The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Done

face-in-hands

Between acting like my wife should hurry up and get over the unexpected death of her father because it was damaging our marriage, and my nonchalant denial of her postpartum depression following our son’s birth, I can’t decide which is my greatest failure on my journey toward divorce.

I wake up every day believing I’m a good person, but maybe I’m not.

My failure to adequately support my wife after losing a parent was largely a function of a million previous tiny failures culminating in her breaking point in the midst of grief. When everything hurts, you need someone you can trust to help take some of the pain away. I’d stopped being that a long time ago. I just didn’t know it yet.

I thought she had been nitpicky, overly emotional and occasionally unfair for the previous seven years. Like most guys, I was selfish and clueless.

So, here’s a secret I’ve never told anyone: I have a sociopathic trait. I lack the ability to empathize with the physical pain of others.

When I read books, or hear someone describe something I’ve never seen, my brain dials up images, but what I visually imagine is almost never what reality looks like when I get to see whatever the thing is. And maybe that’s why I struggle with relating to the physical pain of others. Because I can’t properly imagine it.

I am quite sensitive to emotional pain—especially if I’ve been through something similar to a hurting person, or can adequately imagine what it would be like to.

That matters for two reasons: I wasn’t appreciating how much physical discomfort my wife was experiencing during pregnancy, and because I was an ignorant mook, I also failed to grasp the fear, stress and anxiety she might have been feeling worrying about both child delivery, first, then the following 18 years of being responsible for the safety and wellbeing of an actual person.

I was texting friends from the chair next to her bed while she was in labor. I was updating them on her and the baby’s status, so I thought I was doing something important. My wife expressed displeasure with my choice. She wanted me to be fully present and engaged with her, demonstrating my commitment to her, and reinforcing in her mind and heart that I would always be at her side through life’s difficult moments.

These are things I understand today. They make perfect sense, because today I am less of an ignorant mook. But on that day seven and a half years ago, none of that made sense.

The mere act of marrying her demonstrates my commitment to her forever, I thought.

OF COURSE she knows based on thousands of conversations how much I value being a good father.

OF COURSE she knows she’s loved.

OF COURSE she knows she can count on me.

She knows me well enough. She knows I’m a good person.

I wasn’t illogical for assuming and believing that. I was just profoundly ignorant. I think most guys are because no one ever explains it to us in a way that ever computes and resonates.

I would never consider something more important than the birth of my son. But texting friends while my wife was in labor—no matter how uneventful or undramatic it seemed to me—felt to her precisely like I cared more about doing what I wanted than being there for her in her most-vulnerable moments.

I would never physically abandon my crying wife. But that’s exactly what I did. She cried. She asked me not to go. But I’m stubborn and moronic and had it in my head that I needed to be well rested for the days ahead per the advice of other fathers.

I left my crying wife alone in a hospital room just hours removed from an emergency C-section where she struggled to breastfeed a screaming child who didn’t want to with nurses who made her feel like she just wasn’t trying hard enough.

Why?

So I could sleep, shower, send photos to family and friends, and revel in the amazing feeling of being a father to a newborn son.

I hope you believe me when I tell you how reasonable it seemed at the time.

In the context of my nine-year marriage? It’s the single worst thing I’ve ever done.

Then I Made it Worse By Suggesting Postpartum Depression Wasn’t Real 

My wife developed postpartum depression.

My lack of education about hormone loss and the psychological impact of childbirth on a new mother, combined with my lack of respect for mental and emotional health issues across the board, were just the ingredients needed to make me a profoundly negligent asshole in the early months of our son’s life.

I thought postpartum depression amounted to mental weakness.

I thought it was something “crazy” people feel, like Andrea Yates who drowned five of her children in the family bathtub.

I thought it was tantamount to my wife not loving our infant son.

This is just a phase she’ll get over, I thought.

She’s emotional sometimes, but I know she isn’t crazy!

I know she loves our baby.

Instead of reading books, talking to other parents, researching PPD or even just actively seeking ways to help my wife in whatever way I could make the difficult adjustment to parenthood, I played a lot of online poker and watched football and convinced myself I was a good husband and father because I have a kind heart.

I hope when she thinks back on those days, she remembers at least something positive about me, but I can’t say with certainty that she can, or that she should.

She tried to talk to me about it later. About the PPD. About how sad and afraid and alone she felt in the hospital when I’d left her there. About how she wanted me to actively participate in the planning and organization of our new life as parents.

