An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 14

Comments 66

Because I failed to create any type of plan or structure to ensure preparation and acknowledgment of special occasions like Valentine’s Day, our wedding anniversary, my wife’s birthday, etc., my epic ADD-ness, procrastination and sometimes lack of money created a bunch of negative or lackluster moments in my marriage.

When two people are in a romantic partnership together, there’s always a little bit of give-and-take as it’s impossible and impractical for each partner to satisfy exactly half of all shared responsibilities.

But when someone doesn’t get anything back when they give, give, give, they eventually run out of energy. They eventually stop giving.

Until the final couple of years of our marriage that I should have (but didn’t) recognize as the End Times, my wife was always incredibly thoughtful and an organized planner about almost everything, including things specifically for me.

It wasn’t a courtesy that I returned. I’m prone to procrastination and poor calendar management because I’m all kinds of ADD that was undiagnosed and unidentified during my marriage. I got comfortable. Lackadaisical. And lost sight of the importance of investing in my wife and marriage.

She put effort and energy into doing things for me, and planning things for us to do together.

I did not return that same level of effort and energy. I very rarely took the initiative to plan shared activities for the both of us.


And now I’m divorced, and this EXTREMELY EASY THING TO CORRECT is a significant reason why.

Here’s the simple truth: When you make conscious, mindful, regular investments in your wife and marriage, and create opportunities to do fun things together, and demonstrate as a matter of routine that you have HER and the BOTH OF YOU top of mind and are investing effort and energy in your togetherness… you probably have a strong and healthy marriage.

And when you don’t?

You end up like me.

It Wasn’t Always That Way

I was still 18 when I met the girl who would give birth to our son 10 years later.

A mutual friend had been talking about hooking the two of us up for months. My future wife was super-involved in school activities at the university we attended, whereas I mostly just drank beer and smoked weed at awesome parties.

She was the feature baton twirler for the marching band during football season.

She was a competitive ballroom dancer.

She was on the dance team for the college basketball season.

She always had practice or a part-time job to go to, or homework to do, so she was never at any of our parties. After months of being told we’d make the perfect couple, we’d still never met.

Then one night, I heard she was going to be there—at the off-campus apartment where most of our freshman-year parties took place.

I was drinking and smoking and having a great time with my best friends like almost any other keg-party night, so I wasn’t ready for her to walk in.


She’s the kind-of pretty that makes your stomach hurt. Smiling eyes. Gorgeous cheekbones. The kind-of smile that makes you mirror one back to her, even when she isn’t looking.

She was smart. Funny. Easy to be around.

She was everything teenage-me could have ever wanted. Everything except available.

Our mutual friend didn’t realize my future wife was dating someone. And even if she wasn’t, she didn’t have free time to actually date, nor am I sure we’d have ever made it while she was being super-responsible and I was being super-irresponsible.

Our “perfect-togetherness” would have to wait.


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We stayed in touch. A phone call here and there. A hug and friendly chat somewhere on campus whenever we’d cross paths.

I dated someone for a couple of years in there, and so did she.

But here’s why I’m telling this story: One random afternoon while I was riding around with one of my friends, I had him stop at a store because I wanted to buy flowers and a card for this gorgeous blonde I was crushing on.

Just something to let her know I was thinking about her.

The Framed Greeting Card

It was the kind of card that folded from the top down.

She’d kept it for a few years in between me giving it to her, and us getting together in a couple’s capacity when we were 22.

I liked that she kept it. I liked it a lot.

It sat in a little horizontal frame on a dresser or nightstand throughout our years together. I read it a few times, but I can’t remember what I wrote inside, and I don’t think it mattered.

What mattered was me taking the time to get a card and flowers, to write a thoughtful, personal note to her. There was no particular occasion or reason to.

I had just wanted to.

Call it a broad generalization if you want, but I think girls like it when you do something for them—just because.

For more than a decade, that little card sat there.

Once a cute, heartwarming reminder of a thoughtful guy who would call a Life timeout simply to invest in making the woman he loved feel good. For no other reason than he wanted her to feel good.

But later, I think that little card became a disappointing reminder of what might have been. Not a symbol of goodness. A symbol of a guy who is capable of making her light up and feel good, and who day after day after day, seems to choose stuff he cares about, and doesn’t seem to think much about her at all.

A little card that’s almost certainly not hiding in her nightstand drawer—but decomposing in a garbage landfill somewhere.


Which is fitting, because a waste is exactly what this was.

Just an everyday text: “Thinking about you.”

A weekly phone reminder to plan a mutual (or family) activity for the weekend.

