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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4,128 thoughts on “She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink

  1. Sina says:

    I agree with a lot of this but it goes both ways.. If it’s a small 4 second inconvienece to save a marriage yep of course a man should just do it. But what about the woman who’s willing to leave over a glass? I’m a woman very happy in my relationship of 10 years and believe me my guy doesn’t do the vast majority of chores I ask him to do. But if the roles switched I wouldn’t live up to my own expectations. And if I found I was linking doing dishes to feeling respected I would either unlink my emotions (doesn’t seem great to link respect with a dirty glass) or at the very least I would explain to my guy “hey this is irritational but I can’t help it” you can’t leave a marriage without trying anything you can to save it. That includes putting your own thinking under a microscope to find flaws and let’s face it us women are really good at diagnosising everything our men do wrong, we just like to not put ourselves through the same process. It all goes both ways drives me crazy when my guy leaves dishes all over the house (by the sink would be excellent Hahaha) but I love him and I’m not going to link a dirty dish to how he feels about me

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bob says:

    This is a really good post!
    My parents are divorced and this helps me understand them better. Sometimes I have similar conflicts with my mom and this is ssooooooo relatable.
    This post made my day Bc I’m happy I’m not the only one😃

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tasha says:

    This is an excellent article and really just helped me breakthrough to my boyfriend. It has nothing to do with the glass. It’s a metaphor. It has everything to do with being a partner. It’s been hard for me to articulate everything to him so I sent him this article.

    Like

  4. jennbb33 says:

    I wish I could get up the guts to send this to my husband because it is, truly the little cuts that will kill your relationship. We have been married for over 17 years and I’m ready to pull the plug because I don’t feel respected or appreciated. EVER! But I’m afraid If I send it to him, it will cause yet another fight. Bottom line: adulting sucks ass. Just don’t get married.

    Liked by 1 person

    • meridda says:

      jennbb33: we should be friends. I think we have a lot in common…

      Like

    • Victoria says:

      I have been married 11 years and am in the same situation. I was reading the article and thinking can I show this to my husband? How will he take it? and so on. Could use some friendly conversation and support as I don’t have that at all locally or any where for that matter.

      Like

      • Matt says:

        There’s a semi-regular group of commenters that do a great job lifting up other people.

        I’ve taken a week or so off of writing so the conversation died on the most recent post, but there’s a nice group of regulars here who might be able to help.

        Thanks for taking a look. Wishing you well.

        Like

        • SusieQ says:

          Where can these commenters be found?

          Been with hubby for 12 years and keep having the same conversations about dishes in the sink, toilet paper rolls unchanged, laundry on the floor, etc. and have tried explaining it represents a feeling of general disrespect for me.

          I’ve even tried to see if we can each work on one “pet peeve” that is bothering the other one for a month (I had a habit of kicking my shoes off wherever I stop when I come in the house, which he hated). I ended up stopping the things that drove him nuts and he just temporarily stopped the things I mentioned for a few days/weeks and then went right back to it.

          I was really starting to feel like I was being bitchy/unreasonable/crazy until I read this article and comments. Now I realize it’s NOT just me. I don’t really think he is willing/capable of change. He has some mental health issues from his childhood and previous relationships that contribute to the problem. I think it’s time to go but just reading this has given me such a confidence/morale boost that I cannot explain.

          Thank you so so much for that.

          Liked by 1 person

      • K says:

        I’ll tell you.

        I sent it to mine and he still didn’t care. So, NOTHING happened. And I’m moving out. The end.

        Like

        • meridda says:

          I finally got up the guts to show it to my husband (I told him about it first) and it has totally changed our interactions–in a good way. I’m not kidding. I think i was in the same position as Matt’s wife–I was ready to leave my husband and thought “he’s going to be totally blindsided, even though I’ve been telling him for YEARS how I feel…” he read the article and said “whoa–you HAVE been telling me, and I’ve just never taken you seriously…didn’t think it was a big deal. I realize now that it is”. he’s a new man. thank you, matt!

          Liked by 2 people

          • Matt says:

            Thank you so much for sharing this story. It means a lot to me.

            I’ve said it before… other than raising my son to be a good man, nothing I ever do in life will mean more than to help someone who ALREADY cares and loves (but whose thoughtless actions accidentally convey otherwise) recognize his/her relationship struggles for what they really are.

            I don’t believe most people will understand this and reject it.

            I believe most people will simply not understand it.

            It is so very hard to appreciate the experiences/thoughts/feelings of another human being.

            We are stuck inside ourselves. I really do give most people a pass, because it’s damn hard to NOT think and feel the things we do. And by damn hard, I mean impossible.

            But so long as we UNDERSTAND that other people experience things differently, and that those differences can sometimes equal traumatic pain (even if we never feel that way and struggle to imagine it), I think we’ll always have a chance to work things out with those we love.

            I don’t believe most people don’t care. I think people care.

            I believe most people don’t know.

            Sometimes, people can’t know until it hurts so much that they break.

            Some people need to break first.

            It’s awful that it must adversely affect so many people around them when it happens.

            So, if a silly blog post can help a guy and family avoid all of that broken messiness?

            It was a good day. Time well spent. I once did something that mattered.

            :)

            Best wishes to you and your family. I’m grateful you took time out of your day to write this.

            Like

          • meridda says:

            I should add–we HAVE been in marriage counseling…my premise for going to counseling was this: I want a partner. I want it to be you. if you don’t want the same thing, that’s okay, but I then I need to go find it elsewhere.
            he has said he wants to be a partner, but he’s just not sure how…this article really helped. and yes, he still leaves dishes by the sink sometimes–because that’s really not what its about…

            Liked by 1 person

            • Matt says:

              Right. Getting it DOES NOT “fix” the thoughtless behavior.

              Getting it allows productive conversation to happen because both partners are talking about the same thing for the first time ever.

              Even just typing this, it sounds so stupid to me. That couples can spend DECADES having the same fight with the same patterns and emotional triggers.

