How to Seduce Your Wife (Because Your Old Single-Guy Tactics Won’t Work)

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(Image/CigsAce – DeviantArt)

Google processes more than 60,000 internet searches every second, or nearly 6 billion per day, and the Nos. 1 and 2 most-frequently searched terms are “sex” and “s e x.”

In other words, sex is a popular topic and human activity.

It also holds VASTLY different meaning or evokes vastly different feelings in people because of their individual religious beliefs, or differing sexual orientation, or previous experiences (positive or negative), or due to several other factors and influences.

The topic of sex can produce significant discomfort for many people. Maybe they’re embarrassed. Maybe they’re afraid. Maybe they’re ashamed.

Maybe that discomfort sometimes gets in the way of two people in a relationship having honest and vulnerable conversations about sex. I think that was true in my failed marriage.

Many things contribute to the common breakdowns that infect and fracture marriages.

We don’t always know how to talk to, nor accurately interpret one another. It’s why couples always have the same fight.

We don’t always know that leaving dirty dishes by the sink, or being extra-polite to strangers, or doing a bad job of executing household tasks like meal planning can end our marriages.

But I think most people realize that when two people who promised one another sexual exclusivity and faithfulness stop wanting to have sex with one another, an obvious problem arises.

But I don’t think most people truly understand WHY this happens. I think most people believe: “That’s just the way it is!,” or that it’s the other person’s fault, or that they simply fell “out of love.”

I believe it’s a lot less complicated than that. But, unfortunately, a hell of a lot more nuanced.

And I think much of it can be fixed by helping men understand something most of us aren’t routinely taught as boys or young men.

The Things We Don’t Teach Men: What Makes Us Sexually Attractive and Desirable as Singles Often Changes Radically in Marriage

In other words, all that shit you did to get your wife in bed back before you were married becomes mostly ineffective in a long-term relationship.

What do I mean?

Your physical appearance. No matter how physically attractive you are, no amount of rugged good looks or a chiseled physique can overcome feelings of mistrust and danger she feels as a result of relationship insecurity.

Your bank account. Money is attractive because it represents both safety and opportunity. But if she feels unsafe BECAUSE of your relationship, all those commas and zeros can’t and won’t matter.

Your “game.” Confidence only works when it’s authentic. Humor and intelligence only works when kindness and trust are present. And while mind games or deception might work for bar pickups and one-night stands, dishonesty or even just the lack of an authentic connection between two mutually trusting and vulnerable people will eventually end all marriages.


Shameless Self-Promotion Note About My Coaching Services

I started coaching in 2019. Clients and I work collaboratively through current and past relationship stuff in order to improve existing relationships or to prepare for future ones. Other clients are trying to find themselves after divorce or a painful breakup. We talk by phone or video conference. People like it. Or at least they fake it really well by continuing to schedule future coaching calls and give me more money. If you’re going through something and think I might be able to help, it’s really easy to find out for sure. Learn More Here.


‘Did you try to have sex with your wife?’

That was the subject line of an email sent by a reader. She’s a stay-at-home mom with a 10-month-old daughter, and if she’s not exaggerating, her and her husband haven’t had sex since they discovered the pregnancy.

That’s roughly a year and a half ago. Which is a problem.

She found MBTTTR while rifling around the internet, discovered the same unsettling commonalities so many of us share in our troubled relationships, and fired me a note asking whether I tried to have sex with my wife because she’s sad that her husband doesn’t “chase” her nor produce sexual desire in her, and she’s rightly worried about what this means for her marriage’s long-term outlook.

Because if they simply pretend it’s going to get better on its own, things will worsen and then they’ll divorce, and everyone will hurt, especially that little girl who deserves better.

Things only change when our behaviors do. Doing the same thing over and over tends to produce the same results.

The 4 Things Men Should Know About Sex in Marriage

1. Your primal feelings of lust and sexual attraction have waned (or will wane) because of hedonic adaptation.

There’s nothing wrong with this or you. It doesn’t mean you’re not “soul mates” or not “meant to be together.” It means your brain is functioning normally and naturally adjusting to something positive and normalizing it. When things become “normal” or “routine,” they frequently feel more “boring.”

Our brains adjust to positive things because it’s biology’s way of keeping us motivated. It’s called hedonic adaptation, and it’s important for our self-awareness that we understand this. If humans had the tendency to rest on our laurels, we would never accomplish or achieve anything. The downside is, we commonly feel dissatisfied with familiarity. Once you come to mental terms with this, then you can take steps to combat it with intentional gratitude and mindfulness, AND you can come to the intellectually correct conclusion that leaving your spouse for someone else because of “boredom” is an endless cycle like a dog chasing its tail. In marriage, CHOOSING love is very important.

2. Men need to know the REAL recipe for Magic Sex Potion.

Sometimes, people search Google for “magic sex potion.” They want to use an elixir to magically produce sexual desire in their wives. But there’s actually a way to produce sexual desire in wives WITHOUT magic. And it’s a pretty helpful thing to know. See: How to Brew Magic Sex Potion.

