How to Avoid Spit in Your Food and Get Your Spouse to Work on Your Marriage

Always Be Kinder Than You Feel

(Image/notonthehighstreet.com)

I lose control sometimes.

I don’t know whether I’m in the minority, or whether most other people lose it, too. I don’t go off the deep end into full-fledged insanity. I can prove it by showing you all of the non-murder and non-arson I committed following my separation and divorce.

I do feel emotional swings that probably register on the upper-end of the Emoswingomometer I just invented, but I have no way of knowing how other people experience their feelings.

Sometimes I yell at my son. He’s 7 and my favorite thing on Earth. And, even though I know raising my voice doesn’t help him learn lessons, and almost certainly contributes to unhealthy emotional responses, I still do it when I’m super-stressed and he does something that’s really, just, seven. There tends to be something really messy or broken to clean up afterward.

I say and think this a lot: Will this matter in five years? No? Then how much does it REALLY matter now? It’s a way for me to deal with anxiety or simply to keep life in perspective because everyone has their own hourglass, and their story ends when that last bit of sand falls from the Life bulb to the Death bulb, and we tend to not know when that will happen. We always assume it’s some future day so far away that it doesn’t matter, so we just live life taking it for granted. Even the most grateful person in the world probably takes being alive for granted—what?—98-ish percent of every day?

And that’s good. We shouldn’t be obsessed with death and freaking out all the time. But I do believe in being mindful of the perfect amount of death.

One of my favorite writers reads New York Times obituaries every morning in order to be mindful of the opportunity he has been given to be alive. He does it to maintain gratitude and as motivation to not squander it. Another of my favorite writers sometimes walks around imagining that everyone he sees is going to die soon as a reminder to treat them with kindness.

Morbid? A little. Foolish? No way.

What if we treated everyone we encounter as if they were going to die tomorrow?

But I Forget

I forget every day to do all of the things I’m supposed to. It’s either because I haven’t formed good habits, or because it’s impossible.

Sometimes I say really mean things to the driver of the car in front of me because they’re driving the speed limit. They’re literally doing ZERO WRONG THINGS and I call them some creative combination of the worst words I know because I’m in a hurry for something that probably doesn’t matter.

Will this matter in five years? Will this matter next week? Will this matter in an hour?

I need to get a grip. But it’s hard. I know it’s hard for other people, too. Sometimes people lose their shit and murder their entire family, and then shoot themselves, which seems like an extreme reaction to every possible thing imaginable.

I’m not going to beat myself up about it. The smartest psychologists in the world can’t agree on what REALLY happens to our biochemistry regarding emotional reactivity.

Sometimes, I even self-sabotage a little bit, like when my mom would ask me how much I’d like being grounded for a week, and I’d respond with something like: “Probably not as much as I’d like two!”

And then I’d be grounded for two weeks like an asshole who deserved it.

It feels good, though, right? To scratch that Fuck You itch once in a while?

My favorite exchange in the movie Good Will Hunting goes like this:

Will (Matt Damon’s character) is attending therapy sessions with Sean (Robin Williams’ character). Will is telling Sean about how his alcoholic foster father used to come home drunk looking to beat on his wife and kids.

Will: “He used to just put a belt, a stick, and a wrench on the kitchen table and say, ‘Choose.’”

Sean: “Well, I gotta go with the belt there.”

Will: “I used to go with the wrench.”

Sean: “Why?”

Will: “Because fuck him. That’s why.”

Whether we’re mad at a co-worker, our children, a business we believe screwed us, or our romantic partners—I think once in a while, all of us choose the wrench.

The Thing About Being Nice

Sometimes, I’m an asshole.

But. And this isn’t fair for me to say because I can’t substantiate it, but I really do believe it: I’m mostly—like, very mostly—NOT an asshole.

I care about things. I care about people. It seems like many people go through life completely unconcerned with how their actions affect others. You see it every day. Maybe you’re even the person accidentally doing it. I am sometimes.

I wanted to tell you about choosing the wrench and about me sometimes being a dick because, A. It’s true, but also B. I was hoping it would allow me a little leeway to also talk about me being nice without you thinking I was a totally hypocritical, holier-than-thou douchebag.

