The Friday Reclamation Project

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Five years ago today, I didn’t want to go home.

Our entire lives, most of us look forward to weekends. TGIF and stuff. Weekends are fun. We associate them with doing things we want to do instead of things we have to do like go to school, or go to work.

But five years ago today, my marriage was total shit. Awful. My wife and I would go to bed or leave the house without acknowledging one another sometimes.

Maybe it’s only because I was being a massive wimp, but I’d watch her dote on our son while greeting him or saying bye to him.

Right in front of me, I had the evidence of what it looked like when my wife loved someone. Thus, the absence of any of that in her dealings with me could only mean one thing.

It was hard. I hurt all over and acted like it, which couldn’t have done me any favors. No one likes pouters who wear their “I’m Feeling Sorry for Myself” badges for everyone to see.

I imagine that’s especially true for wives who feel as if they’ve been abandoned, neglected and unheard in their marriages year after year after year after year.

Even if you didn’t mean to, when you hurt someone long enough, they lose their capacity for hiding all that fuck-you rage and/or apathy simmering beneath the surface.

One of the things I remember most from the final 6-12 months of my marriage was how the joyful anticipation of Friday night had been taken away from me.

At work, I mattered.

At work, people liked me.

At work, I didn’t feel anxious.

At home, all I had was our son, and at a time when our marriage was a complete shit-festival, you can imagine how often my wife found ways to be doing things with him. Sometimes she would invite me to things like hikes or bike rides, but it was always miserable and sometimes I wished I was dead.

Going on a family hike or bike ride DOES NOT make you a family. I needed to be a family to do family things.

I needed to be in a marriage to do marriage things.

It was broken, and everything I needed was missing. So on Friday at work, I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t look forward to weekends anymore because it felt like a prison.

I’m thinking about the loss of anticipating fun so many of us felt sitting at our classroom desks on Friday afternoons at school, and looking forward to the break from the stresses of work on Friday afternoon at our respective workplaces.

But something MUCH bigger actually happens. We lose home.

We lose the place we can retreat to, to feel loved and safe and relaxed and comfortable. This space that is ours becomes this polarizing thing. It’s supposed to feel good. Safe. Fun. Welcoming. But when your closest personal relationships with those you live with are broken, you can feel it in the very air you breathe.

Alcohol is the only thing that ever helped. But I never could drink enough to erase the pain I felt when our friends would leave, and the joy and normalcy she’d display in the company of others would vanish entirely.

I don’t know if she was faking fun and happiness for them, or intentionally communicating her angry feelings non-verbally to me. Either way, the change was always jarring and a reminder that my wife really wasn’t my wife anymore.

She was someone else.

Getting the Weekend Back

Today, I’ve reclaimed Friday. I’ve got the weekend again. Sitting here on a Friday afternoon, I can look forward to all kinds of fun possibilities with friends or my little boy.

I can feel fun again. I can breathe in the same house that just five years ago felt like a prison.

I took the hard way to get here. For much of my life, I had to learn things the hard way. It’s sort of a defining characteristic.

I’m so grateful to be able to breathe again—literally and figuratively. But that’s not without a pocket full of regrets I’m always carrying around with me.

Back when I first lost the weekend, there were two ways to recover it.

One way was to go through hell, and feel like dying for a long time before eventually healing and recovering the ability to anticipate weekend fun a half-decade later while living an entirely new life as a divorced, single parent rebuilding and reshaping his future with a whole new set of rules.

The other way was to exercise humility and demonstrate personal accountability and lead by example in my own home and marriage. The other way was to apply all of my intelligence and problem-solving skills to determining WHY my wife was feeling and acting as she was.

What if, much earlier, I’d determined how much some of my past and reoccurring behavior HURT her?

What if I learned what it means to practice intentional empathy before the impassable fissure appeared in our home?

What if I’d recovered the weekend by identifying what ACTUALLY was wrong, and done something about it when there was still time?

I don’t like being Advice Guy. I’m just some divorced person, and I don’t and can’t understand how it feels to be you in your own home and relationships.

But if you’re in that place in life where you can no longer look forward to the weekend and smile—where you can no longer feel hope regarding life’s simplest little pleasures—you probably only have two weekend-reclamation options as well.

Both options are long.

