An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5

mrmom“So what you are saying is, I need to help you around the house and with the kids whether I want to or not?”Husband, searching for answers after wife left him yesterday, taking their two children

Now you’ve done it.

I told you it was going to happen. And I was right.

Not because I’m smart. Not because I’m psychic.

But simply because I’ve been where you are and tend to learn from my mistakes.

You didn’t think she was going to leave.

We’ve got kids!, you thought.

We have the house!

We have our friends!

She’ll snap out of it!

She loves me!

Surprise, asshole! Love isn’t enough. And neither is all that other crap.

Maybe some people will take the beating forever. I don’t pretend to know everything.

But most won’t. Once life really turns to shit and there’s nothing left to lose, a person sheds a whole bunch of fear. They rise up. Fight back.

Your problem is you only see the world through your narrow little prism.

You don’t realize that she doesn’t think like you. She doesn’t feel like you. And the radical changes taking place are under the surface. On the inside of her. Invisible to anyone not paying attention or unwilling to listen.

Invisible to someone just like you.

And now she’s gone.

Shit Just Got Real

Writing these Open Letter to Shitty Husbands posts, I always have a few specific men in mind. Guys I have met or know in real life. Guys I know are guilty of the EXACT same crimes that doomed my marriage.

Because once you get divorced (and publish your life on the internet) people have a tendency to start sharing private details of their lives with you.

Well, one of those shitty husbands just got left yesterday.

The results were predictable.

After untold hours of conversation, marriage counseling, and repeated warnings of discontent and requests for change, he was still in total shock when he came home to find his wife and two children gone.

Even though this is an untrue generalization, it often seems that only a man could be capable of such dense, negligent behavior.

Believe me. I know.

Every marriage is different. And the marital sins of a husband are going to vary from relationship to relationship, depending on a million different factors.

Some men travel for work. Others don’t.

Some men make an enormous amount of money. Others don’t.

Some men cheat on their wives. Others don’t.

Some men know how to be good fathers. Others don’t.

Some men satisfy their wives’ sexual desires. Others don’t.

This particular husband’s marital sins seem to mostly revolve around doing whatever he wants, whenever he wants, with no regard for how his decisions might affect his wife and children.

You’ve heard it, seen it, done it or experienced it all before. It looks something like this.

Wife: “Hey, I have to get up early tomorrow and take our daughter to her doctor’s appointment. So, you’ll have to make sure our son gets to school on time.”

Husband: “Yeah, sure, no problem.”

Wife: “That means you can’t stay up all night watching football or playing video games with your friends. Every time you do that, you sleep in all morning.”

Husband: “I got it, Mom. Thanks. I’m trying to watch this, okay? While I appreciate your concern, I’m perfectly capable of making my own big-boy choices.”

Wife: *deep breath* “Would you please put the dishes that are in the sink in the dishwasher and start it before you come to bed? I’ll take care of the rest when I get home tomorrow morning.”

Husband: “Yeah. I’ll get it.”

Wife: “Thank you. I love you. Goodnight.”

Husband: “Sure. Night.”

Morning comes.

Wife leaves to take daughter to doctor’s appointment. She notices the kitchen is exactly the way she had left it. There is an open bag of chips and two empty Dr. Pepper cans on the floor by the living room recliner.

That lazy sonofabitch, she thinks.

Husband watched football until 11 p.m. Then he played Madden and Call of Duty for four hours.

Tired at 3 a.m., he forgot to set his alarm.

Wife comes home at 9:30 a.m. after dropping daughter off at school. Six-year-old son is in living room watching television and eating a Pop Tart—totally not at school. Husband is still asleep, oblivious.

Fight ensues.

About Helping Around the House

“So what you are saying is, I need to help you around the house and with the kids whether I want to or not?”

This kind of thinking still surprises me, even though it shouldn’t.

This is, literally, what the husband said to the wife who left him. He promised to change and she told him she didn’t know if she believed he was capable. So, he asked THAT.

I wish it was weird that so many men think like this. But so many do.

Dishes. Cleaning. Child rearing. Laundry. Cooking. School stuff.

That’s women’s work!

So many men feel this way.

And I think I know why. I think it’s because these men used to be boys. And when they were boys, one of a few different things happened:

  1. Their mothers coddled them. Did their laundry. Did all the cooking and cleaning. Waited on them hand and foot, much like they did to their fathers.
  2. Their fathers had this chauvinistic mindset which THEY learned from their fathers. And because sons almost blindly hero-worship their fathers, they took on this same philosophy.
  3. Or, both, which REALLY validates this way of life in the mind of a son during his formative years.

It’s classic old-school thinking.