3. Pornography and masturbation (especially when hidden) can cause significant harm to relationships.

I’m not going moralist on you here. It’s not my place to judge your heart. I’m saying there are super-practical things you maybe haven’t thought about pertaining to porn and/or masturbation, the most obvious being: Maybe if you stop wanking it in the shower so much, you’ll build up more sexual desire, and maybe that will serve as a helpful reminder and motivator to pursue your wife so she stops feeling like you’re not interested in her, or like you’re more attracted to fake internet chicks than the person you vowed to love forever. This certainly affected my marriage. Badly. I don’t like talking about it because my mom reads this shit. But because I know I’m not the only one, see: An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 13.

4. There comes a point in many relationships where wives feel forced into duties once performed by our mothers. That’s bad.

No further explanation is required: She Feels Like Your Mom and Doesn’t Want to Bang You.

Guys don’t screw up their marriages on purpose. Bad marriages and divorce are MISERABLE. Young men WANT to be great husbands and have successful relationships.

But we are often not armed with the right information in our youth. I don’t think it’s because people are intentionally hiding it from us. I think it’s because most others don’t know this stuff either.

Sex is important. You’re probably thinking about it right now, you big dirties.

Let’s not let one of life’s greatest pleasures be among the things that tears us apart when it, quite literally, is meant to be something that keeps us together.

51 thoughts on “How to Seduce Your Wife (Because Your Old Single-Guy Tactics Won’t Work)”

  1. Preach it Matt. My ex should have heard all of those (especially number 4). If I may add one thing – When you put sex as a lower priority than, playing golf, working on your friends car, hanging out with the guys drinking, playing video games, or just making sure there is nothing good in TV, don’t be surprised when your wife is not interested once you finally get around to sex.

  2. Hi Matt…I stumbled across MBTTTR last October and have read every one of your posts – each one I have been able to relate to from the wife’s perspective. My marriage itself has been slowly declining; my husband is uncomfortable with change and has been in autopilot mode ever since we got married. Anytime I tried to address issues and concerns, I was met with anger, told he didn’t see anything wrong and I needed to deal with it if something bothered me. For the first 10 years I was able to look past this as we each had a child from our previous marriages and the distractions of a busy household helped me bury my resentment. With the last child out of the house several years ago, the resentment bubbled to the surface and I began to explore why I was so unhappy. For a while I thought it was a work/life imbalance due to long hours away from the house. Then, I lost my job of 19 years due to a consolidation and my department moved out of state. Needless to say, being out of work for over a year helped me realize it wasn’t work that was the issue.

    One night in bed, about six months before my job ended, my husband told me to “shut the f*** up. You always make too much noise.” This wasn’t the first time he complained, but he had never gone to this extreme. Over the years if I wasn’t “noisy”, he’d mention something else that offended him. As a result, spontaneity and variety were non-existent. His anger over my noise was like a knife through my heart. I take full responsibility for not bringing up how upset I was but when I constantly heard “it’s your problem, not mine” I got to the point of completely shutting down. So here it is, two years since that incident and in the last four months, I decided to start sleeping in a spare bedroom. About a year ago we did have a very open discussion about my unhappiness and he acknowledged he tuned me out when I would try to talk with him but the other points I tried to bring up fell on deaf ears. He tried to justify his actions by placing blame on me for everything. Needless to say, I no longer have any kind of desire to be intimate with my husband.

    This is long so will wrap this up here. I want to thank you and the other contributors who have shared their experiences as it has helped me to reestablish my boundaries (he doesn’t like it) and made me realize I deserve more respect than this. Sadly, I’ve reached the point of no return.

    1. Just because you sleep in a different bedroom, it doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to a marriage without physical intimacy. Sometimes couples will go the separate bedroom route due to issues with snoring, light sleepers, etc…and still make time and effort for this kind of intimacy.

      Try this out…hint that you want to come and join him one morning in his bed. Tell him that the queen would like to come and visit her king in his bedchamber. Tell him you’ll have your ladies-in-waiting prepare you properly for your king. Then follow through and make the visit. (Be sure to give him this fair warning you are coming to his bed, so he can be prepared for you too – showered, teeth brushed, maybe have some scented candles going and some mood music qued up and ready to play).

      Then be playful, not serious, about things. Bring some coconut lotion and have him give you a massage. Make sure you’re wearing the kind of lingerie he likes, and maybe surprise him with a pair of silk boxers he can wear. Let nature take its course. Afterwards, tell him how much the queen needed that, and thank him for taking care of her needs in that regard. Watch him beam as a result.

      Hope this suggestion in some way helps. Marital intimacy is like anything else in life, you get out of it what you put into it. Best of luck!

      P.S. Make sure you make your bedroom visit in the morning, as I suggested above. You can always close the blinds to make it darker if you prefer. This is because as men get older, and tired and worn out from work, they tend to run out of energy in the evening and get sleepy. His hormonal cycle will be full of a lot more “pep” first thing in the morning, after a good night’s sleep, and you will achieve better results.

      1. While I appreciate your response, it’s difficult to be intimate with a man who does not demonstrate caring, love or respect in and out of bed. I switched rooms so I could have a sense of peace and for no other reason.

