The One Where I Defend My Ideas Against Charges of Sexism and a Lack of Credibility

Comments 85

Mary said:

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.

Three things about Mary’s comment bothered me.

  1. Mary disagreed with my take, and just like everyone else in the world, I have a very high opinion of my opinions and an immature tendency to cling to my beliefs. Maybe I’m wrong. I never pretend to know for sure. But I do write more confidently today than I ever have, because I keep getting more certain, not less, that I’m onto something.
  2. Mary questioned my “qualifications.” I don’t have any other than my ridiculously large data sample. I don’t claim to be anything other than some divorced idiot trying to help people divorce less.
  3. Mary interprets my request for men to assume responsibility for growing and changing to be sexist, as if the constant invalidation of women isn’t the very thing I’ve identified as the root cause of marriage problems.

So, I responded, and because I’m me, it turned into a post-length thing, so screw it—I might as well share it.

(Apologies for temporarily suspending my Things Men Don’t Know series. There may be a lot of people out there who feel as Mary does, so here’s my take on all of this.)

Why Marriage and Divorce Must Get More Attention

From a blog comment exchange:

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 $6,000+ 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.

Regardless of how many divorces actually occur, the MAJORITY of marriages fail.

I think it’s a crisis and not enough people are talking about it.

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 think 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 nine-year marriage.

That’s what MOST people do, Mary.

How do I know? I don’t. I don’t ever pretend to know anything, for sure. I just believe things like everyone else, but I try to come to these beliefs in a responsible way.

Perhaps 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 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 wrong.

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 don’t know how to not.

85 thoughts on “The One Where I Defend My Ideas Against Charges of Sexism and a Lack of Credibility”

  1. I think you should also point out that you’re commenting on the men side because you are a man. If you commented on a bunch of stuff women should do, not because of how a man reacts to it, but just a ‘women should….’ you wouldn’t be credible because you aren’t a woman, you have not experienced being a woman, and therefore don’t know how or why women act the way they do. Of course anyone can make inferences; however, you’re coming from a place of ‘this is what I lived and experienced, and I’m trying to pass along the lessons I’ve learned so no one has to learn them the hard way on their own, like I did.’ You have never once claimed to be something you’re not: a psychologist, researcher, relationship expert, etc. you’ve always stayed true to your message of ‘I’m a guy that fucked up and I’m trying to let other guys know this so maybe they don’t fuck up.’ I appreciate you and your point of view. I am a Psychologist and I pass along your blogs to countless patients who all say that it helps them understand where their SO is coming from – both genders. It’s helped start conversations within their own relationships… not because some expert is saying do this, but because you’re a real person who’s trying to talk to other real people going through really hard shit. I even sent it to my family to try to explain why I got divorced. It’s relatable and honest, and I couldn’t explain it on my own in a way they understood… My dad said ‘wow, I’ve been doing this to your mom and I need to step up!’ Keep it up! You’re helping people whether or not you realize it!!!

    1. And coming from a psychologist! Awesome. I’ve been divorced twice and I’m not sure if I was the guy who “left dishes in the sink” but I was the guy who played the martyr and didn’t listen and they both left me. I wish I read this all 25 years ago. Thanks

      1. She’s a smarty, that Dr. K.

        Thanks for taking the time to read and leave a note, sir. I share your wish about understanding these things back when it could have made a difference.

    2. You’re the best, Dr. K. Thanks for chiming in on this. It means a lot. You never told me you shared it with your dad. Goodness.

      Flattered, as always. Hope you have a fantastic weekend.

  2. Awesome,Matt. I love it when bloggers stand up for themselves. I do a fair amount of that myself sometimes. We want empowered men in the world because that’s healthy for men but also because that’s healthy for women,and by extension kids too. So everyone benefits! It’s kind of like the opposite of sexism.

    “My husband knows how to express his feelings in healthy ways, takes responsibility for himself and his family, and believes in his authentic self,” so NOW I think I’ll divorce him, said absolutely no woman ever. Seriously.

    I found this interesting, “You feel that trying their best isn’t good enough, that in order to succeed men have to be selfless and humble.”

    Well, yes. In a faith based perspective that is the truth. Our best is not good enough,in order to receive grace, one must be selfless and humble. The big Grace, but the grace of a spouse, too.

    My husband is all bold and blustery, a traditional man through and through, and yet it is his humble selflessness and his grace that I respond to.

  3. Matt…Today is our 33rd anniversary… This would not be so had we not struggled the way we did and came to some conclusions​ about our roles, individually​, that nearly destroyed our future together. To say that there was any sexisim in the mix would be both true and not so. While our generation was ingrained with a gender roles belief it was also instilled with a need to respect each other and what we bring to the mix of our relationship. Sometimes men are assholes sometimes women are too but in the end recognizing our individual assholery and curing ourselves of it is only done by one’s self. To be sure we can only change what we do..What our approach is…How and who we value. I’m not going to suggest that one person is solely to blame for the disintegrated relationship because that simply isn’t so. Moreover, the likelihood that any one particular event by one part of the relationship lead to the demise of a relationship ( short of established deal breakers​) is rare as well… We choose our behavior on an individual level, sometimes it’s a game of chicken, but always always always it has to be realized​ that someone you allegedly​ love is being harmed in real time, that for sure things​ add up, that sorrow can only be tolerated for so long. Being at peace in your relationship is Paramount and the road to that peace comes with respect, care, personal responsibility, respect of boundaries, communication and a willingness to fight for yourself and your wife/ family. You’re doing great work Matt…It doesn’t take a PhD it takes sincere care and realization of the importance of halting this tragedy. Your experiences​ are something I wouldn’t wish on anyone…. But you have opened so many eyes with them. And that Sir speaks of good character.

