An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 2

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There’s a huge difference between being “whipped” and being a man who puts his wife first.

Being whipped is cowardly. And unsustainable.

Putting your wife on a pedestal and putting her needs first is heroic.

Because it’s hard. And I think one of life’s most-obvious lessons is that doing difficult things is a worthwhile exercise.

And that’s what I’m going to challenge you to do, gentlemen. To be heroes.

To be in the business of saving families.

100-100

In every marriage, the husband and wife dynamic is going to vary.

There are very submissive wives, as well as domineering ones. There are very alpha-male husbands, as well as those happy to let their wives run the show.

I submit that all of those power structures are poor choices.

Conventional wisdom suggests that in a healthy partnership, both sides give equally. 50-50.

But guess what? That’s not enough.

If you want your marriage to work—and gentlemen, I implore you to want it to—you have to give everything.

Unbreakable marriages are built from two people giving 100 percent. Both ways.

Time and time again, I see the wives giving more.

This is by no means always the case. But it happens far too often.

Perhaps your wife stays home with the children. If you’ve spent any time caring for multiple children at once, you should realize this has its own unique set of challenges. She probably does the vast majority of cooking, shopping, and cleaning too.

Maybe you don’t feel bad about this arrangement. Because she gets to stay home while you slave away at whatever you do for money, putting food on the table for your family.

I get it. We grew up watching our fathers and grandfathers live this way. It became ingrained in us at a young age. Men make money. Women make children and sandwiches.

But I know you know that’s bullshit. At least I pray you do.

And if your wife has a career? She has all those professional pressures to deal with in addition to the heavy load she carries at home.

Respect her struggles. Care about the challenges she faces. And help her with them.

Make the Choice to Love

Step One is always going to be to genuinely love and respect your wife.

And I have to believe you do if you’re still reading.

Step Two? Don’t treat her as an equal. Treat her like something more.

  1. I know how hard this is. All humans can be shitty and unreasonable. My guess is your wife is no exception. And when you give a lot and she doesn’t act appreciative or even considerate of what you do, it’s going to hurt. You’re going to resent it. You’re going to be angry. And maybe even feel a little shame.
  2. Guess what? DO IT ANYWAY.
  3. Write this down and remind yourself of it daily: Love is NOT a feeling. Feelings are fickle. They change and come and go with such frequency, it’s impossible to build a foundation on them. Infatuation is a feeling. Lust is a feeling. Love is a CHOICE. A decision. It’s a verb. It’s an action. It’s something you wake up every day and choose to do. The sooner we can get every human being on the planet to understand this, the sooner we can do something about our depressing divorce rate.

If your wife is the anti-Christ, I’m sorry. We all make bad decisions. Especially me.

More than likely, she’s not. More than likely, she’s just a girl trying to make it through this challenging life. Just like you.

She has hopes and dreams, too. And you’d be wise to figure out what those are and try to help her achieve them, big and small.

And she’s scared. Terrified, even. When all the lights are off and it’s just her and her thoughts? If you’re not doing the right things, she’s scared. She’s scared you don’t love her as much as you used to. She’s scared there might not be enough money to pay for little Jimmy’s braces. She’s scared that she might not have the strength to keep juggling everyone in your family’s schedule. That she’s losing the strength to be the glue in the household.

And when your wife is scared, her defenses go up.

And then she nags you. To clean your shoes before walking through the house. About that leaky faucet you still haven’t fixed. About how you spend so much of your time watching the ballgame, playing video games, or working in the garage, and how you don’t spend enough time with the kids, or planning family activities, or making her feel good inside or outside of the bedroom. The sex becomes infrequent or nonexistent.

“I love you” becomes a thoughtless daily thing you’re programmed to say before leaving for work.

It’s human nature to take things for granted. I’m not going to beat you up about losing sight of the big picture once in a while.

But you can train your mind to focus on that which matters most. And boys, your wives and families matter most. And if they don’t, you’re in the wrong line of work.

