An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 12

(Image/Staten Island Advance)

(Image/Staten Island Advance)

Sometimes you hear about some married guy banging his coworker or one of his wife’s friends or one of his friends’ wives, and you think: What!? Why!?

Sometimes you see guys with super-gorgeous wives (Hugh Grant with Elizabeth Hurley, Tiger Woods with Elin Nordegren, or someone you know in real life, etc.) and you find out they hired a prostitute or had some cheap affair, and you think: What the!?

Sometimes guys appear to be in functional, happy marriages with a couple kids and everything going according to script. Then out of nowhere you hear they’re getting divorced because he was sleeping with someone else. How could he? Why would he want to?

There’s a lot going on here.

Lesson #1 – Physical attractiveness matters little 

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, marriage counselor M. Gary Neuman, author of The Truth About Cheating, reported 88 percent of men who cheated did so with women they didn’t consider more attractive or in better shape than their wives.

Sexual attraction is a funny thing. Show me a photo of an attractive woman making a suggestive face and dressed provocatively, and sure I’m going to think she looks good. Girls walk by me every day who pass the Sure, I’d sleep with her test.

I mean that strictly in a physical attractiveness pass-or-fail kind of way. I think all men do this. When I see a woman, and I know absolutely nothing about her except how she looks, the only judgment to be made is whether I’m physically attracted to her.

Most of the time, that’s the extent of our relationships with people we see but don’t know. But sometimes, we have the opportunity to observe people and talk to them. This is the stage when physically attractive people can become unattractive in a hurry. Or people you find only moderately attractive grow in your esteem because you find out something admirable about them or discover a sexiness that shines through in less-traditional ways.

If she is unkind, judgmental, self-absorbed, uneducated, lacks emotional depth, or demonstrates interest in things I don’t value, she becomes unattractive. That’s always disappointing. When something ugly on the inside ruins the pretty shell.

Sometimes you meet someone and discover she loves the same music you do, or the same books, or learn about some other similar interest or passion. Maybe you find out she volunteers to help people. Or is exceedingly kind to strangers. Or practices the same faith. Or roots for the same sports team. Or is a brilliant doctor.

You feel your heart do the thing hearts do.

That’s the good stuff. It’s all well and good when you’re single like me. This dynamic also happens unfortunately with married people.

It’s why the vast majority of affairs happen between people who meet at their jobs or while practicing a hobby.

Being “hot” means precisely dick. Physical attractiveness in a long-term relationship matters most in the context of health and psychology. The argument for exercise and being in good shape is to live a long time. (Better sex, too.) It subconsciously demonstrates that you value yourself. We are naturally attracted to people who respect themselves and demonstrate self-confidence.

Which leads to the heart of the matter…

Lesson #2 – People cheat because they want to feel something

Neuman the marriage counselor said it but we didn’t need him to: 92 percent of men said sex was not the reason for the affair.

“The majority said it was an emotional disconnection, specifically a sense of feeling underappreciated. A lack of thoughtful gestures,” Neuman said in an interview with CNN. “Men are very emotional beings. They just don’t look like that. Or they don’t seem like that. Or they don’t tell you that.”

Men do not want to participate in activities in which they perform poorly.

It’s the primary reason husbands and boyfriends don’t want to go skiing or salsa dancing or to an art class with their wives. It often has less to do with a lack of interest than in a man avoiding volunteer activities in which he might not succeed.

Guys tend to pursue jobs and activities in which they demonstrate proficiency. It stems from a psychological need to feel like we are winning, or at least progressing toward victory.

You will never read me blame my ex-wife for our divorce. I don’t believe it and I’ve never said it. But if someone were to ask me what she could have done to improve our marriage, this subject would sit atop the list.

She is emotionally colder than I am. Depending on mood and environment, she is not always warm with strangers and isn’t afraid to use a biting tone with people who disappoint her. Because I’m wired the way I am, that behavior sometimes comes off mean and bitchy, and I find it very unattractive.

When it’s directed toward me, I feel disrespected, unwanted, unloved, and like a failure. It also makes me angry because I’m predominantly nice and friendly and have little patience when the courtesy isn’t returned.

