How to Have a Good-Enough Relationship

(Image/theodesseyonline.com)

(Image/theodesseyonline.com)

“What *is* enough?” she asked.

Fair question, I thought, since I’d just written a list of things that WERE NOT enough, without offering any thoughts on what is. In Diagnosing Relationship Failure is not for the Self-Assured, I listed a litany of conditions that are great for relationship health, but which I think are things people (often men) use to “Yeah, but… !” their partners during arguments. I know how pathetic it is because it’s how I used to think.

EXAMPLE: Husband works late without communicating it to his wife, who came home for the day and spent two hours preparing a meal for their “date night” while the kids were with grandma. Husband forgot because he has a brain like mine, or he simply decided that a project on deadline was more important than making it to dinner with his wife.

Wife: “It would have been helpful if you’d told me about your busy work day BEFORE I spent two hours making all this. It really hurts that you didn’t bother letting me know you’d be late. This is so typical of the things you do that show me how you don’t respect me or this marriage.”

Husband: “Wait a damn minute. What about that new car sitting in the driveway we’re shelling out more money for precisely because I respect your job and that you needed a new one? It’s not like I was trying to ruin your night. I just forgot. I wasn’t out boozing with my friends. I was earning money so that we can live in this house and help our kids go to college!”

Wife: “You forgot because you don’t value our relationship. You only remember things that matter to you.”

Husband: “Things that matter to me?! [Insert spoken list in Asshole Voice® detailing all of the sacrifices he feels he makes on her behalf.] Talk about being ungrateful! Stop treating me like I blow all of our money on gambling like your brother, or shove you into furniture like Jim does to Lisa.”

I used to do it all the time, even if I didn’t always speak the words.

I thought because I was a nice, friendly person who didn’t have addiction issues, wasn’t physically abusive, wasn’t engaged in criminal activity, wasn’t a threat to abandon our family, was educated and employed, and contributed financially to things she cared about which I didn’t, that I was—by default—a good husband.

I thought because I wasn’t what I envisioned a bad husband to be, that I couldn’t be one. As if bad-husband behavior could ONLY be whatever I defined it to be.

Want to get divorced and/or be a life-long asshole?

Tell people you hurt that you’re NOT actually hurting them no matter what they say, or that YOUR definition of what something is or is not is the only true metric by which to measure Life Things.

You are wrong. A LOT. About many things. Life gets so much better when you stop treating those around you as if their individual life experiences are incorrect figments of their imaginations.

In the aforementioned post, I wrote:

“Being nice isn’t enough.

“Being friendly isn’t enough.

“Having good intentions isn’t enough.

“Being a reliable financial partner isn’t enough.

“Avoiding criminal activity or substance abuse isn’t enough.

“Not cheating isn’t enough.

“Being home every night isn’t enough.

“Not being verbally, sexually, or physically abusive isn’t enough.

“Avoiding pornography and/or ogling attractive people in public isn’t enough.

“Not sucking as much as that other husband or wife you know isn’t enough.

“Being a good parent isn’t enough.

“The hopes and dreams you think you share aren’t enough.

“A fatal flaw or shortcoming or too-small-to-notice crack or untightened bolt flies easily undetected when things appear to be functioning—maybe even well.

“But the truth is the truth, no matter what you want to believe.

“Believing you are a good spouse DOES NOT make you a good spouse (just as someone else telling you what you are doesn’t necessarily make it so).”

To which I was asked: “What *is* enough?”

‘Enough’ is Whatever Two People Agree To

If one person disagrees, it’s not enough.

That means it will change between any two people. That means it won’t always seem reasonable to everyone.

“Enough” is what a husband or wife agrees is enough. Nothing more, nothing less.

I’ve had three jobs since graduating college.

In my first job, I could come and go as I please, and didn’t have to tell anyone why or where I was going or anything. That was enough.

In my second and third jobs, I’m generally expected to be in the building between certain hours every day.

In my first job, I could wear whatever I wanted. I wore shorts and jeans all the time (it was in Florida), except when I had a high-level meeting to attend.

In my second job, we had casual days every Friday.

