‘I’ve Ruined My Marriage and My Wife Hates Me’

drowning

Sometimes, there’s no life preserver. Just prayers. Prayers with painful answers.

She liked to shower at night.

The downstairs bathroom, just down the hall from the guest room I was sleeping in, was the one she always used.

Everything was fucked.

I don’t mean, we were having a spat.

I mean, the entire universe was upside down and I couldn’t remember the last time my wife said “I love you” or hugged me like she meant it. Sex? Sleeping in the same bed? Ha. Right.

The celibacy streak was only just beginning, but relative to my life experience up to that point, it had already been forever.

You want to experiment with male psychosis? Go from sexually active to involuntary celibacy. I know women also don’t like sex deprevation, but I’m not sure the psychological effects are the same.

She seemed fine about it. I’m not saying she was. I’m simply saying it was clear she preferred to sleep in separate bedrooms and never touch each other rather than go back to the way it was.

I wasn’t fine. In these moments, you start asking yourself questions you don’t really want to know answers to: Would she rather touch herself than let me touch her? Is she seeing someone?

You go long enough without, combined with the emotional vortex of shit you’re living in, and you literally go a little bit crazy.

I couldn’t take it anymore. My pretty wife was on the other side of that bathroom door in a towel or nothing at all.

I don’t remember what I said or did next, but she agreed! Holy shit! She said yes! My God. Hope.

It had been several months.

Hands. Lips. Tongue. Teeth. I know how this body works, I thought.

Because when I do this, that usually happens, and when I do that, this usually happens.

But none of that happened.

I wanted so badly for it to be like it used to be. That’s how it had gone in my head. The beginning of the Marriage Reset!

I don’t think she was trying to be cruel or intentionally not physically or emotionally responding. In fact, I think she did try.

But you can’t fake it. There are no masks when it’s just two naked and familiar souls. You just know.

For the first time in my life, I couldn’t do it. I was physically incapable of performing. Like the old guys in those commercials. I needed her to want me and like me.

But she didn’t want me. She didn’t like me.

I was emotionally beaten and physically broken at 33 years old.

I rolled over, staring at the ceiling.

She left without saying anything.

A minute or two later, I had my first God’s-honest Will Hunting breakdown.

I sobbed. Convulsed. Couldn’t catch my breath. She could hear me through the floor vents in our upstairs bedroom.

Her pathetic loser husband who wasn’t even good for THAT anymore. Crying like a wimpy bitch.

I never gave up hope for a miracle. But that’s when I knew it was over.

‘I Want to Save It’

Tom wants to save his marriage.

He’s not just saying the right things. It seems clear he means it the same way I meant it once the lightbulb finally clicked on. His heartfelt blog comment and email contain many of the same things I was thinking and feeling three or four years ago when my life was in much the same place his is now.

He was a little bit selfish and oblivious, and then had the epiphany people have when they finally solve a vexing problem. It happens to all of us. That moment something clicks in our brains and we learn something. Most of the time, it’s some mundane little fact or method of doing something. But sometimes it’s Why My Wife is Hurt, and How I am Responsible for Causing It.

It’s life-changing.

Something just clicks and you finally get it.

For me, it was reading How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It. It’s a goldmine.

For Tom, it was something else.

And we get excited. Hopeful. We finally understand, babe! Now I know how to be a good husband! I really, truly get it!

All we need is for them to give us a chance.

But all they see is a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. They ALREADY trusted their entire lives to us. It was the most sacred vow we’ve ever made, looking them in the eye while we slipped the ring onto her finger.

And then we spent years not following through on those promises.

They told us what was wrong as it was happening. Instead of apologizing, taking steps to fix what’s broken, and making sure it never happens again, we tell them they’re crazy and explain how and why their feelings are wrong.

The person they need to make them feel safe is now the greatest threat to their long-term happiness.

But we’re all smiles and promises again, us guys. And EVEN WHEN WE REALLY ARE DIFFERENT THIS TIME, the gamble doesn’t seem worth it for them.

If they guess wrong this time, they may never recover.

You Can’t Taste the Poison

Routine acts like poison that eventually kills your marriage.

You naturally fall into it. It’s human nature to crave safety and predictability. So we like to do the same things every day when we come home from work, and after dinner, and before bed, and when we wake up in the morning.

I live in a decent little house in a typical-for-Ohio older suburban neighborhood and drive a base model 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

When I first got the house, I felt like a real estate baron. After nearly 10 years living there, I mostly don’t think anything about it at all. It’s where I live.

When I first got the Jeep, I felt like I had the nicest vehicle on the road. It was my first-ever brand-new car. Now, it’s just my car, and I mostly think about how much worse it looks than all the more-expensive Grand Cherokees I see.

Everyone gets it. We take things for granted. We don’t know how not to. Every day, we forget to think about and concentrate on the two or three people or things that really matter most.

It’s only cliché because it’s true: We don’t know how good we have it until we lose something.

So we come home from work and have dinner together and chit-chat about the day. We often don’t say “thank you.” For what? For EVERYTHING. After years together, we don’t even see what our partner does for us. Not the good stuff, anyway. We only see the flaws. Like my kitchen that could use an upgrade or my garage door opener that stopped working.

I don’t feel grateful that I have a kitchen with functioning appliances and enough money to cook excellent meals any time I want. I don’t feel grateful that I have a two-car garage even though it’s the first house I’ve ever lived in as a car owner that had one.

I bet I’d appreciate it if I had to live in a shanty in rural Haiti.

I bet I’d appreciate my Jeep if I had to drive a rusted-out $300 car with a non-functioning heater this winter.

Just like I learned to appreciate how much better my life was—despite all the occasional frustration and bullshit—when my wife and son lived at home.

Sometimes husbands and boyfriends fall into the comfortable routine. We like it. Because outside of birthday parties, surprises are usually bad. This goes on for years. When our wives or girlfriends get upset about something, we all just think it’s a common side effect of marriage and long-term relationships. Mom used to get pissed at dad! This is just what happens!