I think being nice is important. I think not being nice causes a high percentage of life’s problems, and exacerbates them close to 100-percent of the time.

Words Matter. Choose Wisely

Actions speak louder than words. What we do matters more than what we say. Kindness lives in our deeds, not our platitudes.

It’s why someone can punch his friend in the arm yelling: “You are the biggest dickhead I know!” and it’s fun and hilarious because of context, facial expression, and tone of voice; but the EXACT same thing can happen with it being the opposite of fun and hilarious.

But words matter, too. What we say, and HOW we say it.

Every conversation is a transaction. What do you want to accomplish?

When the restaurant server or kitchen messes up your order, what is it that you really want to happen next?

The waiter or waitress almost certainly didn’t intentionally bring you the wrong food. A member of the kitchen staff almost certainly didn’t read the order ticket and think: “I know!  Let’s give this person the wrong meal, so that maybe they’ll get mad, want free stuff, yell at us, complain about us on Facebook, and force us to throw food away.”

If the restaurant is conspiring against you, you should stop eating there and choose a different dining location. I think it makes sense to get mad at the front-of-the-house workers or kitchen staff if you can prove they brought you the wrong thing on purpose.

But restaurants only conspire against you when you’re an unreasonable prick.

So, they brought you the wrong thing and now you have choices:

  1. Try to get the meal you ordered and actually want by being nice.
  2. Try to get the meal you ordered and actually want by being shitty.
  3. Verbally abuse the server or restaurant manager because someone made an honest mistake, and you don’t care what happens with your food.

This is just one guy’s opinion, but if you verbally abuse people for one mistake when it’s illogical to believe they were trying hurt you, you’re a huge asshole. You are my least-favorite kind of person. You spend your life purposefully causing conflict and stress and making life harder and shittier for everyone around you. I try hard to figure out what motivates people to do things. It’s always helpful to understand what drives people. Sometimes when you figure it out, it makes sense, and you learn how to see things from a more balanced perspective, and then grow as a person. Sometimes people, with regularity, verbally abuse others when things don’t go their way. I understand that they have some kind of unmet psychological need to lash out. But to the rest of the world, it is merely being shitty for shittiness’ sake. It borders on inexcusable.

If you want to get the meal you ordered, but you want to be a dick about it in an effort to let them know you mean business, I submit you’re making a poor choice.

“Excuse me, waiter. I know you have the hardest job in the world and everything, but I clearly said I wanted this steak well-done. You see that? Does that look well-done to you?”

“I’m really sorry about that, sir. We’ll get that taken care of right away.”

“I’ve got an idea. Don’t be sorry. Just listen to what people are saying to you, so that maybe you can get a real adult job someday. Also, when you’re finished not screwing up my order, maybe you could bring us another round of drinks.”

That’s kind of a ridiculous example, but you get it. More often than not, people who witness it will think less of you, you’ll feel worse about yourself, and someone in the kitchen will spit in your food or “accidentally” drop it on the floor and laugh about it. And it’s a little bit hard to feel sorry for you because you were shitty.

If you want to get the meal you ordered, respect yourself, earn the respect of others, and become one of the staff’s favorite people who they want to do favors for, give free drinks to, and try hard to deliver your meal fast and spit-free, you should be nice. Smiling helps.

“Hey. I know you’re incredibly busy and have too many things to do, and I’m sorry to ask you this, but I ordered the pork shoulder, and this appears to be a fish of some kind. And, listen, I’m sure the fish is great, but I love that pork dish more than my family. Will you please help?”

“I am really sorry about, sir.”

“I promise I’m not mad at you. I understand that neither you nor the kitchen did it on purpose, and I appreciate your time and help. I probably should have told you about the pork obsession ahead of time.”

“Thank you so much for your patience and understanding. Can I bring you some drinks on the house while you wait?”

Pretty much everyone has experienced a restaurant messing up their order. We had a choice to make about how we were going to handle it.

I can’t figure out what the good reason would be to respond with unpleasant words or tones. EVEN IF you have to fake it because you’re secretly super-pissed, how does speaking and acting confrontationally improve the situation? How does it get you what you want?

This blog’s most frequently-asked-question is: “How do I get my husband to read these letters?”