But instead of apologizing with heartfelt sincerity for hurting my wife so badly, I’d get angry with her and accuse her of looking for yet another reason to complain about me even though I was such a good guy. Good guys are well liked and get told what good guys they are all the time, so when their wives point out their shortcomings in a relationship, all the “good guys” resort to the old: “How is it that the person I married is the one always bitching about me?” Because if no one else is bitching about you, they must all be right, and your crazy emo wife must be wrong.

Postpartum depression, according to the Mayo Clinic, typically requires professional treatment, including therapy sessions and, when applicable, anti-depressant medication.

The Mayo Clinic lists the following things mothers suffering from PPD can do to speed up recovery:

Make healthy lifestyle choices. Include physical activity, such as a walk with your baby, in your daily routine. Try to get adequate rest. Eat healthy foods and avoid alcohol.

Only a mother with a thoughtful and attentive husband can realistically expect to get the sleep, healthy food preparation, and time (not to mention energy) for physical activity to achieve a healthy lifestyle and overcome PPD.

Set realistic expectations. Don’t pressure yourself to do everything. Scale back your expectations for the perfect household. Do what you can and leave the rest.

A new mother only feels like she has to do everything when her partner doesn’t have her back.

Make time for yourself. If you feel like the world is coming down around you, take some time for yourself. Get dressed, leave the house, and visit a friend or run an errand. Or schedule some time alone with your partner.

There are only enough hours in the day when all of a household’s responsibilities are tended to. Time alone with a partner only works when the partner makes himself available for such things.

Avoid isolation. Talk with your partner, family and friends about how you’re feeling. Ask other mothers about their experiences. Breaking the isolation may help you feel human again.

When my wife tried to talk to me about it, I basically invalidated her condition and dismissed it as a figment of her imagination. “You’re a great mother,” I kept saying, as if you can’t be a great mother AND feel uncontrollably depressed due to a variety of hormonal and psychological conditions I was largely responsible for creating in the first place.

Ask for help. Try to open up to the people close to you and let them know you need help. If someone offers to baby-sit so you can take a break, take them up on it. If you can sleep, take a nap, or maybe you can catch a movie or meet for coffee with friends.

She tried to talk to me. Several times. She asked me for help. And I denied her my help by suggesting there was nothing to worry about. Instead of trying to understand how she felt and working diligently to figure out what more I could do to help, I pretended everything was fine and left her to fend for herself.

Maybe I did that because it was easier than working hard.

Maybe I let my wife run the show because I didn’t want the responsibility or the hassle.

Maybe every single thing about our lives would be different had I made the right choices.

There were countless little moments where I failed my wife. Where I didn’t work harder to understand her or speak to her in ways that conveyed my sincere desire to be a good partner.

But until I ditched my crying wife at the hospital to catch a few winks, left all the new-parenting heavy lifting to her, and never once apologized or took responsibility for it, I hadn’t actually destroyed my family.

There’s no such thing as time travel. And there’s not enough Christmas magic to rewind clocks and unflip calendars.

But if anyone’s wondering what I’m most sorry for in my entire life, now you know.

…..

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51 thoughts on “The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Done

  1. Masqued says:

    The next best thing to time-travel, is owning up to our mistakes, learning from them, and moving forward with renewed determination to avoid them in the future. Some people choose to wallow in their mistakes, others ignore them. I really admire your ability to analyze and consider, honestly, what happened and why. It’s a good exercise for many of us, who want to avoid the errors in our past.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Maybe some people are okay with divorce, and when it happened to them it didn’t hurt. There must be people like that.

      It was such a brutal time for me. And that brutality was the motivating factor needed to:

      A. Analyze what I’d done that led me here, so it could be avoided in the future; and

      B. Maybe the philosophical and behavioral changes needed to do so.

      Ironically, I’m still far away from learning whether any of that applied in a real-world scenario will make a difference in a future relationship.

      Like

  2. cls says:

    Thank you for the ways you think, write, and bare it all. I applaud your heartfelt honesty. I feel certain that any woman who has been through it just forgave you a little on behalf of your ex wife. Owning up to the mistakes is half the battle. I can’t tell you how inspiring and uplifting your posts are. Thank you!!!

    Like

    • Matt says:

      That’s an extremely nice thing to say. Thank you very much.

      I grateful for you reading more than one thing and feeling better afterward. I’d like to tell you I engineered it that way, but it’s really just a happy accident.

      I’m glad, though. Because that’s something that really matters to me: lifting up.

      Like

  3. anitvan says:

    I usually try to avoid being overtly religious when I comment, but given the time of year and all, I’m gonna go there: Christ came into the world for this too. Rejoice, Matt, and have a blessed Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      Ha! A prescient comment, as it were, accidentally predicting the theme of what I wrote yesterday.