We don’t ever think we should make changes.

We don’t learn how to empathize until our insides twist up and our hearts break just like our wives’ did months or years earlier.

Holy shit. THIS is what she felt like when I told her she was wrong and to get over it.

I finally understand.

We think she owes us this new opportunity now that we have a better tool kit.

We made vows!

We have kids!

When you’re broken on the inside, none of that shit matters. Self-preservation and a desire to protect our children always win out.

Our wives are dead inside. And we made them that way. But then we expect them to just snap out of it because of our epiphany.

Eagerly, we start changing how we do things.

She’ll like and appreciate this!

But she doesn’t like and appreciate it. It feels like desperation. Like parlor tricks. Like a too-little-too-late effort to convince her not to leave.

We’ve never cared about anything more than this. Our family is and has always been our highest priority. But she couldn’t tell. And we didn’t know that behaving the way we were might jeopardize it. She’s got to see that now!

Arguments still pop up. She’s still sad and angry. She’s not happy about how hard you’re trying now, because she’s still totally broken by the previous 2,000 instances of severe pain and emotional abandonment without so much as an apology or acknowledgment from us that we caused it.

We get defensive and freak out.

“Why can’t you ever let anything go!? Can’t we just concentrate on tomorrow!? Can’t we just start over!?”

We become totally unhinged emotionally.

Our brains are telling us to calm down and speak maturely. We know what we want to do and say. We want to use our patient, loving and understanding tone of voice. But our bodies rebel. We blurt out fighting words, and the instant shame washes over us at failing her and succumbing to pride and defensiveness yet again.

“See?” she thinks. “He’s the same. I knew I couldn’t trust him. That asshole deserves what’s coming.”

Can It Be Saved?

I know what it looks and feels like when your wife dies on the inside.

Tom is coming to terms with it now, too. And what he wants to know is the same thing I wanted to know: Can it be saved? What can I do?

I don’t think our wives hate us. Hate is an actual emotion.

What I think they feel is a total absence of emotion.

Apathy.

Indifference.

In the end, it’s not really a negative emotion they feel toward us.

They feel nothing.

First, I watched my mom leave my stepdad because of this indifference. Then I watched my wife leave with my son for the same reason.

Then I broke a little bit more and couldn’t breathe for months.

Then I freaked out and called a therapy hotline, and the lady told me I should try journaling.

Then I got drunk on vodka and started a blog instead.

Then I started writing about my marital separation and divorce without taking responsibility for any of it.

Then I started writing about those things WHILE taking responsibility for it.

And that’s when everything came together.

People read it and cared, because being a person who feels and is afraid of all the things most of us are too scared to talk about is something almost everyone understands.

Wives started writing me.

A few. Then dozens. Then hundreds.

I’ve read THE EXACT SAME DIVORCE STORY so many times, I could be a legit marriage counselor, I think.

But there are always two things I don’t have an answer for:

How do you get a man to have the epiphany BEFORE everything breaks? And…

Can we bring it back from the dead?

Maybe someone out there can provide more insight. Maybe there are success stories about a totally broken marriage that ended up Happily Ever After.

A unifying Disney movie moment with fireworks and shooting stars during the redemptive kiss.

Or maybe magic. Sorcery.

Or maybe a miracle. God.

But I’ve never seen it happen without a bunch of people getting their hands dirty first. I’ve seen instances of two people finding one another again. But in EVERY case, there were other sexual partners and a whole bunch of healing time in between.

On the other hand, I understand the healing power of knowledge.

Because I think Tom gets it now. I think Tom might get it like I get it.

I think Tom might love like I love.

And in my experience? Love never fails.

And even though I’ve never seen one? I believe in miracles.

And even though I’ve never written one? Some stories have happy endings.

…..

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70 thoughts on “‘I’ve Ruined My Marriage and My Wife Hates Me’

  1. rac says:

    I’m sending this to my husband.. I think he’s emotionally retarded.

    Great post as always!

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I’m curious what a man thinks when he reads something like this. Unless he’s been divorced, there’s a fair chance he dismisses it as something that doesn’t apply to him.

      I won’t pretend to know.

      Thank you for reading it and liking it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • rac says:

        I just keep hoping for my husband to have that “ah ha” moment where he gets it.. Before it’s too late..

        Like

        • Matt says:

          Step 1? He has to want to and intentionally seek it because he’s desperate for answers to why it’s falling apart.

          It has to start with a whole bunch of giving a shit. I’d like to believe every husband does.

          Liked by 1 person

      • jadedwildcat says:

        Yup I’ve definitely had that response when showing some of your entries to men. They scoff and pfft and roll their eyes; they say shit like, “Well I don’t feel sorry for that guy because he clearly fucked up and *I* never do, so there!”
        Denial, denial, denial…

        Of course, that’s just perhaps what happens when WE show it to them.
        Pride kicks in, as does ego, neh?
        Maybe if they discovered the blog themselves and didn’t feel as though a woman was trying to show them up by e-mailing it to them… it would be different?
        Haha… who knows.

        Another wonderful post though, Matt. Loved it (as usual).
        Xx
        Jade

        Like

      • Cody says:

        actually i am in this situation.my wife wants to leave me for another guy, because he is not as boring… i got all caught up in work/school/kids… i never gave her nearly enough attention or anything that she needed… she hates me for the many things i have done to hurt her and the lack of things i have not done to change… and now that she is serious about leaving its hitting home so hard… i am slowly dying inside, and idk if i could handle her leaving me… i never slept with her whne she was pregnant, and idk why, she was still smoking hot! i never talked about my feeling or what i was thinking about. I also have not been the fun outgoing self i used to be.. and i want to be that peron again… i am super depressd as the person i am now… even before she met this guy

        Like

      • Matt,

        My husband and I are going through difficult times. I am the wife you describe in this. Randomly, my husband sent it to me today with a sentence saying, “I get it now and I want to fix it.”

        Who knows if it will help. Who knows if he will change. But at least he didn’t dismiss it….

