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.


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

  1. […] An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1 […]


  2. Legit FFU says:

    Hi! I thought I would join in the conversation! My husband is the definition of a shitty husband. He has committed all the offences listed above and many more.
    Yes, he has left me home every Friday night to go and drink with buddies; before kids, during kids and now, after kids have mostly grown up. Nothing stopped him, not even Christmas Eve. Talk about disappointing. Oh yeah, and one time, I planned his birthday party on a Friday night (it was legit a Friday night), with both of our families there and he left. He said I should have know not to plan it on a Friday night! Like wow! How stupid of me! Did I feel like a moron? You bet, I did!
    Yes, I have previously thought about him and have done things for him that he likes; picking up his special flavour of ice-cream, getting him a pillow I think will help him sleep better, etc. And yet, I cannot, for the life of me, come up with a time that he has ever gone out of his way to bring me my favourite ice cream. And it’s not even the ice cream! It’s the little things that show you that he is thinking of you. Birthdays and Christmas are cards with money. Like I couldn’t have went to the bank machine and gotten it out myself!? How thoughtful of you! I’m not even fussy…a candle, a nice sweatshirt, perfume. Something that took a little bit of effort! You know, I know how much you care since you went to the bank and got this money for me. Thanks so much!
    Yes, he takes week long, and sometimes even longer, friend trips multiple times of the year, before kids, when our oldest was 1 week old was the first during kids and now after kids have grown up. I don’t care anymore. I no longer stand in the doorway crying, with 3 kids under 3, attached to my leg as he’s pulling out of the driveway.
    Yes, he’s left me alone after surgeries to fend for myself, while he’s gone away doing who knows what, even when I was not to be vacuuming or anything. It scares me for when the day comes that I cannot help myself. I cannot count on him.
    Yes, sporting events always take priority; car races, car shows, hockey games, etc.
    Yes, I’ve been the mother left at the hospital alone with a newborn infant, crying silently in her room, feeling absolutely worthless and unwanted. You have no idea how absolutely soul crushing that is. You sit there thinking that this newborn baby is the absolute world to you and your husband can only think of himself. Buddies and beer were more important than a newborn. I hope she never finds out.
    Yes, when we went somewhere, whether a wedding or a birthday party, he disappeared with his buddies, and not once did he come and find me or bring me a drink. Never.
    Yes, I’ve kept myself looking nice, watch what I eat and have worked hard to get him to have sex with me. He’s just not interested and never really was. People probably thought that we had sex all the time because I got pregnant so quickly. Um…nope…maybe 5 times a year. And for the last six years, 3 times all together. I never realized how much bitterness and resentment one can hold onto. Now I know. No intimacy, no hugs, no kisses, no ‘I love you’. Just like we’re buddies! And because of that, I no longer want it from him. I don’t ask anymore and I don’t even want to.
    Yes, I am the keeper of all schedules and appointments, the dropper-offer and picker-upper of children during the day care years, the early elementary years and now the high school years, as he needs his ‘sleep’ when they have a late night party. The manager of school stuff, sporting arrangements, meet the teacher nights, doctor and dentist appointments, grocery getting, house cleaning…let’s face it. I do it all! I’m also now expected to do his paperwork because learning tech is hard! Poor muffin! Did I mention that I also have a full time job of my own!?
    Yes, I do whatever he asks because it’s legitimately not worth the argument when he doesn’t get his own way; the arm flapping, the constant badgering, the endless pouting, the coercing, the but, but, but, but…does not stop until I give in or if it’s one of the kids he’s harassing to get them to do something for him that a grown up man legitimately could do on his own!
    Yes, he has all the toys a man could imagine. We both make decent money, but he seems to be the one with all the toys. My money has always been for the kids.
    Yes, we do end up dropping whatever we are doing (the kids and I), to appease the selfish shitty husband that rules our house. Or he annoys us until we do what he wants.
    Have I spoken out? Yes, I have many times. Has he changed? A few months out of years…that’s big nope! The big man child gets his way every day.
    Yes, he has apologize once, that I recall. I don’t even recall what the disagreement was about, but his apology went something like this. ‘I know I don’t usually apologize for anything, but i’m sorry.’ Um, wow! I feel so much better! Cool!
    So now, here I sit 23 years later, miserable and unhappy. He’s got himself a new toy that he wants to spend weekends on, drinking with friends and literally getting shit faced. Last year, he almost drowned because of this. I’m not loving it and I was very up front about my lack of enthusiasm and not wanting to spend my weekends there. But he never listens. I will be explaining that I can’t go because I have this to do or I have to take one of the kids to work and he either 1) starts to pout and asks if we can’t find someone else to take the kid to work or 2) he just talks right over me as if I haven’t said anything. Like he sees my lips moving, but he’s not hearing the damn conversation! OMG! I’m getting pissed just thinking about it! I can no longer accept not being listened to. I AM DONE! I AM TIRED! And I refuse to put my kids second. So that’s a whole other can of worms!
    And lately, you bet I am a sarcastic, miserable bitch. I cannot help, but use a condescending tone whenever I speak to him. My cup of bitterness and resentfulness is almost full. I will be leaving, maybe not today, not tomorrow, but soon. And when I do, I will never, ever get myself into another relationship again. I will live for my kids and grandkids and that will be enough for me.
    He is a wonderful friend and he does work hard. But he is a selfish, spoiled little mama’s boy who never had to grow the fuck up. He would do anything for anyone, just not his wife or his kids.


    • Legit FFU says:

      I forgot to mention this…it’s not the once in awhile deep cuts to your heart that kill a relationship. It’s the frequent little slices that do. While superficial, like a paper cut, these hurt the worst in the long run.


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