I have always believed I was capable of bigger and better things than a ho-hum life in suburbia and a cubicle job. Out of every person I know, my wife was the least likely to make me feel believed in or rooted for. The feedback was primarily constant disappointment.

That is a bad thing for a guy to feel if you want your relationship to work out. That does NOT justify the emotional abandonment my wife felt in our marriage. Nor would it justify someone cheating on their spouse. But I think it’s wise to be aware of WHY humans sometimes behave as they do.

Lesson #3 – People cheat because they are bored 

“Self-control is vital to our success. People who have good self-control tend to be both more popular and more successful in many areas of life,” according to PsyBlog. “Those with low self-control, though, are at risk of overeating, addictions and underachievement. Unfortunately, as we all know to our cost, self-control frequently fails. Part of the problem is we overestimate our ability to resist temptation.”

Psychological research shows that self-control is a limited resource. We need to understand how our bodies work and our limitations if we are going to be the best versions of ourselves. (Read: Top 10 Self-Control Techniques)

Let’s be real: People get bored with one another. I bet there are no two people you could put together who wouldn’t eventually tire of one another (at least secretly).

But to be fair, we get bored with EVERYTHING.

When you get your first massive high-definition TV, you sit around watching movies and ball games and even random nature shows on Discovery because it’s fancy and new.

When you first get your new car, you get this little jolt of excitement every time you climb into it and you hope all the people looking at you think you look successful and amazing. (They don’t.)

When you first hear a new album from your favorite band, you’re super into it and play it over and over again.

When you first get that new video game, you play it and play it and play it because it’s fresh and fun.

But INEVITABLY, every single one of those things lose their shine. You get used to them and eventually take them for granted.

Unfortunately, this same phenomenon happens (but to a lesser extent, thankfully) with people.

Combine boredom in marriage with a disengaged spouse who is connecting emotionally with a new friend at work? Someone who pays attention and makes them feel special?

Prepare for fuckery.

The Grass Is Not Greener 

So, here’s the big, annoying (but important) rah-rah speech.

If there is something VERY wrong with your marriage (abuse, addiction, infidelity), this doesn’t apply to you. But if you’re a guy like me? Just a typical guy in a typical marriage suffering from staleness after kids and a few years? Please think.

You’re either a person who wants to be alone, or a person who wants a partner.

I’m 97 percent certain you’re the kind of person who wants a partner because you already have one.

And if you’re a person who wants a partner, it stands to reason that if you end your current relationship, you will eventually find yourself in a new one. Then, guess what?

THIS EXACT SAME THING IS GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN.

I wish that wasn’t true. I wish there were magical partners in which it was all giggles and orgasms and freshly baked cookies that didn’t make you fat.

But it is true. The problem is NOT your wife or girlfriend. The problem is YOU. (Go easy on yourself. It’s not your fault you’re a human being. But it IS your job to do something because when something’s wrong, those with the ability to do something about it have the responsibility to.)

There’s a saying: The grass is greener where you water it.

Once you come to terms with the fact there aren’t exotic underwear models with whom you’ll never have fights and always have hot sex, it’s a good idea to walk yourself through the logical eventualities of partner selection.

You can choose the single life. More power to you.

But if you’re someone who wants (needs?) a partner, you MUST accept that conflict and hardships will arise with everyone.

Monogamy is a choice. One NO ONE forces you to make. But once you say “I do,” or even just promise your girlfriend? WATER YOUR LAWN.

We exercise self-control, because if we didn’t, all of our monogamous relationships would end (you don’t think she fantasizes about other men?) in total disaster.

If people simply acted on impulse without restraint all the time, everyone would be dead, sick, in prison, or running for their lives.

Love is a choice. You wake up in the morning, and you decide: I’m going to love my wife today no matter how I feel. Even if I get angry. Even if I get sad. Even if it doesn’t seem like she loves me back. I choose to love her.

That, and only that, is how you make your marriage last a lifetime. Doing that every day.

Maybe if you’re really frustrated with how your wife makes you feel, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how all the bad things will go away if you DID start doing that.

Maybe that’s how you save your soul.

Maybe that’s how to find Happily Ever After.

Maybe you could start right now.

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. 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. 13

…..