    1. Louie. Thank you, sir.

      You’ve mentioned several times how your marriage got to that place so many get to, where it’s a bunch of apathy and resentment and pain. So many people never recover from that.

      Congratulations on 33 years, sir. What an incredible show of perseverence, fortitude, selflessness, loyalty, and of course, love. The hard, gritty kind of love that doesn’t always look pretty and feel good.

      It’s my favorite kind. Because I believe that’s the glue that keeps us together for three decades and counting.

      I really appreciate your kind words, your participation in the conversations, and I hope you and your wife have a great wedding anniversary tonight and through the weekend.

      I’m so grateful for your example.

      Many blessings to you both. Cheers, Louie.

      I’ll be toasting you guys from Ohio with a pint glass around 4 p.m.

      1. Thank you Matt . …I show all of these posts to Anne and she says you’re sweet . Because of my work schedule our celebration was limited to catching a fish fry an hour before I had to leave for work . I did get to look across the table at those beautiful hazel eyes . I thank you for the 4 o’clock toast. We do not imbibe but would love to share a toast with you in person some day . .. blessings to you sir

  4. “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.””

    But it does, and that’s what men don’t get. Death by paper cuts.


    1. I truly believe it’s the #1 marriage killer, and that it’s mostly unrecognized by the masses, just like how millions of people used to smoke cigarettes with absolutely no clue that it had dangerous health consequences.

      I’m simply trying to play a minor role in the marital “Surprise! Smoking is Bad for You!” awareness campaign.

    2. ladyinthemountains

      My ex did that all the time. He would tell me that my feelings were not valid or I had no right to be hurt. He does this same thing with our children which causes them problem.

    1. Statistically speaking, someone must.

      I never mind disagreeing. I mind disagreeing based on limited or incorrect information.

      If you just read my explanation and find it fundamentally flawed, then I’m more than okay with that, and would never try to disrespect you by telling you that you’re wrong or should agree with me.

      I’d really appreciate you explaining WHY, as I attempted to, but I won’t hold it against you if you’d rather not, or don’t have time.

  5. Been following the blog for awhile, and this is a great post. Thank you for sharing your experiences-it can be hard to put it all out there under the scrutiny of others. I relate to everything you write, and have been very encouraged over the last several months.

    As a side note, why do we ALWAYS have to have a certificate or diploma to do what we are doing in order to be “qualified” in this world? Yes, I understand it’s necessary for certain things like being a doctor, lawyer, etc., but if we can find encouragement in the words of someone who isn’t afraid to be honest about problems we all face in marriage, then I think I would call that qualified.

    1. Thank you. I’d never insult well-educated and experienced professionals by suggesting I’m anything like them. But I do think it’s fair to conclude that the things we talk about here can still benefit certain people in various stages of their relationships.

      And even if it can’t provide value or help anyone? I feel like I should still be allowed to write my devoid-of-intellect drivel on my own silly blog.

      Appreciate you reading and commenting.

  6. Teachers come in all shapes and sizes. Grandparents, neighbors, friends, bosses, coworkers, tv celebrities. Everyone you encounter teaches something. They don’t need credentials, they just need experience.

    You’re chock full of experience. I appreciate that you choose to share it rather than bottle it up and let it destroy you.

    (I always look to see if the “Mary”s come back to comment on a post addressed to them….)

    1. Thank you. I don’t want to “call her out,” and I wasn’t trying to take her to task or put her on display, and I hope if she even sees this that it doesn’t make her feel that way.

      But I always write from the mindset that everyone understands where I’m coming from, but am constantly reminded that isn’t true.

      Whether it’s someone new to MBTTTR, or someone who simply diverges radically from the way I see and experience the world, comments often surprise me.

      This was one of those times, and I’m not sure what moved me to address it, but something did.

      Thanks for checking in. Always good to see you. I miss your hilarious third-person Ginja-ness sometimes, but this more conventional version of you is equally appreciated.

      1. Haha, I can bring Ginja out of the box once in awhile, but for the most part, I save her for story material.

  7. When I read your response to Mary’s comment yesterday on the original post – my immediate thought was “this should be a separate blog post!” and I wake up this morning to this 🙂 I’ll re-post here what I commented on original from post from yesterday.. with a little extra at the end. I spent years trying to explain this to my (now) ex. I – like Matt – only hope it helps someone else ✊

    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 would stop..
    HIM: Listen – I don’t cheat on you, I don’t hit you, I give you my paycheck… why are you always complaining? (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: you know.. I have the right to blow this whistle if I want, stop acting like my mother – you don’t get to tell me what to do! (ego)
    ME: I’m not TELLING you what to do – I’m ASKING you, and I’m giving you a valid reason why I’m asking you – because it HURTS when you do it.
    HIM: Look.. you knew I liked whistles b/f we got married – so why are you trying to change me now? (lack of empathy)
    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??


    ME: Babe, can you please stop blowing that whistle in my ear, it hurts.
    HIM: Sure Babe – sorry about that. Itz such a habit – I didn’t realize it bothered you that much – I’ll do my best to stop..
    ME: Thx honey – would you like to have sex now?
    HIM: ??

    HIM: Babe, can you please put the remote on the side table next to the couch next time ur done watching TV. When you put it on top of the cabinet I have to walk over and get it after I’ve already sat down.
    ME: Sure Babe – sorry about that. Itz such a habit – I didn’t realize it bothered you that much. I’ll do my best to stop..
    HIM: Thx honey – would you like to have sex now?
    ME: Nah – I just did my nails… how ‘bout we put the kids down right after dinner tho? **kisses**

    Lather, Rinse, Repeat. 1000x

    50.YEARS.LATER = Happy Anniversary!!! ???

    Not that complicated – itz HARD to do, but not complicated.

