Your Wife Thinks You’re a Bad Husband Because You Are One

See that guy in the back? He's probably employed, faithful, easy to get along with, and generally nice to people and his wife. That must also mean he's a good husband, right?

See that guy in the back? He’s probably employed, faithful, easy to get along with, and generally nice to people, including his wife. That must also mean he’s a good husband, right?

We have a problem, guys.

I don’t know why we have the problem, but if you want to have a non-sucky marriage, it will help to acknowledge this, then work daily to overcome it.

You think your wife is unfairly critical of you. That she’s ungrateful. That she’s always coming up with a new problem or complaint with your behavior. That she’s constantly nagging you about something, and usually at the least-convenient times after a long day at work.

You think your wife is a little bit crazy. She’s upset and it’s a total freaking mystery to you because you would NEVER get upset over something so little and insignificant, right? So, she’s crazy. Hormonal. She must be. It’s the only logical explanation.

You think your wife has a problem with priorities. You would never start a fight with her for leaving a towel on the floor of your bedroom. It doesn’t really matter! Or over forgetting to set out the chicken to defrost for dinner. We can just order pizza and eat the chicken tomorrow! Not a big deal! Let’s not fight over silly things!

But more important than that, she was the person you gave up your bacherlorhood and individuality for. Of every person on planet Earth, she is the one you proposed to and vowed to faithfully live with forever. And you’ve probably sacrificed a lot for her, right? Maybe she decides what town you live in, and what house you bought, and how the house looks, and mostly dictates the general rhythm of your lives. Maybe you go to work every day, handing over entire paychecks so she can decide what to do with it. Maybe you let her drive the nicer of your two cars. You feel like you’ve dedicated the majority of your existence to being her partner for the rest of your life, and you’ve done so mostly complaint-free. That’s gotta count for something, right?

Your ONLY complaint is that she’s always on your ass about something. Can’t you just chill out and not give me shit, since I NEVER give you shit!?, we all think.

It’s because, despite our imperfections (which to us feel the same as theirs—we just don’t complain about theirs much) we know we’re pretty decent guys.

We know we love our wives and families, and every time someone suggests our love isn’t good enough, we get a little bit prideful and a little bit pissed off. Especially when it’s our wives.

I get it. I felt the same way.

You Have a Problem with Relativism, and It Will Probably Earn You Divorce

I don’t cheat on my wife. A lot of husbands do. Since I don’t, I must be a good one.

I don’t hit my wife. A lot of husbands do. Since I don’t, I must be a good one.

I don’t drink excessively or do drugs. A lot of husbands do. Since I don’t, I must be a good one.

I have a job making good money and provide for my wife. A lot of husbands don’t. Since I do, I must be a good one.

I’m a good guy and a nice person. A lot of husbands aren’t. Since I’m a good, nice guy, I must therefore be a good husband.

Then we make it worse.

Because we’re so good at logical reasoning and leaving emotion out of it unlike our idiot wives, we surmise that her complaints about us lack merit. We’re good husbands! We just established this! So she’s being an unfair bitch right now, but she’ll get over it if I just go watch TV in the other room!

Moving forward, every time our wives complain about us, we chalk it up as another bullshit nag-fest because A. She’s complaining about this insignificant crap I would NEVER complain about, while ignoring all the actual important things I do every day that matter! and B. I’m a good husband, and this is the same fight we always have, and she’s obviously full of shit.

I Have Bad News, Kid

You can be a great guy and be a bad electrician.

You can be a great guy and be a lousy dancer.

You can be a great guy and be a shitty husband.

Relativism is a funny thing. I certainly dabble in all kinds of it. I always figure, if there’s a God, I’m in good shape spiritually because I treat people kindly while not murdering, raping, kidnapping, stealing, fighting, vandalizing, abusing, etc. It’s a logical fallacy. It’s one I use to make myself feel better and avoid making difficult and disciplined lifestyle changes.

And I’m sorry, guys. Just because you make a bunch of money and avoid having sex with other women on business trips and tend to not criticize your wife’s choices as much as she does yours, doesn’t make you a good husband.

Marriage isn’t graded on a curve. Just because millions of assholes are getting an F and you’re getting a C-, doesn’t mean you deserve a pizza party for making your imaginary Honor Roll. C- grades are shitty regardless of how many guys are doing it worse than you.

Marriage grades are strictly pass or fail.