      Thank you. I did have a blessed Christmas. It was in mass where I started thinking about writing on the subject of faith again, even though I’m generally opposed to doing so. :)

      Like

  4. You have really been thinking Matt and that very well. Learn from your mistakes and go on living your life :-)

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Thank you, Irene!

      Can’t guarantee there isn’t a lot of flawed thinking mixed in there, but I definitely do a lot of thinking.

      Making up for all the years I coasted through life blissfully unaware, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. uneffingbelievable says:

    Hi, Matt. I really don’t think it’s a sociopathic trait. I think you may be a Narcissist. I’m not saying that in the way that narcissism is thrown around these days as if it were synonymous with “bastard”. People become narcissists very early in their lives when the ego is developing. As I recall, there were some problems when you were very young which may have led to the unhealthy development of your ego.

    My husband is also a narcissist, though I believe he’s more effected by it than you are. During our entire marriage he had no ability to empathize. Love was a thought to him, not a feeling. There was a big disconnect between brain and heart.

    When my father died, he left right after the funeral to go to a trade show (which he was not required to attend). Same with the death of my beloved grandmother and just recently, my mother. He left the funeral home with our son and didn’t return. He was “tired”.

    Our son was born 8 weeks early, weighed less than three pounds, and was in the NICU for almost two months. I fended for myself through that. I also had PPD and he completely ignored the fact that I never slept, was an anxious mess, and wound up weighing 97 pounds in two months time. I’m here to tell you that behavior like that absolutely kills love.

    You obviously have made great strides in trying to understand yourself and your actions. Sadly, because of my husband’s narcissism, he completely blew up our lives three years ago. He is only now coming to realize and admit to himself that there is something seriously wrong with him.

    I’ve read things you’ve written that said you like crowds, hanging with your friends is very important to you, that watching a game instead of being one-on-one with your wife was a choice you made. Also, people who don’t know narcissists very well think they are great guys. Because the Narc puts most of their energy into charming those who are at arms length to get positive feedback.

    I’ll bet you didn’t put all your energy into your marriage because you felt like “What’s the use? She doesn’t appreciate me anyway.” When in reality, she’d been on the recieving end of what you’ve described above.

    Matt, you seem like a really great guy and because of your self-reflection you are going to make one lucky girl very happy. It really seems that you’ve put great effort into changing things that led to your part in the ending of your marriage. Keep up the great work!

    Like

  6. completelyinthedark says:

    Sociopaths never write blogs as searching and revealing as yours. So I think we can waive you past that association. :-)

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Thank you, good sir!

      I don’t think I’m a sociopath! I just think maybe it’s a problem that I don’t feel as bad as my brain tells me I should when someone is in physical pain.

      Because of my sensitivity to bad someone can feel when something awful happens, I’m confused why I’m not equally sensitive to people’s injuries or chronic pains or whatever.

      Just a little bizarre. In the end, it’s not really the primary reason I wasn’t empathetic about my wife going through labor and child delivery while feeling like I wasn’t there for her, followed up by leaving all the early-childhood parenting duties to her.

      I just didn’t have my shit together yet.

      Getting there.

      Happy New Year, Mike. Here’s to 2016.

      Like

  7. I’m sorry, Matt. That is painful stuff. I hope you can forgive yourself. You nailed it with the postpartum depression stuff. I had it pretty bad with my second kid. They called it “mild” postpartum depression. Yikes, if that was the mild version I don’t even want to know what moderate is.

    “The mere act of marrying her demonstrates my commitment to her forever, I thought……OF COURSE she knows she’s loved.”

    I think that really is a guy thing, probably quite common. My husband used to struggle with the same thing, he’d say “I’m here, aren’t I?” But of course he wasn’t “here” at all. Sometimes I think men expect their wives to be mind readers, psychic when it comes to emotions and feelings, and most of us really can’t, we need reassurance and communication.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Right. I think the mind-reading stuff goes both ways and is, literally, the #1 reason so many couples ultimately damage each other and divorce.

      She talks. She inherently knows how she would accept the information she’s providing, and how she would respond to it. So when he doesn’t do it that way, he must be a selfish asshole who doesn’t love her.

      He talks. He interently knows how he would accept the information he’s providing, and how he would respond to it. So when she doesn’t, she must be a slightly crazy and hormonal nag who doesn’t respect him.

      The PC police want to feel offended by this. As if identifying male and female differences is akin to saying one gender is “better” than another. It’s nonsense.

      Men and women, to varying degrees, are MEASURABLY and irrefutably different.

      The way both a car and an airplane can get us from point A to point B, but through different methods.

      Denying it only exacerbates the problem.