Having never met any of these people, it’s really hard to answer that. I’m sure some of those guys are awesome and willing to make their wives feel secure and loved in their marriages. I’m sure there are others who are not.

In either case, how can “Ask him very nicely” not be the best answer?

“Hey Manfred. (Because all of them are obviously married to guys named Manfred.) I have a favor to ask you, but I want to explain a little bit. First of all, I love you. I love you and appreciate you for all that you do for me and for all the good things that you are.

“Secondly, I want to apologize to you. I’m sorry for anything I’ve done that might have made you feel unappreciated, or as if I was pushing you away. Because this favor I’m going to ask you might come off like I think you’re some horrible person, and like I think I’m perfect and amazing. Which of course isn’t true. I also want to apologize for not talking about this with you before. I just didn’t know how to bring it up.

“But listen, this is really important to me. This is our lives. We are not like we used to be. And I know it’s easy to shrug our shoulders and think this is just what happens to all married couples. All around us, people are falling apart because they ignore these changes. It seems like no one sees the end coming. It can’t happen to us, Manfred.

“Sometimes you hurt me. Badly. Sometimes I tell you about it, and we have a fight, and afterward I usually hurt more. But many times—and maybe you do this, too—I don’t say anything because I don’t want to fight with you, but then it just keeps hurting.

“I don’t believe you would ever intentionally hurt me. So it’s my job to help you understand what causes the pain, and up until now, I’ve failed to do that. You don’t hurt me on purpose, so some of this is on me.

“I read something that made sense to me. I don’t want to be like: ‘Hey, read this thing on the internet and then feel bad about it because you’re treating me like crap!’ I’m begging you to not take it that way. What I hope you will do is read this stuff in an attempt to understand why I sometimes get upset and you can’t figure out why. I know it’s frustrating for you when that happens.

“Please read this for me, and when you’re ready, we can talk about it, because I want to be married to you until we’re the oldest, gnarliest couple in the world.”

Again. Every conversation is a transaction. What is it that you really want to accomplish?

There’s a time for choosing the wrench.

And the other 99-plus percent of the time, there’s a time to be nice.

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51 thoughts on “How to Avoid Spit in Your Food and Get Your Spouse to Work on Your Marriage

  1. baog3 says:

    I love your posts/blog entries/essays. So genuine and true. Thank you for sharing!

    Like

  2. Elizabethan says:

    Brilliant, just brilliant!
    Sometimes toxic people can blind you to your own assholery, that’s all I have to add, maybe you’re in a cult, maybe your best friend is the worst friend you ever has and loves to encourage nasty behavior, maybe your tired or going through changes, but most people want what’s best for you or don’t care either way. Never attribute hostility when apathy is a better reason.
    Brilliant article!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fromscratchmom says:

    Very nice post, Matt. If I’m reading you right based on the short time I’ve been aware of your blog it looks like you are writing here not only to help others but also to help yourself, hold yourself accountable, own your own stuff that you want or need to import with on. I’m grateful to you for sharing this.

    One thing I’ve seen a number of times in the last year or two as memes and that has helped me with my own peace of mind versus my own out of control emotions is a reminder that every time you choose to stay calm rather than give in to anger you are retiring your brain towards being a more peaceful and peaceable person in future.

    P.S. I’m a driver’s Ed teacher. I may very well quote you to my students the next time I have to address the topic of road rage. Love your voice in your writing. ;)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fromscratchmom says:

      Run Roh… Re-wiring* not retiring…

      Liked by 2 people

    • Matt says:

      Thank you. I think you’ve nailed it.

      This all started as a journal of sorts as I worked through divorce. Then it sort of morphed into something for others, but telling the first-person stories helps me take a closer, thoughtful look at what I do and why and to what it extent it’s good or bad.

      I appreciate this note. Be safe out there with our future texters-while-driving. (Are kids seemingly good about NOT doing that, in your estimation?)

      Like

      • Fromscratchmom says:

        It’s hard to say what percentages but there are definitely kids who really are adamantly opposed to texting and driving and others who are clearly tuning out our words of warning the same as there are for the warnings about drinking and driving. Those two areas are places that I get at least a little job satisfaction because I usually manage to address the teens on a genuine level and every now and then get people’s attention back from being tuned out or surprise them a little here and there and convince them to consider it from a different angle.