              And all that time, neither person TRULY understands fundamentally why the other person is saying and doing what they’re saying and doing.

              We chalk it up to crazy, say things we feel but don’t mean, and most people divorce or stay miserable.

              I’ve believed from the moment all of this hit me that the simple (yet super-difficult) process of getting people (mostly men) to SEE this process for what it really is — that is NOT saying and believing his wife or girlfriend is “overreacting” or “being crazy” or “menstruating” — that many, many, many marriages/families/relationships will survive the ups and downs Life delivers.

              All because both people are speaking the same language, or at minimum, using a functional translator.

              No idea whether any of this is true.

              Perhaps I’m totally full of it.

              But I do believe it.

              Like

      • lmbenigni says:

        I’m curious about the women that wonder “how can I show this article to my husband,” or “how will he take it?” I was barely through the article before I forwarded it my husband, letting him know that I cried while reading it, and felt like someone had crawled into my brain to rationally explain my anger and sadness. Why are we so much more protective of these guys’ feelings than of our relationships? Send it! maybe he’ll get mad! maybe he’ll be upset – but then you have to honestly ask each other WHY you’re upset – what did he agree with and disagree with about the article? If you are identifying with even a portion of this great article, but can’t send it to the man you are married to, your marriage is already over. Let me know if you need help – any of you – finding a voice or working on these complicated interpersonal dynamics. I promise, I got your backs.

        Like

    • Mark says:

      My wife sent me this the other day and it made me feel horrible! Horrible in the sense that after 19 years together I wanted nothing but her to feel happy and appreciated and respected. For years I thought the glass metaphor was her being petty and nagging. But now that I realized that by me reacting that way made her feel the exact way I was working hard all these years to avoid. I’m left now sort of having to start over and completely rethink how I react to every situation. But women do it to men as well and men may feel the same way. So what do I do now? I still feel like I want go into defense mode if she says something about the glass and I’m sure I can contain myself but is that even completely healthy? Bottom line this article brought things into perspective but what is a healthy way to fix it?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Obviously there was something much deeper going on; it is very unlikely that any girl would give up the man of her dreams over such a petty thing. Either she married you knowing that you aren’t truly the man of her dreams or she is really that petty, and you are better off without her either way.

    Like

    • Tiredofit says:

      Again, it is not about the glass. It’s not about the glass being dirty. It is the fact that he left it there, for her to put away. He stopped his responsibility right there beside the sink. Then she had to ASK him to put it in the dishwasher. The point is, it is exhausting to have to get involved in every dirty dish your partner leaves beside the sink. It is one more thing you have to deal with. You expect to do things for your children, and teach them the way. But when your grown up husband leaves his dirty glass it’s a slap in the face. And over time, you start to think.. hmm.. what does this person really bring to the table here? Money? Because if I left him, I could still have his money and I would have one less glass to have to deal with every single day. Women need partners. We have jobs, children, and households to run. Why is it that I work 40 hours a week and you work 40 hours a week and then we come home and you can’t put your own glass in the dishwasher? Why does that default to being my job? We do not want to be mothers to our lovers and by leaving that glass, you kill the romance. You tell me that my time and energy is less valueable than yours. If she doesn’t put that glass in the dishwasher, when will it get put in? In my house, never. Maybe 2 weeks from now. I can ask but that doesn’t mean he is going to put it away. And the next time he leaves a dirty glass, I’ll have to ask him again. And he can choose to blow me off again. That, friend, does not a marriage make. We want a partner. And I promise you that after 5 years of dirty glasses, I have thought of divorce many, many times.

      Liked by 2 people

      • AnnieB says:

        Oh my god this spoke to me. You described it so exactly on the nose. The exhausting thing is it never seems to get better with talking. We’ve talked about it and he will default to well give me a list. I don’t want to be the micro-manager. I don’t want to write a list of chores dammit, that’s another chore for me! And what inevitably happens is I write a few things down, he does them (often rather huffily) and then is DONE. While I’m still going on and on with the every day details and chores that make our family run. When I got married all my mom’s friends were like: make sure he does his fair share. But no one, nary a soul, has figured out how to make this work in practice.

        Like

        • iwepaa says:

          Oh, I hated the “just tell me what to do and I’ll do it”-thing. Until one day, I really blew up, and apparently found the right words.

          I told him that telling me “Just tell me that I should empty the trashcan, I can’t read your mind!” is about as reasonable as saying “Just tell me that I need to brush my teeth, I can’t read your mind!”. I told him, the point is that nobody needs to take a detour through my mind in order to know that they have to brush their teeth. And in the exact same way, no mind-reading is required in order to know that trashcans need to be emptied. It’s not rocket science. It’s not mystical knowledge only I have access to. It’s being a f***ing adult capable of leading an independent life.

          Somehow that tooth-brushing comparison sank in. He looked at me in actual surprise, and I think in that very moment understood for the very first time what the heck I had been talking about all those years. Things have improved so much ever since. It’s not perfect, but it’s way better. And I must admit: I was surprised, too. It had never occurred to me that he could possibly not have *understood* what I had been saying. All. The. Time. I thought he’s just lazy and taking advantage of me.

          Liked by 1 person

          • kim says:

            we had a similar experience. We went on vacation to my parent’s for 8 days. Every day my dad gets up and straightens the kitchen, puts away the dishes if they need put away, snow blows the drive if it needs done, He will vaccuum if it needs done, and spot clean the carpet if that needs done (grandkids spill sometimes). He sees what needs done and does it. He does not do it “for” my mom.
            I pointed this out to my Husband, with our last big argument, after I had worked the entire weekend (he has weekends off) and came home to dishes stacked to the ceiling, counters dirty, stove dirty, floors dirty…when I say I work a weekend that means I go in on Saturday morning and come home Sunday night.

            Thing is, my dad doesn’t see it as her job and his job. He sees it as Her house AND his house. He doesn’t do it for her, he does it because it is his house too.

