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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4,364 thoughts on “She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink

  1. […] a wife finds a dirty dish sitting next to the kitchen sink, she might feel as if her husband doesn’t respect her since it appears he—at best, […]

    Like

  2. Rosalie says:

    I do get it. The first time here reading your “dishes” story. I so understand what you are telling us. That would be the reason I would divorce. He doesnt think it’s a big deal that he can rinse the dish and leave it in then sink that I just cleaned up and loaded the dishwasher.
    He sees nothing wrong with that. I do

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kim andrew says:

    Straight out of our house word for word!!!

    Like

  4. Nick says:

    There’s something insane about this entire post and the thread following it — it’s too involved for me to put my finger on, but I guess I’d just like to observe that we’ve apparently moved from a culture where the words ‘for better or for worse’ laid the foundation of a marriage, to one where a glass left by a sink can metastasize into such a large failure that it forms part of the rationale for ending one.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ana W says:

      I agree that we’ve definitely moved from “for better or for worse” to something much more shallow and fickle. However, in this article, the glass by the sink represents a larger issue – i.e., not to be reduced to the glass but what it represents. I’m still mystified by how many people (a lot of them men – sincerely no offense) get angry about the glass thing and selectively choose to ignore the larger issue of what the glass represented. No one leaves a marriage because of a glass by the sink.

      Liked by 7 people

      • MRA says:

        Feminism not only failed at this point, it has gone to shit. Instead of telling men to do the dishes how about we talk about bigger issues? Such as giving men equal custody. Until men get equal custody I won’t care about whatever you women have to say.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Cb says:

          you realize it’s men and patriachalism that decides men should pay and women sit back and just live and raise kids. that’s old fashioned conservative culture.

          so if you actually care about men’s rights, you’ll fight for feminism and for women to be equal.

          remember it was Phyllis Schlafy, an anti-feminist, who stopped the ERA saying if women had equal rights then men wouldn’t be forced to care for them. So if you believe what you say, you’d be on the side of the feminists.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Honest K says:

    I shared this on my FB page, I hope you don’t mind. I found myself in a debate with a friend of mine. Either he completely missed the point of the post or I did. It’s very interesting to see what other’s make of this topic, one that I can relate to very much and see beyond the seemingly simple act of leaving a glass by the sink. It’s amazing how trying to educate or enlighten can lead to stubborn horn locking on both sides. I loved this post and thought it gave a brilliant insight to something which many couples struggle with and even struggle to describe.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Loretta says:

    Wow….you hit the nail on the head! I would like to share this on my FaceBook page, Countdown to 60. Great post.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Cheryl Russell says:

    I’m printing this to give to my hubby the next time we have “that” conversation. You need to take this message on tour! Incidentally, I’m also dealing with this with 2 teenage daughters. GIRLS! But they’re teens, with not-fully-formed brains —-YET. My 49-year old hubby should be able to “get” this. It’s totally NOT about the glass. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. evelynmalves says:

    Spot on. That’s exactly how I feel!
    The difference is that I do tell my partner I feel that way and yet nothing ever changes.
    I even sent this to him but when I asked if he was going ready it, he said he would not. I guess some people aren’t willing to learn from other people’s mistakes…

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Cassandra says:

    You’ve figured out your wife’s love language: “Acts of service”.

    Not everybody has the same love languages.
    It’s a matter of figuring out what your partners language is and then meeting in the middle.

    The Five Love Languages is a great book. Anybody who found this article helpful should give it a read.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Anna says:

      My love language is time, with touch running a close second. But I am still bothered by cups left by the sink, clothes not put in the hamper, items not put away in their correct spot, or the toilet lid being left up. Washing ones own dish or putting things away, says “I don’t expect you to clean up after me, I am responsible for my own self” and therefore is a symbol of love whatever ones love language is.

      Liked by 4 people

  10. […] lot of people have sent me this article and asked for my opinion on it. SHE DIVORCED ME BECAUSE I LEFT DISHES BY THE SINK On one hand, I think this is great. There are some nuggets of wisdom that this man articulates very […]

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Kris May says:

    Thank you, Matt! I’m loving the way you write (I’ve got a ton of shit to do, but you keep sucking me in- I’ve been reading your blog for well over an hour) But seriously, a big, giant thank you. Unfortunately, I have rounded the corner into the apathetic ‘I don’t give a fuck I’m ready for a divorce’ state of being. Your blog makes me laugh and dislike my idiot husband a little less. “Humor is the good natured side of a truth”- Mark Twain

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ana says:

    Thought about this today – I’ve commented here before – last I was on the verge of moving out and now I’ve been out for about 3 months. We alternate time in the house with the kids so they don’t shuffle around – we shuffle. This is for the separation – after divorce we will go more traditional. I looked forward to my own place – away from chaos and time to myself. Well meaning friends told me I would be lonely and that I was living in a fantasy. I am home this week with my kids and as I was cleaning out the filthy fridge and cleaning up mess I come home to every other week when it is my week to come home – I think how happy I am to have my small cocoon of sanity that is mine where I can focus on just me and the mess I clean doesn’t belong to another grown person who could do much better if he cared. Note it’s not the kids mess I clean when I come home. They don’t leave grease On the stove or counter or rancid dishcloths (which are used to clean the counter and leave Greasy streaks everywhere). Crumbs on the floor and tables, wrappers all over the place. No thought to organizing the mess that organically piles up in a house for a family. He watched me clean the fridge today – just stood there while I did it. I had cleaned the upstairs fridge weeks ago and said the downstairs needed wiping out – which is put back up fridge do not as full / did he do it? No. So I did it today. Bc I don’t want filth near holiday food I’d soon be cooking for him and my kids and later his parents.

    I finished the fridge and asked him to clean some of the glass with stuck on jelly and goo that needed washing on the counter – hopefully he puts it back when he’s done. I’m sure now he will be congratulating himself for “helping”.

    Every time I wonder if being to harsh I have a biweekly reminder that I made the right decision. I reminded him of a about a dozen things that needed doing this weekend which he’s forgotten to do and planning for the holidays which he leaves to me to delegate and set the schedule for – and a bunch of other stuff. The mental strain is what makes me so tired- and I start to count down days when I can go back to my little room of my own where I can rest again before I have to do this all over again.

    Some idiot said something about how maybe if the guy was better in bed his wife wouldn’t have left him. My man was great in bed – I left him anyway.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. Ana says:

    Thought about this today – I’ve commented here before – last I was on the verge of moving out and now I’ve been out for about 3 months. We alternate time in the house with the kids so they don’t shuffle around – we shuffle. This is for the separation – after divorce we will go more traditional. I looked forward to my own place – away from chaos and time to myself. Well meaning friends told me I would be lonely and that I was living in a fantasy. I am home this week with my kids and as I was cleaning out the filthy fridge and cleaning up mess I come home to every other week when it is my week to come home – I think how happy I am to have my small cocoon of sanity that is mine where I can focus on just me and the mess I clean doesn’t belong to another grown person who could do much better if he cared. Note it’s not the kids mess I clean when I come home. They don’t leave grease On the stove or counter or rancid dishcloths (which are used to clean the counter and leave Greasy streaks everywhere). Crumbs on the floor and tables, wrappers all over the place. No thought to organizing the mess that organically piles up in a house for a family. He watched me clean the fridge today – just stood there while I did it. I had cleaned the upstairs fridge weeks ago and said the downstairs needed wiping out – which is put back up fridge do not as full / did he do it? No. So I did it today. Bc I don’t want filth near holiday food I’d soon be cooking for him and my kids and later his parents.