        Liked by 1 person

  2. anitvan says:

    Hey Tom…if you’re reading, I really hope that you and your wife can find your happy ending. Best to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Phoenix says:

    Too bad my exhusband felt and still feels nothing for me. It still stings, but its just another one of those things I have to get over. He never had that epiphany. He just never cared enough to try. Giving up just seemed the easier route for him to take.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Sometimes pride masks the love because he feels weak and wounded and doesn’t want you to know. Feels like apathy, but really it’s just good acting.

      Granted, I trust you to know the difference. I just have a hard time believing a man would propose and subject himself to the scary lifelong commitment without actual love being present.

      But I’m mistaken more than I care to admit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Phoenix says:

        I wish that were true. But I can only assume from his pregnant girlfriend that there is no mask that he’s hiding behind. Especially since he left and never made a move to return. If I could see a little emotion from him, it would be nice. To know that there’s a heart in him, to know that he actually cared at some point. It’s the not knowing that kills me.

        Like

  4. ismeisreallyme says:

    I believe that you will get your happy ending because you have learned so much through the shitty one. As always, thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 124andmore says:

    Some marriages SHOULD end. If one person wants it to end, it doesn’t matter how much the other person wants the marriage to continue. Let it end as peacefully as possible, and move on. No one likes a crybaby.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Orrrrrr. Some marriages should never happen in the first place.

      This is marriage. Not the family room paint color or a debate about creamy vs. crunchy peanut butter.

      Either some serious vow breakage went on and it’s pretty black and white, OR there’s a lot at stake just because of some waxing and waning feelings.

      I don’t think we should discuss it because we’re not likely to agree.

      If disposable marriages is a concept you adhere to, maybe avoiding it entirely is a wiser course.

      Like

      • 124andmore says:

        I’ve been very happily married for 19 years. However, before my marriage I had several relationships that were problematic, and I had enough sense not to marry those women. I don’t believe in “disposable marriages”, but I do believe in accepting reality. If a relationship isn’t working, and one person wants out, it must end.

        Like

        • Matt says:

          You’re absolutely right that in the real world, when one partner quits, the marriage is effectively, and usually literally, over.

          I don’t disagree with you. I simply disagree with the philosophy.

          Here’s why:

          According to a 2013 Gallup poll, 54 percent of adults (18 and over, and in the United States) are married, 20 percent used to be married, and 21 percent desire marriage.

          That’s 95 percent. I’ll give you five points as a margin for error.

          9 out of 10 people are married, have been married, or plan to marry.

          A person is either going to be single for the rest of their lives, or they’re going to seek and find companionship. If you’re the kind of person who is going to seek and find companionship (at least a 90-percent chance any given person is), then I don’t like the idea of breaking a marriage just because it got hard and inconvenient.

          I’ll give you infidelity, domestic violence, child abuse, criminal behavior, and addiction. All of those are viable reasons to end a marriage (though you might argue most of those things should come with warning signs BEFORE marriage).

          But that’s not why most people divorce. Most people divorce because they don’t “feel” it anymore. Well, holy shit. I have bad fucking news. That happens to every single person in every single marriage EVER. You don’t always feel good. It’s not always easy.

          But if you’re a member of the 90-percent who is going to marry, you better figure out how to play the game correctly, because there’s an awful lot at stake.

          And I think it’s irresponsible to say “Well, if he’s just not into her anymore, I guess it’s time to move on! The kids will be fine! Kids are resilient!”

          Because that person who doesn’t “feel” it anymore!? They’re a member of the 90 percent. And they’re going to meet someone new and it’s going to be all lovey-dovey and orgasms and flower bouquets. Right up until human nature does what it always does. When you get “used” to each other and that totally normal and unavoidable sense of complacency and familiarity set in.

          And then a whole new set of human flaws will be on display with the new partner.

          And surprise, sur-fucking-prise!!! They don’t “feel” it anymore with this new person either! Moreover, now that some time has passed, they realize it wasn’t so bad in their first marriage because none of these new problems existed.

          This shit happens all the time.

          I’m more than okay with people breaking up with boyfriends and girlfriends when they decide marriage doesn’t make sense. That’s wise!

          I’m more than okay with single people doing anything and everything they want within the confines of their personal codes of conduct.

          But I’m not okay with MARRIED people rationalizing their choices as if they were in one of those two groups. Because they’re not.

          Marriage requires we walk a higher path.

          I got it wrong. Most people get it wrong. But I think there’s a better way.

          Congratulations on 19 years. I think it’s awesome, and I also think your marital success is a testament that you and your wife walk this very walk I’m talking about. No one is accidentally married 19 years. It’s earned.

          It’s worth figuring out what it takes to achieve what you have. I hope more people will.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. jgroeber says:

    What a heart-wrenchingly honest description of heartbreak.
    I remember finding a love note on the bathroom mirror of my childhood best friend’s master bathroom when I was over playing. In my whole childhood I heard her dad say maybe fifty words, but here he was writing a love note and sticking it on the mirror. She told me her parents were having problems so a counselor had told them to start doing these things for each other, having date night and so on. I think about that a lot thirty-five years later. What a simple concept. We should be told that when we’re signing our marriage licenses. Thank you for the reminder, as always.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      And thank you for being someone who tries hard to do it the right way.

      The first-ever post I read from you involved you and your husband on a “date night.” You were holding hands in the car and watching something. Windmills? I remember windmills, but I might be making that up.

      I just know it was beautiful. Thanks for reading, Jen.

      Like

      • jgroeber says:

        Thank you for remembering. They were wind turbines. Some call it work. We call it date night. It makes it sound less difficult. Your posts (and those long ago sticky notes on the mirror) are reminders that we all need to earn it every day. Even when it’s not date night. Especially when it’s not date night.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Matt says:

          Working out doesn’t feel good. Just afterward. The results. The long-term benefits are obvious.

          Love doesn’t always feel good. Just the results.

          Like you and your lovely family. It’s a gift that you share it with the rest of us.