      Most people don’t realize it. Not in terms of how it impacts the long-term integrity of their loving relationship.

      Pile on enough of these conversations where the husband and wife put their best effort into communicating they only way they know how with the other person appearing to totally disregard these things that really matter to them, and it’s only a matter of time before someone cheats, quits, leaves, or all of the above.

      We do a disserve to our youth every day we don’t work hard to help them understand these things as part of their education, because half or more will divorce or worse, and it’s going to be so much more important (in a bad way) than whatever comes from today’s curriculum in terms of the impact on their adult lives.

      It’s something I think about all the time. It’s a much bigger problem than people generally acknowledge.

      Liked by 1 person

      • GenePavlovsky says:

        Many times I thought the same, how helpful would it be if school taught how to build good relationships (including marriages) with people?

        Like

  8. pisces31084 says:

    Takes a lot of guts to write all that and own up to your mistakes like that. Takes a real man to do that in my opinion. I have dealt with some of what you wrote from my husband. And never in a million years would he ever acknowledge or admit he was ever wrong. Yea you messed up. But I think you are way too hard on yourself. It takes two. I’m highly doubtful that YOU and you alone was the only major downfall in your marriage. I agree with the above comment that a lot of women reading forgave you for your ex-wife. And unlike most men (at least the ones I know of) you learned and grew from your mistakes. And you WILL make someone a very happy girl someday. Wishing you and your son an awesome and merry christmas :-)

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I appreciate all the kind words. A lot.

      We had an excellent Christmas, are looking forward to a New Year’s trip to visit family, and certainly wish you and yours the same.

      Like

  9. I appreciate your honesty. I’ve spent a lot of time considering the concept of being ‘a good guy.’ I like myself. I’m friendly and amiable and always get along with people. I must be a good guy. But I think most people must think of themselves as good or have a logical rationale for selfish decisions or they wouldn’t be able to live with themselves. I think there are lots of passive things a good guy can do that can be emotionally cruel.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Matt says:

      Paul! Awesome of you to pop in here. I might be misremembering, but I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen a comment from you.

      Thank you for taking the time to read something here. Flattered.

      I, of course, agree with what you wrote above. I always write that many men “accidentally destroy their marriages, and are accidentally neglectful,” and that “good men can be bad husbands.”

      I believe it strongly.

      We’re far from all being angels and saints, but there are way more divorces than there are bad men out there.

      Anyway, I spend about 80 percent of my writing energy hoping to reach all those guys like me. Decent men who are crap husbands, but wouldn’t be if they had all the facts.

      Thank you again for taking the time to read and comment, sir. Happy holidays to your family on the other side of the world (I’m under the impression you live in China, but I obviously don’t know whether that ever was, or is, true.)

      (Footnote for anyone reading comments: Paul is a hilarious writer, who posts painfully infrequently. You’ll want to go read him: http://thegoodgreatsby.com/)

      Like

  10. Time came when I realized that sometimes, guys do emotionally cruel things due to straight ignorance. And unlike you, such guys prefer to live in their ignorance because it’s easier to do so than to own up to their mistakes.

    One thing you can do is continue your journey in life. Acceptance of your loss is one way to deal with the guilt within you. Start afresh.

    Season’s greetings to you and your blessed boy! :)

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Yes, sir. I really do believe it’s often ignorance and not the deliberate cruelty it’s often interpreted as.

      Lots and lots and lots of relationships end that don’t have to.

      Thank you for the supportive words, encouragement and well wishes for the holidays.

      I appreciate your time and thoughtfulness very much.

      Like

  11. ttravis says:

    This is some serious bonehead shit, and you have my unfailing admiration for being able to recognize it and own it. I disagree with the comments about that suggest you are a narcissist, etc. What’s sad is that this behavior doesn’t rise to the level of a clinical pathology–even though when you describe it as you have here any person with a brain in their head can see how incredibly fucked up and destructive it is. It’s how men are trained to conduct themselves. I love the way this blog works to alert men to that fact and to re-write that training script. Your son is going to be an awesome grown man, Matt– I hope he meets my daughter one day!

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Serious bonehead shit, indeed.

      Favor request: Here, or via email, can you please expand up that thought? “It’s how men are trained to conduct themselves.”

      As you see it, how is this happening on the scale it does? What’s the reason? The cause?

      I’m not nearly as patient with my son as I should be. It’s the thing I need to learn how to do most, so that I don’t push him away when he’s older. He’ll never listen to me if he feels like I’m always on his ass about something he didn’t do as well as he should have.

      He’s an excellent kid. I wish I knew how to view every moment as I would five years from now and looking back on it.