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100 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 12

  1. RHM says:

    Was at a class a while back and we did an exercise to get our need for appreciation met.
    Because a need is a need is a need.
    So I asked five people I was friendly with to call every day for two weeks and tell me they appreciated me. They could leave it as a message….
    Three followed through and called. However one really was nourishing, she said a different thing about me each day that she appreciated about me.
    My needs were met, I didn’t feel a need for appreciation for about two years after that.
    To this day I remember the specific things that one person said, and feel healed and soothed/ nourished with each recall.
    I also recall the tone of voice and emotions communicated of kindness encouragement and liking that were communicated by all three.

    Like

  2. Jen says:

    Loved your letters. I know I need to fix some of me, but I also know my husband does some of what your writing about. I could give you examples; however, not on a public forum.

    Like

  3. Allison says:

    Your blog came to me almost like an answer to my prayer. I read all your volumes btw. Anyway, for several months, I asked myself why the hell my ex just didn’t get it…messiness bothers me, leaving remnants of one’s lunch in the sink after brushing one’s mouth is not OK, among other things. Our relationship just didn’t work because of his constant dissmissiveness (too lazy to check if that’s even a word), and me refusing to give in to the complete disorganization that was/is his life. I DIDN’T get why it was so hard for him to just try to please me in that sense. He basically made me feel like you did to your wife. Mind you, I have a Master’s degree, own my own house and car, no credit card bills, good credit score, decent human being. I’m a catch! And although I don’t resemble the likes of Megan Fox or Kim Kardashian, I’m not exactly a “knuckle dragging swamp monkey” either (I read that somewhere in the internet hence, the quotation marks). I’m easy on the eye with some precisely drawn eyeliner and lipgloss. I put up with a lot from him. I tried to understand that he was going through a rough patch financially and all these other things that I refuse to divulge because it even embarasses me to remember. There was a lot of love between us though, or so I’d like to think…even talks of getting married and having a baby. We even disagreed on some boy names. But it just could not and would not happen. He ghosted me basically…the last time we spoke (it was on the phone btw, not even in person), he promised to call me the next day and never did. Fast forward to 7 months later and he wants to “talk” to me at 1 something AM. I refused that time and about 2 times after that. He decides to ask if I wanted to welcome the new year by copulating with him…completely forgetting/conveniently ignoring the fact that we haven’t seen or spoken to each other in at this point, 8 months. I don’t exactly hand out my goods all that easily, so I’m not sure why he would think I would rush to have our genitals meet up once again after basically becoming strangers.
    Point of my long ass story is just that I am forever grateful for you having the scrotum to write this blog. Yes, I am known to be absolutely vicious (just verbally) when I’m upset, but I would’ve avoided all that had he and I read this and tried to make some sense of it in our weird, rare-unicorn type love affair. For whatever reasons that the universe knows and I refuse to hypothesize, we weren’t meant to be. But at least I now know I can forward the link to your website to my next suitor, should he need suggestions. If he choses to be enlightened like you were, great! I’ll send you my wedding invite to your email. If not, then I’ll continue happily loving myself, contemplating on which type of cat I’m going to begin to adopt first. Cheers to you! Keep slaying, King, keep slaying!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. […] This essay originally appeared on Must Be This Tall To Ride.  […]

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  5. Jane says:

    I have a shitty husband. He’s a fine person. His older sister thinks he can do no wrong, he was promoted at work, he has friends in almost every state, etc etc. But he’s a shitty husband. Come to think of it, he was a shitty boyfriend & fiancé. He once told me he “wasn’t in love with me anymore”. Somehow, we’ve been married almost 10 years. No kids, thank god, because I can’t trust him to be a father. He can’t take care of himself, so why would I want to have more of him?
    Anyway, all 12 volumes outlined my life, except for the divorce part. Hasn’t come to that yet, though I wonder if he’d be surprised if it did.