          Like

  7. charmaine says:

    Did you write this for me. I have been “dead” for so many years. I wish I could find that happy person again, he sucked all the joy, love, hope & expectation out of my life. I never thought anyone would understand how I felt BUT you nailed it. I can’t stop crying.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I’m so sorry you cried. But I promise I get it. It’s so hard when you’re in that place. Trapped between wanting to escape, and love/commitment/family/social/”comfort” etc.

      It either gets better because he loves and respects you (and himself) enough to do what needs done. Or it gets too hard to carry on. And you have to hit the Life Reset button at a time in your life when you’d imagined things going so differently.

      It’s really, really hard. And I’m so sorry. I hope life delivers something beautiful to you soon.

      Like

  8. Hi Tom, thank you for your honesty and brilliant writing. I also started my blog only as a means to vent – and probably share some lessons learnt – should someone stumble onto it… Anyway, I wanted to tell you that I hope you find your happiness again… I started the agonizing ritual of dating again and had some really shitty experiences, but a small part of me kept hoping. I think that small part existed the moment I decided I’d allow myself to be happy again. For some reason we love to beat ourselves up and think of ways it could’ve been different… Regret is healthy, it shows a decent sense of morality. But, too much regret and feeling guilty when you actually smile about something – that’s not healthy, it’s begin a masochist. You don’t need keep punishing yourself. I’m not lecturing, I re-read the last part and realized it must sound like it… I just want you to realize, like I did eventually, that you are allowed to be happy :) My life turned around the moment I let myself be happy and laugh again. It takes time… 5 months ago I was stuck in a mess, I had nothing and didn’t think I’d ever get out of it…. I thought “great, my life is over…” now, I’ve got too much to handle – including the possibility of a second chance at great love. You made a mistake, but you still deserve so much more. I really hope that you’ll find it

    xoxo

    I united the knot

    Like

  9. Jack says:

    Matt,
    I came across this site after a quick Google search of “I just found out I’m and asshole to my wife.”
    I have been reading your posts for a couple weeks now and finding that I am you, (just as many men have probably done). I’m only three years in, but I’ve made many of the mistakes you have made and am working to change them. Every time I get my wife to divulge another issue, I come to this site and find exactly what she is referencing, and this story was today’s issue.
    I received my copy of “How To Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It” on Monday, and I’m hoping I can glean enough from it to make the necessary changes in my life.
    I’m one of those that has screwed up with emotional abandonment, and I’m working to get the trust back in my marriage – not the trust of cheating – but the emotional trust that you have written about so much. I just found out she has never felt that she could trust me with her feelings. I think my marriage is in jeopardy, but I’m using tactics from this site, the book, and other things I have read to bring it back.
    My epiphany has hopefully happened early enough that I can come back from it, because all I can do at this point is change my whole outlook on life, my whole mentality, and know that when everything is great, it will have all been worth it!
    Thanks for the metaphorical kick in the pants.
    Also, these comments are hard to post after you’ve typed them (currently been staring at the button for five minutes).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      I know what it looks like to stare at that button and not know whether you actually want to click it.

      So, listen. I don’t want to pretend to be some self-help guy or have delusions about being able to help people in the way professionals and experts in this field do.

      But I have found that people say some of this stuff helps them. I like to call it accidentally helping people.

      Sometimes, to the right person, I accidentally help.

      And it really, really, really matters to me. The idea that you read something here that clicked for you, and now you feel like you’re seeing the big picture better than before. That’s a big moment. When you feel confident you’re playing with a full deck finally.

      Changes everything.

      I really love that you picked up a copy of that book. Here’s what I think it does more effectively than anything else, ever:

      It explains, scientifically, how evolution and culture have contributed to women’s chemical and emotional makeup.

      It explains the same for men. In really sensible, digestable ways. Why it was so important back when lions and bears and shit were attacking our villages for men’s bodies to do what our bodies do, and how important it was for women’s bodies to do what their bodies do.

      But now it’s 2015. And mostly? Bears and tribal attacks aren’t really a thing. But we still have a lot of these involuntary emotional reactions built into our code for survival reasons.

      Only now? When we live in houses together in safe neighborhoods and NOT in jungle villages, all these natural tendencies cause MAJOR communication problems between male-female partners.

      The authors write it in a way, with real-world examples, and a billion hours of laboratory work that tie it up in a nice bow for you.

      And you’re going to say: “HO-LY SHIT. THAT’s why she says and does that! That’s why I say and do that!”

      And if you understand what’s happening as it’s happening. And SHE understands what’s happening as it’s happening. You can stop it mid-stream, smile at one another because you KNOW your bodies are betraying you and that it’s not in your long-term best interest to let it continue.

      So you stop. Say and do the right things to make her feel better. She says and does the same for you in return.

      Crisis averted.

      Most of us just fight through the crisis, let it calm down and try to move on. But our wives don’t forget. And as the instances pile up, they realize something is seriously wrong, and we don’t realize it because we’ve gotten over it.

      Chemistry is a very powerful thing.

      I don’t think it’s EASY even when you know how. Staying skinny isn’t easy even though we all know how: Eat less, move more. Simple formula.

      Still requires discipline and commitment.

      But at least now, you won’t be pounding Big Macs and milkshakes every day and wondering why you’re not losing weight.

      And when you make this work–doing all the things most couples are getting wrong–you’re in position to help everyone else in your life figure it out too.

      I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it would change the world.

      You made my day writing this note. Thank you very much.

      Good luck, sir. Hope I hear from you again.

      Like

      • anitvan says:

        Discipline and commitment. Yup.

        Today is my wedding anniversary, 27 years. My neighbour, knowing that my husband and I have been down and out with the flu for the last couple of days, came over with a card and cake. Written on the front of the card were the words “Still Happily Married”. I could feel the tears coming and I looked up and saw tears in my husbands eyes as well. She doesn’t know, you see. We’ve only been neighbours for a few months and she doesn’t know how close to the edge we got and how hard we struggled to come back from it. She only knows us as happy.