    1. This is brilliant. Is this inventive and poignant dialogue your original work? (That’s not meant to be insulting. I just think sharing that somehow, someway in the near term is a good idea, and I want to source the appropriate person…)

  8. Evident Catharsis

    I certainly applaud the effort you put into your blog in an attempt to educate and enlighten anyone who encounters it. And I get that your writing is geared towards the still married population who’s unions have not yet burned out or faded away in utter despair and tragic ruin where hope remains somewhere to salvage the remnants of a bond that existed.

    I couldn’t help but express that I believe that many of the things you identify as things that cause harm to people and alter the trajectory and longevity of relationships happen habitually in relationships at EVERY stage and not just when vows and rings have been exchanged.

    I fail to see how accountability for one’s behavior, basic decency and consideration comes into play only after the proverbial cow has been purchased. I have to assume that there are many people who arrive at the end of the isle with varying degrees of hesitation, doubt and or concern due to damage inflicted in varying degrees. Women, hiding the paper cuts with long white gowns and veils. Satin gloves to the elbow, perhaps? Their paper cuts have simply not caused them to bleed out… yet.

    Why place a higher value or give greater regard to the time, attention, effort, care and concern of a married woman than anyone who put themselves out there and invests themselves in furthering a mutual connection or forming a bond? Somehow, you read as though women matter to a higher degree and is worth more when promises (that get broken) and rings (that get removed) are in play.

    Whether it is weeks or months that are invested in a relationship or mere hours spent with someone who purports themselves to be capable of being a decent human being, the damage caused isn’t justifiable. And just because it didn’t result in marriage doesn’t make it acceptable to treat someone poorly.

    Damage inflicted by men with the best of intentions is still damage. Plus or minus rings in the equation. Women, regardless of being the recipient of a ring or not, are still left to tend to their wounds while simultaneously not losing faith in mankind. I mean, heaven forbid she become hardened and bitter as a result of the onslaught!

    How about men treating women well regardless of stage in the relationship, children involved, Facebook status updates, labels, rings and ceremonies? How about some integrity? How about decency? Dare I mention kindness? It seems accountability is dead and buried alongside chivalry.

    I mean, are men capable of following the golden rule really too much to expect?

  9. Carol Van Doren

    Matt! It’s like you’re in my head! I’m going to add myself to the list of people who claim you’re describing their marriage/relationship with each blog post…everything you talk about is exactly what I’ve lived for the past almost 9 years…it’s uncanny, really. I’m SO glad I stumbled upon your blog when I did…it’s been such a comfort to know someone out there truly “gets it” from my perspective in a time when I’m feeling so misunderstood in my marriage. I was searching the internet for some validation of the feelings I’d been having, and it brought me to your “Open Letter to Shitty Husbands” series (so so good, BTW) and I’ve been hooked ever since. Thank you for putting yourself out there daily with the hopes of helping others to avoid the same mistakes, and for giving those of us who have decided to finally leave our marriage a little comfort knowing that we’re not insane, selfish, and “bitchy.” Much love to you!

  10. You’re cool:)…if you find time to check out my blog I would be much obliged… not because I’m a divorced guy or because i think we have a ton in common …but because… like I said.. you’re cool… ( I think this is how a freshman talks to a senior:)

  11. My divorce was sadly so, “one dish.” Reading this made me actually feel like I’m not crazy for 5 minutes, so thanks for that!

  12. Sir

    You are so wrong on so many levels, I don’t even know where to start. So here goes.
    I will start at the very top of your blog. “Must be this tall to ride.” You are stating what you have experienced in life concerning women and height. That that the overwhelming majority of women use height at the primary requirement in selecting a man. Do you think this might be a big reason why 70% of women file for divorce? If you use the romance cartoons from Disney and the escapist nonsense marketed by Hollywood as a basis for your mate selection (tall prince charming), then you’re a dumb ass, and you have absolutely no right to complain when the marriage fails. Height is no more of a predictor of marriage success than being right or left handed.

    The soap dish nonsense. What about the woman demanding the toilet seat being down. Why can’t I say up? The relationship should be based upon comprise. If the man if constantly giving the concession to the woman, then it is not much of a 50/50 relationship. Don’t you think he will develop resentment over time just as you state that women do in your article? Does a man have any say in anything? Does his opinion matter?

    Why don’t you just cut your balls off and become a metro-sexual feminists? And speaking of feminists, where are the feminists when it comes to heightism, which you noted in your blog title? How strange, when it comes to treating people equally, feminists have no problem rejecting shorter men just like the rest of the female population. And of all the ism’s, why is heightism considered a joke? Ever notice on interviews when women as asked about politics, food preferences, clothing styles, etc. they can answer with a straight face, but ask them about dating shorter men and then they start giggling like hyenas on laughing gas. Yep, heightism is just a joke. But imagine if men laughed during an interview when asked about dating fat women, how women would respond to that?

    1. Four years ago, I was a sad, rejected, angry, totally broken guy struggling with dating because it sucks to date as a single parent particularly when you’re not mentally nor emotionally ready to be doing so.

      I was looking for women to CHOOSE me. To accept me and make me feel better about myself. I was relying on the opinions of others to determine my value for me.

      Things are quite a bit different four years later, man.

      Lots of growth and healing and good life experiences.

      I don’t need anyone to choose me or accept me or determine my value.

      I know exactly who and what I am and what I bring. I know my value, and I don’t need anyone else, certainly not angry blog commenters, to know who and what I am.

      Must Be This Tall To Ride is a metaphor more than a literal height measurement.

      It’s about being good enough.

      Everyone is good enough. Everyone gets to choose themselves. No one else’s opinions matter. Ever. No one gets to define who we are. We choose every day who we are going to be. Just us.

      When you figure out who and what you are, and you live that courageously and authentically, the last thing you’ll need is the approval of some vapid women who measure your quality on height.