In my third job, we only have casual days once per month, with some randoms thrown in.

You will have your own personal opinion about those schedule and dress-code policies, and you are entitled to it.

If you start a company today, you can establish whatever rule makes the most sense to you. There’s no right or wrong. There’s just the way it is, and then people get to decide whether they’ll put up with it. It’s something that’s agreed upon upfront.

If I wore shorts and jeans every day, or came to and left my office without telling anyone in my current job, it wouldn’t take me very long to get fired. Maybe a couple of weeks, tops.

Even though that EXACT behavior was totally okay and part of the cultural norm in my job 15 years ago.

There is no universal Enough.

Just because your partner thinks it’s fine to snort coke and shoot whiskey in front of your school-aged kids DOES NOT mean you have to think it’s okay.

And just because your partner insists on home-schooling your future kids because he or she doesn’t want them exposed to kids saying bad words and talking about sex in junior high or middle school DOES NOT mean you have to agree that that’s the best way to raise them.

LONG, LONG, LONG before we marry, we are supposed to outline our values. We communicate them VERY clearly through our words and actions. If you don’t, there’s a good chance much of your life sucks.

Every day of our lives we have boundaries. Boundaries on what we will tolerate in terms of how we are treated, or in terms of what we are willing to be associated with, or in terms of what we are willing to subject children to.

Marrying or even seriously dating someone with conflicting values is a recipe for disaster. Always.

Marrying or even seriously dating someone who repeatedly violates your well-communicated boundaries is next-level foolish. Always.

We communicate our values.

We ENFORCE our boundaries. And, (this is really important) we walk the hell away once they are violated by someone who KNEW they were doing so.

I don’t care if that’s cheating, or speaking profanely, or leaving a dirty glass by the sink.

A boundary can be anything we determine it to be. It doesn’t matter whether it seems reasonable to the other person, but we damn sure better communicate those boundaries BEFORE exchanging “I promise to love you forever!” vows with them.

Have a boundary. Enforce it dutifully.

That process organically filters out the crap.

What’s enough? You decide. And in a marriage WE decide. Two of us—together.

With all due respect to the vast majority of humanity, discovering major value differences between you and your partner, or experiencing a blatant lack of respect for your personal boundaries AFTER marriage is a clear sign [* insert southern-twang voice*] you done effed up.

What is enough?

An honest and transparent person who communicates their wants and needs to someone they are dating, and then in love with, and then committed to; and their partner providing the same thing in return.

Simply because they love each other.

Preferably more than they love themselves.

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83 thoughts on “How to Have a Good-Enough Relationship

  1. RD94 says:

    You were right to start, bro. Your position in the household is to provide resources. Without those resources, your relationship/marriage probably would not last. Now, the comical part, working your a$$ off, like a good man does (because good men are ALWAYS working) to provide those resources in more abundance, could also cost your relationship. D*mned if you do, d*mned if you don’t. My question to you, is, what are you SUPPOSED to do, in such case? You’re not being a life-long a$$hole, you’re being a man, and doing responsible things that a man does for his family should be enough. Being a provider is showing your spouse and your family respect. She was NOT respecting you. MGTOW, friend, you’ll be happier.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I wish you’d stop putting so much effort into defending a position PROVEN to lead to divorce and broken homes, and more time trying to understand WHY two good people can accidentally break a relationship.

      Stubbornly clinging to our beliefs will not change what’s real. No matter how much we’d like it to.

      Liked by 1 person

    • zombiedrew2 says:

      My question is, what’s the actual point of those resources? To me, it’s to provide them FOR the family and marriage. So if I lose the family and marriage in the pursuit of them, then I haven’t really accomplished anything positive, have I?

      I think what I’m supposed to do is take care of my family to the best of my abilities, and that includes physical and emotional support – not just financial.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You said it, Zombiedrew. There are many women I talk to that would forgo creature comforts if they just had more of their husband’s time and attention. One challenge there is that men tend to get so much of their identity and status from their work, from their ability to provide. I am not horrified by doing with out things, but my husband is more likely to feel as if it reflects negatively on him, as if he is not providing.

