I took down the MBTTTR “Ask Me Stuff” page because someone email-yelled at me about a large amount of unanswered questions last week, and I think she’s right.
I am not discouraging questions moving forward, nor do I want to give the impression that I’d prefer that people not reach out. I hope people who want to will continue to in comments or by email.
But the pile of unanswered questions might be causing harm, and that’s something I needed to fix, because I could.
Here’s the strongly worded email I received which prompted me to make the change. (There are more bad words than even I usually say, which I’m guilty of liking.)
I wasn’t going to share it, but it’s pretty good, so I’m going to. Different people always react differently to things, so I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say.
I found your blog this past weekend like so many other women do…out of sheer desperation. I understand you have a day job and have your son 50% of the time. However, get ready, because you’re about to get your ass ripped.
You put this blog online and encourage comments. You say, “Ask me anything!” and then you NEGLECT to respond or answer your comments for MONTHS AND MONTHS AT A TIME!!! WHAT THE FUCK, MATT!!!!
What the fuck is wrong with you?! You have all these earth shattering realizations as a failed husband after your wife leaves you, and then you blog about it only to then NEGLECT the very women who reach out to you for help afterwards?! WTF DID YOU EXPECT TO HAPPEN AFTER YOU STARTED BLOGGING ABOUT SHITTY HUSBANDS?!
It is morally reprehensible for you to leave these wounded wives out there hanging FOREVER WITH ZERO ANSWERS bc you’ve just decided to abandon them like their husbands have. The second you took up your cause and ASKED FOR PEOPLE TO WRITE TO YOU, you owed them an answer back, even if you don’t have the answer to their specific problem(s).
Reading your blog initially gave me hope, but once I saw you left your small following hanging month after month after MONTH without responses to their numerous comments, I saw you fundamentally haven’t changed as a man. You really don’t care about these wounded, abused, desperate women calling out to you for help. You rarely reply to ANY comments on your blog and when you do it’s months after their desperate pleas for your feedback. It physically sickens me as a woman, a fellow Ohioan, and a wife of a shitty husband, although I must say my own husband puts you to shame. He’s a much better husband than you could probably ever be.
You should be fucking ashamed of yourself. I personally don’t give two fucks how busy you are, or what your excuses are for not replying to these comments in a more timely manner. You took it upon yourself to request feedback. You knew what that would mean.
Do these desperate women a favor and delete your blog because all you’re doing is disappointing and wounding these exasperated and desperate women more than they already are. These women, more so than anyone else, deserve more than to be simply ignored…especially by you, of all people. You’re exacerbating their pain by not replying to their comments. Asshole. As you would say.
Wife of a “Shitty Husband” and former reader of a “Shitty Blogger.”
P.S. You’re an Asshole.
The “P.S. You’re an Asshole.” was a nice touch, I thought.
Because I AM kind of an asshole, my initial reaction was to respond with: “Thanks for the feedback. Now please go fuck yourself,” which is precisely the sort of instincts that will get you divorced and make strangers hate you. I DID NOT respond with that, which is a decision I’m pleased with.
However, I did go instantly into Defense Mode: Who the hell is this, and why does she think it’s okay to talk to me like this? I tend to get defensive anytime someone finds fault with, or takes offense to, something I did or didn’t do, as if I can’t make mistakes or as if all of my actions are somehow flawless and above reproach. It’s a bad habit that probably keeps me from growing into a better human being, and I know it’s a VERY bad habit for two people in a relationship.
If I’ve learned anything about what ended my marriage, and what ends many relationships, it’s that saying and believing “It’s not my fault!” a bunch of times will earn you a divorce, and you’ll probably deserve it EVEN IF the thing is really not your fault.
If your marriage isn’t more important to you than your ego, and if wanting your spouse to feel good and loved within your marriage isn’t more important to you than winning some meaningless fight, your relationship is going to be shitty anyway, and if it doesn’t end, you’ll probably both want it to.
I sat on the angry note for a day, and read it four or five times, because
- When you live in discomfort long enough, it loses its edge, and you can operate more effectively within it. Like weightlifting or yoga for your mental/emotional health.