Both options are hard.

Both options are humbling.

But, when you imagine the best version of your life, who are the people standing in the photos with you? If it’s your spouse and/or children, then I hope you won’t do what I did—feel sorry for myself. Avoid the problem. Wait for her to “come around,” as if she’d eventually see things my way.

When you can’t even look forward to Friday anymore, that’s Life telling you something is wrong. That something is broken, and that the broken thing needs fixed.

It may not be fun or feel good, but a Friday you’re not looking forward to is the PERFECT opportunity to begin fixing what’s really broken.

I made my shitty weekend problem ANOTHER selfish bullet point on my Life resume. ANOTHER thing I made about me.

But I should have made it about her. I should have made it about us. And because I didn’t, my wife chose my weekend-reclamation path for me.

There’s a better way, and I hope you’ll choose it. To make the last day of the work week Friday again.


46 thoughts on “The Friday Reclamation Project”

    1. No tears for me, please. I’m good.

      Something today triggered this memory — this “loss of the weekend.” I was going to write a little 300-word Facebook post about it, and leave it at that, but I just kept hitting the keyboard, and it turned into regular-post length, so I decided to post it.

      This is for other people.

      I have the weekends again, and I’m so grateful that I do. I’m celebrating it.

      But I know there are a million people who aren’t. People sitting at work on Friday afternoon DREADING going home to be “stuck” there — because it feels totally miserable and broken.

      They can ride it out and do nothing like me.

      Or they can get to work on understanding the problem and mending what’s broken.

      Either way, they’ll get the weekend back.

      I just think one method is clearly the better option.

    2. I’m sorry I “liked” your comment without acknowledging what you said about you doting on your kids to avoid painful feelings of loneliness.

      I was certainly not celebrating that part. Just the part where you “get it” and expressed that on behalf of others.

      I do hope you’ll find a bunch of reasons to smile with your children. They’re like little lifeboats when the rest of life feels like shark-infested waters.

      I’m immensely blessed to be a father, and that I got to have him during my healing process. He helped. A lot.

      1. I got the “like” thing. Too bad there isn’t a “yeah” or a “feel your pain” option. Maybe you have an in with the powers that be – think of all the buttons there could be.

        1. I don’t have an “in”! But maybe someday I’ll have an active author-name site, and this will be a more robust multi-contributor publication. And maybe then it will be chock full of rad features, like other “Like” options.


  1. I can’t believe how exactly you express my feelings! It is so refreshing to read an HONEST and HUMBLE persons take on life and relationships! Honest I am….to a fault. Humble, apparently not so much. Thank you.

    1. It matters to me that you “get it.” Thank you, Debbie. The weekend is one of life’s regularly occurring pleasures. We shouldn’t let our relationships with those we’re supposed to love MOST in our very own homes be the reasons that our weekends get taken away from us.

      Life’s too precious to lose that little “us” time.

      Things I learned long after it would have helped. 🙂

  2. Your description of wasted weekends resonates so much with me…I’m now here alone on Friday evening anticipating Monday.
    It shouldn’t be like that – you’ve expressed so well what should have been done to have not arrived here. Now it’s a case of trying to pick up the pieces and one day reclaim that fun Friday feeling. ?

    1. No, it shouldn’t be like this. But thanks for getting it and saying so.

      And yes. To the future, good sir. It’s out there for the taking.

  3. Great post Matt! It’s 1500 on Friday and I feel the exact same way you used to feel – I don’t want to go home. It’s gorgeous outside, 80 and sunny and there’s a high school football home game tonight in my town and if I go, I will go alone. My husband has no desire to be with me or our 15 year old son who will be playing the football game halftime show. He would rather stay at home and Facebook with his college friends (he’s 45 and is back in college full time and hangs out with 22 year olds) or paint miniatures. He never asks me out on a date anymore and never initiates family activities of any sort. He didnt initiate much in the past either but now it is nonexistent and when I try he gets angry and says all he does is spend time with us. His idea of “spending time with us” is driving my son to and from school or soccer/band practice, and facebooking or surfing the Internet or painting miniatures in the same room as us. I am 5’5 118 lbs and work full time for the US DoD, and cook and clean on my days and evenings off. He is a retired Marine who goes to college full time for photography and occasionally cooks dinner or folds clothes. I am exhausted and unhappy as hell and dread weekends at this point. We just moved to a new city/state and so I don’t have a lot of close friends (I work with three great guys who are my friends but it’s not like we can hang out together on weekends). When I married my husband he said he liked the outdoors, but now just gets angry when I ask to go camping or anything outside as a family. I usually end up going alone. I am 42 and no longer know what I even get out of this relationship anymore. I have even asked him why I should stay with him during fights and his answer was “I pay the mortgage”. He has told me he intends to dump me once our son graduates high school. I am in despair and want to file for divorce but I don’t because our son is doing so well in school and don’t want to mess that up. Any advice? I hate to stay with him only for him to dump me for some college girl in a few years (he has many young female friends now and says they are lining up to sleep with him). Thanks Matt