Sometimes it takes losing your spouse or a child to truly understand what gifts they are.

I’m asking you to not be that way. To be mindful of their importance in your life and to consider how devastating the loss would be if they weren’t there anymore. So that you don’t have to feel the brutality of the alternative.

You’re going to have to disappoint your buddies once in a while when they want to take that golf weekend away, or tailgate at the college football game, or just go out drinking on a random weeknight.

You’re going to have to watch a cheesy romantic comedy once in a while, or take her to the theater.

You’re going to have to listen to music you don’t want to on road trips, and vacation places that aren’t your first choice.

The Righteous Brothers sang about losing that loving feeling. And maybe you’ve felt it in your own life. Maybe you’re not feeling motivated to get it back because she’s on your ass all the time about some chore you’ve been putting off, or because she never acts interested in you anymore, mentally or physically.

You have the power to change everything. You really do.

Love her.

Dude. Just love her.

Love her by being kind. By small displays of thoughtfulness. By recognizing and respecting her contributions to your life. By being a strong father. By making her feel loved and wanted when others are watching. And by making her feel loved and wanted when no one’s watching.

Don’t sit around waiting for something to happen. It’s not going to. Nothing good, anyway. Don’t be a statistic.

Make it happen.

Show your sons what heroism looks like. How to treat women. Show them the path to a happy and sustainable relationship.

Show your daughters what it looks and feels like to be treated well and respected by men. That will pay dividends later.

And show your wife—every chance you get—that she is loved and valued.

Give without asking for anything in return. For it is in giving that we receive.

Find a way to be the bigger, more patient, more loving person during conflict. For it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.

Find a way to be the hero.

Because you are the man of the house. And it’s time to start acting like it.

You May Also Want to Read:

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1

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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96 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 2

  1. Brittney says:

    Wow! I try to tell my husband how I feel, how I want to be treated and you nailed! You said everything I have been struggling to say for months. My husband doesn’t realize how absent from our relationship he has been. I really hope I can encourage him to read this and really get it. He says I’m the problem, If I was happy we would all be happy – that happiness is a choice, if I would show interest in him he would show interest in me, if I do things for him he would do things for me. It’s never-ending. I wish he would use this God given power to change our relationship. Thanks for writing this and giving me hope!

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Thanks for the note, Brittney. Please do choose hope.

      Sounds like another good guy who just doesn’t quite see it all for what it is.

      It seems like it should be so easy, but it’s truly not. Which is why millions of us all share the same story and have the same relationship issues.

      Cheers to both of you making good things happen.

      Like

  2. Christy Platt says:

    Excellent! A man who finally gets it!

    Like

  3. I’ve been looking for the words to make my husband realize how close I am to divorcing him. There’s no way he’d be willing to read your blog, which has been so helpful to me. What words would have gotten through to you while you were in the last year of your marriage? If you could go back, what do you wish your wife would have said to you to jolt you awake from those bad habits?

    Like

    • Sue says:

      My husband and I have been a couple for 42 years. Married 35. I am only 57. He 59. I am fiercely loyal and a hard worker and love my family and him so much. We have a very successful business for 22 years. He berates and belittles me constantly throughtout the years. Behind my back he puts me on a pedastal but not to my face. Im one of the happiest, positive, and go-lucky person you will ever meet. Our two grown children are wonderful and functional professionals. He hurts me so much verbally. He has so many good qualities but unfortunately hes tempermental, quick to judge, and very sharp tongued and negative. A week ago he had a terrible attack of COPD, emphysema for the first time and hes scared as hek. You see he has smoked for 44 years. Hes a mere 59. Last week life totally changed. Hes soooo negative and worse hateful to me. This morning I broke. I said how much I loved him but I made the decision to leave him. Eating supper on the edge of my bed and crying myself to sleep needed to stop for Im just too old to handle it anymore. I said I would give him more than his fair share because he deserved it but I have to find an apartment for my well being. He didnt say much and went in his room. I did some work on my computer and he came out shortly thereafter crying and said how sorry he was. MY HUSBAND NEVER CRIES AND NEVER APOLGIZES. It was quite a morning. I forgave him and said I am not perfect either. You see when we are calm and we show generosity and express our love showing kindness and concern, I think love will never fail and it can turn people around. Ladies take care of yourselves emotionally and if you need to leave always do it with calmness, give generously even if you have been wronged and love will never fail. Sometimes if our men were berated by their dad growing up, and he was, they learn the behavior and we are the verbal punching bags. Life has really changed for him now. He can barely get around. Theres reasons for his behavior. Try figuring it out, Ladies, if your man is worth it. Mine is. I loved finding and reading these articles. They gave me courage today to make a difficult desicion. We will see if things get better. Right now Im with a dear friend for two nights while my older daughter is up from out of state staying and visiting with her dad. He needs to miss me. I said earlier today Im just getting away for a liitle bit while he visits and bonds with our oldest. It will all be good. It will all be good….

      Like

  4. Nikki says:

    I have sent this to my husband twice, I have papers ready to file, he doesn’t get it. He won’t take the time to read it so why would he take the fine to fix our failing marriage? I’m lost and sad. This has however helped me. Thank you!

    Like

  5. Kay says:

    2nd letter i read. Very well written. Honest.

    It pains me how i feel alone in this marriage. I try so hard. If i tell him how i feel he feels attacked and “attacks” back. I hope he changes, that he sees one day how much he’s breaking me little by little. But i’m really afraid it will be too late. I’m slowly closing up.

    Like

  6. Beryl says:

    These are quite good & bit home. After 38 yrs, i want him gone. Total zero. Can’t stand the way he looks. When he opens his mouth, he sounds like an idiot. No sex for almost a year. Clueless add to what’s going on, sits there & plays solitaire on his phone. Total coward. I told him not to ever ask me another question. No spine or brain. I don’ care any more. I funny want to think of spending another 10 or 20 yrs with him. Oh yes, I’m the bully & bitch. I industry’s getting older, things hurt but funny just sit there. So, what do you do, married for 38 years for years in a Loveless marriage. Like the song,.should I stay or should I go?

    Like

    • Susie says:

      38 years is a lot. I was married 23 loveless years. I couldn’t even stand the way he breathed. Like you, sexless for years. Starved for love. I divorced. Happily so. BUT I pay the price with my grown children every day and especially on holidays. The pain is at its worse when a family event requires mutual attendance and my children ignore me and visit with dad. I was always the “liked” parent as they were growing up so how this role reversal happened is beyond me. It has and it hurts like no tomorrow. Not saying that I wish I had stayed married, I dont. Several medical personnel advised the divorce as the stress was taking a tole and several illnesses were taking a tole on my body. My choice was made for me… if I stayed, I died. What I am saying is… weigh your choice well. Consider what ALONE really means. (It isn’t such a good life either) Consider the family unit. Consider the financial split up. Us women generally end up in low income housing. Unless you are being abused really consider options. Possibly two lives under one roof? Separate bedrooms? Do something you have always wanted that gets you out of the house? Most importantly, take care of you.

      Like

  7. Katie says:

    I’ve made it through volume 2 and I look like I’ve just watched the Notebook. Sadly, it’s not because I feel overwhelmingly bad for you (even thought I do) it’s because I can feel what your wife felt in my core. “When all the lights are off and it’s just her and her thoughts? If you’re not doing the right things, she’s scared.” That one hit me square in the chest. I can literally feel the physical pain in my chest reading this. I’ve toyed with the thought of sending these to my husband. Not because I want to divorce him but because I want him to see how things start and how a near decades worth of relationship can unravel almost without realizing it. I have the alpha-male husband who learned from his alpha-male super Italian dad and it is hard. Turning point? At my 26th birthday dinner my husband was annoyed that I was “taking too long” trying to make sure my silly girlfriends all got in the same car so no one was driving under the influence. My husband drove away and left me alone in an empty parking lot. I love my husband fiercely but I’m tired and I hurt all the time. I don’t even want kids anymore because there is no way I could handle life and babies. I feel alone and very scared about the last 9 years of choices I’ve made.