I’m actually reminded of it every day. I live in a suburban neighborhood that was developed during the 1950s. Some houses, like mine, have two-car garages because of later modifications or new construction. But most? They have a one-car garage.

And that’s because in the 1950s, families only had one car. They only needed one car. Because the father went to work in the family car while the wife stayed home and raised children.

And even in 2014, there is still much of society that shares that mindset.

Men are hardworking breadwinners away from home.

And women take care of all that easy stuff—EVERYTHING else. And don’t forget the blow job before you get back to ironing my shirts, sweetie!

While I never shared this mindset—ever—I am a product of a mother who coddled me.

My laundry was always folded and in my drawers or hung up in my closet.

The house was always very tidy.

Breakfast and dinner were always on the table. Mom did all the cleaning, too.

Making my bed in the morning was my only chore until I was old enough to help rake leaves and mow the lawn.

My mom is the oldest of eight kids. She has been taking care of others for as long as she can remember.

While I have stepsisters who I grew up mostly apart from and a half sister 14 years younger than me, I was essentially raised as an only child.

I didn’t have to do anything except homework, then whatever I wanted.

That’s the math formula for creating me—a guy who had a very difficult time adjusting to the responsibilities of a full-time relationship, and eventually, marriage, because I had never been asked to do those things before.

I would encourage parents to think about this when raising children. Might be the difference between raising mature, responsible people with successful marriages, or immature, negligent people whose marriages are doomed to fail.

Guys: You must help your wife with the responsibilities of raising children, which includes the tasks of keeping a house in order—laundry, cooking, dishes, grocery shopping, bill paying, etc.

Don’t? She’s going to leave.

She will, man.

Love in the Time of Selfishness

The answer is: Yes.

You have to help around the house and with the kids even when you don’t want to.

But here’s the REALLY important part you need to be thinking about.

You don’t need to help around the house and with the kids just because your wife doesn’t have time to do it all. In truth, she probably can figure it out. A mother’s multitasking capabilities are unparalleled in the world.

What she does need is to have her wants and desires validated by you.

She needs to feel safe.

She needs to feel loved.

She needs to be able to trust you. Not in a don’t-have-sex-with-other people sense. But in a I-can-count-on-my-husband sense.

She doesn’t just want you to do laundry.

In fact, she may literally not want you to do laundry because you’re apt to mess up her clothes by drying things you’re not supposed to, and do a lousy job folding everything.

What she wants you to do is observe, appreciate, and respect the enormous amount of effort she puts in to making your lives what they are.

She doesn’t even need you to thank her and buy her stuff, though that would be a very nice, thoughtful thing to do.

But when you can’t even do the little things she asks you to do, she’s not angry because she has to do that work also. She’s angry because you don’t respect her enough to perform such a simple task, even after saying you will.

THAT’s why she feels unloved. Because she can’t trust you. You’re unreliable.

Because every chance you get to SHOW her that you love her, you choose yourself over her or your family.

She’ll eventually have an emotional reaction. Maybe she’ll yell. Maybe she’ll cry.

You’ll think she’s crazy. You might even tell her so. Maybe you’ll tell her again that the things she thinks and feels are stupid.

Please don’t do that.

She doesn’t like yelling.

She doesn’t like crying.

She doesn’t like feeling alone.

She doesn’t like feeling abandoned.

And she is not out to get you. Or make your life worse. She knows that you two are currently living in ways which are unsustainable. She knows that this can only keep up so much longer, and then it’s all going to break. She knows your marriage is in grave danger.

And you just keep choosing to play golf.

Or to go to the bar.

Or to play video games.

You just keep choosing everything except your marriage.

It might be too late already. Sometimes wives check out. And there’s no turning back.

I’ve seen that play before. It stings.

But maybe you still have time.

Maybe she’s still in the house. Holding on.

Or maybe she left but you still see a glimmer of hope.

Use that fear of loss. Channel it. And use it to fuel your personal growth.

Because that’s the only way this has a happy ending.

If you grow. Not necessarily change. But evolve.

Ask yourself: Am I really happier without her?

Maybe! I don’t know how you experience the world.

I only know my life got infinitely shittier once my wife and son left.

Seriously.

And if you’re like me? If you, deep down where it counts, want to keep your marriage and family intact? Then it’s time to do the hardest thing we do as human beings.

Change.

  1. Stop deflecting blame. Accept responsibility for your role in the breakdowns. Big or small, you have some.
  2. Apologize. Mean it.
  3. Learn about your wife. There are great resources out there.
  4. Pray. If you’re not a believer, just look to the sky and say: “Please help.”
  5. Choose to love. Vow to give more than you take in your marriage, every day, forever.