        Unfortunately here in Ohio the government mandates an excessive 24 hours of driver’s ed classroom time with nowhere near 24 hours worth of material that needs to be presented so that adds to the likelihood that a lot of students’ attention will wander. But I work within the framework of the regulations as best I can.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. divorceat25 says:

    This is exactly what has been on my mind lately, “be kinder than you feel”.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      It’s really hard to actually do with those closest to us, but I don’t find it very difficult to do in my interactions with strangers, businesses, professional relationships, etc.

      100-percent of the time, being cool and treating people well, and speaking to them kindly, generates positive results in a way I’m confident being combative wouldn’t have.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Alice says:

    Another good one… No, great one! Thanks again!!

    Like

  6. I was recently at a BJ’s restaurant (do you have those in OH?) anyway, they really botched my order….and rebotched it a few more times after that. I was very kind, intentionally. It felt good when she wrote on my receipt, “thank you for being so nice about this.” Felt real good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      No BJs here! (waa-waa)

      There are large discount bulk-goods stores (a la Sam’s Club and Costco) called BJ’s Wholesale Club.

      I don’t think it’s the same place. Also, I’ve never been there.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Terra says:

    As a waitress, I love the surface message of this post. As someone who can be terrible at relationships, I love the deeper message more. I am frequently guilty of rehearsing arguments ahead of time in my head. Thank you for the reminder not to assume someone doesn’t care that they hurt you.

    Like

  8. I think it’s extremely difficult to believe that someone who continues to hurt you, over and over, even after you’ve explained that they are doing so and how and what they could do to help, is doing so unintentionally. Even though I know I make my own mistakes, and sometimes even repeatedly and seemingly unintentional, I usually know somewhere in my psyche that I’m doing something wrong on some level.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Well. Most of the time, I agree wth you.

      But SOME of the time–like the stuff I write about dishes by sinks and whatnot? I see plenty of evidence that husbands LITERALLY DON’T KNOW that something is hurting their partner.

      When someone hurts you on accident and you treat them as if they’re doing it intentionally, only bad things can happen.

      And I think that happens in most marriages.

      And I think that’s why most people divorce.

      Tragic.

      Like

      • Oh, I wasn’t disputing treating people with kindness and understanding is the best policy. Rude, entitled people are disappointing. Maybe my perspective questions when the line is crossed to determine if someone is no longer unintentional because they’ve been given the information to see the hurt and yet still don’t (know what to do?) try to rectify. When you’ve been hurt over and over again by someone who was supposed to cherish you (and you’ve tried to express that pain respectfully), it’s hard not to see intentionality behind it I guess. Even if it’s misguided and ‘unintentional’ it still hurts and causes damage…and is hard to ignore or not ‘react’ to…just my perspective. And I completely realize how being a bitch in response can create my own negative outcome. Oh the cycles we perpetuate.

        Like

        • Matt says:

          There’s a line.

          I’m defending the guy who doesn’t know.

          But there IS another kind of guy. The guy who doesn’t know, who is presented with the information patiently, lovingly and repeatedly, and is (for lack of a better way to say it) fairly “forewarned” that it’s unsustainable and won’t be tolerated forever.

          The crimes are so bad that they’re easy for me to see.

          I have a female friend from childhood who left her husband a couple years ago. She’s from a family where divorce NEVER happens. Ever.

          She would beg him to help her fold a load of laundry. He would say okay. Then he would sit there for hours, watching football, playing X-box, napping, eating and drinking and leaving shit in the living room; while she was doing all of the heavy lifting of working and taking care of two kids and the needs of the household.

          And that laundry basket would just sit there as the biggest “Fuck you” I’ve ever seen from a guy I know to be a decent man.

          But in the context of his marriage, he was just about the most selfish, irresponsible human being I’ve ever seen.

          There’s a difference between ignorance and negligence. And it’s hard to know the difference unless you get to peek inside a relationship.

          People who want forever-marriages will figure out the difference and accept responsibility for their choices.

          Everyone else will divorce or spend adulthood single or miserable.

