Please Help Me Answer These Important Questions

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Of the many questions sent to my email inbox (some of which go unanswered—I’m so sorry for that), there are two that stand out as the most frequently asked.

1. How can I get my husband/wife to read your blog posts?

2. How can I get my husband/wife to understand these ideas you write about before it’s too late?

In a way, they are the same question, because they share a common desire and goal—to bridge a relationship divide. To help one person gain the ability to translate their partner accurately, or to acquire the ability to communicate an idea so clearly that the other person finally understands.

Just yesterday I got this question from a husband wanting me to help him find a way to get his wife to read the An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands series, which now stands at 14 volumes. He didn’t say whether he considered her, or himself, to be a shitty spouse.

I don’t know how valuable getting people to read the posts are. I have no way to measure how effectively they accomplish the goal of helping someone evolve their understanding of their spouse and/or marriage that “saves” a marriage, or better yet, makes one thrive.

But the big-picture question here is a significant one: How can we get our partners to understand the ideas that keep couples together?

I am asked these questions more than I know how to estimate. I’ve attempted to answer them more times than I can remember. I’ve tried a variety of answers. I don’t have a sense of how effective any of them really are.

I think we can all agree that we can’t make people love if they don’t love, nor care if they don’t care.

It’s often the case that one spouse has mentally and emotionally checked out of a marriage before their partner realizes it. That’s how it was at my house, only I was still too slow on the uptake to recognize she would actually leave.

I spent YEARS not reading Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, even after my wife asked me to. She proactively wanted me to read a book she believed would help us connect. A book that might teach me how to exhibit intentional empathy in a way that would make our marriage a pleasant, safe, sustainable relationship for both of us.

But I was like: I already love her. I already promised her forever. What more does she want? What more do I really need to do beyond that?

And I just kept NOT reading it.

At some point during the 18-month shit show of us sleeping in separate bedrooms before the day she finally moved out, I discovered and adopted the Love is a Choice philosophy after being introduced to The Love Dares. I also randomly picked up a copy of How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It (which I credit most for putting me on the path of understanding what I think I do today)—which totally blew my mind.

It was an epiphany. Legit. I finally SAW it. The way two people imperceptibly pinprick and papercut one another over the course of many moments through the months and years. I finally saw the danger of two people (usually a man and woman) unable to understand one another, even though they both speak and read the same language.

I excitedly gave my wife my copy of How to Improve Your Marriage… and couldn’t wait for her to read it so she could understand that I FINALLY understood, like for-real this time. So she could see how the book so precisely nailed our relationship dynamics, and my realization that if a mainstream book was able to do that, it must mean that many couples—perhaps even most—experience these same dynamics.

Which means we weren’t uniquely dysfunctional or broken. Which means we weren’t hopeless.

Because common problems have common solutions.

We’re going to figure this out and save our marriage! I thought.

But then for a handful of months, that book sat discarded and ignored next to the bed where she slept. Every morning when I’d go up to the bedroom I no longer slept in to get dressed for work, I’d check her reading progress. If she’s reading, then she must care.

But the bookmark was always on page 53. That’s where she stopped.

I couldn’t figure out why.

But it’s easy enough to see now: She’d been done with the marriage long before I ever even had the ability to articulate the real problem.

She tried to reach me for years, and I was uncooperative and disrespectful.

Later, I tried to reach her, and she was mentally and emotionally spent. I’d exhausted whatever faith she’d had in me a long time ago. And I was getting a taste of my own medicine, as it were.

My wife did not WANT to divorce. Not philosophically.

But in the end, she concluded it was ultimately the best choice for her and our son, and it took me a long and painful time to understand and appreciate why that makes sense.

Because it DOES make sense. The truth hurts.

What’s Your Experience?

We’re not always going to reach everyone. Sometimes, a person isn’t—and can’t be—ready until they’re ready. But I think we’re still obligated to try. Right? To help? To do our best?

We must.

So, I’ve got to ask, and will appreciate immensely your feedback:

Have you ever successfully asked your spouse or partner to read blog articles here, or relationship-oriented books to the betterment of your relationship? If so, how did you do so?