I know you’re selfish. I get it. I am, too. I know this is intimidating. I know you’re so selfish that you’re asking yourself whether divorce might be easier than putting in the work.

Maybe you’ll need to learn the hard way, like me.

But maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll realize that divorce is not easier than putting more effort into your marriage.

And I’m telling you, you can do it.

You still have time.

To be a soldier.

To change yourself.

To do something heroic.

You May Also Want to Read:

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1

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. 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

…..

Like this post? Hate it? You can subscribe to this blog by scrolling annoyingly far to the bottom of this page and inserting your email address under “Follow Blog via Email.” You can also follow MBTTTR on Twitter and Facebook.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

72 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5

  1. DailyMusings says:

    As I kept reading I kept thinking wow- Matt is really evolved, and then read that you wrote it is necessary to do just that. You are so on top of the reality of what it takes to function in a marriage.I think children really change the dynamic in a relationship and couples need to realistically sort out BEFORE they have children the issues of sharing that responsibility. You also need to know who you are married to, and sometimes a person is just not cut out for a life with kids.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Thank you for saying that. I really appreciate it.

      I believe very strongly these things.

      I think if enough men try harder. Learn how to put others first (and hopefully have the same treatment in return) that marriage can have an infinitely higher success rate.

      I get so sad by all the brokenness all around me.

      But I don’t see the point in giving up. The world can change.

      Thank you so much for reading and saying kind things.

      Like

      • DailyMusings says:

        You are very welcome and I meant it. You have it so together IMHO, you have done alot of “self examination” and introspection-and have a handle on what it’s all about. The world has changed, but people need to be realistic about who they are marrying. There is brokenness out there, but there is also a lot of good, and good people in good relationships. I hope you find a women who deserves you.

        Like

    • A. says:

      I think most people do, and then responsibility hits, and if a man is selfish he simply won’t. he doesn’t give a shit if you talked about it pre-marriage.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When my husband and I separated it was because he chose to leave. We’d drifted apart so far it felt like we would never reach each other again. Thankfully, we are good friends now. My biggest bone of contention whilst we were together was that he appeared to move around our house (and life) with blinkers on. He never saw anything that needed doing, even if he tripped over it. Now he lives by himself. He has to manage money, cook, clean and look after the kids when he has them. He has a whole new perspective of what my life was. I am fully of the opinion that it should be mandatory for a man to live on his own, looking after himself, for at least a year before he embarks on his first relationship. A whole lot of trauma, heartache and arguments would be saved if this were the case x

    Like

    • Matt says:

      It’s always easier to empathize and respect other’s pains when you experience the same things.

      For whatever reason, a lot of guys are really bad at self-sufficiency in a domesticated environment.

      Like

      • Hanna says:

        The issue is not that the husband needs to “help his wife” so much that it’s HIS house too! Everything is also his responsibility! It’s not that he needs to help the wife do the dishes, he needs to do his dishes too.

        I love your posts, they really speak to me in a time when I’m going through a divorce from a “shitty” nice guy husband who never made decisions, never engaged his thoughts or heart in the relationship, but he loved me so it was all okay, right?

        But the vernacular language of the husbands “helping around the house” still brings to mind the image of a child assisting the mother with the chores. The husband, presumably is a fully functioning grown adult who knows how to do his own chores. There’s nothing sexier than a man who takes care of his shit.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Matt, this is so true. I think what many men are missing is the fact that in a family with children there are (or should be) TWO adults and some children. I think most women feel as if their husbands are just one more person to cater to. The sad part is this: I think most women wouldn’t mind being in charge of the children and the house if their husbands would simply appreciate it. And on those rare occasions when asked, to do what their wives ask them to do.

    Children can be unreasonable, demanding, selfish, narcissistic little tyrants. They are supposed to be that way – they are children. When your husband – the man you hoped would be your partner and protector – starts behaving that way, it is a complete turn off. There goes the sex life, here comes the resentment.

    Matt, the woman you fall in love with and marry is one lucky girl. You completely get it. Make sure she’s worthy.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Couldn’t agree more. That many wives and mothers would still do 80-percent of the work complaint-free if they felt appreciated, respected and validated.

      Thank you for saying such nice things.

      Maybe someday I’ll meet women that actually want to go out. Then, I can worry about getting really picky and making sure they’re worthy. ;)

      Like

  4. He actually SAID that? Gah!

    For once I don’t think you took this far enough. The thing that made me cringe the most about his question was the underlying assumption behind the language he used– “helping” her with the kids and housework– as though these were things that SHE was primarily accountable for, and he was supposed to assist her on request.

