“Wow. Your marriage is a complete replica of mine except I haven’t walked out yet and you sound a bit more attentive than my husband. I wish he would read your blog and consider it, but he probably wouldn’t cause he’s an asshole.” – Anonymous blog comment
Because a lot of wives are unhappy in their marriages, many of them turn to the internet where they type things like, “my husband is an asshole,” or “shitty husband” into Google.
Maybe they’re looking for advice on how to cope with a bad marriage.
Maybe they’re looking for other wives who feel like them.
Maybe they’re looking for a shred of hope that the life they dream of isn’t completely impossible.
More and more, they find one of the “An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands” posts. Usually Vol. 1. What that means is, hundreds of strangers every day—people who have never read anything else I’ve written, nor understand my motives, nor realize I wrote it two years ago when I was totally broken—are stumbling on that post.
I think it’s a bad post. It’s poorly written and lacking any semblance of the wisdom and understanding I’ve acquired in my search for knowledge.
But one thing is clear: The message is resonating. Because people keep reading and sharing.
There’s something here that matters to people in pain. And that, I understand.
What’s a Shitty Husband?
Lee wrote me, “Understand that not all husbands are shitty…I found myself disagreeing with your choices fairly quickly while reading, and I can see how you ended up where you are now.”
Laura wrote me, “You aren’t a ‘shitty husband’ for being human. And labeling yourself as one isn’t making anybody feel better.”
Let’s get something straight. I like the word “shitty.” And I’m not afraid to use it loosely, because it’s a funny word and an attention-grabbing one in a headline.
Some husbands get drunk all the time, are never home, screw other women, hit their wives, and all kinds of bad things no human being should be.
I CANNOT HELP A MAN LIKE THAT.
A woman who marries a man like that probably has really unhealthy boundary and self-esteem issues, or experienced an unplanned pregnancy and decided to marry the father in an effort to do what she felt was best.
I can only help one kind of guy. And I think there are millions of them. And so much of what I think about and write about is for them, their wives, their children, their extended family and friends.
The kind of guy I can help is the shitty husband who doesn’t know he’s shitty.
Guys who get drunk all the time, are never home, screw other women, hit their wives, and all kinds of other bad things, KNOW they’re shitty. They know and don’t care. They do not empathize with their hurting spouses. Unselfishness and improving the lives of his wife and family are not concepts he ever thinks about.
The kind of guy I can help is ACCIDENTALLY SHITTY. A regular guy with an honest desire to keep his marriage vows, raise good kids, and have the kind of family most of us dreamed about when we agreed to get married in the first place. A guy who takes immense pleasure from imagining him and his wife sitting on the porch together 40 years from now, watching grandchildren play in the yard.
I can help the guy who truly loves his wife.
I can help the guy who doesn’t understand why he and his wife always fight about the same things.
I can help the guy who never considered that men and women can describe the exact same situation completely differently with neither of them being wrong.
I can help the guy who doesn’t understand how his wife can feel lonely and unloved even though he’s physically present.
I can help the guy who is too ashamed, embarrassed or afraid to be 100-percent honest about sex.
I can help the guy who feels flattered by the cute girl at work because she makes him feel good, and doesn’t understand why his wife doesn’t do that anymore, nor how dangerous it is.
I can help the guy who doesn’t know what to do when his wife is grieving from the death of a loved one.
I can help the guy whose wife is worried about money and long-term security.
I’ve written it many times before: Good men can be shitty husbands. They’re not bad men. They’re simply bad at marriage. The same way people can be bad at archery, or advanced math, or baking muffins.
Being active and engaged and communicating effectively in marriage is a learned skill, and many men don’t know how to do it because their grandfathers lived in the Mad Men era, and their fathers followed in the same footsteps, or were never around at all.
Being a man in 2015 is so much different than it was 60 years ago. And to succeed, we must evolve.
I write for good men who are getting it wrong and who can and will respond to new information that makes sense to them. I was 33 years old and married for seven years before I understood what I know now.
Men are frustrated because their wives “change” throughout the course of their marriages, especially after becoming mothers.
Men are frustrated because their wives don’t make them feel confident, respected, trusted or loved like they used to.
Men are frustrated because their wives have lost sexual interest.
Men are frustrated because their wives make them feel like they’re no longer good enough for them. Despite all of the changes and sacrifices he has made, she trusts him less, and ‘nags’ him more.
Men are frustrated because their entire lives look nothing like their hopes and dreams, and they feel depressed, and no one understands, and there’s no one to talk to about it.
But really, everyone understands. And you can and should talk to people about it. Especially your wife.
I think I now understand how and why all these things happen. It was completely lost on me during my nine-year marriage. And I think there are a bunch of guys out there just like me.
And I think if every man understood what I know now (especially early in their marriages!), they would radically change the way they behave and communicate in their marriages.
Men are happier when their wives are happier, and most men simply don’t understand why their wives become unhappy. They’re not intentionally neglectful. They are accidentally neglectful. And everyone’s lives will be better if they figure it out before the inevitable affair or divorce.
Broken marriages, broken homes and divorce are really awful things to experience. As children. And as adults.
Not everyone is going to care what I have to say. Probably most won’t.
But once in a while, someone is going to stumble on this stuff and have the same sort of eureka moment I had when this all finally clicked for me.
And even if he’s a great guy, he’s probably a shitty husband. Probably accidentally so.
And his story can have a happy ending.
His children’s stories can have happy endings.
His wife’s story can have a happy ending.
So, yeah. This is all a little bit about me.
But it’s a whole lot about them.