A conscious effort to prioritize this concept of investing in and giving energy to things that benefit our partner, or actively demonstrate that we value and appreciate the person to whom we promised Forever.

That we want them.

That we love them.

That something we do for them is worthy of sitting out as a reminder of something good and meaningful. Something that won’t be discarded to rot in the ground, buried and forgotten forever.

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66 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 14”

  1. My soon to be ex-wife’s birthday happens to fall on Illinois’ firearm deer season…. which is something I don’t miss. Turns out that a woman’s 30th birthday is a big deal! (who knew?!) Wish I could have had some of these ‘special days’ back that you describe, Matt. Primitive tent camping in late November, even in extreme So. Illinois where the weather can be very mild, even nice, isn’t typically at the top of any woman’s 30th birthday party wish list. Wish I could have found a way to make sure that ‘everybody wins’. All those who are still married, heed this post.

  2. somecallmejack

    “That we love them”

    It might be that simple? Probably isn’t, but probably doesn’t matter if you get that right.

  3. Poignant, sort of heartbreaking reminder … little things , little efforts , little touches MATTER …

  4. This! I spent years — YEARS — telling my ex-husband that all I wanted for Valentine’s Day was a card, and for my birthday or Hanukkah I wanted him to plan a weekend away for us.

    “Surprise me,” I said. “Tell me when but not where. Pick somewhere I like, find someone to watch our son, and take me away.” This happened exactly once in the 20+ years we were married before he decided he no longer wanted to be married and bailed.

    My new guy got me a horseback riding lesson when I said I had never been on a horse, took a day off of work to take me to Maine for a weekend, and wants to plan a time when he can take me and my son to Nantucket for a few days, if not this summer, then next.

    Guys, it makes a difference. Really.

    1. Yeah, a date isn’t anywhere close to relaxing if I plan it, choose the location, find care for the kids, and have to check 15 times that it is, indeed, on everyone’s calendar.

    2. I got my girlfriend a horseback riding experience as a birthday gift once, something she had talked about being on her “bucket list”. Turned out a horse was too big and “bumpy” for her taste. Not a good experience.
      Took her on a mountain hike in a beautiful setting. Not a very long or demanding one. Halfway through she wondered if I wanted to kill her. (By exhaustion, exposure, slipping and falling, I don’t know but there wasn’t any real danger to any adult of somewhat functionality)
      Took her to a resort, and during a “romantic” stroll by a leake we got attacked by mosquitos. But instead of just going/running back to the hotel, she kind of froze at the scene and demanded that I solve the problem.
      She asked me to take her out to dinner and dance, but once the music started she was suddenly tired and needed to get home to sleep.

      Any thing or any event she ever asked for that I took the time and effort to plan for us, big or small, suddenly became “my worst idea ever” halfway through…

      We were together for 5 years, and towards the end I made a final all-out effort. (I didn’t know it was final then, though.) Over the years we had talked about the places in Europe we wanted to visit (we live in Sweden), and I said “Let’s do it.”
      So we spent over half a year planning a 6-week vacation/roadtrip over Europe.
      Planning destinations, activities, route choices, alternative activities in case of bad weather, booking hotels, pretty much everything.
      By her demand, I put in most of the actual work (googling, mailing, etc.), but I took her input regularly and synchronized everything with her.
      Then, just a few weeks before we were about to leave, tickets are bought, most of the hotels and accomodations are reserved with a down-payment, she comes to me one evening and says “… You know I’m only doing this for your sake, right …”

      So don’t get me started on “surprises”…

      1. None of my business, and feel free to not ask, but I’m curious as to benefits of this relationship. All of the good stuff that lessens the impact of these incidents you shared here.

        Most of my criticism in things I write tends to be geared toward NOT doing the things you ARE doing.

        I’m reading this as you two being together still.

        I’m not asking “Why?” to challenge you, or make it seem as if I’m judging her based on one internet comment.

        But simply as an exercise in curiosity, I’d love to hear some of the good things that offset these moments that feel like a significant amount of ungratefulness.

        1. Hi Matt,
          I am not really sure I understand your question (perhaps it gets lost in translation as English isn’t my native language), but if it is “Why are we still together?” then the answer is simply “We are not.”.

          The “We were together for 5 years” part was put in there to indicate that our expiration date really had passed quite some time ago, but perhaps I wasn’t clear enough.

          Thanks for your reply.

      2. FlyingKal, you sound like a sweetheart who did everything right, or at least right to the best of the information you had. She sounds like she was a headache, and I am sorry you had to go through all that.

  5. This hit article hit me hard today. Amazingly accurate. At least from my (wife) perspective. It’s the little things that count. It only takes a bit of effort to make a huge impact. I pray that my husband of only 3 years will figure this out sooner than later.