      What sackless D-hole wants to date someone who ranks height as that important of a thing?

      That tends to be more of a problem on online dating anyway. That’s when people are filtering out preferences.

      When you meet people in real life, things don’t work that way.

      Be you. Own your shit. Have principles and things you care about. Stick to those things no matter what.

      Then all of the incompatible people are naturally filtered out, and only the people passing the ultra-discriminate personal values filter ever get through.

      People who have a chance to be the right other half of your life if partnership is something you want or value.

      Good luck. Stop being so angry.

      Love your partners. Stop trying to “win.” Lead by example. Be kind.

      If you end up with the kind of person who makes you resentful, you did a bad job in the selection process. Communicate. Love hard.

      Shit works out.

      Relationship aren’t 50/50 man.

      They’re 100/100.

      It’s not giving to get. It’s giving all the way with no expectation of having it returned.

      And then having that same treatment returned to you by a person you carefully chose and trust to give 100% as well.

      Then you spend a lifetime giving more than you take.

      It’s not about petty fights. Or dishes. Or “winning.”

      It’s about giving more than you take. And being fortunate enough to be married to someone doing the same.

      That’s the path to Forever. Always has been. Always will be.

      1. Holy Hector Projector – whew…every once in a while you get a real winner, huh Matt?!? #doyou

      2. Your explanation is dead on. In our wedding vows, over twenty years ago, our priest (my ex’s uncle, believe it or not) explained that marriage is not just a 50/50 experience, because with that practice, you only meet in the middle each standing on your own side. To be successful in your marriage, you need to each give 100% to overlap, and come to the other’s side to support and love each other. Obviously my ex didn’t pay attention to that part. Loved your entire response to Mary so much I am reblogging. Thanks!

    2. “That that the overwhelming majority of women use height at the primary requirement in selecting a man. Do you think this might be a big reason why 70% of women file for divorce?”

      LOL! Oh dear. Did you know, before I went on the internet, I never knew men could have such sensitivities about their height. I kid you not, there are entire blogs about it, about how awful women are because we bypass the shorter guys. Blogs that have written about nothing else for years, literally stewing in resentment for all of eternity.

      What should we do to punish all the women who reject us because we aren’t tall enough?Let’s revoke the 19th amendment. For real,that’s a post that got some 200 comments.

      I should have known of these things,guys have been wearing elevator shoes since forever,and “small man syndrome” is practically an urban legend now.

      Life is about taking responsibility, not lamenting your lot and blaming the whole world for it. There are plenty of jockeys and tree pruners who have wonderful marriages. There are plenty of fat people, too. Relationships are not a simple matter of physical attraction.

      1. LOL! Oh dear. Did you know, before I went on the internet, I never knew WOMEN could have such sensitivities about their WEIGHT OR BREAST SIZE. I kid you not, there are entire blogs about it, about how awful MEN are because we bypass these FAT OR FLAT CHESTED WOMEN. Blogs that have written about nothing else for years, literally stewing in resentment for all of eternity.


        LOL! Oh dear. Did you know, before I went on the internet, I never knew BLACK PEOPLE could have such sensitivities about their RACE. I kid you not, there are entire blogs about it, about how awful WHITE PEOPLE are because we bypass BLACKS. Blogs that have written about nothing else for years, literally stewing in resentment for all of eternity.

        Not pretty words to read are they, lady? No doubt, you will tell me you’re not a racist, but you write just like one. The parameter you use to degrade a person is height, the parameter a racist uses is skin color, but your words and those of a racist are interchangeable. What are the odds of that?

        My story
        I had been divorced for about 2 years. I had time on my hands, and since I was a member of a health club, I decided to start working out, again. I worked out on a set schedule and time and after a while you recognize people who are on the same schedule and time as you. There was an attractive women, I would have guessed as being 5’ 9” or 5’ 10” tall. One evening, she was working out on a machine that was about 30 feet from where I was. She was alone, and I thought this would be a good time to approach her and ask her out. I thought to myself, ”Nothing ventured, nothing gained”. I walked over to where she was and said these exact words. “I have seen you work out here for the past several months, and you are in great shape and very attractive, and I would like to know if you would care to go out sometime?” This is what she said to me. “I can’t believe you came over here!” “I can’t believe you said that!” She then stuck her index finger in my face and said, ”I don’t date shorter men!” (I am 5’8”.)

        I was in total shock. I didn’t know what to do. I stopped listening to her, for I was trying to figure out a way to save the conversation. I was trying to figure out what I had said to make her so angry and fix it. It was then I realized I had only asked her out, and my only sin was that I did not meet her height requirement. So I turned and walked away while she was still venting.

        1. That’s a shitty story. In all seriousness, I’m sorry that happened.

          I know how much courage it takes to walk up to someone cold like that and be totally cool and collected.

          I think it’s awesome that you did it. I mostly don’t do that. I’m pretty brave once some kind of intro or connection has been made. But I don’t do the walk up and ask out a stranger thing.

          That said. I don’t know why you’d want to either.

          Physical attractive simply can’t be the dominant metric on which we choose a potential mate (unless you’re strictly going for causal, which then I guess it’s super reasonable).

          But — and this is none of my business so forgive me for injecting my thoughts into your personal life since you’d didn’t ask me to…

          That girl sucks, man.

          No matter how surface-level pretty she is, there’s NOTHING beautiful about someone who treats people like that.

          She thinks she’s better than you with ZERO amounts of information, save what she can see with her bullshit eyes.

          She’s one of my least favorite kind of people, and I suggest rejoicing that you didn’t waste time, energy, money or anything on the kind of person with whom being around can only bring unpleasantness and misery.

          I think it’s important to be attracted to the person you’re dating and/or marrying. Chemistry matters.

          But the next time physical appearances matter more than all the mind and heart stuff will be the first time.