            I just don’t understand the inability of someone not being able to look around them and see what needs to be done and just do it. Having said that, I mow the lawn, weed eat and all the other things that need done outside. I don’t do those things for him, I do them because they need done and I see that and do it.
            not a hard concept.

            Like

      • F says:

        You crawled inside my head and spoke my words.
        I get you….

        Like

      • You say it like that andvit makes sense!

        Like

  6. Well, now. The Squire often leaves his dishes on the counter for me to put away, but I have that figured out and it is pretty much my own fault.

    I Have A System. And by gum, you are in big trouble if you mess it up. The Squire and I both know this and have learned to live with it. When we were newly married, we were loading the dishwasher after dinner and I didn’t even notice that I was moving every single thing he put into the rack until he called me on it. If he’s home and I’m working (I’m a temp) he will load the machine his way, and by gum! those dishes actually get clean! Sonofagun! But if I’m around he will generally sit stuff on the counter. Mind you, this man packs my lunch and has the coffee in the cup for me to add hot water in the morning.

    We’ve been married over forty years. It’s too much trouble to break in a new husband at the stage of our lives. I’m going to let him keep me.

    Like

    • Lisa💁 says:

      My husband was reloading my dishes too! And complaining how I wasn’t doing it right! I changed the way I loaded it trying to do “better “. It was never right. Finally I told him if 10 different people were here I bet each one would load it differently. I kind of made some progress with but he still gets annoyed sometimes out of his habit to complain about the dishwasher. If I can’t fit something in I move stuff, so what? I don’t think wow my husband loaded this all wrong and now I can’t put this in! No one can foretell what is going to need to fit in later!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jupiter says:

    Guys like you are keepers… I think she seemed a bit ‘Naggy’ but I’m guessing that she was trying to control her surroundings because she was unhappy for whatever reason… Maybe had nothing to even do with you but still sorry you had to suffer through the pain of divorce… Kudos to you for working with her to raise your son cooperatively <3

    Like

  8. Bonnie Clark says:

    Sorry, dude, but you still haven’t figured it out. She didn’t leave you because of the glass and it isn’t about respect or death by a thousand cuts either. Women may be irritated at their husbands for that kind of thing. We may nag our husbands forever, but we won’t leave them because of it.

    Wake up! It’s because you weren’t satisfying her sexually. Period! That may be her fault and not yours, but that’s the bottom line.

    That dirty glass thing is just plausible deniability to save face.

    Like

    • effbacon says:

      Unless you have information about their marriage that I haven’t seen, I’m not sure how you came to that conclusion of her lacking sexual satisfaction. I know my SO wouldn’t leave other that issue as her interest is close to zero.

      Like

      • Bonnie Clark says:

        My observations over many decades are that women only leave husbands for one of three reasons:
        1. She has reason to fear him, and she is afraid he will hurt her or someone she loves – ie: her children.
        2. Financial insecurity.
        3. She senses that he does not desire her – ie: she is not sexually satisfied. In this case, she will leave when she connects with someone she believes she can find love/desire with.

        I’ve seen it happen over and over and over. I have never seen a situation where a woman left her husband for any other reason. If they were not fighting over money, and he never threatened nor abused her or her children, that only leaves one possibility.

        Women do not leave over dirty glasses. It’s always about love or money.

        Like

        • sam says:

          glad your generalization covers every divorce situation ever. thanks for that info.

          Like

        • sam says:

          p.s. you know what happens when you assume and generalize…. you’re gonna look like a dick. because its an ignorant thing to do.

          Like

        • Wesley A Edwards says:

          This also happens as a wife refuses to care for a home. I suggest reading this together and often revisit it. Never felt more disrespected in my entire life, come home to a nasty home. I worked so hard for.

          Like

          • Bitter woman who just lost a bit more hope for humanity... says:

            Cause of course it’s just the woman’s job to keep the house clean. Because all women love cleaning. And cooking. And standing by the door when her husband come home with a cold beer for him before giving him some intimate pleasure without expecting anything in return. And all he has to do is bring in money. Yup, those are the modern male and female roles to expect in 2017……. *cough* misogynist *cough*

            Liked by 1 person

        • Dawn says:

          Sorry hun but they do. It’s all about respect. When a woman feels like her husband is treating her like a door mat then she’s going to walk away from the maŕrage. So many woman get treated like door mats at work. They don’t won’t to be treated that way at home.

          Liked by 1 person

        • katsully says:

          I know a number of women who have left precisely because of the dirty glass, which is typically a symptom of the husband turning his wife into his mother (he can’t be bothered to figure out how to keep a tidy house or he isn’t interested in her happiness). In the 1980s, Arlie Hochschilds wrote an entire book about the phenomenon: _The Second Shift_.

          Here’s a direct quote from one of my friends who left her husband because of the dirty glass (which is really about not having an equal partner): “I’ve already got one child, why do I need two when one of them is a 44-year old man?”

          Perhaps the women Bonnie Clark knows are all SAHMs or otherwise financially dependent on their husbands?

          Like

          • jennbb33 says:

            I read that book (The Second Shift) in 1993. It resonated deeply then, and still does now. And I do feel like I have three kids – but somehow I birthed one 3-1/2 years before I was even born!! Tired of it. And he yells at me not to treat him like a spoiled baby.
            But… you behave like one…. and we teach people how to treat us….

            Like

  9. What a great post! The glass represented the beginning of the marital breakdown. She felt disrespected, unappreciated and unheard – all factors which lead up to divorce. It’s so difficult for men in our culture to understand that woman are their equal. We can build spacecraft too, we can be police officers, detectives, firefighters and take on the role any man has ever had in the past and we don’t feel like doing housework either!

    Like

  10. […] his lesson too late. This was the first post I read that made me respect this man, Matt: “She Divorced Me Because I left Dishes by the Sink.” So sad he learned too […]

    Like

  11. timbuckto says:

    You’re right it’s not about the dish, although it’s still pretty.

    It’s about the little cuts that are never talked about… Never addressed… Never healed. The real problem is communication. Our first inclination is to internalise disrespect and to make the other person into a villain without thinking about how they feel in the situation. This goes both ways as a defensive mechanism and you can’t completely fault yourself over not seeing the lack of respect in one dish.