What do YOU believe is the most-effective way to break through communication gridlock to reach a stubborn spouse and help him or her grasp these extremely important relationship ideas so few people seem to inherently understand? Have you tried and succeeded, or did someone successfully get through to you? If so, will you please share how?

44 thoughts on “Please Help Me Answer These Important Questions”

  1. You can’t make your spouse or anyone for that matter do anything and even if you do “force” them to read something, they aren’t getting anything out of it, they’re only doing it to shut you up. If you want real change in your marriage than you need to be the one to change. You can only control yourself and what you do. Men don’t like to be forced to do things, it causes resentment. Women don’t want to be told what to do, it causes them to do the exact opposite. If you want change in your marriage, change the dance and your s/o has no choice but to follow the new steps. Be the change you want.

    1. I’d be delighted to learn that several people achieved their aim using this very method.

      Not easy. Requires humility and self-reflection, rather than finger-pointing and blame-shifting.

      But it’s definitely true leadership. Going first. Love in action.

      Thank you, Amy.

      1. In addition:

        1. While your change may (will) change the dance/change your (plural) system, because we are each autonomous individuals, the result may not be what you hoped for (sadly). Your spouse may see the change as a deal breaker, or may have already fully and finally checked out of the relationship.

        2. This is sort of hard to explain, but I think that sometimes we *think* we’re changing *ourselves* but in reality there are more subtle things going on and we may still be acting out the blame dynamic in our own head, or we may in reality not want what our conscious mind is saying we want. Issues like this may require focused individual therapy, not couples talk therapy.

    2. I’d love nothing more, believe me. But I think that there are limits to this method. Some things in your partner won’t just go away because you’ve changed. You can only accept those things, or not. For example, you cannot un-ADD or un-ACoA anyone, that is entirely up to them to work on. If they choose so. Then you can help with that work, maybe.

  2. I agree with Amy that you cannot make someone else do anything. The only person you can control is yourself and the first thing to do is make sure your s/o wants to save the relationship. If not, your time will be wasted on a lost cause. Once again, ‘changing the dance’ may result in a better relationship, and I certainly hope that people are willing to do the hard work to save it. It sometimes helps if both can reflect on what attracted them to their s/o in the first place and try to get that feeling back.

  3. On my “ah-ah” day, I posted your blog on my facebook page, and discussed it with friends in the comments, who shared their personal experiences in relationships (usually failed, and still bitter). I knew that my husband followed my fb page. I don’t really know if he read it or not, but he definitely got notified of the activity. I did get the book on tape that you recommended and listened to it during my commute. I didn’t try to get him to read it, but did modify my reactions and approach (okay, taking responsibility for MY actions, like I saw a therapist and I sought treatment for mild anxiety/depression). I did notice some conscious effort on his part to bridge the gap, but he refused my request to go to therapy together. He does talk to and take advice from his guy friends, but the bro code doesn’t allow me to find out what may have transpired there. He did accept my request to consult with a doctor for meds for his ADD (after forgetting for weeks at a time and losing the phone number I researched under a pile of things on his desk) but the therapist thought he had “learned to function well enough.” Not a particularly accurate assessment from our point of view, and will probably attempt it again as long as I look up a doctor and keep reminding him (yeah, it’s hard to be the mommy in the relationship). All-in-all, we have met in the middle part way but we aren’t all the way there yet and I’m still being too much the parent and not the partner, but I have to wonder how much of that is the untreated ADD (and people with ADD have sooo much trouble doing things like making an appointment to do something about their ADD). I think that addressing any underlying ADD or emotional problems for both parties is crucial as some destructive behaviors may stem from that, and taking responsibility for what you can is helpful in motivating your partner to make an effort.

    1. work in progress

      A very helpful resource for a relationship impacted by ADD is the book by Melissa Orlov – The ADHD Effect on Marriage. It completely shifted my perspective and I read pieces of it to my husband so he could hear the other point of view. The awareness is huge, because there is a pattern in ADD marriages. But in the end, we can only work on ourselves.

  4. Since I am anonymous I don’t let anyone I am dating read my blog or anyone else’s 🙂 but I do have two exes who follow me – totally trustworthy and we are friends. As for communication I have a friend whose husband never communicates and she doesn’t either. It has led obviously to many problems but one way they try to tackle issues is to leave two jars on their dresser – his and her – and they write down anything that they are afraid to begin a discussion on in a non-confrontational way. As someone who is very open and not afraid to communicate to my partner it seems strange but hey if it helps you might as well try.

