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

  1. junepie says:

    People here seem to be too focused on the Masters thing as the main event. As someone whose fiancé regularly treats me as an afterthought, I can tell you from personal experience that it’s the slow drip of being left alone in the marriage in ways sometimes little and seemingly insignificant and sometimes obviously egregious. Leaving your wife’a side after she’s given birth, when she is begging you to stay, for no other reason than to get some rest and a shower? No doubt the wheels in her mind clicked over toward “i need to leave him” at that point and many many others. I’ve been there. My fiancé opted not to accompany me to my first chemo session after I was diagnosed with cancer. I stayed with him (that was a year ago and I’m fine now) but I stopped having faith in him right then and there. A piece of me left the relationship. The worst part was when he defended his choice by saying he was “too tired” and “you’ll be fine.” Since then there have been too many smaller but no less significant things to count. And when I tell him how hurt I am, he gets miffed and tells me to “grow up.” Men, pay attention to what MBTTTR is saying. He is absolutely correct.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Thank you for spelling out what should be obvious AND in the process, really highlighting the REAl problem which is two people who supposedly love other, and how neither are ever really arguing or fighting about the same things.

      We so often can’t even identify the problems right in front of us, even when people are trying to say it to us. Tragic.

      I’m so sorry for everything you’ve been through. There aren’t really any words.

      Like

  2. Tyler says:

    First thought: What a complete tool

    Final thought: Oh shit, he’s onto something

    Like

  3. Jen says:

    Here it is 12 on a Friday night.. my Husband of 11 years asleep in another room and I’m googling “My Husband is an asshole” and “shitty husband” just trying to find something to relate to. Tonight’s argument started because I forgot to buy a gallon of milk today for his Oreos (No joke). It’s these nonstop little ridiculous things that make me constantly think I can’t do this shit anymore.
    This post is basically my life and I have pretty much gotten to that point where I have checked out entirely from this marriage. So glad to read that there’s at least one dude out there on planet earth that gets it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rowan says:

    This is my life. I have been with my husband for 20 years. I started asking for more 9 years ago. He’d improve for a few weeks then revert. Last year I gave him an ultimatium. He begged me to try again, so I did. we had 3 good months, then back to the same shit. The final straw was broken last month. I get plenty of offers from other men ( some are his friends). He is doing some half-assed trying right now, because I have completely checked out. He says he doesn’t know what to do. I sent him a link to this blog last night. I don’t know if he will understand it or even bother to read it. If he does read it , maybe he will realize that I am not making this up and I am not alone

    Like

  5. Julie says:

    Thank you. This might have saved my marriage. I sent it to my husband to read.

    Like

  6. I just told my husband that I have a lump in my breast. He’s mad at me. He’s no longer speaking to me. That IS IS A SHITTY HUSBAND!

    Like

  7. Michelle says:

    I am only to vol 8. And i have cried many times. It’s like your the voice i wish were in my husband’s head. My husband and i are going through all of this. He is a complete alpha, and even if i strategically get him to read this he will call it stupid and call you a pussy. Lol
    I desperately want my marriage to work, but he isnt going to change. I know this. I just dont want my kids growing up in a dysfunctional broken home like me. And well, if he is a shitty husband, i can only imagine how shitty of an ex husband he is going to be. I fear it honestly. But these blogs are truly helping me see that im not the crazy unpleaseable woman i am accused of being on a daily basis.
    Thank you.

    Like

  8. Epicac77 says:

    LOL. Your self-righteous, man-hating, neo-feminist viewpoint that a man should unilaterally accommodate every last desire of his significant other is laughable. Your presumption that if a man asks, NAY expects a modicum of consideration for his own desires then he is a “shitty husband” is hypocritical given that we both know you would never dare call a woman a “shitty wife” were the EXACT ROLES reversed. Your marriage failed. Deal with it in a better way than trying to convince men at large that you have had some kind of epiphony, your ex-wife is a saint and all men are evil at the core. We can all do better by our significant others and we can all learn to truly appreciate what we have including the wife that works 50 hours a week to provide a good life and the husband who still finds his wife attractive after a decade and tries to show it at an inopportune time while the wife is trying to watch NCIS. And we can do this WITHOUT being made to feel guilty for being human beings with limited time on this planet and a desire not to be subservient to another human being but instead find as much enjoyment for ourselves as possible during our brief stint on this mortal coil. See how I reversed your roles there to make my point, asshat? :)

