Male Commenters Are From Mars, Female Commenters Are From Venus 

Mars and Venus

(Image/National Geographic)

I can see both sides now in a way I never could before.

I wish I could explain how, because that might be helpful information. I don’t think it’s more complicated than me wanting to figure out why my marriage fell apart and how, even though I knew things between my wife and I weren’t perfect, I ignorantly floated through life unaware of just how upset she really was.

It’s not like she didn’t tell me. She told me. Using English and everything.

But then one day at dinner she said, “I don’t know if I still love you, and I don’t know if I want to be married to you anymore.”

I’m pretty smart, but I still can’t figure out how I could have so poorly misjudged my wife’s feelings and the viability of our relationship.

Let’s recap for anyone just joining the party:

My wife and I were two pretty nice, pretty friendly, pretty smart, pretty fun people, who, several times openly talked about how important it was for us to make sure we did what was necessary to stay married and love one another forever. Staying married, philosophically, was a major priority for both of us.

We had a son together. A beautiful one.

We had great friends, good times, were physically compatible, and I can’t speak for her, but seemed sufficiently physically attracted to one another.

We both graduated from college, were competent professionals with upward career and financial mobility, lived in a nice, safe, clean home, and despite not being wealthy in 1% terms or even in upper-middle-class terms, we made well over twice the median household income in our seemingly average but pleasant suburban town.

We were a typical married couple. No major divorce red flags or obvious dysfunction to speak of.

Two typical people who met as college freshmen, started dating four years later, got engaged two years after that, were married the following summer, and had a baby as 29-year-olds.

It’s hard for me to know what “typical” looks like. Maybe everyone thinks their experience is typical because they don’t know any different.

But it seems to me, trying to see it through the most objective lenses I own, that my marriage was—at least in terms of my generation—a very average, very typical marriage.

That’s why this is such a scary thing.

This divorce epidemic affects not just the “obvious” couples comprised of people with poor educations, abusive upbringings, criminal histories or violent tendencies, but EVERYONE. The marriages we might expect to make it seem to fail at the same rate as any others.

I’m a pretty nice guy and decent human being. My ex-wife would corroborate that.

I’m reasonably intelligent. I WANTED to stay married. And I really did love my wife.

And she didn’t keep her frustrations a secret. She looked me in the eye, and she spoke words to me I could comprehend linguistically, but apparently not their meaning. I can’t honestly say whether I didn’t understand her, or whether I didn’t believe her.

I did what most husbands do. Tune out, or dismiss things our wives say, perhaps because we’re angry with them for complaining about us, and we decide to care more about how angry we are than whatever they’re saying.

Maybe it’s as simple as us caring about our feelings much more than we do about our wives’ feelings. I don’t think I know why this happens. But I think I know that it DOES happen.

I think I know that it happens over and over again, and as it’s happening, husbands, and maybe their sad and angry wives too, don’t realize that each of these little moments are the things that will end their marriage.

I think if everyone was aware of this, we’d all speak and behave much differently and divorce infinitely less often.

It Looks Kind of Like This 

Even though I avoid reading comments on things I write for other publications, I read through a thread underneath the HuffPost version of “She Feels Like Your Mom and Doesn’t Want to Bang You which has been making the rounds on the internet this past week.

The premise of the post is that women, especially mothers, in 2016 have incredibly demanding lives, and when men obliviously add to those demands instead of alleviate some of them, their romantic partners frequently lose sexual interest because it feels more like a parent-child relationship instead of the partnership she craves.

Predictably, many women say: “Yep! This is so true!” And many men say: “It goes both ways!!! Wives need to respect OUR feelings too! Withholding sex as a weapon is every bit as bad as a husband not knowing how to help around the house!”

After a few wives responded to the post saying it accurately summed up their experiences, some men jumped in and effectively simulated a common marriage or dating disagreement. Here are the highlights:

Wife #1 – I love my husband and we are celebrating 15 years of marriage next week. But I am thankful for this article (and the previous one!). It isnt about housework. It is about sometimes NOT looking at your wife and saying “what do you want me to do?” It is about seeing _______ needs to be done and doing it. It is about looking at the damn master calendar ON THE PANTRY DOOR and noticing that everything in the family’s life is there and still saying “I didn’t know what the plans were” and instead saying “how about I take junior to soccer?” No one is perfect and marriage is hard. But the last thing a woman wants to do after taking care of everything all day long and finally getting a break at 9pm is to have sex with you. She wants to be left alone and not have to make any decisions, take care of anyone or even, sometimes, have to talk to anyone. So thank you for writing about this topic.

Wife #2 – Thank you!

Wife #3 – A-freakin’-men!

Wife #4 –But the last thing a woman wants to do after taking care of everything all day long and finally getting a break at 9pm is to have sex with you.”
Yet men are still so surprised and offended when we’re not in the mood.

Guy #1 – Door swings both ways, ladies. With all respect, the housework, kids, etc… should be shared chores. If your guy is not helping out, he’s lazy and sucks, but you need to tell him that, not use sex as a weapon or hold it hostage. Sex should be totally separate from the daily goings on. This is a major failure point for a lot of couples. Once the sex is gone, the relationship withers. Don’t throw the relationship away because you don’t think your guy is helping out enough…just TELL HIM. Guys are cavemen, we need to be told sometimes. Don’t take away the sex. It’s the glue in the relationship. It’s like taking food away from the dog for peeing on the carpet. Don’t starve the dog, teach it how to pee in the yard. Two separate things. Sort ’em out properly.

Wife #5 – It’s not a punishment. They are two separate things. That’s what you’re not getting. As a separate thing, sex is another thing on the list of stuff to do. Sex is a lot of work for a woman. She has to shave a bunch of things, maybe put on something nice, make sure she has protection in place, and even if she’s not in the mood, she knows if she doesn’t put out her guy will act increasingly sullen and resentful. That sort of thing turns sex into another chore, another thing on the to-do list. If it happened only when she wanted it to and she didn’t face repercussions for failing to perform, it would be different.

Consider also the many other leisure activities she doesn’t have time for, none of which are ever “allowed” to rank higher than sex. Sex isn’t making time for herself, but making time for someone else.

The worst part is that she probably already feels guilty because society has conditioned that response, so anything from the other party that would increase the guilt is piling on.

Guy #2 – That is PRECISELY why I am (and will stay) single. If you think sex is only for the guy, your relationship failed before launch. My marriage failed (18 YEARS together) and we were in complete role reversal…you just took the ‘revelation’ of this article and ‘weaponized’ it…exactly what my wife did. You blame shift, everyone loses. Let me clarify that for you…sex is for you BOTH. If you want to see it as a chore, you are now nothing more than an overpaid whore (yes, I went there. I once figured out what my marriage and divorce cost me vs the amount of time I approximately had sex…I could have visited a Vegas brothel 3x a week and STILL had had a fully funded retirement). THIS is precisely why relationships fail…blame shift.

Wife #1 – What is not surprising is that it is, again, our fault for not asking for help. The theme I see over and over is that men feel they have little to no responsibility in the problem because women “don’t ask for what we need” and also feel like women use sex as a punishment against them. As though women are that petty.

But therein lies the problem.

This article isn’t really about chores. Or sex. It is about the fact that women want a partnership in life. They want a partner in the care-giving aspect of daily life. Because they don’t always have one, they truly feel as though they have another child to take care of and not a husband and life partner.

We’re not withholding sex as a tool. We are honestly tired and don’t want to take care of one more person, even if that means not having sex with you. We don’t want to make a decision right now. We want to have 1 hour of quiet time, of not having to take care of everyone or make every single decision.

The point is if men did chip in more, we wouldn’t NEED this hour of solitude so often and we would be more open to having sex on a regular basis.

Guy #1 – It’s too bad that some women feel sex is just another chore instead one one of the most important connection points in a relationship.

With that mindset, I would hope those women are ok with their partners finding someone else to handle the “chores” that they don’t want to have to do. Are any of you ladies ok with your man having an outside affair if need be? If you were to say yes, I would see that as open minded and rational. If no, where is the “give” or compromise?

Wife #1 – You are SO RIGHT! We should expect our husbands to have affairs and be totally OK lest WE be accused of not compromising.

And that folks is why the divorce rate is near 50%.

I am so glad that the author of this article, at least, has recognized what the problem is in many marriages. Too bad his attempt to share that knowledge has fallen on deaf ears.

Guy #1 – I think the message has been delivered to listening ears, but double standards don’t work for anyone. Take care of your mate or someone else will. Goes both ways.

Some women aren’t getting their needs met with the housework and some men aren’t getting their needs met in the bedroom. Ask any guy to chip in more on the housework so that there is more time left for bedroom activities and 99.9% of the guys will jump at the opportunity.

It would be interesting to see the complaint from another angle if the men withheld something that the women needed on a regular basis… money, time, food, shelter, security?

Wife #6 – (Addressing Guys #1 & 2) It’s not about holding sex hostage or using it as a weapon, it’s about not being in the mood or in a state to engage with the other person on that level.

Sex is absolutely about both people, but when one of them is tired or stressed and not in the mood, it’s an issue. And if that stems from an unbalanced workload, that issue needs to be addressed outside of sex so that things can be brought into balance, which will usually return the sex life to a balanced and wonderful thing.

When a guy isn’t in the mood there is usually something at about hip level that indicates lack of interest to all parties involved. It’s a physical sign that things aren’t happening. Women don’t have that visible signal but we do have physical reactions that you may or may not be aware of. When we’re exhausted or stressed in ways that keep us from feeling amorous there are issues with lubrication and muscle tightness. Sex in this state runs the range from uncomfortable to outright painful. Painful sex of this kind is not a pleasant experience and is indeed a chore when it shouldn’t be.

When a person, man or woman, is relaxed and happy and satisfied in other areas of their life they usually are in the sexual arena as well. When they aren’t… sex suffers.

Guy #1 – That, I get. Thanks for the well-articulated explanation.

I think we’re intermingling a few different but related topics here. Nice to hear the female perspective but also troubling as all of this is supposed to be fun, relaxing and relationship building instead of a chore or pain in the ______ (pick your body part.)

Thanks for the banter. I literally have a day’s worth of chores, laundry, housework, care-giving and car maintenance to do. Over and out!

Wife #7 – (Responding to earlier Guy comments) If a man is demanding, demeaning, does not show any appreciation for his wife, expects to be waited on like a child, and **becomes sullen or angry when denied sex**. SEX BECOMES A CHORE for the woman. It becomes a necessary thing to check off the list to keep peace in the house. Because, if a woman is married to a man that behaves in this way it is difficult to feel any attraction toward him. But the show must go on or there will be an even worse tempered spoiled belligerent brute to deal with.

No woman wants to be married to a 6 year old.

Guys, it doesn’t matter what you believe is right and wrong. It doesn’t matter how fair or unfair you think it is. It doesn’t matter how much you disagree with her. If you are interested in staying married, you MUST understand this, and then do what you must to not be a man-child.

Your exhausted wife doesn’t randomly pop lady-boners while she’s folding your underwear like you might experience in reverse. She doesn’t fantasize about you making it all better with your penis. She fantasizes about a life, or even just a few hours once in a while, where she doesn’t have to be in charge of making sure your lives don’t spiral into chaos if she doesn’t manage it all.

She doesn’t want you because of some sexy comment or physical move you make. She wants you because you respect her and demonstrate it.

She doesn’t feel safe because you’re a tough guy or know how to use a gun. She feels safe because she can count on you to keep the bills paid on time, and the house in order and the kids’ schedules intact if some life event prevents her from doing so.

She doesn’t feel loved because you say “I love you.” She doesn’t even feel loved because you ACTUALLY love her.

She feels loved when you show her.

And most of us guys don’t know what that looks like. But creating opportunities for your wife to have time for herself to not worry about anything by thoughtfully and effectively completing chores which prevent her from doing so, is a really good place to start.

Give that gift to your wife and children’s mother every day, and things will never be the same.

In a very good way.

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110 thoughts on “Male Commenters Are From Mars, Female Commenters Are From Venus 

  1. Fromscratchmom says:

    Amazing and true. It’s a great tragedy that many wives suffer whether they ever end up divorced or not. Problems in their relationship that go unaddressed (or more often where she tries a thousand different ways of good communications strategies and “fair fighting techniques but is totally disallowed any form of progress or resolution for her issues) cause women to feel less and less loved and less and less safe and along with those two things or as a result of those two things she feels less and less libido. Quite often feeling like he’s her child which is mutually exclusive from seeming like a lover she can want is a significant part of the problem.

    But inevitably from a man’s point of view she’s the problem, her obligation to be his perfect sex kitten has failed and he accuses her of withholding as a weapon when he learns of the connection between her libido and the other issues, thus deepening the divide and the hurt feelings and pushing her further away from feelings of love, emotional safety, and libido than ever before.

    It is a tragic vicious cycle. And the only way to avoid it or fix it is for both partners to be working for the real, compassionate and mutually loving resolutions that they need, not just the wife working on her earlier issues and the husband eventually starting to work on blaming her for his sexual dissatisfaction as well as for daring to try to work on her earlier concerns!

    Like

  2. zombiedrew2 says:

    I do think that women generally take on a drastically unfair portion of the duties of running a household. Whether it’s due to old gender roles or something else, many men seem to think that their primary duty is to earn an income, and if they are doing that then they are doing a good job. Which is totally wrong.

    Many of the issues do seem to go both ways though, and often when I see stuff like this it seems to come back to both sides believing “they” are right and wanting things “their” way.

    I get the idea that women may want their partner to just do things, without having to be told first. At the same time though I hear of guys saying that when they try to do things, often they aren’t doing it to the standard that their partner wants, so they get criticized for not doing it right. People seem to think that their partner is intentionally doing it wrong as a way of getting out of it – which may happen sometimes, but if so I’m sure it’s pretty rare. I would like to think people actually want to help out, but sometimes hold back for fear of doing it wrong and being criticized for that.

    The sex issue is one that seems to never go away. I get that women are often tired from taking on a lot of things and they need to be in the right frame of mind whereas guys can often “go” at the drop of a hat. Guys don’t get what it’s like for women, and often feel like women are withholding sex. While women think guys want women to fulfill “her obligation to be his perfect sex kitten”. From the sex side, I actually think guys want sex because it makes them feel close and connected to their wives – and when it’s missing that connection starts to break down for them. They start to feel threatened in the relationship, and see sex as a way of addressing that.

    With the differences, I think maybe both people are right to feel the way they do, and the error is really in misinterpreting the other persons motivations for the way they feel. We read the other persons response to our actions through our own lens.

    Both people can be right, and both opinions can be valid. The goal should always be accepting and understanding each other. While at the same time accepting that because we are different, there will have to be give and take on both sides in order for anyone to be happy.

    As soon as something has to be “my” way, I’ve set up an adversarial approach with winners and losers. Then the relationship becomes one of power and control, instead of a partnership.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lissy says:

      “From the sex side, I actually think guys want sex because it makes them feel close and connected to their wives – and when it’s missing that connection starts to break down for them.”

      Possibly the men need to realize the sex is not the connection-it’s the way the connection manifests itself. And for the women, the connection broke down before the sex started.

      The man wants to reconnect through sex. The woman hates having sex with someone she doesn’t feel connected to. Because the sex is not the connection, it’s just the outward evidence of connection.

      A typical evening: The man spends time on himself, comes away refreshed and wants to connect through sex. The women is spending time by herself, too-it’s just that she is doing the laundry, cooking, cleaning, childcare-and now she is not refreshed, she is exhausted. Doing all these things by herself, she feels abandoned and resentful. She does NOT see sex as a way to connect. The opportunity to connect, for her, came a few hours earlier, and the man chose NOT to connect by doing chores together-you wash and I’ll dry…I’ll run the vaccuum while you fold the towels…teamwork…divide and conquer…you cooked, so I’ll clean while you (fill in the blank)…we’re in this together. Remember, the sex is NOT the connection…

      Liked by 3 people

      • Matt says:

        There you go, gentlemen. Written by someone who knows what this looks and feels like in a way I never could.

        Thank you for this, Lissy.

        This is explained very well.

        Like

      • zombiedrew2 says:

        ” Remember, the sex is NOT the connection”.

        Totally agree, and I think that it’s something a lot of guys get confused about.

        I do think that some of the thoughts guys have about sex though are just part of how we are wired, and different doesn’t necessarily mean wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

      • FirmBeliever says:

        There’s no doubt you’ve described a common scenario and have well described what women can feel. But I don’t think it’s fair or correct to say in a blanket way that sex is not the connection. From what I’ve read, it IS the connection for men. That’s how they’re “wired”, and that’s ok. For women, you’re right, it isn’t. That’s ok, too. Neither is right or wrong. This is just one of the ways we’re different, and something both sides need to be aware of, talk about, etc.