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        • zombiedrew2 says:

          I’m not a very manly-man in that way. To me my job has always been to provide a life for my family, and that’s about it. It helps if I like it, but the family was always more important. I hated overtime, as there was a small enough window in the evening with my kids, and I didn’t want anything cutting into it.

          Of course that still didn’t prevent my marriage from going to hell, but my approach was still the right one for me

          Liked by 1 person

    • Autumn Grayson says:

      The woman in that scenario probably would have been fine with her husband working late. All she wanted was for her husband to give her a quick call or text to let her know he would be working late. That would have taken a minute, tops, and then she wouldn’t have wasted two hours of her time making a nice dinner for them both.

      If a woman works very hard most of her days tending the house and her children, doing her job in the marriage, (a job that doesn’t give her a break by ending at 5) is that enough? Does that excuse any of her other behavior, or should she put out effort to figure out how to make her husband happy and find more constructive ways of dealing with things in ways other than nagging?

      From the way I’ve seen guys act, if the roles were reversed (the guy making a fancy dinner and his wife working late and not letting him know first). He would probably feel a little irritated at least if he was not informed that he didn’t need to make dinner. I know if it was my dad in that scenario he would get pretty mad after enough of that.

      If each person doing their ‘job’ is enough, and a woman doesn’t have the right to complain about the annoying things her hard working husband does, then her husband can’t complain about the annoying things she does, so long as she is doing her job keeping up the house and kids.

      I don’t think most people want that, though. I’m sure people want their marriages to be as good as possible. That’s why both the guy and the girl need to show respect and caring for each other and do their best to figure out how to resolve issues without just yelling and/or making the other person feel unappreciated. Maybe the wife could have calmly welcomed the husband back home in that scenario, asking what kept him, expressing sadness that he missed dinner but that she appreciates the time he spent at his job, and then calmly ask him if he could send her a quick text next time he was working late, that way she doesn’t slave away at a nice meal for two hours that won’t get eaten.

      Will that resolve problems every time? Probably not, but I would expect that’s a better approach than saying neither spouse has the right to make such requests so long as they are both doing their marital ‘jobs’. In the dinner scenario, both spouses feel unappreciated because the wife feels like the husband does not respect her time and appreciate the fact that after a long day of her own responsibilities she was making a nice dinner for them both. And it probably feels obvious to her that he doesn’t respect and appreciate her because all he can do is say why he had every right to overlook his carelessness and not really think about the time she lost making a dinner that wasn’t going to get eaten(time she can never get back).

      At the same time, the husband in that scenario probably feels disrespected and unappreciated because he worked hard and feels like he got attacked as soon as he got home. Perhaps he even feels like she is angry at him for working late. He probably is frustrated because he had a long hard day and would rather go home and relax than go home and get yelled at. He didn’t realize he was doing anything wrong at first, so of course he probably feels upset and defensive at his wife’s words. Most people in that situation would.

      People can either take a minute to figure out how to discuss these things calmly and constructively with their spouse, take a minute to let them know they will be coming home late, etc. Or they can let marriage problems escalate and get out of control. Then, instead of owning up to faults and making the adjustments needed to have a happy marriage(the logical adult thing to do), people can simply overlook all that and retreat to MGTOW and the feminazi communities. That’s really just going to make things worse, since both those communities are probably provoking the other gender to cause problems.

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    • Emery says:

      “What are you SUPPOSED to do?” …in that case, all that’s needed is to *communicate*. Because, in this case, it’s a scheduled date night with his wife. The kids are with grandma. There are plans, and he’s either forgotten about the plans or decided that he’s changing the plans without telling his wife.

      Forgetting about date night plans is inconsiderate. If something comes up at work and he can’t make it home for date night, but he doesn’t think that’s important enough to call home and say so, it’s obvious where his priorities lie. Why should she stick around with someone who can’t even be bothered to let her know that he needs to cancel their date?

      All it takes is communication. A phone call: “I’m really sorry, honey, but we’re having an emergency here at work, and I need to stay late tonight. I know we had a date planned, and I’m really disappointed that I won’t be able to come home in time for dinner.”