    1. Hi Michelle, I was struck by your response. I hope you find an opportunity to chat with your husband how much this matters so that he doesn’t fail at figuring it out all by himself. I wish you well in your marriage, I’ve been married for nearly 23 years and it takes hard constant work but loving, encouraging communication is always central to everything.

  6. Oh, Matt this makes my heart ache for you both. I don’t know if I’d have left the card out as long as she did…probably would have become too painful.

    A few years into our marriage, I got a birthday note scribbled on notebook paper. Just about made me cry (and not the good kind of tears). He hasn’t done that since because he saw what a slap in the face it was. Recently we’ve shifted to having a journal for each of us that where we can write letters to each other. Birthday, Christmas, anniversary, Fathers’/Mothers’ Day. That way we don’t have a ‘crap I didn’t pick up a card’ moment.

    But those ‘oops’ things aren’t just ‘oops’ on the receiving end. They are ‘I don’t think/care enough about you to remember this.’

    1. I like the journal idea. throughout my separation I’ve made notes of things I want to do better/different in the future, at first it was for my ‘wife’ but has now I guess been officially shifted to ‘whoever comes next’. The journal you speak of is one I’ll be adding to the list.

      1. The journal is something I decided to start in my marriage for multiple reasons. We haven’t done great at using it, but when we do, it is very meaningful. We searched for a long time (too long) to find an appropriate journal for the purpose (red leather with some design). Part of my idea was that it made it possible for us to always have these memories and feelings expressed in the journal than rather spread across piles of cards for every occasion. But not as a substitute for occasional flowers and a love note once in a while just because.

        I could still do better at taking action when my wife expresses she wants time away with just me and not kids, or when she wants a date night. For too many years I’ve tried to put it on her to figure out the date night plan and babysitter and all if she wanted to do it. And guess what, that hasn’t worked and we’ve had far fewer romantic dates and she feels much less loved than if I’d been responding as you shared Matt.

  7. Shivani Faust

    Now I just have to figure out how to get my husband to understand this concept of little things…..

  8. This speaks to me, too. In 17 years, my XH and I went on exactly one date a year – our anniversary – and even then, it was usually just to a movie while his parents watched the kids. I asked for more time together over the years but it fell on deaf ears. He never thought it was necessary. And I can’t remember him once surprising me with anything, no matter how small.

    I never felt like he wanted to know me/be with me in any significant way. If he did, he didn’t show it.

    1. I think I must have married your Xhusband’s brother.

      This is so refreshing to see that a man gets this.

      Yesterday I got all dressed up. Was going to an appointment, not any other big reason. No notice or compliment by my husband, just “ Why are you dressed up?”

      Even my daughter did the same, asked why, rather than saying I looked nice.

      The only one to offer a genuine compliment was this woman I ran across. A perfect stranger was the only one who was kind to me.

      It just feels like a pattern of “ I don’t care that much about you/ don’t love you very much” from my husband and daughters.

      My husband and kids didn’t get me anything at all for my 50th birthday, after several years of scary health issues. It felt like the ultimate slap in the face. I could have died in surgery, no one even seemed to care I was still alive.

      I love my kids, and my husband but feel trapped by this marriage and that my husband’s attitude of “ how she feels doesn’t matter “ has rubbed off on our girls.

  9. Oh ouch. Sad but true. Well done, Matt.

    My husband has stolen the flowers of a table at a restaurant, torn the words out of a piece of advertising, gifted me with rock even. It has a lot to do with why we’re still married.

  10. Wow, I love your absolute honesty. I’m on the opposite side of this…and it’s so nice to hear a man be truthful! Thank you for sharing.

  11. Awesome post Matt! To most of us women, it is the small, simple things that matter in a relationship. For as complicated as we seem, we truly are not. Bless you for writing this!

  12. Spot on Matt. Early in our relationship, my husband would surprise me from time to time, and I never failed to express love and gratitude for his efforts. I too would do nice things as well. However, somewhere along the line, those gestures stopped…and eventually I stopped as well. For years I’ve felt like my husband has been in autopilot mode, not wanting to address issues I’ve wanted to discuss or deflecting my concerns back to me. There are reasons I stay, but I won’t be able to hold on much longer. Little things do matter. Genuine efforts matter. It doesn’t matter how many years you are together, please don’t take your partner for granted.