      So that when he takes longer than he should on school mornings, or leaves crap on the floor, or doesn’t follow directions, or makes a mess somehow, I’m less of a dick about it, because none of that will EVER matter when I drop him off at a college dorm, or attend his wedding, or hold his first born one day should their be one.

      Perspective is incredibly hard to keep when your emotions get in the way.

      Like

  12. Your honesty is beautiful. Your self reflection is courageous. One thing: Please stop labeling yourself so harshly. We are all human and that means we all make mistakes. It is my belief that we are all always doing the best we can in any given moment with what we have. When we know better, we do better. Self forgiveness, in my opinion, is one of the hardest things to master and I too am working on that presently.

    You are a great guy! You know what makes you greater (in my opinion)? Your ability to reflect, empathize and desire to make yourself better.

    Thank you for your post. You are making aloof men out there not appear so hopeless.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Thank you for that, Lindsey. Awesome to hear from you again. Thanks a lot for sharing this with your readers.

      I do appreciate your affinity for people trying to be better. Inching toward redemption. I’m drawn to that type as well.

      I hope you’re having a fantastic holiday season, and that the new year brings you amazing opportunities.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you. My 2016 keyword is ‘magic’ and despite my slightly messed up days leading to Christmas, some magic made things right. I’m kind of excited to see how an abundance of magic finds me in 2016. :)

        I too hope awesomeness finds you this year.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Reblogged this on BASED ON MY TRUE STORY and commented:
    This is so real, raw and refreshingly honest.
    Just awesome.

    Like

  14. Jaime says:

    While I was in labor, next to me all day my ex ate all the food we packed (beforehand not knowing I wouldn’t be allowed to eat more than hospital jello once we got there in case of emergency c-section). I was starving and hadn’t eaten since the night before.

    After our baby came he went home. And while he thought he was doing a good thing by getting sleep, feeding the dogs, updating friends and family, I was left in pain, bleeding, being walked to and from the bathroom with assistance, in a hospital room hooked up to an IV with a screaming newborn, nurses who were total strangers to me coming in every hour to take our vitals, me trying to figure out how to soothe this baby, tinier than any I had ever held, and it was terrifying. I didn’t want to leave my baby’s side because she needed me as much as I needed her in those moments but by the 5th time the nurse asked if I wanted them to take her to the nursery I finally but reluctantly said yes because I no longer had the strength to keep trying after a full day of labor and another 12 hours of baby cries.

    My memories of the day my baby was born would have been different had he stayed. And to this day, 2 years divorced, he has no idea that the thought of him going home that night makes me sad. If I even dared mention it to him now, he would probably say something like “you never asked me to stay,” or “I took care of everything else, the nurses were there.”

    I am unbelievably proud of you for recognizing that there was another choice that you could have made on your own. My ex will never give that day a second thought, it was perfect in his eyes and I would never taint his image of the day his baby was born by ever bringing it up now. There’s no point. But thank for realizing it for your ex., whether she appreciates it or not, I do.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Sounds like you understand exactly how all this went down, then. Very similar story.

      There were several better choices to be made. Somehow diffficult to see then. Quite easy to see now.

      Thank you for the nice comment and for sharing your personal experience with this.

      Hope you’re having a lovely day. Talk soon!

      Like

  15. Thank you for your openness here. I don’t know if you and your ex are still talking but if it were me, I’d want to hear this now, later, whenever. Understanding helps us to heal even when it comes late. This stirs up a lot of old feelings that I didn’t want to look at again. I understand all of it, on both sides.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      We talk. Often and pleasantly. It wouldn’t feel appropriate to broach this subject, I don’t think, but there’s a fair chance she’s already seen this. We don’t talk about it much, but I think she peeks in here now and then.

      And if it can help her heal in some small way, I certainly hope it does.

      Thank you for saying so. And for taking the time to read this and comment.

      Like

      • GenePavlovsky says:

        I was wondering if there is any chance at all that you and her will get back together? I heard stories like that, and in your case it seems like since your divorce you’ve got many breakthroughs about what happened to your relationship.

