An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1

Photo by Mike Klemme

A tradition unlike any other?
Photo by Mike Klemme

Dear Shitty Husband,

Yep. You.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s one of, or some combination of, the following:

  1. I’m not a shitty husband! I work 50-hour-plus weeks to pay for our house, and our cars, and our vacations, and her jewelry, and the kids’ activities. I love my wife and family!
  2. I’m not a shitty husband! I would do ANYTHING for my wife.
  3. I’m not a shitty husband! I fix things around the house that need fixed. I mow the lawn, and walk the dog, and take out the trash, and help change diapers, and run the kids to their little league games.
  4. I’m not a shitty husband! I always make sure she has an orgasm when we have sex once a week!
  5. I’m not a shitty husband! I don’t drink excessively, I’m drug-free, I work out, I don’t hit her, I don’t call her names and I don’t cheat!

And listen. I get it. You really truly don’t believe you’re a shitty husband. And I commend you for all of the good things you do, and applaud you for all the sacrifices you make on behalf of your wife and/or family.

But guess what?

Shut up. You’re an asshole and a shitty husband.

I don’t know everything there is to know about marriage. I might not even know a lot. But I know one VERY important thing: I’m an asshole. And I was a shitty husband.

On Easter Sunday of this year, my wife took her ring off after nine years of marriage and informed me she was leaving.

It hurt. It took my breath away. It frightened me.

But I wasn’t shocked.

Because we (husbands) have an awful lot more control than we think we do.

And all of us—male and female—need to accept more responsibility than we do for our circumstances.

And that’s what I’m going to do now. Accept some responsibility.

As of this writing, I don’t have much of an audience. But what little audience I have has read me talk about how my wife ended our nine-year marriage by leaving me the day after Easter.

But the question on the table today is: Had I been the husband I was supposed to be during the beginning and middle years of our marriage, would we ever have gotten to the point where my wife was looking elsewhere for inner peace and happiness?

She most definitely sucks for ending our relationship the way she did. She doesn’t get a free pass for that.

But this is where I have to take responsibility—at least part of it—for the position in which I find myself.

I was NOT a perfect husband.

I’m not even sure I was a good husband.

I loved her. I was kind to her. I wanted to make her happy and win her approval. I wanted to take care of her and provide for her. I went to work every day for her. She gave me purpose. I wanted to be with her forever.

But I was an asshole. A selfish one. And while I truly believe I redeemed myself during the final two years of our marriage, when I was growing and she was withdrawing, I was a shitty husband for the seven years prior.

Watching The Masters

I didn’t know it at the time, but four years ago, a defining moment in my life happened during the Sunday final round of The Masters golf tournament—generally considered to be the most-popular golf tournament of the year by American golf fans.

Living in Ohio, that general time period around Easter and The Masters is when you can count on the weather to break and really give you some beautiful days.

My ex-wife absolutely loves being outside. She grew up in the country, and sitting inside on a beautiful day is not her idea of a good time.

So, inevitably, it was gorgeous outside during the final round of The Masters. Our son was not quite a year old. And my wife wanted us, as a family, to go enjoy the weather together.

Go hike in the nearby national park.

Go to the zoo.

Go to a metro park trail.

Sounds pretty reasonable, right?

I think so.

But on that particular Sunday, without the benefit of failed-marriage hindsight? It sounded perfectly unreasonable.

It went something like this:

Me: “Babe. I’d really just like to watch my favorite golf tournament. This only happens once a year.”

Wife: “I can’t believe you want to sit inside on a such a beautiful day. You don’t want to go do something nice as a family?”

Me: “I don’t want to sit inside on a beautiful day—I kind of wish it was raining—and of course I want to do fun things together, but again, this golf tournament happens just one weekend a year. And that happens to be today. I’d like to watch it. I’m sorry.”

This all hit me a few months ago during the 2013 Masters. It was on TV at my house. But nobody was home. She’d already left. My son was gone. I was there. I was awake. But I wasn’t home.

I’m tempted to look up who even won the damn golf tournament this year. Because I truly can’t remember. Maybe Justin Rose or Adam Scott. But honestly, who cares?

I chose The Masters over a perfect Sunday afternoon with my wife and son.

And guess what, Guy Who Thinks That Sounds Perfectly Acceptable?