    Like

    • MCB says:

      Thank you so much! I cried when I read this. You get it! Gentlemen, It take two to make a marriage. Both need to put the other first. Both have to give 100% Ask your self, has she tried? Who is the priority in your life? You or her? Can you show empathy when she tries to have a heart to heart talk with you? Have you tried to walk a mile in her shoes? I know that I shut down and stop listening or caring about my husband only after trying to work it out with him; only to fall on deaf ears. You can’t expect someone to listen to you if you can’t listen to them.Why should she give 100%, if you only give 25-75%? Marriage is like a house plant, if you don’t take care of it, it will die.

      Like

      • Cartoonbear says:

        Of course it can cut both ways! I dont think that was OP’s point–that men have somehow found themselves newly required to accommodate women’s every whim. I read this as a simcere attempt to make sense of what went wrong in his marriage and try and warn others to be more mindful of the attention they pay to their relationships. Its good advice not just for marriage but parenting and friendships too.

        My marriage with my first husband effectively ended when I was sitting beside my father’s literal deathbed and he demanded I come home to take care of our toddler because it was so unfair and selfish he had not had a break that day. We stayed together another six years or so after that, but that broke it for real.

        Every one of us could use a reminder now and then that it is no bad thing to think, before you open your mouth, how would I feel if this situation were reversed? It isnt a male female thing, it is a person thing.

        Like

    • J says:

      @Epicac77 – I take it you’re single then…

      Like

  9. Paul says:

    I guess I’m one of those shitty husbands, and really I take that as a compliment. Married 49 years and maybe had sex a couple of times, the war department (wife) has been mad at me for along time. I have no interest in sex, intimacy or any thing that has to do with sex. Not gay or have other women, just myself and I like me. I’ve always had problems with erections and climaxing was an effort, I figured that’s just me. All these years my wife and I lived separately I always camped out in the basement and she has the master bedroom on the second floor. We haven’t talked to each other in years! I told her years ago she could leave if she wanted or have a boy or girl friend, I didn’t care. She’s still living in the house so I guess the arrangement is fine with her. Now at 70 and really still don’t care what ever happen’s happen’s. I’m not on this earth to make her happy, it’s me that counts.

    Like

  10. Dave says:

    My wife sent me this a couple of nights ago and said it pretty much explains how she feels and how it came to be. Reading it makes sense and I can identify actions and inactions that would have led to where we are now: 21 yrs of marriage and devotion on the verge of destruction.
    Although your blog is great and allows us men (those who want to) to understand our wifes, I am still searching for that blog that explains how I feel and why I behaved a certain way.
    The analogy here for me is like this:
    – to save my marriage I must ensure the toilet seat is always down. Yet we are both capable of raising and lowering the seat as required…
    I have been a shitty husband, I do not deny it, but also a good one and I understand my wife needs better now.
    How can I explain to her she was a shitty wife? That some of her actions made me be distant? I cannot say anything, because that would be the end. So now I must ensure the toilet seat is always down until I no longer care…

    Hopefully some lucky husband read this blog in time, managed to save his marriage and can testify the relationship has balanced itself.

    Like

    • bearded12 says:

      Hey Dave,
      We are all shitty husbands from time to time and all wives are shitty from time to time, but you are not allowed to suggest that in our feminist utopia (or distopia, if you’re a bloke).
      We live in a world where men’s feelings, thoughts, concerns, instincts and opinions don’t matter. Women are told they are special and deserve better than you and me, so this breed huge discontent. Until a woman can wake up from this lie, I’m afraid your choices are put up and shut up (which will destroy your masculine soul, or leave/allow her to leave which will also destroy your masculine soul. Until we as a culture leave behind the current woman-worship, we are doomed to shitty relationships and families. If you feel this way, thank a feminist.
      Matt

      Like

    • Cartoonbear says:

      Because you use the toilet both with seat up AND with seat down. So down should be the default.