          Whatever disagreements we might have, I am on your side and rooting for you on this topic, certainly.

          Good luck out there. I hope you’ll stay brave and keep taking shots.

          It’s the ones who appreciate it and feel flattered and excited who deserve your time and attention.

          Not ugly-on-the-inside gym girl. She’s the worst.

        2. Well, as much as I empathize with the pain of rejection, and I do, just from your tone alone I can discern you are a blasted pain in the rear, full of deep seated resentment and carrying around so much baggage you need a bellhop.

          You could be 6’6′ for all I care and I’d probably shut you down immediately myself.

          1. You have made my point. I could be a total jerk, but if I were 6’6″, you would have to think about rejecting me.

            What I said.

          2. That’s how confirmation bias works. No matter what the rejection is about, you’re just going to blame it on your height. And now you can just blame AWALT,too.

            I once thought I was too tall, a total giraffe. I used to pray to be shorter,dainty and small like girls are supposed to be. One day God said, “you aren’t tall at all, it’s just that all your friends are 5 ft.” Like, duh! It’s true, at the time most of my girl friends were dancers, much smaller than me. In truth I’m only about 5′ 6″. Perception and attitude is everything and changing our attitude can change everything.

            There’s probably not a woman on this planet that doesn’t know all about what it’s like to perceive oneself as too tall,too short,too fat,too thin, too top heavy,not top heavy enough, just this ridiculous and outrageous list of imperfections no one can ever live up to. That’s not healthy and it isn’t true either.

          3. Well said all around, IB. My abuser was actually tall and he still had short man syndrome, in a way, because as tall as he was he was the shortest of four very tall brothers and his whole life experience with his family for the first 20 or so years was all this nasty, pick the hot girl at the gym, pick a tall guy, vain, and vapid way of approaching life and knocking pretty much every person within reach, including yourself, down a peg. Lord preserve me from such people!

          4. Miss Scratch. What made you over look his flaws early on in the relationship? Him being tall? Did character ever enter into the picture?

          5. From scratch-The man who walks up to a complete stranger and tells her that he wants to date her because she is physically attractive is asking you if you considered someone’s character???

          6. You attract more flies with sugar than vinegar. I think complimenting someone you would like to meet is a good method to start a conversation. But I am willing to learn from others who have better methods. Would you care to place a few down here for me and others to see?

          7. Oh great mag. Please tell me how you would approach a stranger you would like to meet? Please educate me and the others here on this blog on how do to it. Tell us your success stories.

          8. Lady
            Let me write more about myself. I have a 2 year degree in Chemistry, a second in Control Instrumentation and a BS in Electronics- Control Systems. I am on 2 US patents as a co-author. I have worked in Singapore, Sarawak, Brui, Dubai, KSA, England, Russia, Italy, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Scotland, Tunisia, Malta, Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and all across the USA, including Alaska and Hawaii. I am married 17 years with 3 boys. I have made 6 figures for close to 20 years, until last year when I lost my oil job, now in the 80’s. When I was 38, my first girlfriend was 27, the next 27 and the last 24 who is my current wife. I am 5’8” and she 5’7”.
            You don’t like being exposed as a hate monger. But here is some reading material. Read and then tell me more about yourself.
            Is Living Life Better As A Man Or Woman? A Transgender Tells His/Her Story.
            When I identified as female, I was somehow awesome for being on the taller end of femme, but now? Now I’ve been called a “manlet” for being a hair under average male height – because apparently men get to be treated like shit for something that they can’t control. I’ve also noticed that, while dating women, a lot of them won’t even go NEAR you if you’re under 6 feet tall. Which is bullshit. As I’m bisexual it didn’t really matter too much to me, but I did notice something anectodally interesting – gay men and bisexual men don’t generally give a flying flip if you’re short or tall as long as there is chemistry between you. But of course, men are the judgemental ones, right guies?
            So I’m a tall guy (6’6”) and my best friend is (5’4”). We always joke about each others height. But then he told me how he finally came to terms with his short stature after years of torment and put downs (we’re in our mid twenties), which came to a surprise to me because I always thought ppl just joked about it like we did. How mistaken I was!

          9. Married 17 years!?!?

            And here I was rooting for your dating-life success like an asshat!


            You have a rad travel-sticker-on-suitcase resume, sir. I bet you have stories.

          10. Matt
            My advice to you, get more aggressive on dating. Ask many girls, tall and short. What do you have to lose? When I was single, I took rejection too hard. I should have learned to brush it off and move on. It is just part of the game, and some women delight in putting men down, like the health club girl. A simple and civil no thank you would have worked, but that was not good enough for her. She had to insult me. Now, that I am married, the women who rejected me years ago don’t mean shit to me, but at the time they did. I let them get to me. I let them dictate to me how do date. Only years later, did I learn to ignore them and get what I wanted. I have to laugh concerning the health club girl, for some tall guy got that bitch. And what a unhappy man he will be, sure glad it is not me.

          11. I think Life rewards bold moves in all areas. It’s a good exercise in courage to do things that make you uncomfortable. I won’t pretend like I shouldn’t take more chances. I should.

            Thank you. I’m embarrassed about writing to you about dating and partner selection earlier given your 17-year marriage run.

            Just so we have that on the record. Thanks for being pretty cool about it.

          12. Communication between men and women with different views is a freedom few get to enjoy. Writing in blogs, I have made statements and have been called on them. I realized I was wrong or needed to better explain and/or modify them. This made me learn and changed my views. I have no problem learning or changing my views, especially if it makes for a better society. I don’t want to harm anyone.

        3. Maybe I can add some insight here? It’s my experience that women can be very sensitive about being ogled at a gym. Many of us just want to work out and go home – we hesitate to go in the first place because we’ll be judged on what we look like and whether our bodies measure up.