    Great post Matt

  5. What a heart breaking tale,Matt. To begin to see the light but it is too late to
    save the marriage. Very sad.

    My philosophy is to always nix anything that begins with, “how can I get my spouse too…” I cannot “get” my spouse to do anything and to believe I can leads either into abuse and manipulation territory or else co-dependence.

    The question is also wrong because the focus is all wrong. It assumes,if my spouse would just change, all would be well with ME. That’s a deception. We need to be asking, how can I make all be well with me, completely separate from my spouse’s response at all?

    Absent a spouse’s physical abuse,addiction,rampant criminal activity, we really can transform ourselves into contented, joyfully married people,and sometimes that work we do on our own selves can lead to a change in our spouse. Or not. Regardless,the end result is that you are content and joyfully married.

  6. I think the only thing you can really do is model the behavior you want to see, while also establishing firm boundaries of what is not acceptable. And then seeing what happens.

    Sometimes people will “get it”, more often they don’t. And then the marriage fails.

    It’s sad, but I have heard the story SO many times when someone doesn’t get it until it’s too late, and the only reason they ever got it in the first place is BECAUSE it was too late, and they lost what they thought would be there forever.

    And it’s so damned painful for the other person in those cases to be the one who says “you know what, I’m done – and walk away”. But unless someone truly gets it on their own I think that’s the only real choice. Well, that or stay in a marriage that devolves into two people who grow increasingly resentful and lead individual lives – but to me that’s not what a marriage is supposed to be.

    Hedonic adaptation. People take for granted what they have instead of appreciating it. And losing it as a result.

  7. work in progress

    The only one we can teach is ourselves. We can share 100 articles, books, blogs or tips. We can attend marriage workshops… in the end it only matters how much we are willing to work on our own issues. The only way I have seen an impact in sharing is when I have sat down with him and tried to express something I am upset about and if it does not work, i pull out a book or blog to reference and explain that somebody else articulated it better than I can, so I want to share their words to help him hear my perspective.

  8. I’m guessing the biggest factor is how long has there been frustration/dissatisfaction/fill in your problem feeling. Because I imagine the longer it is there, the harder it is to even start the conversation. One party is really sensitive on the subject, and odds are the other is clueless.

    My husband and I send articles to each other all the time as ‘maintenance.’ Kind of ‘hey this is a different way to phrase stuff we’ve talked about’ or something similar. But that works for us because there haven’t been issues at a simmer for however many years. We have our ongoing discussions (I swear some topics are ticking towards several thousand outings!) but since there hasn’t ever been a total breakdown in communication or unwillingness to discuss I’m not sure how much help I can be.

  9. Unfortunately I have not been able to get my very stubborn spouse to read any articles on bettering our relationship 😉 However, as someone who has longed for change in my marriage, and contemplated the same questions you have posed, I would like to offer my two cents.

    A big thing that has helped me is that every blog or article I wished my husband would read, I’ve read myself and tried to learn why I am struggling so much in my marriage. As arguments or issues have arisen, I try to use what I’ve learned and calmly explain my perspective to my husband. Nothing ever changes immediately, and most of the time it seems like he just wants to argue with me. But you know what? Even though he acts like he disagrees, after we argue I know he thinks about what I’ve said. And after almost twelve years of marriage, I do see small changes here and there in BOTH of us (he is not the root of all our problems). I believe it’s because I’ve educated myself, and I’ve tried pass that information on to him through our talks. I’m not better or smarter than him, but I am the only one who cares to find out why we argue or have problems.

    Other things that have helped my relationship (to name a few): forgiving my husband and myself (learned from my Midwest upbringing), acceptance (learned from a lot of educational reading), unapologetically but with love enforcing my personal boundaries (learned from this blog), and physical affection (learned from experience).

    I hope over time things will continue to get better in my marriage, but trust me I have had plenty of lows and thoughts of giving up.

    However, that’s the thing: you can’t give up! Too many people give up when they are at the very turning point where everything could turn around. A marriage is like a living entity–it changes, it matures, there are growing pains, and ultimately we hope to be able to look back on a wealth of memories and time well spent.