      You seem to think that it’s okay for *him* to be angry that *she’s* upset at being stood up.

      Liked by 1 person

    • J says:

      if you’re married to the status quo, ‘being a good man, and doing responsible things that a man does for his family’, might work. If you’re married to a person and you value your relationship, you’ll find out what works for the two of you, instead of trying to follow the societal right/wrongs and shoulds based on who knows who’s reality.

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  2. zombiedrew2 says:

    Hey Matt, haven’t been around in a bit due to holidays combined with an extended state of shock that Tim Duncan retired (kidding about the second part, kinda).

    You didn’t go where I thought you were going to with this post, so I’ll give you my thoughts on where I *thought* you were going.

    Enough is a super important concept, and it’s one that I think is key to anyone’s happiness – both personally and in their relationship.

    You’ve talked a lot about hedonic adaptation, and I think “enough” is kind of the antidote to that. It’s something that goes hand in hand with appreciation.

    There is always something better, brighter and shinier out there. A better job, car, house, and yes – partner. There is always someone who is funnier, prettier, smarter, blah, blah blah…
    …always.

    So a key to happiness for me personally is determining what is actually enough for me.

    I think everything is on a spectrum, and we all have tolerance levels for what we would like ideally, and what is enough. The bottom end of enough helps us form our boundaries.

    Some people hear me talk about enough and think it’s talking about settling, saying things like you could have more of X. Sure, maybe. But so what? If you have enough, you can be content. It doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be happy with more, but you don’t really care that much if you don’t.

    Anyhow, not the topic you went down – but it’s one I think is important.

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    • “So a key to happiness for me personally is determining what is actually enough for me.”

      I think a real key for happy wives is contentment, learning how to be content and being supported in that contentment. There’s some huge gender differences here, women tend to grow up in a culture where we can never be good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough and if you even manage any of those, than you become too pretty, too smart, too thin. So we’re living within a culture where creating discontentment for women is the norm.

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      • zombiedrew2 says:

        Totally agree. And what surprises me is just how much of that seems to be perpetuated by other women. What I mean is, if I were a woman and I loved with that, I think I would be conscious of those things and careful of how I talk to other women. But when I look around, I see a lot of the cruel behaviour (such as body shaming) directed towards women from OTHER WOMEN. Don’t get me wrong, guys do it too. But it appears to come from women just as much.

        Regarding self image, I’ve heard women talk about how much effort they put into “looking good” and I often wonder, for who? It’s always good to take pride in your appearance, but most of the guys I know love their partners as they are, and don’t really see a need for the amount of maintenance a lot of women do. I really don’t think it’s being done “for the guy”. Rather, it’s being done so the woman can meet her own expectation on how she thinks she needs to look. And I think that is driven more by media/marketing and other women more than by their partners.

        Just my 2 cents

        Liked by 1 person

      • linds01 says:

        IB- Yep. We live in a of culture never enough and that spills over to our self concept.

        Liked by 1 person

      • linds01 says:

        Drew, I don’t know if it’s other women as much as it is the media. There’s a load more money that goes into marketing womens beauty products then there is men’s.
        Men have car’s and things that represent prestige marketed towards them.
        It perpetuates the idea that the ideal woman is beautiful and the ideal man is successful (modern day strength?)
        And that stuff works- commercials, characters in movies and TV shows- they do get into our heads as to what we and the rest of the world are supposed to be.

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      • zombiedrew2 says:

        Hi linds, thanks for replying. I agree that it starts in the media – and the way thing are marketed and women are sexualized makes me glad I’m not a woman. I know a lot of women who really struggle with things like body image issues and with basic self acceptance, and I can completely see why (I’m sure I would too). I find the whole thing pretty sad – people should be able to just accept themselves for who they are, no matter who that is.

        Anyhow, I made the comment about other women just because I frequently hear women as the ones who talk about beauty in this kind of reverent breath. I’m sure it’s been indoctrinated through years of social/media conditioning, but the end result is that women end up perpetuating it.