    1. Christina…..I know you asked Matt for advice….That being said, I couldn’t help but read your comment and be completely upset. You shouldn’t have to go thru this. He shouldn’t put you thru this. At a minimum, he owes you respect. The mean things he has said are uncalled for. At the same time, you own your own part and need to look deep inside and realize what’s important to you. What makes you happy? (not who makes you happy). Kids are just loaned to us. They go away and make their own life. The way I see it, is do you really want your son to have the vision of marriage as one where there is no respect?
      I wish you the absolute best.

      1. Thank you for your kind reply and I agree with you completely. My 15 year old I think (and hope) knows that this is not normal and does not like his dad much right now because of the way he treats us. I have a 23 year old as well who could care less about my husband even though he raised him from 4 years old. He has never really treated us like we matter or are a priority. First it was the Marine Corps, now it’s his “new” career and friends who he dotes on and does homework for and facebook chats with at night and on weekends. He does what he wants when he wants and doesn’t care if I stay or go beyond what it might cost him financially. I have seen a lawyer and want to leave so much but my husband threatens me constantly with what will happen if I leave (his parents hate me and blame me for everything even tho I’m wife #4) and he says they have $300k saved to pay for his lawyer so as to drag out the divorce and bankrupt me. This is why I stay for right now – it would likely cost me thousands that I don’t have because we have no savings and he spends money like he is still working. I am just trying to not go crazy for the next 4 years and find other activities to do with my son and friends and work but he still makes life miserable and spends every dime of his retirement on himself and then what’s left of my income too after I pay most of the bills. He has a credit card he puts $1.5-2k on every month and I have no idea what he’s spending the money on. When I want to buy something that costs more than a pair of shoes I get told “you don’t make enough money”. I am just trying to maintain for my son but it is getting harder and harder every day.

        1. Sounds like you have a lot on your plate and you’re not giving yourself enough credit. People will keep you down only if you let them. Living in fear is no way to live. I say you reclaim yourself and your worth. You’re a strong woman who. An obviously handle herself. You just need a bit of confidence to move forward. Whatever forward means to you. By no means I mean to get a divorce. I’m just saying forward as to really put yourself out there to fix your marriage or move on. Who cares who likes you or not. You’re beyond high school to worry about that. Plus his family is not the one dealing with him on a day to day basis.
          In all honesty he’s a bully and is verbally abusive towards you. That’s his cowardly way to finance himself with the family’s money while he does what he wants.
          I pray for you and your family.

  4. WOW… and here I thought that *I* was the only one who dreaded Fridays and looked forward to Mondays…

    That time period (for me it lasted over a decade) was SOOOO so hard … I can feel my stomach knot up in remembrance … I am so grateful that is behind me now …