        I guess I’m just sharing this to hopefully encourage your readers. We found our road back to happy and maybe they can too.

        I have no secrets to share. Wish I did! But there’s no magic to it. You just have to be committed to doing the work and be disciplined enough to do it every day. Not just until your relationship is out of the woods, but every day until one of you dies because that’s the level of disciple and commitment that marriage deserves.

        Its hard work and not for the faint of heart, but the payoff is SO worth it.

        Like

  10. Fairy Queen says:

    Jeezuz Matt! Stop making me cry!!!
    I was so moved this time though that I wrote a “companion” piece to this. . . I hope you don’t mind. I read yours and started to write and didn’t stop till the last sentence. It’s probably redundant but I had to get it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. […] wrote this after I read Matts post I’ve Ruined My Marriage and My Wife Hates Me on his blog Must be This Tall to Ride. As soon […]

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  12. Vince says:

    When I was divorcing I decided to see a therapist. I was crushed and in trying to encourage me he said, “I’ve seen couples divorce then get back together even as much as five years after.” As pathetic as that might sound I actually brightened up a bit like, “You mean there’s a chance?” Then he told me to remember my personality traits in the future and to consider them when I date again. He said, “And you will date again.” Does that make sense to you, Matt? It did to me and you know what? I remembered that and have found it to be solid advice that has served me well 1.5 years later.

    Like

  13. […] last post was an emotional response to Matts post. I didn’t offer any insight or commentary. I didn’t give advice or hope. I just wrote. I […]

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  14. Deidre says:

    This had to suck. Sorry Matt! Do you ever feel like these experiences give us real PTSD?

    Like

  15. Unfortunate, most of us get to empty before the light goes on. Good writing as always.

    Like

  16. Janani Thakshayani says:

    Matt I wanted to tell a story of marriage someone, but not to the entire world. Can you be the person to listen to me?

    Like

  17. David says:

    Matt,

    Am sorry you got a divorce for the “not feeling it” reason. I pray you and your wife might figure it out. Heck, I pray my wife and I figure it out. W have been married for 29 years when out of the blue she says “I have no feelings for you, I don’t love you and I want a divorce.” That happened 7/19/2015. She filed for D in August; I responded in Sep. She moved out is late Sep saying she was ‘afraid of me’. I have never harmed her but will admit to yelling…and after she dropped the Bomb…maybe a bit more yelling. Seems she does not get that I might be a tad angry that she dropped this bomb on me and wants to destroy my life, the lives of our 4 kids, and our family and friends. Anyway, I have been to a counselor 12 times, a priest 2 times, spent another $500 on various “save my marriage” online courses. My W has been to see my counselor twice on her own and yesterday we jointly visited with my counselor yesterday. She now admits that she likes me as a person but is still done as far as marriage goes. She also agreed to spend Xmas Eve and Xmas morning at our home with our 3 daughters…BUT…to not think this means we are getting back together and to NOT try to do anything that might attract her like a magnet to come back. Hope springs eternal. Advise appreciated. I am being as strong, positive, loving on hte outside as I can be…inside I am hurting and broken…the pain is so intense

    Like

  18. Sue says:

    Your writings are sometimes very hard to read … not because they are poorly written, but because you so authentically and gutwrenchingly NAIL what I have thought and/or felt without being able to actually articulate …

    Thank you …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      I don’t think that’s any sort of skill, Sue. I just think people don’t talk about it.

      But if we all did, then everyone could enjoy, as I know do, the life-changing realization that — almost no matter what; save for some depraved, mentally ill behavior (murder, rape, molestation) — no matter what we are thinking or feeling and maybe afraid to talk about, a bunch of other people are feeling it too.

      The effect that has on us is significant. Just our brains going: “whoa. I’m not the only one.”

      When I first started writing here, THAT was really my big takeaway until it fully sunk in. And now I take it for granted. I can say almost anything that’s true, and a statistically relevant amount of people will think and feel “me too.”

      In terms of how we feel about ourselves, I think that’s super-important for the average person who never contemplated these things to understand.

      Thank you for reading and leaving this comment, Sue. :)

      Like

  19. Rose says:

    “How do you get a man to have the epiphany BEFORE everything breaks? And…

    “Can we bring it back from the dead?

    “Maybe someone out there can provide more insight. Maybe there are success stories about a totally broken marriage that ended up Happily Ever After.”

    YES!
    http://www.thelovesafetynet.com/
    http://www.narcissismdailymirror.com/2012/01/why-narcissists-dont-care.html

    Like

  20. Michael says:

    I’m losing my wife. My pride has crushed her. What do I do? I haven’t really cried since 2004. I’m crying now. I don’t think that I want her to take me back, because I don’t want to hurt her, anymore. I wish that I had the epiphany, before. I’m a fucking asshole. I should have listened to her. I should have never dismissed her feelings. I’ve failed her time and time again. I want to be a different person. Yet, I can’t take any of it back. Can I do anything to ease her pain? Should I do anything? Should I just leave her alone? What should I do?

    Like

  21. Rogers says:

    Not all women need this much priming and pumping to be happy in a marriage. Those that appear to need this much attention have emotional or personality disorders that cause them to search out and find whatever excuses they can to wreck every relationship they ever get into, no matter how attentive or indifferent their partners are. There are no cures for these disorders.
    They leave perfectly fine partners, wreck their kids lives, and cause staggering divorce costs usually because they felt bored and found someone else they thought they were in love with.
    They are not bored. They are depressed. Chronic depression is the source of narcissistic and borderline behavior. They cannot escape it and when the “newness euphoria” of a relationship evolves into routine familiarity it is no longer strong enough to distract them from whatever sadness they are still carrying. They begin to feel the depression again and interpret it as boredom.
    If you’ve ever been with another person who seemed to go from loving you to hating everything about you for trivial or even made-up reasons you can be certain that they are suffering from one of these disorders and there is no hope for them. They can learn to deal with it only if they can first, admit they are not well and, second, to seek out competent, clinical, and ongoing psychiatric therapy. This is very difficult for someone who has convinced themselves that everyone else is stupid.
    Unfortunately these unstable women are all we ever hear about- so much so that it would appear that ALL women must be this way. They are not. I’m still looking for mine…
    I cook. I clean. I compliment. I buy flowers. I write poetry. I work hard. I make passionate love. I am a wonderful husband and my wife dumped me and took our son to live with her bankrupt old ex boyfriend who wrecked his family to be with her. She was madly in love. Now my son tells me she is starting to treat him like she did me.
    At 54, I finally know how to avoid women like her.

