She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink

(Image/jerrywilliamsmedia.com)

(Image/jerrywilliamsmedia.com)

It seems so unreasonable when you put it that way: My wife left me because sometimes I leave dishes by the sink.

It makes her seem ridiculous; and makes me seem like a victim of unfair expectations.

We like to point fingers at other things to explain why something went wrong, like when Biff Tannen crashed George McFly’s car and spilled beer on his clothes, but it was all George’s fault for not telling him the car had a blind spot.

This bad thing happened because of this, that, and the other thing. Not because of anything I did!

Sometimes I leave used drinking glasses by the kitchen sink, just inches away from the dishwasher.

It isn’t a big deal to me now. It wasn’t a big deal to me when I was married. But it WAS a big deal to her.

Every time she’d walk into the kitchen and find a drinking glass by the sink, she moved incrementally closer to moving out and ending our marriage. I just didn’t know it yet. But even if I had, I fear I wouldn’t have worked as hard to change my behavior as I would have stubbornly tried to get her to see things my way.

The idiom “to cut off your nose to spite your face” was created for such occasions.

Men Are Not Children, Even Though We Behave Like Them

Feeling respected by others is important to men.

Feeling respected by one’s wife is essential to living a purposeful and meaningful life. Maybe I thought my wife should respect me simply because I exchanged vows with her. It wouldn’t be the first time I acted entitled. One thing I know for sure is that I never connected putting a dish in the dishwasher with earning my wife’s respect.

Yesterday I responded to a comment by @insanitybytes22, in which she suggested things wives and mothers can do to help men as an olive branch instead of blaming men for every marital breakdown. I appreciated her saying so.

But I remember my wife often saying how exhausting it was for her to have to tell me what to do all the time. It’s why the sexiest thing a man can say to his partner is “I got this,” and then take care of whatever needs taken care of.

I always reasoned: “If you just tell me what you want me to do, I’ll gladly do it.”

But she didn’t want to be my mother. She wanted to be my partner, and she wanted me to apply all of my intelligence and learning capabilities to the logistics of managing our lives and household.

She wanted me to figure out all of the things that need done, and devise my own method of task management.

I wish I could remember what seemed so unreasonable to me about that at the time.

Men Can Do Things

Men invented heavy machines that can fly in the air reliably and safely. Men proved the heliocentric model of the solar system, establishing that the Earth orbits the Sun. Men design and build skyscrapers, and take hearts and other human organs from dead people and replace the corresponding failing organs inside of living people, and then those people stay alive afterward. Which is insane.

Men are totally good at stuff.

Men are perfectly capable of doing a lot of these things our wives complain about. What we are not good at is being psychic, or accurately predicting how our wives might feel about any given thing because male and female emotional responses tend to differ pretty dramatically.

‘Hey Matt! Why would you leave a glass by the sink instead of putting it in the dishwasher?’

Several reasons.

  1. I may want to use it again.
  2. I don’t care if a glass is sitting by the sink unless guests are coming over.
  3. I will never care about a glass sitting by the sink. Ever. It’s impossible. It’s like asking me to make myself interested in crocheting, or to enjoy yardwork. I don’t want to crochet things. And it’s hard for me to imagine a scenario in which doing a bunch of work in my yard sounds more appealing than ANY of several thousand less-sucky things which could be done.

There is only ONE reason I will ever stop leaving that glass by the sink. A lesson I learned much too late: Because I love and respect my partner, and it REALLY matters to her. I understand that when I leave that glass there, it hurts her— literally causes her pain—because it feels to her like I just said: “Hey. I don’t respect you or value your thoughts and opinions. Not taking four seconds to put my glass in the dishwasher is more important to me than you are.”

All the sudden, it’s not about something as benign and meaningless as a (quasi) dirty dish.

Now, it’s a meaningful act of love and sacrifice, and really? Four seconds? That doesn’t seem like the kind of thing too big to do for the person who sacrifices daily for me.

I don’t have to understand WHY she cares so much about that stupid glass.

I just have to understand and respect that she DOES. Then caring about her = putting glass in dishwasher.

Caring about her = keeping your laundry off the floor.

Caring about her = thoughtfully not tracking dirt or whatever on the floor she worked hard to clean.

Caring about her = taking care of kid-related things so she can just chill out for a little bit and not worry about anything.

Caring about her = “Hey babe. Is there anything I can do today or pick up on my way home that will make your day better?”

Caring about her = a million little things that say “I love you” more than speaking the words ever can.

…..

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…..

Yes, It’s That Simple

The man capable of that behavioral change—even when he doesn’t understand her or agree with her thought-process—can have a great relationship.

Men want to fight for their right to leave that glass there. It might look like this:

“Eat shit, wife,” we think. “I sacrifice a lot for you, and you’re going to get on me about ONE glass by the sink? THAT little bullshit glass that takes a few seconds to put in the dishwasher, which I’ll gladly do when I know I’m done with it, is so important to you that you want to give me crap about it? You want to take an otherwise peaceful evening and have an argument with me, and tell me how I’m getting something wrong and failing you, over this glass? After all of the big things I do to make our life possible—things I never hear a “thank you” for (and don’t ask for)—you’re going to elevate a glass by the sink into a marriage problem? I couldn’t be THAT petty if I tried. And I need to dig my heels in on this one. If you want that glass in the dishwasher, put it in there yourself without telling me about it. Otherwise, I’ll put it away when people are coming over, or when I’m done with it. This is a bullshit fight that feels unfair and I’m not just going to bend over for you.”

The man DOES NOT want to divorce his wife because she’s nagging him about the glass thing which he thinks is totally irrational. He wants her to agree with him that when you put life in perspective, a glass being by the sink when no one is going to see it anyway, and the solution takes four seconds, is just not a big problem. She should recognize how petty and meaningless it is in the grand scheme of life, he thinks, and he keeps waiting for her to agree with him.

She will never agree with him, because it’s not about the glass for her. The glass situation could be ANY situation in which she feels unappreciated and disrespected by her husband.

The wife doesn’t want to divorce her husband because he leaves used drinking glasses by the sink.

She wants to divorce him because she feels like he doesn’t respect or appreciate her, which suggests he doesn’t love her, and she can’t count on him to be her lifelong partner. She can’t trust him. She can’t be safe with him. Thus, she must leave and find a new situation in which she can feel content and secure.

In theory, the man wants to fight this fight, because he thinks he’s right (and I agree with him): The dirty glass is not more important than marital peace.

If his wife thought and felt like him, he’d be right to defend himself. Unfortunately, most guys don’t know that she’s NOT fighting about the glass. She’s fighting for acknowledgment, respect, validation, and his love.

If he KNEW that—if he fully understood this secret she has never explained to him in a way that doesn’t make her sound crazy to him (causing him to dismiss it as an inconsequential passing moment of emo-ness), and that this drinking glass situation and all similar arguments will eventually end his marriage, I believe he WOULD rethink which battles he chose to fight, and would be more apt to take action doing things he understands to make his wife feel loved and safe.

I think a lot of times, wives don’t agree with me. They don’t think it’s possible that their husbands don’t know how their actions make her feel because she has told him, sometimes with tears in her eyes, over and over and over and over again how upset it makes her and how much it hurts.

And this is important: Telling a man something that doesn’t make sense to him once, or a million times, doesn’t make him “know” something. Right or wrong, he would never feel hurt if the same situation were reversed so he doesn’t think his wife SHOULD hurt. It’s like, he doesn’t think she has the right to (and then use it as a weapon against him) because it feels unfair.

“I never get upset with you about things you do that I don’t like!” men reason, as if their wives are INTENTIONALLY choosing to feel hurt and miserable.

When you choose to love someone, it becomes your pleasure to do things that enhance their lives and bring you closer together, rather than a chore.

It’s not: Sonofabitch, I have to do this bullshit thing for my wife again. It’s: I’m grateful for another opportunity to demonstrate to my wife that she comes first and that I can be counted on to be there for her, and needn’t look elsewhere for happiness and fulfillment.

Once someone figures out how to help a man equate the glass situation (which does not, and will never, affect him emotionally) with DEEPLY wounding his wife and making her feel sad, alone, unloved, abandoned, disrespected, afraid, etc. …  Once men really grasp that and accept it as true even though it doesn’t make sense to them?

Everything changes forever.

…..

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4,790 thoughts on “She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink

  1. […] probably close to what my wife thought about in the years leading up to her decision to divorce me because I left dishes by the sink or because I was a shitty […]

    Like

    • Jerome Cleary says:

      All they had to do was buy plastic cups, paper plates, plastic forks, spoons and knives. Problem solved.

      Like

      • Morgan says:

        environment ruined…. just wash a dish

        also, did you even read this? its not about the dish. its about respect

        Like

  2. D says:

    I’m a wife, but feel that I am in the team “husband” on this one. Hope to separate in near future, because life of irrational nagging is not worth living. :D So – maybe this is not about gender, but personalities.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Flavia says:

    Being a woman, I can tell the poor man, leave her, the nightmare has just begun. She will never be able to feel appreciated enough.

    Like

  4. Marissa says:

    The main point missing here is that EVERYONE has different things that are important to him. I would put money on the fact that is ex would say she changed some behaviors because something mattered more to him than it did to her. If she didn’t do her altered behaviors, I’d put money on the fact that it would bother him. He just hasn’t been confronted with trying to explain to her over and over because she’s a decent person and wanted to have a strong partnership. This is not about differing emotional responses to things. This is about somebody paying attention to your emotion responses and changing their behavior accordingly. That’s all you would have to do and you can skip this whole runaround about “needing to be taught by your wife what is important to her over and over”. She shouldn’t have to teach you – you didn’t have to teach her!

    Like

  5. Lin says:

    just be an adult and put the glass away?
    You don’t do it even ONCE of your own volition? You’re being stubborn because you want to be agreed with so you engage in passive-aggressive behavior when your significant other is saying, in actual words, to just put it away?
    You don’t know that it hurts even though your significant other said it hurts and is in tears?
    you care more about company than you care about your significant other?

    Yikes.

    Seems like, even though you had time to reflect and you’ve divorced, you’re still making excuses and trying to rationalize your behavior after the fact.
    In this entry you still managed to make it an issue because women process differently or because she wanted acknowledgement and appreciation.
    Maybe she wanted someone who wasn’t such a passive-aggressive manchild who wouldn’t put a single dish away on a daily basis because what? He’s a man that desperately needs to be right? He doesn’t respect her opinion but gladly caves when guests are over (which means she was right in the first place)?
    Christ. A mess.
    I hope you’ve grown, buddy. And I hope your toxic coaching hasn’t damaged any other relationships the way you did yours.
    Jesus.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      It was written more than five years ago, Lin. I share your lack of enthusiasm for my word choices and some of the ideas shared. It’s not very good. People just keep sharing it anyway. I’m sorry.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Patrick Langston says:

        Really? Last we spoke you said you were chosen for 15 different book awards and everyone wanted to publish your awful advice. It’s was sort of your way of proving to me that you were right “look, high status people agree with me I must be right” appeal to authority it’s called. But all of a sudden a month or two after you now realize you advice is terrible huh? What did it take you to realize that?

        Like

        • Matt says:

          I’m burying a parent this week, Patrick. I don’t have room in my life for internet-arguing with Lin or you or anyone else, and I don’t want to.

          If you want to have a philosophical conversation about my “advice,” I’d prefer it be based on what I discuss with coaching clients, and what I’ve written in, say, the past six months.

          Sorry the comments on a five-year-old blog post mean so much to you. Maybe there’s a more effective way of sharing your ideas with people than investing in my old blog posts.

          Because you don’t know what I believe or talk to people about. But you think you do. If you ever want to actually know instead of think, you just tell me.

          But not this week, please.

          Maybe we can all pour a drink and have a laugh about something and go outside instead of being dicks on the internet.

          Liked by 2 people

      • Feminists Suck says:

        Don’t tell this idiot you are sorry!!

        Like

    • JB says:

      This is why we have MGTOW and the Red Pill. All over a glass. His ex wanted control and wanted her way. He is better if without her. I’d rather be a single dad living my best life than a single mom that nobody wants anywayn

      Like

      • Steph says:

        The double standards are weird when you deride single mothers yet you yourself are a single father.

        And to be honest it’s better that those men who don’t want to contribute to the running of their household, go their own way. Their poor wives will be exhausted otherwise. It’s not about a glass. It’s about the lack of consideration for your spouse who is left to clean up after you. The glasses don’t magically clean themselves.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. […] you want to see an example of this dynamic in day-to-day life, read “She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes in the Sink.” This dynamic can come up in many heightened and otherworldly scenarios. Even if you have […]

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  7. […] This post written by divorce coach Matthew Fray about leaving the dishes by the sink and divorce really breaks down the true reason why couples struggle with seemingly small things.  […]

    Like

  8. […] This post written by divorce coach Matthew Fray about leaving the dishes by the sink and divorce really breaks down the true reason why couples struggle with seemingly small things.  […]

    Like

  9. […] This post written by divorce coach Matthew Fray about leaving the dishes by the sink and divorce really breaks down the true reason why couples struggle with seemingly small things.  […]

    Like

  10. asdasd says:

    Your a total soy boy.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      SOY BOY. I’m getting old so I hadn’t heard this one yet. Thanks for the vocab upgrade. Good luck with your super-happy and stress-free relationships for the rest of your life. I’m sure they’ll be awesome.

      Like

  11. volvol says:

    Hey, I gotta say that while you’ve gotten a ton of flack for this article, I really appreciate it. It helps articulate a lot of things that women sometimes can’t say without it getting all dismissed as “the cow is PMS’ing again”. I really hope you write more, or maybe update this one if you don’t like it five years after. :)

    Like

  12. vickikeire says:

    JFC. This is great. Thanks so much! But (and I mean this kindly), I think it’s even deeper.

    It’s not about dishes, or her feelings, or anyone’s perspective.

    It’s about power.

    Men don’t want to let it go, and women don’t have to settle for the lack of it anymore. It’s a conflict, for sure.

    Also, dear God, disable the comments already. These trolls make weep.

    Like

  13. mb says:

    I came here after seeing the NYT article. It’s nice to see someone write that it’s never about “the glass”. This is something often discussed in therapy. When there is a conflict over seemingly minor issues, it is because a deeper conflict is being played out in proxy. That being said, when I was having this same household cleanliness struggle with my own partner who by my standards is kind of a slob, he made an interesting point, namely: I was the one setting the standards of cleanliness of the house, and I was assuming he would cohere to those standards. Is that actually fair? I saw that it wasn’t fair. I don’t really enjoy living in a messy house; but for the sake of my relationship, I stopped making the assumption that he had to do things my way and have also stopped cleaning up after him. I feel less resentful. And in return, he has started cleaning the kitchen! So, in this case it was me who made the shift that you did, with a different aesthetic outcome, but a better emotional one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patrick Langston says:

      I deeply admire you for taking handle of your emotions. Matt seems to forget that their is an inherit amount of importance in each action. Our actions reflect our character, but some actions are mostly irrelevant and unimportant.. cleanliness is only important to the extent that it actually effects organization and livelihood. It is not a representation of how much your partner loves you, it’s a representation of cleaning habits. Now if I refuse to go to a funeral with my wife for her family because I want to stay home and play video games.. that’s not fair. But that’s clearly immensely important, like actually meaningful. Dishes are not that important no matter how much you rationalize feeling upset at the end of the day it is unfair to demand your partner do things exactly according to you or you will take it to mean she doesn’t love you. Sounds like manipulation, that’s because it is manipulation. Should’ve made it clear what your cleaning habits are. He doesn’t complain about the house being too clean and he can’t set something down for a second or it will be reorganized. It’s not a one way street and it’s unfortunate your wife made you feel you were such a poor lover over something so nominal. She should’ve made the relationship more important than the dishes.

      Like

  14. […] story was first posted to Must Be This Tall To Ride by the husband in […]

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  15. Robin says:

    A member of a FB group I belong to shared this today, and reading it brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for writing it, and the other articles in your blog. I’m glad I found it.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hef says:

    I have trouble following the logic here. In principal you agree with the male side, but ultimately come to the conclusion that the man is wrong and should just do what the wife wants to maintain the relationship. Why is that responsibility solely on the man?

    What you miss is that a relationship is not a one-way street. The wife does not have the right to blow up at the husband because she wanted the glass in the dishwasher. It’s as much on her to say exactly what you’ve spelled out here – how it feels disrespectful when repeatedly asked, etc..

    The flip side is – the man should not be treated with disrespect, resentment and anger over a glass. The husband should not be the manager of a wife’s irrational emotions. Sure he should be validating and supporting, but doing so does remove any responsibility from the wife. Both sides have a responsibility to communicate and not just throw punches or be a punching bag for the partner.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I promise you that I’m not a proponent of toxic behavior by anyone. If you’re mistreated by your wife, it’s bullshit and I’m sorry. You can never have a trusting, respectful relationship as long as that’s happening.

      In my experience, in male-female relationships, pain is happening. Pain. The kind that hurts.

      And when the wife mentions this pain in hopes that her husband might want her to not hurt anymore and help her out, the response is that she’s wrong, overreacting, weak, or that he was/is justified in doing things the way he does them.

      Leaving her to, 100% of the time, discover that her husband—intentionally or otherwise—will not participate in the pain stopping.

      No trust. No safety. Relationship will eventually end one way or another. (Or suck forever.)

      Of course it’s nuanced, and details and circumstances vary.

      But what is usually missed by men who are not intentionally hurting their spouse is the notion that another human can still feel pain even if you didn’t mean to, and even if you think they shouldn’t.

      That was the story of my marriage. It’s the story of many (maybe most) marriages.

      Pain isn’t caused by bad men doing bad things.

      It’s simply the result of things otherwise decent do, who fail to calculate accurately for the pain that is happening to another person in their blind spots.

      Accidental wounds will destroy trust and end marriage just as surely as intentional ones will.

      I’m open to the idea that some partners are super-unfair and totally inappropriate in the way they accost their spouses for the anger or inconvenience they feel.

      But most of the time, someone actually hurts. And if they can’t trust their spouse to cooperate in helping that pain go away, what do you want from them? To grin and bear it? To just take it every day, week, month, year? Forever?

      People don’t do that. Not you. Not me. Not romantic partners who feel hurt by things their spouses might do or say.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hef says:

        But what about your hurt if your wife strikes back irrationally? I get your point – but a wife being unintentionally hurt is not a license to cause hurt! As adults, don’t we depend on our spouse to talk to us calmly about their thoughts and feelings?

        You don’t seem to address the wife’s role in this at all. What a miserable life to be treated so poorly by a wife who can’t communicate her hurt and needs her emotions managed for her. I don’t think my wife is toxic – but she uses your logic as a total one way street where she carries no responsibility for the hurt she causes and has no desire to learn from her hurtful words. It’s all my fault no matter how many times I’ve comforted, validated and acknowledged her requests. But when I reach my breaking point – I’m the bad one.

        You mention in another post that you changed the last two years of your marriage but it made no difference to your wife – yet you don’t hold her accountable for giving up when you were doing exactly what she needed?

        Ultimately compromise should be a two way street – I can do better in validating her feelings but if she chooses to still lash out every time she has a negative emotion, how is she not just as guilty as I was??? It seems that giving in and doing what she wants, no matter how irrational, would just encourage more bad behavior.

        Your view seems awfully one sided, and removes any responsibility from the wife (toxic or not). Who wants to be a slave simply to stay in the relationship and get little to nothing in return?

        Like

        • Matt says:

          I don’t point fingers at others until I have my own house in order. I’ll worry about all of the ways my wife could have been better when I fully understand and accept responsibility my shortcomings.

          RE: “irrationally.”

          1. I’m not entirely sure you get to decide what is and is not a rational reaction to feeling hurt for the 78,000th time by the person who promised to love you forever.

          2. When our 4-year-old children are crying because they’re afraid of a monster hiding under their bed, it’s totally irrational. But when we tell them that, and say that they need to toughen up because there’s nothing to cry about, our relationship suffers even though we’re “right.”

          I would ask you (anyone) to consider choosing to build trust between you and your wife instead of focusing on whether you perceive something to be “rational” or “fair” or “correct.”

          It doesn’t matter. Being right is not a metric that improves relationships. It might win debate competitions and earn a pat on the back at work.

          At home with our spouses and children, “being right” invalidates others’ experiences and slowly erodes their trust in our ability/willingness to help when something is wrong.

          When we prioritize trust over winning the battle of ideas, we improve our relationships.

          This is too nuanced and complicated to cover in blog comments.

          I don’t think people should be married if they don’t want to be. If your wife is a monster, I won’t judge you for choosing a different life.

          But. Just maybe she’s not a monster. Just maybe she’s acting EXACTLY like someone who repeatedly feels hurt, invalidated, alone, unsupported, rarely considered, unwanted physically, etc.

          And maybe, learning how to communicate and consider her emotional wants/needs is the path to restoring trust and having the marriage you originally believed you were signing up for, and presumably, want.

          To not do that work because it’s hard and inconvenient is exactly the sorts of decisions I made when my marriage was failing.

          And it’s not who I want to be.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Patrick Langston says:

            2. When our 4-year-old children are crying because they’re afraid of a monster hiding under their bed, it’s totally irrational. But when we tell them that, and say that they need to toughen up because there’s nothing to cry about, our relationship suffers even though we’re “right.”

            But t you don’t pretend that it makes rational sense for them to be scared. You explain that it is irrational and their imagination and emotions are out of line with reality. You don’t remodel the home and remove the closet so you can make your kids feelings valid.

            Thir feelings are valid but irrationally based, end of story. They need to be introduced to rationality. Their thoughts are unconstrained by the rationality of reality because they haven’t been taught yet. Your wife should know the dishes under the bed won’t hurt her. You don’t sound like a slob it literally sounds like a couple dishes by the sink Herr and there.

            I understand your wife is allowed to be upset and might rationalize it but if it’s seriously only a couple dishes and it doesn’t actually effect her on any serious level then she is just being nitpicky and wanting her way in everything.

            Please don’t remodel your home and remove the closet, just explain that the monsters aren’t real and we can stop being hurt and scared over something that isn’t actually hurtful or scary.

            If you told your kids be quiet monsters aren’t real go to bed then obviously you didn’t put enough thought into explaining the situation and it’s fair for them to feel there might still be some validity in their fear. That would be your fault.. You didn’t or couldn’t communicate with your wife openly and fully. Either that or your cleanliness goals are different and that’s fine nobody is In the wrong. Some things aren’t inherently important but personally important and the other isn’t wrong for not doing things your way since there isn’t always a “right” or “wrong” person in every situation.

            You maybe could’ve done better in certain ways and she maybe could’ve done better in certain ways. Why does all the blame have to go to one person, a relationship is a dynamic of two.

            Like

            • Matt says:

              Patrick. You get to do and be whoever and whatever you want.

              The sum of my 8 1/2 years of this work is that the erosion of trust is what ruins and ends relationships. And I believe we erode trust accidentally.

              You are all about that dish by the sink.

              I’m not. I’m about the conversation about the dish by the sink. I’m about whether my actions communicate that I consider my spouse when I make decisions, or whether I do not. Intentionally or accidentally, she will still trust me less if I do not.

              And I believe these are the areas people should focus their attention (1. validating — NOT agreeing with — pain their partner feels, and 2. A habit of mindfully considering our partner when we make decisions.)

              When those two things are habitually being done, we don’t have “irrational” emotionally heavy conflict in the relationship. We have trust. Respect. Safety—not in a danger way; in a reliability way.

              This is what I believe are the most important relationship skills. (Typically for men.) And I don’t believe these are obvious or that young men are taught this. They just grow up doing their best, and their relationships turn to shit.

              I don’t want them to. Because they don’t have to. Everyone can win.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Patrick Langston says:

                And I believe these are the areas people should focus their attention (1. validating — NOT agreeing with — pain their partner feels, and

                I agree, just as you should work to understand why your wife gets worked up over dishes, your wife should also understand that her getting upset over dishes is really effecting you emotionally. Are your feelings invalid?

                2. A habit of mindfully considering our partner when we make decisions.)

                Just as you should consider how not putting the dish away might effect your wife’s feelings about the house… before she decides to be angry over dishes by the sink, she may consider your desire for a more relaxed environment and choose to let you have your way ocassionally. It’s compromise. Relationships are an intersection, not a one way street.

                Like

                • Hef says:

                  Patrick – Exactly.

                  Matt, you still have failed to address why the husband must tolerate the wife’s anger and always compromise but the wife is not held to the same standard.

                  Her emotions somehow give her a free pass to do and say anything she wants – basically acting like a child? But Men must be validating while being mistreated in a way that no woman would tolerate?

                  Should there not be basic levels of respect and core values in a relationship?

                  Why is it ok for a wife to be disrespectful, unappreciative, negative, etc..? That’s seems like intentional hurt which is much more concerning than unintentional actions by a man?

                  If you talk to me like an adult, I will gladly listen and validate. But what right does a wife have to be so selfish and immature to cross line of basic respect because she needs help processing her emotions?

                  Her right to her emotions doesn’t mean she gets to do or so whatever she wants because she thinks a simple “I didn’t mean to be disrespectful, sorry” is a valid excuse later. My right to a calm positive home life is just as important as her need for validation – and it’s
                  HER actions that are eroding trust in the relationship.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • T Clark says:

                    Looks to me that there are a few men/Husbands/Fathers in this thread who are EXCELLENT communicators….and yet very little acknowledgement of that fact. Bottom line is that Matt is mostly correct that there are massive amounts of pain in many(most) marriages. And its possible (even likely!) that that and the ensuing damage to partnerships and Family is being done by many, many women in these relationships. Yet, as noted, there is very little attention paid to this, much less accountability. Its interedting, isnt it?

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          • T Clark says:

            So, in this hard and inconvenient work, where does the Adulting fit in? Maybe its just not that complicated? Is it possible that many wives (not all!) are extended adolescents? Maybe behaving that way, along with unhealthy doses of entitlement, has taken its toll. And maybe men/Husbands/Fathers have had enough. Cue the hand- wringing and associated bullshit, but maybe lets examine this, speaking generally, ofc: are women under 50 more mature than their counterparts over 50?

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            • Matt says:

              I’ll try to say it as clearly, simply, and briefly as I know how:

              1. I don’t care whether people get married or not. I don’t even really care whether they stay married, in general. What I care about are the two people who WANT to be married, but are frustrated by what feels like the same fight over and over again.

              2. I believe the same fight stems from invisible pain. Wives — as adolescent as you might want to characterize them — consistently report feeling intense pain over a couple of ideas, and my coaching work is about addressing those ideas in the form of developing some new habits. Those habits are: 1. Eliminating the habit of invalidating our partners when they tell us that something hurts them. It turns out that people WILL feel pain when painful experiences happen to them independent of how you and I feel about that, and if they’re married to someone who consistently responds as if they’re somehow stupid or weak or unworthy of love and care, they will lose trust in us over time, and eventually choose a new life. It’s not weird. If you and I were perpetually hurt by a thing, said so, and our partner refused to participate in alleviating the pain point, you and I would also eventually walk away. 2. The second habit lives under the umbrella of the word Consideration.

              RE: consideration

              What wives (usually — this isn’t specifically a sex/gender thing) consistently report feeling in disconnected, non-intimate, non-trusting marriages is this:

              “I feel as if I’m married to someone who doesn’t consider me when he makes decisions.”

              Not: He’s a selfish asshole who always intentionally chooses himself over me because he’s trying to hurt me.

              Not that at all.

              But the idea that she wakes up every day and always always always makes decisions which factor in her husband (and children, if applicable). Everything she does, 100-percent of the time, takes into account her family’s schedule, wants, needs, etc. Even things like when to schedule a hair appointment. She will frequently go at some time that’s inconvenient for her in order to accommodate kids’ extracurricular schedule needs, or her husband’s things.

              And her husband, it would seem, doesn’t filter his decision-making through that same filter. He consistently demonstrates that he does not always consider his wife or family’s wants/needs/schedules when he does things.

              Not because he’s an asshole trying to hurt her or his children on purpose. But because he’s busy and he forgot.

              He doesn’t do painful things on purpose. They happen in his blindspots.

              So, when you’re this wife, the worst-case scenario is that you’re married to someone who intentionally does things his way, even if it make her life more difficult. He doesn’t give a shit how she feels.

              And the BEST-case scenario, is that he simply forgot. Always, always, always, he forgets. These are accidents happening in his blind spots.

              The best-case scenario is that she is so low on his personal priority list, it never even occurs to him to consider how things he does or says might affect her.

              So, when you’re the wife, your husband is a threat to hurt you on purpose, or by accident, every day forever.

              And when you dare to speak up about it, you’re told that your brain is thinking about it the wrong way, or your feeling weak and girly about it, or regardless, he was justified in doing the things he chose, even if it hurt. “I’m not a bad guy! You shouldn’t be treating me this way.”

              She NEVER wins. EVER. She never ever gets to say: “Hey. This thing hurt me.” And then be treated by her husband as if it’s important to him that she not hurt, or as if he’s willing to invest energy in subtly changing something he does or doesn’t do in order to alleviate her of this pain.

              Therefore, she can’t trust him to not hurt her.

              And the choice is, try different ways to get him to listen to her, OR leave, OR stay in a marriage forever where you’re treated as Less Than every day.

              I’m not asking you to agree with the wives in this situation. I’m not.

              I’m asking you to understand why someone in THAT situation — one that’s different than your experience — might say and do things much differently than you would. (While recognizing that if the roles were reversed, you’d be feeling the same things she is.)

              I don’t care whether you’re married or not. Don’t be married if you think women are shithole monsters.

              I’m saying IF you want to be married, perhaps considering that a couple of your habits which don’t adversely affect other people in your life might be inadvertently triggering pain in your partner.

              And if you genuinely love her and don’t want her to feel pain, then it’s on you to make a couple of changes — NOT on her to magically stop feeling pain over things that she experiences as hurtful.

              Liked by 1 person

    • Patrick Langston says:

      The main point I read was dishes are more important than him and he is blessed to be out of that relationship. Its unfortunate he only made it about taking ownership of what he thinks she thinks he did wrong. Seriously though, some materialistic wives feel the condition of the house reflects on their image which is more important than their husband’s free will to be reasonably relaxed in his home. The promise of her perfect home is likely the reason they married the husband so if he can’t give her exactly what she wants in that aspect she really has no reason to stay , especially when she can take half the money. Your right though Matt, make sure you put that glass away for your future wife or you will be recognized as a worthless child, do everything she says cus men are supposed to do everything their wives want while the wife doesn’t compromise or try to contain her yes irrational, emotions.

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    • Tyler Love says:

      I think you’re missing the boat here buddy.

      You’re focused too much on the final straw and not the journey up to it. Take away the “wife is angry and emotional and other bs”, and focus on that the wife asked him to do a simple chore. No more important than taking out the trash, doing your laundry, or cleaning the tub.

      Now imagine that your wife (if you even are married), didn’t clean up after herself at all, and you were left to do all the chores. When asking for acknowledgment to help around the house she replies “Stop being so negative, its not a big deal. You know what since you’ve explicitly asked me to do chores, I am going to do the complete opposite. Matter a fact lets have an argument over whos right and wrong because you came to me asking for help. Idiot. I am right. “.

      You’d most likely break up with that person in a heart beat, right?
      Maybe after a few dozen arguments when its about the other simple chores, cause if they aren’t doing the water cup, why would you assume they would do anything at all?

      The little things start to pile up, because you have two immature a-holes not wanting to work together, and wanting to work as individuals.

      All the wife wants is to be heard and validated THROUGH ACTION, you know cause they married this person you would assume that they would be willing to cooperate with you on simple matters.

      Maybe they weren’t ready to get married cause they are both acting like a bunch of children. Refusing to validate each others pain points, and work on it together. They both decided that being right about a meaningless argument was worth more than there love for each other, if it was ever there in the first place.

      To summarize and validate everything you’ve taken the time to write:

      Is the glass a stupid thing to argue about? Yes.

      Should the wife have gotten upset over it? Yes.

      Should she have left him? Yes, a lot sooner, matter of fact they shouldn’t have even gotten married.

      Should the wife be set to the same standard of responsibility? Of course. If I had a wife who ate on the bed, and I asked her not to, you best bet that would be held to the same standard.

      Is the point here to show who is right and wrong? No.

      The point is to recognize that we don’t know everything, and we may never. But if we can get some insight into the mind of our partner, and be able to identify when pain points are being pushed, maybe, and just maybe we can actually change our behavior and put the damn cup in the wash because its gonna help us get laid tonight, and live a joyful easy life. Hopefully.

      Like

  17. Pete says:

    This is a really fantastic post. It really resonates with me, and has made me think about my own relationship.

    I can see from some of the comments that not everyone “gets” it, which is a shame, but I don’t think your point could have been any clearer.

    Thank you for writing it, even though it was a few years ago now.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Thank you, Pete. I’ve gotten a little better about my word choice and tone when discussing these things. I’d do a better job today. But still. Appreciate the comment, sir.

      Like

  18. Kiki says:

    Thank you for this post and your thoughtful responses to the comments. I’m recently out of a relationship with someone who reacted defensively no matter how I brought up an issue, whether big or small. I would try to explain that you can validate someone’s feelings without agreeing. Didn’t penetrate. I observed that it seemed he wanted to be right and what I wanted was to be heard, that it was not about right or wrong, and that this seemed to be where we were getting stuck. Didn’t penetrate. After recognizing that defensiveness was his go-to reaction I asked, “How can I bring things to you so you can hear me?” I kid you not, his response was “You should only bring me valid concerns.”

    I’d routinely get spun around into defending my needs and feelings while fending off accusations that I was trying to control him, or wanted him to “grovel and cowtow.” It took me a while to really see what was going on. Your posts articulate the issue so clearly and simply – I only wish I’d seen them sooner. Despite already being familiar with these concepts, I never thought of it in terms of trust and emotional safety. I feel lucky to have gotten away after just 2+ years and without getting married (not surprisingly, his first wife left him and I never heard him acknowledge any role in that). Many thanks!

    Like

  19. Shira says:

    This is such a great and informative post!! thank you so much for taking the time to post!! (and please don’t give all these trolls in the comments too much weight. they are exactly what they are — trolls . nothing more) … best wishes to you and your family!!

    Like

  20. […] and radio shows, been mentioned in a couple of books, and certainly from the viral blog post She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink. But this was different. As a former newspaper reporter, I was like: “Holy shit. The New York […]

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