    I finished the fridge and asked him to clean some of the glass with stuck on jelly and goo that needed washing on the counter – hopefully he puts it back when he’s done. I’m sure now he will be congratulating himself for “helping”.

    Every time I wonder if being to harsh I have a biweekly reminder that I made the right decision. I reminded him of a about a dozen things that needed doing this weekend which he’s forgotten to do and planning for the holidays which he leaves to me to delegate and set the schedule for – and a bunch of other stuff. The mental strain is what makes me so tired- and I start to count down days when I can go back to my little room of my own where I can rest again before I have to do this all over again.

    Some idiot said something about how maybe if the guy was better in bed his wife wouldn’t have left him. My man was great in bed – I left him anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Beth says:

    Dear God, Matt…you’re a damn genius, man. Most divorced men can’t scrape together a fraction of the emotional insight, reflection and self-awareness packed into this article. You hit on so many points that resonate with me and what it was like to be in a marriage with my ex-husband. I love, looooove how you verbalized the attitude of men who expect that exchanging marriage vows automatically entitles them to their wife’s respect (and blind, unearned trust.) I would have loved to suggest that my ex read this before it was too late, but come now… Do I really think there’s a chance in hell he would have taken the time to read something important to my heart? Hahaha! Nope. The mere suggestion would have implied he needs to improve, and therefore would have been an affront to the respect he deserves, dammit. You hit on that dynamic in the “Eat shit, wife” part about men feeling indignant when a wife asks something of them, when they’re already contributing to the household.

    My thing was never literal glasses by the sink. In fact, it never bothered me that I did 95% of the million acts required to keep a clean, nice home. I loved it. If I noticed dirty dishes, then guess what… I’d wash them, unbothered (I’m a gem, what can I say.) That said, a man earns (or loses) my respect based on how he handles conflict, how gentle he is regarding my emotions/heart, and the actions he takes to build trust with me (i.e. he knows I’ve been cheated on and so chooses to share his phone, not treat it as a private appendage attached to his body. And might I add here my own personal opinion that your phone only needs to go in the bathroom with you every single damn time if it dispenses toilet paper.) My “glass by the sink” was how emotionally cruel my ex felt he could be towards me. If I’ve communicated for the hundredth time that it rips my heart out when he stonewalls me as a form of conflict resolution….and then he once again storms out of the house, roaring away in his truck while I’m crying on the floor… Well then. Guess what that’s going to tell me? This man who says he loves me doesn’t give a shit about my heart. He just wants me to shut up and keep my mouth closed. If I had a need, especially related to trust, it was a source of conflict for him: Would he please give me hotel information for those once a month work trips? (Not important when he’s so busy. I should trust him because don’t I know he’s a good guy?!) Or the fact that it made me feel very uneasy that his phone and passwords were off limits when it was his idea before we got married to share his phone. (How dare I imply that he’s hiding something! Disrespect!)

    It’s like you said… “Men want to fight for their right to leave that glass there.” Your wife technically has no right to any efforts on your part. She technically has no right to infringe on your autonomy. But…do you love her? Are you in a partnership? Or are you still mentally a single man, one who has just added the benefits of a wife to his life? From what I’ve experienced, respect to a lot of men means a woman keeping her mouth shut and letting them do what they’re going to do. Yeah…the more I type, the less I want to ever remarry. On that note, my ex did send me a four-sentence email expressing his “overwhelming regret.” I didn’t respond, because his regret won’t fix anything. If he would have expressed even half of the insight in this article, maybe we’d have something to talk about.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Joe Rouleau says:

    Ok so you start putting your glass on the dishwasher. Then she finds something else to represent the same feeling of disrespect and lack of concern for.her feelings so.you start doing whatever it is she requires. And then she finds another thing and another thing. Eventually you do everything she expects and it’s still not enough. This means there’s deeper unresolved issues. In most cases like this , this type of woman will always find fault because no amount of validating her feelings will work. Then what ?

    Like

    • Matt says:

      What if your legit efforts to understand the root cause so that she wouldn’t hurt was the actual thing that mattered to her?

      Liked by 6 people

    • Mickisue says:

      You do not, I assume, know the author’s ex wife, and yet you claim to be able to predict her response. You do not know the author, either, and yet you decide that his understanding of what went wrong in his marriage, his willingness to take responsibility for his lack of concern for her needs is not a cause. Rather, you decide, her”type”—women who want feel heard, to feel valued—just up the ante when their husbands show that they’re listening.

      All this leads me to ask: what are you so afraid of? Why do you view kindness and concern for your partner as somehow a dangerous opening for that “type “ of woman?

      I feel sorry for you, and the upbringing that shriveled your heart.

      Liked by 4 people

    • chrisb says:

      I found myself in that trap. Once I changed one thing, it was something else. And each time I changed my anger and resentment grew.

      What I didn’t realize was, underneath it all there was something ELSE bothering her. Each thing was just a substitute for that one central issue,

      The issue was the fact that I was not present with her. I was there, and doing things, but my mind was somewhere else, thinking about work or hobbies. It’s a problem other people have complained about. She didn’t know how to communicate that one thing to me, so she kept using substitutes which didn’t satisfy her. Once we were separated for awhile I finally figured it out.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Gill says:

      Then you would be cleaning up after yourself and not expecting another human to be your servant simply because you have a penis and feel entitled to be waited on

      Liked by 6 people

    • kayelem says:

      It isnt really about doing individual tasks in order to appease her. It is about living like a fucking adult who can deals with the mess he creates because thats what adults do. Its about NOT leaving all those tasks, that need doing by somebody, for your partner to do. Its about the overall effort of creating a home you are both comfortable in. The unresolved issue isnt with the partner who expected they married a responsible and caring adult, the issue is with the one who expects everyone else to tolerate ongoing lack of responsibility.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jennbb33 says:

        Preach. This, right here. The lack of personal responsibility. My STBE keeps saying ” I don’t understand.” Well, there you have it. You don’t understand. You. DON’T. Understand. Full stop. You stopped listening. I stopped talking. We’re over. There’s nothing left except to be adults who need to break down what we’ve built up and start over in two new lives, now with two children. Yay us.

        Like

  16. This may have already been addressed, but I don’t feel like reading through all 4000+ comments.

    While I do think these issues are important for men to think about in relationships (and act upon), in your specific instance, given hindsight, I wonder whether this was the right partnership/marriage/soulmate for you and you could have absolutely maintained a great marriage with the right partner had you had this epiphany and acted upon it soon enough, or whether this is possibly a sign/symbol/what have you that this wasn’t the right partner/marriage/etc.

    It doesn’t, I don’t think, belie your points, but the underlying inference for me in this is “if I had thought about things more from her perspective, I wouldn’t have lost my lobster….”