          So if a stranger strikes up a conversation, I’m cool with that….but if he comes up and comments immediately about my body, I realize that my fears were right – EVERYONE is looking at me and judging me. And some women find that offensive, EVEN IF WHAT YOU SAID is a compliment.

          Not sure I’m explaining this well. And it doesn’t give her a valid reason to verbally abuse you; putting yourself out there to ask someone out is HARD and one should always be kind if they’re not interested.

          My first spouse claimed he was 5’6″…but I could see clean over his head. And most of the men I dated were 5’8″ and under. (I left the first spouse because he was mentally abusive….obviously his height had nothing to do with it – he was the same height as when I married him!) 🙂

          1. I understand your point of view on my experience with the health club girl, but it was not embarrassment about her body that prompted her nasty response. She felt I had insulted her by asking her out. (Read about Heightism) I was not worthy. I was not a real man. She devalued me based upon my stature, thus when I approached her, she flew into a rage. How dare this non-man ask me out. (Sort of how high school cheerleaders act) To date a cheerleader, you need to be of the certain status.

          2. Well, neither of us can really know for sure the motive…Again, she did attack you for your height, which was wrong…I was just trying to offer perspective. It’s not uncommon to trade a hurt for a hurt.

    1. Thank you. I don’t think there’s any question that it’s the story of most troubled male-female relationships.

      And what is so interesting to me is that it crosses many cultures (though my experience is limited to places where a lot of English is spoken — US, Canada, UK, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines.)

      Nothing in life ever describes everyone. So for all the people for whom it doesn’t ring true, they sometimes feel offended or simply object to the ideas.

      But I believe the research matches the anecdotal evidence.

      And the cure is raising awareness and educating young people on intelligent partner selection and arming them with emotionally intelligent communication skills.

      Not fast nor easy. But I believe it will happen.

  13. De Rosenberry

    You killed it again. Another one for the books Matt! Hmmmm….a book???? I think yes!
    I too recommend your blog to my clients; single, partnered, married, divorced. You are sooo gifted and talented. Thank you for being vulnerable and revealing yourself to us and for us.

    1. This gave me a big smile. Thank you for that. I would love to write a book, and in truth thought I’d already have one out there by now.

      I struggle with process and multitasking. A lot. And it’s not just an immaturity or ADHD thing. I actually am, in reality, a very busy person with lots of various responsibilities and calendar demands.

      Even still, I think I could get it done under the right circumstances, in large part because I can write lots of words quickly when the thoughts are coming from my head.

      If someone, somewhere, somehow gave me the magical book framework and proper high-level content outline based on my ideas, I think I could fill in the blanks easily and quickly enough.

      I realize that’s easy enough to solve by paying the right people. And good news, I may very soon have the extra income to be able to pay for those services, which should be the kick in the pants I’d need to plow through it.

      I realize that’s a lot of wah-wah-wah excuse-making.

      Thank you so much for the kind words and encouragement. I do hope very much to get some books published.

  14. I followed your link, Matt. The Gottman Institute does worthwhile and positive work to help people sort out their relationships. However, and despite the premise of your post, i haven’t come across any statistics that say that it’s mostly men who are to blame in a failed marriage. Perhaps you can point to the section I might have missed.

    I did come across an interesting fact on that site. You can look it up for yourself. It seems that while once it was mostly men meeting women at work who were having extra marital affairs, now that there are more women in the workforce, just as many of them are having doing the same. We are a two sex species, Matt. It’s ridiculous to heap blame on just one. That’s negative and untrue.

    1. I’m discouraged that you read “blame.” And I’m discouraged that you think I’m so intellectually devoid of fairness that I don’t account for unique circumstances and encourage EVERYONE who fails their spouses and families to be accountable for their choices and make better ones in the future.

      Gottman says the #1 predictor of divorce, without exception, are husbands unwilling to accept their wives’ influence.

      It baffles me that you think I’m anti-man or anti-husband, given my gender and outspoken defense of husbands as mostly good men who are accidentally causing harm because they don’t know a handful of things.

      I write first-person things. I’m a guy. I was a husband. I can only speak to what that experience is like.

      I would STRONGLY encourage you to start writing about women failing their marriages. Many people have asked me for it. But I’m not going to be the one to write it because I already have enough asshole tendencies and I’m not going to add finger pointing and blame deflection and a lack of personal accountability and responsibility to the list.

      It’s totally vexxing to me why you see to have such a problem with that approach.

      I’m trying to help people like me. People should feel free to read other people with other opinions if they believe I’m a moronic asshole spreading misinformation about men and marriage.

      I do appreciate you looking at Gottman’s work. It’s good. But if you’re going to keep taking me to task for my own opinions on my own blog, it would be awesome of you to expound upon your motivation for doing so. Please and thank you.

    2. Seriously Mary. If you don’t like the message, leave. At this point, you aren’t contributing to the conversation because you refuse to pay attention to what the other person is saying. The audience for this blog is…men! Wow! Men who are having a negative effect on their partner and not realizing it. That doesn’t make the blog sexist. It doesn’t mean that women never do wrong. It’s simply good writing sense to have a target audience. Get over it already.

  15. “Seriously Mary. If you don’t like the message, leave”

    For real – and pls take Mr. Johnson with you.. cuz his sh*t went really sidewayzzzzz ???

    1. Spoken like a true liberal, magzoalday. I don’t like what you say, so you can’t say it. This article is open for all to comment. I must have missed where only one view is allowed, yours. Just because you don’t like what I or others write, doesn’t mean we cannot write it here. I suspect what I am writing is hitting too close to home, so rather than admit it, better to shame or insult those who disagree with you. I am not pushing one idea, I have others. Heightism is one of many, but it feeds into the female mate selection process, and if the concern is marriage failure, then this must be one aspect of the failure. Thus, my writing.