        1. Still, what you got to lose? Maybe it makes a difference, sparks a change for the better.

          Either way, good luck and good wishes to you.

    2. beentheredonethat

      Life is to short to try and “please” a man that has absolutely to respect for you (or probably any woman for that matter). Go find someone who treats you better than a doormat.

        1. I agree and my plan is to move on. I’m slowly getting back on my feet financially after an unemployment gap and will make the move in due time. There are so many other issues that he just doesn’t want to discuss that I feel I’ve been spinning my wheels for too long.

          1. Sorry to hear all that. A lot of us men don’t really understand women and vice versa. Hopefully, with the work folks like Matt and others are doing around the world, things will get better. My thing is that we are here together for the long haul anyway, so we might as well get good at dealing with each other. Good luck!

          2. Thank you! It warms my heart to see both men and women on here just trying to figure it all out. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango and if one partner (man or woman) isn’t willing to communicate, the resentment will eventually destroy the couple. One thing I’ve tried to be more aware of is the communication style differences that exist in my relationship. My husband comes from a very traditional Italian family where the husband rules the roost and what he says is not to be argued with. I was not raised in that kind of environment and will speak my mind. Over the years, after getting attitude for having my own opinion, I’ve shut down and feel I have to monitor every word I say so as not to get my husband riled up.

          3. That isn’t a sustainable way to live in my opinion. Both parties should be able to speak freely as long as it is done respectfully. Judging from our rather pleasant interaction I seriously doubt that you are unnecessarily contentious. Good luck… I hope it all works out for you.

  3. Love your blog! Wish there was a way to ‘slip’ these posts into people’s emails… 🙂

  4. Help! Trying to post a comment and it won’t let me. Matt, I’m sorry if you see 6 of the same comments from me.

  5. Wow – Matt it’s like you have a hidden camera in my house! My husband and I just had this “conversation” (fight) this weekend.

    Long story short. Our mattress was shot, but do we do anything about it? No. So, I found that sleeping on the floor was much more comfortable and my body didn’t ache so much. Now, when I say sleeping on the floor, I mean I was only 1 foot away from there I usually slept, but just on the floor. I didn’t move to another room. This is where our problems started.

    Because my physical body was not lying right next to my husband’s physical body, he became very lazy. In his mind, I was unavailable to him sexually because I slept on the floor – I blame his black or white thinking (oh, don’t get me started on that subject – I’m gray by the way). I would still lay on the bed to watch television, etc. and the few times we did have sex, I initiated it (because my husband wouldn’t). It was though I forfeited sex because I didn’t sleep in the bed anymore. He even admitted to me that was his line of thinking. I really can’t wrap my head around it. I asked him point blank….haven’t you gotten horny in the past 4 months? How do you just stop cold turkey? He didn’t really have a good answer. Just basically blamed my not sleeping in the bed with him. Ok then.

    Here’s a secret guys…a woman does want a man to desire her…she wants him to make her feel sexy and wanted…she wants him to grab her and make sure she knows he is going to screw the shit out of her. For us women, that’s part of foreplay. Secret #2 – when a man stops trying to get his woman in bed, we start to feel like we aren’t wanted anymore; which, in turn, leads us to believe we are ugly, fat….(throw any “unattractive” adjective in here); which, in turn, leads to low self-esteem; which, in turn, leads us to just stop trying anymore (“why bother, my husband is apparently turned off by me”).

    In my opinion, sex is not the most important part of a relationship; but once that connection is lost, it can start a downward spiral to a point of no return.

    1. Please disregard Shazam’s bullshit below. You will in NO WAY be banned or blocked or otherwise be made to feel unwelcome because you discuss what makes you feel wanted or valued in your marriage.

      Shazam is a twice-banned troll who prides himself on waving his 1950s-era anti-women flag.

      He talks about his young daughter in terms of her Marriage Market Value (sexual attractiveness + willingness to be subservient in all matters to her husband), and suggests that bullshit metric — the “value” she has in the marketplace of single men looking to marry — should be a foundational motivating factor in all of her life decisions.

      She shouldn’t pursue her individual passions.

      She shouldn’t enforce strong personal values and boundaries.

      She shouldn’t feel intelligent or strong or important or valuable simply by virtue of being a human being.

      She should measure her value on the opinions of single men who may or may not try to sleep with her, who may or may not try to marry her, and who may or may not have her best interests at heart if and when they do.

      His views and values don’t reflect mine or what I want to talk about here. He’s deceitful and inauthentic. And frankly, a bit of an asshole.

      I want people to have healthy and lasting marriages. Whether that is two Puritans or two counter-culture BDSM enthusiasts is of little concern to me.

      I just want people to NOT get divorced for the same reasons I did (because we didn’t know a bunch of things we should have in order to succeed).

      I’m not going to waste my time on idiots who only think of women as animated sex toys and who think marriage can only succeed if wives submit on all matters to their husbands, as if that’s the blueprint for the kind of world any of us want to live in.