    The true failing is the lack of calm explanation of the situation and why she felt that way. The communication is needed and encouragement to nudge those who don’t feel the same way about the situation so that they can understand.

    There’s a saying I learned in philosophy long ago and it applies to this. “It is only reasonable to assume that common sense… Is only common to you”

    Until a problem is fleshed out and made common for the other party it is egrigeous to expect them to use their intelligence to reason our a psychic understanding of the offended parties feelings.

    Communication is key… If a person can’t articulate it, get help. Ending a marriage over dishes is rediculous and lazy.

    Like

  12. joe says:

    It always seems one way. It seems the burden of marriage is on me, not her. She can be as irrational as she likes that is HER RIGHT. I am not allowed that benefit. There seems to be only one way in relationships. It appears that I have to subjugate my rational soul in order to appease an irrational argument. Doesn’t seem very fair to me.

    Like

  13. joe says:

    I feel like our marriage is good. Every idiot argument I eventually toss to the side like a pebble into the sea and forget about it. Every idiot argument she takes that pebble and puts it in her pocket and when the next idiot argument comes she says ‘look how full my pockets are; this is our marriage’ and when I don’t agree with that, I am a jerk. If I don’t agree with her variety of irrational or even completely unjustified or wrong things then I am a bad husband. It’s exhausting being ‘the Buddha’ when you are not the buddha. There’s only so much strong quiet sympathy I have before once in a while I just say ‘hey that is not fair!’ Shouldn’t she just give me a break once in a while???

    Like

    • H says:

      Joe, research tells us that when a man resists the influence of his wife, he is headed for divorce 80% of the time (John Gottman). When you say “every idiot argument I take like a pebble into the sea and ignore and forget about it”, what you are saying is tha t you refuse to be influenced by your wife. Which means you have an 80% chance of ending up divorced. You say your wife picks up the pebble every time, which is not surprising because you still haven’t listened to her or taken her point. Refusing to listen is a sign of great disrespect for a person you are meant to love and cherish. She keeps the pebbles because every single one represents a betrayal that threatens her happiness and safety. Once she gets enough of them she will leave. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you never listened to her and never gave in, and that you singlemindedly tossed aside the things she found important. She will be able to start again, hopefully with someone who respects her much more than you have. Even being alone is better than being with someone who tosses your heartfelt opinions and desires into the sea so that he can ignore them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Angryguy77 says:

        Ridiculous. You just assume his wife is rational at all times, and you assume he doesn’t take anything she says seriously. Some arguments are in fact “idiotic” and not worthy of remembering or holding onto.

        Just because he’s not a weakling who gives quarter to every one of his wife’s complaints, does not mean he’s a terrible husband. Yet, it appears that’s what many women expect here.

        Respect is a 2 way street. People need to stop acting like they’ve been crucified to a cross every time their husband/wife forgets a minor detail, or has a differing opinion on how to run the household. B

        Like

        • Oog-Ahg says:

          “If a man gives his wife respect, that makes him a weakling. If a man doesn’t understand his wife’s point of view, it means she is irrational.”

          Like

  14. […] frustrated and angry with their husbands who leave dirty laundry on the floor, and dirty dishes next to the sink said: “I know you’re sad your husband died, but that doesn’t mean we should excuse the […]

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  15. Diana says:

    I see both points.. However, when I continuously ask for help with the baby, and he says I’m asking too much… That’s enough to want to split. Its not the task but knowing that my request for assistance is bothersome is hurtful. Its not even a task for me, its something that our baby needs.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Eve says:

    You are spot on!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The author makes men seem kinda stupid. Who’s to say this guy wasn’t out there busting his ass, building, creating, and making money. Who’s to say he didn’t take care of her every need and then she’s gonna divorce him over dishes? If shes out there working too then I do get it.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I’d argue that I make men (in relationships) seem thoughtless and ignorant — not stupid.

      It’s one thing to not understand something, and entirely different to not be able to understand it.

      I think men can understand it. Which is why I write these things.

      Men are not stupid. Most people are not stupid.

      But it’s VERY, VERY HARD for the average person to step outside of their own mind and life experiences (especially when they’re angry or hurt) and put effort into UNDERSTANDING why someone else’s viewpoint could make perfect sense to the other person, while seeming so glaringly wrong to us.

      It’s the root of EVERY deadly and/or relationship conflict of any kind in human history.

      One side believes this.

      The other side believes something else.

      And the inability of BOTH sides to empathize with the other causes war. Whether that’s a deadly fight between vast armies. Or a simple disagreement with a loved one.

      When we remain steadfast that we’re RIGHT and the other is WRONG, fighting is perpetual. And relationship breakage, assured.

      Men are not stupid.

      But because no one teaches us this shit growing up EVER, at any point along the way, we accidentally mess up our relationships when we try to convince our partners that they should agree with our “correct” way of thinking.

      Men, mathematically speaking, do this more often than women.

      Once the average man is armed with the basic premise and skills of empathy, the entire world will change.

      For the better.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. So much thoughts placed in this writing.

    Sometimes, something little might be really significant to an individual. It’s never about the subject of matter, often times it’s the act itself that matters to women which stems from various reasons- love, care, concern, appreciation, comprehension, receptive listening towards her.

    It’s never about leaving socks on the floor, not doing the dishes, leaving the wardrobe opened etc. It’s more of “These little things matter to her, I need to hear her out and understand. If I am not listening to her voice, then she’s just as unimportant as these little things.”

    But of course women should never demand. And men, they can never read between lines therefore women should be straightforward in their requests to their spouses. E.g. “Could you pick up your socks please?” “Could you help me to do the dishes please?” “Could you remember to close the wardrobe please?” Importantly, are words of courtesy. This would probably help to build an open, honest and positive relationship between spouses. Pretty sure men don’t like feeling dominated by women neither do women like feeling that she’s a 24-hour-chore-robot.