      1. “I must have missed where only one view is allowed, yours. Just because you don’t like what I or others write, doesn’t mean we cannot write it here.”

        False – my experience is that all views are welcome here (b/c that is the tone+environment that Matt has created), but at the very least, said views should be respectful, relevant, coherent and compassionate..traits which none of ur comments possess.. as evidenced by these classy bits here:

        You are so wrong on so many levels
        then you’re a dumb ass
        The soap dish nonsense
        Why don’t you just cut your balls off and become a metro-sexual feminists
        you’re not a racist, but you write just like one.

        Thatz cute… but please tell me more about how I “shame or insult those who disagree with…” me

        So since this ? is your world, allow me to speak in your native tongue….

        you slid up into this blog already triggered and missed the mark completely re: the intention of the blog, and then proceeded to go off on some acid trip about heightism,
        beginning with ur completely screwy interpretation of the title of the blog. One only needs a modicum of wit to appreciate that MBTTTR is a metaphor (, and not a reflection of some imaginary complex the author has about his height.

        clearly you fancy yourself an intellect, as evidenced by ur “Let me write more about myself. (oh, please do.. **eye roll**) I have a 2 year degree in Chemistry, a second in Control Instrumentation and.. blabbity blah blah” bombast, but the overarching theme/tone of ur comments is far from cerebral+thoughtful, and more like the lead singer of a tribute band on a “heyyyy… woman do f*cked up things toooo” Best Hits Tour.

        “I suspect what I am writing is hitting too close to home”
        you got that right – the question is: whose home?!? Cuz itz certainly not mine ? ?

        bye now ?

        btw… #LockHimUp

  16. Not sure how anyone can misconstrue your obviously benign attempts to help people. It just goes to show you that no matter what you do, people will still hate and that is probably because they’re somehow unhappy/unsatisfied with their own lives. I appreciate your work here and have reiterated it many times. For every one person who is trying to negatively pick at your work, there are hundreds who appreciate it. Don’t get discouraged… don’t give your power away… keep your head up… keep honestly trying. Good luck brother.

    1. Appreciate you, sir. Thank you very much.

      There are a lot of people who don’t have good intentions. I’ve been accused of it on more than one occasion.

      It’s not always fun to be me dating, because anything less than everything I encourage husbands to he here, and I get an earful about how I’m not like what I write here, even though I AM what I write here.

      It can be a challenge living up to expectations on a case-by-case basis.

      So it doesn’t surprise me in the least that someone might think I’m doing this for some other reason.

      But it’s a pretty insane conclusion given the time and money spent to do it while trying unsuccessfully to keep the rest of my working and parenting life in order.

      Anyway. Mary’s alright. Some people like challenging thoughts and ideas.

      I would never discourage that. I just don’t like when it’s done on faulty information, or when the motivation for doing so isn’t clearly communicated.

      1. More unnecessary sunshine up your a#% Matt, but I must again say that as an enlightened and sometimes shitty wife your blog has helped me see another side, step back and work my stuff and come back to my marriage with approaches based on YOUR insights about yourself.
        Haters gotta hate and the rest of us with other hobbies will see your writing for what it is – personal exploration of YOUR experience that can benefit others. Can’t ask for better.
        Namaste ?

  17. Matt, I agree.

    I also disagree.

    Sometime back I emailed you to recommend an author Dr. Willard. F. Harley. He has written a few books like “love busters” and “his needs her needs”.

    If you read these you will get a greater appreciation of how men and women are equally oblivious to how to sucessfully maintain love in a relationship.

    He also provides an explanation as to why women tend to be the ones deciding to end marriages.

    What you describe and focuss on is love busting behaviour. Love generating behavior is also something most people, women included, ignore.

    I agree reducing love busting behaviour is important; doing things that creat love is equally important.

    Read the books.


    1. I’ve heard of “His Needs, Her Needs” and have had it highly recommended several times.

      I appreciate your encouragement.

      Your distinction between love-busting vs. love-creating behavior makes a lot of sense to me.

      I never thought about it in those terms, but I do recognize the need for proactive GIVING to one’s relationship in ways big and small, and calling those things “love-creating behaviors” would seem an apt description.

      Thank you very much for weighing in here.

      There is absolutely no doubt that I have plenty of reading, thinking and growing to do on these subjects.

      I appreciate you contributions to that.

      I hope I thanked you for your previous email. I apologize a thousand times if I did not. I struggle mightily with managing my email inboxes. I have several, and all are big fat stress-inducing piles of “You’re Not Keeping Up, Jerkoff.”

      I’m grateful for your time and efforts.

  18. It is painful to admit when one is wrong, so I will say it. I was wrong. I used words that were too extreme in criticizing your post. After thinking it over, I would have said I object to you speaking for all men that we are the major cause of divorce. And as you can tell by the majority of the female writers they agree, but I don’t think this is based in fact, but rather in gender, one side rooting for or against the other, like a football game. Females are no more saints than men.

    When I was dating, I remember on one date a woman telling me she was not much of a wife, which made me think twice about her. On another, confided in me that she was too controlling, and he left. I can tell you stories of men finding out how worthless their wives were, and no doubt there are just as many about husbands. Listening is better than blaming, but blaming is the tone of this post. But you are doing good, so keep on doing it. I will think twice and write once.

    1. Kind of you, sir, but you were infinitely more polite than many.

      I wasn’t offended. In isolation, I’m sure several posts come off as needing a tone adjustment.

      In a perfect world, people will have read several and have a better sense of where I’m coming from.

      I appreciate you reading and caring enough to comment even if it’s to take exception to ideas.

  19. Matt: “Well, statistically, a young man asks a young woman to marry him. He usually spends $6,000+ 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.”

    Overstated….for effect, I assume.