        I’ve frequently seen things like someone reads a newspaper article where something tragic has happened to a woman, and instead of just “omg, that’s awful” there are responses like “and she was so beautiful too”. Ummm, what the hell does that have to do with anything?

        Or I look at responses of men vs. women when someone does something like update their facebook profile picture. A guy updates his, and there may be a comment or two about the picture. A woman updates hers, and the overwhelming response (from other women) is about “how beautiful” she looks in the new picture.

        Regardless of what the media/society wants us to believe, beauty for women isn’t THAT important. Sure, as a guy I can appreciate an attractive woman. I can also say when a guy is good looking or not (which is all subjective anyhow). Someones physical appearance is only one aspect of what someone is. And maybe when you’re 17-25 it seems to be important, but as I’ve aged I’ve learned it’s a hell of a lot less important than all the other parts of someone.

        One of the things about marketing – it can help push people towards buying something that they may not have otherwise, but they are still the ones who make the decision on what to buy. I wish people would stop focusing so much on “beauty”. And I would love to see a day where women may still care about it, but put it’s importance well below where they do now.

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      • linds01 says:

        Drew ,
        Hey there. I agree with you that rationally beauty has little to do anything
        functionally, but the more I am thinking about, the more I think it does still make a
        big impact.
        I’m thinking about an aesthetics class I took. Our brains look for symmetry ,
        and “process fluency”- information that can be easily interpreted, and familiar. (So
        the term easy on the eyes, is more accurate than I thought :). It’s one of those things
        evolutionary survival mechanisms, I guess. :)
        I think we make assumptions about people from the way they look. Whether we are
        conscious of it or not. Men and women are both susceptible to it. Forgive me for
        sounding arrogant,( maybe I am a little and that will be worked out in my life I’m sure)
        but – I have been told my pictures don’t do me justice, and I have seen it influence my interactions with patients. Even the truly psychotic patients will be a little calmer, listen a little more if I am the one asking. I don’t pride myself on it, but I do try to use it to my advantage… (Which may back fire one day!)
        And, I remember some news report several years ago about how people treat pretty women. I don’t know if that is built on real strong science, but I recall seeing that.
        I think that is the same prejudice as when we prefer speaking to someone who is nicely dressed and may ignore someone who isn’t, or may even look poor.
        So, I think it has some subconscious influence.
        Then there is this, too- Someone did tell me I was beautiful the other day, and I realized I hadn’t heard that in a long, long time. It was like a hug, and I literally felt my shoulders relax. I think it is important to hear, and know about yourself. Maybe it is something innate in women- I don’t know.
        So, yeah- I am going back and forth, I mean- there seems to be a natural tendency to prefer what is considered beautiful, and who doesn’t want to be preferred?
        I guess it is the striving, the need to be just as shiny and new as the next one that the problem starts happening.
        Ultimately, I would hope that every woman would know that her unique features, her character, her laugh, her passion are the things that outlast and have a stronger impact than what is offered up by the beauty industry (which focuses so strongly on youth!)
        There has to come a point when we say what is enough, despite the noise around us.
        That takes character, and courage and strength- and THAT is beautiful when you see it.
        So – yeah, I think I just rewrote your last 2 paragraphs there :)
        It just takes a while to be mature enough, to see the same ol’ new crap enough times to figure out what is important and what isn’t. :)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Fromscratchmom says:

        This discussion on beauty and body image is important. I definitely have had baggage in my life from the early and ongoing influences that taught me that being beautiful made a woman worthwhile and not being beautiful made me worthless. I wouldn’t argue that media plays no part but I can honestly say that the bulk of it originally came from my father and was contributed to by little boys in my school and neighborhood. The bulk of it over the last twenty years has come from my soon-to-be-ex monster and has been contributed to significantly by no one else. I’ve never had an issue with it from my mom. I’ve never had much of an issue with it from the women I choose to spend time with, or appreciate, or admire. I can’t remember ever having issues with little girls at any age growing up. I’ve had some magnificent totally superficial clues to my value for being beautiful and although I mostly know I’m not, when the pain associate with that comes to the forefront I remind myself that the ugly and worthless belief that was given to me through the abuses of men isn’t even true. That works way better than just being reminded that it doesn’t matter…even though it truly doesn’t.