        I read something similar about how men and women get over an argument. For men, having sex is how they reconnect, put the argument behind them. But for women, they need to feel reconnected and feel that the argument is fully resolved BEFORE they feel ready to have sex.

        As with so many things in relationships, I think it comes down to having respect for your partner, communicating openly, and empathizing as much as possible.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Lissy says:

        Firm Believer-I find it dismaying to think sex is the connection for men. Thinking this through-do men feel connected to a one-night stand? To a prostitute? To whom does one connect if they masturbate-the porn image they are looking at? Themselves?

        And once sex is no longer an option due to illness, medication side effects, deployment or other situations, men can no longer connect with their wives?

        I’m not trying to be a jerk here. And I do realize that in a marriage, sex is the one way spouses connect that they never can/should with anyone else.

        I’m hoping that for most men, they think sex is the connection because they have never really stopped and thought it through. On the other hand, this would make sense as to why the wives feel most men are”shitty husbands” -sex IS the connection, baby, and unless we are having sex I’m not interested in connecting…

        Liked by 2 people

        • FirmBeliever says:

          Hey Lissy,
          Well, I’m a woman, so I can’t totally answer you. But I will say that I think both men and women are capable of having casual sex without connection, and I think both men and women could feel a loss of connection to a spouse if extenuating circumstances made sex difficult/impossible. I’m just speaking to tidbits I’ve picked up that seem to point to the fact that, within a serious relationship, sex helps strengthen the connection for men, whereas the connection is needed before sex for a woman. And this is all generally speaking, of course. I’m sure there are exceptions on both sides.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Emma says:

        Very well worded, thank you Lissy.

        Like

      • Jeff Strand says:

        Lissy: “The women is spending time by herself, too-it’s just that she is doing the laundry, cooking, cleaning, childcare-and now she is not refreshed, she is exhausted. Doing all these things by herself, she feels abandoned and resentful.”

        Lissy, in that case the problem is within the woman. She must look within herself to find joy (or at least satisfaction) in fulfilling her responsibilities to her family. Just as the man must do the same when it comes to providing the financial means for the family (typically by going to work everyday), car maintenance, yard work, being Mr. Fixit, etc.

        These are all part of the dynamics of married life. If so many women have a problem with this, then they are not wife material. Period. So young men, make sure to discover this about the girls you seriously date, and if she is not wife material, YOU DONT MARRY HER.

        That simple. Let her have her cats and her Sex and the City reruns. Find a woman who understands what it means to truly be a wife and mother, and who is happy to do so.

        Ignore this advice at your peril. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

        Like

    • nights7 says:

      You make some good points here especially when you talk about guys feeling like they’re criticized for not doing whatever they’re doing “right” when they do try to pick up the slack. You can’t have someone else do a task AND expect it to be done exactly how you would. Sure, if you live and eat in a home you should know where the plates go but does it really matter if the towels aren’t folded just so? I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. Yes, your infant’s bedtime routine is important but having two participating parents who develop a relationship with their children is more important in the grand scheme of things and that means each parent having the freedom to do things how they do them (as long as you’re on the same page overall).

      One thing my ex husband and I would typically get hung up on was timing. I’d say “Could you please take this kid?” (or do x, y, or z) while I was in the middle of making dinner. Five minutes later I’d be mad that he was still sitting at the computer in his own little world and he’d be irritated that I was getting mad. I’d tell him I asked him to do something right then because I needed the help right then. He’d call me impatient and demanding (which is sometimes true). And round and about we’d go both focused on being right, having things exactly “my way”, & never moving past that misunderstanding. The older I get the more I realize how important empathy and flexibility are in relationships and life in general.

      Liked by 1 person

      • JM says:

        going deeper here, why was he on the computer when you were making dinner? That seems to be at the core of the point being made. If he was aware that you cannot watch kids AND make dinner, then he could have been on team marriage participating in what needs to get done.

        But that cuts into his precious computer time! And his response to belittle you and call you names like demanding is atrocious.

        Like

    • Fromscratchmom says:

      I appreciate what you’re saying zombie. I’ll respond to explain my use of that phrase. I think the “perfect sex kitten” impression that I’ve had at times and have heard from many hurting women has no real place in a marriage where two people are trying to make it work. I think it comes from a few different factors. Two are so common as to be impossible for me to ignore.

      There are truly abysmal or hurtful ways that some men communicate about their sexual dissatisfaction that strain relationships further after they are already strained enough that there is significant disagreement about sex. Things are said that are often accusing, hostile, extremely one-sided, and/or that project issues onto the wife that have nothing to do with her true feelings, opinions and motivations. Another extremely common factor that hurting wives mention when they finally open up to a friend or counselor is porn. The destructive force it tends to have on their husband and on themselves as well as on their communication about sex and many other aspects of their sex life is incredible. No one in marriage should be told that it’s their responsibility to compete with that. No one should be made responsible for someone else’s addictions or destructive behaviors. But the number of women who cite those dysfunctional things happening in their marriage is huge.

      Eventually women who were already hurting and then face those problems (porn or hurtful communication about sex) after some length of time come to feel like their husbands cannot fail to know how cruel his behaviors have felt from her end, cannot have failed to hear her express clearly how she thinks and feels and therefore he must be choosing his path (including being perfectly willing in hurting her) intentionally. And he must really believe that his words on great sex, on porn and on blame must truly reflect the way he sees sex and that sex really is his highest, or even his only, priority. According to those wives I’ve heard it from they went through varying numbers of years seeking advice and help anywhere and everywhere to better the communication, the relationship, and their own personal ability to find the best ways to approach their husband, as well as trying to work on the sex life issues too rather than “withholding” (to be honest of all the wives I’ve heard from, I’ve never spoken to a woman who didn’t believe that sex was important and needed and I’ve never spoken to a woman who really was intentionally “withholding”. I did hear about one once. Might have been real. All the others still loved and desired their husbands on some level right up to the bitter end but then eventually came to a point where they decided that whether it draws a line in the sand that makes him wrong and her right or not they no longer have any reason to deny the painful realities that they are living with or the validity and intentionality of his own choices and words about those matters. All that’s left at that point is to accept that the issues will never be resolved and whether or not she is willing to stick it out anyway or must escape.

      So you have probably put this together already but let me say it clearly here. Those who use any phrase like that are almost never women who still have any hope left. They are women who have fled a marriage, have been dumped, or who are sticking it out but have passed the point of ever believing that he has any real love for her. Those who are sticking it out sometimes say something like they feel it to the core of their being that he never really loved her (…or that he never wanted or cared to have any real connection with her, just sex.) It comes to them in retrospect as they try to process and understand the experience they had in the past in the marriage, why it was always so difficult, so painful, how it could have gone as badly as it went. There’s generally no lesson in it for those women to help them salvage anything of the relationship in question. They just try to understand for their own peace of mind or sometimes to help them choose better in future.

      Liked by 1 person

      • zombiedrew2 says:

        Hi, thanks for your insights there. You’ve given me a lot to digest.

        As a guy, I’m more than willing to admit that guys can be jerks. Some truly are jerks, but I would like to think that others (most) truly do love and care about their wives. But when things start to go bad, we have no freaking clue what to do. We get hurt, and we’re crappy at communication and showing it – generally due to the way we were raised and the gender roles that men and women are cast in. So the ways that we attempt to deal with things are often things that do more damage than good. And then couples get into this downward spiral, where they both still do love each other. But they start unintentionally hurting each other more and more until the relationships becomes damaged beyond repair.

        Don’t take this as an attempt to rationalize or invalidate what you are saying, but I would like to give you at least one guys thoughts on your two points:

        With regards to communicating sexual dissatisfaction, yeah, we suck. I’ve read in other comments (here and in other places) about how women are often exhausted from all the things that need to be done, and at the end of it all they have not time or energy for sex. Which is totally understandable and valid. So yeah, guys should be doing their part to try and alleviate some of those stresses. And the end goal for the guy at the time should be that they are alleviating the stresses and doing their fair part in keeping the household/relationship running.

        Thing is, I think sex is actually a need for guys. Not in the sense that they will die without it (though some of us may act that way). But I do think for right or for wrong, it forms part of our identity of what it means to be a couple and to be in a relationship. I made a comment earlier about needing it for connection and someone thought I was suggesting that guys feel sex “is” the connection. Not the case, but I think we do see sex as symbolic of our connection. So when the sex breaks down, and we start to question why (in our heads). We start to feel like we don’t matter, like our needs don’t matter – and that hurts. When a guy is rejected continuously by his wife, he probably accepts that all the reasons she gives are valid (tired, stuff with the kids, work is busy whatever). But when it happens a lot, it starts to eat away at us. Yeah, each individual reason may be valid. But when those reasons become patterns (sex is never happening) it’s hard not to take that personally. “I’m tired” starts to be heard as I don’t want you, or I don’t desire you. And over time that destroys a person. The wife isn’t actually withholding, but it seems that way to the guy – and I think that is understandable.

        The other one you mention is porn. I’m neither for or against porn. Some couples seem to use it as a way to light the fuse when things aren’t working well, and if both people are alright with that then I say go for it. If someone isn’t comfortable with it, then it has no place in the relationship. I’ve read some things on how porn is doing a lot of harm to peoples ideas of what sex is like and about, and I totally agree with that. Porn can definitely be an addiction, and from what I know it is a problem for both men and women (mostly men though).

        Personally I see parallels between porn and romance novels. Romance novels have traditionally been something for women to read, and I think they can be almost as damaging in terms of presenting inaccurate portrayals of relationships, and making guys feel like there’s something they can never live up to. I’ve talked to guys who feel their wives have shut down on them sexually and romantically, yet their partners seem to escape into the fantasy world of romance novels. Again, something that can be very damaging to a guys self-esteem. That may sound silly, but a lot of guys don’t see an issue with whether or not they get off on porn. Most guys aren’t looking for their wives to act or look like porn stars. They love their wives as they are.

        I do think guys and girls are wired differently when it comes to our sexual identities, and that can be a great source of conflict and hurt. I believe communication is key, and trying to always remember that different doesn’t have to mean one is right or wrong. If we are to get along and have healthy relationships we really need to try and understand each other, and accept those differences as part of what makes us who we are.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Matt says:

          These are really important, relevant, thought-provoking conversations happening here.

          I appreciate the civility and intelligence with which these ideas are being shared. You’re an excellent ambassador for the guy I’m always trying to write for, Drew.

          Not the dicks. Not the abusers. Not the borderline-evil egomaniacs.

          But the good men who are accidentally losing their wives through a series of things they never realized WERE the things that would cause their divorce.

          These are critical conversations.

          Thank you for participating in them thoughtfully.

          It tends not to happen on this blog, but in other places (and the dishes post), men want to fight and disagree with all of these wives reporting nearly identical experiences.

          There’s a master’s-level education to be had for free on the psychology of the 21st century wife in these discussions, and instead of taking advantage of it, they reject it so they can continue to blame their wives and girlfriends for their unhappiness instead of trying to be a part of the solution.

          I really appreciate you not being one of them. Thank you.

          Liked by 1 person

          • zombiedrew2 says:

            Hey Matt, thanks. I’ve spent the last few years trying to fight the same battle you are fighting.

            I have always considered myself a regular guy who tries to do his best – and in the process makes the same mistakes and screws up just as much as any other guy.

            I look at the issues/arguments from the womens sides and see a LOT of commonalities that make me think a lot of guys are inconsiderate jerks.

            But then I talk to a lot of guys and I see that guys have a lot of common hurts as well. what we are feeling is different from what women are feeling, but among guys the issues are shared.

            From that my takeaway has always been that guys and girls on average will walk away from the same experience with different thoughts and beliefs.

            It doesn’t do us any good to try and say I’m right and/or you are wrong. The ONLY way this ever gets better is if we listen, and try to accept that we ARE different, and our needs and wants are different. But different doesn’t mean better or worse.

            Anyhow, sorry for lengthy comments on your blog. There was just some good comments and sharing going on here, and I wanted to contribute in what I hope has been a positive way for breaking down the “guys are insensitive jerks” stereotype.

            We can be. But usually I don’t think we mean to be.

            Liked by 1 person

      • Fromscratchmom says:

        I have a large appreciation for your long comments, zombie. ;)
        I’m a very verbal/oral person and a strong auditory learner so maybe that explains it. I enjoy delving in and looking for the true message and all the nuances when people are really communicating.

        I agree with you about romance novels. I think they are often, maybe even always destructive in one way or another, although I’ve known of couples to use them to some positive effect for a time. And I’d add that it is the responsibility of women (and men) not only to avoid that form of destructiveness to their relationship but also to avoid being destructive to it in exactly the same way by comparing their marriage to other relationships they see around them or comparing their husband to men at work and to other women’s husbands.

        Once my husband did a particularly good and unusual thing for a husband to do and I was giving him all the credit in the world and then I saw a few women (friends and acquaintances) kind of die a little inside and want their husbands to be “loving enough” to do that. But they only had that small snippet of information and did not necessarily know all the agonies of our relationship that made that one thing stand out like a beacon from years and years of difficulty and pain that I had to actively embrace and give him credit for his effort and selflessness.

        Another example I picked up recently at a ladies retreat was from a friend who is a massage therapist (read:bartender) that I only see once or twice a year and before that was from a conversation she’d had with a client. The client was really melodramatically complaining and comparing her husband to the therapist’s husband as if hers came off badly…all as a result of one specific thing she’d heard about him that she could latch onto and crave. But the therapist knew from this woman that her husband did tons of things every single day like making her coffee and bringing it to her that some other women would melt over to hear or read them. So the massage therapist tried to gently but firmly explain to her what she was doing and how it was going to hurt her marriage. The best thing the complaining woman could have done would have been to check her own viewpoint and attitude and try to figure out what that one thing represented to her…what was the need of hers that was regularly missing from her marriage despite her husband’s daily ongoing efforts to take care of her needs. Maybe she could have figured it out by taking the love languages quiz online. A lot of people seem to benefit from that. Then maybe she could have not only better understood her needs but as a result she may also have had a chance to communicate them to her husband. She could have avoided embracing negatives to unfairly hold against him.

        Like

    • Reed French says:

      Totally! You can have power/control or a partnership but not both.

      The solution to the “not doing it right” thing is to ask. I find men to be JUST as particular as women. He prefers a specific type of soap to clean his car, a certain screwdriver when he’s fixing something or a particular brand of this or that. He wants the lawn walked to pick up any rocks and branches prior to mowing. And he prefers things done in a certain order for specific reasons.

      When I’m at a friend’s house and we’re cleaning up after a meal, I’ll ask, “Do you have a certain way you like the dishwasher loaded?” or “Can I help you fold towels? How do you want them folded? And do it like that. No biggie.

      There are reasons women like things done a certain way too. Maybe the towels fit in the linen closet better when they’re folded a certain way. Maybe the dishes get cleaner when you put the bowls in a certain place and the plates in a different area.

      The partner screwing up a job to get out of doing it next time is epidemic. My kids did it when they were little and sometimes people don’t grow out of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. anitvan says:

    Usually when I read your stuff Matt, I recognize myself in you. How you related to your wife is a lot like how I related to my husband. Or still do. Sometimes I recognize it as something my husband *used* to do in our marriage. The “Banging Your Mom” post hit me between the eyes. That was the first time I ever read something you wrote and thought “that’s how *I* feel!”.

    Cuz yeah, that’s exactly how it feels to have to take care of EVERYTHING. Its mentally and physically exhausting. And it’s not sexy at all.

    It’s a problem. I’ve dealt with his unwillingness to be responsible for his own life by taking on that responsibility for him. My expectations from him are exactly zilch. If I expect nothing, I won’t be disappointed when I receive it. That’s a hard thing to look in the face – one, that my expectations have become so low, and two, that I’ve enabled his behaviour through my willingness to take on what I never should have.

    So, you know, thanks a lot for THAT. :p

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Matt. You’re one cool dude.😎

    Like

  5. In summary, it’s all about communication. But remember, communication requires both people to talk AND to listen. Otherwise it’s just making noise… And ineffective, pointless, and frustrating.

    Like

  6. Great post, Matt. I call that communication gap between men and women, male solipsism. I don’t mean that unkindly, but look at the sex thing, men usually think, “she’s just depriving me to punish me,” not “my wife is half dead and emotionally exhausted.” Often men can only see themselves in the equation and how this situation relates to them.

    As to chores, that’s actually complex. It’s never really about that glass on the sink. My husband used to really tick me off by doing more household chores. That was even more disrespectful. What I really wanted was to be relieved of the emotional burden of all those responsibilities, to be encouraged and praised, to be valued. It was never the actual tasks or the housework, but his attitude that his wife could or would just handle it all and he didn’t even have to think about any of it.