    WTF? They are HIS kids and HIS house as much as they are hers. It ought to be a shared responsibility to take care of both. The reality is this guy was acting like an immature child– acting on impulse.

    Like

  5. Sofia Leo says:

    You’re gonna make some woman a very good husband some day :-)

    Like

  6. Matt, I’ve missed your writing (been away). Thanks for repeating what my fiance has told me about my son… he needs to be more responsible and I need to quit doing everything for him. You said it in a much nicer way. My fiance just told me that his future wife will hate me. I don’t want that, so it’s time for him to step up (he’s 15, old enough to do more on his own).
    BB

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Well, it’s not my place to tell anyone anything about parenting. But it is certainly food for thought, I think. This idea that instilling more responsibility in our children could lead to better marriages.

      I hope so. Parenting is rarely easy.

      Hope you had a nice vacation, BB. Glad to see you back.

      Like

  7. writerlyone says:

    Wow Matt. Well written my friend. Pain and comfort are all here. Prayer as a recommendation is awesome. Keep writing and thanks for sharing.

    Like

  8. Ned's Blog says:

    This is a terrific piece, Matt — so many truths that are often overlooked. I think, in addition to your great points, is an underlying need by many men to “win” discussions/arguments. Most men are competitive by nature, and lose objectivity when faced with a difference of opinion or confrontation from their spouse. They forget that communication isn’t about winning; it’s about understanding.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Thank you, Ned. Very much. Flattered you stopped in here.

      I also appreciate the wise contribution. Because guys do have a tendency to try to “win” debates using logic and reason, as if our partners are going to stop arguing and say: “Wait a minute! You’re totally right. That WAS 2007 and not 2006 when that one random incident happened! Sorry! I’m no longer mad at you for all the substantive issues we’re actually fighting about, including you being a shitty husband and representing my life’s biggest mistake and failure.”

      Like

  9. I hope that some how every single shitty husband/boyfriend finds his way to this post. It might be worth making flyers and stapling them to road signs everywhere you go.

    After 3 (yes, a Liz Taylor sigh goes with this fact)-2 blink-of-an-eye, and one long-term marriage that resulted in the birth of my lovely little girl, I’ve found that my trust issues with men (and myself in using proper judgment) are still fairly deep-rooted. I have a sign on the wall in my bedroom that says, “Any woman looking for a husband never had one.” LOL I bought it after I caught Husband 3 in bed with another woman, Easter Sunday morning almost 5 years ago, after only 8 months of marriage–vows said in the very church I was attending that day. (Big singleworkingmom sigh goes with this fact.)

    However, that said, to read a post such as this (and I’m sure the others you’ve written in the same series) brings to surface that fact that some men DO get it, even if IT is after the fact or a hard lesson learned. And, luckily, I have a few wonderful male friends who are also wonderful husbands, fathers, and boyfriends to their significant others. They help me keep a small space in my heart alive for the possibility of finding such a thing.

    Thanks for writing to these dudes! XOXO-Kasey

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Not all men are hopeless. They’re not. In fact, I have faith in most. It’s just that there is a massive communication breakdown between the sexes if both sides don’t know better. We’re wired so differently.

      Being aware of, and embracing those differences, then choosing love even on days where we don’t “feel” like it is how we’re going to curb this divorce problem.

      The world gets worse at many things as time marches on. But we get a lot better at things too.

      And I think we can get better at making marriage a more successful thing.

      That’s my wish, anyway. For all of us.

      Thanks for saying hi. And sharing your story. It’s pretty intense.

      Like

  10. deborahtd says:

    As a wife who has just left a 21 year marriage, I can hardly read this without completely falling apart. I want so desperately to forward the link to my husband but won’t, as the title will put him on the defensive and I fear he won’t read it, or really hear its message. How do you know so clearly what it feels like to be the screaming, yelling, crying, exhausted wife? It’s helpful for me to read this; it helps me see that what I felt, feel, yelled, begged, clanged pots and pans for is not just me being bitchy. Someone else out there knows the story… that means maybe it’s not just that I’m a demanding ball buster. Thank you. Thank you.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      :(

      Hi.

      I just think we’re all so similar.

      I don’t KNOW anything. I just think I know and like to write authoritatively whenever I’m confident.

      My wife and I started sleeping in separate bedrooms almost 18 months before separating.

      I’m a nice guy. I am. Always have been. So, why doesn’t she love me? Why is all this happening? I had a lot of soul searching to do. So I started asking people questions. I started reading books.

      And one day, it clicked.

      It’s not that I understand women. (You’re still a total freaking mystery). But I think I understand that men and women are very different. I think I understand the behavior that drives couples apart.