    Like

  8. Julia says:

    Matt, I appreciate your well written sharing. I too am divorced for many of the things you shared. Your web site will be shown to my fiancée and my sons in hopes to not make similar mistakes. This is a great teaching tool written in such a way I think it is more palitable than coming from me. Thank you so much. Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Donegoner says:

    Being a “homemaker” or appropriately of old a housewife is the easiest job in the world. Men have been duped into believing it is the most challenging and hardest thing there is and this guy just buys the whole thing. He states that time and again he sees wives giving more than husbands. It’s utter bullshit. Listen up gents, it may be true that no woman ever killed her man while he was doing dishes, but she never have him a blowy either. Women have no attraction to male kitchen bitches.

    Like

    • BadassMama says:

      Betting love doesn’t come your way often. World would be better off if all the mothers of men like you hadn’t bothered to nurse you, to feed you when you were an infant every two hours night and day immediately after completing a pregnancy, no matter how difficult, without terminating those of you who would turn out like this, then going through the most difficult and athletic event ever known to man, which is labor and delivery, followed immediately by nursing every two hours, changing, soothing to sleep and getting a 30 minute nap in before she does it all again. Every day all day for two months. That’s just the first two momths. the irony? You don’t think it’s work because your mother was so graceful and living that she made ot look easy and let you know there’s nothing she’d rather have done with her life than be your mom,

      Show her your letter i bet she will change her mind. You are a pig.

      Like

    • Helpthesemen says:

      You are a complete idiot. Give yourself a blowy. If you want to add to the conversation, come up with something that makes you sound slightly educated.

      Like

  10. kaceydian says:

    I am separating from my husband of 9 years and I’m crying while I read this. Even if my own husband can’t acknowledge these feelings in me, it’s so helpful, comforting and strengthening to know SOMEONE can acknowledge this. Thank you.

    “There’s a huge difference between being “whipped” and being a man who puts his wife first.

    Being whipped is cowardly. And unsustainable.

    Putting your wife on a pedestal and putting her needs first is heroic.

    Because it’s hard. And I think one of life’s most-obvious lessons is that doing difficult things is a worthwhile exercise.

    And that’s what I’m going to challenge you to do, gentlemen. To be heroes.

    To be in the business of saving families.”

    Like

  11. Amy says:

    Oh man any woman reading this who has experienced or may currently be experiencing a shitty husband is grateful for this; I am. You said you don’t know how it helps, but you know it does. I personally just got desperate and turned to google for justification that I am not just a crazy nagging woman. And thanks to you and the World Wide Web, I have stumbled upon complete and total validation. Admitting is the first step to healing and I admit, my husband is the shittiest. Oh I got sidetracked, back to how it helps. Well, for one that validation I mentioned, and the best reason this article is so helpful….I was able to copy and paste it and send it to my shitty husband. Maybe he will read it, maybe he won’t but I’ve been saved the exhaustion of trying to find better words to explain it. I also began to feel sorry for your ex and then I walked over to the mirror and realized I feel sorry for myself. That’s unnecessary and I can fix that but eliminating any reason to complain; so I will no longer permit myself to be treated via the “the shitty husband method.” Thank you for providing that humble and gentleman like perspective. You helped me find my voice. This extra validation certainly keeps the feeling shitty at bay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      I always caution people to be careful about throwing these things with a pretty jarring title that can put men on the defensive in front of their husbands or boyfriends, and hope good things result.

      But, I do hear this a lot. That things I write sometimes put into words the things people think and feel in a way they haven’t said or organized before.