HALF OF ALL MARRIAGES END IN DIVORCE. Of the ones that don’t, how many of those appear to be fun, loving, satisfying relationships? Look around and decide for yourself. In other words, even if you aren’t divorced, does that mean you’re succeeding in your marriage?

I have a son in second grade. He’s awesome. But he’s a complete tool bag sometimes when we’re working on math homework and he guesses the answer wrong by a digit or two, and then defends his wrong answer by saying “I was close!” before telling me he doesn’t want to learn how to do math because he doesn’t feel like it.

There’s no “close to correct” in math. It’s either correct (and for the purposes of second-grade math, there is only ONE right answer and an infinite number of wrong ones), or it’s not. I think marriage is exactly like that.

You can’t almost get marriage right. You can’t be close to being a good husband.

You either ARE a good husband (which requires a daily display of strength and heroism and fortitude and courage and discipline and empathy and wisdom and knowledge and love), or you’re not one.

We get defensive. We buck and protest and point fingers and deflect.

But you know.

Dude. I know that you know that I know that you know that you’re a little bit selfish and that you frequently make choices that are easiest for you, often at the expense of your wife’s preferences. You do it all the time.

Sure, I know you just forgot, sometimes! I’m the freaking king of forgetting. But when you don’t create a system to not forget anymore (that you have that thing on Tuesday, or your wedding anniversary, or to pick up the dry cleaning, or whatever) so that your wife knows she’s loved and respected enough for you to take care of things and demonstrate you can be counted on, you reinforce feelings of mistrust that make her feel afraid and insecure about her entire life.

That will end badly for all parties, even when it seems so insignificant to you in the moment.

There are many ways to die.

Instantly, from a bullet.

Or imperceptibly slow from undetected cancer.

She can trust me to not cheat!

Sorry, man. No one gives a shit. If basic assurances of sexual faithfulness didn’t come with the most base-model marital packages, marriage would cease to be a thing. She already assumes she can and should be able to trust you to not bang other chicks. It’s best to not expect pats on the back for your restraint.

If you’re still reading, you might be tired of being lectured by some divorced asshole on the internet. You might be wondering why—if I’m so brilliant about marriage—mine ended.

It’s because I had a problem with relativism and it earned me a divorce.

Everyone’s different, so maybe divorce won’t be bad for you. For me, it was the worst thing that ever happened, and I cried a lot more than a man should, and dying didn’t seem so bad for a while.

And you know what I thought about every day for the next year or two while I was struggling to get my shit together? If I’d spent every day giving 10 percent more to the person I loved above all things, my wife and son would still live here and my life would be much happier.

Because, I wasn’t a bad guy. I was just a bad husband.

And if I had it to do over again, I’d have made better choices—choices that might still be available to you.

Maybe you can start right now.

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121 thoughts on “Your Wife Thinks You’re a Bad Husband Because You Are One

  1. Missy says:

    I was focusing on being “one” with my husband since last night. I think I will just continue. I noticed something that works for me when I am oppressed by sad thoughts and feeling like life is an imposition. I just switch to thinking of it in terms of possibilities and opportunities and more like life is a gift. That doesn’t mean I ignore signals about my needs. But I notice that a lot can be helped by just a mental shift.

    My husband tends to invalidate me when I have complaints or concerns. So, I have to remind myself that I did take the step to tell him what’s up with me. It’s just how he responded. I end up feeling like he’s telling me my behavior is wrong or weak or confused. I think it’s because he hears a negative feeling from me and suddenly feels blamed for it. And then just tries to transfer the blame to me with his corrective advice. All I’m looking for is a little validation and consolation and I get a lecture. All I can do it tell myself he is trying to help and is a little sensitive. I might try changing the way I disclose certain issues to him. I might frame them in ways that show I little way for him to help me. Like, instead of, “My brain won’t shut down for the night. I think there’s something medically wrong with me,” and then getting criticized, I can just tell him, ask what for what I think would help from him. Like, “I would love to fall asleep after a little…” You can insert whatever—“from you.”

    Certain days are particularly stressful, so I just come in the door promising myself I will start out complaining about nothing and just listening. Some of his anger did eventually flair up, but I was able to uncover the causes more easily and didn’t fire back with my own anger. I found out there was a serious concern in his family that was troubling him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      It shouldn’t fall to one person alone to mindfully control their emotional responses, but I️ think it’s pure magic what happens when someone humbly does. Thank you for this.