      And I know how hard divorce is. Divorce is so hard that it makes working at marriage seem easy by comparison.

      All couples suffer from the same stuff.

      They’re common problems. Universal problems.

      And I think that’s great. It means we’re not alone, and that there must be universal solutions to these universal problems.

      I think if we all help each other, we can do a lot of good.

      In the meantime, I am so sorry you’re going through this. And after 21 years. Goodness. What a nice run.

      Here’s to the coming weeks and months bringing you healing and peace. Thoughts and prayers coming from this corner of the Web.

      Like

  11. Caitlin May says:

    I didn’t know how else to contact you, but I wrote something for you. I am strictly against posting my own links on other people’s pages, but I hope you excuse this exception: http://cleverblackbird.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/an-open-letter-to-ex-husbands/

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Caitlin.

      1. You can post any blog-related thing you want to here. You’re a wonderful human being.

      2. I haven’t clicked that link and read yet, but you can rest assured that no matter what it says, I’m extraordinarily flattered that you’d consider me at all while writing something… even if there’s scary stuff in there.

      I’ll find out soon enough. :)

      Like

  12. […] Matt’s telling all the shitty husbands “I told you so.” […]

    Like

  13. Just stumbled upon your sight for the first time tonight, and read all 5 of these. Incredible, Spot On. I’ve been married for 2 decades now, and these are So true and so important. I’ve been feeling everything you’ve stated for years now, I am that birthday girl. You said it perfectly when you chose to watch the show rather than DVR it for later and spend the day with her. I can’t count how many times I’ve sat by him watching reruns of Bones, or other shows just to have something to share with him. You said it perfectly when you stated she’ll be thinking of the other men, rather than her husband if she’s not sleeping with another already. ( I am not, will not as long as I am married, but the thoughts are crossing my mind.)

    She stands by, and complains and complains, (to the point he can give the speech himself, making her well aware that She’s stated it all before and perhaps he did hear) to let her husband know how unhappy she is, giving him a gazillion chances to make it better, because SHE WANTS TO BE WITH HIM! If she didn’t, she would have left, and as you stated…once she’s had enough, she will.

    I’ve sent him an email with the link, we’ll see if he gives a damn enough to read it. I’m sorry for the loss of your marriage, you really have learned a lot from it, and your future relationships can only benefit from it. It pays to soul search sometimes. Good Job.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Nothing frustrates me more than these types of stories anymore.

      It’s so sad. And I’m really sorry to read you’re in the midst of it.

      It’s all so predictable anymore.

      The status quo is maintained. You lose it.

      You make a move. And then one of two things happens.

      1. He FINALLY takes you seriously and starts working on himself, perhaps too little, too late.

      2. Or he literally doesn’t do anything, justifying your decision and making all these years feel so much cheaper and wasteful than they actually are.

      It’s beyond sad that you need to be at a point of desperation before his eyes are opened.

      Throughout history, we as a society have righted wrongs. Changed hearts and minds about abhorrent, damaging behaviors.

      I wish there was a way to do that with our marriages and committed relationships.

      It doesn’t have to be so tragic.

      Best wishes. Thank you for reading.

      Like

  14. Thank you. Your right, people fight for the wrong things, they should be fighting for their marriages. Well, He read vol. 1 last night, said he felt like an asshole, and is reading vol. 2 now. We’ll see. ;)

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I don’t want to make men feel like assholes. We’re perfectly capable of feeling ashamed of ourselves without anyone’s help.

      But I do think after all of this self-reflection that I can see a lot of the reoccurring themes that tear couples and families apart. If that’s what the guy wants, so be it.

      But most of the time, that’s not what they want.

      And if they can learn to reprioritize, life can get infinitely more pleasant for everyone involved.

      I really believe that.

      Like

  15. […] But I want to be careful about confusing the messages here, because we’ve already established this: Yes, asshole. You have to help your wife around the house. […]

    Like

  16. […] She already left him once. On January 4. It was the premise for An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5. […]

    Like

  17. […] An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5 […]

    Like

  18. Fran Tunno says:

    Matt, I just read volumes 1-5. You’ve learned so much because you were willing to do the hard work and actually look inside at yourself. Some people never do that, even after divorce. You’ll make a great husband and are probably a great dad. Someone’s probably noticing, trust me.

    I saw every one of the traits you mentioned in my ex and stayed ten years longer than I should have. I’m glad I left. I get clammy when I even think about considering dating again because living like that was so awful and so lonely that being alone now is actually less lonely. That sounds pretty sad, but I’m OK with it.

    Like

  19. LittleBo says:

    I nearly left my husband after 15 years of marriage. He had been looking at porn on his phone and I caught him. After over-reacting, I tried to think about the reason behind it and after talking realized that I had a fair bit of responsibility to blame.

