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.

[NOTE: I felt like I cracked a secret life code when I grasped this idea for the first time. I have to credit the book “How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It” for putting me on the right path. Maybe it can help you or your partner, too.]

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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4,290 thoughts on “She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink

  1. Katie says:

    Thank you for your words, openness & ability to give us the words to help us all understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ShortOfCynicism says:

    This post seems to miss the mark. The couple needed to agree on what is and isn’t tolerated, and actively work to meet each other’s needs. Some people simply aren’t compatible, but more often it’s just poor communication. Most of this post reads like a defensive justification under the guise of “seeing the light”. If you knew when you set the glass down near the sink you weren’t meeting your end of the deal, then you aren’t even trying. If it was instead an absent minded error, which is a more typical problem, the person who is being bothered needs to communicate. I can’t tell if these errors were contemptuous.
    i.e. the dude is very verbosely admitting he was a passive aggressive shitty roommate. Something tells me the cup was a very minor problem in a sea of incompatibilities.

    Like

  3. […] get comments from people who read She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes By The Sink and then accuse my son’s mother of being a control-freak nag because she was making a big deal […]

    Like

  4. Michael says:

    In the book of Matthew the only acceptable reason for divorce is in the service to the lord. Not over a dirty dish. This article is liberal bullshit. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was written by a feminist with a male pen name. Grow up. Yes put your dishes in the dishwasher. But to write a whole blog over your poor marriage is ridiculous. Get a life. Do your own shit and be responsible for it. Sorry your marriage failed over you ex wife’s selfishness. This is total liberal snowflake bullshit

    Like

    • Jim says:

      I think you need to reread whole thing, Youre missing something…. idiot.

      Like

    • Matt says:

      I’d like you to consider the possibility that you’re missing the point, Michael.

      I’d also like to offer the suggestion that there is nothing political happening here. It’s a true story.

      And the underlying message about what it means to actually love your spouse is the difference between healthy, lasting relationships (of all kinds—not just marriage) and the kind that make people miserable and/or fail.

      I’m sorry you dislike it so much and think I wasted my time writing for the past five years to shed light on a subject not enough people are discussing nor living out effectively.

      Just maybe, if you eliminate sexism and politics from clouding the conversation, and home in on the idea that one person can experience pain from an incident while another person is unfazed and/or oblivious of that pain, you might discover why approximately half of several thousand marriages, and an even larger number of unwed couples, or friends, or families, and even professional relationships are breaking every day—which for the people in those moments—is the No. 1 thing affecting their life experience. It’s the thing determining whether every day, in simple terms, is good or bad.

      That’s not a trivial thing. Life ceases to be a desirable activity when you get to about two or three years straight of EVERYDAY being painful and miserable.

      Color me presumptuous, Michael, but it seems like—just maybe—you struggle with finding common ground with anyone you disagree with. That you are right, therefore they are wrong, and by God, they can all eat shit and die for being so stupid and incorrect.

      One wonders whether, while you’re always being right and letting everyone around you know it, bad things are happening within the hearts and minds of the people around you who are trusting you to love/protect/respect them.

      Nahhhhhhhhhhhhh. That couldn’t be it.

      I’m sure you’re right that it’s all a bunch of liberal snowflake bullshit. Carry on.

      Liked by 1 person

    • ana says:

      this begs the question: why don’t you get a life and stop reading things that are a waste of your time. it’s humorous that you find the fact that someone devoted time to writing this blog is stupid, yet you took the time to read it! typical conservative hypocrisy. your anger is out of proportion to reading a single article and disagreeing with the viewpoint. maybe women have left your stupid, bible misquoting, self righteous ass and you are bitter because clearly you have trouble comprehending human emotions.

      Liked by 1 person

    • jennbb33 says:

      Keep your rosary off my ovaries. And out of the relationship. God has nothing to do with this.

      Like

      • Matt says:

        I should leave well enough alone here, Jenn, but I just wanted to add this because I’m insufferably defensive:

        As a kid who grew up in a tiny conservative town in Ohio attending Catholic school and Catholic mass, the significant majority of every politically conservative church-goer I’ve ever interacted with has been positive.

        They have been fundamentally kind and decent people who don’t spend one minute quoting the bible and preaching about Christian living only to turn around and be fucking shitbags and the polar-opposite of what Christians are taught to be when there are no ulterior motives besides teaching children values and how to love and treat other people.

        Please don’t let the super-loud assholes on TV, and the people foolish and ignorant enough to spew hate online poison the entire well.

        Just as painting all of Islam as a group of people who want to harm others is wrong…

        Or being racist, bigoted, sexist dickbags is wrong…

        I think it’s a mistake to think or assume or say things that indicate that people who practice a certain faith, or align politically with an opposing ideology, that they are automatically evil or bad, simply because there’s evidence of a loud minority of those groups ruining it for everyone else.

        Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Be good to those who hurt you. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. LOVE people. Be humble. Forgive. Be an instrument of peace. Light up the darkness.

        These are the fundamental tenets taught by a guy who lived 2,000 years ago. Supernaturally divine or not, it’s hard to find much to argue with among those teachings.

        I fall short every day of living up to those principles, but they seem to be worthy things to strive for.

        When people like Michael take their social/cultural/political bullshit and use it to poison what should be a 100% non-divisive thing, I get pretty worked up.

        Michael’s comment represents the worst of the group of people who claim to be Christian while never actually behaving as one.

        I hope people can see and appreciate the difference. Because the difference is everything.

        Liked by 2 people

        • jennbb33 says:

          I can see the difference. I am not a christian, nor do I subscribe to any organized religion. But I believe in the kindness that the Christ prescribed. I do not believe the majority of people who call themselves Christians would feed the poor, or house the homeless. They are, overall, greedy bastards that you see on tv, judging the poor, the unfortunate. They do not do unto others. They do not follow the golden rule. I do.

          So I apologize for generalizing. And any time someone starts by quoting scripture, I’m going to react by saying GET OFF MY DOORSTEP I AM NOT INTERESTED.

          Thanks, Matt. Peace.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Matt says:

            I agree that Michael exposed himself right from the get-go. I 100% agree with you.

            I’m not advocating for organized religion (I am in a highly uncomfortable state of ambivalence about what I should or shouldn’t do, and what I should or shouldn’t teach my son), nor am I advocating for right-leaning political views.

            Neither Right nor Left = Good or Evil for me. There are bad seeds on all sides perverting and misrepresenting the core principles which are, in theory, ideas designed to improve the quality of life for a citizenry.

            I didn’t mean to sidetrack us or detract from the actual conversation.

            I probably should have just said “I hate it when assholes wear their identity labels, act like assholes, and thereby cause others to believe that everyone who wears that same identity label is also an asshole.”

            THAT phenomenon causes countless problems and horrors in our world. And the people I blame the most are all of the people who do despicable things in the name of their particular faith’s “God”, which virtually guarantees that every smart, decent human will begin to question ANYTHING done in the name of that same faith’s “God.”

            What’s worse than blatant hypocrisy?

            Almost nothing. (Right, Michael?)

            Appreciate you, Jenn. I hope my unnecessary response to your earlier comment didn’t annoy you too much.

            Liked by 1 person

            • jennbb33 says:

              Not at all. Thanks…. As far as organized religion and kids go, let them be curious, and foster that curiosity. EDUCATE THEM and teach them to see that religion comes from Bardic tale, written down, and edited by man. It is the word of man, interpreted and continually edited and twisted to suit their own needs and desires and greed. Teach them the golden rule: to treat others the way they would like to be treated. We are aligned, methinks.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Matt says:

                Me too. :)

                Wanted to make sure I wasn’t coming off like I thought you were out of line. I didn’t. I just wanted to soapbox about people being dicks.

                I don’t have any choice but to foster curiosity and tell the most truth I know how to my son.

                You don’t need to be a psychology expert to know how internally uncomfortable and challenging it is to not simply parrot all of the things I was taught as a child and accepted on blind faith for many years.

                There are elements to my upbringing I perceive as extremely positive, and then there are elements I believe accidentally put me at a disadvantage or outright damaged me.

                No one’s fault. Life just happens and everyone’s mostly trying their best. Except for the religious hypocrites. They are decidedly not trying their best, which is why they can go ahead and eat a fat one.

                (Note to the young and impressionable: Using the term “eat a fat one” in a derogatory way as I just did falls outside of the behaviors I perceive to be “Good.” I just like using juvenile language to communicate my disdain for certain things, even though I know it’s probably “Bad.” I don’t always do what I’m supposed to or what I should.)

                Like

    • Kyle says:

      Have you ever actually read the Bible? Lol

      Like

    • Margaret says:

      Dear Michael,
      I respectfully invite you to go a little deeper
      here .
      Partners never divorce because of a glass in the sink. Partners divorce because,”You’re not hearing me, you don’t listen to me, you don’t have my back, it is lonely living with you, it feels like I have another child instead of a loving supportive partner, my needs don’t matter to you etc etc…” All those critical attachment emotions being stomped on over and over are excellant reasons to consider divorce. Just like the author here beautifully says.
      You might also consider reading Hold Me Tight, by Sue Johnson PhD for her 30 years of research on this very topic. It is an easy and wonderfully researched read! Warmly, margaret

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Francine says:

    I know how thw wife felt. I straight up told my family that I needed help keeping the house clean. The support I got from my ex husband was him telling the kids to help me out more. I married I thought a life partner. When he wasn’t working he was also doing nothing to help out in the house. He was also not listening to my reaponses. He’d ask a simple question like what was for supper and I’d answer him and 5 or 10 minutes later he would ask the same question. So I stopped communicating because I felt that it was a useless thing to do because I wasn’t listened to. Now that we’ve been separated and he quit drinking he appreciates more what I did and sacrificed for the family. I burned myself out. Another example was he’d ask me to sit down and watch tv with him and I’d refuse and tell him I was too busy cleaning after him and the kids or I had to do dishes or I was just plain tired. I could’ve fought harder for my marriage but I was too tired to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Michael says:

    Ok let’s start over. To be fair I am bipolar and was in an episode last night. Hence my whacked out comment. So hears the thing…
    I understand the underlying issue. Your wife needed to feel validated and feel like she was being put first. Did she ever put you first? Honest question. My marriage ended in November. We are now dating again. We both learned that we both have needs. My ex wife said she learned something from this article. We went through 16 years of marriage that was hell. We both cheated on one and other. Neither of us understood that if we both and always put each other first, we would never have a need. She also had trouble dealing with my illness. Through scores of doctors and poor medical treatment. But here is the thing. My wife never validated my needs for intimacy. So for her to expect me to do the dishes and yard work and then just roll over in bed wasn’t fair either. Neither of us were validating each other. But to the author, did you have children old enough to do chores? Because my ex wife puts dishes in the sink and then expects my son to rinse them and put them in the dishwasher. Where is his validation? Or is it fair for him to do chores? Thank goodness my ex wife and I are dating again and relearning what it’s like to be boyfriend and girlfriend. Things are getting better. She realizes I have an illness and that I have needs too. The other night I took her a pint of ice cream just to be nice. Her and my daughter enjoyed it. I plan on learning her needs the bed I can. But I have needs that need validated as well. It goes both ways. So now that I have reread your article and have made a reasonable post, I welcome reasonable replies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jennbb33 says:

      Now that, right there, is a post from an individual who gets it (if it was your meds, I understand. Am also medicated for my mental illness). That is what it’s all about. VALIDATION. Here is my situation: I got married. Immediately all of the planning falls on me (not a problem; I like to plan). But there is never a thank you, never a “wow, my mom will love that for a holiday/birthday gift, thanks for being so thoughtful” acknowledgement.

      Two months into the marriage, his dad is killed in a car accident. So we go from celebratory to mourning, immediately. He stuffs his feelings and doesn’t mourn (so, we’ve been eeking out the mourning for years….).

      Three years into the marriage, he loses his job. Takes over the in-house company that I started. So I am working outside of the home full time. Every night I get home and there’s the question: “What’s for dinner” and there is laundry, housecleaning, etc waiting for me.

      Seven years into that, the economy tanks, he loses our 2 largest clients, we have another baby (#2) and his drinking kicks into high gear. I’m still working outside the home. Kids are in daycare. I still come home to have to make dinner, and do the normal Second Shift things that women have continued to shoulder since we got the right to work outside of the home and have a family. Lucky me.

      This goes on for EIGHT years. There is never validation, except by my growing kids, that I am working two jobs to keep our family fed, clothed and sheltered. When I’m home, I’m cleaning. Cooking has pretty much gone by the wayside, unless it’s something I’m craving. When he does something, he wants praise, thanks, and if I don’t notice, there is pouting and sometimes a fight. He sometimes would work on weekends “when he felt like it.” He got a part time job, because there is nothing in his industry. And he refuses to go for training to do something else.

      I finally filed for divorce in February of this year. I have realized that I’m raising three kids, and I need to focus on the two that I actually gave birth to. Now I’m waiting for him to find his own place. He’s forgotten how to be an adult, at age 49. Get me out of this relationship. NOW.

      Like

  7. Kyle says:

    Well, while I may agree with your point.. its also quite common for a wife to become obessively anal and controlling. Thats a case of misdirected internal strife, expecting others to be perfect. Some people will always see and sometimes only see others as a list of faults rather than a flawed human being such as theirselves. If a dish on the counter is a deal breaker, that means your dealing with someone who is not well equipped to deal with life.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      So… divorce your wife because you didn’t enforce your anti-anal-retentive boundary prior to proposing to her?

      Sorry Kyle. You may be right on a case-by-case basis here, but are you suggesting that all husbands who agree with you file divorce papers and subject their children to broken homes on account of that psychological diagnosis about their wives?

      Like

      • Kyle says:

        Lol, i didnt say divorice. How many cases was some bull crap thing was an out for the wife? And SHE was the one filing?

        Like

        • Kyle says:

          The fact of the matter is, its common, for the wife to desire to change and control her man. Some things are important, others are not. Some spend their entire lives feeling that the red carpet needs to be rolled out for them, but are the last to lend a hand for anything. Case by case, of course but its common. Everyone reading probably knows a couple like this.. wife always giving him crap etc.

          Like

    • Kyle says:

      Also, how often have you seen a wife that acts like she thinks her husband is an idiot..and he acts like he is stressed out by her very presence? Thats a sign, plenty of female bullies out there in sheeps clothing. Hint….they are always the victim.

      Like

      • meridda says:

        there are always different examples that do not fit with matt’s experience. all women are not always right, and all men are not always wrong. if you can benefit from him experience, as many of us can, take what he has to offer. if it doesn’t fit with your experience, that’s ok too.

        Like

      • Matt says:

        Now THIS I agree with.

        However, it’s also not what we’re talking about. Bullies and assholes of any gender — people who are INTENTIONALLY harming their spouse — do not get to be part of this conversation. They’re the worst and beyond any help these kinds of conversations can provide.

        What we’re talking about here are pains being caused by spouses who didn’t know better. This is what destroys and ends MOST marriages that end. This isn’t about blaming anyone.

        It’s about the people who this applies to potentially asking themselves: “Is it possible that I really am hurting my partner without realizing it, and that a few simple changes could make the pain stop? I guess it totally makes sense that my spouse would be unhappy if they’re feeling hurt every day by something I do, and every time they ask for help, I tell them they’re wrong or crazy or the real problem. I guess it totally makes sense that someone would feel betrayed by that behavior and after several years of enduring it, seek a better life. I sure hope I have the opportunity to prove to the person I promised to love forever that they are worth the effort to NOT hurt them every day now that I realize what I’m doing is hurting them.”

        The more people who have that experience, the better. I don’t feel sorry for assholes who get divorced.

        I feel sorry for all of the well-intentioned people who didn’t know better and lose their lives and families and friends and time with their children all because of a nuanced misunderstanding.

        THEY are who this is for.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Mickisue says:

      May I ask if you believe that it’s only women who become controlling? Having been married, long ago, to a man who once got angry when I agreed with the POV of a newscaster instead of him, I would say that particular trait is gender neutral.

      Like

      • Kyle says:

        It can go both ways, of course. I just happen to have known a hell of a lot more women that were like that.

        Like

        • Kyle says:

          We all need to be aware of our own faults, and be able to forgive others of their shortcomings to have any kind of a healthy relationship imo.

          Like

          • Matt says:

            True that. I have several. And have since developed a personal policy to clean up my own messes before I start pointing fingers at others’.

            I wasn’t trying to be a dick with my replies. I appreciate you taking a minute to comment. Your opinions are not unusual. And they might not even be wrong.

            BUT. They’re not the same conversation, and I want people to be clear about that.

            Once you introduce INTENTIONAL assholery to the equation, all bets are off.

            The conversation that needs to be had is how to keep all of the people trying their best from ACCIDENTALLY making correctable mistakes that can prevent the worst thing that will ever happen to them or their children.

            Liked by 1 person

  8. Eileen says:

    Matt, I found this post because I literally looked up “my boyfriend left me dishes to clean up” out of frustration. Several times before, I have looked up issues that similarly bothered me. Each time, Google directed me to your blog. So I have read many of your entries at different times, and I have found your words to be hugely validating and a source of deep comfort. Thank you for taking the time and effort to put your thoughts out there for the world to see. I would never have the courage to do so – it’s too scary to make myself vulnerable to strangers and trolls. So thank you also for your bravery.

    Question: how *do* I approach a male significant other about an issue like this in a constructive way? I have a tendency to approach topics directly – like “I can’t believe you did this, how unthoughtful” I am now with someone with whom I’d like to engage in a positive way – I really want this relationship to work out. I know the “when you do x I feel like y” approach. But when is a good time? Nip it in the bud on the first or second occasion? Wait for a bunch of incidences so I have evidence of a consistent trend? When is it “significant enough” (ie “not too petty” for me to bring up? (You are absolutely right, it’s the feeling of being completely taken for granted and disrespected that is so hurtful to me)

    Many thanks and please keep clicking that keyboard. You are doing a huge service to the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mr. Smarty Pants says:

    What? A simple solution is for the wife to tell the husband that she’ll charge him $100 every time she sees a dish but the sink. Write it up, get husband to sign it and then we’ll see how many more times a glass gets left by the sink.

    Geezus…we need to fix real problems in the world(hunger, war, pollution) and people are getting hung up on these simple problems. Step up yo game peeps!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      I submit that writing off the seemingly inconsequential is ACTUALLY what causes most of the world’s problems.

      Things that are trivial to you can seem monumentally important to someone else.

      The lack of respect for that fact is why more than half of all committed relationships fail, why friendships end, why countries go to war, and why pretty much all human conflict of any kind begins.

      That said, your pragmatic solution to the dish situation is excellent and sounds effective to me.

      Maybe people will try it.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Jellybellybeanodip says:

    I’ve googled “ my husband is lazy” in many forms. From “why doesn’t my husband care” to “is it normal for my husband to never do any ‘chores’” even “if we both work then why am I always doing everything and he’s allowed to be lazy”

    I noticed a pattern. I’m finding reasons to stay with him. A reason or excuse when there is NO excuse for me to work just as hard as him at a paying job to come home to HIS mess. I leave the house clean come back to chaos. I am the one who cares for our kids. Yes he loves hem showers then with kisses but he’s NOT HELPING ME AT ALL!!!

    so long story short.

    THIS. THIS is the link I’m sending him. If he can see a male point of view. If he can see when I say I’m leaving over a dirty dish I probably will. Because I’m running out of excuses. I’m running out of time and patience. Because if he can’t care for what I do… then he doesn’t care for me.

    (Ps. Been together 18 years. Kids are 4 and 3… and my husband has NEVER cleaned a flippin dish since the kids were born. Children DIDNT CHANGE HIS PRIORITES Actually I don’t remember him doing them before either… and never ever swept the floor or done laundry… because. I LET HIM HAVE EXCUSES!!!! *end rant)

    Like

  11. Drasticwoman says:

    It kind of irritates me that you reasoned all the things you have to do in the house FOR YOURSELF as housechores as that you need to be caring for her. Do you still think the same after 2 years of writing this piece?

    Like

  12. Whit says:

    I’m a stay-at-home moms point of view, you have hit it completely on the nail. I don’t know how many times I tell my husband to do something, and he just doesn’t do it. I realize that I probably need to work on my own things, because you cannot just shift the blame to one person, but honestly if he understood what that glass stood for, then I think things would be so much different. I think in my head, from a woman’s point of view, that he does understand how much he hurts me when he does it. Which, must not be the case?

    Like

    • Matt says:

      If he loves you (and I can’t know it, but I always default to the position that no one other than con artists who are already planning their escape before the wedding day ever marry without truly loving their spouse the best way they know how), then I don’t believe he has ANY idea how much it hurts you.

      I would encourage you to, just once, assume that he has no idea, like the first time your child did something she or he couldn’t have possibly known was the wrong thing.

      And then, with all of the kindness, patience and empathy you can manufacture (because this has been hurting you for YEARS), you must attempt something that’s VERY, very, very, very, very hard to communicate effectively.

      And that is that you are HURT very badly, and feel actual pain — the kind that is unhealthy and unsustainable — whenever these incidents happen.

      I don’t believe he knows it hurts, because he’s never felt pain from something like a dish or perhaps some other housework-related situation before.

      And because that seems like such a foreign concept to him, he’s never stopped to consider the possibility that this “harmless,” “painless” thing DOES legitimately hurt you.

      You’re not whining about it just to whine. You’re not feigning weakness for dramatic effect.

      It HURTS. Legit.

      And when things hurt, we should be able to trust those we love the most to help us not hurt, and certainly to make a mindful effort to not cause the pain.

      There’s a good chance he’ll be defensive and/or continue to act as if what you’re saying is unimportant. THAT is the dangerous part, because if you’re loving and patient and vulnerable about this after all this time, and it’s met with scorn or contempt, it just might push you over the edge. I can understand that.

      The irony is, it’s when you go over the edge that many men reportedly demonstrate the: “Holy shit. She was totally serious about that” realization, and then promise all of these changes their wives or girlfriends can no longer legitimately trust them to make or follow through on.

      He doesn’t know it hurts. And he currently trusts his judgment more than he trusts yours.

      It’s not a pleasant truth, but it IS true.

      So, one of two things needs to happen (or hopefully both).

      1. He must be convinced that things he is doing accidentally and unknowingly are causing you severe pain. Maybe he’s experienced a great personal loss. Maybe he gets really upset after his favorite team loses, and people who root for other teams, or just don’t care, are unfazed.

      There must be an example in his life of him giving a shit about something and/or hurting because of something that didn’t affect others — possibly you, even.

      Maybe he really cares about something, and you think it’s stupid or silly.

      It’s okay to have differences.

      It’s not okay to negligently damage your partner even after REPEATED requests to stop.

      The favor I’m asking on his behalf is that you go into that conversation on blind faith that he has NO IDEA that you’ve felt legitimate pain because of his choices, and that if he truly–TRULY–understood what that experience was like for you, that he would make it a huge priority to do and be more, because he would never intentionally do something to hurt you or your family.

      I think, if you approach him as a good man who simply doesn’t know better (even if it takes a boat-load of pride swallowing to get there), you’ll have as positive of results as is possible in these situations.

      Thank you for reading and taking a minute to comment. Wishing you well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Samantha says:

        Thanks so much for this article. Your last comment really resonated with me. I actually have completely lost it, and it was in relation to being sleep deprived and not having any help to get rest while after birth. I lost my sh*t twice. It even scared ME. I went to the doctor and a therapist, thinking something was wrong with me. To my surprise, they thought my husband needed a good talking to, and my doctor requested to speak to him about letting me sleep and helping out more. Anyway, all the things you mention happen all the time in our home, and I continually tell him how much it hurts me, how disrespected I feel, how unappreciated I feel… I’ve tried to convey the message in so many different ways…crying, pleading, writing emails, strategizing solutions with him. I’ve even straight up asked him what the best method to fix this problem would be and to please please help me figure it out. I am at my wits’ end. And reading your last comment makes me think that he really must know that it hurts me at this point, and so he falls more into the “assholery” category. I sent him this article, he just said, “weird”. He just continuously says I’m too critical of him if I dare say anything about wanting help or wanting him to pick up after himself, even though I shower him with compliments when he does good things with the house or family. I am tired of feeling like a mother. I’m tired of dragging myself out of bed after being up nursing all night while he lays like a log in bed and I get two kids ready in the morning. I have been at the brink so many times. A week ago I had enough and I said I was ready to divorce. And he promised to change, but it’s just a few days of change, and then it’s gone. A cycle that repeats itself over and over again. It’s lonely to be in this situation. I’d rather raise my kids alone than feel this constant rejection from someone who can’t be bothered to care about me. I am rambling now but just wanted to say thank you for the perspective. I’m not quite sure what I’m doing with it but I have pretty much decided that I can’t continue this way. Even beyond the sleep deprivation and feeling mentally exhausted because I’m in charge of everything, it’s just too freaking hurtful to live every day like this, feeling like I don’t have a partner.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Eileen says:

          Amen sister. The logistics won’t necessarily improve with your getting a divorce, and the divorce process itself will absolutely suck, but to free yourself of the utter loneliness – the isolation, aloneness and sadness that comes from standing next to a fake “partner” – getting rid of *that* will priceless. Empower yourself and stay the course – you *will* be terrified of whether you’re doing the right thing or not throughout the entire journey. But don’t let that terror derail you. Trust me, on the other end it will be worth it. You will feel as light as a feather. Best wishes.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Matt says:

          You’re not rambling, Samantha.

          You’re experiencing and articulating effectively the most-common divorce story there is.

          You’re NOT weird or broken or wrong. You’ve been extended beyond your limits and are now living a day-to-day life that you never imagined or thought possible. It’s because we just don’t know what we don’t know.

          Please don’t feel alone in the context of your emotions and headspace. Because it’s NORMAL to freak out when everything around you is unsustainable and totally screwed.

          I want to be clear that I am not advocating divorce nor blaming your husband for the state of things. Because I’ll go to my grave believing that we — collectively; societally — are failing young men by not giving them the knowlege and training necessary to succeed as husbands and fathers in modern society.

          He ALSO doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and now he’s learning the hard way, and it will only get worse.

          The man loves you and doesn’t want you to leave. If you’re experiencing responsiveness in short cycles, then I think two things are probably present:

          1. Undiagnosed adult ADHD is a strong possibility and worth looking into.

          https://www.additudemag.com/category/understand-conditions/adhd-in-adults/diagnosis-add/

          2. You’re lightening up and “acting” like your old self again after a few days, so he thinks whatever was “wrong” with you isn’t wrong anymore and he relaxes. He thinks it’s a temporary problem requiring temporary solutions.

          Again, he just doesn’t see the invisible pains he causes, and until he learns how, the situation will continue to be unsustainable.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Samantha says:

            You’re very perceptive, Matt. We have both wondered aloud of the possibility of ADD for him. He definitely lacks a lot of focus/concentration, doesn’t follow through or finish projects, and seems to forget so many things that I sometimes suspect he’s playing a game or pretending. He has excuses for everything. But he does very excellent at work! Which is another sore point – if he gave me and our relationship half the courtesy and consideration he gives his employer/coworkers and job performance, I’d likely be a very happy camper. Even with the ADD suspicion, he refuses to do anything about it, even homeopathic remedies like exercise or meditation or learning tools to cope. If he won’t treat it, what can I do?

            I’m feel very much alone in this relationship. “Emotional negligence” is the term that comes to mind. In small ways like leaving things around, but also in extremely big ways. After seeing that talking never helps, no matter how I approached it, I sent a short concise email, pretty much begging that we figure something out. I was so careful how I worded it; it was crafted so that it was vulnerable and soft and non-accusatory, just coming from a place of “please help me/help us” and “I am hurting”. He didn’t acknowledge receiving it. A week later I asked, and he said he didn’t have time to write back. I told him it really hurt me that I wrote such a painful email basically asking him to care, and he says nothing. Doesn’t he see that that can be painful? “I was busy, so we’ll talk about it now,” he responded. But then said he had no thoughts and nothing to say about it. It’s like constant rejection, constant messages that I and my needs don’t matter.

            We are currently discussing divorce. He doesn’t want to work on anything, he immediately shut down and says he is empty and depressed and has no energy. (And because he’s so empty and depressed, that means sleeping in and then going out with friends.) More of the same behavior but now if I say anything about it, I’m mean, right? I have to be understanding and give him space. I have to respect his needs. I’m saying this with a slight hint of sarcasm because it makes me so bitter that I am expected to respect his needs while mine aren’t acknowledged for years.

            I always thought that in a good relationship you learn from another person. You become a better person because of the arguments, because you learn about yourself and your faults and how to better them. The arguments become cathartic. You fight, you figure it out, you make up, and sometimes you have a good lesson about yourself from it. But I feel like all I have learned in this relationship is how to have self-preservation and be more selfish.

            Like

            • Julia says:

              Honey: NO. He doesn’t have ADD if he can manage putting the effort into other aspects of his life. That was my refrain with my ex too: “If you could put as much effort into helping me as you do … xyz… things could be better”

              Look; it might not be his fault he wasn’t raised to prioritize you or your needs. Maybe he came from a household where there were very traditional gender roles. But to shut down when you bring them up? That’s not cool, nor a good sign. He isn’t going to change.

              There is no “too early” or “too late” to tell him what you need. There is no “right time” and there is no magic algorithm to ask him without hurting his feelings. There is nothing you can do to fix this, and he cannot hide behind ADD or depression any more. Lord knows: my mental health never allowed me to check out of important relationships or stop doing emotional and physical labour.

              My heart hurts for you because I’ve been there and I know how soul-killing it is. I encourage you to leave him. You don’t need permission. He doesn’t have to be mean or hit you for you to know you need something different. Since leaving my (very nice, but clueless) ex, I have been SO much happier. The work I do for myself is SO much more fulfulling. Your spouse is not a support to you: he is dead weight (I’m sorry). Please, search for your happiness: it is out there within your grasp. Don’t waste time with someone who can’t be what you need.

              (FWIW my ex even reached out to Matt, the author of this article. Matt gave him really good advice. It still wasn’t enough. <3)

              Like

              • Matt says:

                It’s hard to read this Julia, but I understand that you’ve been there, and I can’t possibly know your experiences or why you feel so much conviction about how positive ending a marriage can be.

                I like optimistically believing there’s hope, but I’ve seen VERY FEW examples of husbands in this scenario changing behavior patterns so much that the marriage recovers and thrives.

                I really appreciate you mentioning that your husband reached out and that you felt my response to him was useful and helpful.

                I’ve had so many of those email exchanges, I have no way of knowing which it was, but I think it’s safe to say it didn’t produce its intended goal. :(

                You nevertheless sound as if you’re doing well, and I’m grateful for that.

                Thank you for sharing here, Julia.

                Like

        • jennbb33 says:

          I’m so sorry, Samantha. I’ve been there. I’m still there and finally getting OUT. It took me years of mostly the same thing. I married a man child. I love him and I love our kids but I have to get out. I can’t raise three kids. I stopped at two for a reason. I have filed for divorce, and for the first month all he said was “I don’t understand why.” To which I said, silently, “that’s why: you stopped understanding what my needs are.”
          This is a great community.
          I, personally, say: get out while you can. He’s not gonna change. The writing is on the wall. You are smart. Don’t waste your life and your energy. Raise your kids right. We got you.

          Like

          • Samantha says:

            Hey Jenn,

            It’s sad he asked that question too late. Did you try to explain to him again? Did he ever finally understand?
            I explain so much and it feels similar to banging my head against the wall – it hurts and gets me nowhere.
            Kudos to you for having strength to leave. This is my 2nd marriage. My first was terribly abusive and it was much easier to decide to leave because it was so obvious to me and everyone around me. It hardly felt like a decision. This time is hard because the damage is much more under the radar and begs the question, “is it bad enough to leave?” He doesn’t drink, he does go to work, he is not physically abusive…but is that enough to stay?

            I probably won’t marry again. It just isn’t worth it. All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl.

            Liked by 1 person

            • jennbb33 says:

              I’m so sorry…. Emotional abuse counts, too. And if you feel abused, or undervalued over a period of time that just isn’t going away, then I sincerely hope you ask yourself what is right for you. Banging your head against the wall is only going to hurt you. Not him. Do right by you, grrrrrl.

              I am done explaining. He is finally telling me “he’s glad” I came to this decision “for me” because he’s going to be happier too. He’s already dating even though we still live together. His obtuseness and selfishness is out of hand. He’d be going crazy if I was dating already. But whatever. Just get me out of this marriage!! We should be there soon!

              Like

              • Eileen says:

                I have heard that many times men will immediately start dating because 1) they can’t handle the blow to their self-esteem 2) they can’t stand being alone and 3) they need to distract themselves from the loneliness. So don’t think necessarily that he has already “moved on”. He is simply kicking the can (ie introspection) down the road. You’re doing great – focus on yourself and what you need!

                Liked by 1 person

                • jennbb33 says:

                  Thank you, Eileen… it all makes 100% sense. And honestly, I am so over this marriage, nothing he does – except for yelling at the kids and/or me – bothers me any more. I just want out. House goes on the market next month. I’m looking for a place for me and the kids. And waiting for all the pieces to fall into place. He’s losing his sugar mama. I know what’ he’s doing. He was told years ago by a mutual boss of ours that, without me, he would be naked and starving. And although I was shocked that someone told him that, I know it’s true. Even his mother called me and told me that she’s worried he’ll end up on the streets. Guess what? NOT MY EFFING PROBLEM ANY MORE. I WILL NOT MANAGE HIM ANY MORE. SEE YA.

                  Like

                • jennbb33 says:

                  Also “he needs sex because I’m aesexual to him” because I cut him off. Yeah, ok. Just don’t find my tumblr account, bub.

                  Like

          • Julia says:

            My ex, after 2 years of marital counselling and tons of books about marriage, tried to chastize my wanting to leave by saying “Now is where the hard work [in marriage] starts” – um no. I’ve been doing the work. I’m out. (and goddamn it now I’m happy!)

            Liked by 1 person

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