          Those are the choices.

          Like

      • JW says:

        Matt:

        Thanks for writing this blog – plenty of hard truths and pearls of wisdom in what you write. Your book recommendations are helpful, too.

        You’re spot on about “husbands [who] LITERALLY DON’T KNOW that something is hurting their partner” and the subsequent trap the couple can fall into when the offended party treats the unaware asshole as if they’re doing it intentionally. It’s a nasty downward spiral.

        I have caused a number of unintentional emotional injuries over the years, and it’s inexcusable whether intentional or not. As I’ve realized that I’ve hurt my wife, I’ve attempted to own being that asshole and I’ve tried to make amends for the assholery (excellent word borrowed from Elizabethan above). My challenge is that my apologies aren’t accepted as sincere – I’m met with, “How can I believe what you say now when you’ve hurt me before?” And I get her point – why would you hurt someone you truly love, and how can you believe someone who does hurt you?

        So now I’m in this deep hole trying to tell her and show her that I’m truly sorry for hurting her, and that I truly and deeply love her, but it’s falling on deaf ears. There is a wall there now built of too many “unintentional injuries” that I can’t seem to break through. It’s maddening – I feel like I’m trying to dig through a mountain using only a teaspoon.

        Like

        • Matt says:

          You just summed up the final six months of my marriage.

          I got caught up MUCH too late, and I wasn’t able to convince her that I had legitimately turned a psychological corner.

          The longer I do this and hear these stories, the more it seems like many, if not most, husbands seriously don’t know how bad their marriages are until after his wife snaps into Robot Apathy Mode (which I just made up) but is totally a real thing.

          It’s tricky shit. So many people want to being a dead romance back to life.

          Near as I can tell, it takes two very special people and a whole bunch of grace to pull it off.

          We use up all of our forgiveness-currency before we realize we’re bankrupt. Then we need a loan. But she’s a pretty tough creditor.

          I’m rooting for you. Because there’s got to be a way to pull this off. Please keep trying.

          Like

      • Donkey says:

        I appreciate your blog so much, I don’t want to be a debbie downer, but I still don’t get it. Sure, start out kind, I get that (I used to work as a waitress)! And you didn’t want to hurt your ex, I get that. But out of the 18 000 times (I think that was the number you used once, that’s why I’m mentioning it, I’m not being snarky) your ex told you she wanted you to put the glass in the dishwasher, I’m betting she was nice at least a few of those times.

        Why didn’t you listen and follow through even when she was nice? It just seems that something else needed to happen in addition to her being kind. Was it just a failure to take her seriously on your end? If not, what do you think she could have done in addition to being kind about it?

        If I understand you correctly you make a distinction between guys who don’t know and guys who do know they’re hurting their loved ones. And I believe you when you say you didn’t want to hurt your ex. I just can’t understand it though. Let’s say you were a regular at a restaurant, everyone knew you, you were their favourite guest. If you had told the waiter at that restaurant 18 000 times that you wanted the pork and not the fish but they just always brought you the fish, what would you think when you finally told them you’d stop going to this restaurant, and they said with shock that they honestly didn’t know them bringing you the fish instead of the pork bothered you?

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Perfect, Matt. Really well done.

    That last part, about how to get a hubby to read your posts, that’s awesome too, but in real life with men, it’s probably way too many words. Short, sweet, and direct usually works best. I’m chuckling here, but a frequent complaint I hear is that, “she just won’t stop pouring words all over me.” Some men are good at talking about emotional things, but most can get overwhelmed with too much information pretty quickly.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Fair enough!

      I was only trying to demonstrate how I would approach a difficult comment, or how to deliver something that might seem critical or insulting with as softly and effectively as possible.

      I think some peole think that if you don’t ACT mad and hurt, you won’t get your point across. But in marriage? Acting mad and hurt is exactly what causes so many of the communication problems to begin with.

      I’m annoyed that the waiter dicked up the order.

      But I don’t see the point in verbally abusing him for it. Instead, I realize that remembering as many things as he has to remember is hard. I realize that the kitchen may be entirely responsible for the mistake, and not him at all. And I realize that even if he dropped the ball, he certainly didn’t mean to and probably feels embarassed about it.