    Perfectly good rings can be gotten for $2k to $3k.

    It shouldn’t take more than a year of serious dating to decide if this is the right partner for you, and to propose.

    300 guests is a lot. More realistic is 100 to 150.

    In any case, it shouldn’t be the bride and groom paying for the wedding. Tradition dictates that it be paid for by the parents of the bride.

    1. These are statistical averages based on sources cited in several previous posts, and I just repeat these things when I’m trying to make this ONE point:

      People get married ON PURPOSE. They WANT to. They believe they’re doing the right thing, and are super-confident in their choice.

      And then THOSE very people regret their decision more than half of the time.

      Perhaps you don’t find that fact as mind-boggling and problematic as I do.

    2. “And then THOSE very people regret their decision more than half of the time.”

      You’re looking at the stats for ALL marriages, which includes multiple marriages, teen brides and grooms, the lower socioeconomic classes and minorities…whose divorce rates tend to be high, etc.

      Since you mention being blown away by divorce stats, here’s something you may not be aware of. If the couple getting married meet the following points:

      1. Both are white
      2. Both have a college degree
      3. The bride has reached her 25th b-day by the date of the wedding
      4. Their first child is conceived within wedlock

      …then statistically speaking, they have a 90% chance of having a life-long marriage. So such couples have every right to expect they won’t have to go through a divorce, since in actual fact, only 10% of these couples will.

      Yet I will sometimes hear couples who meet the above criteria echo your thoughts that they have a 50% divorce risk. But this is wildly off the mark…ten percent risk is much different than fifty percent!

      1. I don’t profess to be a statistician, nor all knowing about divorce, nor what any one subsect of human’s likelihood of marital success may be.

        I’m identifying a problem getting little attention that affects a shit-ton of human beings in an attempt to raise awareness so that maybe someday it can happen less.

        Whether there are 3 billion divorces, or 300,000, I’m going to think it’s a conversation worth having.

        Given your stats there, I only had a 10% chance of getting divorced.

        And I’m, all things being equal, pretty competent and a pretty decent human being.

        Raising awareness here. Having meaningful conversations about it.

        Trying to discredit my take or make divorce seem less significant than I think it is will NOT make divorce any less horrible or any less common.

        If you’re saying we should encourage people to be mature and educated before marrying and having kids, I promise I agree with you.

        If you’re trying to say something else, I don’t understand what it is or how it pertains to what I’m doing here.

      2. I really hate statistics. It’s far too often that both sides of whatever controversy are going to pull out their own and it all contradicts and it’s beyond obviously that precious few ever invest in developing the skill set to properly analyze data. The majority just find the ones they agree with or that seem important to them and pretend something has been proven as if by a thousand perfectly conceived, repeating studies. I tend to go with my gut. And I have to say there are a TON of kids from broken families where I live which is not at all a bad area, nor is it particularly minority heavy. I’m in a suburban town by a city in the middle of the most average state in the union. A BUNCH of the kids at my youngest daughter’s high school play at being a family unit. It’s an obvious effort to make real family connections in place of the instability of those connection that parents should have provided in a form that could be described as strong lifetime family stability. And let me tell you, they play at all kinds of roles so that each of them ends up in some way connected to a lot of other “family members”. After my daughter was there and friends with many who were doing it she got adopted into the family. She finds it a little odd and awkward though less so than during her first few months around it, maybe because despite wanting nothing to do with her dad and seeing him as an abuser, she has very strong and stable connections to her brother, her sister, myself, and a variety of friends in the homeschooling community that she has been connected to for years and years before her dad forced her into the nightmare chaos of public school. Maybe it’s also odd to her because she’d never been exposed to anything like it before. But apparently she is willing. And so when she tries to describe a social interaction within that group she makes a way around her awkward feelings and the confusion of me possibly thinking she means a real relation by calling the ‘family members’ her “sworn brother” “sworn aunt” etc. etc.

        I asked a room full of teachers and others if they were aware of this situation in the school at a meeting just over a month ago. Everyone in the room was surprised and perplexed, except the school psychologist. That woman said something to the effect that it has become the norm at nearly every middle school and high school across the land to have at least one such large replacement family friend group, sometimes a few within a school. It is so normal (and totally harmless) the school psychologists don’t really pay them any mind is, frankly, the impression I got. In a way it’s actually great that these kids get it that family connection matters despite all the upheaval in their own lives. It’s actually kind of cute how my girl, as she’s gotten more used to it all, has come to really like hugs from her sworn brother and likes and approves of his girl friend and all sorts of harmless, innocent things like that.

        Well that was a huge tangent albeit only one of the many possible roads I could have chosen to travel down in my tangent wagon to explore all the things I see with a gazillion teens in my area whose families have been shredded at some point. From my experience for the last twenty years in this suburb I’m not buying it at all that only 10% of white couples who get married late are getting divorced. There’s a ton of folks around here who married and had kids later. That’s just a norm in our society now though I’ve seen some pretty good evidence to refute its value and point out certain pitfalls along with a ton of opposing studies that are tailored to push the idea to later and later ages for marriage. Of the many people I know through homeschooling connections around the country I do know of many stable marriages that are first marriages that have lasted 20 or 30 or more years. Many of them began with a bride between 18 and 24. Having your first child after marrying, now that makes a kind of sense and fits my life’s observations, at least as far as halfway decent generalities go.

  20. I wholeheartedly agree with you. The dishes didn’t end my marriage but were a sign that he never cared or placed any value on what was important to me.I was told I was crazy so many times, I almost started to believe it. It showed itself in dozens of other ways until I finally ended it. Good for you for realizing it and for having the guts to share your feelings. Your blog posts always make me feel better. I sit reading them and find myself yelling, “Yeah!!!! Thank you!

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Matt Fray

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