  5. I know you said no tears Matt but you just brought back the asshole me from 26 years ago…he is no longer that asshole and I’m glad to be rid of the son of a bitch. Still .. even after all the healing we have done and how our marriage is on the best course ever I still hate to go back to that place in time. The good Lord, for whatever reason,gave me the best memory… even elephants are envious…it sometimes serves me it most times haunts me. But in times when it serves me it corrects my course deviations. My work as a casino Supervisor keeps me at work when most get to play-enjoy- connect…. I work the traditional weekends… I work most if not all major holidays… it effected how my family and I got to reconnect…my daughter was on the cross country and track team…my sons played football and were on the track and wrestling teams… I missed quite a bit during their high school days…. I regret that…they have stated that they wish I could have been there…my middle child recovered a fumble and ran for a touchdown against a tough team from Syracuse… I missed it. My daughter received the Forrest Gump award for cross country…my youngest son was feared in the league as a defensive tackle. I didn’t get to see the why and how…and they knew…. Their beautiful mother went in my sted. And proudly related everything to me. I have since tried to be There more
    .. they’re all in or pushing their thirties now…we do lots together. Anne and I have made being together the most important part of our lives…my days off are Wednesday- Thursday… those are date nights… it can be as simple as a drive around the lake or to get Peanut butter Pandemonium ice cream…or just talk about future plans…… what ever… I am so proud and honored to be loved by her and my kids…it took Awakening introspection realization courage and strength to gain wisdom enough to be the one who gets to look into her beautiful Hazel eyes. Go out there and reclaim your weekend Matt… whatever form it takes.

  6. There is an incredible loneliness about Friday evenings. Everything comes to a grinding halt and the quietness of a dwelling of only one takes over. It’s easy to keep those feelings at arm’s length with the routine of the work week. Saturday mornings are a killer as well. Hope it gets better for all who feel the same. Thank you for this honest post.

  7. Wow.
    Thank you for sharing!
    Truly vulnerable and insughtful

    Is this how MY husband felt?

    Thank you for the reminder to treasure our spouses and family… removing our negativity/critisism …and embracing our spouses for the wonderful people we married.

    After being separated for over two years…i git a second chance at enjoying weekends like ee used to.
    It was so hard to look inwards at how my actions impacted how he reacted. It still is hard. Very hard. But getting better every day.

    We are forced to love our kids…and somehow forget our spouse wants exactly what we want…TO BE HAPPY and to have a spouse who adores them! I promised to love him amd be by his side. And thought that meant regardless of how I acted. Unconditional love excpected by me but not given to him.

    Thank you for the sobering reminder of how each of us affects our marriage’s success or demise!

  8. I’m really having to think about my posture right now. I’m as far into my single life as you….but I’m reading this at work ….on my day off…. Though I don’t hate being home…. I still kind of avoid it…. I’m content but I need to reclaim my life to – – – beyond contentment.Thanks!

  9. I’m not feeling the fun yet Matt but for now having a home that feels peaceful and “safe” emotionally is enough. I am happy to come home. I look forward to it, even if it just me puttering around on my own. I believe I will get to Friday fun eventually. Its nice to hear you confirm it is out there.

  10. This is powerful stuff. Luckily I am not in this position but I’ve heared some colleagues saying they’re rather work and they stay till quite late, even on a Friday! That can’t be good!

  11. “No one likes pouters who wear their “I’m Feeling Sorry for Myself” badges for everyone to see.” ain’t that the truth…

    “when you hurt someone long enough, they lose their capacity for hiding all that fuck-you rage and/or apathy simmering beneath the surface.” Oh that is soooo ‘the truth.’

    That sucks, I’m thankful for not ever finding myself this position, congratulations though on getting your weekends back.

    I still celebrate my weekends and the Bonus, I look forward to going home!

    In the words of Rihanna
    Cheers to the freaking weekend!

  12. Hi Matt! 🙂

    “The other way was to apply all of my intelligence and problem-solving skills to determining WHY my wife was feeling and acting as she was”

    Matt, if you’re willing, what would be your current explanation for why you didn’t think or didn’t bother to do this?

    1. Difficult to remember the thought process of an entirely different version of my brain.

      But I think the simplest explanation is that I thought I was an adequate- to good husband, and thought SHE was the one who sucked for always seeming so unhappy and ungrateful.

      It’s the same argument I see a million guys making, and if they hate their wives, it’s a great argument. If they love their wives, it’s ridiculous, and I can’t fully explain how I can see it now, but couldn’t then.

      When conflicts in marriage are framed through the prism of Right vs. Wrong, and you believe you’re right, why would you EVER do anything differently?

      I think it’s that simple.

      If the goal is to be Right, you can stubbornly be “right” all the way to divorce.

      If the goal is to have a happy, peaceful, long-lasting marriage, then the goal must be that.

      It’s super easy to see now. In those moments, though, I kept waiting for her to agree with me, and feeling pissed when she never did.

      Focus on what matters.