    I caution men about doing more housework, chores, simply because as crazy as it sounds, when my husband started helping out that was the closest I ever came to just throwing in the towel. It was so frustrating to have him trying to “fix it,” when I didn’t want it fixed, I wanted emotional validation and support.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linbo says:

      Question answered- thank you: )…

      Like

    • Fromscratchmom says:

      I hear you, IB. Makes perfect sense to me. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it at least once under one of Matt’s blog posts that I read Matt’s stuff looking for the deeper level whenever he writes about women needing men to do more of the chores. I’ve needed help getting things done sometimes because of my health but acts of service ranks at the bottom of the barrel for me in my love languages.

      I truly needed other forms of physical intimacy like hand holding and being held in his arms. I truly needed occasional words of affirmation and far FAR fewer negative words. I even had a third love language that mattered too. I needed us to spend quality time together outside of screen time. Cooperative work on chores might have worked well for some of that if we’d ever learned to do that together. But other things could have worked for it just as well. One time I got him to take a concealed carry class with me. Man, I LOVED doing that together! It was fantastic. In fact even when we once faced something extremely difficult and unpleasant together as a united front it strengthened my bond to him.

      Not every woman has the same needs. And getting men to do more chores is huge for some women and less for others and little to nothing to a few. But every woman has needs and most will try to communicate it to their husbands when they are hurting in the marriage.

      Liked by 1 person

    • wellnessmom says:

      I was just thinking, and feel is confirmed in your comment, is that it’s really about loving your spouse in the way that they feel loved. Once my husband and I realized what each others’ love languages were, it made a world of difference. For me, it is acts of service, so the BEST thing my husband can do to show me love is help me with chores. For you, and for others, it may be something totally different – words of affirmation, or physical touch, etc.

      I think the real issue here is the wife feeling unappreciated and unloved – how the husband shows her she is loved needs to be in line with her actual personality and way of receiving love.

      Liked by 3 people

    • ruralbethany says:

      This is one reason why I really think Matt hit the nail on the head on one of his other articles where he recommends that husbands ask their wives “What can I take off your plate this week?” and REALLY actually mean it. Because a husband coming in in a huff and doing all the dishes might make his wife feel bad, because don’t you know he expected her to be able to do them? But a husband who intentionally tells her he would like to take over this chore for her so she doesn’t have to worry about it anymore? That might be a different thing.

      I know it sounds stupid, and this may be an attitude thing, but often when my ex would do housework he would do it with this exasperated, resentful attitude and that’s what I really hated. It was counterproductive, but I would much rather just do it all myself than deal with a spouse who is acting all huffy and inconvenienced because he has to wash some dishes or sweep a floor.

      So then I basically just took responsibility for it all. I shouldn’t have absolved him of the responsibility like that, regardless of the attitude problems, because it just contributed to the downward spiral of our marriage. That was one of the great crimes on my end, something that a year later I’m still trying to digest and process. I LET him do these things. I don’t like to nag, and I’m an empathic personality type which means if I was with him, I was so in tune with his feelings and desires that I let myself take the easy road and just go along with what he wanted to do. I still don’t know if I could function in a marriage because of those things.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Linbo says:

    I think what Zombie Drew and Firm Believer are doing is trying to lead us back to a (the?) solution, as impractical as it seems and feels. That is: empathy for the other person. But how in the hell can you conjure up or care about what the other person is experiencing when your own experience is wringing you dry? Sometimes the other person really is a narcissist whose only concern is his/her own needs- with that, by all means- flee! But with your average guy, who apparently is blind to the world going on around him, maybe start with empathy when you are feeling good. (And please, women, tell me there are days you feel ok about your husband!) I don’t know- play empathy games, sort of like “I spy”, but with feelings. Is working it (empathy) in to your day to day life something that sounds impractical, or just odd and silly? As it looks right now, what we are doing in our society isn’t working. We are busy (read: overwhelmed) with “life”, so much so, that things like laundry and the efficiency of the home are more important than having a happy marriage. I wonder if what the man secretly desires is for the woman to forget about task A.B.or C. and make him the household priority at hand (or maybe there is no secret about that at all) . …I remember the premise that men become less desirable when they don’t take initiative in the household tasks, I haven’t forgot- I’m just wondering if there isn’t some compromise to be made. That includes him taking care of the house and family, too. Why don’t people divvy up the chores- is there ever a discussion about those things? I remember having that discussion with roommates, don’t fiancee’s have this discussion, too? It just seems like a horrifically mundane thing to derail ones life over- for men and women both.
    Also, Matt- I’m a little concerned that you lumped “people with abusive upbringings” in with people with “criminal histories and violent tendencies”…OMG-we’re not all that bad! Lol :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • FirmBeliever says:

      I’m sure it can be very difficult, but yeah I think it’s the “be the change you wish to see” concept.

      Like

    • “It just seems like a horrifically mundane thing to derail ones life over- for men and women both.”

      It’s never, never about the mundane things. The mundane things just become symbolic of the underlying problem.

      Something that really helped me was practicing constant appreciation for my husband, really looking hard at the things he did do and taking note of them. Her didn’t do dishes and laundry, but he cleaned the gutters, fixed the roof, took the garbage out, and went to work. Once I started noticing the investment he really did have in our marriage, I was able to pour some praise and appreciation over him. He started doing it back and lo and behold, I didn’t feel burdened and frustrated anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Linbo says:

        I guess knowing their heart helps. I just posted on MagPies comment, and my picture of that guy is,well, Homer Simpson- with a nasty attitude to boot. I picture your husband more like my favorite cousin, or some of the “good guys” I know. And I’m thinking- what if they’re the same guy?
        BTW-I imagine it takes an incredible amount of will and perserverence to adjust your perspective like you did. Congrat’s and applauds to you!

        Liked by 3 people

      • Elizabethan says:

        Does he notice what you do? Is he openly thankful? And helpful!

        Like

    • Magpie says:

      We did divvy up the chores. It seemed like a great idea at the time and for some it may have worked. He would use not doing them as a weapon. The cupboards would be bare of dishes and the trash overflowing, but if I got tired of not having a clean bowl to eat breakfast in and I washed the dishes I was critiquing him and had to apologize for hurting his feelings and making him feel less of a partner.

      Like

      • Linbo says:

        That is a good illustration of a “man-child”. I can’t stand dealing with those issues at work, I couldn’t imagine living with it! 😖.

        Liked by 1 person

      • JM says:

        And if your respectfully complained about the lack of dishes and smell of the trash, he called you mean and controlling? Or some other set of names?

        It looks like there was another underlying issue behind why he would shirk agreed on responsibilities.

        Like

      • Elizabethan says:

        AndD then they wonder why we stop wanting to sex them!
        And usually on top of that we are expected to turn ourselves on! And be forever ready for sex!

        Like

    • wandathefish says:

      Linbo: “I wonder if what the man secretly desires is for the woman to forget about task A.B.or C. and make him the household priority”

      Most women do make their man a priority though in so far as that is possible but most men don’t do this for their wives. There is a huge body of research which shows that emotional care giving to their spouse is a huge part of a woman’s work load but that men just don’t do emotional care giving for their wives in the same way. If by any chance the man does slip down the priority list it’s probably because the woman has come to realise and accept that while he sees interaction with her that meets his needs as being a priority, interacting with her in a way that meets her needs has never been his priority at all.

      “Why don’t people divvy up the chores- is there ever a discussion about those things?”

      One of the biggest problems though is that it’s not just chores. It’s also emotion work and emotion work is either invisible to men or else they believe it’s women’s work. It’s emotional care giving again but for the whole family. The man often leaves all of this to the woman by denying that it is actually work in the first place. Showing an interest in peoples’ days, engaging them (family members) about what’s going on in their lives, communicating to them that what’s going on in their lives is important to you. Supporting them with what they’re struggling with even if it seems trivial to you because they’re only 7 years old. And the business of organising it all in the first place. The research shows that this work is done almost entirely by the woman and all attempts to discuss this with her husband are met by deaf ears.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Linbo says:

        Hi Wanda :)…Thank you for your insight. You make some very good points. I’m not really trying to take sides. I know men can be insensitive A-holes, and in full disclosure- I have not had to deal with the emotional effects of living with someone who doesn’t seem to acknowledge you (that includes your arguments, your feelings, your desires/wishes or the work you do), while you spend energy in taking care of everyone-and do not feel taken care of by him (precisely because he isnt listening to you.) Reading these things on this blog has been an incredible eye opener on how it really is. ..and thinking about it, I have had a few good friends start to tell me about this stuff but change the subject as they see the completely blank expression on my face. (Sorry dear friends! – I probably reminded them of their husbands…lol). So, again- I’m not taking sides. There is obviously a problem. Talking about the problem is incredibly important for those directly affected for their emotional well being and sanity. It’s also important to talk about it, so there can be a clearer picture of what the problem is. I’m interested because I would like to be married one day, and because I believe that family is invaluable in making a human being a whole, functioning person.
        The points that you brought up : “There is a huge body of research which shows that emotional care giving to their spouse is a huge part of a woman’s work load but that men just don’t do emotional care giving for their wives in the same way.”
        I wont argue that, I think it’s probably true, but I think it is the break in communication, and really empathy, that leads to the conclusion that “interacting with her in a way that meets her needs has never been his priority at all.” I think that is how you feel, and I think that is a valid feeling. But it may not be the truth. His motivations may be 100% to love you, but it isn’t demonstrated the way you can receive it.
        It has been noted in other comments that men can be oblivious, Matt and Drew are two very rare examples of men that have slipped through the portal and can say “Wow- I get it now.” But they absolutely, without ill intention, did the same Assholery sort of stuff that most husbands do. What they are saying is “We didn’t know- we didn’t get it!”
        Most men don’t do family stuff well. I’m not saying that is ok, I’m saying I think there is a larger issue. Maybe its how our society has raised men, so that its just sort of expected the woman would do everything. I believe the research is right, it’s just incomplete. More men need to get it. Because dammit- they’re cute and they’re strong, and funny, – and have you ever smelled a guys sweaty baseball cap before? (talk about an aphrodisiac)… there’s a part of us women who are just never going to stop loving them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • wandathefish says:

        Linbo: “I wont argue that, I think it’s probably true, but I think it is the break in communication, and really empathy, that leads to the conclusion that “interacting with her in a way that meets her needs has never been his priority at all.” I think that is how you feel, and I think that is a valid feeling. But it may not be the truth. His motivations may be 100% to love you, but it isn’t demonstrated the way you can receive it.”

        What I mean is more along the lines that meeting the woman’s emotional needs just isn’t on the man’s radar at all. So he doesn’t really have any motivation to love in any demonstrable way, in every day interaction at least. I also think that if something isn’t demonstrated in a way that the intended recipient can actually receive then it doesn’t really exist in the first place, other than as something completely abstract. I think a lot of men think their warm fuzzy feelings are enough to make their partner happy. I think they take a “99% of success is just turning up” approach to relationships. They think that if they are physically present near you then chemistry and love will create all the happiness magically.

        Like

        • Matt says:

          I strongly co-sign with this.

          I think the VAST majority of men have absolutely NO IDEA what it looks and feels like to meet a woman’s emotional needs, and no one has EVER talked about it with him before in 20-30 years of life prior to his engagement and marriage.

          Foreign concepts. Not just foreign. Absent concepts. No one is talking about these things with young men. They just know they’re supposed to be well-mannered. Respectful. Polite. Kind. To help protect. To help provide.

          You can do almost all of those things through the prism of the male experience and completely neglect your partner emotionally ON ACCIDENT.

          Which is what usually happens. Then the emotionally neglected wife is often unable to communicate the emotional neglect in a way that A. Makes sense to him, and B. Doesn’t come off like an ungrateful attack on his faithful husbandry.

          Then they both slowly push one another away, one angry disagreement at a time, but with the husband often never considering divorce. Because of that list of things he’s been raised to believe about what he must do for his wife.

          Being responsible for her “feelings”!? That seems like an incredibly unfair burden to a man who wasn’t educated on the intricasies of human emotional response and psychology.

          He doesn’t ask you to be responsible for his feelings, and he’ll tell you all about it when you “attack” him. He’ll fire back about the times he was upset about something, but he never “stooped so low” as to fight with you about it, or suggest he might regret marrying you and be considering divorce, or tried to make it out like you were an inadequate spouse simply because you hurt him.

          It’s unfair to you because he doesn’t give you what you need, and when you tell him, he simply denies that he doesn’t, or rejects the idea that he owes you more.

          It’s unfair to him because you don’t give him the same courtesy he give you: He doesn’t EVER threaten the marriage because of disagreements that seem minor compared to his promise to love and remain faithful forever.

          This is where almost everyone waits for the other person to see how right they are. Almost everyone who does ends up divorced.

          If everyone instead devoted that energy to filling those voids communicated from their partners–made it about the other person, and not about themselves–I think pretty much everyone would stay married.

          It’s all very frustrating to watch.

          Like the endless cycle of poverty and hunger and crime and low education we see in various cultures and parts of the world. It’s so easy to see the generic big picture, and so maddeningly impossible to alleviate the problems.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Linbo says:

        Thank you, Matt. No, we cant fix the world- just our parts in it. :)

        Like

    • zombiedrew2 says:

      Yeah, I think trying to understand each other and empathy is exactly what I’m trying to get at.

      You make a great point:

      “I wonder if what the man secretly desires is for the woman to forget about task A.B.or C. and make him the household priority at hand (or maybe there is no secret about that at all)”

      Believe me, we get that there is stuff to be done. We get that running a household takes a lot out of people. The key word is priority here. We need to feel like we are still the priority, at least sometimes. There is ALWAYS going to be stuff that needs to be done around the house, with the kids, etc. Sadly, that stuff never stops.

      But if our relationships are truly important to us, once in a while we need to be able to put that stuff down and focus on each other. When we can’t? Well, over time I think that tells us that “we” aren’t important. That the other stuff is more important than the marriage.

      And when we feel that way over extended periods of time, I think that’s when relationships get in trouble.

      This is both a guy problem and a girl problem. We both need to feel valued, and we both need to feel important. And maybe “how” we feel that is slightly different.

      Liked by 1 person

      • wandathefish says:

        See, I tried to understand the issue through the lens you’re using, Drew, for a very very long time but it never came into focus for me through that lens, no matter how hard I tried. And then I read the book Wifework and have now come to believe that there really is a wealth of research that shows that my experience is the experience of most women. That the effort and emotional care giving in most relationships really does flow one way; from the woman to the man and men only start to understand about unmet needs after years and years when the woman finally withdraws because she gets nothing back and has lost all hope that she ever will. This is the point at which men start to understand what it has felt like to be their partner throughout the whole relationship although they don’t usually realise that this has been her experience and because this has been her experience it is now their’s also. And then they start to complain about their needs and being made a priority and they expect to be listened to and heard even though they have ignored their partners saying the very same thing for years and years; it didn’t matter then because his needs were being met at that time. So the woman is just like “but I made you a priority for years, I met your every need for years and you didn’t do the same for me so I’m sure as hell not going to go back there because it cost me my mental health”.

        If men just actively worked towards meeting their partners emotional needs women wouldn’t even have to think in terms of making time for him; she would just naturally want to. She would go to him and spend time with him every opportunity that she had because doing so would be enjoyable or supportive.

        I also don’t agree that how men and women feel valued and important is vastly different. The research shows that on the whole, men are largely happy enough in their marriages to want to stay in them and this is because women are generally good at meeting men’s emotional needs. We’re good at this because we understand that men’s emotional needs are almost exactly the same as our own so we do the things for men that we know would meet our needs if men did them for us. But to men this work isn’t reciprocated.

        Liked by 2 people

        • zombiedrew2 says:

          I get where you are coming from, and I think you are right about guys not getting it until their wives start to withdraw due to their needs not being met. Count me as one of the many who fall into that boat. Thing is, I legitimately thought I was doing a good job. I thought I was a caring husband who put his wife and family first.

          So to me the question becomes, why is this happening?

          How is it possible that guys can think they are doing well, and then be (in their eyes) blindsided by finding out that their wife is completely unhappy, has been for a long time, and has likely checked out on the relationship completely. I listen to women talk on this stuff and they say things like “I tried for years and I was ignored, and now I don’t want to try anymore”. You hear some variation on this again and again, so it’s definitely justified.

          But are there really that many cruel/callous/ignorant guys out there? Do guys really only care about themselves and their own needs? Some, for sure. But I just can’t buy that we are all that blind. So to me, there is more going on. I look at the way I treated my wife and I think yeah, I could have done some things better. But honestly, I thought I was doing pretty good. I thought I WAS making her my priority. Yet she wasn’t happy, and felt that I should have known and done something to address it. But I didn’t realize she was unhappy, so I didn’t do anything. As you said, it didn’t “click” for me until she withdrew from the relationship – at that point it became clear that something was wrong. Though for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what, or how to fix it. And believe me, I wanted to.