      Back when I wrote this, I wasn’t in the place I am now where I understand how MOST of this stuff men do is NOT to inflict pain on their wives, or damage their marriages.

      These things happen because these men fundamentally (and innocently) lack the understanding of how their actions or inactions negatively affect their wives and marriages.

      I don’t want to call a man who is accidentally hurting his wife, and who will feel immense guilt and regret if his marriage were to end, a “shitty husband.”

      I hope you can find a way to bridge the gap between you. But I encourage you to consider that he truly doesn’t know how some of these moments make you feel because in the situation was reversed, he would never feel pain from it.

      OTHER things cause him pain (probably). And the thing that will help him the most is to understand that the things that hurt him are the same as these things that hurt you.

      Not the same incidents or causes.

      Just the same pain.

      It’s the only way two people come together over disagreements. And most people don’t do it which is why most relationships fail.

      Thanks for the note, Amy. Good luck to you both.

      Like

  12. Mary says:

    Thank you for writing this… I am single today because I couldn’t take anymore after 16 years of unhappiness. I suffered through the cheating, the emotional abuse and I finally figured out that being physically alone is more palatable than being alone and emotionally starved, all while living with another person and pretending to be in a relationship.

    I will share this with as many of my male friends as I can – I hope it helps. Thanks again for sharing your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Teresa says:

    Hi! You’re awesome. I’m sorry you had to learn how to be awesome the hard way. I’m considering leaving my husband. It’s not just because of his behavior, I have my own reasons as well but HIS BEHAVIOR IS UNACCEPTABLE. Ahem. I’m NOT perfect but he’s been verbally abusive from the start. Anyway, I appreciate what you’ve written here. If it makes you feel any better, my husband’s crap is way worse than yours, from what I gather. I get cursed at for no reason. I get called names and insulted. So you know, it can always be worse. I don’t think he’ll read what you’ve written but maybe I could try and see. Are you Catholic, by the way?

    Like

    • Matt says:

      A very, very bad one with more questions than answers. But, yes.

      Thank you for the kind words, Teresa. I’m sorry to hear about what’s going on in your personal life. It would seem to rise above the accidental damage that I believe causes most relationships to end.

      Hi

      Like

  14. Torri says:

    Yeah, this is definitely good advice. it does suck and i’m sorry also you learned the hard way. My hubby apparently has thought its okay for the last few years to sext and have several emotional affairs. He says its okay and there is no problem because it isn’t “physical” but it hurts me. When he’d at fault and breaks my heart he won’t even make the nice gesture of stopping along the road on the way home to pick flowers, when he says he’s broke. When I finally confront him about these things he defensive. I want to treat him like a queen but all he treats me like is a maid, nanny, chef, taxi for the kids. He doesn’t hit me or curse at me but he certainly doesn’t treat me well. We’ve been married for 12 years and been together for 17. I have lost alot of self respect. I don’t know what to do.

    Like

  15. ArthurH says:

    When I read these open letters I totally see myself. I’m not a hitter, not a cheater, not a swearer, not a yeller. I’m an honest hard worker a good father and always considered myself a “nice” person (in fact I can ‘out-nice’ my wife in any argument). But the more I read your blog the more I realise I have put my wife through 26 years of painful neglect.
    She is a good person. Right now she vacillates between the knowledge that I’m actually a good person too and the almost unbearable pain of disappointment.
    If a person objectively looked at the sorts of things that she has done in last couple of years and the way her anger has erupted they would likely side with me – but I know that’s not fair. It’s not fair because they haven’t seen the countless times I have ignored things that were important to her.
    Our marriage is possibly salvageable.
    I’m doing a lot of things differently now.
    Whenever I find myself spiraling into a ‘poor me – she’s so mean’ black-hole, I read one these open-letters and it never fails to put it all into perspective – and I can get back to actually one-small-thing-at-a-time making her life better.

    Like

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