    Takes two to tango!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Megan says:

    It’s not the ONE glass. It’s the one that shows up after that, the napkins, the stuff out of the pocket on the counter. Usually when someone can’t do one dish they ain’t doing the rest and it’s so annoying. I’m not your mother. We share a house so pick up after your damn self.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jennbb33 says:

      I agree, Megan. I married my husband to be his partner. He has an expectation – as most men do, in my experience – that requires an acknowledgement of what he has done: made the bed, done the dishes, folded the laundry and thrown another load in, picked up milk because we had run out, that I do on the regular and NEVER get thanked for. Where are these men coming from where they require a constant reminder, a never-ending thank-you for doing these tasks that seem to automatically fall to the wife the moment the honeymoon is over?
      And why do the gift buying expectations, the remembering of the in-Law’s birthday’s, the putting of the dishes into the dishwasher, the appointment remembering all fall to her as well? I realize this is a generalized statement, but this is the unfair reality I have found myself in, as well, and I gotta say, it’s bullshit. And when I tell him it’s his deal now, he gets mad because he has to remember his mother’s birthday, or his niece’s christmas gift. Fuck that shit. I’m your wife, not your secretary. And put your damn dishes away. Rinsing them and putting them in the sink is a half-assed job.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. […] Source: She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink […]

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  21. […] wrote that story a year ago, and since, more than five million people read it on this blog, and several million more read […]

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  22. Bert says:

    I think there was a lot more going on than one glass. If the rest of the relationship was fine except for that one issue there would be no divorce. If money is good ( # ! reason for divorce) sex is good, you love each other from the heart a small matter like this will not cause a divorce.

    Like

  23. Matthew says:

    From my perspective it is all about the glass, a sink with an object lingering in it is not about appearances for guest. A sink with an object in it significanty interupts the efficiently of the kitchen, to place things in the sink for immediate cleaning, filling of buckets, rinsing things off. It is the equivalent of leaving a pile of junk in your chair, every time you want to sit down there is something in the way that you have to deal with before you can sit down. Then the reason for this repeated inconvenience is that the other person will not do a simple step the must be done anyway but refuses to do it. And yes it says everytime that your selfish, and that your disorganized, you were making her life much more difficult for no reason.

    Like

    • Matthew says:

      And it speaks volumes about your willingness to listen, and be a team player. If you could not get this small concept it said to her she was in for a lifetime of being ignored or misunderstood.

      I am not perfect I have made my fair share of simmilar mistakes.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. William says:

    This article was interesting and enlightening. I am divorced and remarried. I can say from experience – respect and love is a two-way street. Communication is most important- saying what you really mean and really listening.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. […] article was originally published at mustbethistalltoride.com. Reprinted with permission from the […]

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  26. EMILY says:

    I gotta say – with my ex it always felt like he thought of me as an employee or maid when he left his crap everywhere with no intention of picking it up. nothing could be more disrespectful than throwing your stuff everywhere and sitting on the sofa thinking “she will take care of it, because i own her.” Right. Like women don’t have jobs and feed and raise babies as well, we need to pick up your trash too.

    That was just the reason it always bothered ME so much. I wanted to be a partner, not a worker.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jennbb33 says:

      My husband of almost 18 years still doesn’t get this message. And now we have two kids who haven’t embraced what I’ve been trying to teach them: don’t put it down, put it away. Yes, I have started the countdown until the youngest is done with high school (he’s almost 9… halfway there!). Because then I am legally done with everyone.

      I am sick of being the fucking laundry, dishes, dusting, cat box cleaner, dog poop picker-upper, dog walker, house-cleaning, bathroom, grocery-getting, meal planning, cook, pet, and everything else fairy. If you want to help, and I have to either tell you where the stuff is to execute what needs to be done or tell you how to do it or give you instructions, YOU ARE NOT HELPING ME.

      And for those of you who say, aw, come on, if people are trying to help, cut them some slack, that’s all fine and good for you. But when you have to tell someone repeatedly to do the same thing over and over, throughout the course of days or weeks, because they don’t retain the information or see that it needs to be done, then fuck it all. I’ll just do it myself. Get out of my way. No, I am not a martyr, I am just sick of telling you that the laundry needs to be folded. AGAIN. Or the dishwasher needs to be emptied. AGAIN. Or the cat box needs to be cleaned. AGAIN. TODAY. Because it’s a new day.

      I can’t wait to live alone, clean my abode, and have something be somewhere that I put it, when I go back to get it. Sure, it may be lonely, but I will have my pets. Those guys I know I have to care for.

      Like

      • Angryguy77 says:

        Why not just stop doing these things and let your family learn the hard way? But then again, you wouldn’t have an excuse to leave.

        Like

        • kim says:

          I tried that. It just got worse and made my life harder. It is not a matter of looking for an excuse to leave, but basic respect and common courtesy. I let it go for 10 days to the point where the house was so bad there were bugs coming out of my step daughters room, towels under the beds where they could mold from being shoved under there while wet, the city threatening to ticket us for the lawn and I am pretty sure there would have been rats for all the garbage strewn all over the house. Maybe you don’t know how bad it is. I think I do.

          Like

        • E says:

          Some men really do just leave their shit there for weeks on end. Once I left my ex to his own devices to see if he’d FINALLY get the picture…..and he didn’t! He left a pile of dishes next to his computer for over 3 weeks, until I finally had to clean it because the smell was so bad it actually made me feel sick. There were bits of mould and little black bugs everywhere. His only excuse? “It doesn’t even smell that bad. I don’t know why this shit bothers you so much.”

          Enough was enough. I was tired of feeling like a nagging shrew on a good day, and a worthless slave on a bad day. I was always “expected” to clean up after myself AND him. He never saw the house as being a place that should be clean, and he never saw me as a person whose opinion should be respected. In the end, it wasn’t about him not doing the chores. It was about him not seeing the relationship as an equal partnership where we both chip-in.