      Your comments are more than welcome and appreciated.

      1. Yikes – didn’t mean to stir that pot. All I can say is thanks for the kind words Matt (and some clarification). I appreciate it!

    2. I wonder if “Secret #1” is true for all women. Based on my own experience (albeit with only one woman), I have my doubts, but maybe that’s just a reflection on me.

      In the same vein as “Secret #2”, when a woman stops wanting her man in her bed, he starts to think he isn’t wanted any more, leading to lowered interest and even, perhaps, choosing to stop trying any more.

      “In my opinion, sex is not the most important part of a relationship; but once that connection is lost, it can start a downward spiral to a point of no return.”

      Personally, I believe that sex is what should distinguish marriage from all other relationships. Perhaps it is not the most important part of a relationship, but it is important and sex or lack thereof is a good gauge on the state of the relationship.

  6. “Here’s a secret guys…a woman does want a man to desire her…she wants him to make her feel sexy and wanted…she wants him to grab her and make sure she knows he is going to screw the shit out of her. For us women, that’s part of foreplay.”

    Oh boy, you “went there”. First of all, while I agree with you (and model this in my own marriage), you clearly are not a regular reader of this blog. It’s already been ruled here that such language is too “triggering” to some of the more vocal female readers of the comments section. Why, you’re practically conjuring up images of male dominance, female submission, and wife-beating! The horror! The triggering!

    Matt tried to hold the line for a few months and allow freedom of opinion here, but in the end his inner White Knight got the better of him (no surprise). So now, if you persist with that kind of talk, you will be banned. Trust me on this.

    And anyway, expecting a husband to do what you recommend is expecting a lot nowadays. They’ve been brainwashed to think that doing something like that makes that some kind of woman-beating ogre. Sure, it’s ridiculous…but a lot of guys are still very blue pill. I mean, can you imagine someone like Matt throwing his woman on the bed and, as you say, “screwing the shit out of her”? Yeah…not so much. Now watching a Lifetime movie together and then talking about feelings, sure…that I can see. But that’s not exactly gonna give you the tingles, now is it?

    But as a red piller, I can tell you from experience you’re right in the suggestion you gave. That’s how it is in my marriage, and you’ll never hear my wife complain! Actually, all she says is that she feels so lucky she got one of the last few “real men” still left in this feminized society, lol.

    Good wishes and best of luck to you!

    1. Yes, I can imagine Matt in the future throwing his woman on the bed and screwing the shit out of her. Only in his case it’s something he does with her, not to her. She is an active participant and he is not interested in having her just lie there and take it. This would come after she has asked him to watch the Lifetime movie, which he would do because it is important to her. Having him cheerfully choose to do things he might not otherwise do but does just for her would be a real turn on, so they have an active and satisfying sex life. Future Matt and his future woman also have had open and honest conversations about sex, so things go well both inside and outside the bedroom.

      1. Thank you for spelling it out for anyone who wasn’t exactly getting the point. Appreciate that.

  7. LOL! Matt must be cleaning house, it’s hard to get comments through.

    I just want to tell the ladies who are feeling not attracted, the only way I know to heal that damage is to get yourself around lots of people who make you feel good about yourself. Go out with girl friends, have some fun. Go flirt with some nice guys, help yourself to feel attractive to men again. That probably sounds a bit crazy, but I’ll go to down to the retirement home and flirt with all the old guys sometimes. They know me well, they know we’re just having fun.

    My husband knows me well too, he knows if he doesn’t help me to feel attractive, I’ll find people who will. That’s not a threat like I’m going to run off with someone else, but it is a promise to not let myself get run down emotionally, sexually. I am far more attracted to my husband if I am actually feeling attractive, and he understands that.

    Also, anger is a total killer. If I were mad, and I would be if a husband was making me feel unattractive, I’d have to deal with the anger first. No amount of attraction would make that go away.

    1. Lot of wisdom here for all people, all genders, and both husbands and wives.

      Not sure about the retirement-home play, but I get it. My son’s school has an unspoken rule that you “volunteer” at the weekly Bingo fundraisers a few times per school year.

      Turns out, I’m a huge hit with the Bingo ladies. Perhaps that’s kind of the same. Though I’m not sure I’d intentionally go to Bingo on a Saturday night.

    2. Tina Andrews

      Its over a year now and I’m still surprised when a guy, any guy flirts with me. It just doesn’t compute. Most of the time I don’t even notice. My friends have to point it out. Living in that kind of environment can really sink into you.

      1. I’m so sorry, Tina. I hear you. I’ve seen it, that kind of harm can go right to your core.

        I don’t want to give the impression I’m a total floozy here, but I really work hard at having pleasant interactions with men, at taking note of every bit of kindness, every spark of interest. I’m a bit older, married, so I can do that with a certain amount of safety. Just friendships, just brotherly love, a wink exchanged at the gas station now and then. The other day this kid at the grocery store was juggling pop bottles for me. He was just showing off and I was just appreciating his efforts. Those are the sorts of things that can help to repair some of that damage, but we kind of have to train our eyes to look for them.