- The truth hurts.
- Because the truth hurts anytime it’s inconvenient, I’ve learned to recognize the feeling, and I suspected she was right. After some reflection, I decided that she is. I shouldn’t solicit questions if I’m going to leave them hanging with no responses, PARTICULARLY if a lack of response could in any way be piling on to an already painful experience. In other words, I realized pretty quickly that just because I thought she was overreacting doesn’t mean she was.
She was going to bat for a bunch of people scared and hurting as they feel their marriages and families falling apart, and might think there’s a lifeline bit of information out there that might save them. It doesn’t matter that they shouldn’t ask me. It doesn’t matter that I can’t help. It doesn’t matter that no one understands what my life looks like logistically. No excuse or reason I can offer matters.
- Someone hurts.
- When I did or did not do something that I could have to make it better, by default, I was making it worse. It doesn’t matter that my intentions weren’t to do that. It doesn’t matter that I might disagree with someone else’s opinions. It doesn’t matter that I don’t believe they SHOULD be hurt. They still hurt anyway. Those with the ability to do something good, should. Always. It’s easy for me to rationalize that I don’t owe to blog readers what husbands owe to their wives. DOESN’T MATTER. I was wrong to provide an environment for people hurting from the very thing I’m trying to help reduce instances of, to hurt even more because when they called out for help, no one ever came.
In marriage and relationships, sometimes our spouses or partners call out for help. If we’re not going to, who will?
Inevitably, someone will think knee-jerk reacting to ONE complaint is a bad life strategy. That’s probably true. But before we all thought of him as a huge creep who drugs and sexually assaults women, Bill Cosby said something important once, that I now wish I could attribute to someone else. He said: “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”
And that’s my life right now. I’m trying to do many things well, and while trying to juggle them all, every one of them suffers.
But, guess what? No one cares. Nor should they.
Here’s something I KNOW from my work by day as an internet marketer who works with big data: If one person thinks and feels something, a bunch of other people do, too.
They may not be the majority. But it doesn’t mean that they don’t matter.
I’m Sorry to Everyone Who Asked for Help and Never Even Got a Ring Buoy Thrown Your Way
I really do owe them all an apology. Unanswered comments. Unanswered emails. I can’t even fathom a guess how many of those there are. Too many.
It’s hard to explain myself to other people. Maybe everyone feels that way about themselves.
I get upset when people tell me that I don’t care.
That I don’t really care about families and people who are suffering. That I don’t actually mean the things I say or write.
And that’s because I do care. Very much.
I’m just shitty at several facets of communication that are probably exacerbated by ADHD and trying to do too many things—trying to please everybody, instead of just saying no more often.
My nine-year-old and I were playing video games this weekend. A cooperative one where two strangers were playing with us thanks to the magic of the internet. While trying to defeat a giant robot monster together, our little digital fireteam kept failing because we couldn’t get all of the players to stick together.
Many people who play these games use headphones and microphones to communicate with each other. I don’t do that because I’m 38 years old and there’s no way I’m voice-chatting with a bunch of 10-year-olds or other nerdy dads and moms playing PlayStation, and also because I don’t want my little boy hearing strangers say all of the inappropriate things he probably already hears me saying.
My son said: “You know why they’re doing it wrong, dad? Because you can’t communicate. How can we expect them to know what to do if we can’t communicate?”
It was—seriously—the wisest thing I’d ever heard my son say, and I told him so twice.
Seems simple. Communication. So simple, I think, that we don’t always recognize how significant a failure to communicate effectively can damage us and our efforts in whatever we’re working on personally or professionally.
It’s easily my life’s biggest Achilles heel, and probably always has been.
I’m sorry to anyone adversely affected by it—especially those who reached out during times of intense pain and vulnerability, only to be met with silence which probably felt just like: “I don’t care about you or your life.”
The angry email asked me to delete the blog. I’m not going to do that. But I thought this might be the first step toward reconciling something that might have been doing more harm than good.
I hope, someday, I’ll be doing some of these things much better.