    He’s been gone a lot this year, for work & play. While he’s gone, all I do is work. Work-work, housework and I have a small freelance business that kept me busy over the past few months. When he’s here, he sits on his ass. While I continue to work. Then I mention something I would like to do (concert, car show, antique fair, rare beer tapping) and it always falls on another day he’ll be gone, or a day he’s in town but promised his time somewhere else.
    This happens over & over until I have a breakdown & end up crying for hours. I have one of these episodes every 6 months or so. He gets extremely angry at me when it happens. I never lay blame, never start the fight, never yell or call him names, but he “can’t take anymore of it” and walks away from me.
    I think it was volume 5 where you explained that your ex did this, too. When I read that part, the tears came. I felt understood & alone all at once. The sitting inside on nice days, the sports that are more important than everything else, the friends who are always more important than me, the list never ends.

    I can’t believe how much of this could have been just me, writing to my shitty husband. It’s amazing, really.

    Not sure why I’m responding, somehow this is make my me feel better for the time being. But then again, I know I’ll be alone & ignored the rest of the weekend, because he’ll be out playing without me.

    Like

  6. Shereen says:

    I just want to let you know how great (& entertaining) your writing is to read. It has opened my eyes & softened my heart to the fact that maybe my marriage could be saved.
    Your mind to paper is amazing: please continue to write.
    Do you have any published books?

    Like

  7. Teri says:

    Wow! I didn’t realize when I typed “shitty husband” in the net that I’d actually have something worth while to read. So, thanks for being honest and taking a hard look at yourself. It’s been very helpful to get a husband’s perspective on the subject.

    That being said, my husband isn’t always shitty. He’s depressed and for the most part I understand. But… my feelings on depression are not to allow defeat to settle in. I’m a fighter, and my husband, well, not so much. And yes, I agree that men are very emotional. I think more so then women.

    I’ve been married 12 years, with an additional 5 years dating. We’ve known each other a long time. I knew when I married him it was going to be a rough ride, due to his history of failed relationships. As for myself, I was practically fresh for the picking, with old fashioned values. Just the way I was raised. Lately though, I’ve been struggling with the thought of leaving him. I won’t do it but, it’s really been a lot of work keeping this relationship from going estray and frankly I’m tired. I just want a break! I love him dearly and never want to hurt him. And, I take responsibility for my part in this marriage where things aren’t right.

    I bring this up because I feel as your ex-wife did…. alone and unheard, especially lately. My husband spends a huge amount of time on the net, learning new things. His mind is a sponge. Like your ex-wife, I want to go out. I want to do things outside these 4 walls. I want to enjoy life with my best friend, my husband. The problem is he’s a total and complete home body. We are not equally yoked this way. So, I go out without him. PERIOD.

    Where the shitty husband part really comes in… I want to be affectionate with him, but it’s mostly always on his terms. And that’s shitty of him to do to me! Since he’s not feeling right, my needs always get put second. Or, is it shitty of me to be selfish, only thinking of how much I want him to caress me? I’m not even referring to sex. Just affection. I don’t know the right answer. All I know is that it sucks.

    And my final two cents worth… He’s a nice guy. He’d do anything for me. At least he says so and sometimes its true. I think this is where the major misunderstanding is: Guys who say they’ll do anything for their wife and who are sincere about what they say when they say it; and guys who actually do anything for their wife. Big difference. Actions speak louder than words. I just wish my guy had more action. That’s all I ask. All I ever wanted.

    Keep us informed of your discoveries. It’s very enlightening. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love my little girl says:

    I have been married for almost 3 years..we both have very stubborn natures, and I know that I’m part of the problem , but I don’t know how to make it stop. We have a beautiful daughter, and I want to try to correct these issues before she can remember the fights. Bye the way, this is a wife and mom writing this, but I want to save our family! Reading these post have really made me think…

    Like

  9. Valera1602 says:

    This post takes away the desire of ever wanting to marry, because it is so brutally honest and true. Men really don’t care of beeing a good husband, just provide and that’s it, and nowadays not even that they do properly. Why do they marry anyways, if thet don’t care about anything regarding their wifes, and are selfish and the wife has to accept everything, while they do not want to change one inch, or admit they are wrong or did a mistake??? The biggest issue is, since they have it all, specially to fornication and related abominable and women denigrating media, they don’t have to do any efford anymore. If they would follow this things and also believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and follow what is written, the marriages would not end or be so miserable as they are. And if women wouldn’t be so easy to get and not exploited as objects, that would also chamge the situation. It is so sad. Goodly men are everyday more difficult to find.

    Like

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