    Like

  17. Brian says:

    I know neither the author nor his ex, so I’ll make this as general as I can while still staying on point. Just my take on it for better or worse.

    If the wife simply came out and said “Hey… look, when you leave the glass there, it makes me feel like you’re not even aware that it is hurting me in a way that’s actually way bigger than just the glass” instead of hinting around and playing the “This issue we’re currently arguing isn’t actually the real issue that I’m pissed off about and fighting like hell over” game; the guy is now presented with a statement that needs to be digested prior to spewing an an emotional “WTF? Really? Over a glass?” response.

    I get what you’re trying to say but your retrospective conclusion is simply not the first or even the second conclusion that a guy left guessing is going to come up with. It takes both parties to communicate how they feel in a way that the other will receive it and process it. You almost knocked it out of the park with “Telling a man something that doesn’t make sense to him once, or a million times, doesn’t make him “know” “. Telling ANYONE something that doesn’t make sense once or a million times isn’t going to make them know. I’m curious if the roles were reversed would my wife of 18 years (living together for 23) even consider that the seemingly minor spat was really part of a bigger issue that was potentially marriage ending.

    A couple parting comments….

    “Feeling respected by others is important to men.”
    Nahhh… It’s important to PEOPLE, not just men.

    “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.”
    And nothing shuts it down quicker than nitpicking the way “you got it”

    If “The man DOES NOT want to divorce his wife because she’s nagging him about the glass thing” and “The wife doesn’t want to divorce her husband because he leaves used drinking glasses by the sink.” BUT “She wants to divorce him because she feels like he doesn’t respect or appreciate her”

    Then just maybe it’s worth actually stating that thing that’s really bothering you in the first place regardless of your perceived gender based entitlement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      I think there’s a lot of good and fair thoughts and comments here, Brian. Thanks for chiming in.

      I do apologize for the gender-specific commentary, as it wasn’t written in a way that reflects what I really believe about men and women, nor with the care I would have taken had I known several million people were going to read it. I was/am as surprised as you are.

      I’d seriously like to take a deeper dive on a couple of these points with you, but I’m just a guy with a real corporate job, and have some deadlines to hit.

      Hopefully, I won’t forget to come back to this. Thank you again for taking the time to read and write something thoughtful and substantive.

      Like

    • lizeden says:

      This is a really thoughtful post, and I wanted to say something back to it, because while it’s great, it’s missing the part where a lot of women/people DO directly say what they mean, in addition to all the little things that they care about, and they’re STILL not heard until they’re walking out the door.

      (I’m a woman, and all the experiences I’m about to deal involve men I dated, so I’m going to gender it that way)

      I dated at least three men, and I had direct conversations with them about how they had changed in our relationship, and I wasn’t happy anymore. In each of these relationships, I point blank said “I am not happy in this relationship anymore, because you don’t put the care and effort into our relationship that you used to, and yet you expect me to still put a high level of care and effort into this relationship”.

      Some examples were that all these guys still expected me to surprise them with gourmet home-cooked dinners, wear sexy lingerie and jump on them, play video games with them and/or pay attention to their gaming (even when I wasn’t in the mood), go to sports events with them/cheer for their team, even if I wasn’t into their sport, and occasionally bring them little treats and snacks on the way home from work.

      In the beginning, these are guys that would take me out to dinner, or dancing, or a indie musician who I liked (who they may not be wild about). They’d sometimes cook me a fantastic dinner. They complimented my appearance. They took an interest in my art. They took an interest in *me*.

      But within 3-6 months of dating, they didn’t want to go out anymore – it was a dumb waste of money. Let’s order in from that sushi place that’s pretty good, instead of going to the amazing one downtown. They didn’t want to go to a concert I liked – that artist was stupid and unoriginal. They didn’t notice my new haircut, it’s just hair for god’s sake, and it’s going to grow eventually anyway, so who cares?

      I’d just like to take a moment to address something hear before I go on – part of the problem wasn’t just the “no”/lack of interest in me. Part of it was that when I pressed for *why* we weren’t doing the things we used to, it was because they were stupid, or not that important, or dumb, or childish. It was never “Oh, you know what? I can’t go to that show tonight, because work is crazy and I really just need to stay in and decompress”. It was “god, I can’t believe you listen to that awful musician. Her songs suck”. It was never “Actually, I’m close to hitting my budget for restaurant spending this month, so how about we cook in, and we’ll go to that place you want to go to next month?”. It was “Jesus, why do you want to go to such fancy places? It makes me feel like you’re a gold-digger” (note: I have ALWAYS taken turns paying the bill with the people I date. And I ALWAYS make sure that I’m also taking them to fancy places they like, and not just always asking for fancy places myself. I also generally eat out at budget places, and am only in the mood to splurge a bit every month or two).

      So, a couple months in, all those loving perks that were part of what attracted me to someone in the first place where gone. But I was expected to keep up my end. And it’s funny, how when I commented about all the things that *he* wasn’t doing anymore, I was being a nagging bitch. But when HE complained about all the stuff that *I* wasn’t doing, it was because I was a bad partner, and being really unfair to him.

      Then the talks start. Sitting him down. Saying “I’m really not in the mood to dress up in sexy lingerie for you anymore, because you don’t pay attention to me unless you want to fuck me. You don’t ask about my art anymore, or look at what I’ve been working on, and ask how I did it. You just want me to play your video games with you ever night”. And every, fucking, time, it ALWAYS turns back into how *I’m* the person who wasn’t holding up their end of the relationship, even when I *was* still doing some of the things that I’d done from the beginning. It was always on me.

      Eventually, I break up with these guys. And I tell them why. And EVERY SINGLE TIME, they’re shocked. SHOCKED. I NEVER told them that I felt neglected, they say. Sure, sometimes I would cry and being ridiculous, but I never actually TOLD them.

      Newsflash: I have papers saved that I read from, when talking to them, where I point blank say “you are neglecting me and our relationship”. I have EMAILS that I forward to them, where I point blank say “you are neglecting me and our relationship”. Using the exact words I just typed. You are neglecting me and our relationship.

      But I’m told that was different. Because I was being really bitchy and ridiculous and they didn’t actually realize that I meant I was so unhappy that I was going to break up with them. But now they know, and so now, it’s going to change. They swear. It will. Because NOW they understand. Now that I’m ready to leave the relationship.

      Except I’m ready to leave the relationship. So I don’t really give a shit if they understand or care now, because I’m done. And I tell them, sorry, I’m done.

      Then, I got the “you won’t even give me a chance” speech. The “I must mean so little to you that you won’t even TRY ONE TIME, what kind of heartless, cold person are you?” speech. Because, you know, all those other chances I gave? Those times I tried to talk about it? They didn’t count. Those didn’t mean anything. Because I didn’t do it right.

      Again, it’s all on me.

      This happened to me, personally, three times. THREE. And I can’t tell you how many other women I know (some men too, but honestly, more women) who have the same story. Who went through the same situation. Often repeatedly, with different men.

      It’s fucking nuts.