  13. Wow, awesome Matt, so very true!! I’m really glad that you can acknowledge the part you played in the breakdown.
    All the way from downunder, I have ended my second marriage, ho hum, its too hard spending the past 18 months trying to keep it all together – 4 kids, home cooked meal every night washing, folding, kids taxi but the most important one I couldn’t control my husband… if he could remove himself from the couch and shower that was a bonus but no, I nagged him to shower, I nagged him to pay the bills, I nagged him to wash up.
    He did nothing….. the fights and his threats we constant… In the end I had no more emotional energy to keep up the charade. I was left living in a home that was three weeks behind in rent, 3 kids, no phone and no car, I was not going to stand for a man to threaten my family and beholden me of things either for power!!!
    It is the little simple things that matter, yet the courting stage and the first two years of marriage, I was showered with love and attention, gifts, flowers, dinner, shows and simple time and effort…
    I am on my own again now and I vow to stay that way, I have lost all trust and faith in men after two horrific marriages of power and emotional and verbal bullying!
    I am still in hiding, doing the best I can to look after my children.. Amen… for strong independent women..

  14. As always, very thoughtful, Matt. The cards, flowers, planning dates make life more beautiful for a woman because they remind us that someone cares about us. I am dating again and I am receiving these things. I want him to do this – always!

    The way I look at it, I am training him how to treat me. I let him know how much I appreciate his efforts. I hope by letting him know how I feel he will be encouraged to continue. After each of us had a failed marriage I think he is willing to learn, as am I.

  15. And this is exactly why the rate of divorce for couples where one or both partners has ADHD is much higher than the couple not impacted by it. For this particular topic/post, I’m going to say (in my expert opinion) that you need to forgive yourself for these instances because they are the hallmark of ADHD symptoms in adults. Not saying you’re excused, but undiagnosed ADHD is a legitimate reason for their occurrences. And the fact is that you probably would have done something, anything, more than you did if your partner would say ‘hey, you used to do x, y, and z and don’t anymore. I need you to _____.’ Because most adhd’ers like to please, but are indecisive due to too many choices. So they do nothing. If they’re too distracted to notice something, like say their partners’ wish for them to take initiative and dissatisfaction, they do nothing. In the end, the non-ADHD partner didn’t ask for what he/she wants/needs, and the adhd partner didn’t attend to the signals the partner was giving off. Add that too a lack of a sense of time, impulsivity, forgetfulness, and internal restlessness and/or lack of follow thru, and you have a recipe for divorce, or extreme unhappiness. You couldn’t have known what you didn’t know. And you have a neurological condition preventing you from noticing things that aren’t intrinsically interesting, or more interesting than the things you’re attending to. Many books have been written on the ADHD marriage, you’re not alone! My first husband had ADHD, and wouldn’t do anything about it, despite my pleadings and my profession. My current SO also has ADHD (I just love people with ADHD (; ) , understands it, and puts systems in place to cope with it. I, in turn, have to do my part in understanding limitations of his brain wiring, and communicate my needs and wants. So you’re not 100% at fault for the happenings described above. All three of you (you, your wife, and your ADHD) contributed to that outcome. With diagnosis comes a whole new life – have to forgive yourself for not realizing the impact of what you didn’t know. Just wanted to make sure you adopted that viewpoint. I hate it when my adhd’ers engage in self-blame for ADHD-related issues! And I wanted to check in because I haven’t said hi in a while (;

    1. Something interesting on that front… I think she really now understands what you’ve written here. We’re having these conversations with our son’s pediatrician and an ADD/ADHD-specialist PhD (I should get you his name) and through this process of wanting to understand how to be the best-possible mother to her son whose mind works a lot like his father’s (!), she’s gaining a solid understanding of why some of these day-to-day things happen, and I think (but can only guess) that it’s advancing her understanding of our marriage in a pretty profound way.

      Funny how life works.

      Always excellent to hear from you. I need to check in off-line to hear about your personal-life happenings and growing family.

      Thank you for this, Dr. K. I do think this remains a poorly understood thing, and a common destroyer of marriage.

      For my part, I have no idea where to stop accepting responsibility for these things. I don’t know where the line between personal responsibility and ADD lies.

      But for some people out in the world, LEGIT attention issues that are a byproduct — not of neglect, but of brain chemistry — are damaging relationships, and I hope someone like that reads this and thinks about the implications there.

      They’re significant.

    2. As the non-ADHD spouse, I can relate to and appreciate the comments from Matt and you, DrK. However, I also feel the need to point out that that even when the non-ADHD spouse vocalizes EXACTLY what they need/want, that does not translate to the ADHD spouse being able to deliver. Not. at. all. LOL! I wish, though….