          I won’t pretend to have any real answers here, but I think some of this comes down to communication styles, gender roles and how we are taught to behave. I just can’t accept the notion that guys are by and large inconsiderate jerks who only care about themselves and their needs. I cared, and a lot of guys that I know did as well. But we didn’t see or understand the danger signs until it was either too late or until at least a lot of damage had been done. So this has to be related to communication, and how we do it.

          I think you are right that our emotional needs are almost exactly the same. But *how* we express that and how we listen to each other seems different.

          Like

      • Donkey says:

        I want to join the conversation. :)

        Kudos to you Zombiedrew2 for staying civil even while you’re maybe mostly listening to “the other side”. That’s hard to do!

        Here are the points I want to make (I think perhaps the new-ish thing I’m adding to the conversaion comes in point 4. Sorry if the point has already been made.)

        1.) As Wandathefish says, women on average do more for men in their relationships (and yes there absolutely sometimes is a balance and sometimes a reversal of roles). This has been proven many times, see John Gottman regarding accepting influence, or “Wifework” as Wandathefish recommends for staters.

        2.) Even so, both men and women and just different people in general have difficulties understanding the needs of others and ways of expressing love that they don’t have/practice themselves! I’ve had a few aha-experiences myself which I hope have opened my eyes. I really don’t think preferring sex to feel close instead of talking about your day is better or worse.

        3.) As we grow up, even when men believe they’re equality-minded, they’re really quite rarely not. So in addition to people having different needs and blindspots, like I said in point 1.), men are even less likely to accomodate women and (here comes point number 3) also not likely to realize that women are infact giving a lot more (in general, again there are many exceptions I’m sure).

        It’s just reinforced in millions of ways that women should defer to men, women are crazy, women should be the ones to care for and learn about relationships. So men are really quite blind to their own privilege in their relationships. Like Matt writes “if you’d just tell me what to do I’ll do it” for instance. Every time she lets him have his preferences, he doesn’t think about it because of course that’s just the natural and rational way. He doesn’t consider how this is a sacrifice for her. Of course it’s not all black and white so sometimes women get the influence or accomodation, and sometimes the roles are reversed. (And I’m sure women have their blind spots when it comes to what their partners do for them aswell) So: she accomodates him and he doesn’t have to complain or demand or yell and scream to get this consideration, but when she asks for some accomodation back, or even just a fair sharing of the labour, he doesn’t do it a lot of the time. When she protests, he thinks she’s being to some degree an angry controlling bitch (and yes I use that gendered insult intentionally), when in fact she’s just calling out the fact that he’s not accomodating her. He wants something from her – he gets it. She wants something from him – she doesn’t get it and/or there’s hell to pay first. He just doesn’t think about it, the same way that white people are generally blind to their racial privilege in our society.

        4.) When women complain about the lack of equity in their relationships, men often jump in with point number 2.): “People have different needs, men’s needs matter too! Which of course is true! absolutely! The thing is, many women (again not all and sometimes it’s reversed!) are struggling just to get to 50-50. To have the same kind of influence, to truly share the logistical, emotional, domestic and financial burden. Men learning to do their fair share isn’t doing anything extra for her, it’s just showing the basic respect that should have been a given from the start (him doing her chores/logistics in addition to his own would be doing something extra for her). A woman getting 50-50 shouldn’t be considered a special need or preference of hers, it should just be neutral. So when the woman is fed up of the unfair dynamic, she isn’t very willing to hear about or discuss his needs, because she wants to get to neutral/fair/50-50/100-100 first, and have that not be a problem at all anymore. THEN the discussion about people having different needs in a relationship can happen. If basic respect and fairness is in place, his need for sex isn’t less important than her need for conversation, to be stereotypical. Him wanting her to watch football with him isn’t less important than him buying her flowers or indeed doing some of her chores as a favour.

        I can imagine that if the roles were reversed and men in general were the ones who dealt with the household and logistics in addition to working, who were the default parents, who faced judgement if the house was messy and the kids didn’t have their homework done and taken back to school, or weren’t close with their grand parents, the needs and wants that women expressed would be very different in general. With her not being responsible for having that part of life taken care of, even if she helps out, she could focus on how it would be nice if he would watch her favourite ice skater on TV with her, and not act so damned stressed all the time. That shit affects her too you know, and she feels lonely when he’s always doing chores instead of spending time with her. And she could think about how she would really like for him to give her oral sex as often as possible, just because, and maybe he could put on something sexy while doing it, and it’s important that he really shows how much he enjoys serving her. And it really would be nice if he made a point of thanking her for picking up the kids from soccer practice, even though he had to remind her three times, and for every time she did it he had done it the previous 5 times.

        5.) About women and sex. Many women, not just some, have a high need/desire for sex. Truly. It’s less talked about, because many women feel ashamed that their men don’t desire them when “everyone knows men always want sex”. Men generally talk less about relationships, and especially little about his low libido. I’ve heard a relationship experts claim that with their clients it’s about 50-50 wether the man or woman is the high desire partner, and I’ve also seen someone who says that with their clients it’s more often the woman. My libido is pretty… high. I love sex (when it’s good and I feel respected on a general basis). When I’m rejected sexually in a relationship, it can hurt really bad, especially if it happens a lot. When Matt talks about going crazy with involuntary celibacy, I actually believe I know how he feels. When I’ve had dry-spells in my life… I think about sex all day long (I usually think about sex a lot anyhow). It can physically hurt to not be intimate in that way. I’ve found myself looking longingly at people I normally don’t even like much. In a co-housing situation I had the hots for the guy living in the room next to me. All of my body (except the two brain cells who managed to restrain me) was telling me to just run into his room, rip his clothes off, and basically just jump his bones. If I remember correctly, I had to physically grip my bed to stop myself. And I can think of more examples like that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Linbo says:

          I really think you’re on to something with the whole gender inequality thing. It may be the reason men can be so clueless. Other people serving them is just “how it is”. It’s the white male privilege- or it definitely could be. I had a classmate recently challenge me to walk towards a man or group of men while walking the few blocks between classes, ..and watch them not give way. Theorhetically they won’t divert their path- they keep walking forward even though they physically see you directly in the path. It’s because they assume the woman will divert and accommodate him. …so, is this just a “bad husband” issue or a societal issue?

          Like

        • Linbo says:

          *theoretical. Butchered that one :)

          Like

        • Thank you Donkey, again better said than I could manage.
          I am not perfect by any means but all I wanted was the 50-50/100-100.
          Outside our relationship to our significant other, we don’t take care of things results to it falling apart- how does it not translate? It is lost on me. The scale relating to the five love languages obviously varies so there is no cookie cutter way beyond mutual respect and seeking after the needs of your love.
          And definitely kudos to Zombiedrew and Matt for being vulnerable and forthcoming to us ladies!
          I always love your comments :)

          Like

      • Elizabethan says:

        Then you’d turn her on for a change! No use complaining about it!

        Like

      • wandathefish says:

        That’s the conclusion I’m coming to too Linbo. I’ve read a lot about communication styles and there is stuff there that you can learn from that affects inter-gender communication in ways that most people don’t understand but while I don’t think this is completely irrelevant, I don’t personally think that that’s what’s at the heart of the matter. I’m coming down on the side of thinking that this is a simple problem of gender inequality and entitlement, and that men’s failure to take on board what their partners are telling them about their unmet needs is not actually an inability but rather just a disinclination. I believe this partly because no one (men included) seems to have come up with any way of communicating the problem to men with anything other than a derisory success rate. And every single approach does seem to have been tried and tested by god knows how many millions (billions?) of women and none of them has seen any significant success. If men are actually saying that they can’t really think of anything a woman could do or say to get her point across then the issue isn’t one of inter-gender communication problems. She can’t be doing it wrong if almost everyone acknowledges that no right way actually exists. And while I did appreciate the Daniel Dennet post and think it has some merit I also think it’s quite typical of the approaches that women almost always start off with before moving on to screaming crying banshee tactics.

        That said I’m still forming my opinions and I’m still not 100% sure I believe this to be the case. I’m going to keep reading and keep an open mind and I’ve even been thinking of starting my own blog dedicated to this mystery and trying to solve it through sleuthing and evidence gathering! I have various theories so far, which incorporate aspects of inter-gender communication problems and equality issues.

        And for all my anger I do genuinely appreciate the fact that some men are actually engaging in (or leading – thanks Matt!) the discussion in a constructive and understanding manner and listening to what is being said. That is really really wonderful.

        Like

  8. Fromscratchmom says:

    As it often seems like it’s women who after (or during) divorce report feeling like they tried hundreds of different ways to improve communication and to address issues of feeling less and less connected and loved and that they just can’t understand how to speak to a man who swears he does love his wife but often treats her in a way that feels the opposite to her… And as it seems that this blog tends to be addressing men… I think maybe it’s a worthwhile goal for men to try to explore what it is women want in communication and what it looks like on the sites and in the books that women are going to to look for help. There are certainly duds out there. I don’t recommend you go to Cosmo or to shallow-woman.com. And there will always be the your-mileage-may-vary issue because every woman is an individual and every relationship is different. But among the stuff written by women and the stuff written by successful couples there are a ton of ideas out there that could potentially help a man deepen his connection with his wife and come to really understand her needs. If he takes the lead in this way he may find that even she learns more and better information about her own needs. We don’t always really even know ourselves and why we feel the way we do and do the things we do, us humans. Life is a journey.

    So here is one I happened across this morning:

    http://www.wellnessmomlife.com/improve-connection-with-your-spouse/

    It looks like the kind of thing that is a nice springboard. It would be great if these types of games and conversations started very early in marriage!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Matt says:

      “It would be great if these types of games and conversations started very early in marriage!”

      The world would change overnight. We don’t always feel it ’til it hurts. Often, the husband doesn’t feel the hurt on the level needed to kick him into gear, until it’s MUCH too late.

      Learned that the hard way.

      Thank you so much for sharing.

      Like

    • wellnessmom says:

      Yes, it’s really about the connection and about spouses seeking to love each other in the way that they need. By the way, that’s my post – so thank you so much for sharing it! I do hope that it’s a starting point for some couples to figure out how they can connect better and show each other love & respect in the best ways possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Donkey says:

    I want to join the conversation. :)

    Kudos to you Zombiedrew2 for staying civil even while you’re maybe mostly listening to “the other side”. That’s hard to do!

    Here are the points I want to make (I think perhaps the new-ish thing I’m adding to the conversaion comes in point 4. Sorry if the point has already been made.)

    1.) As Wandathefish says, women on average do more for men in their relationships (and yes there absolutely sometimes is a balance and sometimes a reversal of roles). This has been proven many times, see John Gottman regarding accepting influence, or “Wifework” as Wandathefish recommends for staters.

    2.) Even so, both men and women and just different people in general have difficulties understanding the needs of others and ways of expressing love that they don’t have/practice themselves! I’ve had a few aha-experiences myself which I hope have opened my eyes. I really don’t think preferring sex to feel close instead of talking about your day is better or worse.

    3.) As we grow up, even when men believe they’re equality-minded, they’re really quite rarely not. So in addition to people having different needs and blindspots, like I said in point 1.), men are even less likely to accomodate women and (here comes point number 3) also not likely to realize that women are infact giving a lot more (in general, again there are many exceptions I’m sure).

    It’s just reinforced in millions of ways that women should defer to men, women are crazy, women should be the ones to care for and learn about relationships. So men are really quite blind to their own privilege in their relationships. Like Matt writes “if you’d just tell me what to do I’ll do it” for instance. Every time she lets him have his preferences, he doesn’t think about it because of course that’s just the natural and rational way. He doesn’t consider how this is a sacrifice for her. Of course it’s not all black and white so sometimes women get the influence or accomodation, and sometimes the roles are reversed. (And I’m sure women have their blind spots when it comes to what their partners do for them aswell) So: she accomodates him and he doesn’t have to complain or demand or yell and scream to get this consideration, but when she asks for some accomodation back, or even just a fair sharing of the labour, he doesn’t do it a lot of the time. When she protests, he thinks she’s being to some degree an angry controlling bitch (and yes I use that gendered insult intentionally), when in fact she’s just calling out the fact that he’s not accomodating her. He wants something from her – he gets it. She wants something from him – she doesn’t get it and/or there’s hell to pay first. He just doesn’t think about it, the same way that white people are generally blind to their racial privilege in our society.

    4.) When women complain about the lack of equity in their relationships, men often jump in with point number 2.): “People have different needs, men’s needs matter too! Which of course is true! absolutely! The thing is, many women (again not all and sometimes it’s reversed!) are struggling just to get to 50-50. To have the same kind of influence, to truly share the logistical, emotional, domestic and financial burden. Men learning to do their fair share isn’t doing anything extra for her, it’s just showing the basic respect that should have been a given from the start (him doing her chores/logistics in addition to his own would be doing something extra for her). A woman getting 50-50 shouldn’t be considered a special need or preference of hers, it should just be neutral. So when the woman is fed up of the unfair dynamic, she isn’t very willing to hear about or discuss his needs, because she wants to get to neutral/fair/50-50/100-100 first, and have that not be a problem at all anymore. THEN the discussion about people having different needs in a relationship can happen. If basic respect and fairness is in place, his need for sex isn’t less important than her need for conversation, to be stereotypical. Him wanting her to watch football with him isn’t less important than him buying her flowers or indeed doing some of her chores as a favour.

    I can imagine that if the roles were reversed and men in general were the ones who dealt with the household and logistics in addition to working, who were the default parents, who faced judgement if the house was messy and the kids didn’t have their homework done and taken back to school, or weren’t close with their grand parents, the needs and wants that women expressed would be very different in general. With her not being responsible for having that part of life taken care of, even if she helps out, she could focus on how it would be nice if he would watch her favourite ice skater on TV with her, and not act so damned stressed all the time. That shit affects her too you know, and she feels lonely when he’s always doing chores instead of spending time with her. And she could think about how she would really like for him to give her oral sex as often as possible, just because, and maybe he could put on something sexy while doing it, and it’s important that he really shows how much he enjoys serving her. And it really would be nice if he made a point of thanking her for picking up the kids from soccer practice, even though he had to remind her three times, and for every time she did it he had done it the previous 5 times.

    5.) About women and sex. Many women, not just some, have a high need/desire for sex. Truly. It’s less talked about, because many women feel ashamed that their men don’t desire them when “everyone knows men always want sex”. Men generally talk less about relationships, and especially little about his low libido. I’ve heard a relationship experts claim that with their clients it’s about 50-50 wether the man or woman is the high desire partner, and I’ve also seen someone who says that with their clients it’s more often the woman. My libido is pretty… high. I love sex (when it’s good and I feel respected on a general basis). When I’m rejected sexually in a relationship, it can hurt really bad, especially if it happens a lot. When Matt talks about going crazy with involuntary celibacy, I actually believe I know how he feels. When I’ve had dry-spells in my life… I think about sex all day long (I usually think about sex a lot anyhow). It can physically hurt to not be intimate in that way. I’ve found myself looking longingly at people I normally don’t even like much. In a co-housing situation I had the hots for the guy living in the room next to me. All of my body (except the two brain cells who managed to restrain me) was telling me to just run into his room, rip his clothes off, and basically just jump his bones. If I remember correctly, I had to physically grip my bed to stop myself. And I can think of more examples like that.

    Like

    • Fromscratchmom says:

      Donkey, I totally agree that sometimes it’s the woman who has the higher sex drive. And thank-you for saying! Sometimes it’s the woman who is just plain emotionally and sexually healthier, as with some of us our emotions are so connected to our sexual experiences. In my marriage I also wanted sex and enjoyed it. It was bizarre and crazy how it played out that I still ended up accused of not wanting him, not wanting sex, being typically as a woman ashamed of my desire…none of which was true at all! He never faced a moment’s realistic reflection about his side of our marital coin where he was creating sexual problems between us such as the one I’ve mentioned before about him wanting to be alone from 9 in the evening for a few hours when I was wild to want to get his attention then wanting sex after I’d been rejected and had been crying for three hours. He just went on and on looking for crazy man-based or porn-industry-based ideas on how to please a woman, but refusing to allow for me to be a human who could have input since I was the one he was actually sleeping with. Some of the things he found were amazing. Some kind of the opposite. And none of them had a thing to do with the stuff that was actually problematic between us. There were actually about a million things directly bedroom-related and indirectly related where he constantly sabotaged us both emotionally and sexually. But to him everything was alway all my fault and he was some kind of martyr having to put up with being married to me. And yes, it does physically hurt to not get enough sex. In my experience it also physically hurts to not get any other needs met. In my journaling when I occasionally go on a short but still wild rampage writing about hoping to have real love from a real man someday there is plenty in it about what I’d want from him sexually as well as physically but non-sexually. (We’re all individuals and we all have our preferences and needs.)