    Like

  22. harvey balkom says:

    I tell my wife how i feel and im trying to be better for her and our dauhgter but what ever i do i cant get right she just told me i just should jump off a bridge and die

    Like

  23. Chris says:

    Fuck, I had my ephiphany “a ha” moment last night, but its almost definitely too late ;_;

    I didnt know the stakes were so high, I always thought there’d be a warning sign or that I’d have to do something like cheat or hit my wife to get her to feel apathy for me. I feel like im in anothwr dimension, I bet my whole life and future on my wife and now shes dead inside and I cant get her back

    Like

  24. Wayne says:

    This has hit home for me so hard. I’m almost exactly where this post is talking about. I’ve ruined my marriage. I’ve done so many terrible things and have never truly owned up to it and find what I said I would. Too many times have I watched her cry, thinking she’s just being dramatic or have spun off into a shitty mood all day because the dishes weren’t done when I got home but never asked or even considered how her day was. She’s begged me to be kinder and show emotion, but I never did…”I’m a man, I don’t get emotional” I always thought. Only now do I realize that a real man and a real husband opens up to his wife, and let’s her in.

    I don’t deserve my wife and she doesn’t deserve me. She deserves to be revered and ravished and smothered with all the love in the world. I deserve to be cold and alone in a deep dark hole somewhere. I can’t even believe the sickening things I’ve done. I had an affair while she was miscarrying our child… And it wasn’t my only one. And I never thought the pregnancy was real because when we went to the doctor he told us it wasn’t gonna work. She cried so hard for weeks and I just laid there getting frustrated and angry that she was crying…. I obviously didn’t understand where she was emotionally.

    I remember looking in her eyes as I watched her soul die. I remember seeing all the feelings and emotions leave her, and I still denied it…. “She’ll get over it, she’s just being dramatic”. I did that to her. I stripped her heart every last inkling of feeling and emotion out of her and stomped it into the ground.

    I broke her heart so many times but she always stayed so I never changed… “She’s still here, so why change”. Until I finally broke it completely… And I don’t know if I can fix it.

    I realize now the atrocious way I’ve treated my wife and my marriage. It took her diverting her attention away from me to someone else to understand how far away I’ve pushed her. And now here I am scrambling to fix what I should’ve fixed long ago. But is it too late?

    My wife has recently reconnected with an old boyfriend. She wants all of us to be friends and wants him and his son to be a part of our lives. And he needs friends, his wife just left him for another woman and just the other day his brother passed. He’s a good dude and I’m trying really hard to be friends but the jealousy consumes me. She spends a lot of time with him and it bothers me so much. She tells me there’s nothing to worry about but I just can’t take it.

    I know what I’ve done to her. And I think, “Why on earth would she stay with me after that? Why does she always spend time with him and not me? Why won’t she choose me?” And on, and on, and on the thoughts go. But then the depression kicks in. I tell myself ” you deserve to feel this pain… You’ve put her through worse… You pushed her to this… You never chose her, why should she choose you…”
    … And it’s only making things worse. My jealousy is driving us farther apart.

    I know those last couple of paragraphs sound like a rant and may make her sound bad, but, what u want you to understand stand is that I drove our relationship here. And it took this to make me realize how absolutely fucking terrible I’ve been and how there’s almost nothing I can do now. I realize now how much I need to fix and am trying too, buts its probably too little, too late. What I feel now as I claw for any ounce of feeling or emotion from my wife, and for her to look me square in the eye and tell me she has no emotion anymore, it’s more helpless and soul crushing than anything I’ve ever felt.

    I love her so much! More than life itself! I can’t imagine my life without her. I had a day dream (more like nightmare) the other day of her walking away from me in the courthouse after finalizing our divorce. And in the dream she never showed one emotion, and she never looked back. I cried so hard on the floor of our living room because of that. Hysterically even. That’s how much I can’t even fathom the thought of her leaving.

    But I’m afraid it’s not up to me anymore. I know that if she decided she’s done there’s nothing I can do to change her mind, and frankly I don’t even deserve the chance to try to change her mind… And that scares the hell out of me.

    I’m going to make the changes I promised so many times I would. It’s going to be hard, but I’m doing it. My wife is worth it. Even though I die inside every time I look for desire from her and I find nothing, and m gonna keep trying. I will fight for her. I will fight for us. I love her more than anything on this earth… More than me, more than life, even down to the air in my lungs. I love her so much it hurts… And I know how much I’ve hurt her.

    I just pray to God that she still loves me.

    Like

    • Cody says:

      our stories are far too similar…. i neglected my wife for years… she kept telling me i needed to change and how much she was hurting, but i never knew how to change or what to do. then along come an ex whose brother just died, and he just left his GF… now she says she is in love with him, and we are on a “break”. i made her feel nothing inside and my only hope is that she gets bored with him and wants to at least try with the father of her children… it hurts so bad, and i would do anything to change who i am for her. I used to be a much better man, but over the years i let monotony take over. she says she feels nothing for me at all, and she hardly sees me as a man. at one point it makes me want to give up, but on another i still love her so much that i want her to see the real me, not this one that has been brought down to nothing.