      Now I do agree with you, and I have personally witnessed situations where people don’t expressly and explicitly state what they need. I have talked to female friends and been like “dude, you need to TELL HIM IN PLAIN ENGLISH what you need. He might get it, he might not get it, but he’s NEVER gonna get it if you just bitch about his video games and don’t tell him that YOU need more quality time with him to feel connected”. So yeah, I totally get you and agree with you that sometimes, women don’t express themselves.

      But I can also tell you that the number of times I’ve point-blank expressed myself and STILL been ignored…well, like I said, it’s three times. Three guys who were shocked, bewildered, and told anybody who would listen that I just up and walked out on them. They had no idea I was unhappy. They had no idea there were problems. I just up and left them, so they’re probably better off, since I proved myself to be a cold, cruel bitch who wouldn’t give them a second chance.

      TLDR: Often, we point blank say what we need. It still isn’t heard.

      Liked by 3 people

      • JFC, this, so much. I could have written it myself, except there’d be four men who got the same speech. Men literally don’t GAFF what the grievances are until their partner is finished with the relationship–then, when the consequences of their behavior come home to roost, that’s when they finally sound a bit like they’re more open to change. Except they aren’t. At most you’ll get a halfhearted attempt for a little while, and then they’re back to their old antics. They’re happy to endure a little screaming and yelling as long as they still get the benefits they’re used to getting.

        No more. Ever. I found a man who was respectful and showed it right from the get-go, and we’ve been together 15 years. I make sure he knows he’s appreciated, and he does everything he can to make this relationship a real partnership.

        Don’t ever fall for “But I’ll totally change now!” It’s just a stalling technique. How they are at their worst is how they naturally are. They can pretend, and it might even last a while, but it won’t last if it’s not their natural outlook.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Laurie says:

    Years ago I was cleaning the house and my husband was in his chair watching TV. I must have walked by him a dozen times. Finally I said “Are you going to help me?” BTW,we both worked full time jobs. He replied “I didn’t know you needed help. You didn’t tell me you needed help.” Okay it’s like that. Several weeks passed. I cooked dinner one night, 3 chicken breasts. One each for myself and our two boys. My hubby went to make his plate, came out and asked “Where is the chicken?” I replied “I didn’t know you were hungry. You didn’t tell me you were hungry.” At that point he realized where I was coming from turned around and made a plate of rice and vegetables. He is much better now.

    Liked by 5 people

  19. […] story the mum is referring to concerns Matthew Fray whose wife left and divorced him in 2016 because he kept leaving his washing […]

    Like

  20. […] January 2016, I published an article titled “She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink” which became the most popular thing on the internet worldwide for a day or so and has now been read […]

    Like

  21. […] story the mum is referring to concerns Matthew Fray whose wife left and divorced him in 2016 because he kept leaving his washing […]

    Like

  22. […] story the mum is referring to concerns Matthew Fray whose wife left and divorced him in 2016 because he kept leaving his washing […]

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  23. Michelle says:

    Reading this article thinking holy shit, you actually GET it. I’m currently inwardly tearing my hair out over my own still-husband’s ‘glass on the sink’ and it’s heartening. A highly intelligent, motivated guy who cares for me yet doesn’t do the one thing I tell him over and over that I need from him. The glass on the sink representing so much more in a relationship reminds me of that line in Phenomenon a bit- cheesy movie but ‘He bought her chairs’ really stuck in my memory. :)

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Matt Hoy says:

    My wife and I have similar struggles. I am a naturally messy person. I understand that’s not fun to live with. I try to fight it constantly, but I often fail. So I often leave the glass by the sink, but my wife takes it in a similarly personal way. At some point the constant drama comes down to me hearing, “This thing about you is unforgivable. You need to be something else or my feelings will remain hurt. I am going to hold both of our happiness hostage until you change.” I understand that this comes from her insecurity. When she feels this, she tries to exert control to feel better, but that gets my hackles up. A damaging cycle ensues. It’s exhausting to feel constantly blamed and inferior. She feels unloved. Neither of us intends to make the other feel in these ways. I don’t know what to do other than try to self-discipline, not hate her for it, and maybe someday it will not be so hard, but I feel like part of me will have to die first. It’s hard to be excited about that and I’m not sure I can realistically be successful.

    Like

    • Gill says:

      How do you feel inferior because of the expectation you clean up after yourself? Why do you feel entitled to be waited on?

      Liked by 3 people

    • JB says:

      I hope your poor wife has left you by now.

      Like

    • You might do well to look up “toxic masculinity” to figure out why you keep up with these childish power-play games with the woman you ostensibly love and honor above all others. She’s going to leave you if you don’t find healing for whatever it is inside you that makes you think of marriage as a competition. You’re working against her, and she’s going to get sick of it one fine day. When she does, remember this? Please? You’ll just go on to make the same mistake over and over again, and you’ll blame women for being the unreasonable ones in every instance when the problem’s really the indoctrination you received about relationships. Learn the lesson now, and you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache coming down the line. My dad never learned that lesson–and he lost every single person he ever loved in his life. Don’t go down that road. I know where it ends, and it’s not good.

      Liked by 1 person

    • christopher says:

      i feel ya. i also feel like i’m being held hostage to someone else’s insecurities and control issues. i DO work at being mindful, and accommodating. but i also walk around feeling like i’m gonna inadvertently break some rule and i’m gonna pay for it, and i have to deal with that stress. the thing is, i don’t lay these trips on her. i do not try to impose MY way on her, and i don’t hold her hostage to my hurt feelings if she doesn’t do things the way i like them done, or if she does it “wrong” to my way of thinking. and we get in the same cycle, cause eventually i get annoyed, feeling like i’m being talked to like a 5 year old, and that my methods and ways of living don’t count and aren’t respected. and that starts a round of animosity. there are more important things in life to be concerned about than a glass by the sink, and those things i put my attention and effort to. but i still try to get along. it often feels very one sided though.

      Like

  25. […] Matthew Fray (She divorced me because I left dishes by the sink) […]

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  26. I’m not married, but the thing that gripped me most about this article is the part about not being someone’s mother

    “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”.

    This is spot on, and I have dated men like this a few times – who need to be told what to do, or don’t worry about things like planning holidays, talking to the landlord with complaints, doing the food shopping, planning what we will do at the weekend – don’t worry Bunty will organise all of that seems to the be attitude. It’s literally so off putting for me as a woman, that even if they have lots of other good qualities like kindness, or trustworthiness, eventually I will have to leave them as I do not want to be the mother to an adult man.

    Liked by 8 people

  27. […] note: Whitney’s link goes to this blog, where a guy actually takes responsibility for making his wife leave. Don’t the Feminists […]

    Like

  28. […] There’s this article, where a man confesses he should have done the dishes more. […]

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  29. Renata says:

    I see this article pop up all over /r/relationships all the time, and it absolutely drives me bonkers, because it’s peddled as The Article You Gotta Read. The Article That’ll Solve All Your Interpersonal Problems! When all I get out of it when I read it is, “Local man too much of an idiot to connect ‘person asks me not to do this’ with ‘this is important to person.'” “Local man invents thinkpiece to provide smokescreen for his poor communication skills.” “Local man decides to cash in on his divorce and gets clapped on the back for deciphering the sort of communication most people hash out in grade school.” I’m so glad I’m a lesbian.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      Cash in, you said. Clearly you have no idea how much money is NOT in blogging.