    He didn’t treat me badly, and gives me affection and is pretty helpful with our children, but not much else. He always seemed emotionally disconnected and disinterested in my feelings and would routinely tell me what I thought or felt was stupid. He called me crazy for asking/nagging for help around the house, etc., It perpetuated a cycle where though we both love each other, we also resented each other, me – for him not sharing the burden of our marriage and life, and him – for me nagging and being a bitch to him.

    I can’t count how many times I asked for help around the house and would validate my points/concerns by explaining how much I do and it would be nice if he participated in raising our family, making an effort, etc., He just complained and called me names.

    Perpetuating the cycle.

    It got to the point where we slept in the same bed, but never touched, I stayed on my side and he on his. There was no intimacy, no emotion, no love. I hated sleeping and waking next to him, I hated looking at his angry face all the time. It made me physically sick to be around him. The only peace and happiness I had was being away from him.

    One night my phone died and I was using his and when I got on Google, his search history came up and he had all kinds of porn that he’d been visiting. I freaked out! I couldn’t believe that after sacrificing my career and life for our family, this was how I was being betrayed. Hurt and shock don’t even come close.

    I confronted him in the morning and of course he denied it. Perhaps the porn fairy dropped by and left something on your phone? Ridiculous! There is nothing worse than being lied to. So we separated for a few days and came back to talk.

    After admitting pulling up the photos, he said the reason he looked was because his mind races when he thinks we are going separate and and he doesn’t know what to do. He said he doesn’t feel wanted, desired or loved and was lonely. That hit me like a brick. I didn’t realize that through all the animosity and resentment, I had began to not care about him. I mean, sure I loved him, but I didn’t care about what he talked about, wanted or felt. If he didn’t care about my needs, I didn’t care about his! How awful this was realizing that I had a hand in causing this tremendous pain not only I felt, but apparently my husband as well. It was devastating.

    I think that you were so right in each of your letters – and that communication and love even when you don’t want to give it, is the best shot at keeping a marriage together. After we talked and worked things, we couldn’t be closer. Our sex life is amazing, and we pay attention to each others needs. It is NOT easy, but is certainly easier than divorce with children!

    Something to remember is, no matter how shitty the husband is, we as wives aren’t perfect and do have a hand in the tone of our marriage. Even miserable, I had a choice of caring. My husband needed to change, but I helped drive a brick wall between us that led to his use of porn. He made the choice, but I certainly didn’t make him feel wanted or loved.

    Love each other! Communicate and give freely. :)

    I applaud all of your introspection and am amazed and how you have grown. I wish all men in similar situations could learn from your story and make changes before it’s too late. Thank you for sharing your views and circumstances with the world – your brave and deserve a second chance. I hope it comes at the right time for you and your son.

    Also, I laughed so hard when another poster mentioned it would be worthwhile to print these letters off and staple them to telephone poles. It was a fantastic idea.

    Like

  20. KiwiGirl says:

    I wasn’t going to comment but this just resonated with me so much. I was that woman for 5 years, I took on everything because I could see he was stressed and it made him happy when I made his life a little easier. Looking back, my biggest mistake was never handing the responsibilities back officially once things got easier for him. Because then we had a baby, and I had to take on all the responsibility that came with that too. And still make sure his life was as unchanged and unaffected as possible because as the only breadwinner now he couldn’t be tired or hungry or not have clean clothes. Things got a little easier and our marriage improved a bit as the intense baby stage passed. Then when son #1 was 2 I got pregnant again and things got infinitely worse.

    We had that cycle that you described that we went through every 2-3months. After I got angry and melted down tho, he would literally ignore me for 3 days. Eventually I convinced him to go to counselling with me “because I wasn’t coping” nothing changed and one year later I left with our 2 boys. I refuse to be emotionally neglected and abused – and more importantly I refuse to set an example to my boys that this treatment of anyone is ok. A huge part of my decision to leave was centred around my boys. I was in a place where I had checked out and actually what he was doing had little affect on me anymore but I could see what my kids were internalising and that sucked!

    He still doesn’t really get it, and still wants to get back together. I am going to send him the link to your blog and maybe he’ll see why I can’t ever go back. I don’t trust him on that intimate emotional level.
    You get it. And I wish you nothing but peace and happiness, whether you marry again or not. God bless you x

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Sad story. And all too common.

      But rest assured I do get it.

      I’m so sorry.

      Thank you very much for reading and taking a moment to write this. I think it’s so important for people to know they’re not alone.

      Lots and lots and lots of people have the same problems. There’s strength and support in numbers, I think.

