he would love and honor you forever, tells you for the thousandth time that he doesn’t give a shit about your pain and suffering, and doesn’t value nor acknowledge your thoughts and feelings, you’re going to go find a better way to live.

      Life is too short to have the one person who you committed to for life make you feel shitty every day.

      GOOD men, with good hearts do this to their wives. They do it ALL THE TIME.

      They struggle so much with the idea that their wives can actually feel pain and suffering from things that don’t matter to them.

      A dish by the sink? Who cares, right?

      She cares.

      And when you tell her the things she cares about don’t matter, and you’re not honoring them, you destroy your marriage, no matter how much you “think and feel” love for your spouse.

      It’s a fundamental lack of empathy.

      It is a husband’s greatest crime. And the #1 cause of relationship breakdowns and divorce on the planet today.

      It just is.

      And if men got that shit buttoned up, 80%-plus of the “crimes” women commit in marriage would go away, because most of them are REACTIONS to men’s general lack of empathy and willingness to listen and communicate.

      This isn’t about sexism.

      This isn’t about blame.

      It’s about math and reality and truth.

      It’s about living through something painful and life-changing and sharing it with others in the hopes that they won’t ever have to feel the same way.

      I’m sorry if you think there’s something wrong with that, or if you think I’m somehow making the situation worse. This is how I try to help.

      I hope it makes people uncomfortable. The hard truths always do. If people aren’t a little uncomfortable, I always assume that means they’re doing it (being human) a little wrong.

      1. So in summary – “if men simply did everything their wives wanted them to do, and stopped doing everything their wives got annoyed by, things would be OK!”

        Dishes left by the sink don’t end marriages. Don’t confuse symptoms with root causes.

        I respect your outlook on this, but I’ll disagree – as will many others. Don’t forget that there’s a strong likelihood of confirmation bias happening here. People that self-select into this blog community and *agree* with this mindset are a skewed sample of the population…

        Some folks believe in a more balanced view that doesn’t lay so much of the blame on men.

        Sheesh. This whole thing reminded me of a great bit from Louis CK –

        I’m betting he left dishes by the sink too. 🙂

        1. Absolutely not, and I’m disappointed you went there.

          I’m trying to help people have healthy realtionships. You think that I think that subservient husbands catering to the whims of their spouses is what a healthy relationship looks like?

          C’mon, man.

          What I just wrote is true. Virtually every Ph.D. in this industry has my back on this.

          This isn’t He Said, She Said.

          This is mathematical probability combined with what it ACTUALLY means to love another human being.

          1. And I’m just pushing back saying this smacks of self-flagellation. In order to actually love a human being in a healthy way, you must first love yourself.

          2. maybe this will help what Matt is trying to convey:

            ME: Babe, can you please stop blowing that whistle in my ear, it hurts.
            HIM: C’mon – it’s not that loud (dismiss)
            ME: yea – it is kinda loud.. and like I said, it hurts.
            HIM: Really? Is it that loud? You bitch about everything… (deflect)
            ME: Well, I don’t think I do – but regardless, I’d really appreciate if you could stop..
            HIM: Listen – I don’t cheat on you, I don’t hit you, I give you my paycheck… why are you always complaining? (deflect, guilt & dismiss)
            ME: Well, I bring a lot to this marriage too, and I don’t think that just b/c you don’t hit me or cheat on me, I should accept something from you that bothers me.
            HIM: Look.. you knew I liked whistles b/f we got married – so why are you trying to change me now? (blame)
            ME: I’m not trying to change you, I’m just saying that when you blow that whistle in my ear, it really hurts – is it THAT big of a deal to just ask you to stop?
            HIM: so why don’t you put in ear plugs? (reassigning accountability: i.e. get over it)
            ME: **sigh** (gives up)


            ME: I don’t think this marriage is gonna work out.
            HIM: What? Where is this coming from??

          3. oh. my. gosh….that is perfect. its the “where is this coming from?” that matt is trying to help other men see…!

          4. Love this conversation. It’s perfect. It happens on both sides. As a wife, I’ve done this too, especially the “get over it” come back. Shame on me. Thanks.

          5. Ha! That’s great. Yep,marriage can be just like that.

            Something that can help to break that cycle is when women stop trying to reason and rationalize and simply snatch that darn whistle and throw it out the window. There’s something women do where we rather powerlessly hope he’ll “just get it” if we just endlessly explain it. That’s how you respond to children however, not grown men.