          Like

          • Ana says:

            He sounds like a complete tool. Good for you for leaving. The rest of the idiots here who post about this stuff being inconsequential and say to get over the glass are tools too bc they just don’t get it. Spare us your condescension – clearly you aren’t in the same situation so stop judging others suffering. Pick up a book and get a clue or some empathy.

            I’m waiting for my papers to be done and I’m out. It’s hard but every day of feeling stifled is making me crazy. I’m looking forward to breathing again.

            Like

      • ladyinthemountains says:

        Start the process and leave. You will be lonely for a bit. It is scary as hell but….. I am so glad my ex left me. I don’t know if I ever would have but I am much happier now. I will never let someone treat me the way he did again’

        Like

  27. Mark says:

    Forgot in my last post to say “Yes” us men need to be enlightened with this article.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Lisa💁 says:

    Sorry but the wife here sounds like a control monster to me. I bet getting upset about the dish not being put in the dishwasher is not the only complaint. I just wonder if she goes behind every thing he does and corrects him or has a better way? One small excerpt may not tell the whole story. How about she show her love and respect by relaxing over trivial stuff and concentrating on the big picture of what he does right. We all don’t have to be uptight because she is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Angryguy77 says:

      Spot on Lisa, but sadly, the reason there are so many conflicts is because women are taught from a very young age in our culture that men are incapable idiots and must be guided. There is no respect for men in american culture anymore. I honeslty think a level of contempt for men is ingrained in most women without them even knowing it before they even get married. Just look for it on TV and movies, you’ll see how poorly men are portrayed. Women are told by society from the moment they are born that they are special and deserve to be put on a pedastle, not because they earned that, but for the reason of just being born a female.

      So, you then have cases like this where the wife assumes the husband is disrespecting her by not complying with the smallest of asks that she has. He’s not a real man because a real man would comply without being asked or reminded( at least that’s what’s shown in our media). Everything else he contributes is void because of not paying attention to minor details.

      Imo, the op didn’t get divorced because his wife felt disrespected, she left him because he didn’t stand up for himslef. He didn’t demand that he be treated with respect as well. He let rage build inside of her rather than making a better case for himself.

      All this being said, I’m not saying no woman has a legit complaint, I’m sure many are married to real jerks. However, if people relaxed like you said, and didn’t let small things get in the way, I’m sure there would be a lot less broken marriages. What I said above is made knowing that there are exceptions to every rule, but from what I see, there’s fewer and fewer exceptions to be seen as time moves forward.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beatrix says:

        I will say that this very fear (that I was being petty, and was assuming my husband was an idiot, not respecting him etc.) was what kept me quiet, until the point that I currently have an unemployed husband who does some cleaning, but mostly just watches TV and laments that he’s not man enough to provide for the house. I have let small things go for almost 10 years. I was happy with a 60/40 labor division, even tolerating a 70/30. But now we are at 90/10 and we are no happier in our marraige than a couple where the husband is “not respected by American culture”.

        Like

  29. […] And loving and honoring one’s partner and working for the benefit of her or his emotional health and welfare, is INFINITELY more important than winning arguments about marching bands vs. football, or the significance of leaving a dirty dish by the sink. […]

    Like

  30. Jim says:

    I get the frustration of being disrespected in a relationship. I would come home, make dinner, do the dishes then hope to spend quality time with her yet instead she found Facebook & Instagram more engaging than hanging out with me. Sex was good at the start but after a couple of years of being ignored & also told how awful men are and the victimization of females is the only issue that interested her, I really started to resent her…So I left her and found someone without so many issues. We have a wonderful partnership & I couldn’t be happier.

    Like

  31. This helps me understand my husband a lot better. Yes, I’m female, but I’ve always been proud that I don’t “sweat the small stuff,” like housecleaning. He does the cooking/cleaning, and I’m grateful; he rarely asks me to do more, but I don’t always do well at showing that I care about his efforts.

    Like

  32. Ned says:

    The problem I see is the man can’t even put it in the dishwasher right anyway. If he does, it’s in the wrong spot. Or he should have run it because it’s full. Or why did he run it because it’s not full, or it’s loaded incorrectly.

    The man not only has to do the million little things that set her off about feeling loved, he has to do them exactly the way she would do them. Any other way is just wrong. I am actually learning how to do things the way she would, but it’s a set up for inevitable failure unless I’m saying “I got this” about some masculine chore that she is unable to do.

    I feel like I learned the lesson the author did years ago and averted the divorce, but he only learned half the lesson. It’s a trap.

    Like

  33. bob says:

    I applaud this post but think it would be better if you acknowledged two things that are implicit in your post: (1) you thought it was okay not to take your wife seriously; and (2) you thought it was okay for her to be your maid. Right? To her leaving the glass there probably signaled to her that you thought it was appropriate for her to take care of your mess. You knew that if you left it there, she would put it away. Right? It doesn’t matter that you wouldn’t put it away if you were in her shoes. You knew that’s what would happen and you did it anyway because you thought there was nothing off about her cleaning up after you.

    And more importantly, when she told you, you ignored what she was saying because you didn’t agree. You operated in a system where your disagreement with an idea meant you could dismiss it as an emotional outburst. It was invalid because it differed from your point of view. I’m glad you’ve learned some coping strategies for dealing with a marriage where the spouses have different perspectives but a more fundamental issue is that you had a sexist view of your wife’s duties and obligations and the validity of her opinions. You don’t say whether your wife worked but assuming she did not ask yourself this: Had she overspent and thought well he’ll work more to pay it off or said that you turning a request to put a dish away into a marital argument by refusing to do it was just you being emo, you wouldn’t find that fair or correct, right?

    It might also be fair to admit that it wasn’t just that one glass…

    Women who are economically independent leave marriages like this because why be a maid for two instead of one?

    Liked by 2 people

    • jennbb33 says:

      SPOT ON, BOB.