      It has taken a lot of couples and individual occupational therapy for my husband to learn how to first even HEAR and digest a need/want without defensiveness and then to take appropriate steps to be able to respond. I just don’t want another person in my position to think it’s their fault their ADHD spouse isn’t delivering – somehow because they haven’t been clear about what they need/want. That’s really not the case. It may contribute to the problem in some relationships, sure, but clear communication does not make an ADHD person take action.

      1. Oh that’s not what I was saying at all!! I was commenting on this specific post about growing resentment and knowing Matt personally. Not making a global ADHD-impacted relationship statement at all! However, being married to two adhd’ers and treating ADHD couples, I know that the ADHD person usually wants to please. It’s about finding the system and manner in which the non-ADHD spouse can communicate that makes the adhd’er hear them. Defensiveness is a common reaction because they can’t hear one more criticism. This is a conversation for another time, but because it was undiagnosed in matt’s case, his wife likely attributed his reactions to a core personality flaw, rather than the result of a neurological condition. That was my only point in my post. But what you say is true, relationships with an adhd’er is hard. Very hard.

        1. It’s no body’s fault at all. Just a need for a different way of doing things so everyone is happy and no one harbors resentment

        2. It’s no body’s fault at all. Just a need for a different way of doing things so everyone is happy and no one harbors resentment

    3. The divorce rate where one of the partners is on the autistic spectrum is quite high I believe about 80%. I can imagine something similar for those with ADHD, although I don’t recall seeing similar stats for ADHD.

      Here’s an article by an author/columnist who has just realised that ADHD was a contributing factor in the breakdown of his marriage.

  16. Wow! Thank you for your transparency and for using your pain to help others. I got to the place that your wife did in our marriage and according to our therapist, it is very common for husbands to be completely shocked when their wives leave. I am sorry. We were separated, but have been working on a lot of the things you are describing in your post, and individually changing. Keep going!t Keep growing! Thank you for writing.

  17. kirstencronlund

    I’m in love with this post. It’s just so spot on. I actually know two very attractive divorced women who are so afraid to put both feet into a new relationship for this very reason. They date men and either consciously or unconsciously keep them guessing as to the security of their relationship because they’re so afraid that as soon as they relax into it the guy will begin to coast. So, unfortunately, the damage of this kind of neglect has even longer-lasting implications than just the breakdown of the marriage (and I don’t really mean “just”); it can really screw with a girl’s ability to trust anyone to cherish her. Thank you, Matt, for putting into words this painful dynamic.

  18. I am always in awe of your introspective and well researched ( sadly by experienced aftermath ) posts. Iwouldn’t wish these types of experiences on anyone . I am a recovering shitty husband as I have posted in the past. I had all the excuses all the good intentions and a heart that was guided by my love for my wife and family . Sadly what I thought was to lead to a great crescendo and our happiness would bloom eternal , was what nearly ended our marriage . Tried to back burner the little things thinking they didn’t matter as much because the big payoff was on the horizon . I needed to focus on things that in retrospect didn’t mean as much as the night away or the little just want to remind you that I love you notes. I too did the ritualistic little cards stuffed animals flowers bit when we were dating , so why couldn’t I keep that level of staying connected going after marriage ? There’s no excuse , there’s no logical reasoning to justify not taking care or time to show your love devotion and commitment . You make your partner feel safe honored and relevant . A very insightful poster on this sight talked once about “death by paper cuts”..that is so profoundly true…I never in my 33 year marriage or 58 years on earth ever looked at any situation in that manner . It’s so true …. it now forefronts most of my interactions of all types . The opposite “life by the simple stuff” is far easier and the payoff is exponentially better . For the last few years I have been slowing down with work, community involvement and a host of distractions to spend more time with my beautiful Anne . I have planned numerous small dates and activities we both enjoy . The look on her face changes immediately . ..peaceful relaxed loved and respected honored , it has a look and a smile . Have all our dates been home runs ? Not really but we made the best of the awkward . True story . ..there was a 70 s and 80s dinner . dance party I thought Anne would oove, good restaurant , well known local band, charity based event so a lot of feel goods going on here.. we was a surprise for Anne , I took the night off from work, I picked her up from work and we drove directly to the event 45 minutes away . When we got there we found an unusually large number of medical transport vehicles there but didn’t give it much thought . we walked in to the restaurant we noticed how crowded it was so I go to the bar to get us a drink and we go off to find a table ( it felt like being at an awkward wedding ). On our way to get a seat I tipped over a walker…after getting settled in we made pleasentries with the other couples at our table all of them were 30 plus years our senior (we are in our mid to late 50’s ) in fact we were the youngest people in the room ! After tripping over 2 more walkers and Anne getting her silly laugh going we went to dance…the lead singer excused himself and needed to go home to rest .We shuffled back to our table and watched as many of the attendees started to look sleepy…I looked at Anne ,who was being as gracious as one can be , and said ” I think we can catch last call at the Christmas tree store” (her favorite place) and off we went laughing and hugging and kissing and hold hands all the way. As much of a fail that date was it was a success too. She loves my efforts and I love her.