        2. hm…I don’t think matt confused the symptom of dishes by the sink with the root cause of disregarding his wife’s feelings…that doesnt mean he was always wrong and she was always right, but there was a negative pattern there which matt identifies and owns. and of course his post doesn’t apply to the entire population–it just applies to the “skewed” sample of the population with marriages similar to his, of which I think there are many….

      2. I was so touched, Matt, that you not only allowed my comment to stay, but you also responded as thoroughly as you did. After all, it’s your personal blog and you have the right and the power to keep or delete comments. I don’t blame you for doing it, Matt, but I was less impressed when I realised you’d turned it into another post.
        You say that ‘wives, women have plenty of culpability in the failing of marriage…but in your humble opinion most of the time it is the men who behave in marriage the way [you] did.’ (I assume you mean badly). Despite people writing and telling you they can relate to what you are saying, your humble opinion about who is MOSTLY at fault is not backed up by rigorously tested statistics taken from a cohort of equal numbers of men and women. In the end, it’s just your humble opinion that men are more likely to behave badly in a marriage than women. Excuse the old chestnut, but marriage like a tango – is a two way street. Not MOSTLY but ALWAYS. When things go wrong, if a couple is honest about it, each will admit to the little things that led to and spiraled into big irreconcilable things. If a man blames himself only for what went wrong, then he’s likely to fail next time round.
        Your original article begins with – ‘The world fails men’ and moves on from there citing more and more negative things that men do, which is why I said your article was negative. You name the examples of people who fail men, including ‘tribesmen’. I am not sure what you mean by that last, but nowhere on that list do you mention mothers. They are a child’s first port of call. This is where boys and girls learn their first valuable lessons about right and wrong. Respect people and expect the same in return should be the first guiding principle. The world can try and interfere as much as it wants to after that, but if mothers and fathers provide a strong foundation, the world will fail in its objective.
        If I’m right, you are not your child’s primary carer. I’m sorry to say that you aren’t likely to have a big say in the important things that come up in his life, and of course, the day to day issues that come up. You won’t be there. Are you going to let him read your post?
        You got another post out of my comment and I’ve responded. I doubt that we’ve convinced each other. Let’s just leave it at that, Matt.

        1. Not that it’s anyone’s business, but I have a shared-parenting agreement and equal custody of my son, not that his mother nor I treat it that way.

          Everything is about him, and we work together and talk almost every day about what he needs, and share resources, and back one another up.

          It’s hard to address these important conversation topics about relationships when you dredge up my personal life as if it has any bearing on what’s true or false about marriage and relationship breakdowns.

          My humble opinion isn’t a guess.

          My humble opinion IS based on rigorously tested data of both men and women.

          See for yourself:

          That list, including tribesmen, at the top of the post doesn’t have Mother because it’s a list of influential positions in life that men achieve.

          What I said was, when men have a flawed idea about masculinity, and achieve positions of influence, they perpetuate this cycle.

          I’m not trying to convince you of anything, Mary. I’m trying to explain what I believe and why, because ideas without reasons are bullshit.

          I may be wrong. But I always have reasons. And I’m always willing to listen to others.

          But having the correct information is a pretty critical starting point.

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  22. Can I take a detour here?

    “The #1 influence on how good our lives are is the quality of our human relationships.”

    We (both genders) spend a lot of time cultivating a presence on social media – time that might be better spent nurturing real-life relationships.

    I’m working on putting the phone down and being present, but I’m in this way deeper than I thought I was.

    And I worry about the next generation on this point.

    1. You can. And I agree that it’s a problem.

      For all of good and connecting things the internet has allowed, it has also created more distraction and disconnect with those next to us.

      It will be years before we understand fully the consequences of this new reality.

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  25. Amazing piece. Yes men aren’t taught these things but so many expectations are placed on them. This is a must read for everyone.

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  27. It’s very humble of you to share your experience to help people in their life.but instead of trying to make others happy we try to make ourselves happy we would be more productive and can give more love to our family.everything is not in our power,we can’t make everyone happy but we certainly can stay by their side to make them REALIZE that they are never alone.if others​ need love then you too​ need it,don’t be afraid of loving yourself and others too.????????if you are feeling so deeply about your kids happiness then there’s no doubt that you are a great person and not ignorant to others feelings.#have a room of one’s own ??.

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  29. Thank you for writing. Keep writing. Keep talking. This is important. This is hard but so necessary. Hugs.

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