      Like

    • Lisa💁 says:

      No Bob maybe not sexist view , maybe he was just living in his house . When I clean up I just clean everything in sight, not , this is mine this was yours! Why can’t she have just cleaned up if she was cleaning. If she didn’t want to clean it leave it. I usually always put my dishes in the dishwasher, but I will leave a pan to soak sometimes in the morning while I go take a showers. My husband will never lift a finger to clean that for me. I clean his skillets sometimes because I was cleaning. I wonder to myself why he doesn’t clean it but I just move on. Like Matthews wife , my husband will get annoyed with me at times commenting on every imperfection. Hey I am not you, I am not driven to perfection in those areas. Nothing personal. So I really don’t know if it’s a man versus woman thing either. My husband is not lazy , does his own laundry, cooks, yard , cars. I just wonder how I would feel if he slacked off. Would I notice ? Cause um he left the skillet out. Maybe he does slack off and I just don’t pay attention. Because I am not a controlling person. I don’t parent him.

      Like

  34. Nonsense, shr should stop controlling him. I cleaned every crumb up for my insane clean ex husband out of love but we still divorced. She should have taken someone who thinks the same about cleanness if she can’t live like that.

    Like

  35. Moi says:

    OK guys, I have been married a long time. First things first. You cannot change another person. You can only change your reaction. I hate housework. I am a woman and I hate housework. I hate every bit of it. My husband does not help around the house so we do not live in a pigsty, but, I have nothing like what you see on TV where they have the floors shined to perfection.
    The way to keep someone from mistreating you emotionally is the word “no”. Strongest word in the English language. Do not nag. Do not use sarcasm. Do not lie. Do not cheat. Laugh a lot. Enjoy sex with each other. That is pretty much it.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Becca Mock says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It is my situation almost to the letter. To break up over a coffee table seems so stupid. I have told him that is the first thing people see when they walk in the door. He just doesn’t care about what bothers me.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Excellent…
    You have written the situation with knack and simplicity- It’s never just the glass…whether its half empty or to the top. And the story goes both ways…It really is in that moment when the opportunity is screaming at you that decides the course, do I continue to bitch or concede. However as you have so simplified there is a 3rd option, which encroaches on one’s own vulnerability- to put it out there that despite the glass (or towel or ashtrey) my partner loves me for all my crazy, does not judge me, and understands me at times better than myself and that is better than anything else, unconditionally – no power struggle required, check the ego at the door because we are safe with one and other.

    Like

  38. […] Read the full entry at Must Be This Tall To Ride […]

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  39. J says:

    Seems like your marriage broke up because the both of you couldn’t have adult level conversations with each other. Marriage shouldn’t be a power struggle, its an equal partnership.

    If you are in a relationship in which you are “fighting for acknowledgment, respect, validation, and love”, start calling it the Titanic because it is doomed, doomed, doomed; you guys hit the iceberg long ago at that point. That list represents some of the basic foundations of any successful, happy relationship. No way a marriage can work if either party is fighting for the foundation to be present. That needs to be in place first; you pour the foundation long before adding walls and a roof.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. ladyinthemountains says:

    Wow, a man that truly gets it. By the time I was done reading this, I was teary. I was not the one that left but I so wanted things to work. I just didn’t understand why he kept ignoring the things that were really important to me, though they were “little things” I felt so unloved, unappreciated, not honored, etc. It has taken so much work to get my self esteem back. Thanks for sharing this. Good luck on your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Sarah says:

    Nailed it!

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Rachel says:

    This is exactly it. I work full time as a teacher and he works not so full time as a cook at night, i come home to a toddler who has slept extremely late, thus she doesn’t want to sleep until 1 am, he gets home at 11 and goes straight to sleep, snoring very loudly. Then i get up at 5 and do this daily. On the weekends, he still sleeps in. And me, i still get up early to take our child to ballet. Every second he sleeps late is a second closer to a divorce. I’m so tired. He does the same thing with the dishes.

    Like

  43. Me says:

    Thank you for getting it. I know it SOUNDS stupid but it matters. Especially when it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Matt says:

    Really well done. You captured the tragedy of the thing, which is that men don’t care about the thing. And women don’t care about the thing. People care about the reasons for thing, and that’s what we miss while we’re all caught up in the things.

    The way I this lesson to myself is this: If you see a thing that needs doing, do it. That is all. Do the thing, or else let her see it undone and have her do it. Do it first or consciously make her do it. That’s the only choice there is in household management.

    Liked by 2 people

  45. HN says:

    I have to take issue with this. Not the idea that we demonstrate our love by paying attention to the small things…that’s true. Nor that translating love into concrete actions — consistently — will strengthen a marriage; that’s also, obviously, true.

    BUT. I’m sorry, this title is ABSURD, and the rest of the post is only marginally less so. No matter how many times you repeat “it’s not about the glass, it’s about love/respect” in this post (most readers probably grasped that without being told, but I guess it never hurts to be explicit), you’re not going far enough down that logical path:
    1. It’s not about the glass, it’s about love and respect.
    2. Of course if you don’t love or respect your partner, then that’s going to show up in about *ten bazillion* ways, most of which are more significant than a dirty glass.
    3. You CAN learn to use the dishwasher! It’s low-hanging fruit, and it demonstrates that you’ve heard her, and that you’re willing to sacrifice 5 seconds for something that matters to her. And that’s what people who love each other do. But do NOT expect your new tidiness to save your marriage…because Jesus, it’s just a glass. If your wife was going to leave you over something so small and insignificant, then she either (A) doesn’t really love you, and/or (B) has serious emotional issues.

    I came to your post by way of Eli Bosnick’s horrified response to it on FB. (https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10106136202632539&id=838277&pnref=story) The best line: “my wife could take a wet shit on the kitchen floor every morning and I’d buy a better swiffer. A love that depends on never pissing the other person off repeadedly is not love.” Indeed.

    Like

  46. In family systems theory, we talk about overfunctioners (i.e., the wife who picks up the slack all the time) and underfunctioners (i.e., passive husbands whose wives pick up their slack). Relationships get stuck in this arrangement, and most people instinctively point the blame at the passive spouse for not being more responsible. But from the family systems perspective, that change isn’t likely to be sustainable. The overfunctioning spouse must change before the underfunctioning one can. That is, overly-responsible wives must stop taking responsibility for their husband’s irresponsibility before their husbands will have any incentive to be more responsible in their own behavior.