    P.S. I’m also trying to teach my kids all the above, and hoping for better things for them

    1. Sounds a little like something I’ve discovered relatively recently.

      Sending my wife web page links, etc., was really just part of the blame game. I was using that to support my personal Unenforceable Rules, which I felt she was violating. Because she was violating rules (and was wrong in doing so), I could totally let myself off the hook for being brave and responsible enough to state what I wanted – as wants, and my wants, rather than as rules. And that meant I wasn’t exposed to the potential disappointment of her deciding “hey, ok, I hear you, you want X, but I don’t, so tough.” 🙂

      ‘nother point: I probably don’t actually mean this, but if I could banish just ONE thing from our conversations, I’d ban (or grow us out of) defensive responses. Her: “When you did this, it hurt me.” Me: “I didn’t mean to so you shouldn’t feel hurt, and anyway my older brother used to kick our cat when I was young and that traumatized me so that’s why I responded that way so it doesn’t count, you should deal with it. Plus the sun was in my eyes and I had a stone in my shoe.” You get the point…and it goes the other way, too, it’s a very human reaction.

      1. I think that, as humans, our instant response to being emotionally hurt is to either unleash a ‘it isn’t FAAAAIR’ tantrum worthy of the brattiest 3-year-old or lash out like a moody teenager. It is so hard to keep those aspects of our personalities muzzled some days.

        I wonder how much of the defensive reaction comes from feeling insulted by a (perceived) message that we hurt our partner deliberately. Like Matt has written about, the ‘I’m not a bad person’ reaction happens, so we shut down and end up completely ignoring the original issue, so it happens again and again. I think my husband and I being friends first has helped us with the ‘that hurt me/well it shouldn’t have’ stuff. We also tend to preface this kind of stuff with ‘I know it isn’t what you intended, but it happened anyway’ kind of dialogue. Phrasing it as a message sent/message received problem has helped take the emotion out of the fact that someone’s feelings were hurt (if that makes any kind of sense to someone other than me…). Approaching it as a problem we can solve/prevent together helps keep from placing blame and getting bogged down in side issues.

  10. I think timing is everything. If you approach your spouse in a non-threatening manner, when the mood is good and distractions are few, and are able to make eye contact, keeping the long drawn out speeches in your back pocket, and just say “Hey. This is really important to me. And so are you. We are important, and I read this article/blog/book chapter….and it reminded me of us. I want to you take a look.” Then, you give them some space, kicked back in their easy chair with great lighting, and make some tea or pour a glass of wine or whatever it is you do. And discuss with an open heart and mind.

  11. I’m more of an inclusionist…… I don’t ever believe I have punctuation skills that are equal to my wife’s. Just about every post I’ve made here gets proof read or proof listened by my wife. On numerous occasions she has read back into the blog to discern the premise of my response. Having her be my partner in reacting has made her understand some of my fears, frustrations, communication issues, and host of other marriage makes or breaks. The first time I pulled this technique on her I told her what I was up to after the fact. Now she reads or listens to all my posts before I post them and we usually discuss the content. Many nights we have hashed out the simple deviations that can cause anger , mistrust and General butt hurt that can and will sabotage our marriage if not nipped in the bud. Matt I consider you to be a marriage / relationship Paul Revere…..ride on and sound the alarm as something more terrifying than red coats approaches those with ambivalence, huberous, complacency , narcissism, and general cluelessness. Loneliness, despair, estrangement, and untold shittyness is far worse ….peace my friends

    1. So to answer the questions posed…yes I have gotten my wife to checkout blogs books and With discussions with her….by talking about what’s bothering me and what’s bothering her…by including her before my counseling sessions with what I’m specifically going to talk to the therapist about…by sharing what I believe is the best course for what I’m trying to overcome and what the therapist says about those things as well . It’s an inclusive concept that is risk laden unless you have complete trust and respect for one another . So far so good.
      Question 2) I got the ultimate kick-in – the – ass wake up call to shit or get off the pot by being asked to move out 26 years ago. Boy did I listen after that…my marriage,my kids,my little fledgling family was being ripped apart by the prospect of a looming divorce ….by the possibility of having a custody battle…by the possibility of losing the love of my life for being blind and stupid. I was a muscular 235 lb weight lifter former boxer / wrestler and I got stomped by a little fair skinned 125 lb girl. All for the better because it made us realize…made me realize who and what was really important and that the Maintanence was so incredibly simple.