      Because some people have radically different lives than you, some of them come to realizations about empathy and human communication only after suffering painful consequences for their ignorance. It’s okay if that doesn’t make sense to you, just as I don’t understand how people like canned spinach or enjoy their hobby of raising blue-ribbon hogs that they show off at county fairs.

      People are different. It would be weirder if we weren’t.

      Thanks for starting out the new year dishing out your abundant kindness.

      Liked by 1 person

      • kcat10 says:

        Dear Matt,

        Every time I check in here to see what you’ve written, which is often, I come away inspired. It’s a bit like dipping into a treasure chest of healing words. For you to blog with such high quality consistency–even though there may not be a ton of money to be made–is invaluable. It speaks to the generosity, empathy, and caring of your character. I am filled with respect and appreciation for all you give us.

        One gets the sense that your wisdom and understanding comes at a great price. For you to so openly share what you’ve learned (and earned by paying with your heart’s blood) is a blessed gift.

        It is clear that you are honoring the highest within yourself and others by giving us salient, and incredibly helpful, insight into our relationships. The work you do here is critical to both overcoming and/or preventing damage to the hearts and souls of ourselves and those we love.

        I sincerely hope you are rewarded with all you deserve for being such an outstanding human being.

        Happy New Year!

        Kcat

        Liked by 1 person

  30. T says:

    Good thing I’m gay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      Ha. There’s no escape! Since it’s a metaphor, your “dish by the sink”—as the culprit or person burdened by the actions of another—simply manifests as some other scenario.

      But it’s always present. A thing that matters to one, but not to the other, and getting a human being to start mindfully caring about something simply because it’s important to someone they care about and/or love.

      Nothing tears people apart quite like this one idea can.

      Liked by 3 people

  31. Michael Agotness says:

    I have been trying so hard to get my wife to want me. I have basically made her hate me. Because I have not been able to understand her emtional shut down with me. until I read this I’ve been doing all the duties of our marriage and household wondering why she was not responding when all along I wasn’t listening to what she was trying to tell. Me. You have probably saved our marriage. Thanks and further reads you could forward me would be greatly appreciated i Will forward his to all my friends in similar situations.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. valley says:

    I told my husband this morning that I was leaving him today. This gives me some hope that perhaps he too can and will get it.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Hat says:

    I want to say that I wish i read this before my marriage ended, but i would have been one of the guys dismissing it. Only in retrospect can i see how absolutely accurate this is. I finally realized it about the time i first read this article last year how much i did the “what’s the big deal?” routine, and seeing the article again just makes me hope I can avoid doing it to anyone i may meet in the future.

    Funny thing is- it works in reverse. I was the one who saw how practical it was to wash the glass or put it in the dishwasher or whatever. Had to mention it every time. Had to take 2-3 minutes to complain about the 5 seconds to take care of the glass(or emptying an overflowing ashtray- or emptying it before it overflowed). But, it still wasn’t about the glass/ashtray/whatever. It was about wanting some time where she wasn’t “on-duty”. Home, where she was supposed to be able to relax; kids finally in bed, and rather than leaving her be- the idiot husband was cutting into the time she carved out (staying up late when she really needed to sleep just so she could have a few minutes) with nit-picking about an ashtray when the house was kind of a mess anyways. It’s true- we’d take a bullet for them, but not tolerate a tear.

    Instead of giving her that, i built up that the rest of the mess was because she set a bad example by leaving her glass. It was because she didn’t take a few seconds to do things before they built up and became a day-long cleaning project. I forgot the old rule that the fight is never about what the fight is about.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jennbb33 says:

      Good for you, Hat. I’ve shown this article to my husband and he professes to get it, but still the dishes accumulate, the little wrappers stay on the floor, he still can’t find “the right” full time job. Death by a thousand cuts continues, so I’ll be serving him divorce papers next month. I am heartbroken to do it, but I can’t live this life any more. I can’t support him and still be the full time mommy to him and to our two growing children. I have to tap out of the marriage. That’s that. And he’ll be confused and wondering why. That’s the thing that will kill me the most. Because he’s not paying attention.

      Truly the fight is never what the fight is really about.

      Liked by 2 people

      • meridda says:

        sorry it got to this point, jenn, but good for you for taking the step…maybe like matt, he’ll become enlightened and change his ways in the future…

        Liked by 1 person

        • jennbb33 says:

          thanks, meridda. I just hope he will be an adult about it and not totally be an ass. But… history shows that he may well just be an ass and it will be a tough haul to get to the end. What he does in the future is up to him. I can’t do it any more. And I won’t do it any more. I appreciate your support.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Jimmy says:

      This line of thinking is exactly why marriage is dying. It’s always the man’s fault and women are not held accountable for the things that they do. Yea this guy had his problems but he’s blaming everything on himself when his wife was not perfect. Keep it up ladies. Soon most of you won’t have husbands to complain about because you will be by yourselves. Marriage is becoming less and less attractive to a lot of us to be honest. Very little benefit but a whole lot of risk.

      Like

      • jennbb33 says:

        You sound like a prize. Keep it up.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jimmy says:

          Yea and I’m sure your husband is happy as clams with you too. Don’t kid yourself. He’s not happy with you either but men tend to hold things inside so as to not rock the boat. Have you ever stopped to think that maybe if you stopped acting like a mom, then he would stop acting like a child. Your husband may be complete bum but odds are he was a bum when you married him so whose fault is it. Have you ever gotten to the root of why he can’t find the “right” job. Is something wrong with him. Also have you asked yourself what he does right in the relationship. He might be lazy and can’t find a good job but he also might be extremely romantic. I don’t know. Before you throw him out make sure your own house is in order. You owe that to your family.

          Like

          • jennbb33 says:

            No, he’s not happy. And he’s never been the one to forge forward and take risks. I think 9 years is long enough for someone to find a job, don’t you?? My house is in order, my friend. You don’t know me, or him. Just keep your generalized statements to yourself. He was a bum when I met him – I hoped he would evolve. He didn’t. My bad, 100%. Which is why I’m making the change, rather than let this albatross drag me down any further. He’s too proud to do work that is beneath him. I’m not. He was raised to be “too good” for that. I see and acknowledge what he does do right. Unfortunately, that doesn’t pay the bills. Entitled kids, take note: the world owes you nothing. Sure, I’m at fault; I’m a pushy bitch who wants better in this life. I’m not getting it. I’ve given it plenty of time. Almost a decade. So peace out, Jimmy. And if you ever choose to marry and have children, I hope you won’t expect your wife to also be your mommy. A LOT of men do. I just want to do my own fucking laundry.

            Liked by 2 people

  34. gfgruvin says:

    My wife never told me about these things that had bothered her until she was telling me that she no longer loves me. She let these things fester for years and now our 20-year marriage is all but over. I am in no way trying to defend myself here. I do feel that I could have remedied the situation if she had expressed her feelings about it. It’s obvious that we had communication issues too. I am 50% responsible for our failed marriage. Our forever and ever has ended. I will take what l have learned and apply it in any future relationship(s).

    Like

  35. […] This post originally appeared on Must Be This Tall To Ride. […]

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  36. Sean says:

    It seems so wasteful to me to dirty every glass in the cupboard every time I want to drink some water. What prevents a woman from seeing a different perspective and instead feeling pain. I want to ensure there are plenty of glasses for my significant other and any guests that may stop by. Nobody washes their jeans every time they wear them, or their towels after a single use. Can you imagine throwing a towel in the hamper after a single use and her not having one for her morning shower? Love me because I’m resourceful. Look beyond yourself and see all the ways I shower you with love and respect. This article suggests that men should continue to overlook the flaws of their mate while engaging in very submissive behavior. Show me the article that says I leave the glass on the counter because I love you this many ways. Until then I’m calling this article an attempt at feminising men.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I did a piss-poor job of avoiding pigeon-holing gender stereotypes in this article, so I understand your reaction.

      You and I agree on the sensibility of reusing a glass or reusing a towel after a shower.

      But getting hung up on the minutiae is a mistake and the reason many relationships fail.

      Bottom line: People can experience a thing that hurts them while simultaneously someone else is unfazed by that same thing.

      It’s not relevant what the actual event is. It can be a glass. Profanity. A religious stance or political opinion. A food preference or allergy. A method of raising children. Whatever.

      Two people are there witnessing or experiencing the same thing, but their reactions are different. Not intentionally. It’s just their gut reaction to the moment based on life experience or genetics or whatever.

      And the critical lesson missed by so many (namely myself in my marriage) is that if you want to have a lasting relationship with another human, you better find a way to acknowledge, understand, and account for this other person you care about experiencing something differently than you.

      If it HURTS them, and you keep doing it over and over again, maybe even telling them they’re crazy or stupid or weak for feeling hurt by whatever the thing is, that relationship WILL eventually end. Unpleasantly, most likely.

      If you want to stay single and only be liked by people you have surface-level relationships with, then none of this matters.

      If you want to be married and create a solid relationship built to last, and possibly a stable and reliable home for children, then this is a prerequisite to achieving that.

      You can’t have both. You can’t always “be right” or “win” whenever your marriage partner communicates that something you find silly or inconvenient is causing them pain or stress.

      You acknowledge it, and work to prevent that from happening out of concern for them.

      Otherwise, single life, divorce, or a steady diet of shitty relationships are inevitable.

      It would be easier if it wasn’t true. But it is true. And when more people start getting this right, less people will have stressful, suckfest lives, and fewer broken families and relationships.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sean says:

        I understand what you are saying. In my marriage I ecpierieand a lot of me giving 100% and my wife not giving a 2 shits. I read another one of your posts about a golf tourney and a hike. Sure, it could have been recorded. In my case I would have had to watch it at 3am when the house was still because if I always gave in there is no time for me. This is how we lose our self identity. My point is this, if both parties aren’t giving 100%, if both aren’t able to look beyond their own selfish hang ups then it’s not a relationship worth your effort. The glass analogy was her hang up. Did you ever do the dishes, wash the laundry and put everything away after you did all the outside work and cleaned a pool only to be critisisized for leaving cup on the counter? I have. It was a lopsided relationship, toxic to its core.

        Givers have limits, takers have none. I’m sure you were good to your wife in other ways. Women are mostly nuts and men are oblivious. The key to happiness is finding a person who accepts your dirty glass because you give in so many other ways.

        My dirty glass incident was true. That lead to a string of profanity that seemed to never stop because neither did her constant scrutiny.

        Like

      • Kcat10 says:

        Matt, as I was typing out a response to Sean, hoping it would be at least readable, if not helpful in some way, I saw how you eloquently, empathically, and thoughtfully answered him with the speed of light. Wow. I have developed another level of respect for your ability to make what can be very difficult look very easy.

        For what it’s worth, here’s my two cents:

        Sean, your response to Matt’s answer makes it clear you gave much and received little in your past relationship, and I’m very sorry for the pain you’ve experienced. You said: “Givers have limits, takers have none.” This is true. I wish for you all the love you desire in a mutually giving and genuinely caring relationship going forward.

        My feeling is that this article/blog is about helping partners listen and communicate with loving intention, and act accordingly, in order to avoid the misery, anguish, and pain partners can often inflict on each other through sheer obliviousness, or selfishness, or heaven forbid, malice. There’s nothing here about “feminizing men” or insisting one partner behaves “very submissively” while their imperfect significant other tromps all over them. It is the opposite of that.

        To me, this article/blog is about striving to give the highest love to one another in our relationships, and I believe that is a goal worth aiming for.

        Liked by 2 people

    • kayelem says:

      Sean: if the problem is really the different attitude about dishes, you can resolve it by taking full responsibility for the dishes. Cause the truth is, somebody has to put them in the dishwasher, and run the dishwasher, and put the dishes back in the cabinets. It sounds like, as in most homes, all of those tasks have defaulted to the woman, who therefore should get final say on the how and why of the process but you want it done your way even if you havent committed to being completely responsible for it.

      If you want the how and why to be yours, then you say you will make sure everything is in the dishwasher by a certain time of day, and you deal with it. Every single say, til death do you part. You be the magical dish fairy that makes sure there are adequate clean dishes and adequate usable counterspace not covered by potentially reusable dishes when meal prep and serving times come round. Keep in mind, there is a constant and never ending cycle to keep up with,and you will have to have consistent and dependable habits, and nobody is ever going to thank you for it, though everybody will be grouchy about it when something interferes and the soup is ready but all the bowls are by the sink because that is the household habit you think best.

      Like

  37. Mickisue says:

    You are being disingenuous. If you want to use the same glass all day, TELL HER. See? Communication.

    When it’s just the two of us, it’s not such a big deal. When our adult kids are home, we each save a glass for the day. And announce it, so there isn’t any confusion. Again: communication.

    Communication is THE key to a good relationship.

    Like

  38. Terri says:

    This goes to the heart of understanding another human being. Do you love and respect them? Do you care enough to do the things that make them feel loved and not hate you every time you blow off their feelings? Great article! I keep rereading it.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. Nona Bidnus says:

    Weak. That is what the author is. You have let another person dictate to you what they feel your failures are. Marriage IS a partnership but what you had was a dictatorship. We all do different things to complete our marriages. Perhaps a glass gets left in the sink because the baby was hanging off the back off the couch, or a storm was rolling in and cars need to be moved into the garage, or kids are fighting and it needs to be broken up. The author puts a hardened stamp on her judgement of him and accepts it but doesn’t expand on these other outlying situations. My wife does things that drive me up the wall, but I accept them. I do things that piss her off but she accepts them. Life can’t always be perfect. Glasses can’t always be put in the dishwasher. Weak minded, weak willed, and low self esteem is what is going on here, not a glass in the sink.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Your interpretation of what I’ve written here is flawed, and that’s probably because you’re projecting the dynamics in your household to the dynamics in my former marriage, which makes sense, but is likely not apples-to-apples.

      I didn’t accidentally leave my glass by the sink. I put it there on purpose. Habitually. All the time. It wasn’t to comfort or rescue a child, or some other out-of-the-ordinary situation. Wouldn’t someone wanting to divorce over that be bat-shit crazy?

      My ex-wife and mother of my son is not bat-shit crazy.

      Moreover, specific to my marriage, this is NOT what ended it. It’s a symbolic story illustrating the types of things that ended my marriage, and that I believe strongly are the source of most divorces and break-ups.

      I posted this in a previous reply upthread. It applies here, since a “dish by the sink” can be something else entirely in each individual relationship:

      People can experience a thing that hurts them while simultaneously someone else is unfazed by that same thing.

      It’s not relevant what the actual event is. It can be a glass. Profanity. A religious stance or political opinion. A food preference or allergy. A method of raising children. Whatever.

      Two people are there witnessing or experiencing the same thing, but their reactions are different. Not intentionally. It’s just their gut reaction to the moment based on life experience or genetics or whatever.

      And the critical lesson missed by so many (namely myself in my marriage) is that if you want to have a lasting relationship with another human, you better find a way to acknowledge, understand, and account for this other person you care about experiencing something differently than you.

      If it HURTS them, and you keep doing it over and over again, maybe even telling them they’re crazy or stupid or weak for feeling hurt by whatever the thing is, that relationship WILL eventually end. Unpleasantly, most likely.

      If you want to stay single and only be liked by people you have surface-level relationships with, then none of this matters.

      If you want to be married and create a solid relationship built to last, and possibly a stable and reliable home for children, then this is a prerequisite to achieving that.

      You can’t have both. You can’t always “be right” or “win” whenever your marriage partner communicates that something you find silly or inconvenient is causing them pain or stress.

      You acknowledge it, and work to prevent that from happening out of concern for them.

      Otherwise, single life, divorce, or a steady diet of shitty relationships are inevitable.

      It would be easier if it wasn’t true. But it is true. And when more people start getting this right, less people will have stressful, suckfest lives, and fewer broken families and relationships.

      Liked by 4 people

      • I really admire how you’ve really walked the walk in your replies to this post. It shows that there’s a high likelihood that you did the hard emotional work needed to grow and change at a fundamental level. I’ve never seen a man manage that, and hats off to you. I hope you find love again one day.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Mickisue says:

      Hmmmm. So, you believe that introspection and learning one’s flaws is a weakness? That makes me sad. Because I see it as strength.

      Most marriages don’t start out with kids increasing the ante. They begin with two people who purportedly love and respect each other. But when the needs of one are ignored by the other, that love and respect can grow to be disinterest and disgust.

      For me, in my first marriage, it wasn’t even the glasses, the dirty dishes or the dirty clothes not even landing in the basket on his side of the closet. It was that he expected to be the ONE person in the family who got instant consideration. Ahead of four little kids.

      And that led to my love for him dying, and respect for him withering. Even when there are kids in the picture, partners need to see each other and their needs.

      Liked by 2 people

  40. Hibernia86 says:

    It is okay to do favors for her to keep the marriage going, but she should be doing the same for you. It is wrong to say that the wife should get her way all the time just because she is unhappy with something. She should be thinking about the husband too.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I don’t have the time or energy to reply thoroughly to this, but trust me when I tell you that your seemingly reasonably take on this subject causes many people to divorce and/or break up.

      OF COURSE each should compromise. But you’re confusing each person’s personal preferences and desires with what I’m really talking about, which is one person’s actions actually HURTING their partner.

      It’s not about “making her happy,” it’s about mindfully avoiding actions which she is communicating to you as something that HURTS her.

      When you don’t believe it because that same thing doesn’t hurt you, it makes it even worse.

      This is a really important idea for people to understand.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I do a lot of professional writing regarding gender dynamics within toxic groups (groups that do a lot of harm to participants–whether they hold some kind of nominal power or not there). You’ve hit the nail on the head here and elsewhere.

        I want to mention something that you’re alluding to here: the idea of disparity in levels of emotional work between men and women.

        We know that men trapped within toxic-masculinity mindsets look at relationships as a power struggle. He who holds the most power wins. And I use that pronoun deliberately, because usually the one with the power is the man. He uses that power to shove labor onto the woman, who gets a “second shift” of caring for him and his needs as well as an actual paid job as well as most of the labor maintaining their shared home and raising any kids they have. It’s exhausting and grueling, and most men in that mindset won’t even see that labor unless it’s not done.

        But there’s another form of work in relationships, and that’s emotional work. Caring, looking out for, asking, setting the environment, that’s such a hugely uplifting thing to the person receiving it. I go get a soda: “Honey, you want one?” He goes to refill his coffee: “You ready for a refill too?” It’s second nature to us after 15 years together. He checks in with me sometimes, or asks if I need help doing something if I’m seeming frazzled–or just does it. (I hear the laundry machines going right now. Last night I washed the shower curtain that I knew he’d been planning to do, but he was so tired after work…) I, in my turn, try to show him in as many ways as I can that I appreciate him as well and that I’m looking out for him too. We talk to each other every couple or three months to ensure that nobody’s feeling like they’re doing more than their share; sometimes it has happened on either side, and we adjust accordingly.

        And that’s work. It’s pleasant work for a couple in synch, but it’s work all the same. However, men trapped in toxic masculinity will bristle at the need to do any work at all, even emotional work. It screams of weakness to them. It makes them feel emasculated. That’s women’s work as surely as dishwashing is to them, and they define themselves as not-women and therefore would be lowering themselves to do any of it.

        A funny thing happens on the way to the divorce hearing though: Women trapped in those cultures don’t respect “women’s work” either. They’re also doing their best to shove as much of that labor onto their partners. I’ve heard of couples where the dynamic you describe is happening with a wife doing it to her husband, not the other way around!

        Emotional children, hurting each other, slapping each other, bickering and sniping at each other. And nobody learns, and nobody grows, and nothing changes with the next relationship. Toxic masculinity: it’s a heckuva drug.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jennbb33 says:

          I am divorcing one that “will help but we have to just ask him” then shows up and helps when the work is almost done. I call that passive aggressive toxic. In my family, and the work ethic that I have is, if everyone else is running around doing something, you get up and ask how you can help, or jump right in.

          Of course, this is a man who was raised by a woman who asks to help, then stands in the middle of the room, helpless, and asks how to do whatever she was assigned, where the tools are, what the minutae are of the task. So, “helping.”

          I can’t wait to be free of him. And teach our children what being helpful really means.

          Like

  41. Will says:

    Wow! This is exactly what happened in my marriage. I wish I would of realized this before it ended. I thought she was just always nagging! I wish us men had to take marriage classes before getting married. Women are so difficult to understand and seems like you must have PhD in understanding women in order to stay married. Well I’ll keep this in mind in my next relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. […] lot of people read my most-popular articles—either “She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink” or “An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands”—and sometimes afterward men will tell me what a stupid […]

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  43. sharontank says:

    As a self-professed former “glass by the sink” nagging wife, I want to say: 1) hats off to you sir for learning the true joy of living your marriage with a servant heart; and 2) wives like me who spent far too many years micro-obsessing about what a dirty sock on the floor does or doesn’t represent should heed the words of blogger Debbie Wilkens Baisden who learned after it was too late what it meant to appreciate the opportunity to pick up her deceased husband’s dirty socks off the floor (https://www.facebook.com/sharer/sharer.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fherviewfromhome.com%2Fstop-being-a-butthole-wife%2F&display=popup&ref=plugin&src=like&kid_directed_site=0&app_id=343271656121374). Male, female, husband, wife… If we all strive to focus on giving more than on getting, we’d actually receive far more from a rich, rewarding, love-filled marriage in return for our effort toward being less selfish.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Matt says:

      I’ve read and shared that article from Debbie before. It’s a good reminder for all of us — whether with our partners, children, friends, parents, coworkers, whoever — to maintain perspective.

      It’s so hard. But we have to try. In ANY moment, the question is “does this really matter?” Or “will this matter six months from now, or even next week?” Or “is how I’m feeling about this situation more important than my relationship with them?”

      I get so irritated with my fourth-grader, especially in the mornings before school. I get angry with him, and too often act like it with my words and tone.

      I have never loved anything like I love my son. And I regret every time I treated some crap that doesn’t matter as if it was worth snapping at him over. Even if it’s “justified”
      as a parent, it doesn’t pass my common sense test: “If this was the last conversation we ever had, how would I treat him?”

      We take things for granted, and contribute to disconnection and brokenness over things that aren’t worth it.

      Only those willing to choose the other human despite their feelings in a given moment (*while also being chosen in return) can make it to Forever.

      The rest of us wither and die.

      Thank you for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  44. […] She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink […]

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  45. […] She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink – blog post by someone who wasn’t pulling their emotional labor weight, and realized a little too late. […]

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  46. aimee says:

    This speaks to my heart – big time. My ex – now housemate was a massive culprit for this. I work shifts (14 hour shifts sometimes, with an hour commute either side, up to 7 days/nights in a row). She would never wash up a single dish the entire time I would be on shift. It would all be left to do for my first ‘Day off’. Same for all the other chores in the house.

    It is 100% about respect. The fact that she rarely did any of these things and I did ALL almost all of them. She expected praise when she did anything and would bring it up for weeks that she did something (take out the bin, do the dishes), even if she only did half the task.

    It;’s true. I felt totally disrespected. Like she didn’t respect anything that I do around the house (or the standard to which I do it, as she genuinely thought she was doing things to the same standard. Sorry, our dishes have no food left on them when I wash them), and I felt she had no respect for my paid work. She genuinely thought it was the equivalent of working part-time, as I would be home during the day sometimes.

    It’s hard. I don’t expect her to help around the house. I expect her to share the workload. She lives here, she created half the mess (I’m tempted to say more) and she should clean half of it up and do half the maintenance of running a household.

    Unfortunately, we are stuck in a position where we have to live together due to financial constraints. It’s manipulative really, because she knows in the end, I will cave and end up doing most of the chores in the house, because she knows I can only tolerate a certain amount of mess. Now that we have split up, I have nothing to fall back on.

    of course, this was not the only thing that led to the dwindling of our relationship, however, this blatant lack of respect was very evident in many other aspects of our relationship. These acts were very representative of how she didn’t understand my career choice and some of the things that go along with that. Moreover, it’s representative of the fact that she didn’t CHOOSE to TRY and understand. When you make that realisation, it’s a very sad thing and it did cause me a lot of hurt.

    It’s heartbreaking, And it’s really sad to see all the people on here saying that women will just find something else to complain about. I completely disagree. I feel I would be a lot happier if I wasn’t living in an environment where I am constantly being disrespected. Do you people genuinely think we like complaining to our significant others?

    For those of you talking about feminism, I don’s see how this is NOT a feminist issue. I myself am a female, I have a fulfilling career, yet I am still expected to come home at the end of the day and be a homemaker, despite a lot of the time, it not being convenient to either of our lifestyles! This stereotype falls on me as the ‘Femme’ in our relationship. I’m sure I can speak for a lot of other women who feel the same in being expected to have a career and then come home and carry out all the chores around the home without the other person in the relationship. It downplays the amount of effort that goes into each of these tasks.

    If you’re tired after a day of work, then so am I. Please share the workload around the house.

    Rant over I feel a lot better now.

    Liked by 3 people

  47. […] much dating because oh my god it’s drudgery and a huge number of men in society are far more work than it’s worth, and some level of horrible. Some people feel up to that challenge, but after […]

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  48. david says:

    MY DAUGHTER DIVORCED ME BECAUSE I LEFT SLIPPERS BY THE SINK
    I took me a long time to decide to spend the time to read this post because I thought that I was so busy with my life and that there was no time to read something that was about divorce, as it was not on my plate.
    After reading this, I see that I fit into some of the patterns that are described. Not that it really matters would have been my normal response, as my life is quite busy running my business etc. I did get the real point however that validating my love for the females in my life, by acknowledging and doing things that show them I care about them is important.
    My wife did not point me to this post, but instead it was presented by my (over 30) daughter and I think the reason was, that she loves me and does not feel she receives that respectful love back. Her reason for this opinion may be that because I am not a big talker, unless it’s about a subject or something that I am fluent in, I do not communicate my feelings or option’s that well.
    She is currently living with us and is good at expressing how she feels about the things going on in our daily lives. She is highly organized and I know, would like to train me to be the same. She has watched our lives pass with me starting a million projects and only completing 1000 of them and that leaves quite a few left to go. This may be the A-D-D in me or just being a man not sure.
    She told me to read this article and substitute “dishes” with “slippers” as I collect them in my travels and bring home suitcases full. They are stored in many places around our house like in front of the couch, the kitchen sink, bathroom or any convenient place they come off my feet.
    After reading the post, I realize that she wants is me to respect her ideas and actions in our day to day lives and for me to acknowledge the things she does for us. I am a big take it for granted type of guy as I work hard all day long and think others should do the same without recognition. I do not expect recognition for the work I perform, it is just life. Also I am the type of guy that only misses something when it’s not there.
    Among other things, she consistently asks me to pick up my slippers and has made a spot for me to keep them. I guess not following her lead, ticks her off and this makes it hard for her to realize how much I love her. I don’t want to find out she is not there, due to my lack of understanding her feelings, as I would miss her dearly.
    I am currently travelling on business and after reading the article, the first thing that I will do when I get home is put away my suitcase full of new slippers. I know where the area in our house labeled slippers is and plan to go there, I got this thing. Hey Matt, thanks for the eye opener, never been much of a internet communicator kind of guy, but I plan to pass this along.
    Thanks dave.relax

    Like

  49. Joe king says:

    I don’t see an author on this. It sounds like it was written by a woman feminist and it is completely fiction. I get the piece and in some sense I like it but it’s a fictional piece.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Fictional, my ass, Joseph.

      Like

    • Mickisue says:

      It’s a blog post. If you are unaware of the fact that blog posts are written by the blogger who created the blog, well, there’s no hope for you.

      But your belief that no man could have written it, well, again, there’s no hope for you. I do wish you well in your single future.

      Liked by 1 person

  50. From a woman’s perspective, I think she left because he was a slob. It’s extremely frustrating when your spouse is messy and you’re not. It shows a lack of compatibility that can’t be fixed.

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