      I just pray she will realize she still loves me…

      Like

  25. William says:

    I thought I was reading my own story.
    I messed up bad.
    I never appreciated a thing that my wife did.
    Now it is seemingly too late.
    I swear….before I talk to her….I always psych myself up and tell myself that you are going to be calm, cool, and collective.
    Then BAM!!!! I break down. I get upset. I say dumb things.
    And there she is…..”you will never change!”
    Alcoholism killed me. It took me years to finally believe I was an alcoholic. Pornography killed me. Deviant sexual fantasies killed me.
    Put those three things together and they destroyed my life. They destroyed my wife.
    I think this post is great.
    It really hit home.
    I wish my wife could read it. I have been trying to tell her that our issues are not unique. It happens all of the time in marriages.
    But I know she will never listen.
    I can’t blame her.
    I can only blame myself.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      You’re me. And I’m you.

      That is precisely how I experienced the final months of my marriage.

      You want so badly for her to FEEL and KNOW the changes you’ve made intellectually and emotionally, but she can’t feel and know those things.

      We assume history will repeat itself, because history, the vast majority of the time, repeats itself.

      I wish I could offer something more valuable than “Your story is EXACTLY my story.”

      But I’m afraid that’s all I’ve got.

      Brokenness doesn’t magically go away.

      Things must be rebuilt.

      There are several ways that can go, and I hope whatever happens keeps you on this journey of trying to walk the higher path.

      Of being mindful of how what we do thoughtlessly STILL cuts like a knife, regardless of whether we ever acknowledged or knew it did.

      Thank you for taking time to write here.

      You don’t have to be a stranger unless you want to be. There are some excellent people here.

      Unfortunately, we don’t talk much outside of the most recent posts.

      Best wishes to you and your wife, William. I mean that very seriously.

      Like

      • Tim says:

        I am currently in a crisis similar to what I’ve been reading here. It held up on “The way it should be,” and thus I become a walking, talking wall that tells her that her feelings make no sense. And to me they don’t, even when she explains them to me (and that’s a rare occurrence in and of itself). Today’s breakdown, and possibly the last one, is over yet another misunderstanding. They literally all are. Either one of us assume the other understands, and when it is found that they don’t, I react with excessive talking to her to get her to understand, and she usually reacts by getting angry, locking herself in a room somewhere and not talking to me. We rarely ever talk about issues. “I talk about issues.” She ignores them. Our communication suffers again. I also tend to react to her emotions. I did today. If she gets mad, I get mad. If she is happy, I am happy. I tend to have little emotional independence when I’m around her. I also can’t leave things alone. I get an overwhelming desire to fix the situation, and when she doesn’t seem interested, I don’t give her the space she needs. I’m guilty as charged. I need to learn to control my patience better. “If I give her space, she’ll come around.” But I never do. I talk and talk until she bursts into another rage. And then, of course, I react to that. “If you would just talk to me…” I have been so selfish… I hope it works out for you other fellows in here. Matt, thank you for sharing this. I hope things change for all of us.

        Like

  26. Ryan says:

    ditto to so much of what has been written here. Not knowing how to even start making things better with my wife kills me. She either can’t or doesn’t want to tell me – such is her pain. In my situation, I’ve realised why I stopped being helpful around the house – because when I tried to do something lovely for her she unwittingly cut me to the heart. So I stopped. I stopped because it hurt. I stopped doing the things that expressed my love for her because what I received in return was hurt. Now she has lost her love for me. I don’t blame her. For me, road back is to show her love that she’ll appreciate without regard to her response. She’ll likely hurt me for it, but what’s new. I can only hope that one day she’ll choose to love me again.

    Like

  27. Peter says:

    Good god, you hit the nail on the head! My exact situation. To my wife it’s my fault. For me I know it’s both out faults, but doesn’t matter because she has lost all feeling, is checked out with it being all on me. My feeling is if this keeps up it can only go south sort of like she is making it happen passively aggressively or testing so far that no one can past this test giving her the divorce she wants which I know won’t solve our or her problems and then there is also the kids. :(

    Matt how you describe marriage is exactly how I feel. You blog has help a desperate man to now have hope and restored his sanity has much as possible. Maybe, I just might past the test with no resentment (on my part) and a better then ever marriage. Now I just need to find the receipt to engage her without engaging her.

    You, you, you have given me a great gift! Keep up the good work!

    Peter

    Like

  28. Thorness says:

    What a bunch of psychotic beta bullshit. You beta losers will make any and every excuse for female passive-agression and dysfunction.

    When a normal, non-abusive marriage goes down the tubes, both parties are to blame. Both parties are to blame for boring routines, the suppression of emotions, the loss of intimacy, the slow creeping numbness. The petulant, mewling manchild husband is not solely to blame, and neither is the frigid, resentful, spiteful wife. Both parties share that burden.

    But you beta dopes just want to blame men, because you blame men for everything, because you are babies who still crave female approval.

    Like

    • Ryan says:

      You’re right in that both parties are to blame Thorness. Thing is, everyone goes through stages of denial, anger, grief and acceptance during a marriage breakdown. Most of the replies I’ve read here are guys going through grief over their contribution to the breakdown (what they’re to blame for) – or they’re replies to support each other through the grief. From your post, I’d say you’ve got a mixture of anger and acceptance. If you want to talk about your relationship breakdown and how it has affected you, we’re happy to listen.

      Like

  29. Sean henigan says:

    That’s a he’ll of a post I feel that many of the things said are exactly what has happened to me and I except all the bad things I’ve done and im ready for a big change in my life I took everything for granted I was a little too comfortable with my marriage I think back on all the stuff I’ve done and I feel terrible nut you can’t change the past you can change the future so that’s what I’m going to do that’s all I can do

    Like

  30. David says:

    I am the above. I’ve betrayed my wife, the one person who loved me for me and who would do anything for me. The perfect one. And now it is destroyed – we’ll never be the same again, she might not be the same again – even if we stick together for the sake of our daughter and to avoid her own public humiliation. And that is my grievous sin. Shame I didn’t have this thought process beforehand, would have stopped a lot of hurt.