      1. So glad the wake-up call didn’t happen too late for you! I’m sure it hasn’t been easy, and will always be a work in progress, but that’s better than an ending.

    2. We had a few discussions too when he realized I was commenting rather than just discussing the posts with him. (He’s not as comfortable with online stuff.) So we talked back and forth and came to middle ground. I have him read some of my posts to, before hitting submit, to make sure he’s okay with how I’m going about it. I do enjoy the discussions that come from it, however wandering they end up being. 🙂

      1. Wandering can be good sometimes Rebekah….a good tangent every now and then let’s me know there is some thought and to a degree excitement about future plans together . The almost divorce and a lot of soul searching since (26 Years worth out of a 33 +year marriage) has made me keenly aware of my shittyness and her shittyness . I am far stronger now at 58 than I was at 32..I know I will make it no matter what. I choose to,love and communicate, respect, protect etc. Its a work in progress yes. I think we’ve got this….my best to you and all here

  12. My situation mirrors yours Matt almost exactly. I am passed the sleeping on the lounge for 2 years chapter and into my own apartment. We share 2 kids and I try and do something with them everyday… even if that is just being able to take them to soccer training or dance class.
    The silence of my new life is still hard to deal with. I call it “The Silence of Silences.” After years of avoiding an exact diagnosis, I also am trying to deal with being Bi-Polar & picking up the pieces from the damage that comes with that. I think it was easier when it was just “depression” & that I was just a cranky bastard who seemed to have rare days of being happy or high.

    While I know you can’t ‘make’ anyone try again & that the changes I’m making for myself are the best way of making your wife consider giving it one last go of it (chance #36 & counting), we also are supposed to not try to ‘make’ her do that using whatever you can at our disposal. (Manipulation, guilt, all the wonderful human behaviours we are all guilty of using at one stage). But to not comment and just live this new take-away dad life with a smile & positivity is impossible for most humans dealing with such situations. It’s like someone throwing you a ball & you are being told not to catch it. That is hard to do just like passively ‘being the change you want your partner to be’ way of thinking…and even if you do manage that which feels so unnatural, you find you often then get hit in the face by a ball.

  13. In my case I guess it was lost hope to begin with. I recognized we were too different to be together and wanted to break it off before it was too late (or too hurtful). He didn’t want to and asked what could be done. I think my main problem was that he doesn’t get (or doesn’t want to get) the points which means a lot to me. Hey, we’re back to the topic of the unwashed cup at the sink. He doesn’t understand why I find it important for him to trust me and trust my character.

    See, the problem I had was that he was always the first to accuse me of things I never did, just based on what he assumes to be happening. He does this at first instance, rather than think first whether it is even probable for me to do something like that. (Have I ever done something like that before? Do I even have it in me to do that??) I explained to him it is a case of “Guilty, until proven innocent” every single time. I can’t count how many times I’ve had anger and resentment thrown my way while I am put on the stand to try and defend myself with evidence. Only then will he believe I did not mean things that way, or did not do something he accused me of. To me, my spouse should be the person who I trust the most, and who trusts me most. I should feel safest with him, and not be in constant fear of being accused again. Why would someone want to be with someone they believe to be malicious or bad anyway? This, to me is trust.

    We ended up going for couple therapy. We talked about things. Discussed what we want for our future. Evaluate our daily on-goings. And hey, I don’t expect change overnight, but I see light at the end of the tunnel. He seems to be heading the same direction as me. Kind of like, getting him to read your blog and understand things, right? So we proceeded with next steps, he pushed me to stick with our initial marriage plans and not postpone them. I agreed. I see some light in my future. That we want the same things in matrimonial life.