      Know it now. Didn’t know it then.

      1. Thank you Matt.

        I remember complaining to people about why some people are so selfish, you give and you give (or someone else does) and they give so little back and yet they think they are behaving well, how can they be so blind… (full disclosure, I still complain about this, haha)

        I sometimes complained about this to my mom. With whom I, especially at that time, had a relationship where she gave me a lot and I gave very little back.

        I cringe when i think about it. And I do not fully understand how I could be so blind as to not see I was doing the very thing I was complaining about.

        I think a lot of it was fueld by unconscious assumptions that “well she chose to have me, she should nurture me way way more than the other way around”. Somewhat dehumanizing. She’s Mom and not really a person who deserves to be treated as well as I strive to treat other people I’m close with.

        Trying to do at least a little better now. Send her a thank you card, bring her some flowers now and then, ask how *she*’s doing.


  13. I would like to point out that we are using our weekend ( well I’m working right now) to comment… not judging but everyone get out there and live! It seems like a first step forward

  14. I enjoy your honesty. I started reading your blog a couple months ago because I thought your experiences might help a friend of mine. I continue to read because I appreciate your openness and wisdom (before and after the divorce). Keep on putting one foot in front of other.

  15. This Friday was even more special for me to look forward to coming home. It was our first wedding anniversary. He was widowed when we met 11 years ago and I was divorced. I had many of those Fridays when I didn’t want to come home. And Monday – Thursdays. The best thing in my life now is coming home every night to the best thing that ever happened to me. The note on his flowers said it all “The secret to a happy marriage is to flirt as if you’ve met each other for the first time and love as if you’ve known each other forever. Ours is just that kinda relationship.”

  16. ladyinthemountains

    Wow, Matt. I sure can relate. For so many years I dreaded coming home, especially on the weekends. I remember the day after the divorce when I realized things had changed. I drove up my driveway and didn’t tense up worried about what I was going to find when I walked in the door. It was such a positive moment. I no longer dread coming home or the weekends. I treasure my alone time and love my home. I am still removing him from it, four years later. it takes time but it is more and more my place and less and less formerly our place.

  17. I used to drag my feet leaving work on Fridays as I a) didn’t want to encounter my ex when he was picking up our son for his weekends and b) didn’t want to face the empty house when my child was gone. I spent a lot of time listening to NPR and audiobooks just to fill the house up with noise and couldn’t bring myself to listen to music. I knew I was finally on the way to reclaiming my weekends the first time I put a CD on instead of plugging in my MP3 player full of books. Now I enjoy both sets of weekends equally. It helps that there is someone new in my life, but I don’t see him until Saturday nights, so I still have Fridays on my own.

  18. Although it seems like there are more women than men on this site, I must admit that I’m guilty of all the above and more in your blog. Even after divorcing and remarrying my wife of almost 22 years, I’ve continued to fight because I felt I was right. Ridiculous of me to do so in non-life threatening instances.

    We are at the point where we still live together but in separate sides of the house. Conversation is almost no-existent. She’s tired of apologies no matter the issue. Both going to the same counselor but not together.

    I found myself not wanting to come home any night of the week, and found myself doing everything to keep myself busy from not thinking about the loneliness.

    Any advice for a guy who wants to make and has been making the needed changes to first and foremost be a better person but also the person she wants him to be?

    It’s hard not to pout, but I know I’ve done the pouting and feeling sorry for myself. Thanks needed to know that no one wants to see or hear that crap..

    Thankful for all you honesty and putting yourself out there Matt!