  19. I hate that when I read some of your posts I see the parallels of relationship breakdown of my own…and lament that my ex doesn’t understand it the way you do. (or if he does, I wouldn’t know it at this point) I don’t really know why, six years out, I would want him to have your perspective anyway, or what difference it would make at this point. It’s not like I want him back. It just makes me sad…and brings up lamenting a potential for a life that is now dead and buried.

  20. Been chewing on this one in my head for a couple of days and I did like it, don’t get me wrong.

    Maybe it comes down to the love languages. My husband is a bit of a romantic. Always comments on the anniversary of our first date. He unfortunately married a woman who is a bit more pragmatic and has more of a service to others mindset. It was difficult for both both of us as his “romantic gestures” kept falling flat in the face of other deep difficulties in our marriage.

    He wasn’t able to understand that my demonstrations of love ended up turning me inside out to support him and fill in all the gaps in the mundane day-to-day stuff. It got harder and harder to be the romantic girly partner that he wanted and he just couldn’t see that I was too tired.

    Being apart showed him how much of the “unfun” had fallen to me and how happy I was continuing to do it in his absence. I didn’t mind the hard work I just didn’t like being the only adult in the house doing it.

    Our revamped approach to our marriage includes much more shared responsibility as well as a lot more fun with just the two of us. Sometimes flowers and romance and sometimes sorting the recycling.
    Not every girl can enjoy the flowers when really major gaps are there. Loving gestures are lovely, just not bandaids.

    1. Still – you put my thoughts on this post into words perfectly. I totally get what you are saying!

  21. I often wonder when I read your posts, Matt, if the people (both men and women) who should be reading them ever do. I sure hope so. Good stuff, as usual. 😉

  22. Over the course of reading your shitty husband volumes, I’ve either been in one of two places in my marriage. I’m either doing well, feeling somewhat happy, pushing through, and only partially thinking about finding a way for your blog to mysteriously end up in my husband’s inbox. Other times, I just want to print out all of the volumes, have them leather-bound, and drop it on top of his smart phone while he’s ignoring our children and not doing his share. Currently…I’m feeling the latter.

  23. The thought did not count

    This makes me think of a recent situation in my life. I just gave birth to our first child in June. For mother’s day only a few weeks before the birth, my husband continuously asked me what I wanted. All through my pregnancy I hinted at a nice dinner out somewhere special, a surprise. My husband couldn’t give me that. He couldn’t think outside of the box. Instead we went to the usual spot where he ate very quickly and said we should just take dessert to go. I was then presented with a card (which as always was last minute iin his way home from work) that had a note he got me a prenatal massage . “Great!” I thought. Unfortunately it was only the idea of the massage. According to my husband he didn’t know where a place that does those would be so he said I could research it, and book the appointment myself. Hooray…. something extra on my to do list. I wasn’t worth that extra effort to him. He was too cheap and too last minute to care. What a lovely first mother’s day.

  24. I’ve had birthdays where he’s not even bothered with a card let alone a gift. Other birthdays he’s gone all out and gotten me the first thing he grabbed off a shelf – a gift pack of flavoured olive oils is one that comes to mind which looked like he got it in a lucky dip (I felt insulted and would have preferred nothing). Same with Mother’s Day. I am happy with a card that at least acknowledges me. Luckily for me, my children made me a cards and a craft pieces. Those meant more than anything he could buy me.
    He has taken me out on 3 occasions to really nice places for dinner in the last 8 years though (where he’s actually organised it). But I paid for the last one.

  25. No-Gift-Ever Wife of 10 years

    Any chance you could write a post on how to get your wife SOMETHING for Christmas before the holidays get here?

  26. What men need to realize is we don’t need you anymore. Your not out hunting our food or plowing the fields. Women are doing what they always did plus bring in at lest half the income. All the women I know feel like marriage, single moms. How sad is that! Men just keep moving on as always but women are changing. Wake up before your that fabulous pair of shoes that hurts your feet to damn much to wear.

    1. This is so true.

      We’re VERY close to the point where sexual reproduction or pleasure, and the possible desire to have a male parenting partner for children are the last remaining value propositions for women choosing male partners.

      This is an important and powerful observation. I might need to write about this. Thank you, Cassey.