      Like

  2. jesse says:

    What a crock of SHIT. It’s about teamwork and mutual respect. But of course, continue the disillusioned stereotype that the man is ALWAYS wrong about EVERYTHING. That’s progress.

    Just because you’re a great woman doesn’t mean you’re not a shitty wife.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Missy says:

    Well, Jesse, maybe I was going for the same thing–but with more subtle inferences, perhaps. That is to say, I think we agree with you–or at least, I have no problem with your point. Although I may not have used the same imagery.

    But you know, sometimes you just have to start punching four letter words into your google search to get meaningful results.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Missy says:

    Anyway, I’m confident we’ll get through to each other because there is real love, even with different styles. Saving the rest for my guy… Bye. bye!

    Like

  5. E says:

    Well said, feel like that now. Still tough to give an extra 10% (not minimizing it but have to start as big as I can) but, need to.

    Like

  6. rikusdeb says:

    I should’ve read this 9 months ago. I am at the tipping point and I think my wife is going to ask for a divorce. She’s afraid that I can’t change. I am afraid that she may be right. How do I change this at this stage? We have three previous make up sessions, but I steam rolled her thinking that I was always right. Always explaining her to death on how she is wrong and how I am right. Three times already. I don’t deserve her, but she is my life. How in the world can I rectify this? I continue to think that I am in a nightmare and that it would be over and I could wake up a changed man.

    Like

  7. Meghann says:

    Im wife..This is the best “lecture” I’ve ever read. I’ve been searching forever for that perfect page to send him and this is it. Our marriage is relative what you said, even down to the “killing you slowly cancer” ( we have been together for 4 years now, and Sept 14th he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.) Treatments ARE working btw! I just wanted to thank you because if this doesn’t get through nothing will!

    Like

  8. Wesley Stinson says:

    If only I saw this a year ago, or even a week ago.

    Like

  9. Paul says:

    I am a horrible Dirtbag husband

    Like

  10. Rob says:

    I practiced relativism today with flourish! Because a half-full dishwasher that wasn’t run isn’t something you blow my phone up about when I’m at work. Same goes for dirty floors (we have two dogs and two cats). Same goes for the condition of bedrooms.

    I have significantly more important stuff to do at work, like my job, so that I can contribute.

    Like

  11. Shane Snow says:

    Thank you, I totally needed this. All I long I have been thinking that’s it’s Her fault my wife decided to go unemployed for the past eight years, taking a sofa sabbatical gaining 150lbs, her fault she spens recklessly and tells me to get a second job. I’m glad to know it’s not her fault, but mine.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I think you’re smart enough to know the difference between what I’ve written here and your situation.

      Maybe you shouldn’t try harder at work, but you should definitely try harder at reading comprehension and being a reasonable-minded human being.

      Like

  12. Von says:

    Thank you. I needed to read this.

    -Von

    Like

  13. bwa88 says:

    Hey Matt,
    Thanks for having the courage to share your story. The funny part is, I’m not married but me and my girlfriend have a child and we’ve lived together long enough to be married. Some of our issues mirror what you described. I will take your advice and try to be stronger and more kind. I think as humans we tend to see things our way, but I don’t want to miss out on being with a woman who truly loves me. My biggest issue however is that I am still not attracted to her the way I’d like to be. I love her and she loves me, but sometimes I feel if I was more attracted to her I’d naturally be more caring. Nevertheless, I will try 10% more each day to be more loving and less selfish. Thanks for the eye opener. At least if things don’t work out, I can walk away knowing that I did my absolute best to love her. Sound right?

    Like

  14. Randy says:

    Thanks for this. I’ve been trying to figure out what my wife’s problem was and and it turns out it was me the whole time. Time to do way more than just be a good guy.

    Like

  15. ltd says:

    “Dude. I know that you know that I know that you know that you’re a little bit selfish and that you frequently make choices that are easiest for you, often at the expense of your wife’s preferences. You do it all the time.”

    I’m guessing your wife did the same to you, ALL THE TIME. What you describe is simply human nature. Sounds like you took all the blame and responsibility onto yourself for all the areas in life where you and your wife’s “preferences” did not mesh, where in fact, compromise should’ve happened.

    You shouldn’t have to be superhuman or always putting the other person first. Maybe your wife needed to meet you halfway a little. Just a thought.

    Like

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