  8. It’s so important. It’s SO important. It actually crushes my soul a bit when I hear couples make jokes-that-aren’t-really-jokes about how their sex life has dramatically waned or even died because they’re “long-term.” It’s such an accepted trope, but it shouldn’t be. I think it encourages people to think that settling for less than you desire or need is acceptable and normal, when it isn’t either of those things.

    1. 1. Yes. I think I bought that lie, too, when I was still married. I’d never been around fathers or husbands who I perceived to be mindful of this sex-and-romance component of his marriage. Of course, I was a kid and/or houseguest in every one of these moments, so even if that was healthy in someone’s relationship, I’d probably not know it.

      But to your point, there were MANY instances of hearing tired spouses grumble about boredom, and the old “ball and chain,” and blah blah blah.

      2. Your excellent post was featured on Discover. I was happy to see that. Did you notice a significant move on traffic and followers after that?

      1. That’s true – you never know what’s going on behind closed doors…. Yeah! I know it was a lovely surprise! Yes, I jumped up for 370 or so to now….. 940? Crazy stuff. I’m a bit worried they were all lulled in under false pretenses and are going to realise that actually no thank you and then they’ll disappear!

        1. Ha! Keep doing you, and the right people will be part of it. Some for a moment. Others for a long time.

          When I first started this, I was writing about EVERYTHING. Much more like a journal.

          I didn’t want to be “divorce blogger guy.” But then it evolved into that, and I care immensely about the macro-level mission of waking up more people to these conversations.

          So it’s easy to feel motivated to do it (though I’m highly sensitive to how monotonous it probably gets for the long-time folk).

          Blogging 101 says pick a topic or theme and try to stay focused on it if audience building is a goal of yours.

          If it’s all about the writing for you, then I think there’s a strong argument for telling the stories that stir those “I want to write” feelings regardless of how different the topic might be from your previous entry.

          Anyway. I’m glad your writing got some due attention. That really was a great post.

          Thanks, as always, for sharing your thoughts here as well.

          1. To be honest building my audience is not as important to me as having a place to write down my thoughts and memories because I love to write… and also just keeping to my schedule…. at the same time I’m grateful when people take the time to read and I guess if people were to leave in droves I would feel deflated! Thanks Matt

  9. Hey Matt,

    I think that men and women are sexual beings, period. So desire is normal, and an important component of any relationship (no matter how long). And that’s something both men and women need to always remember.

    When it comes to sex, BOTH people need to feel valued and desired. And when one person isn’t feeling that way, it’s very easy to become hurt. And over time, that will lead to the breakdown of physical intimacy.

    I firmly believe that there is a link between physical and emotional intimacy. When one goes, the other will follow soon after. And then you have these situations where couples are roommates and nothing more, where they have stopped sharing anything with each other, and one or both are likely imagining what life would/could be like with someone else.

    Some say sex isn’t important, or sex doesn’t matter. Personally, I don’t believe that. It’s a physical manifestation of the love and caring between a couple, and in some ways I see it as a barometer of the health of the relationship. If the physical has broken down, chances are the emotional has too. And you need to fix one to fix the other. And if you choose to do nothing, and not worry about fixing either? Well, the costs are usually pretty damned high.

  10. I get where you are coming from, but I would push back a little bit and say that “single guy tactics” will still work as long as they are coming from the right place. You should keep up your workout regimen for as long as you can… your wife will find it attractive. You should make sure there’s cash coming in etc. I think what the author is saying is that in addition to all of that, you have to make sure your woman ALSO feels safe. And by the way, that last bit isn’t optional if you want your relationship to remain healthy.

  11. Where to begin? Hope it is okay to post a response to what I’ve read tonight, stumbling across this blog. Not so much a response re the current post on sexuality but more in reaction to reading a slew of ‘letters to a shitty husband’ that brought me here. I didn’t want to post it on an old thread, so I hope to comment here that it might be read.

    It’s midnight on a Friday and I’ve been crying my eyes out. Searching the skies, as you put it, saying “please help.” From what I’ve read so far, it is uncanny how well you seem to get me, a wife and mother of four, in desperation at a desolate hour. How well you seem to understand what women actually want and need from their husbands and in a marriage. I have read enough of your articles to like you. I appreciate your sense of humor. You seem to have done your Gottman research when it comes to marriage. We have a dozen Gottman books, have attended a workshop even. i have begged my husband to express empathy, understanding. To express that he understands my upset. That he would take responsibility for tromping on my feelings, putting everyone else before me. I wish he would show that he values me as a person, respects me as his wife, heck, even finds me the least bit attractive anymore. I wish he would not send the message when we fight that I’m a crazy irrational lady. More than anything, I wish my husband knew the things you already know.

    I’ve been through divorce once. I was 25 and our baby girl was 8 months old. He screamed at me and tried to throw me out of the house. I cried and begged him to think of the baby. She started to cry. Then he left.