      My soon-to-be-ex would probably die if he was ever confronted with just how badly he comes off in it (or hear for that matter). All those years I was willing to focus on his ego and build him up and appreciate the good in our sex life despite also hurting from the bad in it and from all his skewed and crazy stuff he projected on me. But now that he’s pouring himself into a replacement where it’s easy early on while the relationship is new, I have no reason to warp myself trying to understand his crazy and still be careful of his ego and still respect him.

      I want someone who is generally good in bed and who isn’t resistent to a woman being an actual human with her own input into her relationship, a man who isn’t riddled with hang-ups and crippled by his own stuff! I want sex. And I don’t just want the sometimes mind blowing Os that are spaced out between all the emotional pain and all the crazy. I want all the mind blowing Os that can be had in a GOOD relationship and all the the gentle Os in between when not every night is exactly the same, and even the we’re-both-ridiculously-tired-but-it’s-still-an-O, Os that can easily be a thing for a while in the more stressful times in life. I want a man who has the basic easy level of intelligence and sensitivity to know when his wife is trying to get his attention more subtly or at other times somewhat less subtly trying to seduce him without my having to just start stripping in front of him for him to notice and then complain about that as a method of getting his attention. I want all the connection, and all the intimacy of being truly partners and truly sacrificially good to each other in the bedroom and out. And I do NOT want to EVER again put up with a man projecting his issues or a bunch of stereotypical stupid on me! A couple should grow into better and better, not worse and worse when they face the real issues between them. And yeah, I’m just making myself stay far away from temptations for now which apparently generally takes a huge amount of forethought. I have even had a couple of times that I nearly had to grip the bed to keep from going to a bar to find a hookup….not even anything remotely close and easy like across a hallway.

      I know it’s wise and good for me to focus on myself and my daughters for now and heal. Later I’ll be ready for a real love and then I’ll be able to enjoy real intimacy rather than the short term substitutions. I’m definitely not a short term person emotionally. And I’m not interested in short term for religious reasons as well. But sometimes in these last few months I’ve almost done it anyway. So in the meantime I’ll just have to manage my hormones.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Donkey says:

      Point 4.) said another way:
      Let’s say the woman is fulfilling 75% of the mans need (and no one can expect 100%). She’s doing more than her fair share, she’s anticipating his needs, she’s spending some time with him, having sex occasionally. And thel man is meeting 30% of hers (but he thinks he’s doing more). She’s overworked and has too much responsibility, but he does “help out”, they have sex sometimes, sometimes he’s sweet, but he doesn’t take her seriously and she feels disrespected and unloved. When she complains and he finally hears her, he basically says “well, I have needs that you’re not meeting too! Look at my missing 25%?!”

      And she thinks: “You asshole! If you cared for me AT ALL, if you had any decency at all, you’d understand that getting me up to 75% should be the first priority! Then we can start working on increasing satisfaction even more for both of us”.

      Fromscratchmom, I’m sorry for your bad experience! :( But telling me how you were also gripping the bed to restrain yourself made me laugh. 8)

      I’ve heard from two different sources that men respond better to actions than words. So maybe making it clear that you’ll put all the clutter he leaves around and that hasn’t been picked up by the end of the day in the garbage and then following through (an example I’ve used before) will be more effective than telling him over and over. If he doesn’t do the dishes like he promised, you won’t cook dinner for him until he does. I hear many women complaining that men pee on the bathroom floor and won’t clean it up. A kind of funny reaction came to my mind – what if she peed in his shoes and said “well obviously you don’t have a problem with me stepping in your pee, why should you have a problem with stepping in mine?! Until you clean up after yourself, your shoes and socks will be my new toilet”. Maybe that will get his attention. 8) But I can just imagine a huge backlash with all of this. But maybe that is what it would take in a lot of cases, I don’t know.

      People have different learning styles and why should words be any better than actions? But the thing is, this doesn’t explain the fact that Wandathefish has brought up more than once – many men are able to understand and believe and adjust to feedback at work, but won’t do it with their partners. So it can’t just be different learning styles. Again, all people have their blind spots, especially with loved ones maybe, but given all the facts I do be believe it must also largely be an entitlement thing, however unconscious and unintentional it may be. That’s part of privilege, people are more often than not blind to the ways they have it and act on it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fromscratchmom says:

        Hahaha. I have to occasionally talk my office manager down off a ledge from doing something crazy because of a guy who pees on the floor at work! Yes, some things that guys do are really just incomprehensible to all of us!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Travis B. says:

        “But the thing is, this doesn’t explain the fact that Wandathefish has brought up more than once – many men are able to understand and believe and adjust to feedback at work, but won’t do it with their partners. So it can’t just be different learning styles.”

        I don’t think you’re comparing like things at all here. In an employment relationship, there is no presence of love, nor promise of fidelity. In fact, the condition of employment very often comes with the caveat that the employer or employee can terminate the latter’s employment at any time, for any cause – with or without notice. Therefore, there is an ever-present and palpable threat for the employee that misalignment with job duties and expectations can and will lead directly to a quick and clinical cessation of the relationship.

        In a marital relationship, there is the presence of love (presuming the two individuals involved are in the union for the right reasons, with the right mindset), and a vow of fidelity. Therefore, the man operates from a sense that his wife will persevere through hardships in the relationship from a perspective of giving him the benefit of the doubt and presuming his positive intent.

        I say none of this to forgive any of the numerous male transgressions about which Matt speaks at length on this blog, and of which I’ve certainly been blissfully unaware of practicing on my own end for far too many years, but to simply illustrate that a man clearly understanding his employer’s expectations and needs and him understanding his wife’s requires wholly different skills and perspectives.

        Like

      • free_in_Seattle says:

        @travis B

        Yes there is….it’s called divorce.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Travis said,

        “Therefore, the man operates from a sense that his wife will persevere through hardships in the relationship from a perspective of giving him the benefit of the doubt and presuming his positive intent”

        Again, I call that male solipsism, with all due kindness and good humor here, but yes, that is often how men operate. She’ll persevere! She’ll just give me the benefit of the doubt! She’ll presume my positive intentions!

        Men forget that women break, that we cannot always persevere, that granting you the benefit of the doubt cannot take precedence over our own need for survival.

        That is what is often at the root of the problem, she’ll be fine, she’ll persevere, it’s not like she can fire me or something….

        Liked by 1 person

      • Travis B. says:

        insanitybytes22, you’ll get zero argument on that from me (being one of the rare survivors of my own self-inflicted marital wounds), just illustrating that Donkey’s comparison of male flexibility with, and comprehension of, employment expectations and behaviors vs. marital ones is an inexact comparison.

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        Travis B, thanks for adding your thoughts. I still don’t get it.

        “Therefore, the man operates from a sense that his wife will persevere through hardships in the relationship from a perspective of giving him the benefit of the doubt and presuming his positive intent.”

        I can see how a man would expect that he won’t get dumped when there’s hardship or the first time there’s a misunderstanding or the first time he isn’t holding up his end of the partnership and his wife has to call him out on that fact. (And for the purposes of this example, lets assume that she is correct.)

        But when he’s been made aware of it over and over? Isn’t the reality then that he behaves (to put it simply) at work and accepts feedback there because he has to, but he doesn’t at home because he believes she won’t leave him anyway so he won’t bother with the effort?

        If that’s what you’re saying, then guys can’t also claim to have been blissfully ignorant of being bad husbands. Then he’s just exploiting that she won’t easily leave him.

        And yet, I hear that Matt and you and other guys really didn’t know, even though their partners told them many times. As impossible as that sounds to me, I believe you. That’s why I’m confused. It would be great if you have any further thoughts to clear this up.

        Liked by 1 person

      • wandathefish says:

        @travis B

        “Therefore, there is an ever-present and palpable threat for the employee that misalignment with job duties and expectations can and will lead directly to a quick and clinical cessation of the relationship.”

        Why don’t you see the ever present palpable threat for the spouse that misalignment with spousal duties and expectations can and will lead directly to a cessation of the relationship? Even if it’s neither quick nor clinical? Why don’t men fear losing the person they are supposed to love more than anyone else in the world more or at least as much as they fear losing their job??

        Moreover, your reply would seem to back up the theory that men are not unable but rather unwilling to make their partner’s happy.

        “a man clearly understanding his employer’s expectations and needs and him understanding his wife’s requires wholly different skills and perspectives.”

        You say you do what your employer wants or needs because you have to. And imply you don’t do what your wife would like you to do or needs you to do simply because you don’t have to or don’t think you have to. You haven’t highlighted any different skills, just one crucial difference in perspective. That your employer matters and your wife doesn’t.

        “Therefore, the man operates from a sense that his wife will persevere through hardships in the relationship from a perspective of giving him the benefit of the doubt and presuming his positive intent.”

        But when a man ignores his wife’s cries for help and thereby creates hardship that is a very different type of hardship than the type that is beyond either party’s control. And I can’t see anything for her to give him the benefit of the doubt on. Where do you see benefit of the doubt applying in this scenario? It comes across as simple and deliberate cruelty or at best indifference to her suffering. There is no possible positive intent that could be involved in this scenario. If a man tries hard and fails then yes, you could see positive intent but when no serious attempt is even made to understand a woman’s position then you can’t spin that as anything other than callous disregard. Can you?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Travis B. says:

        Um, you do realize I’m on you fine ladies’ side here, right? (*nervous laugh*, *mops sweat from brow*) Please understand that the explanations and theories I’m offering up from my own male perspective are not to be taken as justifications or defenses of them. I feel that’s getting lost somewhere along the way, and it’s critically important to me that it not be (he he, there we go, another male seeking benefit of the female doubt). Taking the questions in the order they were made…

        “But when he’s been made aware of it over and over? Isn’t the reality then that he behaves (to put it simply) at work and accepts feedback there because he has to, but he doesn’t at home because he believes she won’t leave him anyway so he won’t bother with the effort?

        If that’s what you’re saying, then guys can’t also claim to have been blissfully ignorant of being bad husbands. Then he’s just exploiting that she won’t easily leave him.”

        Yes, I am saying he doesn’t put out the necessary effort because he doesn’t believe she will leave him, and yes, I’m ALSO saying we men can accurately claim to have been blissfully aware of being bad husbands at the same time. You see, this always comes back to Matt’s “dishes by the sink” post because we don’t ever believe our wives will actually leave us over such issues because, from our perspective, we can’t fathom how something so unimportant to us can truly be so important to you. This is the point that I see missed over and over by women here–this sense that there has to be some sort of active maliciousness happening on the part of the men in your lives to properly explain your misery. I’m sure there is a subsection of men in the world who are true down-in-the-marrow-of-their-bones assholes who legitimately seek to ruin the hearts and spirits of their wives, twisted and damaged men who can only keep themselves psychologically afloat by hurling all their inner loathing at anyone who will willingly endure it, but I very much believe (naively? I dunno) they’re the exception, not the rule. The majority of us dunderheaded husbands aren’t actively trying to exploit you. It’s that when we hear you complain for the umpteenth time about the dirty dish being left out, it’s simply that we’re not taking the complaint seriously because, again, we don’t relate to the importance of the “pain” associated with the “crime”. We don’t hear (even if these are the actual words used!), “I’ve told you so many times that this matters to me, and you constantly dismiss it, which means you constantly dismiss me, and I refuse to live a life where nothing that matters to me matters to you.” No, instead, instead, we’re thinking, “Boy, you can always count on women to make the most minuscule complaints in the most overdramatic ways, can’t you?” It’s not that we know how much it means to you and don’t care, it’s that we don’t truly believe you care about it that much, either. We just think you’re taking a minor pittance of a concern and, to be frank, just “laying it on rather thickly”. Now is that sexist? Very possibly. Is it passively disrespectful? Most certainly. BUT IT’S NOT INTENTIONALLY DRIVEN BY MALICE AND A DESIRE TO HURT AND DEMEAN. You don’t have to like that answer (heck, it may, paradoxically, even hurt worse than if our behavior was intentional) but you better serve your quest to find peace with the men in your lives to accept it as the fact of the matter. Again, it doesn’t EXCUSE our behavior, but it sheds light on our psychology and the gulf between our perception and what we desperately need to start understanding about our wives’.

        “Why don’t you see the ever present palpable threat for the spouse that misalignment with spousal duties and expectations can and will lead directly to a cessation of the relationship? Even if it’s neither quick nor clinical? Why don’t men fear losing the person they are supposed to love more than anyone else in the world more or at least as much as they fear losing their job??”

        The majority of men with their heads screwed on at least halfway will clearly recognize that, if their wives catch them having an affair, or gambling away all their paychecks and savings, or killing innocent people, or filling their veins with heroin every day and the like, divorce is almost surely going to be fast-tracked. But, at the risk of sounding like I’m going back over the same ground I just went over, do any of us assume we’re literally going to lose the love and presence of the wives who’ve taken life vows with us because of dirty dishes? Toilet seats with pee drops on them? Weekends of being plugged into the week’s big games? Eye rolls at being asked to watch a “chick flick”? Changing the radio without asking from your Beyonce to our AC/DC? Not for a second. Because, again, these things seem such trifles to us. Wrongfully. Wrongfully. Let me beat that drum. WRONGFULLY. But, nevertheless, we do think that way, because, when similar behaviors are practiced against us, they don’t typically wound our sense of dignity and internal equilibrium the way they do for most women. We simply do not relate. Not even close. It’s a very alien perspective to us.

        “Moreover, your reply would seem to back up the theory that men are not unable but rather unwilling to make their partner’s happy.”

        You’re quite right there, but again, that comes not from an actively malicious place but from a passively disrespectful and lazy one. If men could truly process and internalize that the little shreds of dismissiveness we toss at our wives’ expressed needs, complaints and concerns festers into a tsunami of disrespect and wholesale invalidation in their minds, hearts and souls, the majority of us would be shaken to our core. But it’s so outside the pale of our internal normalcy as males that it almost always takes packed bags and loveless, dead eyed messages of, “I’ve reached my breaking point and I’m not taking another minute of living life like this” before our proverbial light bulb belatedly goes off.

        “And I can’t see anything for her to give him the benefit of the doubt on. Where do you see benefit of the doubt applying in this scenario? It comes across as simple and deliberate cruelty or at best indifference to her suffering. There is no possible positive intent that could be involved in this scenario. If a man tries hard and fails then yes, you could see positive intent but when no serious attempt is even made to understand a woman’s position then you can’t spin that as anything other than callous disregard. Can you?”

        Well, I hope I’ve provided a bit more perspective above in addressing this concern. I do believe that it is better for all concerned in a loving relationship to always approach matters of both communication and observed behaviors from a perspective of assuming positive intent and providing the benefit of the doubt (because, really, if you think so very little of your mate’s motives, why did you betroth yourself to them for life???). The positive intent from a man’s perspective is that, if he demonstrates how unimportant these issues of dishes, watching click flicks, et al are in the grand scheme of things, surely the woman will recognize the “truth” of it, too, and be freed of her angst over them. Does this amount to disregard? Yes. CALLOUS disregard? Not intentionally, or wantonly, no. Simple cruelty? Yes. DELIBERATE cruelty? Again, not at all. I’m telling you, I feel 100% confident that the toxicity most men pour into their marriages stems from a complete lack of proper frame of female reference, not because of any willful, vicious, targeted desire to wound, belittle and demoralize. To paraphrase a quote from Mr. Spock, “Our scanners only recognize what they have been programmed to recognize.” Men need better programming.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Donkey says:

        Travis B, thank you very much for you reply! I really am trying to understand and learn. I assure you I believe you’re on “our side” so to speak. I can’t speak for Wandathefish, but I know that the both of us have asked these questions before, and not gotten any answers, so I personally was feeling frustrated.

        I’m starting to get that you really don’t believe the dishes or whatever matter, even though she’s told you. I can see that changing your behaviour when you don’t think things matter would kind of mentally involve a different skill set, than when you change your behaviour for things you do believe matter (or at least has consequences like being fired wether or not you think they matter.)

        But what about not finishing tasks he promised to to? Surely if someone did that at work and he had to pick up the slack, he would be negatively affected by that? How can he then do the same thing to his wife and also claim to not understand he’s hurting her? In this example and similar situations I don’t really see that there is a different skill set involved.

        If you Travis B, or anyone else, would enlighten us once again I would be appreciative. :)

        Like

      • LisaR says:

        Travis B.

        Thanks for taking the time to explain the mysterious male mind. I think I understand exactly what you’re talking about because I have done a version of dismissing something my husband found painful and told me over and over and over.

        I grew up in a house where we raised our voice, interrupted each other etc when arguing. Nothing too dramatic no violence no throwing etc. My husband grew up in a home that avoided discussing disagreements and most certainly didn’t raise their voice.