      If I yell at him, the wrong food in front of me will not magically change to the food I want.

      So: “I could never do your job. I don’t know what day of the week it is half the time. Thank you for trying to make it right as fast as you can. I know you didn’t do it on purpose.”

      It accomplishes the same and more as: “I can’t believe how stupid and incompetent you are. How did you get this job!? Can you ever do anything right? Why don’t you bring the manager out here and maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll still be employed later.”

      Husbands and wives want to talk to each other about things that really hurt and that they fear will drive them apart.

      There are “connecting” and “intimacy-building” ways to speak to one another, and then there’s the way most of us do it most of the time, leading to all the suck.

      Being nice matters.

      You are nice. So, thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. The Waiting says:

    I just love this. So much. I know I don’t comment often but I just want you to know how much I appreciate you and your writing. Your posts challenge me, break my heart, and help me confront tough issues in my life and subsequently help me to be a better person. So. Thank you, Matt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      You’re wonderful, Emily. Thank you so much. Frankly, I didn’t know you read often, and it’s extremely flattering to realize you do so more than I thought.

      I hope you’re all settled into your new life and job after your semi-recent move, and that you’re back into a new rhythm of life.

      You made me feel good with this comment. Really and truly. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. michelle says:

    PLEASE UNFOLLOW ME – the swearing ruins the good writing. please learn and utilize more adjectives. you are gifted and could be used in classrooms with a little finesse.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Sorry to disappoint you, Michelle. For as long as the “bad” word pops into my head, it is the one I’m going to choose. Otherwise, it isn’t honest.

      I’m afraid you will have to unfollow on your own. I can’t help you with that. If I had ultimate subscription power, I would have 7 billion subscribers and totally stop going to my day job.

      My mother and grandmother are also going to be sad when they see all the bad words. That’s why I haven’t showed them this blog.

      If you subscribed via email, it should be easy enough to unsubscribe from within your email notification.

      Thanks for giving it a shot.

      Like

      • reecebooks says:

        Michelle’s reaction to a word or two in many paragraphs suggests how she sees the world. Life is different when you choose to see the parts which give you joy instead of what upsets you. Notice the flowers and happy laughing voices and birds twittering, rather than focusing on the whitish gray lump the twittering bird just dropped on your shoulder. The joy found in surrounding yourself with wonderfully positive things is worth cleaning a few shirts.

        Like

        • Matt says:

          I certainly agree with you. But as someone who grew up in a supremely conservative environment and small town, people who are offended by and/or opposed to reading/hearing/saying profanity is not a foreign concept to me.

          After all, we don’t let most of those words on live broadcasts in the United States because they are widely considered indecent or inappropriate.

          I’m a flawed human being trying to walk a higher path. I write stories that I, perhaps foolishly, hope can help the occasional person like me think about life differently. Maybe make some better choices.

          Some of what I write comes off a little bit like pontificating. A little bit like I think I’ve got it figured out when I know damn well that I don’t.

          Guys like me who accidentally ruin their marriages say “shit” and “asshole” and whatever else.

          Not using those words in an effort to not offend people who aren’t “guys like me” has never made sense to me.

          Lastly, people against profanity tend to feel that using it is some violation of their moral code of conduct. More often than not, it’s based on belief in God, who they believe frowns upon the use of profanity.

          And to those people I say:

          1. I believe in God.
          2. I don’t presume to know what God wants.
          3. Right or wrong, I find it impossible to believe an almighty creator gives a crap about word choices (which are not insults intending to hurt people).

          That’s where I come out on that.

          But to your point, thank you for focusing on the positive. I read a couple guys who use a lot of bad words. (Paul Jarvis and Mark Manson)

          I have mixed emotions about reading them on a case-by-case basis.

          I never have mixed emotions about writing them. Because it is the word my fingers typed without deliberation.

          That’s how I know it was–if not the right one–the most authentic one.

          Like

      • anitvan says:

        I come for the profanity

        Like

  12. Mermaid says:

    Love this. Thank you.