        Like

  16. sogladitsover says:

    everything you write i can relate to. my ex (going through a divorce now) also left me to go sleep. he also had no sympathy with my post partum and my troubles breastfeeding. I would literally be up all night crying cuz my son wasn’t able to latch on and my ex was not there to support me at all. In fact, he would tell me how “awful” i was the whole first year of my son’s life. He never thought it was because 1) I was depressed 2) he left to go golfing in a tournament for 2 days right after my son was born 3) my son couldn’t latch on and i had major guilt that I wasn’t able to breastfeed 4) my son had colic. However, my ex (who is certainly a narcissist), just blamed me. I should have known then but didn’t. Just chalked it up to him being insensitive. Fast forward a couple years and my mom is diagnosed with breast cancer (for the 2nd time), call my husband to tell him while he’s at a drinking event (one of many as he’s also an alcoholic) and he refused to come home to comfort me. In fact, he later said, “I find it convenient that you found out your mom had breast cancer again the night you knew I would be out with my friends”. lol. Even after that, i forgave him. Until I found out he was cheating on me,…..that was the final straw. Moral of the story, when someone shows you who they are, believe them. I should have left him long time ago but because of my son, I didn’t.

    I hope one day, my ex will apologize for all the things he’s done to me but I really doubt it. He still blames me even though he’s the one that cheated on me, was emotionally not responsive to me and literally cheated me like shit the whole time we were married. He just is telling everyone I’m a controlling bitch. He literally told me when I found out he was cheating on me, “well, I didn’t tell you I was hanging out w/ her cuz you are so unreasonable that I knew you would get upset”. Cuz I’m the only wife that would be upset he went on dates with another woman while we were still married. lol

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Being an adult is hard. I’m sorry you had to deal with all of that. It seems obvious to almost everyone (even me) how bullshit and unfair all of that is.

      We have a pretty incredible capacity as people to rationalize and justify whatever we feel or do, because we all think we can explain why it was okay for us to. I wish I knew why we were so good at that, but not good at reverse-engineering that and quickly recognizing how or why other people feel and behave as they do.

      Here’s to 2016.

      Better selves. Better lives.

      Like

  17. johnnykatz14 says:

    “Gird your loins”

    In time of battle, prepare for the fight and be ready to act!

    Reading your blog this year has served me to “be prepared” in ways that a journey from Cub/Boy Scouts through Eagle Scout rank could not.

    You may have not explicitly said it before, but I picked up on your message as a call to arms of sorts through my wife’s labor.

    Not tooting horns here, but in the delivery of my wife’s son, choices were made in difficult times that I can be proud of and not have regret which may have been an option previously.

    When it is clear that battle is upon us, it is easy to see the need for preparedness, but when the enemy creeps in slowly, we won’t know that we are in a fight until our throat has been slit.

    Our marriages are a battle between our united relationship and our selfish selves. The side that will win will be the one that is prepared, has the firepower to overcome the enemy and the will to see it through.

    Thanks for the ammo Matt.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      That’s not an analogy I’d have ever picked up on, but it’s a pretty astute one. That’s exactly what our marriages are.

      I’m glad you were able to be there for her in substantive ways. Her knowing she can count on you (really KNOWING IT through and through) is the sort of thing that will keep love alive while others’ die.

      Thank you for leaving this comment. I love that you’re being thoughtful about your choices because you want to be a good husband, and that you feel as if things you’ve read here may have positively contributed.

      It’s as nice a thing as I could ever hear from someone. So thank you. Very much.

      Wishing you and your family a very happy 2016.

      Like

  18. rougedmount says:

    I hate you for this. I resent that you put yourself first. I am angry that every single time you were reached for you pushed the hand away dismissively. I abhor the fact that you neglected the most important person in the world, the mother of your child, to struggle on their own until they believed that they weren’t worth anything to you. It makes me sick that the only choice they felt was left, was to leave because they felt you had done the same years before. And because you can see it so clearly; because your hindsight is perfect and you know what you destroyed and you are soulfully and honestly regretful about it, I not only forgive you but love you for admitting it, to yourself and everyone else. It matters more than you know, you writing this. Because it is a chronicle of how to fail and what to do right. It’s a choice. And you have thrown the gauntlet down as a challenge to husbands who want to simply get by on what they did instead of what they do.
    *this* post should be handed out to husbands on the first night of a Lamaze class because it could change everything ~everything~ if it was understood before it happened, saved before becoming lost.
    Thank you for barring your battered soul to the light of day as the healing comes from knowing who you are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      I didn’t like the part where you hated me. I appreciate so much that you know how sorry I am today and that you think the exercise of telling the story has value. Thank you. Very much.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. sogladitsover says:

    Matt, what up did was exactly what my ex (going through the divorce now) did to me. Except he left me to go golfing. I never recovered from the pain of him abandoning me and constantly leaving me to leave and go drinking (he’s an alcoholic). It didn’t get me the warm and fuzzy feeling when week after week, he would go out till 1am to go drinking, come home drunk and then turn it around on me that I just didn’t understand that he was a social person and I wouldn’t understand cuz I don’t have any friends. I moved to a town 110 miles away from all my friends to be with him, had a child and worked full time. All my new friends in my new town are all married and their husbands actually spent time w/ them so hence, I did have friends, I just saw them for lunch, etc. In any case, my ex also was a unsupportive husband,….the night I found out my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer for the 2nd time in her life, I called to tell him heartbroken and scared. He was out at a bar and he didn’t come home to comfort me. It wasn’t a special, once in a lifetime event, but he chose to stay. When he finally did come home (after being out all night and drunk), he said, “I find it convenient that you found out about your mom’s cancer the night you knew I would be out w/ my friends”. This was my husband and there’s about 20-30 more instances of him being a drunk asshole to me until I finally found out he cheated on me. Then not only did he cheat, he cheated with multiple woman including going to those shady massage places while he was telling me he was working or he was too busy to do stuff with my son and I. Even though the divorce is not final, I am finding out more and more through stuff my attorney is subpeonaing for me. And I just can’t tell you how incredibly painful it is.

    My ex does not admit to cheating, doing anything wrong and says I was a “unaffectionate and unloving wife”. Because he’s a narcissist and I guess he thought I should be having sex with him every night even if I was angry at him for continuous not being around physically, emotionally for my son and I and I was angry at him for his drinking. I had caught him in many many lies throughout the 5 years we were married and never left (although I threatened), because i didn’t want to break up the family for my son. Until the cheating.

    Looking back, I had a feeling about the girls, the massage place, the lies, etc. But I ignored it all because he would just lie and I thought, “he couldn’t possibly be doing what I’m thinking”

    I am going to get STD testing tomorrow and I’m scared as hell. Aside from leaving this marriage w/ no STDs and remaining in good health, I just want the divorce to end. So that I can be free from him, although he had visitation w/ our son. But I think the biggest thing for me, other than the betrayal of cheating, is wondering how a person can be like him. In doing all the things he did and till this day blaming me for the marriage ending. And reading your blog and seeing you reflect back to man up to what could have contributed to the end of your marriage is so admirable (and attractive).

    I have no plans to ever date again but honestly, if I did, I would hope that God will bring me a man who is not perfect (no one is of course), but a man that is kind, reflective, admits his wrong and tries to do this best.

    Whoever you date and marry (if you do), is a lucky woman. Do you know if your ex reads your blog? because if I were her, I would give you another chance. I think MOST men don’t admit to their faults and/or change. I know my ex won’t. He will be a cheating, lying asshole till the day he dies.

    Like

  20. Jay says:

    I cried so hard after this , everyone needs to read this blog

    Like

  21. Laurie says:

    Reading your story about leaving your wife alone with a new baby broke my heart. All over again. My ex-husband left me alone in the delivery room because, after a very tough labor which still wasn’t producing our new baby, he just “couldn’t take it anymore.” He went to a bar to drink and have lunch. I gave birth to our beautiful son. Alone. And that is the day I knew I would leave him. That was 24 years ago. He never apologized, nor do I think he ever “got it.” You did. I’m pleased to know there are men out there who get it. You are a good guy. Maybe it took you a while, but you’re one of the lucky ones who figured out the whole role you played. And now you know better.

    Like

  22. Brenda says:

    If I were to say anything to young single men or any man that hopes for marriage and children one day; it would be ” Take very good care of your wife when she is pregnant and after she has a baby.” I personally know several women who felt out of love with their husbands all because of how he acted soon after having a baby. Having a child brought out their husband’s true character and unfortunately it wasn’t something they had to deal with until that point.

    My husband was alright I guess when we brought our baby home. He helped but he constantly reminded me how much more his sleep mattered than mine. I remember it was as if he become obsessed with sleep. He would come home after work and first thing he would tell me is how he had to get 8 hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep or else he ” couldn’t function.” Meanwhile, I was trying to keep myself and another human being alive on increments of 2 or 3 hours of sleep at a time all with a baby nursing on me. That was the first time in our marriage that I started to hate him. The thing was he wasn’t a jerk or abusive, he was just…self absorbed at that time. All that mattered to him was getting sleep and again, it had to be 8 hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep. I remember this was during my maternity leave from work and I would fantasize of leaving him and just going to a hotel with the baby. If it wasn’t for the legal ramifications and the shame of doing so, I probably would have done it. I didnt necessarily want a divorce, I just wanted to run away and get away from him and his complaining over the fact that he only got 6 hours of sleep and the baby cried for a few minutes before I got up to feed her. Things eventually got better but when we discussed having another child, I told him I didn’t htink I could go through that again. He was shocked to how I felt. He honestly had no idea I was that close to running away. He promised to help more with a second baby and he did. HE was even better when we had our third.