        He told me over and over and over how disrespectful and emasculating it was when I would argue in the way I thought was normal. I didn’t get it because I certainly wouldn’t feel that way if he argued with me so it just didn’t register.
        I just thought he was overly sensitive and maybe needed to thicken his skin a little bit. I mean, I didn’t think I was modeling ideal relationship skills but considering that I wasn’t cursing, throwing things or screaming at him, I just couldn’t comprehend how it could be that painful to him.

        It was only when he told me that he absolutely COULD NOT take it anymore and talked about moving out that the light dawned and I finally got it that this really IS that painful to him. He does plenty of things that are my version of dishes that he can’t see by the way so it just shows that it is hard to see what you don’t relate to personally.

        One of the most critical mature adult skills is being able to differentiate enough to be able to see that your needs are not others needs. I think it is so so easy to fall into that thinking and has to be developed as a skill and learning good boundaries. People are not an extension of your needs or experiences, they are separate. I thought I was pretty good with this but I’ve leaned we ALL do this and need to work hard to understand others point of view which is why I appreciate reading this blog. Men and women often have very different cultures and definitely grow up in different families and have different personalities so lots of differences are there and need to be understood and empathized with.

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Donkey (I gotta say, I really struggle with addressing you by your username because I feel in some weird, thoroughly unintended way, I’m calling an intelligent adult woman “Ass”),

        I’m not sure I can bring much worthwhile insight to that question, mainly because I’m not as convinced of the overall commonality of that trait in married men. Speaking for myself, when it comes to my due diligence crimes as a husband, my transgressions were much less related to not finishing what I started than they were getting started at all. After some passage of time and, I imagine, increased maturity, I moved from a mentality of total chore avoidance to becoming reasonably adept at proactively taking care of many in-the-house chores, like dishes and laundry. But the real “man-ish” chores–mowing, tree limb trimming, raking, car repairs, cleaning gutters, et al–no way. I find that stuff miserable and you can talk to me all day long, quite accurately, about how it needs to be done but it still looks and feels like a trip through Hell to me. And I think maybe that’s the key to the issue, whether it’s chore avoidance at the outset or midway through. Though I hate speaking in generalities, it seems to me that the majority of women are not able to really find a Zen place of peace in their environment unless that environment conforms to certain standards of order. Men seem much more flexible in that regard to simply enjoy themselves wherever they’re at, regardless of its condition. I feel like most men compartmentalize their lives into ‘work is where I will put out my day’s effort, home is where I will relax and recharge for the next day.’ Which is certainly not to say I feel that women think differently on that matter, so much as the “relax and recharge” part looks dramatically differently for them. For men, it’s a case of “since I’m here to relax and recharge, I’m not lifting a finger”, whereas women think “if I’m going to be able to successfully relax and recharge, I can’t sit here and see constant visual reminders of what work still needs to be done”. I guess, boiled to its essentials, men have a mentality of “play before work”, while women are “work before play”. So, from a standpoint of psychological and emotional peace, when it comes to housework, child rearing and all other elements of domestic obligation, women push themselves from a place of discontent to a state of equilibrium, while men are constantly being pulled from a state of equilibrium to a place of discontent. I’ve always marveled at how, after finally cajoling me into a thorough house cleaning, my wife looks so radiant and truly, joyously at peace, and she turns to me and asks with such assurance that she already knows the answer, “There! Now don’t you feel so much better?” And I always leave her completely bumfuzzled and perplexed when, covered in my sweat of compulsory labor, I honestly answer, “Not really. I mean, yeah, I guess having the house clean is ‘nice’ and all, but I can’t say the effort was worth the reward, no.”

        And here’s the really interesting part, the part where, in an insidious, corrosive way, men and women maybe aren’t so different after all: I can tell by her expression that she believes I’m really, truly being serious no more than I thought she was being when she was lamenting how important it was to her for me to take a moment to put that dirty cup in the dishwasher.

        Now, all this said, the key point I learned when my marriage had been pushed to the edge of a cliff with a porous, crumbling edge while I was cluelessly staring up at the clouds, is that I can’t change my thinking to see these issues of domestic responsibility through a female lens. I am fundamentally a man, hardwired by biology and culture to operate from my uniquely male perspective, and I’m quite sure until the day I die, forcing myself (or being forced by another) to get up off my ass and do stuff that I personally feel is less important than what I wish to be doing in any given moment will always be an irritation, a kind of psychological drain. BUT WHAT’S MORE IMPORTANT TO ME, VITALLY SO, THAN THAT BRAND OF EQUILIBRIUM IS ENSURING I DO EVERYTHING I POSSIBLY CAN TO SECURE MY WIFE’S EQUILIBRIUM. It is a kind of sacrifice, yes, a kind of subversion of my immediate, selfish wants and needs in deference to hers, and many men rankle at being encouraged to do so, but for me (and I imagine the vast bulk of married men, if they could bear to stare in the darkest corners of themselves), nothing could ever push me farther from a place of inner peace and equilibrium than if my wife were to leave me. That is the absolute worst prospect, worse than any house cleaning, worse than any appointment setting, worse than any money spent on professionals to do repair and maintenance work for which I’m not qualified, worse than any sleepless nights feeding and rocking fussy babies, worse than death, worse than any other conceivable thing. I think that’s true for most of us. I think that’s why, when threatened with the stark reality of that outcome, we men finally, hurriedly, in a mad panic, start to get our proverbial shit together. So now, when my wife asks me to do something I don’t want to do, to take care of something immediately that I think is inessential and can wait, do I think to myself, “Dammit, there she goes again. I just want to be left alone to chill!”? Yes. Do I have a passing thought of, “This isn’t a case of her being unable to chill in a cluttered house, it’s a case of being unwilling to, because I’m living proof that it can be done.” Upon occasion, sure. But now I put a smile on my face and get up off my ass and get to it the moment she asks. And underneath the inner grumbling, I’m truly happy to do it. Not because the house will be cleaner. Whoop-de-doo; it’s just gonna be dirty again next week. No, I’m truly happy to do it because I live to serve my wife. I live to exalt her. I live to make her happy, content, empowered, safe, at peace. I live for her well-being. And in that, I find a depth of peace exponentially more fulfilling than any afternoon of just “chilling”.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Matt says:

          I think maybe you should be writing my blog, Travis.

          You do an amazing (not an overstatement) job of summarizing my feelings on this component of marriage.

          The problem for the vast majority of marriages is that once a husband gets to the place of having his “proverbial shit together,” his wife has usually long-ago checked out emotionally.

          It’s often the emotional check-out that triggers the man into such a state. (I say that based on my personal experience, combined with conversations with therapists, combined with all of the stories I’m told.)

          Maybe some couples come back from the dead. But I haven’t seen it happen yet without them separating, and one or both of them sleeping with someone else before realizing just how cheap and unfulfilling that is, and want to come back and try again.

          I think for a marriage to REALLY work, and be strong and beautiful and life-giving to all parties, a husband must genuinely, in his heart, desire for his wife to feel joy and happiness and contentment and pleasure. I have no idea why a man would marry a woman without said desire.

          But simply in the interest of getting men to pay attention to some of these ideas I write about, I do want to play into the primal self-preservation instincts.

          Because you NAILED it with this:

          “It is a kind of sacrifice, yes, a kind of subversion of my immediate, selfish wants and needs in deference to hers, and many men rankle at being encouraged to do so, but for me (and I imagine the vast bulk of married men, if they could bear to stare in the darkest corners of themselves), nothing could ever push me farther from a place of inner peace and equilibrium than if my wife were to leave me. That is the absolute worst prospect, worse than any house cleaning, worse than any appointment setting, worse than any money spent on professionals to do repair and maintenance work for which I’m not qualified, worse than any sleepless nights feeding and rocking fussy babies, worse than death, worse than any other conceivable thing. I think that’s true for most of us. I think that’s why, when threatened with the stark reality of that outcome, we men finally, hurriedly, in a mad panic, start to get our proverbial shit together.”

          I’ve written it a bunch of times, but probably not that well… if you’re the kind of dude that doesn’t care about your wife and family, actually WANTS to get divorced and be single, then I guess there’s nothing to worry about.

          But that’s NOT what most husbands want. Not even close. Most husbands want to stay married.

          And understanding the simple truth that the pain and inconvenience of divorce FAR outweighs the pain and inconvenience of cooperating with your wife even when you don’t feel like it, a man might find the motivation to instill some changes that might turn a toxic marriage and home life into a peaceful and steady one.

          I wish more of these guys taking the “She needs to respect my wishes to NOT do it!” stance would understand this fact.

          It would save everyone a lot of grief. And improve the lives and emotional/mental health and wellbeing of wives everywhere.

          You’re an awesome addition to these conversations, Travis.

          I can’t thank you enough for being here and contributing so much.

          Like

      • Travis B. says:

        “I grew up in a house where we raised our voice, interrupted each other etc when arguing. Nothing too dramatic no violence no throwing etc. My husband grew up in a home that avoided discussing disagreements and most certainly didn’t raise their voice.”

        LOL, LisaR, you just described the exact fighting dynamic between my wife and me. She grew up in a very boisterous, overlapping-dialog, affection-constrained house with extremely “alpha-male” women (two sisters and her mother) and a father who often had to have near-meltdowns just to be heard over all the dialed-up-to-11 X-chromosome shenanigans surrounding him. I, on the other, hand, grew up as an only child with a single mother who ruled with a firm, but fair and peaceful and demonstrably loving, hand. Even now, after years together, it can be a struggle for me to artfully handle conflict with my wife because she goes from 0-to-100 in an instant; there is no gradation in her emotional temperature. Whereas, I have to be pushed and pushed and pushed to get to that point. So I often feel like the stereotypical woman when we argue, taking on personal insult and umbrage, wondering why she had to use that tone, why she had to be so volatile with someone she purports to love, while she’s the stereotypical man, constantly explaining to me that, c’mon, it’s just a fight, I just get worked up, is all, you need to man up and get a thicker skin. We do much better now because, after years of acclimating to each other, we better understand that, though the way the other handles conflict is rather alien to our own personal ways of thinking, it’s just “how he/she is” due to his/her upbringing and, when the fireworks have all burned out, all our mutual love is still there. When it comes to fighting, we’re realizing more and more that, to make an awkward analogy, the medium is not the message. But it’s helped that we’re gradually learning to avoid the worst of our conflict tendencies (for me, withdrawal and avoidance; for her, criticizing me rather than the situation and trying to ‘out scream’ me).

        Like

      • LisaR says:

        Travis B,

        I’m beginning to think you are my husband’s long lost twin! Especially hearing you describe how you feel about chores of any kind and just not wanting to lift finger when home and not feeling any need for a clean environment or presumably a roof that doesn’t leak lol.

        You muse that there is a gender divide on this, I think that there might be some of that but I really think it is more of a personality difference. As part of my research to figure out how to improve my marriage one of the biggest things that was an aha moment was when I realized the difference in our preferences for certainty vs possibilities. In Myers Briggs that is the difference between J vs P people. J people feel less anxious with certainty and order. They like to know what is going to happen and be able to prepare. P people feel less anxious with keeping things loose and flexible and not boxed in. They like to be able to be spontaneous and respond to situations as they arise, keeping their options open.

        Why does this matter? J people need an orderly environment to feel inwardly calm. They need the house clean to relax. P people need inward order to relax, they don’t need the environment orderly to relax and get anxious and upset when someone wants to make them do something. When I understood the differences it made so much sense to me because about half of our arguments have to do with this difference. I hate to be late, he runs late to most everything. I feel better when things are organized, he feels irritated to have wasted the time. etc. Now we feel less irritated about these differences because we now know they are just style differences. This is not really a gender difference though because there is an even split between the genders although because of training and expectations more women care about a clean house I would imagine. But I have lots of P women in my life. My daughter hates to clean and is late to everything. One of my best friends house is a giant mess and she doesn’t care because it is a waste if time to her to clean and organize.

        It’s just one more piece of the puzzle. Along with differences in love languages, family backgrounds, etc etc. I’m guessing your wife’s love language is acts of service and yours is not lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Travis B. says:

        “I’m guessing your wife’s love language is acts of service and yours is not lol”

        Actually, it’s Physical Touch (which, thank goodness, is my number two, just under Quality Time), but yes, Acts of Service ranks much higher for her than me. It’s actually on the bottom rung for me. God, I’ve probably made myself sound like a real slob, but I promise I’m really quite hygenic, LOL…

        Like

  10. Donkey says:

    Sorry, I posted twice.

    Like

    • “I hear that Matt and you and other guys really didn’t know, even though their partners told them many times. As impossible as that sounds to me, I believe you. That’s why I’m confused.”

      My own husband has been baffled a few times about the fact that I could break, that I could reach a point where I just could not continue anymore. This concept just completely eludes him. We’ve worked it out, we’re happy, but there is just something within men that makes it very hard for them to understand.

      I know a husband who picked his wife up at jail after telling me, she’ll be okay, she’ll persevere, she’ll get through the hard times. It was like talking to wall, “dude, your wife is not okay, she will not get through it, she is now drinking heavily and tried to kill herself.” Hello, this is a woman that has now gone over the edge! He did not get it, all he could see was how she would be able to continue on just as he wanted her to.

      Some men are more sensitive than others, some recognize that women have needs too, but often there is just something kind of innate to men that makes it hard for them to see.

      I had a really hard time understanding that men need to feel respect in order to feel loved, and that sex is important to them, a form of intimacy and communication. I can say the same thing about women,we just have a hard time empathizing with the other gender because we are so different..

      Like

      • Donkey says:

        Thanks for sharing. I’m glad you feel happy in your marriage. Maybe your husband can’t fathom you having a breaking point, because he just can’t imagine ever pushing himself that hard? Though of course plenty of men have worked themselves into open heart surgery… I don’t know. I feel very confused by it all.

        I’ve read the needing respect vs needing love thing at one point aswell. It was a bit hard to wrap my head around, but not anywhere close to as hard as understanding how a man, like Matt and other guys here, can say he didn’t know he was doing something hurtful and that his wife has been unhappy, when for years she’s been saying “I’m not happy, xyz that you are doing are hurting me”. :p

        Anyway, at this point in my life I’m more in the Pia Mellody camp when it comes to respect and love: Being respectful of another is the minimum of love.

        Like

  11. Elizabethan says:

    Its not withholding sex if I don’t have enough to get turned on due to looking after house, kids, cleaning, emotional labour, communicating with husband, and everything else.
    It just happens, its not even on purpose.

    Like

    • Donkey says:

      Yes. It’s just the same as if he (or she, I don’t care who does it) were doing all of that (and you were having more down time and mental and emotional space due to not having to manage everything) you couldn’t expect him to also have the energy to engage intently in a conversation with you that didn’t actually have to happen, and accuse him of withholding to punish you if he didn’t want to talk. Yes, sex is for both people ideally (see my earlier post, I love sex personally)…. and so is a conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Autumn Grayson says:

    Good post, and I wish more people got it.  

    For those that don’t, imagine how frustrated a guy would probably be if he came home from a very stressful work day, and when he got home his wife just nagged him about house repairs she wanted done, even if they weren’t immediately necessary.  The husband tells her he had a hard day, but instead of letting him vent or at least rest a bit, she dismisses his stress, telling him to just take care of those few things around the house and they can have some ‘alone time’ later to make him feel better.  But he isn’t even in the mood at the moment, so how is sex supposed to take his stress away?  His stress would probably increase several fold simply for having his stress brushed off as nothing, and he would probably think his wife selfish for demanding that he take care of chores instead of at least taking a moment to show she cares about the day he had.

    It’s similar from the standpoint that a wife can have a really hard day managing the household, keeping it clean, grocery shopping, cooking, and taking care of the kids(and she generally just can’t shut these things off at 5pm.  And imagine if she has an 8-5 job and is still the one who mainly takes care of the house and kids). But then instead of taking that load off her shoulders just a little bit by helping his wife or at least listening to her day(and genuinely caring, not just listening for a bit so he can say he did) he expects to be able to just relax while she finishes the day’s chores and then he asks for sex.  

    When someone ignores someone’s stress and makes demands rather than helping the stressed person, it makes it sound like the stressed person is not what matters.  It makes it seem like the demanding person only cares about their desires being met.  If a woman brushes off her husband’s hard day and keeps talking about the chores that need to be done, for instance, it would probably sound a bit like she cared more about the chores than her husband.  Sex shouldn’t be used as a punishment, but it’s hard for people to want to have sex with a jerk or after they are too drained from a long day to desire anything but rest.  I think both genders can relate to that in some way or another, it just manifests in different ways.

    Maybe a good way to approach chores is to not put them all on one person.  As a date, sometimes my boyfriend and I spend time together cooking, and then afterward we put things away and clean the dishes together.  Neither of us like chores, but they are more bearable when we both work on them, because then we can spend more time together talking or listening to something interesting.  If we get married, chances are we’ll continue the habit of doing at least some of the chores together.  It’s good for everyone involved.  Not only does it make things easier, but it ensures that the guy knows how to do housework, and the girl knows how to do some of the house repairs.  Then, if one of them is bedridden for whatever reason, the other spouse can take care of things around the house.

    Interestingly enough, the guys in the scenario you gave assume that girls have problems because they don’t tell the guy what’s wrong.  Sometimes husbands and wives truly don’t talk about problems they have.  But many wives do.  I know that often enough people try to address issues, but they stop trying when the other person seems unable to listen and understand.  If a wife tries to tell her husband she’s overwhelmed and needs help, but he just thinks it isn’t a big deal or decides he’d rather watch tv than help with chores, the wife is probably going to stop bringing it up until her frustration builds and she explodes.  And then some guys might complain that she acted like she didn’t have a problem the entire time.  Instead of dismissing something one’s spouse is saying, people should try and calmly take the time to figure it out at least, even if they don’t understand at first.  And yes, that goes both ways.  

    Wives need to learn how to be there for their husbands, too.  If he had a bad day at work, for instance, they can let him vent and try to understand.  Even if they don’t have the full picture of what happened and therefore can’t entirely relate, that doesn’t mean the guy’s frustration should just be brushed off.  Same for guys listening to wives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Liza says:

      The most common complaint is women not getting help from men, why do you turn it onto the women? Women know their complaining whinging naggers if they ever ask for help, and get extra crap for expecting the help to be done properly.

      Why are you turning this onto women? The post was about men and their inability to act like grown ups in long term married relationships.

      Fact is, if you want your marriage to work, you may have to put that extra effort in around the house, and I swear to GOD and any deity you want me to swear to, you can learn, I used to be AWFUL at seeing things that needed done, doing things which needed done, helping when needed, but I changed, and you can to.

      I just get really angry when people are like, worst case scenario, women are expected to, in the home, do both all the emotional labour, clean everything, raise well adjusted children, pick up after their husband (because he refuses to put his things where they belong), do all major phone calls, sometimes work and TURN ThEMSELVES ON!
      How is that allowed, how is that even a thing that a man, who wants a women, who choose to marry that women, who continued to stay married to that women, would want from their woman?
      It’s not a turn on to do all the emotional work, and the cleaning work, and it’s definitely not a turn on to say “I am a person, I get tired and overwhelmed and don’t feel right” too, to someone you actually spent a LOT of time with and you know, married.

      I just don’t get where men, red pillers, rad trads, married but hates it , assholes who want sex but act like their 5,, get off being awful, awful, awful, at adulthood, and expecting sex as a reward for barely passing BASIC looking after yourself skills.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Autumn Grayson says:

        I am not putting it all on the woman.  I’m sorry if it came off that way.  I gave an example a guy might understand in an attempt to help them see it from a woman’s perspective.  After that I was talking about both people needing to take responsibility in a relationship.  I know from experience that many times if any relationship has problems(not just romantic relationships) both people are doing something wrong, or both people can do something to make it better, even if such solutions are not easily seen.  I have kinda seen and experienced both sides of the coin, being the person who wants something done/others around me to change, and being the person that should be changing or getting stuff done.  My post had a pretty good chunk of stuff that was trying to show guys the girl’s perspective, but if you want me to act like all women are perfect saints who always suffer from mens’ laziness, I’m not going to, because that’s simply not true.  Even if you may have suffered from a husband that didn’t do what he needed to around the house,  that isn’t the way every couple operates.  Sometimes it is the other way around.  But I don’t recall saying women should do everything or are expected to do everything.  I even talked about chores, etc not being on one person.

        Like

      • Liza says:

        Autumn Grayson, “, but if you want me to act like all women are perfect saints who always suffer from mens’ laziness, I’m not going to”
        I never said anything about ‘Woman Are Flawless Human Beings and Don’t Fuck Up’, I mean I said, I wanna live in a world where people can say “I am a person, I get tired and overwhelmed and don’t feel right” too, preferably, towards someone you actually spent a LOT of time with, being able to say “I am tired” which pretty much means flawed and prone to error and delusion.
        I read you as being focused on the males perspective because you opened up dragging women down for expecting a grown up man to contribute to their home life. That is where your priority lies. Women get blame first. You also finish with advice for women, even though most women try so hard to DO that.
        The only part of your post which seems fair is the “If you are more focused on getting what you want instead of making your person feel good” thing and the setting up chores to be a thing the whole family does, preferably men, women, children, male children and everybody else.

        I am just saying, why go after women, at all, when we know full well what we do wrong, how we are naggers, how when a man comes home from work all he wants is a nap and to do nothing and maybe have sex,
        and that’s why their relationships die and they have to take up insane conspiracy theories of the Rad Trad and Red Pill religions.

        Like

      • Autumn Grayson says:

        If your initial reply to me was just to say that you want to live in a world where you can tell the person you love that you are a person, you get tired and overwhelmed and don’t feel right, then awesome, we agree.  :)

        My post ALSO talks about how guys should try to take some of the load of their wives’ shoulders.  I also said that guys should listen and show they genuinely care.  I also pointed out that sometimes a guy will act like a girl never tells him what’s wrong, even when the girl has told them multiple times. (I’ve experienced this first hand, but in a parent child relationship, not a romantic one). I said that if a woman tries to bring up how she feels and is just ignored/criticized, she’s probably going to stop trying.  In the paragraph after the one where I gave the example of a girl doing something a guy doesn’t like, I talked about how guys do the same thing in a lot of ways.  I talked about how women have long, hard days too, especially if they have jobs, and need someone to be there for them.  To listen and help out with the work load, rather than the woman being left to do everything themselves and then be expected to have sex after they are drained of energy.  I said other things that women would appreciate, too.

        When I say things like ‘it goes both ways’, I say that because not only is that the truth, but I am trying to show both sides that I am not just hating on guys or girls.  I’m NOT doing it to say ‘ahem, girls, this is actually all your fault.’

        You may already understand the advice type things I said toward women.  A lot of girls may already know and apply the things I said.  But some don’t, and I was writing the advice, etc. partially for those that don’t know(aside from preempting possible responses like ‘girls should be good to their husbands, too!)

        I AM a woman, I have been both on the giving and receiving ends of being the person who should change and being the person who wants others to change.  My priority is not to put blame only on women.  It is not to put blame on men.  It is to talk about everyone, because every human being is problematic by nature.  We aren’t going to get anywhere by saying ‘most people of a certain group get it, so why even mention that they do things they shouldn’t?’

        Like

      • Jeff Strand says:

        Liza, you need to realize that not all women are as bitter as you are. And it’s those sweet, giving, charming, feminine women that the quality guys will be marrying.

        So what’s the problem? ;-)

        Like

  13. Fromscratchmom says:

    It was brought up by a couple of different commenters that maybe male privilege is the issue. I have to respectfully disagree. I can appreciate why it looks that way but I think there are some small changes to be made in our minds that lead to some significantly different kinds of wordings and conclusions.

    (This is getting into academic philosophies, so feel free to ignore it or disagree or take it with a grain of salt.)

    First, in the sociology there is a concept where the more people who are involved in an activity or organization or even present in a crowd, the less individual responsibility any one person within the group will assume when they see a need. People don’t necessarily intentionally bow out of responsibility. They are just naturally more likely to not think of it or not feel the motivation to follow through, because there is someone else that can or will or should do it. It’s the explanation for why over 35 witnesses never called the police or did anything to help in the infamous case of the Kitty Genovese stabbing murder in 1964. That brings me to this whole trend in academia to explain society’s woes through privilege. I think it is destructive to both sides of any given issue it is used to explain. It removes individual responsibility. It makes everyone on one side of a privilege issue the same and everyone on the opposite side of said issue the same, thus stereotyping more rather than less. It potentially converts people to stereotyping or even to voting to attempt to force whole classes of people into the reverse of their past alleged victimhood or privilege. By its nature, always diluting or removing personal responsibility, it can never successfully convert large numbers of individuals to different actions or attitudes in their own personal lives. Those more desirable results only come through on a very small scale.

    And secondly, I think our culture encourages selfishness in all people, not just men, on an epic scale and that then impacts men in negative ways at the same time that as complex individuals they are also impacted by their own experiences and their own natural but individual personalities. Then the widespread results can easily get conflated with the concept of male privilege despite needing to be examined on an individual basis in people’s lives. Unfortunately our worship of self theme has been building for decades at least. There are actually thousands of “norms” perpetuating it now.

    One huge manifestation of our worship of self in our culture is divorce which is being initiated, not just by men but by both men and women at an alarming rate. Many societies throughout history saw the family as the basic unit of society, especially at the height of their success as a society. That made divorce rare and it put individuals in marriage in a strong position to be motivated to make it work. It could never guarantee success. But it did give better odds than most of us would suspect. Our society sees the individual as the basic unit of society. Here and among commenters on lots of other blogs we can see the philosophies that support that. People constantly share their own variations on the theme that personal happiness is the goal and the priority. I’d never stay in a relationship I was unhappy in. You should never stay in a relationship where your boundaries haven’t been respected. Everyone has to seek their own bliss. I could go on forever. Unfortunately, people generally aren’t happier in the long run after following those kinds of philosophies. The people who most commonly report happiness later in life are the ones that learned to give till it hurts within marriage and then give some more. They also turn out to be the people more likely to someday get back what they were giving. It’s far from the 100% that I’d like it to be. But it’s still significantly better results than others are getting.

    I think it’s individuals examining their own faults and their own selfishness that has the best odds of making marriage work, even when they would be totally right knowing that the other guy was in the wrong on many issues. In order to be successful in marriage they still keeping owning their own “stuff” even down to the smallest details of reacting badly to the other person’s faults. That’s why it’s so awesome to come to this blog and see men willing to examine what’s going wrong in marriages even through hearing the similarities and differences in the past marriage experiences of women.

    Liked by 3 people

    • zombiedrew2 says:

      Ah fromscratchmom, if you had a blog I would definitely follow :)

      Philosophically I’m with you on this one. I think popular notions of happiness are pretty broken, and I think the whole “do what’s best for me” approach is terrible both individually and socially. Yet at the same time “I” am still important, and finding that balance is difficult.

      I write on relationships, but my approach has been on trying to find a balance between we and me. And I think a big part of that is looking in the mirror, and facing our own issues and insecurities.

      That said, there is still a big imbalance between men and women in terms of who takes on more of the responsibility in a relationship. Some of that is women taking things on themselves because they feel they have to, and some of it is men being lazy (likely because they’ve always been enabled and never had to). I do think socialization plays a huge part in this, and I believe change is happening right now but it will be a slow process.

      Liked by 2 people

    • wandathefish says:

      I must say that while I disagree in general with most of what you’ve said, I most strongly disagree with your position on divorce and selfishness.

      When women leave their husbands over the issues this blog is discussing it’s not because they’re rejecting contentment in large numbers and setting their sights on a kind of blissful heaven like state. They’re leaving because modern marriage makes them ill. There is research that shows that marriage and depression go hand in hand for women in today’s society (whereas marriage and happiness go hand in hand for most men). And there is also research that shows that women’s lives tend to improve after divorce. For example, one study of Australian women quoted in Wifework for example found that 80% had no regrets about their decision to divorce despite the fact that financially, divorce lowers women’s standard of living by around 73%. Men fair far worse from divorce as even though their standard of living (financially) rises by around 42% their mental health suffers. This is because men lose someone who serves them and women lose someone they are expected to serve, the benefits of divorce to their mental health outweighing the financial benefits of being married. Giving until it hurts and then giving some more leads to mental breakdown, not life long happiness and there is ample evidence to show that for most women who do this, there is sadly very little likelihood of any sort of reward in either the long or the short run, from their husbands at least.

      There is also evidence that single women do better on almost all measures of well being than married women. Again, from a study quoted in Wifework (by someone called Dalma Heyn), compared to single women, wives suffer “more nervous breakdowns, inertia, loneliness, unhappiness with their looks; more insomnia, heart palpitations, nervousness and nightmares; more phobias; more feelings of incompetence, guilt, shame and low self-esteem”. (source given). On the other hand married men do better than single men on almost all measures of well being. So marriage works for men but not for women and until we sort that we’re going to keep seeing high levels of divorce.

      I personally think that it has always been like this. But we are only now experiencing a divorce epidemic because for the first time women are able to leave their marriages in large numbers because they can control their fertility and provide for themselves. Motivation to “make it work” in the past was all coming from the woman’s side. Men didn’t have the same motivation because they mostly had all the power and women could not leave which is why women have been beaten, raped, murdered and generally mistreated in their marriages throughout history at a far higher rate than happens today (and rates of domestic abuse are still alarmingly high). The idea that women’s emotional needs were likely being met by their husbands in the context of historical cultures 100 times more misogynistic than our own is also a strange one. So even the women with non violent husbands still lived in a kind of uniquely female hell throughout most of history. Women’s needs have always been deemed unimportant.

      Liked by 1 person

      • wandathefish says:

        That was in response to fromscratchmom, I agree very much with some of your other posts though!

        Like

      • Fromscratchmom says:

        It’s clear that there’s a lot of conflicting evidence out there. I’ve seen studies numerous times that say the exact opposite of what the ones you mentioned said. I’m hoping and praying that the ones you mentioned turn out to reflect my own experience that I’ll grow into in my future now that my husband has decamped!

        I know you are right about women getting ill. But I’d posit that the illness is usually not solely the man’s fault. We live in a super toxic world and women’s endocrine systems and all the rest of their biochemistry are suffering. Men’s are too but usually in different ways from women’s. The men are at fault for large amounts of stress and the large amounts of stress must be given contributing factor status at the very least considering the havoc wreaked on the adrenal glands by constant high levels of stress.

        I’ve been there. I was so ill in my thirties that I became nearly completely dysfunctional. I had the worst of physical health, stamina, and energy. I became severely depressed. Then I had a bad reaction to a psych med that turned me into a zombie for two years. However, rather than blame my husband for 100% responsibility for my depression which was very tempting, I researched my butt off and clawed and scraped my way out of depression and out of physical health issues slowly over a period of a number of years. I’d have to write a book to cover all the things that were factors and all the things that have helped, but since every person is different and has to take their own healing journey that’s not needed here. I should mention that I had to consciously work at it for years to remind myself that many of the factors that effected my health and/or our marriage were not actually his fault and that he had an equal chance of growing/improving and should have an equal chance to forgive and be forgiven.

        Somewhere in those years I got some wise counsel from an older woman whose marriage had come through to the other side from the dark years…to the happy years that are cited in many studies that proclaim the opposite of those you mentioned. She told me that it sounded like my husband and I both could benefit from therapy and that maybe we should seek individual counseling separately and then later enter into marital counseling when we were in a stronger position to succeed at it. I thought that made a lot of sense. Unfortunately my husband thought that was a great offense against him. I went into therapy for myself anyway. He was perfectly willing to view me as a train wreck and in need of professional help. He just couldn’t bend his idiot ego to accept that he also might not be so perfect as to be above a need for help in life too.

        I also continued to work hard on all physical health matters that I could find natural ways to work on, from sleep hygiene to breathing exercises to gut healing diets. I’ve now been off of all psych meds for over 8 years by the way and now I’m also successfully off all my other “lifetime” meds for physical issues too.) Eventually, several months after I entered therapy we tried some marital counseling which my husband for the most part refused to actually participate in. Eventually after one particularly grueling session when I’d been too tired that evening for the hard work involved in therapy but my husband and our idiot therapist both ignored my saying so, I quit going to therapy with him. I told him exactly why. I already had a personal therapist that I trusted and worked well with and was making progress with and I had no intention of going to a farce of an excuse of couples counseling where the counselor who I trusted less and less with each passing session just went at me all the time because he couldn’t get anywhere with my husband. I wasn’t strong enough for that and I didn’t see any benefit in it.

        I did claw and scrape my way to far better physical and emotional and mental health. My husband did not. To be honest, Insanitybytes theory of male solipsism fits him to a T! And it is the picture of self-centeredness. I’m very glad that I never abandoned my vows. And I’m very sorry that my husband proved too weak and too selfish to learn to face himself honestly and grow and improve. I’m sorry for him that he did abandon his own values and his sacred vows. I do not expect that his odds of long term happiness are very good. But you never know. Maybe he will be.

        So I guess my theories at least fit my experience perfectly. Now that he has caved to the modern mania to go forth and make himself happy and free and sacred vows be damned, I will move on and heal from having loved a weak, selfish and ultimately bad guy. All the stuff of the past that I’d already forgiven is basically back in play in my mind practically against my will because he chose to create a permanent rift, to forsake me and to forsake his vows (and because in doing so he made all of his marital mistakes his permanent legacy as a husband.) So my current “emotional work” includes reconciling all his past mistakes with his ultimate permanent choice to devalue me, marriage as a true commitment and himself.