      Thank you for the well wishes.

      I wish that same peace and happiness for you.

      Like

  21. Karen says:

    I attempted to share your article with my husband – who couldn’t get past the title. Apparently I was calling him a shitty husband by sharing this very informative article with him.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I strongly urge people to not share these posts with their husband without LOTS of care.

      A kind and sincere apology, combined with an explanation that you feel reading it might somehow make your relationship stronger (for both of you) will hopefully smooth things over.

      Human emotion is… you know. The least-stable and predictive thing on planet Earth.

      Thank you for considering the content meaningful.

      Like

  22. A says:

    When I read this, it hit me right in the feels. This describes (almost) EXACTLY what my relationship is with my husband. The only difference is, my husband doesn’t try to be kind anymore. But thank you for sharing not your journey with the world. Believe it or not, it gives broken women like me a little more hope in love and marriage. Thank you.

    Like

  23. Karen Martin says:

    There are so many points in this letter that fit my husband. His mother was an enabler, his father disconnected and he has 2 sisters 2 years younger. He went from being taken care of by his mother to being taken care of by the Navy. Then we met, he left the Navy and moved in with me. For the first 10 years of our marriage, I was the breadwinner while he tried to figure out what he wanted to do.We have had multiple discussions and arguments about just the things you discuss. We have been together 26 years now and we have a 6 year old that I homeschool. I will be passing on your letters to my husband in the hopes that he will begin to see the light, because I just do not have the energy to talk anymore.While I take care of everyday life, he goes to work, comes home, sits on the couch and plays his video games.Period. My hope is that he will understand my frustration. Thank you for giving me hope.

    Like

  24. Lizzie says:

    I’ve been engaged for a few years but won’t set a date for the EXACT reasons you mention. I have no kids (he has 2), I own my own home and make more than double what he does. While we don’t live together, I supplement his + the kids’ living expenses (wants & needs). His ex pays zero child support (she keeps having babies with different men & lives off the state). I schedule his and the kids appointments, act as chauffeur, do homework (both have learning disabilities), chores, & dinner with his kids at his house 4 nights a week while he works a second job & volunteers at church. I put in 60+ hours/week at work. I take care of all the things that go with home ownership and my pets. He grocery shops & cooks dinner a couple nights a week. He only helps at my place when I pitch a fit. My resentment level is defcon right now. We’re in counseling and the therapist tries to make him understand but it isn’t sinking in. I’m ready to shut things down if there is no improvement soon. How long is long enough?

    Like

  25. Manetta says:

    It does take am enormous amount of energy and effort to keep a house clean, look after kids, keep up with appointments. And if you work outside of the home too? You don’t get paid for housework but if you are lucky you will be appreciated. Even assisted so you as the wife can have some “me” time. Time to reenergize. Time to appreciate how thoughtful your hubby is. And then you may even want to jump his bones.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Jeff Strand says:

    Men, choose carefully when you marry. Go for a traditional girl who is happy to make babies and keep house and cook for you, while you bring home the bacon. Believe me, there’s plenty of such women out there. It worked for untold generations because it’s the optimal way to run a family. If you marry a feminist or career girl…well, good luck. Have fun in divorce court. Or jail.

    Like

    • A. says:

      This is just stupid. I’m a feminist and also quite traditional (shocker: I think valuing childcare is feminist, instead of devaluing it). But you can be in a traditional role and still not relish being ignored and devalued. You can also be working and have a husband who expects you to do all the stuff at home. the true problem is respect and will manifest itself no matter what your roles are.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. marladarling says:

    SOOOO on point that words do not exist for it. Bravo. I’m hooked on your writing—and advice. Now how do I get my husband to read this without me telling him to, him saying yes he will, and then forgetting to because he has Internets to tend to? :/

    We’ve gone through something like this before and fixed our relationship together. But now we have kids and it’s… Different again.

    Like

  28. L Nelson says:

    This is so true. My husband was coddled by his mother, and didn’t have responsibilities around the house as child. He did live by himself for a while, and even used to cook for me occasionally while dating. But once we married and had kids, forget it.

    He was apparently so excited to have a “help-mate” that he thought it was all about him. I did a million things for him whenever he asked. On rare occasions I asked for help with things, and he was always too busy. Resentment ensued. He stopped being nice to me. He also stopped working full-time because no job was good enough for him. I have worked in corporate America every day for my entire adult life, and still have to take care of all the household crap, even though outsiders might think we have a modern marriage.

    He used to complain that I never put him first anymore. He’s right. How could I with newborns that didn’t sleep, a full-time job, and a husband that just sat around on his laptop surfing and complaining all the time.