    But I was wrong. The moment I was married to him, things changed. My feelings and thoughts no longer mattered. I was forced to his family’s decisions. He used his mother’s health (it was a lie) to blackmail me into decisions. And everything we discussed about our future life in front of the couple therapist was flung out the window. I was wondering WHAT’S GOING ON? We continued to go to couple therapy and all I got in return was resentment for “wanting so much from him”. Nothing changed from my end. It’s just that the things he wants in life has changed after marriage. He didn’t want anything in his life to change with marriage. Everything we discussed beforehand was but empty promises and words that meant nothing to him. HE WAS RESENTFUL WHY I WAS UPSET WHEN HE SAW NOTHING WRONG WITH WHAT HE WANTS. And that’s where it was the last straw to me. He lost whatever trust I had in him. And that’s where I decided on the divorce.

    I know it’s a long story here. Not sure if anyone’s gonna read it. But my point is,
    1. You can’t force someone to read something and expect them to agree with it.
    2. Even if that someone does read it and agrees to it, it could be but empty lies to get you to shut up and do what they want you to do.

    So why try to convince them? How sure can you be they are RECEPTIVE to the contents and truly want to understand? To me, it is only useful if you MENTION it to them and they show interest in reading it. If it’s going to take much persuasion and some forcing for them to click the link or flip the page, my take is… forget it. Don’t make the same mistake I did, putting faith in someone I thought wanted to be open to such readings/discussions.

    1. Marissa….you certainly put the Herculean effort in. Know that you were on course. I sort of allowed that family element become a force early in our relationship, although it wasn’t the only thing that caused angst in our marriage it was a major contributer to our near marital demise. I felt torn between my wife and my family of origin. What an asshole I felt like when my wife said”I’m done with this so called marriage, you don’t realize that I am your family now”. Talk about an aha moment. I went to the gym, church, individual counseling, and set my family straight… I eventually got my love to go to marriage counseling ( she wanted me to go with her earlier but asshole me was too macho to go). We were able to rebuild. I am proud to know you did everything you could to fix your marriage. I am so sorry you endured what you did. You sound like a fighter and I have the greatest respect for fighters… blessings to you for a good and happy life.

      1. Thank you Louie for your words of encouragement. I still believe it takes 2 hands to clap. I don’t think he’s entirely in the wrong. Maybe some of my behavior played a part. But that’s why I believed we were too different to be together.

        I’m so glad for you that things have worked out and you managed to rebuild your marriage. THAT, in contrast is the Herculean effort. Not mine. You’ve certainly put your heart and lots of effort into yours, so big kudos to you 🙂 Likewise many blessings for you and your wife.

      2. somecallmejack

        “I’m done with this so called marriage, you don’t realize that I am your family now.”

        Yikes. What an inspired message, though. I mean, if you don’t get that, there’s really no hope?

        1. True Jack . ..that statement sucked the asshole out of me ( somewhat ). Big wide open eyes after that one.

    2. I read it. 🙂 I get it. I give you credit for having faith in trying. My guess is even if he does read it but doesn’t take it seriously it even feels more disappointing. If someone isn’t receptive you really can’t do much. It’s so unfortunate and hurtful. But after awhile I feel like your energy is better spent in taking care of yourself.

      1. @jenny4: Exactly. I don’t see a point in getting someone to read something if they never intend to absorb it’s content (rather, doing it to appease someone). The worst is when they say they agree but don’t deep down. Only for you to find out later they were all lies.

  14. I’ve sent links to Shitty Husbands & bought the book “How to Improve…”, neither which he concerned himself to read. His lack of action (or changes in his shitty behavior) is why I’m off with our daughter, “vacationing with family” the last two weeks when in reality this is just a practice run to see if I have the grit to be a single parent. I do.

  15. I was in counseling and my husband refused to go because there was nothing wrong with him. My goal was to get better and leave his stupid a@@. Just was I was looking at apartments, the movie The Love Dare came out. A work buddy told me to take my husband to see it before we did anything. I told a half truth and said it was about a firefighter. That movie was our life but he agreed to do the love dare with me. It was a relationship changer and he did not realize that it was basically counseling without the counselor. My counselor had us do it a second time and I blogged it all on Facebook in the notes section. (ha) So I believe we had divine intervention through my buddy at work at a pivotal moment!

    1. work in progress

      Fireproof was a great movie…. the story, not necessarily amazing in terms of the “Hollywood” standards. We actually watched it together and it opened up a lot of conversation. He said he thought he would need to watch that movie over again every few months for a refresher! I recently purchased the Love Dare and I am working my way through. The online test was helpful too for helping see my own flaws/areas to focus on.