    I remarried when she was 6. To someone I loved more than the moon. When we were dating, I saw his kindness. I saw his purity. I saw his spirit. I saw how he treated my daughter, as if she was his own. It made me desperate to protect her from pain. More than anything I wanted us to be a family together. But he left us. He traveled across the globe (for spiritual reasons). I understood his reasons. Yet I could not bear for my child to lose her ‘second father’ He broke my heart and I think, my little girl’s. I was filled with pain and longing.
    But he came back. A year later.

    I wont bore with too many details (which I tend to do) to sum up: we got married. By then I was 7 months pregnant. And things were pretty good. For the first five years of our marriage. But. Things happened. We’ve been married ten years now. That little girl who was a baby when I got divorced is now 16. We have a 10 year old girl. An 8 year old boy (who acts more like his father every day, and it scares me). And a 5 year old surprise who is our baby angel. This child is like the sun and stars to me. Her heart is pure. She loves everyone in this family with an ineffable innocent goodness. I would do anything to protect her from pain.

    She might be the reason we are not already divorced.

    Tonight I have been drowning in sorrow. It’s a familiar feeling. I’ve lost count over how many times in the last 5 years I have cried alone. Many times I know my husband can hear my sobs, but he doesn’t comfort me. I despair. He is still, I think, a good person. He is a ‘nice guy’, at least to the world outside. He does a lot of cooking (more lately). He gets groceries. I do most of the cleaning and childcare. He works hard. He teaches and has another part time job. We don’t have much money. I gave up a PhD in psychology to be home and raise the children. I have no money of my own. It’s been years since I was employed outside the home. When things get terrible like this, I feel powerless and terrified and unsafe. I feel so furious, so unloved, unseen, unheard. Misunderstood. It seems like he doesn’t give a shit.

    We have been separated several times. In fact last summer he screamed at me. Made holes in the wall. Tried to throw me out of the house. I cried. I begged him to think of the children (they were standing right there). Then they started to cry.

    We separated again, for the summer. In fact he has tried to get me to leave before. By myself. As if a mother should abandon her children. But neither of us has truly wanted a divorce, I think. We have been under one roof since then. We have been in and out of counseling.

    We fought tonight for the third time in two days. Sometimes I feel so trapped all I want is to scream, to escape. But where would I go? I could never leave my babies. I could never.

    This is an example of what goes on.
    We recently trained to run a marathon together. I started running 8 years ago, after believing most of my life that I wasn’t athletic. It was freeing for me. Because I love doing things together, I tried to get him to run with me. At first he was reluctant. Then we started running together. We have run miles and miles as a couple. Sometimes we have fought terribly and those fights ruined the run. Other times we talked about everything under the sun and laughed and had great times. It was healing for us.

    Three years ago I got the dream. The dream of running a marathon. I never believed I could accomplish something so big. But then I thought it might be possible, even for me. We trained for a half marathon and ran it together. Then trained for a marathon but he got injured. He urged me to continue training. It was scary but I did. They cancelled the race last minute, so I did the training but ran another half marathon by myself. It was exhilerating. I was scared to run the race without him, but I felt something in me become stronger as a result. But I still had the dream to run a full marathon. We have moved house a lot so running took a back seat for awhile (we also fought because running was so important to me, and his schedule made me miss a lot of runs).

    Finally 5 months ago, to celebrate our reunion (from recent separation) we signed up for a marathon. For our marriage. And it was my dream. We trained together. We missed more runs than I was happy about, but still. Then things shook. He started expressing he was nervous that I wouldn’t finish the race. That he was faster than me and I might be holding him back. We discussed options. Like what if one of us got hurt and couldn’t finish the marathon. I thought I would want him to stick by me, if it was me. He thought we could run our own race, if it came to that. But said he would ‘sacrifice’ for me if I insisted. (Er, but not because you actually want to stay by my side? Thanks.) I felt incredibly hurt by his one-upmanship about the race. the lack of faith in me didn’t help. It just isn’t nice for a husband to tell his wife she is a slow runner when she loves running. When she got him into running in the first place…

    Fast forward, we had a great 20 mile final training run together. It was raining. i had a cold and no sleep the night before and was pms-ing. Yet we were badass and had a great run. I would never have believed I could run 20 miles. I felt hopeful that the marathon would go well. It didn’t.

    Once again, I was getting sick the day of the race. I had no sleep the night before. It was windy and my asthma acted up. I wore the wrong shoes and my feet started to hurt by the halfway point. I was so afraid of being too slow to finish the race that I didn’t take enough ‘fuel’ or water during the race. We got to the top of a hill at 16 miles and I realized I was done. My knee hurt too much to continue. He stoically offered to stay with me, which I did appreciate. But I also sensed he wouldn’t be happy with that choice.

    To my surprise I heard myself tell him to go, go, get to the finish. Run this for both of us. We worked so hard… He protested for a few seconds and then took off. I hobbled along for another mile then left the course. I went through great pains over the next two hours, walking on a hurt leg and standing when I wanted to lie down to position myself near the finish line so I could see him finish. He did. I felt so glad for him. But sad for me. This marathon had been my dream. I was a failure after all. I was alone.