    1. Sir….I definitely am no one to give advice . …I’m surely just as lost as anyone else
      Regarding this subject . What I can offer is what seems to be working with us. Good communication starts with good listening . I too was somewhat of a “right fighter “. But more than being right I realized that I needed clarity , the only way I got the clarity I needed was to listen without injecting my belief or perspective . It was when I started to truly listen that I found understanding of what she was troubled with . That made a super difference in my perspective and focus and made her see that I truly cared and wanted to make things right between us . It takes time , it takes genuine effort and empathy and compassion . We hear each other we want to help each other we both know we have each other’s back . I am of a rougher cut than my wife . ..a bunch more streetwise but seriously passionate about her our family causes etc. I am what I am and she is what she is . ..neither of us has to change out of our true personas to suit the other. She loves some of the things I am and gets irritated at some of the things I’m not and visa versa. We love our uniquenesses . We stared to heal by being honestly interested in each other’s views, problems , hopes likes dreams and notions . We did little dates just for us. We get out all of our issues with one another while on these little dates…although some heated arguments happen what we both realize is that there is a solution and we are the ones that have to come up with the resolution . The date nights connect us…they bring us to the table . ..they serve as a bonding agent . In the beginning both of us kind of didn’t understand the power of just that little space of time in terms of how we would grow closer and be on point most of the time. How listening and empathizeing shows each other that we understand and have each others back more so we walk lockstep . It’s evident that you want to do right by your relationship . Counseling is a great step in the right direction . ..perhaps both need to see someone together . …perhaps some time talking and listening
      with each other will help too. As with all who endure this anguish my prayers are with you

      1. Thank you very much for your response. I appreciate your kind words and plan on trying to practice these and many other principles. I recently hear this song called Stars by a group called Hum.

        It really gave me a wake up call. I’ll post a link to the song and list the lyrics and my interpretation of what the song has told/shown me. Unfortunately, I have to say this song is my life story, at least from what I have read into the lyrics. I so want to share the song and my thoughts with my wife and let her know I get it…

        She thinks she missed the train to Mars, she’s out back counting stars.
        She thinks she missed the train to Mars, she’s out back counting stars.

        She’s not at work, she’s not at school,
        She’s not in bed, I think I finally broke her.
        I bring her home everything I want, and nothing that she needs.

        I thought she’d be there holding daisies, she always waits for me.
        She thinks she missed the train to Mars, she’s out back counting stars.

        I found her out back sitting naked looking up and looking dead.
        A crumpled yellow piece of paper, with seven nines and tens.

        I thought she’d be there holding daisies, she always waits for me.
        She thinks she missed the train to Mars, she’s out back counting stars.

        I thought you’d be there holding daisies, you always wait for me.
        She thinks she missed the train to Mars, she’s out back counting stars.

        My interpretation of the song…

        He took for granted that she would always be there–she was so devoted at one time…loved him, adored him. Hung on his every word:

        “I thought you’d be there holding daisies, you always wait for me.”

        He treated her carelessly so her love began to waver. She’s begun to feel like she wasted all her time loving someone who was too selfish to truly love her back with all his heart which he kept guarded and now she’s “missed her train” because she spent all her youth and love on something that broke her. She’s thinking about all the stuff she could have done and how time has passed her by.

        The sparkle has gone from her eyes. She doesn’t care anymore:

        “I found her out back sitting naked looking up and looking dead.”

        But the truth is, he misses her. She’s still there with him, but her heart is cold and he realizes that she’ll soon leave him. She’s counting stars…waiting for her chance to take the next train.

        1. Sad and relevant song sir….you have lots of hard work I’m sure but I am an eternal optimist. There is nothing that can’t be accomplished together . If you do nothing else please keep steady on your road to self help and improvement . At a time when my world seemed to be at it’s darkest…my wife’s mom was advising her to divorce me but my mother in law had an epiphany when she saw my commitment to be better and then did she become an advocate of our marriage . I made the conscious move of self empowerment . I prayed , I worked out (still do) I talk and listen and empathize, I show love daily . Some brilliant poster once talked of death by paper cuts in the demise of a marriage well I chose to do the reverse I chose love language in all its forms I chose rebirth by giving and caring and genuine selflessness . I’m no door mat by any stretch and we have had numerous blowouts over the years, but the focus has changed from resentment to ah ha moments to valid attempts for understanding to seek out the roots of problems and co-solve them….it’s not easy but worth every effort . I have great faith that you can be successful and you both will prevail long term . Blessings to you your wife and family ,

          1. success is yours sir…many blessings on this road….The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step

  19. Geez…as I read this I relive the last few years of my marriage – oh what a lot of pain and anger! We humans can be so stupid! But in my case, I’ll be eternally grateful for the option I chose, I could not see myself growing old with the man I married so many moons ago…

  20. This so much like my situation only difference is my wife and I work together also which makes things near impossible over the last couple of years. Thanks for this will try this before any permanent decisions are made.

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