    Like

  31. Mike Mariana says:

    My marriage is there too. I want to fix it or end it! We’re tired of each other but I’m too old fashioned to give up.

    Like

    • Cody says:

      Mike, this is a great source for doing that, but I have another for you. It’s a podcast called the smart couple. a number of the podcasts are about taking responsibility for what you have done, and still loving your wife through the things that you may not have done. for the first time this morning after 6 months with her being with another man she said she started to feel something for me. Now, this may not last because I keep fucking up, but the fact I could even get there for a second is majorly uplifting.

      another thing I have done is listened to (please don’t judge this hippie shit, but it works) a youtube hypnotherapy audio every night. I can tell on nights that I don’t do it, how I think of my own issues, like how jealous I am, more than my wife’s issues. but I swear it works, and if you are like me, you will do anything to make her happy again, even if she does not end up loving you again.

      Like

  32. Jenry says:

    Wow you just described my marriage I do wish I could understand my wife and all of us be happy again I’ve try ed everything and nothing works than I get defensive after I do dishes make bed clean up take her out for her favorite dinner and she says I do nothing around here I’ve felt she don’t love me cause for 15 yrs now I here she hates me and wants a divorce she has told me when I go to work don’t come back I leave for a few weeks.as I cry writing this she shows the kids 1 is 20 and other is 17 that she loves them gives them a hug goodbye and I get walked past

    Like

  33. striker says:

    I wish I had of read this earlier. My wife has been telling me for years she is unhappy, and I never listened. Dismissed her as being irrational when in reality I was a grumpy, mean angry person. She is the most amazing person and we had a great life with great friends and 3 beautiful children. I never listened and now the light has gone out. She doesn’t even fight anymore, she is completely void of feelings for me. I had the epiphany 6 weeks ago and have been the perfect husband and father. Showing her every day how much I love her, leaving her flowers and love notes, giving massages, cooking fancy meals. Too late. The light has gone out and she has nothing left. I have been crying for weeks (something I previously never did). She sees me in pain and has nothing to offer. She has already done the grieving and left me in her mind. She is still kind, very kind, but cold and resolute in telling me she has no feelings for me. We have counselling tomorrow, but she says there is probably no way back. She is angry that I took so long to come to the party. She is angry I waited for the light to go out before changing my ways. I love her so much and don’t know how I would survive without her. We had such a fairytale romance. I know we can have that again if she just gave it a chance.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Well. This is the worst kind of thing to wake up to. A few PTSD vibes from this one.

      As I suspect you’ve realized, I get this in every imaginable way.

      And it is the most soul-ripping, mind-poisoning thing imaginable, and you can’t really know the feeling until it happens.

      This is going to be an excruciating time, no matter what happens next.

      If you’re anything like me, there will be moments of highly-anxious and emotional responses.

      And there are only two things I would encourage you on.

      1. Try very very very hard to keep in mind that she ALREADY felt this, and that when she wanted our help, we dismissed it because we didn’t recognize it for what it was. But to her, it felt identical to neglect and abandonment.

      I’m not asking you to not feel how you feel. But I am asking you to practice empathy actively and be understanding of why she might be so afraid of being vulnerable again.

      Because I know I never want to feel that way again. Four years later, and I still wear the scars.

      I wasn’t as patient during the period you’re in now as I aspired to be.

      I just kept grinding ever day hoping one day she’d magically return to her former self.

      But you can’t always put things neatly back in the box.

      Some breaks never fully heal.

      And the second thing, I’d ask:

      2. Hope.

      First, never give up hope. Love hard. Even when it’s inconvenient. I believe in miracles.

      But the second half of that is this: You flipped a switch. A painful one.

      But now you know and see things in a way you never could before.

      It’s a SUPERPOWER, sir. A force for good. To demonstrate kindness even when it doesn’t feel good. And more importantly, to have a level of understanding that might benefit your children in their future adult relationships.

      We can teach our sons to see things as they are.

      We can teach our daughters to ask better questions and establish/enforce stronger boundaries.

      It will matter.

      Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you feel like you need someone to “get it” and no one else in your life seems to.

      These are hard things.

      But.

      We can do hard things.

      Rooting for you and your family, sir.

      Like

  34. James Mahoney says:

    so for the past year sense the baby has been born. I have been supporting my family both wife and daughter both mentally and physically because she ended up getting vertigo and epilepsy and about 4 monthsago I started breaking down and my wife never noticed and I never said anything a few months go by and yes it gets worse I started to get an attitude but at thispoint I started asking for help from my wife just help in general and got nothing in return. so a typical work day for her is watching the kid and keeping the room somewhat clean but the cleaning never happened then I asked her to get a job and we can put the kid into daycare nope nothing. and for me a work day is 10 hours at work then I come home maybe have to run to the store as soon as I walk in the door then I have to cook then do dishes do the laundry clean the room that she was supposed to clean and watch the kid. so after all of that for a couple months I snap yelling and screaming. Yeah I know thatit isn’t good but I couldn’t take it no more so I asked her to go to her moms house until she can get herself situated and so she does now I get child support papers dropped at my house and as of now I cant even have my kid overnight because shethinks I will take the kid and run but I have no where to go no family nothing. how do I get my family back please help

    Like

  35. Michael says:

    I’m so confused about my marriage what I read is just like mine she hates me

    Like

  36. Jerry says:

    Based upon my last two weeks, I could have written this entire blog. I really wish I had learned these simple truths before I had to learn them the hard way. There is still a glimmer of hope with my wife, but I really blew it. I had no idea. I thought I was being a man.

    Like

  37. Johnny East says:

    Running the same gauntlet right now… i’m with you fella’s.
    My wife hates me, but she still has good intention, and we still got chemistry (physical at least). Kid is 4 yrs old, I’d die to see him suffer because of us, not mention lose him.
    So right now I’m trying to find my balanced way between being supportive and full of respect towards my wife, and at the same time stay to be a man, and don’t become a pussy.
    Hardest thing ever to do in my life, and I’ve lived trough crisises in the past alright.

    Like

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