    Other thoughts: 1) Efforts to change other people tend to be resisted and make people defensive. The more you will people to change, the more they dig in their heels out of spite. 2) Unmotivated people are immune to insight and reason. It wouldn’t have mattered how clearly the wife explained her position; so long as the husband is unmotivated to change, he simply won’t hear anything she says. If you want your spouse to grow up, you have to stay connected to them while changing yourself rather than focusing on trying to change them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      Dr./Mr. Beck. This is awesome.

      Thank you.

      Like

    • kim says:

      How do you do this? Do I just leave the garbage to pile up. The last two weeks I have had to run it to the road as the truck was pulling up because he would “get it in the morning” and then didn’t. How long do you let the dishes pile up? How far do you go to be less responsible to make him more responsible?

      Liked by 1 person

  47. Angela says:

    I left my husband for similar reasons.. It was not a glass by the sink but similar. cleaning to do lists drove me crazy. I can’t event count how many times I would write a list with the same tasks as the week before or the month before. I slowly became his mother.. I bought his clothes, made his doctors appointments, etc. Our relationship was always one sided. We saw the movies he wanted to see or the concerts. I watched hours and hours of sports with him while doing most of my activities alone. I recently started dating and find it interesting just how many men need that type of relationship. It is not something I plan on repeating again. I agree with the majority of your article but I do disagree on the trust and safety issue you bring up.. I think you are giving men too much credit. Women today make good money (If they choose to) and can take care of themselves. That scares a lot of men or at least makes them insecure. I want a partner and not someone I have to take care of. I can take care of myself and do not need to be reminded of such simple adult tasks. I expect my partner to be equal. Equal is sexy. Sure there has to be some give and take but that give and take should be fair.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. John Doe says:

    The unfortunate thing is even though men and women are only physically 2% different we are 100% different in many other ways, especially mentally and emotionally. It is very difficult to determine what bothers women unless they tell you and then you are at least aware of the problem. The problem after that is some women are more emotionally thinking than others but may not seem that way, they may seen ration and logical making the man feel like she gets him. The problem is I have experienced myself situations that women feel that their emotions are facts. In a situation like this there is often no way to even discuss it since it is a feeling not a fact. Emotions are very difficult to deal with especially when they are not explained. If a woman explains what bothers her then at least you can understand what you’re dealing with even though you may never understand or agree with. I think many women need to understand feelings are not facts as is taught in “Recovery” a mental health recovery organization. If she explains how it hurts her then the husband needs to decide if he is willing to give I’m to alleviate the situation. Unfortunately it has to be a two way street that if the husband has issues with things she does that bother him or things that she doesn’t want him to do that bother her. Unfortunately men are often ignored by the wife as his issues are trivial and not important in her mind. This is where it’s important that counseling may come into play for fair and impartial guidance and advice to give them a means of talking about and settling their problems. I ran into a similar stimulation that was more critical. I was scolded for filling the dishwasher from the front to the back. My ex-wife never has a dish washer before we were married and I always pulled out the rack all the way and filled it front to back. I tried to b explain to her either way you are pulling it out equal amounts whichever way you do it. I ended up leaving the dishes in the sink so she could fill the dishwasher the way she wanted to. I found after near 3 decades of an unhappy marriage that she filed for divorce, that she did not and never loved me. When women are very critical of a man its often because they don’t love the man. If a woman loves the man little things don’t bother them. I found that I gave in almost all the time and she still was never happy. I worked very hard at work 40-80 hours a week, helped with the kids from birth and took care of them after 4-6 months and to help her out when she had her own business I cleaned the entire 4 bedroom house every week, cooked dinner, took care of 4 cars, maintenance, washing, kept my clothes picked up, did all the laundry and folded it, except for her hand wash and she would still complain about things.
    After ovee 2 years of on and off professional counseling which she went to 8 times she finally filed for divorce. I always tried to talk to her about what was lacking in the marriage that I needed and it was like talking to a wall. In the end the truth came out. After she filed for divorce without even warning me she admitted that she never loved me from the day I asked her to marry me and told me twice a day she loved me. There was another major secret kept from me that explained the problems in the relationship that I cannot divulge. She also refused to try another counselor or a b trial separation after 28 years. She alas o claimed she didn’t want a divorce, loved me and was willing to work on the marriage. In the end she said “I’m not changing for anybody.” Throughout the marriage I was constantly accused of manipulating and lying yet did neither. In the end I found I had been manipulated and lied to about many things. I’m not perfect and never claimed to be, but I did love my wife from day one until the end, but men are not always the problem. To this day I cannot have a conversation with her because she lives in a fantasy world and thinks she was a great, loving wide and didn’t do anything wrong. I worked in law enforcement and about 75% of the men I talked to said they tried ta k king to their wife all the time and they didn’t care. Also whether it was a male/female or male/msle, or female/female relationship they all complained about the same problems. The main object I should many people go into relationships thinking if you love someone things just happen, without any work. If you want a good relationship you need to always be working on it and both people must be fair and willing to make their partner happy. Lastly, if you don’t love someone don’t lie to them and marry them thinking things will work out fine, they wont, it’ll all end in a nasty mess.

    Like

    • Married Woman says:

      Ummmm, I’m thinking I’d like to hear *her* side of the story.

      There’s a lot of lack of understanding about women coming through here and the stuff about all her “complaining” even after “all you did” – people who live together and do life together have to be able to dialogue about what works and doesn’t work and what they like and don’t like. Sometimes it’s messy and hard. It’s like men want women to gush over every little thing they do and anything else is “complaining.”

      There’s more to this story, I’m certain.

      Like

  49. Alana says:

    This article is SPOT. ON. You had me in tears. Thank you for showing me that men CAN actually get it.
    From a now-divorced, single mum who felt exactly as your ex-wife did. :)

    Like

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