    We fought because he told other people about my DNF (did not finish). People I dont even know. That he says are his friends. Yet he hasn’t introduced me. People from work. I was already reeling from this failure. He knows I am a private person. How much this meant to me. As soon as we started fighting about his ‘overshare’ he dug in his heels about his right to tell our story, which includes how the race went for me. What about my right to privacy/ Please don’t broadcast my pain. He doesn’t get it.

    All this came at the worst time because he left town right after the race for three days for a school trip (that’s another story – he scheduled this trip knowing it would be the day after the marathon. He thought it would be fine. Um…) I was marathon sore, but had no medal to show for it. I was still fighting my cold and having asthma symptoms. I had 4 kids to take care of when it hurt to stand or walk. We also had head lice in our house that week, oh joy. Did I mention I got it too, right before the marathon. He didnt. He was gone and I was miserable and overwhelmed. I felt abandoned.

    So we fight not because he succeeded at my dream, and I failed. But because he fails to take my feelings into consideration. About scheduling the trip right after the race, about him telling people about my DNF, but mostly about the way we are reacting right now. I could accept his ‘sharing’ more if he would just say sorry, but he won’t. He had the right to ‘be his own person’. To choose whom to tell what (even if it is personal and hurtful to me). He accuses me of attacking him, because I am pissed that he does this. Self righteous anger. Indignation. I yell because he won’t listen. I have tried 6 ways from Sunday to explain my POV over and over. Why don’t my feelings matter to him on this at all? I can only assume he doesn’t care.

    So yeah. I am feeling unloved. Hurt. Furious. Alone. In a panic about the future. Desperate. Heartbroken. There’s a cycle here. About his need for autonomy, my need for respect and for him to show me he cares. To prioritize our marriage over other relationships with people I don’t even know. Why do they have the right to know everything that happened to my (crushed) dream but I don’t have the right to be heard by my own husband?

    If you have read this far, sorry for the book. And thank you for taking the time.

    1. I read to the end.

      It’s heartbreakingly sad and familiar.

      I don’t want this to sound like I’m rooting against someone or advocating w negative outcome. Never. But the man you described (the Gottman workshop and data science being a significant piece) sounds like a man who needs to break and suffer before he will truly comprehend empathy.

      There was nothing magical about what happened to me. When she left, I broke, and feeling something that intense was the trigger I needed to start “seeing” how different people can be affected by different things.

      Thank you for sharing your story. For the record, way more people read comments on the Open Letter posts than will see it here over the long term, but I understand you wanting to be heard.

      I appreciate your kind words about the writing.

      Wishing you and your family my very best.

    2. Hi Tara, I am so sorry things aren’t going well. Yes, it seems your husband is being a “shitty husband”. You are talking to him about your feelings and what you want/need from him, you both are going to counseling. Now it’s on him to change.

      But reading between the lines, it looks like, as a stay at home mom, you are looking to him for your entire social interactions. That doesn’t seem healthy to me. Now that your youngest is 5, maybe you could start working? It would help financially, help ease his load-maybe he could even eventually quit the second job. It would give you friends he doesn’t know, and different people to talk to. Bringing in a paycheck is a huge source of self-esteem, a weekly reward that shows your employer values your contributions.

      I would also urge you to join a local running club. Most running clubs are filled with nice people who are very encouraging. You can still fulfill your dream of running a marathon. Maybe you need to separate your husband from your dream, and make it something of your own. I don’t mean to offend you, but it seems like in your mind his role was to be a part of your dream (you and him doing the marathon together) and you were unhappy that he owned the dream for himself. It’s recommended for people who run together to have the discussion on what happens if one gets hurt, or falls behind pace in a race that sweeps people from the course, and the general protocol is to agree that the ones able to continue will do so without feeling guilt for leaving someone behind.

    3. Hi Tara. I am fellow wannabe runner. I say that in total jest. I’ve never run a full marathon, though I’ve done two half’s in about a 3 week period (does that count?).
      Since then I’ve hurt my knee and haven’t been able to much over 3 or 4 miles, and haven’t even done that since the morning of Nov 9th (couldn’t help but feel deeply defeated at that point, and then just got busy)..But I still consider myself a runner because the joy is sort of permanently imbedded in my soul.
      I’m writing because I’m sort of with Lissy on this….how I’ve always understood running was that it was a solitary sport. Most of the time it’s about you knowing yourself and competing with yourself.
      I do and have trained with others, but there has only been one race that me and my running buddy stuck together, and that was completely unintentional. If either of us had gotten into “the zone” and had to go, I’d see them at the finish line.
      I don’t want any of this to sound like what you are experiencing isn’t valid. Your feelings are your feelings, and are always worth exploring.
      But, if you use running as a metaphor for life and even marriage, I’d say yes-train with your partner. Know them, like you know yourself. Enjoy the time together, share victories and defeats…but also know that when it comes down to it- we have to run our own race. Letting them go ahead allows them to reach new places. Staying behind and sticking to your own pace allows you to have a good race, and can stretch you in ways that will grow you.
      Mostly, we all make it to the finish line – and we get to celebrate each other’s victories,even if they look different. (That’s one of the most freeing things about running).
      Again, I don’t want to discount your feelings and experiences. I just have come to understand that viewing your partner as someone with a distinctly different experience as your own, helps in understanding and enjoying the common experience together.
      At anyrate- you shouldn’t feel bad about leaving the race…the cool thing about phsycial training (and life in general) is that it doesn’t just go away if you don’t make it the first time, it makes you stronger for the next time.
      Hoping you are having a great day!