        I had graduated from therapy after about four years of hard work. But going through this now I got back in with the same therapist just to get some help and support in living through a divorce after 18+ years and processing all of it. I’m going to see her again tomorrow morning. Yay! She’s actually also helping me in one particular way I didn’t expect. She tells me I’m coping better than nearly anyone else in my position ever, especially only being a few months into the situation. She’s all super proud of me for not caving or freaking when my husband growls at me about divorce stuff, but just talking it through calmly and rationally until I know how I have to respond. Actually I usually already know anyway but I do seem to need to talk it out out loud. Too bad for him and his need to control the situation. I’m mentally better and stronger than ever before not because I got a divorce but because I’ve been doing the hard work to learn and to heal for years! So hopefully I’ll be able to say the same about how I am emotionally soon enough. Maybe he should have done some hard work too and he wouldn’t be stuck being so stinking impotent to control his own circumstance that he’s created here!

        Like

      • Elizabethan says:

        This
        I have even seen some very sneaky articles trying to shame women for leaving when simply unhappy and feeling overwhelmed.
        Maybe instead of shaming women for getting out, shame men for not getting in.

        Like

  14. Vince says:

    I did chores. I washed clothes , cooked and even cleaned. But I didn’t do it to help her at all. I did it because I was angry at her for not doing it as often or the way I thought it should be done. So I’d quietly wash the dishes, with a frown on my face and be pissed off. Talk about reverse rolls. I was the one who got mad about the cup on the counter and didn’t understand why she didn’t see it my way or at least make an effort to put the cup in the sink or dishwasher.

    Chores were really not the biggest issue. The biggest issue was she stopped feeling like she could be emotionally vulnerable to me. I’d proven time and time again that I wasn’t there for her that way. She withheld sex.I took that personal and in the end I told her I refuse to be in an almost sexless marriage. The lack of sex was a symptom of other things but in my mind it was THE thing that pushed it all over the edge.

    Like

    • Donkey says:

      I’m sorry. :( A nearly sexless marriage would be very painful for me too. Like I’ve said before, I don’t think needing sex to feel connected rather than needing to talk to feel connected is any better or worse. I don’t know your story, why did she feel that you weren’t there for her emotionally?

      I’m guessing that she also felt that even if you guys had sex you didn’t then start to provide the emotional safety she needed, so she thought well even when he’s getting his needs met, he’s not meeting mine so not only am I not in the mood to have sex with someone I feel doesn’t care about me, but why should I bother meeting his needs if he won’t meet mine.

      What could she have done to help you understand how she needed to be cared for emotionally and then for you to do it?

      Like

      • Vince says:

        I believe it was just the way I wasn’t there for her. For example she would express concerns or hurt and I would just push it to the side, try to add my advice and basically made her feel like her concerns and hurt were not a big deal. Then there was the passive aggressive behavior. I’d become upset about a thing but never talk about it. Instead I became angry and in different ways let her know I was angry but never talked about why.

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        Thanks for telling me, Vince!

        Like

    • Lissy says:

      Vince-I don’t know your situation. But I am wondering why you felt household chores were her responsibility and that she had to meet your standard of how and how often things were to be done?

      And what I am hearing you say was that she had a (valid) problem-you weren’t there for her emotionally. So she withheld sex. But even that wasn’t enough for you to realize the seriousness of the situation and start changing? What were you thinking at the time? (I ask this to try to understand the mindset)

      I’m sorry your relationship failed. You seem to have figured out what went wrong and how you contributed to the problems.

      Like

      • Vince says:

        Lissy,

        Honestly I didn’t feel like the chores were her responsibility. In fact I never felt that way I just felt like I was doing the lion’s share of them. That was actually untrue but in mind it was. I can’t explain why I thought that but I think there was just some kind of resentment that she didn’t meet some standard I set. It was unfair and just irrational.

        What changed was just realizing that I had to do something about how I acted when a dish was left on the counter. I had to learn to not let it bother me so that I would not act in a passive aggressive way. I understood it was hurting my marriage and no dish or mess was worth that. Actually I learned to not let it bother me at all, really that was one thing I managed to fix in my marriage but it didn’t make it work in the end because that was just a small part of the problems we had. By the time I made that change there were just so many years of hurt and she could not look past it.

        Like

  15. Donkey says:

    There’s another point I would like to make, to Guy1 who says: “Guys are cavemen, we need to be told sometimes. Don’t take away the sex. It’s the glue in the relationship. It’s like taking food away from the dog for peeing on the carpet. Don’t starve the dog, teach it how to pee in the yard.”

    1. First of all (and this point has been made over and over and over but I must say it) a man is not a dog. He’s a grown up person who’s just as inherently capeable at figuring out what needs to be done, learning how to do it, doing it, creating systems, talking about it to make sure it’s divided fairly as the woman (and yes, the genders can be reversed, women aren’t perfect and many men are good partners). The woman teaching him this (aka teaching the dog to pee) should not be necessary and would not be necessary if the man would educate himself just like the woman has done. It’s just another burden on the woman.

    2. But to keep with the dog-metaphor. You say: “Don’t starve the dog, teach it how to pee in the yard”. For unfairly overworked spouses, the metaphor would go something like this:

    “DON’T FORCE THE DOG TO WORK ITSELF ALMOST TO EXHAUSTION NEARLY EVERY DAY FOR YEARS IN ADDITION TO KICKING IT AND SNEERING CONTEMPUTOUSLY AT IT, AND THEN FEEL SURPRISED/ANGRY/HURT WHEN IT DOESN’T WANT TO PLAY WITH YOU.”

    – Forcing the dog to work almost to exhaustion = the experience of the partner who’s shouldering the unfair burden of everything (housework, child care, emotional labour, paid work, the logistics and responsibility of it all).
    – Kicking it and sneering contemputously at it = how the overworked person feels every day when you’re continuing to not do your fair share even though it’s been brought to your attention, every time you forget to do what you promised, every time you leave laundry outside the hamper instead of in it which makes even more work and stress for the overworked partner.
    – Play with you = have sex together.

    A happy, relaxed dog who has extra energy and is treated well by you is probably just as likely to want to play with you as vice versa.

    Like

  16. Mike says:

    Okay, I hear everything everyone is saying and you are all making valid points. But how does a husband connect with, emotionally support or wahtever it is that the wife needs? How is it actually done?

    I want to be a great husband and by my wife’s assessment I am a pretty lousy one. So lousy that divorce is likely. I’ve read books, had a relationship coach, gone to “encounter” weekends, seen a few counselors, read blogs like this one and nothing seems to be what she needs. Yes, I’ve asked her directly and I’ve implemented what she has told me and it is never right. She often says – it is hard to tell you what it is I need until after the fact when I can tell you what you did wrong.

    I have talked at length with several married friends and they are just as puzzled as I am with my situation and their own. We all scratch our heads saying, “I’d LOVE to connect with her. I’d LOVE to be there for her. I’d LOVE to support her. But I don’t know how.” A good friend of mine is a marriage counselor and he has been divorced twice. He says there is a code out there that some guys can crack and others can’t. He says marriage is an art not a science and it is very difficult to teach art, especially if you aren’t talented to begin with.

    I feel really silly even posting this, but where is the secret code book?

    Like

    • Matt says:

      The secret code, Mike, was to not break it in the first place.

      You didn’t know what you didn’t know when we were young, just like me, and you accidentally poisoned the well without realizing it, and now it’s all very very very bad.

      There’s no secret code.

      We love hard. We listen to our partners. We devote the same energy we devote to learning how to be good at our jobs, or how to succeed in our competitive endeavors and hobbies to learning the intricacies of our spouse.

      We don’t stop flirting with them and courting them just because we don’t feel all young and lusty like we did when we were dating.

      We give a little bit more to them than we take for ourselves. (They should do the same — so no one every vampire-sucks the life out of the relationship.)

      And then we all show our kids how to do it, and we don’t have all this broken shittiness.

      That’s interesting, what your friend says. Marriage as an art or a science.

      I’d view it as both.

      And when there are no secrets, and lots and lots and lots of EDUCATED communication PRIOR to marriage, most of these breakdowns wouldn’t happen.

      The reason no one can figure it out is because it’s not one thing. And there isn’t an 80-20 rule either where there’s one big thing to concentrate on that will help.

      It’s a million teeny-tiny, imperceptible moments.

      And, simply by being ourselves combined with our lack of awareness that being ourselves causes emotional damage to our partners, we fail these little moments over and over again.

      And it’s fine when we’re dating. And it’s fine in the first couple years. And it might be fine after one baby.

      But after a couple kids, and several years, and stress at work, and one of your parents dying unexpectedly?

      BOOM.

      It’s finished. And you didn’t see it coming because you didn’t know you were supposed to be looking for it.

      I’m totally stealing this for a blog post today.

      I’m really sorry, Mike. I know how maddening and frustrating this is.

      Our great-grandparents failed our grandparents who failed our parents who failed us. The education system did too.

      It’s NOT OUR FAULT (or anyone’s) that we didn’t know what we didn’t know.

      But now we’re starting to get it figured out. And it’s our responsibility to have the conversation so that maybe our sons and grandsons won’t perpetuate this cycle.

      Like

      • free_in_Seattle says:

        Actually Matt, your divorce will prevent your son from having a lousy husband role model.

        Instead of growing up see your ex wife doing everything, and you doing nothing and modelling that childish, misogynistic (perhaps inadvertant) behavior, he will instead see how a grown man lives in functions in the world. He now has a father that is involved, takes responsibility for hearth and home, and does dishes. That will be his model for adult behavior.

        Like

    • Fromscratchmom says:

      Mike, I don’t know if any of this will apply to you and yours because every marriage has two individuals with their own unique experiences, needs, personalities, etc. but I’d recommend that you both take the love languages quiz online as a possible starting point. It may help you prioritize what ways she best receives love. Make sure that you consistently work on her top two everyday. Do NOT give up and think it’s not doing anything, after X amount of time. You’ve already acknowledged that something is broken. It’s likely that it will not heal at all without tremendous effort and time.

      If not at first, after a few days or a couple of weeks start broaching the subject of the details of the emailed report and not just the headers that tell what the love languages are and in what order. Try to make it a regular date to start discussing them from time to time. You might be able to learn a lot about yourselves and each other. I not only learned that words of affirmation ranked high for me, I eventually figured out that I have an incredible level of sensitivity to negative words from close family members which was a much bigger deal in my marriage than my husband would ever allow himself to acknowledge. I didn’t have that quite as badly in the early days of our marriage. But because he had quite a penchant for casually dropping a ton of the negative words that cut to the quick pretty much everyday and because it was so reminiscent of my father’s critical, negative ways it built quickly into a tremendous issue. And one day nine or so years into our marriage, I kind of snapped and didn’t “get over it” for years. For all intents and purposes I became the problem person in the marriage for the next two or three years. I not only learned that my husband ranked acts of service first and I ranked it last but I also learned that I had a terrible time processing acts of service needs in my husband and in my middle child because of having grown up with an OCD, perfectionist, hostile, angry father. The idea that the quality of my love was being judged by how well my servant work measured up to his hyper-critical, micro-managing ways just killed me. And because I had chronic fatigue syndrome as well as several other health problems and it all interfered with my ability to get stuff done to my own standards, that was another stressor. That was a lot of hard stuff to face! Sadly, he didn’t ever face his problems with wanting something more or different than just kind acts of service while I was addressing my own attitude and issues with the whole topic.

      To whatever extent that you can both agree to it, try to make sure that you both get enough sleep regularly, you both stay hydrated, you both work on eating less factory food and more real food. It really does help to put a little more focus on the basic needs of life and being smart about them than most in our society seem to, to be healthy in mind and body. Even breathing can be a thing that can be improved. Some people recommend deep breathing exercises. If that works for someone I wouldn’t discourage them. Personally I recommend looking up Buteyko exercises on YouTube as the best start to breath work.

      It helps to have a lot of stress management tricks in your toolbox and hers. From bubble baths to DIY-music-therapy there’s something out there for everyone. The Internet and self-help books are full of them.

      And somewhere up above in these comments I posted a link to an article you might peruse about communication in marriage.

      Like

    • Donkey says:

      But honestly, if you’re seeing a relationship coach and you’re reading books… You’re probably way ahead of the curve. Even realizing that that kind of effort is necessary I think is a huge mental shift for many.

      Like

    • Elizabethan says:

      Its basically not fading with time. Remember how you were at the start, when you were trying to win her over, do that! Pay attention to words, to her likes, to her as a person.

      Like

    • Jeff Strand says:

      Mike, you may have just married the wrong woman. IMHO, many women today are just not wife material – they are too selfish and have been ruined by feminism.

      Before you married her, did you make sure to ascertain that she was sweet, demure, thoughtful, loving, giving, selfless, feminine, good natured, mentally stable, easy going, explicitly anti-feminist, guards her virtue, and looking for a marriage embracing traditional gender roles – one where she respects and submits to you as the head of the household?

      If your answer is “no”, well there you go. Keep in mind, the woman I’m describing in my question to you was just the typical young bride a generation or two ago. These girls are stil out there, just smaller in number. And this is the kind of girl you wife up. Otherwise, you are headed for disaster and just asking for problems.

      Good luck!

      Like

      • Lisa says:

        Hey Jeff!

        You know you actually bring up a good point (although the wording was a bit provocative). It IS important to look for a spouse that shares your views of gender roles. And to really think through why you have these particular views before you get engaged. If a man believes strongly that he wants a wife that will have particular personality traits and gender roles, that is what he should seek out and be sure to discuss things clearly with the woman before they marry so there are no surprises.

        Of course, people and circumstances do change so further adjustments might be necessary but I agree that there are some critical sorting that makes marriage easier when paired with a like minded person.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jeff Strand says:

        Thanks Lisa. To me, it’s just common sense.

        And if so many young ladies today are not wife material, the solution is to not marry them. Crazy thought right? If she’s not cut out to be a wife, don’t make her a wife.

        And you’re seeing this already today, as more and more young men join the marriage strike. Marriage has become a very risky, dangerous undertaking for men today. Everything is stacked against you – the media and popular culture, the law, the courts, etc.

        Lest you think this is anti-woman, I would add that there’s another conclusion that follows. If so many women are not wife material, that means the ones who are will really stand out! They will be in great demand and can “punch above their weight” in the marriage marketplace, pulling down a seriously great catch. These girls can directly benefit from the cluelessness of their peers who have bought into the feminist propaganda and made themselves poor marriage prospects as a result.

        Raise your daughters accordingly.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Jeff,

        My husband and I are raising our kids accordingly to our gender views which seem different than yours.

        As I said, it is important to marry a spouse who agrees with gender role values so there is less conflict over these issues. Women with traditional views would be happier with men who share those views. And vice versa.

        Some of the conflict today is that women marry men who say they are not traditional in their gender view but do not follow up with consistent actions. So there is the disconnect for unhappiness.

        Like

  17. I just found this blog while looking for a new template for mine, what a gem this is! I’m enjoying the read a lot. I am happily married and it appears a lot of the insight you have will be helpful to my success in staying married. Keep up the great writing! Oh yea, I’m feeling kinda cool that my reply is the 100th comment. :)

    Like

  18. Reed French says:

    If someone says, “I am not having sex with you until you ____________” they have weaponized sex. If someone is not in the mood, is exhausted, is sick, doesn’t feel like it, doesn’t want to – they are not weaponizing sex.

    Think of it this way guys. Your wife bakes you cookies. You love her cookies. You walk in the door after work and your wife says, “I baked you cookies. Eat some now!” And you’re like, “I love your cookies, but I need to sit down for a few.” Have you weaponized your appetite for cookies or do you just need a minute?

    What if you didn’t want her to feel bad so you dropped your suitcase on the couch and ate a few cookies. Then after dinner she wanted you to eat more cookies and honestly, you were just stuffed. Are you refusing to eat her cookies to punish her?

    What if she offers you cookies for breakfast, right after work, before dinner, after dinner, at bedtime – relentlessly every single day? What if she wakes you up in the middle of the night and wants you to eat cookies? And when you gently say, “I love you but I’m not in the mood for cookies right now. I will be later, but I would like to sleep right now” should she take it as a personal affront?

    At some point, might you get pretty tired of those damn cookies?

    Don’t you feel like it should be up to you when you eat cookies, how many, how often, where and how?

    Some people do punish their partner by withholding sex but the vast majority of women may just not be in the mood. It’s nothing personal – even though it may feel like it.

    I think the basic issue is not recognizing that your partner gets to decide what happens to her body. Just like you get to decide what happens to yours.

    Like

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