    But he came from a family where the mom did everything. MY God, even when we visited them, my in laws practically threw him a tinker tape parade every time he changed a diaper. They told me numerous times that I was lucky to be married to him. Didn’t feel luck at the time.

    Like

  23. Lynda says:

    You’re right. That is the worst thing. After the birth of our second child, my ex husband left the hospital with our first child, and his parents who had arrived a few minutes after the birth. I called our house three times in the next 24 hours asking him to come back. He was either not there or he said he was too busy…he had to get groceries, he had to make supper, he had to put our other child for a nap…but that’s what his parents were there to do. He left the hospital around 5:00pm on the day of the birth. He returned after supper the next day! By then I was so hurt…I felt completely abandoned by him. I tried to explain what I was feeling and he got angry and let me know that he thought I was being selfish and unreasonable. I think that was a defining moment. It was never resolved and I think it set a precident in our marriage. That moment taught me I could never count on him to be there for me.

    Like

  24. K says:

    As a newly pregnant woman with a sometimes insensitive husband, this is terrifying to me. It never occurred to me that a well-meaning husband could do this to his wife.
    I think I may show my husband this blog post and say “don’t do this.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      Executed gently, that may not be a bad idea, K.

      Congratulations on your pregnancy. Here’s to happy and healthy mothers and babies, and to the husbands and fathers who love them.

      May it show. Every day.

      Like

  25. My ex did something like this and I remember it so clearly. I cried after reading these posts, it still hurts and that was 25 years ago.

    I divorced him six years ago. I still don’t know if he ever loved me or not. He said he did, but he didn’t act like it. All these years I thought it was the cult that made him act the way he did. But these posts suggest that he was capable of that kind of behavior all on his own. Being able to blame the cult seemed logical. But now I may have to discard that as a reason for his behavior towards me all those years.

    Like

  26. mitch says:

    I find the lack of manhood as the intrinsic been generalizing the actions of you as to others is simply irresponsible my opinion, read about our founding fathers these were men equal only two other man synonymous with God and I am not speaking of I religion, but a spiritual consciousness. I think after you read this you’ll never criticize yourself again that is against the laws of nature you take responsibility for action but you do not incriminate your character, get your head out of the noise in which the majority of our ignorant beings of civil law exist. It’s time for respect of yourself and the language that we speak with the meaning behind it young man take some time and listen to the organic law or the natural law and it is not written it is in the heart of man and operates at a frequency that exists and every living man which includes women and children head is there to nurture love and spread those laws that will set us free and offer an existence in which we are entitled to under God. Get your head out of the ass of our fictional civilization and listen to your insides every one of those blogs are a desecration of mankind you should be ashamed

    Like

  27. […] always talked about two kids. But after abandoning my wife in the hospital five hours after she delivered our son via emergency C-section, and then leaving the creation and management of baby logistics to her […]

    Like

  28. Natasha says:

    I have been wanting to read this post for a very long time but haven’t gotten around to it. I think everyone has defining moments in their relationships. For your wife it was this. Mine was breaking my foot on my stoop and calling my husband who was unwilling to leave to take me to the hospital. It’s funny what these moments end up being but I can clearly pinpoint mine as the moment that changed my feelings about the overall state of my relationship.

    Like

  29. Msgroove says:

    Your insights are incredible. I’m sorry they came the way they did, but thank you for sharing them and helping others. Discovering your blog has been therapeutic for me in a way, and like many of the other ex wives, I truly wish my now ex-husband would read it. It is everything I wish he would realize. Seriously, most of the posts I’ve read, I’m thinking “holy crap, this was my life, is my ex writing this???” (wishful thinking LOL)

    THIS particular post however… WOW did this hit home. Pretty sure this exact moment in my marriage was our undoing. It was our second baby – yes I was foolish enough to do it again despite a less than desirable first experience (he actually made fun of me for asking for pain relief as well as refusing to stay and not coming back until it was time for us to go home). Time #2, I begged him to stay. The birth was traumatic and she had to be resuscitated after emergency delivery. We were put in a private room with an actual bed for him because of the extra care required.. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried for him to stay. But he didn’t. We were there extra time, I’d ask again every day. But he wouldn’t. His reasons were the exact same as yours. It simply felt to me like it was more important to get home, update social media and watch TV (child #1 was with my parents until baby and I came home) It was then I ‘realized’ how very unimportant we were to him. I’m pretty sure that colored every disappointment and resentment that came after (and there were no shortage of either). I left 3 years later. He’s not a bad guy. Just a ‘shitty’ husband.

    Like

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