      1. Wrong. While you sound like you live a very miserable life, society as a whole is not “very close to the point” of the doom that you postulate. Seriously, man, just find someone to love (or not if you prefer solitude) and lighten up because you are going to die one day. The only thing you have control over is whether you spend the time between now and then wallowing in self pity, self hatred and being a general drag on the morale of those around you or whether you enrich the lives of others.

        So why would I come back to this site? Because your fallacies are interesting to read and the comments are sometimes entertaining. So anytime I log into my email and see a reply has been posted to this thread, I burn some down time on you.

    2. You sound like an absolute delight to be around. I can assure you that the majority of women in America do NOT share your man-hating viewpoint and we, the men of America, are grateful for that fact. The world is not as bleak as you and your ilk would have everyone believe and hopefully one day you will have a man (or woman if that is your cup of tea) that helps you relax and enjoy life instead of hating the world for the sake of…well…I have not yet quite figured out why people like you hate it.

  27. I wish my husband could understand this before things get bad for us too. I stay at home with our 3 children, and don’t get much “off time”. I want him to show me I’m still that important.

  28. ifonlyitmatteredbefore

    After giving my husband separation papers he’s suddenly “trying” to change. After years of feeling like it was a bother for him to take the time to get a present for me, whether for our anniversary, my birthday or Christmas, this year he bought me club tickets to a professional baseball game and arranged a surprise dinner with my girlfriends and picked up the tab for everyone. While I appreciate his effort, I have a really hard time believing in his sincerity. Why wasn’t I important enough before – why now when, in my eyes, it’s too late? It is just SO very frustrating.

    1. This can’t be overstated: He didn’t know how hurt you, and that you were this serious until the moment you handed him those papers.

      He was shocked, and is now panicking because he loves you and trying his best to change his default behaviors (which takes a lot of time and discipline).

      He’s desperate. You don’t trust him because you made up your mind a long time ago. So when he’s trying his hardest and you’re rejecting those efforts, he’s going to die a little on the inside and probably react emotionally.

      That’s not going to help your trust in him, but we all crack under enough pressure, and losing your wife/family is the worst.

      I might be wrong. I am sometimes. But this routine is about the most common one I hear about.

      Sometimes, when both people want it enough, couples come back from it. I’ll be hoping that’s the case here.

    2. It was the case with me. I was blind but now I see. That was 28 years ago . ..not a day goes by since then that I am reminded of what could have turned out tragically . I valued her and our little family then but I wasn’t showing it….I wasn’t showing up . …it took such a kick in the ass for me to come to my maturity and my responsibility and to behave like a spouse . .like a partner . a good man . Communication is key…blessings for whatever outcome . If it’s worth it to you fight for it . ..if it’s worth it to him he will also .

  29. Thank you so much for all of these short but infinitely helpful advice posts. Written by good men about real life might have been my only chance at the possibility of my husband seeing himself in a light that I couldn’t communicate .
    I’ve tried for 21+ years and knew long ago that he would never receive the information from me because he would see it as a loss.
    And that has never happened in any area iof our marriage in all that time. No self help books written by professionals and not based on littoral marriage experience with true stories from husbands warning other husbands???
    This wife after more than 2 decades of every story I read repeated exponentially has hope again
    Thank you

  30. What about the husband who is a Type A control freak who has to control all the big things? Who doesn’t realize that 30 Years of marriage have been about him. Where he wanted to live. What house we bought. What we did with “our” money. What we talked about. So much so that so often the wife would only get through half a sentence and he would interrupt to make comment about what’s on his mind. Completely oblivious to the fact that she was speaking and that he cut her off and completely ignored what she was saying or that she was even talking. Or being so engrossed in a tv show or text or something online that she usually had to repeat herself to get his attention.

  31. I’m sorry Matt but your blogs read like reason’s for men not to get married. Your ex wife is a planner, you are not. Those are ingrained personality traits. Some people are just not organized/creative enough to plan things and others are. Your ex-wife probably planned everything else in your life so it should come as no surprise that you wouldn’t be the biggest planner, especially if you were having money issues. You probably have never been a planner and your wife should have accepted you for you. People who are planners like that are deficient in other ways just like everybody else. I’m sure your ex was a real peach to be with. She probably was very controlling and disrespectful at times. Can you please just once post on this blog things that your wife could have done. Were you actually ever happy with her? Was she a good wife? Based on this whole blog I can’t find any possible way a man would benefit from marrying a woman. The only thing you’ve shown is that marriage is all about the wife and that if the man doesn’t cut it then he’s thrown out like freaking garbage. To hell with that man.