    Like

  13. Iheartcoffeeandmycat says:

    Good post! I personally can’t understand the people who can blow up at someone and not feel bad about it. I do and say things that I shouldn’t sometimes, maybe even pretty often, but I feel bad about it afterwards and usually do what I can to make amends. I don’t understand these people, but I know several of them. Family members and I think the last guy that I dated for a short time. Thankfully, emotional control was on the top of my list of qualities to look for in a guy, so I didn’t stick with him even though my feelings were so strong I really could have. I can honestly understand now how “love” can be so addicting that one would put up with things that they really shouldn’t, and I think that it is probably easier for people who have had a rocky family life growing up. I hope that I meet someone who understands that if something is important to me, it should be important to him by association, like the dishes or my feelings about something he does, etc. Thanks for your blog!

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Thank you for reading this stuff and thinking it matters.

      You owe it to yourself AND the person you love forever to make damn sure he values you enough to care about the things you care about. I’m not saying he has to like your favorite movies and hobbies. I’m saying he has to prioritize NOT doing things that hurt you, and hopefully procatively doing things that lift you up and enhance your life.

      It’s our job to enforce these boundaries with people we meet. To not compromise on the stuff we KNOW will be the death of our relationship.

      We must discuss these things openly and honestly in the beginning and grow together.

      Most people don’t talk about it, and they slowly drift apart.

      But we can do it better.

      Like

  14. April Jagger says:

    The little speech from husband to wife is perfect, but I doubt it would ever work. Men have such egos. Maybe I just think that because my ex was an a**hole alcoholic who’d been raised by an a**hole alcoholic. He hid it until I married him. I should have left him the next day. Instead I stayed 20 years! Crazy me! Happily married now.

    Like

  15. reecebooks says:

    Thank you for what you are doing here, Matt. Your words are true to you, yet the rest of us can see ourselves in them.

    You’ll never know how many readers gasp in understanding after reading your posts. I’m one of them. Your words drop like pebbles in a pond, sending ripples that nudge an awareness that life could be different. Could be better.

    You are changing lives with your thoughts.

    Like

  16. Sarah says:

    Hello Matt !

    I’ve been reading your blog since your “Dishes” post has been published on the french version of Huffington Post (I’m french). I am now a regular reader of your blog because your theories about failed mariages have a tendency to appear true in my own social life.

    And it is horribly scary.

    My fiance and I are close, very close to a married couple and their attitude (especially the man’s) are similar to what you are describing. They have a two year old little girl and the guy doesn’t understand why his wife, after a day of being a mom and a teacher, cannot turn into a femme fatale at bedtime (dude, I want to tell him, seriously ?!)
    When he has a day workfree, he proclaims to all asunder that he will not get up in the morning. She told me she wanted to punch him each time she heard that. Because, you know WHO is going to take care of the baby all day while he is napping.

    And he is a good guy. Really. But he doesn’t understand and calls his wife a whiny baby. He doesn’t understand that now the baby comes first. He resents that…
    Recently he told my fiance he was considering having an affair “to get some fresh air” or something…

    Yup. You read me right.
    And I know there is nothing we can do.

    Worse, I learned a week ago that another couple just separated, except that this time it is mostly the woman’s fault.
    They have a four year old little boy and she thought it was a definite commitment. He wanted to get married, she thought it was useless and expensive among other things, he wanted to get a civil union (there is one in France) less dear and easier to make, she didn’t. He wanted her to sell her condo (which he has invested time and money to repair although it is not his own), she didn’t for many reasons. In short, he wanted to move forward with their life together, she didn’t see the use in making changes or any more commitments.
    And when he left her, it was like he was dropping a bomb. She was in shock. She thought he would never do that but that’s not the worst.

    In fact, despite being her son’s father and being entitled to having him half of the time (and the risk to have to pay a pension), he has no home to his own and fewer money since he invested in the condo.
    She is a good woman and she was horrified to learn that he had a right to nothing since she never signed anything with him. He is a good man but he is left with nothing after years of relationship. Luckily, she is currently trying to make it up to him. But I think it is too late to save their couple…

    I realize that this post is too long. So I’ll conclude by saying that my other half and I are tying the knot next summer after 10 years of living together. We don’t plan to have any kids as we want to focus on our relationship. And we want to think that we won’t do like others… But…who knows ?
    Wish me luck !:)

    Like

  17. Thanks for the posts, Matt. When women write or talk about these kinds of things, we’re described as man-haters, complainers, etc. It is sad, but true that when a man admits to these things they are somehow … legitimized. Keep up the good work.