      I so wish we could all just step back from ourselves and our rage for long enough to get the bigger picture. I have struggled with this issue my whole life–when am I being selfish and when are my rights geing trampled on? If you figure out the answer about how to make the distinction, let us know.

      Like

  11. Tr says:

    Reading this blog, I’m a bit confused by some of the comments. I am a woman. I am married. My husband is a self proclaimed asshole. I fully agree with him. After reading the blog though I see where I was wrong. I knew he was an asshole. He told me. He knew what I wanted from a relationship. I told him. He claimed he was capable of giving me what I had asked. We married, had 4 great kids. He continues to be the asshole I married, but without keeping his other promise. Thats what I got from the blog. If you are a shitty husband, your wife knew it and played obliviousness or chose to accept it. Men if your wife told you her expectations in the beginning of the relationship and you didn’t make good, then that’s on you. In my situation, I was honest. Maybe honest to a fault. But I married him. He married me. So here we are. He’s still an asshole. And I’m the asshole for believing the asshole. I have been wrong many many times. As he has also. We are human, humans err, often. The problem here isn’t self serving, or taking advantage of the short time we have on this planet for self fulfillment. Its about mutual respect and a lack of personal responsibility of our actions and responses to the people we claim to love forever. Vows are not just a piece of paper, they are a promise to hold that person in higher regard than anyone else. How is putting a poker game or fantasy football more important than your wife and children? Sure that’s what your interested in. I don’t knock that, but in the broader scope of life what will leave the greater memory? Having a loving wife who respects you, and a child who looks up to you? Or a winning team or the bragging rights and some money for a poker tournament? Yes money is great, but at what expense? I don’t see that he made his ex a saint by any means. He just realized her requests were small and his response made him smaller. I am not a saint. At times I’ve been shiity too. I made my concerns known from the beginning. If he couldn’t handle it , he should have moved on, or at least told me. But he played the role and was the MAN. Lol I didn’t need the MAN. I needed a friend, a partner, someone I longed to respect and hold in high regard. What I got was less than OK. So after some time I turned into the shitty wife. I struggle with my new title. But I now have to accept what I’ve allowed myself to become. As he has to accept , now that he knows he royally messed up, how our marriage now has thorns and swears where there used be soft caresses and kind words. We are both at fault. Blame never solves anything. It just makes it easier to justify our fuck ups. Don’t be the asshole. Be the one who sees what can be corrected. The one who sees that time is of the essence, and is very short. Miss the tournament. Put down the dishes. Respect your husband. Respect your wife. Take time to see your future. Before it becomes your past.

    Like

  12. Lost and Alone says:

    I am there now I want to leave my husband. I am tired of the constant abandonment I feel. Thank God we have no kids. I realized I can’t do this I told him about this blog even said he should read it, he said he doesn’t want to. I read him a few posts. He completely missed the points and looked at me saying “oh so are you fantasizing over other men?” It is all good and well when you can realize these things but perhaps he will realize them once I am gone. I doubt it though I am sure he will go back to dating like in the past and be just fine.

    Like

  13. Jon says:

    I stumbled on this and I know it’s four years old. But dude you are wrong. You shouldn’t have to give up everything you love in life to be married. Not being perfect is acceptable. And always giving up your pastimes in favor of her whims is not a virtue. Don’t you see it’s your wife who was the ass.

    Like

  14. Scott F. says:

    I was a shitty husband. I even posted on here… long ago. My marriage was failing, I was depressed, and this blog really helped me.

    Where am I at now? Well, our divorce was final on August 29th, 2016. She had a boyfriend, and I had dated a number of women. We actually got along with each other quite well.

    And then back in January, she sent me a text. Said “I think I made a big mistake”, she had broken things off with her boyfriend, said “I never gave you the chance you deserved” – (It’s a long story, but our relationship effectively ended with us living 1,200 miles apart).

    And here we are now. Two months later, dating each other again. It wasn’t easy, but I don’t regret it for a minute, I taught myself how to be a better man/husband, and I will never make the mistakes I made before.

    Will it work? Dunno, I hope so. But I’m just grateful for the chance to make it work. We were married for 13 1/2 years, I didn’t want to throw that away.

    Thank you for the great blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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