    1. Not really Mike P. I think Matt has done a great job (through several posts) of explaining the many different layers of contributing to the death of a relationship, and most men in this position are in fact doing nearly all of them at once towards the end of it all. Not planning dates can be an annoyance or completely heartbreaking depending on what else the husband is or is not doing, and with (in my husband’s case) the porn, the not helping around the house, the disinvestment in the kids, the “forgetfulness”, the not standing up for me or advocating for me in front of others, the criticisms and constant complaining, and the passive aggressiveness, not planning dates or activities is just ONE way that he is killing the relationship out of many. It’s also a piece of a broader puzzle that says “I know longer love you enough to invest in you anymore.”

      Us wives accept a myriad of things throughout the marriage about our husband’s because we love them (including bad planners–for the first few years I happily did most of the planning), but we cannot accept him being a bad planner, lousy father, addiction prone, lazy with chores, unmotivated in his career AND a curmudgeon all at the same time. Because then we end up doing everything and stretching ourselves so thin that what is the point in him even being around anymore?

      I am still with my husband but preparing for getting a divorce and us separating over the next 6 months. He also thinks in the accept me for who I am mentality but conveniently has devolved into being “bad” at nearly everything these days. The way I see it, if you will be capable of doing all these things for yourself when I’m not around and you are single, then you are capable of doing then while I’m here.

  32. Also, one final comment I want to make…I think too many people go into marriage believing that the other person is supposed to somehow “complete” them. Pick up the slack where you fall behind, do the things you don’t want to do because you take out the trash, remember the birthdays, etc. Shit like that. Yes, it’s true that compromise is necessary, and people should balance each other out. But if you’re not fully aware of who YOU are alone, if you’re not secure in yourself (ie you’re looking for someone who makes you feel attractive or you feel compelled to marry because it’s just the “right thing to do” or whatever bullshit reason give that they don’t want to admit to) – You’re not ready for the commitment. Until you learn how to be your own whole person…Aka someone who is whole on their own, who is secure in themselves, who does not need the attention of another human being to feel important, then you will likely struggle with happiness in relationships and repeat patterns over and over. It sounds extreme but I think everyone who has ever been in ANY relationship that’s failed could benefit from therapy or at least a journey of intense self exploration. Find out what your needs are. What you seek from others. What your motivations are. Be comfortable with being alone, or feeling pain, or being exactly who you are. Idk. Without a good foundation, you can’t expect to be the person that another person might need sometimes, and vice versa. Make peace within yourself first before you go looking for someone to fulfill you.

  33. Pingback: An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 15 | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  34. Your post describes my husband quite well.
    I don’t expect the “the red carpet treatment”. But I did loose my cool when my husband compared our wedding anniversary to being just an other stupid holiday.
    I had to set him straight. He also realized it was wrong to think of our anniversary as a regular holiday since he realized we got married by our own volition.

    A few years in m, I had gotten out of bed after him. When I couldn’t find him in the house. I thought he was possibly out getting me a card, chocolates or something similar… Huge disappointment! He had nothing! I would have been happy with a anniversary email or hand written note.
    Previously, I would drop hints on what I would appreciate. Made no difference.
    It took 14 years to get flowers and for him to plan a nice day together. Meanwhile (14 yrs worth) I would always purchase the champagne and plan the day/evening together.

    Our 15th anniversary in roughly in two weeks.
    Let’s see what he remembers…
    (I’m expecting similar to last year) flowers, a nice picnic on the boat and champagne.

    It’s amazing how smart they can be on so many topics and so clueless when it comes to their own wives.
    It really doesn’t take much! Just think about us first a few times yearly.

    1. Hi Anne (beautiful name! My love of 37 years is also an Anne). Boy I remember being an idiot about holidays and events as well. I would love to speak to your husband. Old man outside perspective might make a difference. Just know you have great value and deserve the best. I’m sure your husband is a good man. We all need a kick sometimes.

      1. Louie,
        Thank you for the thoughtful reply and the first name compliment 😉
        Congratulations on your 37 years with your wife Anne. It’s quite the accomplishment! Did your wife give you the “wake up kick” also?

        Yes, you are correct, he is a good man…
        Your old man comment made me laugh. He will be 51 in the fall. He should of figured his sh*t out by now, right? And yes he definitely needed a kick after 13 years of “anniversary disappointments.”
        He did step it up on your last anniversary (#14) after my “kick.”
        Our anniversary #15 is around the corner again. Keep you posted on how well he does. I expect he will keep it similar to last year. Which is ok by me.

        Thank you for your words of encouragement. I appreciated them 🙂


        ask why I was the only one making efforts on our anniversary or birthdays…

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