  16. I don’t disagree with any of the comments. A wise person once told me, however, that no action IS an action. I told my SO that I give him these articles, blogs, books and columns because they articulate what I cannot always say. When they’re left unread and undiscussed well, I feel like I have my answer. Cajoling him to work on it when I know his heart isn’t in it feels forced.

    1. I like that phrase, because it is so true. Lack of action doesn’t mean it is the right choice.

      Personally, I sometimes have to be careful about the line between not wanting to ask for something and expecting mind reading. I totally agree that if I have to strong arm him into something then it doesn’t really mean anything. But one of my not-so-great habits in the past was thinking that he ought to know whatever it was that I was wanting and he didn’t have a clue. I forget now and then that I’m the details person in the relationship!

      So I’ve gotten better at being clear/specific before wanting an action/reaction from him. And he knows that if I bring something up I’d like to discuss it, and ignoring it sends the message that he’s ignoring me.

  17. ok, I think I’ve shared this here before, but since you’re asking, i’ll share again…I had printed out a copy of your Dishes By the Sink Article and was trying to figure out a way to gently broach the subject with him, when he came across the post on my laptop (I really didn’t leave it up the consciously, I promise!) Anyway, he only read the title, but asked me about it (because clearly, it “fit”). I told him I hadn’t intended for him to come across it that way, but that you (matt) seemed like a really cool guy who I thought he might relate to–and that since your marriage ended, you were working to help others avoid making the same mistakes you felt you had made in your marriage…so he read the article. he said it was a real eye opener and that it really hit home. I was relieved. And excited. And hopeful. For just a little while. Now I’m trying to delicately bring it up again (lots of tiptoeing going on over here–its an issue. I’m working on it). I think he’d really relate to and benefit from the Shitty Husband series, but he is hypersensitive to criticism, so I’m not sure he could get past the title…i’ll let you know if we get there.

  18. Difficult problem in my family – interaction with husband all about his day at work. I commented on my stress about what I have to face tonight when he asked about my day. No acknowledgement or expression of concern. I said I would be okay and thanked him for his concern after a few more texts from him on other topics.

    His reply: I didn’t say I wasn’t concerned. I know you’re upset and not sleeping.
    My reply: I know you didn’t. Just saying be nice if you said. Did you like that I asked if your day was better than you’d expected or at least not so bad ? That’s acknowledging and connecting. And that’s what I try really hard to do. All I can do is explain.

    This is how I’ve applied what I’ve gleaned from your blog to my behaviour. What he does with that is his not mine. ?

    1. Ps – told him about blog, he comment on how I seemed changed and I linked him to the “she feels like your mom, dude ….” post. I think he did a little reading but has never mentioned it again

    2. I spend more than enough time at my job, so the time dwelling on it when I get away from there I try to keep to an absolute minimum. I might comment shortly on a particularly bad episode, about once a month or so.
      The women I’ve been with in my life (3 or so…) have been more prone to still have their head stuck back at work when they get home, wanting to share in detail on everything that happened during the day, and especially on the negative.

      I’m not saying that either way is right or wrong.
      But if something is grating you at your job, still being stuck on it when you get home will probably grate away at your partner, too.

  19. So when your husband cries when you leave to go to work, and greets you at the door when you come home and says “this is the best part of my day” that is not good. For either spouse. The man had an injury that caused chronic pain and he was struggling with depression. He was in denial and would ask me how much do I pay my shrink to tell me that? I tried so many ways to get him to recognize it, or understand it or talk to someone about it. But he wouldn’t do it, and I was the only one who saw his tears and started to feel his contempt for our closest friends and family members. I went on a vacation with my ski group and when I did, I left him a Newsweek magazine that had recently arrived. It had Terry Bradshaw on the cover and was devoted to men and depression. The article about Terry was easy to read, to the point, heartfelt and real. I suggested that he read it while I was away – I thought it was very good. When I returned from my trip, the magazine was on my side of the bed. I asked him if he read it. He seemed PROUD to tell me he didn’t read it.

    I knew then that I was totally done with the marriage. Thirteen years later I’m married to the most wonderful man who gets me, loves me and we share a very balanced relationship.

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Matt Fray

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