You’re an asshole. And a shitty husband. Just like me.

I committed marriage’s worst crime, after all the obvious stuff like cheating, and abuse, and the like.

I left my wife alone in our marriage.

It looks a lot like that Masters Sunday four years ago.

It’s what it looks like when she stays home on a Friday night to take care of the kids and do chores and watch “Desperate Housewives” alone on the couch while you’re out with the boys.

It’s what it looks like when she invites you to bed during Monday Night Football, but you’re too busy monitoring your fantasy football team to join her.

It’s what it looks like when she asks you to join her for a family function at the in-laws, and you decline so you can watch a movie at home alone, or sit around playing video games, or playing golf, or playing poker.

It’s what it looks like when you go to a party and you spend all of your time drinking and laughing with your friends, and never once squeezing her hand, or whispering in her ear how gorgeous she looks, or making eye contact from across the room and mouthing the words “I love you.”

It’s what it looks like when you leave the hospital to get a good night’s sleep the day your son was born even though your wife is begging you to stay.

It’s what it looks like when you don’t acknowledge all of the many things she carries every day so that you don’t have to—managing schedules, and the household, and buying gifts for birthdays and weddings and graduations, and keeping the house clean, and a million other things I’m STILL too fucking dense to recognize even though I’m still picking up the pieces in my now-empty home.

The hardest lesson I’ve ever learned is that you can have all of the good intentions in the world. You can be kind. And charming. And willing to sacrifice.

And it can STILL break.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I’ve heard that proverb my entire life and I never really knew what it meant until now.

You know, it’s funny. I could have just DVR’d the fucking Masters.

And you can too.

We’re broken people. We’re shitty husbands.

But gentlemen—we don’t have to be.

You May Also Want to Read:

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 2

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 3

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 4

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 6

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 7

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 8

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 9

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 10

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 11

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 12

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 13

…..

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428 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1

  1. Happy wife says:

    I read this with my husband who after 33 years of marriage is not shitty any more but could definitely relate to your words as I could as it brought back memories especially days spent in the hospital alone after childbirth. However, now he has spent a month at my side as I’ve been hospitalized. Point being, a wife exercising patience can end up with a perfect husband. Thanks for your blog and humor!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Matt says:

      Thank that man for me. Because, short of the people who always get it right, he’s the example of what we’re supposed to be.

      I’m happy for you and your marriage, and really appreciate you sharing this story with us.

      Like

  2. Shitty says:

    Your wife is a spoiled brat. My husband does not have a job, smokes pot every day, physically assaults me, prevents me from going to church, barely talks to me, does not have sex with me, calls me names, left me alone in the ER, never takes me on dates, spends mos of his time on draft kings. Granted, he’s also a good father, and he always makes sure xmas and bdays are special. I know he loves me his own way. But he is most definitely a shitty husband.

    Like

  3. Cheryl Johnson says:

    Thanks, Matt. My husband of 25 yrs read it and was shocked. He thought it describes himself perfectly. He’s not generally an asshole, but he does believe there are only certain things he needs to do, and all the little things can be neglected. But like you say it’s a little things that make the difference. Every day there are things to do and to decide and as his wife I need help! After reading your first letter he has already made an effort. That means the world to me.

    Now I wonder if the majority of divorces are caused by these small things that men neglect, the daily affirmations etc, because in general I think women try harder to make the marriage work. I know this is a huge generalization, but I really wonder if that could be a main issue. Sorry guys. But my dad got divorced after 35 yrs (mom met someone else) and wonders why wives are always mad. Uh, dad you ignored mom’s request to move your papers off the table and to help a little. She didn’t ask for much and gave so much. They are good friends now — I think he knows he was a shitty husband.

    Like

  4. Kim Hipps says:

    Dear Lord! Have you got a hidden camera recording my life? That was actually scary to read! I’ve known I have a shitty husband, but thank you for the confirmation.

    Like

  5. adam says:

    Well Perfect husbands or wives does not exist and both can be shitty. Crisis are triggered by inconsiderate expectations from either of the partner. Freedom and respect should be the line of of conduct, that means for instance companionship with care, distance and love, never passion and fusion. It does not work and lead to frustration overtime. Not asking or being demanding for something that the other part does not want to give. Let it go. Smile to your partner always and build a story on a common values and behaviours, that is the most important.