    4. Hi Tara, you’ve come across a great site with some very insightful followers. I too stumbled across this blog late last year when I was trying to find answers to what was going on in my marriage….was it me? Was it him? Was I being irrational with my feelings? Being here has brought much enlightenment and I hope it will for you as well. In a similar vein as your story, I enrolled in a boot camp to jump start an exercise program. I started to eat better and was feeling really good. One day my husband commented he was going to have to take up some kind of activity because “he couldn’t have his wife looking better” than him. Instead of being happy for my accomplishments, he was insecure with the notion I might look good to other people too. He started bringing in a lot of snack foods into the house which I never buy at the store then getting mad at me when I asked him to not buy all the junk. Anything to sabotage my efforts, he does it.

      Sadly, some spouses (it’s not always men, women can be on the shitty end of the sprectrum) just don’t have the empathy gene that I believe is a key component in relationships. They lack the ability to put themselves into others’ shoes to try and understand what the other is feeling. Matt’s point of hitting rock bottom before finally getting it is spot on. Unfortunately, some just never learn.

      1. SSparkyS..
        That sounds super shitty. And, I admit that I don’t have to deal with living with someone who does crappy things to me on a daily basis. So, I hope what I was saying wasn’t skewed to the shitty side of the scale.
        As I’ve been more exposed to our current cultural rhetoric about relationships it seems like there is a really strong leaning into romantic love being the answer to all our yearnings.
        I think this is being reinforced by what I believe to be the correct conclusion that humans are made for connection. Yet, I think it is being used in the wrong way with some of the “love messages” that I’ve been hearing a lot lately.
        Yes, we are here for connection, and yes tending to your personal relationships is vitally important for having a good life, but I’m feeling a need to push back against love (especially romantic love) being called “our souls destiny” or any such thing like that.
        That’s simply not true. Loving and respecting the *individual* is an important part of having a good relationship. ..that’s not license for disrespect or not caring. Empathy ought to be there, and hopefully voluntarily.
        What’s better than that may even be getting to a place where one understand one’s own feelings, one’s own disappointments, and to care for oneself in those areas.
        I don’t want to say empathy and understanding from your partner isn’t important, or not necessary, but at the same time you can’t depend on your partner to be responsible for your emotional well being, either.

        1. Lindsey, no, I didn’t perceive what you said as being on the shitty side of the scale. It’s always good to hear different takes on relationships. In an earlier comment I indicated I had reestablished my boundaries, after I allowed them to be broken down over the years. While this doesn’t sit well with my husband, the sense of empowerment this gave me was refreshing. I fully understand we are responsible for our own happiness, but it is nice to share our lives with someone, preferably who is respectful, supportive and has the capability of taking their blinders off and understanding that everyone sees, does and thinks differently from one another. Sadly, my husband has a very low tolerance for others, including me, who don’t agree with him or who live their life differently than how he does. This kind of pervasive negativity used to drain me until I realized he didn’t want to change and had no interest in my pointing out how this affected his relationships with others…he simply doesn’t care. Now, I just take care of my own well-being and I’m much better off for doing so.

          1. Thanks for responding back. Even though I love Matt’s message, and the fact that he “got it”, my conclusion at this time is it still comes down to our boundaries, as well as our expectations. It has a certain amount of suckage that your husband refuses to look outward, that’s true. And it makes life difficult when there are two people involved. Basic decency is mandatory, but (

          2. Technical difficulties…
            I may be wrong to make these analogous but the disappointments many women have, of the omission of love, relationship or empathy (in some areas), is similar to my disappointments related to my no-husband. It makes me wonder how much is related to expectations. The offenses against the individual is another story entirely…And the refusal to be heard when one person is being shitty to the other would be intolerable for me, it is there that empathy is needed, without a doubt. ..
            All of this may be coming from a sense of relational amputation on my part, – like ” I walk on my (metaphorical) stump just fine, maybe you don’t really need him/her to function as your other leg like you think you do.” …ok, not a perfect metaphor, but it’s what I’ve got…

    5. “So we fight not because he succeeded at my dream, and I failed. But because he fails to take my feelings into consideration. About scheduling the trip right after the race, about him telling people about my DNF, but mostly about the way we are reacting right now. I could accept his ‘sharing’ more if he would just say sorry, but he won’t.”
      Tara, You know what? I’m really sorry – I think (I know) I was reading through my own filter.

  12. useful advice in this world of trashy awful advice in other parts of the internet, by people who don’t even try to understand women, hope the people who need to read it, do one day find it

  13. Pingback: 11 Relationship Questions People Are Secretly Asking (and Maybe a Few Answers) | Must Be This Tall To Ride

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Matt Fray

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