    He hasn’t got laid in years.

    This is the 21st century. If both spouses are working, then both spouses need to share in taking care of the household. Both spouses need to treat each other with respect every minute of every day. No one is perfect, and there is room for failure and forgiveness. There is not room for long-term selfishness.

    Like

  29. Olivia says:

    You speak to my soul!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Billy W says:

    As a shitty husband I read the vol. 2 couple of days ago and asked question what to do and where to start as shitty husband… and all the questions are answered in vol. 3, 4, & 5… it’s all clear to me what I have to do now… thanks Matt

    Liked by 1 person

  31. 1st wife club says:

    I’ve just spent the last 24 hours crying after stumbling across these posts. It says everything I wish my husband could hear & understand. How can i get him to read this & learn from it without him skewing my intention?
    I’m so close to walking. The pain of leaving is almost equal to the pain of staying like it is. He’s not a bad man, just a shitty husband. I keep thinking if I did things differently, but it really has to come from him too. Any suggestions on how I can talk to him about this without looking like a whinging bitch?

    Like

  32. Uncle Pop says:

    I really relate with your realization that selfishness is at the core of your (and my)marital problems. I was intrigued by your mention of being essentially an only child. Same situation as me. It gave me a weird sense of “otherness” as a kid in a heavily Irish Catholic town in the 70’s and as a married adult I think it’s a part of my inherent selfishness and tendency to be too “inward”.

    Like

  33. Harriet says:

    Thank you. For making me feel better about leaving my shitty husband and for giving me tips on how to raise my son.

    Like

  34. […] articles I found most interesting is called ‘An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands’. It is Volume 5 in particular that resonated with me the most. The author isn’t bitching and moaning about […]

    Like

  35. Joe W says:

    I literally did all theses things. I cleaned the house, never went out with friends, stopped playing video games, never watched sports, made the money and paid the bills. I raised her 3 kids, we would go on multiple dates a week, her sex drive only got stronger and never dropped, we moved to our dream house…. Guess what? Not enough affection or whatever else she could not pick about. Truth is she was more attractive than ne and had options so she left me for a loser who only watches football games, goes out with friends, goes to bars, goes to concerts, has no car and no job. And she is SO happy. He is fun and funny and exciting. You guys need to stop beating yourselves up. People are fickle these days. Putting her on a pedestal DOESN’T WORK. I did it for years and it destroyed my health. Not because it was hard work, but because it was unappreciated and resented.

    Like

  36. […] of articles I found most interesting is called ‘An open letter to shitty husbands’. It is Volume 5 in particular that resonated with me the most. The author’s tone is one of acceptance. He isn’t […]

    Like

  37. Kendra87 says:

    Matt, I am completely blown away (this is just a small phrase to describe how I feel after reading these letters), and I couldn’t have articulated my thoughts any more accurately. I am going to have my husband read these, because I don’t want us to have an average marriage! I want us to have a great one. I am already getting resentful of him, and I do NOT want to lose him. My parents divorced when I was little, and to say it f-cked me up is mild compared to the hell I went through as a result. I battle anxiety/depression and self-esteem issues as a result, and it is a fight to not let it get into how I parent my boys. I want them to be as far away as possible from having to fight those demons as they get older and when they have families of their own. In short, it sucks. If I can possibly shield my kids from that crap, I’m going to do all I can to do that. I will not put my kids through that same hell, and I feel like you have provided a road map for my husband and I to improve our marriage!! Again, THANK YOU for articulating perfectly what needs to be done in order to not have our union fall apart! I am so incredibly glad to have come across your website!! YOU are an amazing person and should be what people need to go by in navigating divorce recovery! You rock and thanks again!!! You have already helped so many people :)

    Like

    • Matt says:

      This was a nice thing to read this morning.

      Obviously not the part where you are feeling resentment or remember childhood difficulties on account of your parents splitting.

      But all of the nice things. They help.

      Please be kind and gentle with your husband, ensuring him he is not “shitty.”

      We accidentally destroy ourselves and each other. Without the right supportive messaging included, sharing something with this title can cause problems.

      No one wants to hear they’re not good enough.

      Because he IS good enough.

      He just doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. And I don’t know what it looks like because everyone is different, but there is a relationship-strengthening way to introduce new or different ideas.

      And then there’s the way that adds to the damage.

      Sometimes things I write are used as weapons to hurt partners that wives or girlfriends might accuse of falling short.

      I suspect a lot of damage has been done from fights stemming from a wife sharing these with her husband.

      And generally, I’d like very much to be part of the solution rather than an additional part of the problem.

      Here’s to you and your family.

      Like

Join the Conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: