‘My Wife is Irrational, Therefore She’s Wrong’

light bulb in sunset

(Image/freewhd.com)

I know it’s hard, guys.

I’ll never be confused for a genius or scholar, but I’m reasonably bright in a Get B+ and A- Grades Without Trying kind-of way. And I made all of the same arguments you’re making. I repeated them until I was blue in the face, sometimes in my best dickhead voice while my wife and I volleyed shots at each other in another fight in which no winner would emerge.

I agreed with you so much that I unknowingly bet my entire family on it. And lost.

Maybe some of you guys are really tough and stoic. Maybe when bad things happen to you, you brush it off like it’s no big deal and move on gracefully.

That’s not how it went for me.

I could barely breathe when my wife and little son weren’t home anymore. This isn’t some “evil monster entitled man-hating feminist” I’m talking about, raging uncontrollably over petty things like dirty dishes. This was my wife. We met at 19. We were married nine years, many of which seemed and felt good. This was someone who very much wanted to stay married. And she reached a breaking point. All humans have them.

I cried. I vomited. After more than 30 years of mostly feeling what I can only describe as normal or very good, I experienced what it means to break on the inside. I don’t know how far away rock bottom was, but it couldn’t have been far.

That experience taught me why people commit suicide. Sometimes, it hurts so much that dying and shutting it off permanently feels less scary than the possibility of feeling that bad forever. I’ve said it a bunch of times: I didn’t want to die. But for a little while there, after a predominantly semi-charmed life, I didn’t really care if I did.

All around me, life went on. The sun kept rising and setting. My friends tried to care, but only people who have been through divorce really understand. People told jokes. Others laughed. People were happy. But I was miserable, no matter how positive of an attitude I tried to keep. I felt like dying every day for months.

THAT is when I learned the lesson so many men complaining about my “dishes” post have not learned: Two people can experience the same thing at the same time, but feel very differently without either of them being wrong.

Maybe all those times I acted like my wife’s post-partum depression was a figment of her imagination since I didn’t get it, were poor, ignorant and insensitive choices.

Are Our Complaining Wives ‘Irrational’?

That’s what John said after reading She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink, a headline that accidentally hookwinked hundreds of thousands of readers.

He called it “irrational” for a wife to be upset about a dish by the sink.

Here’s the common male thought process: Because it’s “irrational” for her to feel that way, a husband is not obligated to cooperate on the matter. After all, “irrational” is not so different than “wrong.”

My wife is wrong. I am right. End of discussion, bitch!

It doesn’t even seem crazy to me because that’s exactly how I felt in those frustrating marriage fights, and I’m reasonably smart. This isn’t something that had ever come up in life until my girlfriend and future-wife started upsetting me with all of her “irrational”ness.

If we fought long enough, she would just cry, at which time I thought she was unstable, but had an easier time speaking with her then because Sad is so much easier to deal with than Angry.

In John’s current form, he has no chance of ever finding common ground with a wife or girlfriend. Because any time he considers her opinions or emotions “irrational,” he will simply dismiss them as inconsequential. Once his little argument is over, he’ll never think about it again.

And maybe he doesn’t care.

Maybe single guys don’t care because they don’t want to be married anyway. I’m cool with that.

What I’m not cool with are the guys suggesting their “rational” opinion that a glass left by the sink—innocently and with ZERO malice—shouldn’t be dismissed or deemed less important than their wives’ “irrational” emotional response to it. I’m not cool with people who want to marry or want to stay married doing things I know to be toxic in relationships.

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I started coaching in 2019. Clients and I work collaboratively through current and past relationship stuff in order to improve existing relationships or to prepare for future ones. Other clients are trying to find themselves after divorce or a painful breakup. We talk by phone or video conference. People like it. Or at least they fake it really well by continuing to schedule future coaching calls and give me more money. If you’re going through something and think I might be able to help, it’s really easy to find out for sure. Learn More Here.

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Rational Emotion: Is There Such a Thing?

Emotions are subjective things. The things that make you happy, sad, angry, horny, afraid, ashamed, confident, inspired, etc. are not the exact same things that make other humans feel those same emotions.

I believe, in very general terms (as we cannot pigeonhole every single human into one narrow silo), that men and women—husbands and wives, in this case—have VERY different emotional responses to things.

It’s why a guy can call his buddy an asshole and laugh about it in a male-bonding capacity, but would likely get a different result if he called his aunt one.

A critical lesson of my divorce: We must allow others to have their own individual human experiences, and accept that they’re real even when they react to something differently than we do, or describe a conflicting feeling.

What that means is, some people can be called an asshole and it’s funny, and some people can be called an asshole and it REALLY upsets them.

One is not rational while the other is irrational. One is not logical while the other is illogical.

It’s simply two separate people experiencing the SAME thing two DIFFERENT ways.

It’s not right or wrong. It just IS.

I used to believe my wife was irrational. Because I believed my wife was irrational, I never took seriously her requests for me to more assertively participate in our marriage on MANY levels—not just dish washing, which I actually did reasonably well.

I predict that any man who doesn’t understand the dish metaphor, OR feels offended and reacts defensively to it as if I believe wives’ or women’s feelings are somehow more important than husbands’ or men’s, also doesn’t participate actively in his marriage.

It likely means that when his wife tells him that something he does or doesn’t do hurts her, he dismisses it as her being “irrational.” And because he does that, she feels abandoned and alone in her marriage. Wives who feel abandoned and alone in their marriages will eventually do one of three things: Have sex with other men, leave their husbands, or both.

Deny that at your peril.

Maybe You Could Just Believe Your Wife

When your wife tells you something hurts her enough to bring it up to you in conversation, knowing it will likely create conflict, you should try to believe her.

If you’re a smart guy (and if you’re still reading this, I KNOW you’re smart, because the mouth-breathers stopped more than a thousand words ago), then you are statistically likely to be married to a smart woman.

I KNOW that it doesn’t make sense to you, when she talks about how something you consider minor and meaningless hurts her. That’s basically why EVERY divorce happens. You’re not strange. You’re just like most guys. You’re just like me—the me before I broke and had to start over again.

And Then the Entire Conversation Changes

I hope I’m safe in assuming no man still reading is the kind of guy who would slam his wife’s head against the kitchen counter, or crack her ribs with a baseball bat, or throw her against a wall and scream what a stupid worthless whore you consider her to be.

I hope that you’re the kind of guy who genuinely values her, and would prefer to stay married because divorce is shitty. I believe you are.

When you think of “hurting” your wife, you might think about physical pain, or how she might feel if she discovered an affair or another betrayal.

You don’t currently equate Another Meaningless Fight! with painfully wounding her. It’s not your fault. Your brain doesn’t naturally connect those dots any more than you’d feel afraid of someone throwing a sponge at you.

That’s why YOU NEED TO BELIEVE HER. You need to step outside your own mind for five seconds, and see the world as it really is: That person over there was hurt by something I did. Even though that same thing would never hurt me, it’s still true that it happened. If I care about that person, I need to make sure I never do that again.

Hundreds of men said it. And five years ago, I would have agreed with them: “Why does it always have to be the man changing for the wife? I’m pretty sure the wife could also show love and respect by just putting the glass in the dishwasher and not complaining about it! I hate that men always get blamed for this stuff even though it takes 50/50 to make it work!”

The answer to that is: You’re NOT changing for her. You’re not going to tell her she’s a crazy, nagging, complaining shrew AND also not help her with things she pleads for help with for the same reason you wouldn’t hit her with a baseball bat.

Because it hurts her. And you NEVER want to intentionally hurt her. And once the truth dawns on you: Holy shit. Now I understand why she gets upset about me throwing my socks on the floor, and that it causes her pain in ways I don’t experience. Then, the light bulb can go off.

Ohhhhhh. Because she has told me this 18,000 times, and I always dismiss her as crazy and tell her that she’s wrong, I can finally understand why it FEELS to her like I’m hurting her intentionally. It all makes sense now.

A lot of men think their wives shouldn’t be allowed to feel hurt by things because that same thing would never hurt them. The man makes the conversation about the thing they disagree on, instead of how bad it makes her feel.

But if they had the conversation they could both agree with—the one about how neither of them want to feel disrespected or see their marriage end in divorce—just maybe something really good could come from all this.

Just maybe, when we give, we get.

Just maybe, when we make the first move and are leaders in our relationships, we are treated well in kind.

Just maybe, marriage doesn’t have to suck at all.

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146 thoughts on “‘My Wife is Irrational, Therefore She’s Wrong’

  1. Tami Osborn says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head! I wish more guys got it. Great article, thank you from an irrational wife:)

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Thank you, Tami. I hope that it makes sense to some people. I appreciate you taking time to check it out.

      Like

      • timothy l michel says:

        but what your saying is..their feelings mean more than ours. What if I feel disrespected? What if I feel I don’t have a voice, What if I feel like I’m a second class citizen in my own marriage? I just need to do what she says like a good drone and soldier on. I DON’T THINK SO. Take your WHOLE article, and replace the woman with man. We have been screwed, blued, and tattooed, since the dawn of time, as it is ALWAYS our fault, and we’re expected to pay the bill on top of it… To coin a french phrase, bullshit. We keep on keeping on, as we always have. You all can have a bad face on marriage, relationships, and men but when the term trouble comes up, the important letter is U. I’ve been married for 23 years and have 5 kids and 10 grand kids. I must have done something right. My dad was born in 1908 so I have a bit of an old fashioned way of looking at things. (I was born 57 years later so what does that say about the old man?) Anyway it worked well then, and I do what he did and it works for me. Maybe it’s time for men to be men and women to be women. Embrace what you were made to be.all this new age and lets all play nice by MY rules claptrap is just that. Claptrap. Put all this “feeling” stuff aside and just be the man, or the woman. The problem will take care of itself. Your making it more difficult than it needs to be. My Grandmother had a short statement when I got wordy with a statement that was really an opinion…grow up.

        Like

  2. […] ‘My Wife is Irrational, Therefore She’s Wrong’ […]

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  3. Jessica says:

    I had my husband read this. It really speaks to me as a wife who struggles with the same thing. I don’t need the house to be super clean, but I just want some help and acknowledgement by not making it worse and not ignoring when things need to be done. It’s more than that. But this absolutely hits a bullseye and the comments where guys are just like… “FTS women are just crazy!” invalidates having any respect for women, they will never get it, and won’t care when their partner leaves them but be shocked when they do.

    Also – your HuffPost article was shared on Facebook today, so you may get another influx of commentary. I can’t thank you enough for putting this to written form in such a clear and well-written manner. TL:DR? It’s NOT about the dishes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Christa says:

    Ha! Would you believe I was just speaking with a friend about this last night? Good stuff right there! Forwarding on….

    Like

  5. Janina says:

    Thanks for this article Matt. I would like to address a comment to those who say ‘Why should I have to do all the work?’: Maybe because your wife is already doing a whole heap of work to make the relationship work that you don’t even notice. Maybe it’s really, really hard for her to speak up about things, but her way of trying is to tell you the things that hurt her, over and over. Maybe, at the end of a day with the kids, or working, or whatever, she is exhausted too, but she still listens to you vent about your shitty day, even though your anger at frustration at others hits her in physical waves. Maybe it’s taking care of all the housework and the washing and the kids all day, doing all the cooking every day and trying to make sure you have a nice space to live in. Maybe it’s having sex, even though all she wants to do is roll into a ball and go to sleep. And maybe, if she doesn’t seem to be doing anything to make the relationship work, maybe you need to ask yourself if at some point, without realising, you’ve let her down so much she doesn’t actually want to be there anymore. Also, a note about PMS. Sometime, and every woman is different so this is just a point to consider, sometimes we put up with a hell of a lot of shit all month, and then PMS hits and we just can’t cope anymore. Don’t just put it down to hormones, or write us off as being irrational – take it as a warning that there is something building up the rest of the time, and that is just when it all comes out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Traci says:

      Love what you said! Spot on!!!

      Like

    • PMS is when a woman’s body releases testosterone, signaling that we have not conceived during that cycle. When we feel the effects of that hormone, we express our feelings in a more aggressive way. It may be the only time that we respond like a guy WOULD, IF he experienced the lack of appreciation for the things that we do for our loved ones on a regular basis.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s very perceptive!

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      • Sarah says:

        Yes! I so agree!!! Once when I was trying to explain PMS to my husband, I said “all symptoms aside, a period is a woman’s body’s way of telling her that she failed that month. Every part of her reproduction has been working nonstop to create a baby, and all she had to do was conceive. FAIL! Every single month it is fail after fail after fail. And, what’s more, for most women, she failed at something she wasn’t even trying to do! Every hormone and physical sensation is screaming that she failed a goal she may have tried NOT to reach. It truly is a lose-lose, feel-shitty-if-I-do-or-don’t situation.” My husband understands me much better now, and I was surprised when, during my last bout of crying menstrual rage he said to me “you’re not a failure.” I cried even more, but they were the tears of joy at being understood!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Reed French says:

      I know a lot of men hate PMS, but I have one client who says he loves it. He knows his wife won’t bring things up that bother her except for when she has PMS. It is during those times where they can have honest conversations about what really bothers her. He knows she will be completely honest and everything will be resolved.

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    • timothy l michel says:

      just remember that men put up with crap not only at home, but abroad..We shield you from much of the world and if all we ask for is a kind ear, then you might seem a bit mean or a bit small to “not want to hear it”even though he was out slaying dragons all day for your benefit. Talk about a lack of appreciation. He’s tired too, He’s put up with crap too, he’s had a hard day too, but you don’t recognize. He puts up with shit all month PLUS the stuff you never see and he will never tell you. A man’s world is different, more combative, and harder than your man will EVER let on, and he will serve you with a smile. So if he has a hard day once in awhile keep all that in mind.He is only doing all this crap for YOU. He could have an easier job or one that’s less trouble. Or he could not work at all and be on the dole, but he strives for you, his family, his mate. Keep all this in mind. It’s harder to be a man than you think.

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  6. tuvixcrcblog says:

    Unfortunately for me and my soon-to-be ex-wife, your wisdom for my marriage is too little, too late. But it is definitely wisdom I still need and will continue to need. Thank you for sharing this with all of us – keep on bringing it! It is really good, and most of all, it is reasonable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • CynD says:

      Just wanted to say it is never too late, if you really want to stay married to her. Forgiveness can happen.

      Like

      • ruralbethany says:

        Not necessarily, sometimes trust has been so thoroughly destroyed, shattered, and decimated that there’s no way you could put things back together without living the rest of your life in uncertainty, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m a wife that is divorcing her husband, and most of Matt’s writings really speak to me. Not only that, but my husband is very very sorry. It’s been a year. He still emotionally loves me. People wonder why I’m being so stubborn.

        But I’m not being stubborn… it’s just that he wounded me so deeply and completely that there is absolutely no way I could even bring myself to open to him in that way again. It’ll be a miracle if I ever trust another man again, forget the one who actually did the wounding for an entire decade of my life. I lost so much respect for him over that time and heard too many promises of change that never materialized… it wouldn’t be possible for me to trust him again.

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  7. Shannon says:

    Last night, my husband agreed to clean the kitchen. When he was “done” I washed two sinks of dishes, 3 pots, a bread board, put away food, pushed down the garbage, recycled from the sinks and counters, refilled the pepper and pasta, wiped down the counters, and scrubbed out the sinks. I left him a list. We then talked about it not being the one pot, but a list of 19 things not done. I explained that I feel like I am always in charge,because I cannot count on him to do what he says, do it thoroughly and in a timely manner. I asked if he trusted me to write checks. He does. I asked if he realized that I could have done just that-write the checks/- but that does not mean I mailed the envelopes, with stamps, in time to get them paid before they were overdue, so as to not incur a late charge, and I did all of this without bouncing a check. And I did not have to curtail another chore because I failed to do this one. THAT is the problem with the glass by sink.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Susan says:

      Amen, Shannon. Sometimes a SO’s (male OR female) perception of helping or doing something can take hours and then still not be done. Or ‘done’ but not REALLY done, so then you have to do it over again. Which, I don’t know about how it makes you feel, but it makes me feel irritated if not outright angry and resentful.

      I’m currently single by choice, but I see this dynamic repeat ad-nauseum with my parents, who love each other tremendously and as of this past December have been married 48 years. I hurt FOR my Mom, and she has expressed to me how frustrated and pained she feels with every act of either outright disrespect by my Father (which I’m sure he has no clue about) or by his absolute laziness and expecting her to do everything for him. And then she feels like she has trained him to rely on her for everything, to always be the one in charge. It exhausts her. She raised two children (in some ways, alone) and now she has to be his Mother too?

      I know she has tried to communicate with him about it, but I feel like he is trapped in the ‘this is dumb, and she’s irrational, so I shouldn’t have to care about this’ repeating cycle. I wish I could make him understand without making him feel attacked or inadequate, but yes, he absolutely is a shitty husband. And he’s 73, and she’s 71, and who knows how much longer they will be together. His health isn’t great, and he doesn’t do anything proactively to improve it, he’s depressed because he doesn’t have anything to ‘do’ because he’s retired from working, but my Mom, she will never be allowed to ‘retire’ from taking care of him.

      I don’t think he would have survived this long if she had ever decided to give up and leave him. And then, as their only child living nearby, I feel like I would be the one to have to take care of him. And that would be my whole life. And I feel so resentful about something (that hasn’t happened yet) that I think it keeps me from wanting to date anyone. Because I have heard the same story so many times, and why would I want that?

      Like

      • Michelle says:

        Susan, your family could be my own. I am your mother, albeit about 15 years younger. I also have only one child, a daughter. I’ve also trained my husband to be dependent j- took over from his mother and was too young with too little self-esteem to “fight back” then when it might have changed things. I’ve been married over 30 years and literally an hour ago just had the basic “fight” with my husband on the phone, since I am so angry about what he said to me on Tuesday night (Thursday today). His comment is “I need to step back” his way of saying I am irrational and therefore my feelings and experiences are wrong. I tried to explain that the current “incident” is the same thing over and over again (even though the “facts” have changed). I am so close to a divorce but 1) hate confrontation, 2) don’t want my daughter to be stuck caring for her dad, and 3) hate to have to take a big step backward financially, and 4) most stupid reason – feel a sense of responsibility to take care of him. The funny thing is – I work full time (always have), do vast majority of household chores/stuff, and earn 50% more than my husband so I am the one in the stronger financial position. I laid the cards on the table about an hour ago and will see what tonight brings (daughter his home from college so not sure what she is aware of right now – but trying to not get her involved in the day-to-day). May give him this article too so maybe he can understand (and we’ve been to counseling already).

        I’m not sure if you will ever see this – or if anyone will – but thank you for letting me vent and truly appreciate the article and posts.

        Like

    • kking78 says:

      Enjoy your posts. Also thought I was being crazy when I say in an argument that there is no right or wrong we both have different views on the same thing. I can feel hurt and you shrug it off. Hate to say it but I’m at the point where I don’t care what happens anymore don’t have the money for us to live apart but we’re not really together either

      Like

    • Married 20 years says:

      So common. He didn’t do it to my exacting specifications so it’s wrong, the disrespectful bastard.

      Like

  8. Taylor says:

    Excellent insight. The understanding you are trying to promote in your blog is so important. Thank you!

    Like

  9. Jen says:

    I really wish more men understood these things like you do. But I think you have to go through it to really get it. And even then, sometimes people don’t. Thank you for putting this out there for others to read :)

    Like

  10. mommography says:

    Thank you for being a human who cares enough to verbalize this. It’s really something I wish I could have done.

    Like

  11. plasso says:

    Thank you, Matt, from a guy who’s wearing the wife’s shoes (figuratively speaking, of course :-)). What you have written here is the exact thing I’ve been trying to communicate to my wife for years, but consistently fall short based on my results. Telling your spouse they’ve hurt you is not a judgement or a way to insult them, it is a cry for help, a plea for mercy. When the acts of person A cause pain for person B, it’s B’s responsibility to say so and A’s responsibility to change their behavior. It all boils down to lessons learned in Kindergarten, be nice to each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Kate says:

    Society teaches us to believe that women are irrational and not to be trusted. But women are human just like men (I know, shocking!) and sometimes men are irrational and sometimes women are very logical. What I don’t understand is why anyone would want to stay married to a person who they believe to be irrational and whose emotions they don’t care about. If your goal is to be right all the time, join a debate team, don’t get married.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aperson says:

      Rationality is a correct perception of the universe. It may relate to emotional desires too. The truth is (I believe) that rationality is very important to making objective decisions like cleaning the kitchen. A husband can and should expect rationality, so should a wife. We shouldn’t coddle each other, or nag each other. We should keep objective issues objective and personal issues separate, as they naturally are.

      Like

      • Kate says:

        But everything you think is filtered through your human mind. The idea that you know what is rational and what is not is false. Emotions are what they are. If your wife feels hurt by something, that’s rational. You can’t explain emotions objectively because emotions are always subjective.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Taylor says:

        Aperson, is rationality limited to what is “objective”? Do not the great works of the human soul in literature and art acknowledge the reality of symbolic objects and actions? Psychology and dreams—though not “objective”—do they not acknowledge a deeper reality than what may be consciously observed with the physical eye? Does not even “objective” science—such as physics and biology—study the phenomenon of cause and effect?

        Liked by 1 person

    • Fromscratchmom says:

      Amen, Kate, amen!

      Like

    • L says:

      Inertia, perhaps? My husband thinks I’m crazy (he tells me this often, one of his many “glasses by the sink”), but he gets what he wants out of the relationship (someone to take care of the kids, the house, and every single detail of our lives because he won’t take care of anything.). Or just assholery-ness? I mean, my husband recently screamed at me to take the kids and move back in with my parents because he was mad that I asked him to help transport a child to an appointment that started at the same time as another child’s appointment in a different part of town. Not 10 minutes later, he told me he would call the police if I did in fact take the kids as he instructed. So, that’s not inertia. That’s just being a dick. And, possibly, the actual crazy one in the relationship. When I figure out how to support my children without him, believe me, I’m out of there.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Catherine says:

      Apparently an awful lot of people aren’t looking for anything like egalitarian partnership.*

      But I think it’s often more subtle, really. Because anytime your wife does something cool, you can say “How cool!” and any time she does something smart you can say “She’s so smart!” …and any time she says something you don’t like, you have a get out of cognitive dissonance card, because there’s over two thousand years of (awful) philosophy stating that women are irrational, and therefore you can dismiss here because she is a woman and you are a man.

      I mean, if you’re a man, and especially if you’re not thinking about it super hard, it’s got to be seductive.

      * And, seriously, that’s fine. There’s a lot of different ways to structure relationships, and while there is a much smaller subset I’m personally interested in, that doesn’t bother me – it’s just the folks who claim they want an egalitarian partnership… and then suddenly want to exert themselves as the man of the house, and for me to quit my job and stay home and take care of them. Argh, no.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I agree! In the last 5-7 years of my 13 year marriage I felt like while my husband loved me, he didn’t actually like or respect me. I couldn’t figure out why he was so mad when I asked for a divorce. He should have been thrilled to be rid of someone he thought was so crazy and stupid.

      Like

  13. I’m sorry for the pain you went through Matt, but I so admire your honesty, what you do with this blog, and the way you write. Marriage really doesn’t have to suck, it can be amazing, but we do have to dump some toxic thinking to make it work.

    There’s often this huge gender gap at play, men perceive themselves as logical, rational, and women as emotional, crazy. Although there really can be some gender differences there, that is a stereotype, a deception. I love men, but I cannot tell you how many times they have acted crazy, emotional…..and perceived it as reasonable, rational behavior, based on wisdom and common sense. Men seldom see the nature of their own selves. On the flip side, women can speak something calmly, plainly, and we’ll be labeled insane, we’re just being crazy, hormonal, stupid.

    My husband is wonderful, but I do accommodate his quirks, his feelings about things. I’m laughing here, but no, they are no more “rational” then the feelings of a wife over glasses on the sink. It doesn’t matter, these are the things we do for people we love. To refuse to listen, to dismiss people as crazy, is disrespectful and demeaning, it erases them and makes them feel unloved, uncared for. When men get trapped in this kind of toxic thinking about women, they sabotage their own relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. vjalexander says:

    A VERY spot on article. I fell very short in the communication department when attempting to express why I was upset “about the glass being left by the sink”. Often referred to as the irrational, emotional, “it’s my fault” one of the relationship; I recently gave up. How I wish my now ex husband could have “gotten it” and attempted to work with me as a team rather then leaving me feel like the only one to have tried to save the marriage. Now it’s time for healing, accepting my part in the failure of our marriage, learning from my mistakes…and praying that if ever given the opportunity to “love again” I’ll be able to communicate in way the man will hear AND understand.

    Like

  15. Island Chick says:

    I married a smart man – high IQ, won lots of money after two days on Jeopardy smart – and the light bulb over his head never lit up. The type to tell you how many inches it was from the sink to the dishwasher rack and also the calories burned while doing it. He would argue over details while I tried to talk meaning. When I would trying explaining it wasn’t about the physical act, he’d suggest I didn’t even know what I was talking about. It was a kind of ‘pat her head, indulge the emotional woman’ response. Of course, it’s never just the one instance but a litter of similar messages about lots of “little” things. To him I was simply making mountains out of mole hills – a phrase I truly came to hate. He’d move on, the sensible one, the ‘winner’, while, in my eyes over time, he was a bigger and bigger loser. Oh sure, he’d do whatever I needed … as long as he agreed with it or thought it important enough. He didn’t think the marriage counselling I thought we needed was important enough but certainly thought I needed the outlet to sort myself out. Don’t get me wrong – it was helpful. Strangely enough, he didn’t think the reasons why I wanted a divorce were serious enough either. The loneliest I’ve ever been was with him.

    I would have thought far less of myself if I hadn’t had the support of friends but – get this – it was my friend’s husband who made the difference. He was a regular guy with no extenuating circumstances – not gay, not a wimp, not basking in the honeymoon stage, not raised by women or any other ‘excuse’. He got it. It made a world of difference.

    Like

    • Reed French says:

      In a marriage it’s not about winning. It’s about working together to “win” against a mutual difficulty. And it’s a joy to find someone who gets that. Matt really put words to the struggle I went through in my marriage. My husband saw responding positively to my requests as “losing” instead of an opportunity to work together. And, while most of the time I’d work with him on his requests, if I ever disagreed, he felt a woman was getting the better of him. Our marriage was doomed before we started. I just didn’t see it.

      Like

  16. rougedmount says:

    “When your wife tells you something hurts her enough to bring it up to you in conversation, knowing it will likely create conflict, you should try to believe her.” said 9 million times by all women who were ever hurt by their partners active inaction.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Mark Savage says:

    Thank you for the courage to say these things the way you have. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Carrie says:

    Hi Matt, you are gifted; please keep writing. Many wives of shitty husbands don’t cheat/leave, although they fantasize about it to get by. Their husbands either don’t have a clue that their wives are miserable, or think there must be something innately ‘wrong’ with them. Very few look at themselves the way you have.
    Women stay for the kids, or because they made a commitment in the form of a marriage vow that they feel bound to, or because they’re co-dependent, among other reasons. They basically give up on being happy in the marriage, and turn to other outlets to get through their days with some joy. The marriage is ‘dead’, and the partners get good at going through the motions. It sucks for both of them, though.

    Like

    • Steve says:

      Carrie, Men also stay for the kids, or because they made a commitment in the form of a marriage vow that they feel bound to, or because they’re co-dependent, among other reasons. We basically give up on being happy in the marriage, and turn to other outlets to get through our days with some joy. I’ve been married and divorced once before and do not want to go through that again. My wife shared his blog with me, and as a man and a person who is wanting to save his marriage, I’m trying to understand what Matt is attempting to communicate to us (guys like me).

      Like

  19. ‘Emotions are subjective things.’ – It’s taken me a long time to come around to the idea that someone’s ‘irrational’ emotion could still be my issue even if I couldn’t comprehend the gravity of the reaction.

    Liked by 3 people

    • That Squirrel Again says:

      Then it becomes the partner’s job to help the comprehension along – otherwise what’s going on is not an argument, it’s a lecture.

      While emotions are subjective things, we still have the free will to seek out different routes to resolving the conflict until we find one that works.

      Like

  20. Cindy says:

    Ok, so I was actually in tears halfway through this because me and my ex-husband had a similar issue and I always felt upset but would talk myself out of doing anything until I’d explode. Then it’d be a similar “just tell me and I’ll do it” scenario where I’d feel guilty and then was not only angry but now guilty and then eventually resentful. It was like a twisted-emotion sundae that I’d just silently eat. I didn’t really get why I was so upset until you went into detail. Thanks for that perspective.

    Like

  21. anitvan says:

    Ah Matt, so often what you write resonates with me, not because I recognize the behaviour in my husband, but because it’s *me* you’re describing. That was me for longer than I care to admit, and yeah, I had to learn the hard way too before I figured it out. When I look back on it, I’m surprised he didn’t pack it in far earlier.

    Like

  22. monthemoon says:

    Hi Matt. I’ve been reading your blog for the last few days (but I’ve read many of your posts). You really get how things are, and I’m absolutely certain that you’ll be a great partner/husband next time you are given a try. Unfortunately my hubby (we are not married) doesn’t yet understand, no matter how many times I’ve tried to tell him. This week I am afraid he’s crossed the invisible line you talked about in a post, and there’s no way back now.
    I’ve finally realized that even if I make him read your blog, hoping your words will make him click his mind, where I have failed for months and months, I can’t give him any more time nor energy waiting for a change, and moreover I would not be happy with where we could go back to, because there is many things apart from our relationship that he should fix (which I’m not going to talk about).
    I am exhausted of telling him about how much it hurts me the dishes thing (he also does that and many other small things), of how little he is interested in my dreams (I am trying to write a novel) and how he needs to spend more time with our 20 months old son (my son looks away when his father is at home, because he barely plays or spends time with him). He just cares about his work, his work-mates meetings and his me-time. He is a good guy and I know he doesn’t hurt me intentionally from his point of view, but he does from mine because I’ve told him so many times what I’d like him to do or not do and he keeps ignoring me. I’ve tried to understand him, I’ve read a lot of blogs and talked to different people, and I am even visiting a psychologist to help me deal with my life. And I know I’m not perfect and that I could do things better, but I think he is far behind me on that. Even my health has been affected by his lack of cooperation. I’ve had anxiety attacks, and I’ve lost more than half of my hair because I was so stressed with the house, the child and my part-time job, sleeping like 6 hours a day tops for months. He doesn’t react. It’s like as long as the fridge is full, his clothes clean and folded, the baby growing healthy, the meals cooked, and the taxi (me) taking him/picking him up at the station every morning/evening (though it takes 15 minutes to walk home), how I feel or what I think doesn’t matter. And I just can’t take it anymore. This week he told me I don’t have empathy for him, and that I don’t care nor do anything for him (yes, WTH?). I know he means I don’t want sex with him, I don’t praise him for his goals at work and I nag when he is having me-time. I understand more than he thinks. And I know for sure he is the one who doesn’t see nor understand anything at all.
    Thanks for what you do, Matt. I’m sure you can help a lot of people. I wish I had found your blog months ago.

    Like

    • Reed French says:

      Unless it impacts him directly, he’s unlikely to get it. It’s unfortunate, but you may need to find ways to make things his problem. Honestly, that takes a special kind of person and a ton of work.

      Like

  23. Great article I so much enjoy reading your blog. You make so much sense in terms of marriage relations.

    Like

  24. hannahkenway says:

    I like this post very much – it’s so crucial and yet so difficult, particularly when there is heat in the air and conflict lurking beneath the surface.

    “We must allow others to have their own individual human experiences, and accept that they’re real even when they react to something differently than we do, or describe a conflicting feeling”

    So very true – not just in intimate relationships but in any interaction. We have such a strong desire to believe in our own experience and absolute rightness that, in my experience at least, it’s not an easy thing to practice.

    Thank you for your writing

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Fromscratchmom says:

    Thanks for writing this. I really appreciate your writing style and voice. It’s easy to see all the connections and how well they relate, even when your relationship or specifics were very different.

    Like

  26. zombiedrew2 says:

    Hey Matt,

    I want to get your thoughts on something…

    My main takeaway from this post is that it doesn’t matter if we agree or understand with what our partners are saying about how they are feeling. If they are feeling it, then even if we don’t “get it”, it’s real to them. And when we say things like calm down, lighten up, and it’s not a big deal – we are judging them against how we would feel and react in a situation, and by doing so we are invalidating their feelings. Over time, that will breed hurt and resentment, and do all sorts of bad things to the relationship. So we need to listen, and accept the things they are feeling as real, even when we don’t get it.

    You and I have discussed this in the past, so I think/hope I have this right. Assuming that’s the case, I agree fully, but there’s one part that I think really complicates this.

    You mentioned your wife had post-partum depression. Well, 1 in 4 people will suffer from some form of mental illness at some point in time in their life (with depression and anxiety as the primary ones). And among the many issues with depression and anxiety, they impact peoples moods and feelings. Often people suffer from feelings of emptiness or hopelessness, and the things that once made them happy no longer do. They are just unable to enjoy a lot of life, and can have a pervasive sadness about them.

    The way they feel is to them, completely real, and valid. But at the same time, it’s not necessarily real – as it’s caused at least partially by imbalances in brain chemicals.

    To me it presents a bit of a conundrum, because we often judge our quality of life by our level of happiness. And people in the depths of depression/anxiety can often be extremely unhappy. And when they are unhappy, they start to look for reasons. Things like body image, and life choices (such as job, and yes – relationship) are often perceived to be the causes.

    To their partner, it can be confusing and difficult. They love them, and hopefully try to be supportive. And they may see that the feelings/emotions the person they love is dealing with are real to them – but at the same time they may question the validity of those feelings. Or at least wonder if there is a different cause, or explanation.

    Mental illness wreaks havoc on feelings and emotions. And it affects 1 in 4 people (to varying degrees), so it’s not like these are rare situations. I suppose a bad relationship can be the trigger for depression, but depression can also be the trigger for a bad relationship. Personally, I think relationships are hard enough at the best of times. Add in the pressures/stresses of a mental illness, and truly, I think for many failed relationships the illness is at least a significant factor.

    So back to the point of everyones feelings being real to them – sometimes there are outside influences to these feelings.

    I’m not sure what the right answer is here for couples to accept and deal with this. At the very least, I think it needs open dialogue. But if you are the partner who is not suffering, it’s pretty difficult to suggest to your partner that maybe some of the issues are due to a mental illness.

    Just wondering what your thoughts are on this.

    Like

    • Flying Squirrel says:

      Are you serious? Really? Are you seriously looking for a get-out-of-jail-free card for certain mental illnesses? You know, cancer is an illness too. Would you hesitate to give love, support, and compassion to your wife if she were fighting cancer? I would hope not. Why the hell would depression be any different?

      Like

      • zombiedrew2 says:

        Nope, not at all. And if that’s the impression given, then my comment wasn’t clear (which isn’t surprising as my thoughts can meander).

        Matt’s post to me seemed about saying that regardless of what one person believes/feels, what the other person feels is also valid. If I don’t think something is a big deal, then I can say that I don’t think it’s a big deal – “to me”. But I shouldn’t try to tell someone else that it’s not a big deal, because to them it may be. And me saying it isn’t is like me invalidating them. So it’s important to try to be understanding and respectful of others thoughts/beliefs – especially our partners. And I believe and agree with all of that.

        Mental illness affects moods, and can affect perception. That’s fact – not just my opinion. I grew up in a household where my family was very much affected by depression. And I know a number of people who have lived with different mental illnesses for much of their lives. Obviously the people I know don’t represent everyone, or all situations. But one common thread is, they have talked about how the way they perceive things when they are going through down times in their struggles (not sure how else to term that) are things that they later realize are influenced by their illnesses. One person described to me the impacts of medication, and said that it was like they were seeing things in a totally different light. Another person doesn’t want to take medication, but has gone through significant cognitive behavioral therapy, and has in his words “re-written how his brain looks at things”. Both people talk about how they would see things through a warped view – but that view seemed very real at the time.

        So, to my initial point. We need to accept and be understanding of our partners. Totally agree. I may not understand something my partner is going through, but I need to accept that it’s real and valid to them. Also totally agree.

        Adding in my limited understanding of mental illness, sometimes what a person feels is very real to them, but may actually be a symptom of a mental illness – and you have a difficult spot.

        I’m not looking for any sort of a get our of jail, or ignore your partner card. I’m asking what to me is a very delicate and serious question – how do you help? How do you guide someone to a better place, while still respecting that what they feel is to them very real? Or is the right answer just to sit and do nothing while the person you love may be breaking down right in front of you?

        To me this question IS about compassion for someone, and I’m sorry if it seems otherwise.

        Like

        • anitvan says:

          I know exactly what you are getting at, Drew. There’s a fine line between supporting one’s spouse through the genuine pain caused by their mental illness and “enabling” the cognitive distortions that are causing the pain in the first place, and I admit it can be tough to find a balance between the two.

          My best advice to a husband or wife with a mentally ill spouse is to seek support for yourself. As a caregiver to a mentally ill spouse, I can’t tell you how important it is to take care of YOU first. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary if you’re gonna be in this for the long haul.

          The second thing I would advise is to seek out all the information you can about your spouses illness. Understanding what is going on “under the hood” with your spouse is going to help you figure out which strategies are helpful and which ones aren’t in helping your spouse recover.

          Obviously I’m not a mental health professional and my suggestions should not substitute for a professional opinion!

          Like

    • I’ve been involved in a relationship like this (As of 3 days ago) that lasted 4.5yrs.

      I understand the dish debacle. I understand that it is very important to be conscious of how you’re treating someone and to not use their mental illness as an excuse for your actions. I totally understand all of this and I won’t sit here and deny that I haven’t been a part of the dish debacle from time to time either as well.

      For 90% of our relationship her depression and anxiety remained unchecked and this was incredibly damaging to the relationship. Shared journals and conversations with friends and family reveal that perhaps she was suffering with moderate-severe anxiety and depression through out highschool and college. This mental illness remained unchecked for so long that she thought being depressed was neutral, that this is how everyone felt most of the time. These were her own words after coming to the realization that she had a really serious problem.

      When you’re dealing with someone who has moderate to severe depression and anxiety though. . .it’s incredibly challenging. As a couple you both now share a single nervous system and if your partner isn’t happy chances are you’re not going to be happy either. So it is incredibly important to have your own support, hobbies, gym time etc. . .to keep yourself sane and healthy.

      It is imperative that the person who has depression to have a very honest support system as to where they can reference multiple views from people who are very neutral and very mentally balanced and healthy as well, the typical group of friends who agree with everything that she says isn’t going to help because this will enable those tainted views and you must not rely on a group of friends who are heavily biased towards yourself either when you seek advice as well. This is sooo crucial because someone suffering from depression often views things with a powerfully tainted “filter” and this person needs to be able to open up and trust other filters around her including yours. This isn’t to say that what they are feeling should be dismissed by default, it’s that there has to be other views put into consideration as well. This is why it’s important to tackle chemical imbalances because you’re essentially having this person told that their own intuition, the very thing that makes them human is something that is not to be trusted all the time, which feels crazy – rightfully so.

      We had an argument about a week ago that ended up being the straw that broke the camel’s back. She actually broke up with me but with each fight that happened lately we also sort of knew that we’d have to leave each other sooner or later. It was a learning experience for sure. Our personalities were also quite different which is something that we always worked around but it was also something that we weighed in when it came to breaking up.

      I will strive to be a good friend to her and I hope that she finds the help she needs. We both understand that we’re not horrible people, that the relationship just wasn’t working anymore. I still don’t think she realizes how monumental her mental illness was in the damage to our relationship though but she is still within the preliminary stages of help and I hope that she finds happiness in her life sooner than later.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Reed French says:

      I think when you’re supporting a spouse who is dealing with mental health issues, it’s important to be the one that looks out for them and helps them determine the sort of help they want and then find that. Some may want therapy, another meds, another may want to try alternative treatments, faith, etc. Be there with them and help them to find what they need in order to get better.

      The feelings are still “real” regardless of why that person is feeling them. Someone having an anxiety attack will feel intensely terrified. Because it’s created by adrenaline flooding the body doesn’t make it less real. And in this situation, I might say, “Your brain is trying to figure out what’s wrong but what’s making you feel this way is a surge of adrenaline.” Because you don’t want the anxious person to latch onto things in their environment as a cause of their anxiety. If they do, then they say, “I felt anxious because of (this or that) so now I need to avoid that.”

      Sorry, segueing into counseling advice.

      Same with depression. Listen to the feelings. They are real. But help them find the help they need so that they pass through it instead of taking up permanent residence.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Lisa says:

    Check it out :

    Denial and Other Common Narcissistic Defenses

    http://nardar.com/defenses.htm

    Like

  28. Lisa says:

    My paraphrase From Dr. Lynne Namka:

    The psychological defenses are those strategies that the unconscious mind uses to deny reality to avoid feeling bad. Science-fiction writer Frank Hubert, the author of Dune, said, “How often the angry man rages denial of what his inner self is telling him.”

    The defenses of denial and getting angry function to maintain a self-image of feeling good about themselves even though others can see through the facade.

    The type and amount of defenses that a person develops can add up, creating more problems for themselves and those around them.

    Denial is avoiding responsibility for one’s harmful actions to others and saying:

    “NUH-UH, NOT ME, I DIDN’T DO IT”

    The person learns to lie even to one’s self. They need to keep up the pretense of being a GOOD GUY and across time they come to believe their own lie.

    Denial is being irresponsible at an unconscious level because the person is embarrassed to know the truth about his misbehavior.

    Denial is listed as an immature developmental defense along with delusion, distortion and projection in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV of the American Psychiatric Association.

    People who are not open to hearing information and criticism about themselves can become Masters of Denial. There is no end to what they can make themselves believe for their own benefit.

    One man who identified himself as an ex-abuser describes it this way in his article :
    The Three Horsemen of Denial. Here are the three main ways we lie to ourselves:

    We minimize the damage we’ve done
    We rationalize our actions
    We justify ourselves in doing them.

    http://nardar.com/defenses.htm

    Like

  29. That Squirrel Again says:

    (sigh) Okay, I’ll be That One Guy Who Doesn’t Get It and insist on the importance of putting in the effort to remain rational – especially when kids are involved.

    Snap at your lazy slug of a spouse often enough and the kids will model that behavior. Put a different way, they’ll do unto you what you did unto your spouse. So you can “win” the arguments all you want, maybe even nag your spouse into changing their behavior for the better…and still come out the loser.

    The key point is to remember that we humans are NOT rational beings. We’re all irrational in different ways, so it’ll always be an internal battle to overcome that. You both get the upper hand in that battle by taking yourselves off emotional autopilot, which is how a ton of arguments come about in the first place.

    So I don’t see any conflict in believing that your partner is being irrational, and nonetheless treating their complaint as valid. It’s all in the way the complaint is delivered, which where the taking yourselves off autopilot part comes in.

    Remember the way Churchill described tact, as “the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”

    Like

    • Eryk Woods says:

      I think you’re basically saying the same thing, just in a different way. We can think our partners are being irrational and still respond to them in a way that communicates respect for how they’re feeling. We can believe that their feelings are very real to them, even if we personally don’t understand those feelings at all.

      And I agree that a person who is angry or upset with their partner still has a responsibility to communicate their emotions in a way that conveys respect for their partner as well. Respect goes both way.

      Like

      • JM says:

        What happens when it doesn’t go both ways though? And the spouse consistently leaves the glass next to the sink? And you bust your ass to communicate how you feel with respect for your partner while getting disrespect and contempt back?

        I think his point is that the person leaving the glass is NOT valuing the real feelings of the other person. I feel like what you are saying is victim blaming. The victim has to make sure she (or he) is /perfectly nice and respectful/ while they are abused.

        Keep the focus on the person who asks for something that mattered to them, who was judged as irrational and then had the burden of proving — proving! — their feelings and needs were rational.

        Like

  30. Billy says:

    Great stuff. Don’t feel like I can add anything really, you’ve said it. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I am laughing here, but subjective reality, objective reality, emotion versus reason and the gender difference there is something I blog about quite often. What is perception, what is truth? Sometimes men become trapped in literal thinking and pride plays a role there too, because of course how they perceive reality is vastly superior, therefore they have no use for any other perspective. Love has to transcend those issues, bridge those communication gaps.

    Like

  32. Diane says:

    Your discussions on this topic are deeply thoughtful and honest. You’ve obviously touched a nerve. In my first marriage, there were endless fights about many things, but none more painful to me than the subject of helping/not helping around the house. I can still feel the exhaustion and anguish I experienced when seeing a sink full of dishes that I knew he would never help me with (it’s been over 25 years). At its core, the relationship was loveless, combative, lonely. From my point of view, my ex-husband did not care for me or about me. From his, he was always having to change, and I was never satisfied. In my second marriage, I feel loved, appreciated, cherished. Does he always help around the house? No. Have I told him numerous times I would like him to pitch in more with the dishes? Yes. The difference is, when I express frustration or hurt, he responds with empathy. He understands that I am genuinely hurt, and that he has hurt me. He does not blame me for having these emotions. He is sorry and expresses an honest willingness to do better. For a few weeks, he is all over those dishes. Truth be told, over time he goes back to his old ways. Why am I not filing for divorce with this one? Because this is practically the only area in my marriage where I feel there could be improvement. I am supremely happy; we are best friends and we almost never fight, not because we avoid conflict, but because there is literally nothing to fight about. This is the difference between my first marriage and my second: In the first, the dishes represented an underground volcano of unresolved conflict, hurt, and bitterness; in my second, the dishes represent the dishes.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. This is so right on. One night my husband and I were laying in bed and we heard the neighbors fighting (a couple) upstairs: she: yoiu never care about my feelings!!!! he: that’s because you never listen!!!! It hit me so hard. I said to my husband, “It’s the universal fight.” She is saying she doesn’t matter and he is saying she doesn’t understand / make sense, so, in effect, at that moment, she doesn’t matter, because only sensible things matter, and she is saying, no! I matter just because I am your wife, regardless if you agree.

    To the question : why does the guy have to change in this scenario? I think you answered it in your article but to put it more simply : he has to care or she can’t be with him. She already cares what he thinks and that suits him fine; she’s already adjusted to a million things he wanted because she cares what he thinks even if she doesn’t agree. She just does. Actually, she’s not asking him to change, she’s asking him to care. He is asking her to change. He is saying, “Stop caring about stuff I don’t care about or at least shut up about it and we’ll be happy.”

    He doesn’t see the demands he is making in the situation : don’t make a big deal, let it go, don’t be emotional, BECAUSE HE DOESN’T SEE HIS DEMANDS AS DEMANDS BUT AS RIGHTS.

    She knows damn well that her demands are demands, she just wants him to acknowledge that his demands are already being considered by her.

    Like

  34. “That’s why YOU NEED TO BELIEVE HER. You need to step outside your own mind for five seconds, and see the world as it really is: That person over there was hurt by something I did. Even though that same thing would never hurt me, it’s still true that it happened. If I care about that person, I need to make sure I never do that again.” is like basically stating that she IS being irrational.

    Would it be irrational if you got angry after you, let’s just say, spent a few hours rewiring a piece of machinery, and she cut one of the wires, that may only take you a few minutes to splice, in comparison to the time it took you to rewire the whole machine? No, it wouldn’t be irrational for you to be angry in that scenario.

    All your writing that I’ve read so far, fails to acknowledge the real reason that your glass by the sink hurt her. It’s that your work seems to be important, and she probably valued the tasks you did, but her tasks are menial and her expectations of being valued for her contributions seemed trivial to you.

    Also, I bet if she had ever gone on, “strike” and stopped doing all the things she did without being thanked or acknowledged, that you may have left her for being a slob.

    Like

  35. You are nailing this to the wall Matt. It all gets to, you do not have to care about what I care about you only have to care about me enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. mellowtempest says:

    Following your blog now and really “feel” your posts. I feel like you’re speaking about my life..

    I’ve shared two with my husband. Because just this morning he tells me “well you shouldn’t feel that way.” in response to a very long text message. (he never wants to “talk” about anything so generally text is how we “communicate”. ) it’s a step up from what we used to do.
    I keep hoping he’ll get the point.
    I can’t thank you enough for sharing yourself like this, and opening yourself up to all the ignorance. 👍🏼

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Lang Redden says:

    Wow….I feel like you opened one of the chapters in my life script and posted it on the internet. This really hits the nail on the head. My husband is the bomb and our open communication has allowed us overcome obstacles like this. I mean sometimes we slip but it happens :)

    Liked by 1 person

  38. FreeInSeattle says:

    I’ve been reading your blog a few days before it became “viral”. Saw a link on r/deadbedrooms on reddit, lol.

    I retroactively aborted my exh…er…divorced him because (in addition to the drinking problem) i did not want to be his mother. I had a 3rd kid i never wanted. Yes, he gave me the “tell me what to do and i will do it!” line. The end result was that i became the controlling nagging mom/wife and he the put upon, resentful teenage son. It was sickening cycle of dysfunction. The sex became non existent for months on end because i didn’t see him as an adult anymore. Oddly enough, it was the lack of sex that he complained about. I left. He was devastated. I see a lot of my divorce in your posts.

    You should challenge all the male readers here to ask their wives one simple question: Do you see me as an equal, adult partner in this marriage, or more like another kid to take care of? That question may save a lot of marriages (and bedrooms too).

    Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      That is an excellent question to ask.

      My other favorite is:

      When you list all of our life’s priorities, where does being a good husband/father rank?

      Because when it’s not #1, it forces men into a bit of soul-searching.

      Your excellent question will help men not be totally shocked when their wives finally say it out loud: “I’m leaving.”

      Thank you for reading and your encouragement.

      Like

  39. Chin says:

    Hey Matt, just want to say that it meant a lot to be able to read your words and see a partnership from a different light. Thank you!

    Like

  40. […] piece (I know; why does anyone read that horrid crap) by some sniveling snot (Matthew Fray who whines at length on his own blog) suggests that his wife left him not because she was irrational over his insistence on leaving his […]

    Like

  41. CaiShan says:

    I’m 24, not married, a lesbian. So I’m far from your taget audience here! But nonetheless, I have bene reading your blog and I just wanted to say thank you so much for writing so honestly. Even a non-divorcee, even someone who has never had a long-term relationship, even someone who won’t experience the gender divide in quite the way you do, can learn so much about introspection and self evaluation from you.

    Like

  42. mitchteemley says:

    Matt, I’ve nominated you for a One Lovely Blog Award. Woo-hoo! Should you choose to accept, here are the guidelines: http://mitchteemley.com/2016/01/29/one-heckuva-lovely-blog/

    Like

  43. Reblogged this on sprawly and commented:
    I’ve read Matt’s posts and they have really resonated. Rather than put a lengthy reply on his blog, I thought it might be more polite to just post my thoughts/notes on his subject here, along with a link to his relevant post. The post I’m linking to is a follow-up to his original about the glass by the sink. I highly recommend reading it.

    I’m new to this blogging thing, so if I’ve screwed up or violated some blogging etiquette, I apologize in advance.

    When someone is hurt, it is real for them. THEY are the ones having the feelings and presenting them to you. You are not expected to have the same feelings, but to acknowledge the other person’s feelings as valid for them. And to deal with it accordingly. Apparently this is scary for a lot of people, which brings us to:
    2. Being dismissed because the person doesn’t feel the same emotion and can’t relate to the validity of that emotion. It’s like someone slapping another person in the face and saying “Oh, I didn’t feel that, so you shouldn’t feel it.” Of course you didn’t feel it! The perpetrator NEVER feels as bad as the victim. Whatever affliction was incurred on the victim is what THEY felt, not what the perpetrator felt. It’s much easier to dismiss the other person’s feelings and stay in the cocoon of your own, rather than go into the black cosmos of how someone else feels. You would have to look at your own actions and why they affected the other person negatively.

    3. Telling someone how they should or shouldn’t feel. Or manipulating the situation to favor how you feel vs how they feel. How could you possibly tell someone how they should feel? How freaking controlling is that? I’m not allowed to have my own feelings? I have to have the feelings and emotions that YOU want me to have? I have a two-letter response to that. F & U.

    In my opinion emotions are an involuntary reflex. When something happens, be it good or bad, you instantly have a feeling about it. You may change that feeling after having time to think about it for a while, but the initial emotion is there. Do people fly off the handle immediately without thinking? Of course. Could it be that they misjudged the situation and the response was wrong? Entirely possible. But, the feeling that they instantly had was real, right or wrong. It’s THEIR feeling, not yours and you cannot dismiss it simply because it’s not the same as yours.

    4. On the point about people not helping out physically around the house i.e. cleaning up after themselves, the kids, sharing the responsibilities. “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” So, you’re an infant. You can’t think for yourself. On top of doing everything else for you, I also have to think for you. How exhausting.

    When I was growing up, we had chores to do. Mom would always say “I shouldn’t have to tell you what to do. You should see that it needs to be done and do it.” Now, as a child, I had to be told over & over before I learned. But as adults we should be way past that. It was in fact a part of maturity called responsibility. The fact that Person 2 can’t (won’t) see things that have to be done and do them without being told is a workaround for laziness. They are hoping that Person 1 will a) forget to tell them to do it b) will get tired of telling them to do it and just do it themselves c) after much procrastination on the part of Person 2, will forget entirely that it needed to be done (at least for now). I have a phrase for Person 2: Terminally lazy.

    If you’re living with someone who is terminally lazy, good luck. Unless they want to grow up and be responsible for their part in the marriage, both emotionally and physically, you are in for a hard row to hoe.

    I think what these problems all boil down to is respect and selfishness. Some people think only about themselves and are incapable of putting the other person first as needed. Notice I said “as needed” and not “at all times”. You don’t have to worship the other person and sacrifice yourself for them. That’s just as detrimental. But if Person 2 puts themselves first at all times, how can they have respect for Person 1? If someone doesn’t have respect for you, how long can you continue to have respect and love for them?

    Definition of respect:

    3. esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability

    4. deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment

    5. the condition of being esteemed or honored

    Like

  44. P. Matt says:

    Matt, I am very impressed by your wisdom. You sound like a writer from the Bible. His name is Paul and he wrote things like this statement…

    Philippians 2:3-4
    3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

    If you are a religious person or not these truths hold water. Also, in a marriage or even in a relationship it should be working to be 100% and not 50%.

    Peace,
    P. Matt

    Like

  45. KraftedKhaos says:

    As a woman who has been on *both* sides of this scenario, yet never able to put it into words properly, I thank you for your insight and willingness to share.

    I would also like to thank you for sharing this for another reason… many women (myself included) are cheering that a man, any man, on this planet has finally GOT IT, so to speak, but some may be missing a valuable opportunity here. While it’s lovely that someone has been able to express what we have been feeling for so long, it is also important that WE jump at the chance to understand the men in our lives as well!

    For as long as they have been baffled by our reactions and behavior, we have been equally confounded. This is a rare opportunity for us to get a glimpse behind the curtain and understand our partners state of mind, too, and for that, I thank you.

    If husbands and wives can BOTH understand one another a little better, we should each be able to meet a little closer to the middle!

    Like

  46. M says:

    I’m not going to forward this to be probably soon to be ex-husband (we’re getting separated for the second time this weekend). But it’s not because it isn’t exactly what is going on. It’s just that me explaining it one more time won’t make a damn bit of difference, plus, it’s me doing all the work in the relationship, which has been the exact problem the whole time. It’s too bad he’ll never read this because it is so, so, SO spot on – especially the part about divorce making you understand why people kill themselves. Um, yep.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I wrote that I understood how much something can hurt. It’s terrible.

      But there’s a more important side to that, and that is that hope is worth choosing.

      In the darkest, shittiest, most miserable days of my life, this thought was the one I latched onto, and it is as true for you, and every human on earth, as it is for me:

      Someday, the best thing that ever happens to you will happen. Something really good and beautiful. And there is no reason to believe it won’t happen today.

      That is true with each new day. This is something people say when they dismiss you, but I’d prefer you trust I’m not being trite and dismissive, but quite contemplative and serious:

      Everything is going to be okay.

      Like

      • m.nicole.r.wildhood says:

        It’s not that I don’t want to believe you, Matt. I do. I really do. It’s just…I’m no one’s priority – everyone who cares about me is going through their own time of crisis or busyness or fatigue and everyone on my “call if you are on a ledge” list has told me how out of energy they are. I have no more energy to remind people of my existence, either. After all, it usually ends up just being me at the end of the day that cares, anyway, so why bother?

        Like

        • Island Chick says:

          Because you count. Whether he believes it, whether other people have time enough or not – you count. You’ve given until you feel empty … and you still mean something. You should forward Matt’s words to your probable ex – not for him but for you, so you can walk away clean. Because you’ve tried everything. And when you’ve tried everything you can think of and a bunch of stuff other people suggested, then all you can do is leave. Love that works doesn’t feel like how you feel. Vote yourself off the island. You have to get rid of what doesn’t work (no matter what you’ve tried) before you can move on to what does. And I don’t mean another guy (OMG no!) but, from the sound of it, some time to yourself. Because at the end of the day you count. And it will be okay.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Matt says:

          We weren’t designed to have this constantly growing and evolving task list to do.

          It’s hard being an adult. It just is. Single parenting. Everyone’s busy. Everyone has some problem going on in their lives. Everyone has to work 40+ hours per week JUST to pay for their shelter, bills, food, and cost of the transportation to and from work.

          And we all wonder why we’re miserable.

          We need to be still sometimes. We need to live meaningfully often.

          And to your point, we need a sense of community and connectedness. Which is why divorce is such a major problem.

          Nothing fragments our families, social lives and networks like broken relationships.

          I think we keep fighting and striving. Persevere through the lows. Feel gratitude for the highs.

          We all do things and follow rules because we think it’s just “the way.” It’s what our parents did. Or what all our friends did.

          Works for some. Not for others.

          I know nothing about you or what your responsibilities are. I have a young child, and he reserves my top priority spot until he’s old enough to choose his path.

          Maybe other people have family or friends they owe like that too.

          Beyond that? We don’t owe anyone anything.

          People talk about big dreams of living in a mountainside cabin and fishing or picking wildflowers every day. Or moving to NYC. Or Europe. (I’m American.) Or whatever sets their hearts on fire.

          But then we don’t do it. We feel trapped. Stuck.

          And then we get old. And maybe we only have hours or days to live, and I think everyone evaluates their lives in those moments, and I think everyone really regrets all the times they didn’t go for it.

          In guy-on-date terms? All the times they didn’t kiss the girl.

          Ask yourself what calls you. Tend to who and what needs tended to. Then sprint toward the call.

          We feel joy and hope when we’re moving toward something meaningful. So, please move toward it.

          Like

          • m.nicole.r.wildhood says:

            Your reply is beautiful, Matt. The only issue I’ll take with it is “we don’t owe anything to anyone.” I think that’s a very individualistic/American mindset, one that I find hard to understand. To quote a Dutch trauma psychiatrist, “we barely exist as individuals;” there are more and more studies that show loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking and I believe that so many of the mental illnesses seemingly on the rise are a result of breakdowns in the social order, both macro- and microcosmically. Besides, we don’t exist apart from the act of two people. So in fact, I think we owe most of our existence to others. And THAT’S why divorce is so crushing. It rips up every level of community we have. Given this, I wonder why it seems like so many people don’t care about doing marriage well…

            Like

  47. rufusrambles says:

    This is so true and can really be transposed to other situations which require empathy and the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. I think it’s so sad you went through this because regret is one of the worst things in the world to live with. It sounds like you still deeply love your ex wife and are showing this through your incredibly open and humble self revelation. If I was her your changed attitude would make me cry and feel so wonderful that finally you understood and cared

    Like

  48. Yes, yes, a thousand times YES. I’m sorry your life lesson was so very painful. I do hope a few folks can learn from this….

    Like

  49. Reblogged this on Carrots in My Carryon and commented:
    My first marriage ended for a number of reasons…but if you asked my ex what happened, he’d tell you – and I quote – “Everything was fine, then one day, she just went nuts and left.”

    This post here is a more accurate rendition of what went down. (The author is not, to my knowledge, my ex.) :)

    One thing to keep in mind here: Intelligence is not linear. It’s more like buckshot. Just because you’re really, really smart in one area of human complexity does NOT mean you will intuitively understand all of the others. So open your mind and read this with the intent of honing your emotional intelligence skills and broadening your acceptance of neurological diversity.

    (Had to work an HR reference in there….) :)

    Like

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