    Like

  18. I do like living with a sense of my own mortality. When I set New Year’s resolutions I always think in terms of this being my last year on earth. What would I do if I had one year left? I started thinking with that mindset about five years ago and I think it’s had a major impact on my ability to stop procrastinating the bigger things I want to do in life.

    I’ve never understand people who allow themselves to get mad at wait staff. Even if it’s frustrating or annoying, what are the chances the mistake was made on purpose? If it’s an accident how will anger fix confusion or inability?

    Liked by 1 person

  19. jgroeber says:

    If only we could find those words when we really need them.
    Be kind, persevere, participate. If I ask my kids to do it every day, I should really be able to do it more regularly myself. Alas…
    Beautiful post.

    Like

  20. So true. At the end of the day maintaining integrity through kindness and compassion is so very important.

    Like

  21. mrsv says:

    I did this. Prefaced, prepared, preambled…and none of it mattered. But you did introduce a caveat in one of your earlier posts that you are addressing people who are not abusive – just oblivious. I’m enjoying reading your posts nonetheless. They remind me of the illusions I used to have about how he was responding to me in his head.

    Like

  22. Lady Macbeth says:

    I just read this blog and all 45 replies… Without getting bored, distracted or falling asleep ( it’s 3 am!)
    That’s unreal for ADHD me!!!

    You are a wise and gifted writer, Matt…
    Where did you gain such incredible insight into relationships? And specifically into the female mind and emotions? It can’t just be from your “brokenness”??? I mean you got 99.999999999% of it all right…. (including using a curse word at the perfect time).. And yes I am a devout Christian, saved and sanctified by the shed blood of Jesus Christ….via John 3:16)…..so unnecessary use of profanity does bother me…. But not with your writing… You use it at the perfect time!!!!

    Anyway… Back to my question… ???What is the motivation, inspiration, resources, books you read, things you listened to, person that spoke into your life at that terrible and opportune time, extraterrestrial encounters…LOL!,
    In other words …….
    “How are you SO DAMN SMART?!?! ….😉 ;)

    Or is just experiencing excruciating pain the only way anyone really can come to understand the human brain?!

    Like

  23. ds77755 says:

    Matt, just wanted to say thanks for the blog. Love your writing style. I’ve been reading your stuff for 2 weeks now. It feels like I’m reading about myself. And, I’m not gonna lie, its painful. But not as painful as knowing, despite my changes over the last 6 months, I am a little too late. After 15 years, Divorce has been filed (soon to be finalized). Her mind is made up. Despite the ticking clock, I am not stopping with the changes I’ve made and will continue to make. I owe that to her. Would love to hear any success stories from any of your readers that were able to make the 11th hour save.

    Keep up the good work.

    Like

    • Donkey says:

      For you or anyone else who’s spouse (man or woman) is heading out the door, I know of a few resources for you. I have not worked with them myself and I am not affiliated (though I’ve read one book by each of the people I mention).

      Michelle Weiner Davis divorce busting coaching: http://divorcebusting.com/telephone_coaching.htm
      They specialise in handling just these kinds of cases.

      Andrew G Marshall also has books that tackle these situations (“My wife doesn’t love me anymore”, “my husband doesn’t love me”)

      Good luck everyone!

      Like

  24. streamsidepicnic says:

    You wrote: Sometimes I say really mean things to the driver of the car in front of me because they’re driving the speed limit. … Will this matter in five years?

    Just wanted to drop a note here that yes, this will matter in about 9 years. Your kid is watching and listening. The attitudes you display as an emotionally mature adult with experience driving are the attitudes he will learn and display as an inexperienced teen driver. That realization scared me into changing how I drive and talk to other drivers. Thought you might find the observation useful.

    Like

  25. […] a few weeks ago, I attempted to address this frequently asked question in a post titled How to Avoid Spit in Your Food and Get Your Spouse to Work on Your Marriage, where the crux of the message was encouraging people to be kind even when they don’t feel like. […]

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