    Like

  6. Laura says:

    Thank you for writing this. Really. I am a wife feeling like Im an invisible sidekick to his endeavors but if you ask him, he will say the same about how I make him feel. Im too naggy, nothing makes me happy, and the thing Im best at? He says is making people feel shitty about themselves. I dont do it intentionally and I know he doesnt either but after some time the love starts to fade and resentment and loneliness kick in. Instead of listening we’re defending. Ive started a calendar of how many days in the month we dont talk and are simply transactional. It astounded me, the way I feel my life slipping by and time flying by the second, when I just want to have someone look at me. Actually look into my eyes and see me. Not pretty, or sexy, or even ok, just to look and see Im here too. A hand squeeze would be fantastic.I understand why some marriages fail and why people drift now. It takes 2 to communicate, and for the people who are not as good at expressing themselves I believe you’ve really nailed it on the head. You’ve put into words what I’ve been longing to hear. Thank you for saying what you have. I know its not my husband saying it, but it does feel
    nice to know someone out there understands. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jerry Fender says:

    You sound like a wimp. Thant’s why she left you. Women are not that complicated. She left you because she found less benefit from staying with you. You are a live person who deserves watch a show if it’s important to you.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      1. Or, maybe I sound like a dude who wrote something a month after losing his family. (Five years ago, by the way.)

      2. Relationships ARE complicated. Which is why the vast majority of them fail (dating and married couples).

      They’re complicated because they involve more than one person, regardless of gender. And the root cause of every shitty thing that happens on earth (not counting naturally occurring things like disease and natural disasters) can be traced back to one thing: the inability of any two people or groups to not be assholes to each other whenever they disagree about something.

      People sucking at interpersonal relationships is why bad shit happens.

      Can’t be overstated.

      Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Interesting to read a man’s comment that “women aren’t complicated”. I seriously doubt I would agree with Jerry’s assessments of what the average woman thinks based on his take of this post.

        I agree with you that humans are complicated, relationships are complicated.

        It doesn’t mean they can’t be understood. Only that it takes effort to get it right. Your blog has been helpful to many, many people to understand and change.

        It’s always strange to me that certain men feel compelled to write insults to you. But it says a lot more about their defenses than anything about you.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Ash says:

    It’s rare for people to be this honest with themselves, so thank you. Even if my husband dosnt understand, it’s nice to be validated by someone who gets it. It has let me know that I’m not alone, I’m not too demanding or naggy… and I am definitely not crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Young Lady says:

    How much I would give for my husband to read this, but even if I send it to him, he won’t read it. We have been married for 2 years. He is that good husband, smart, handsome, with a good job, nice past life. We travel together, go out, etc. I know he loves me but he doesn’t listen to me. He says he does, but when I’m telling him a good news, he is just waiting for me to finish so he can finally turn the TV on. I ALWAYS hear what he says, and I make conversations even if the topic he likes is boring.I love him, and I hope he really gets this soon. I’m so scared of our life being like this, that I dont wanna have a baby. I know with a men like this, this situation will get worse. I’m not asking him a house, or money (I work and study at the same time): I JUST WANT HIM TO HEAR ME (and act like if he is doing it). I’ve told this many times, but he doesn’t get it :(
    This should be a manual for newlyweds.

    Like

    • bendavid says:

      That is not the sign of a bad husband. All men are, more or less, like that.
      I suggest that for him to show an interest in what you say, you should show an interest in what he likes. Maybe you’re used to being worshipped, but marriage is not about romantic dinners and staring into each other’s eyes. Marriage can be boring, a grind. It’s up to the partners to make it as pleasant as possible.
      Why not plan an activity he would like, something you both can do together. Boat ride, watching a game at the arena, watching an action film he would like. That would put him in a good mood and you’ll find he’s more apt to listen when he feels happy.

      Like

  10. […] get comment from people who read An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1 and tell me that I’m better off without my wife, because at least now I can watch The Masters […]

    Like

  11. […] you ever read “An open letter to shitty husbands.” It’s a whole series about how men suck at being husbands. I found so much truth about my […]

    Like

  12. Ree says:

    If only I could have shown this to my ex husband of 15 years! Such real introspective observation! I’m sure this was tough to evolve in writing but amazing to realize in the end!

    Liked by 1 person

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