        When people click like on pic or give an online compliment it doesn’t send me into a tail spin. Giving compliments can be backhanded or can be a bad thing due to certain other factors, but it can also be a good thing and by itself is not likely to ever cause issues. People tend to be generally built up by compliments, the shallow and the meaningful alike, though the meaningful do have more power for obvious reasons. People need to be built up and it’s important for each of us to have people in our lives that give the sort of compliments that do the most for us. Those of us who are not good at accepting compliments in some scenarios may even be better at accepting them in such distanced formats as Facebook.

        Men leaving women and getting together with other women aside from the mother of their children has a million negative consequences and in most cases partly due to some of the details of each scenario even contributes to the children’s future issues with image issues, how they receive or give image issues, and trust issues in general. Youth is accompanied by beauty…to varying degrees to be sure, but it’s there nevertheless. Dumping people as they age contributes to great evils in many forms from having stolen their youth to passing on subconscious evil messages to the next generation.

        It’s also worth noting that women appreciate beauty. And that is in no way limited to the beauty of women’s faces or bodies or whatever. The media in both positive and negative ways as well as all the evil, abandoning, and insulting people in our culture do train a kind of unhealthy focus on that into us in a way that can hijack the rest of it for some people so that’s all that appreciation has been redirected toward personal appearance. But with or without the media beauty is a gift from God and those of us who manage to appreciate classic architecture, Monet’s water colors, the Hope diamond, a sunset, a flower, a mountain side, a blade of grass, or a butterfly on a regular basis derive great blessings from the beauty that God built into our world for us to enjoy.

        I’m not even sure if men generally do appreciate beauty in the same way that women do because I’ve lived so much of the negatives of men. I hope they can and do. But I suspect that many do not even if only because they chose their focus themselves differently. Women appreciate beauty in a way that can encompass both or can be totally aside from personal physical beauty and they could use the support of men in that in life. They can use compliments. And they can use help in specific ways that are different for each woman from redoing the bathroom or the dressing area to make her morning toilet easier rather than fussing or huffing and puffing about the request as if her concerns are a bother to just helping to redo a room in the house that she wants to improve as a pleasant living space to helping clean up or to just not putting down her efforts and her interest in creating better living spaces. Her goals and interests no matter how big or how trivial should not be treated as a negative, should not be belittled, should not be sabotaged. And that includes those interests and goals that touch on beauty issues for her personal appearance as well as those that only touch on other aspects of beauty in her life.

        Liked by 1 person

      • linds01 says:

        Mom,
        I think men’s “appreciation of beauty” in regards to women is really usually more of a function of their own ego.
        I wished you wouldn’t say that you know you are “mostly not” beautiful. I feel that way a lot of the time,too. – but it isn’t a good way to think of yourself (and I have to remind myself of this,too).
        While we can say over and over again beauty doesn’t equal worth and value, I know that’s how it feels.
        Male attention, or looking good in that outfit, is a confidence builder for sure.
        We all need love, we a all need to feel good enough, preferred, special. I know I always believed that would come from a romantic partner. That hasn’t happened, and even I if I did have a romantic partner the chances of them making me feel that way aren’t great.
        So, I am not going to sit here and say some nice neatly packaged platitude about finding your worth in something greater, I will say that Glennon Melton’s words about being present and being “the soul of the place” that Matt quoted in a previous post do feel true. I know when we are in the middle of pouring out that love, we are filled by it. I know it’s true, even if I’m not experiencing that right now. My confidence is that you and I both will know that experientially again- and then maybe we can make our home there and it will be enough- more than enough. I am praying for you sister. I know you’re hurting right now, and it’s ok to hurt. You don’t have to try to make it better. He promises to heal, and while it can take years- I trust you will know that healing. Prayers and love to you.

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      • Fromscratchmom says:

        Lin, your kindness and your words of wisdom are appreciated more than I can say. There is real healing. Someday it will be complete.

        Liked by 1 person

      • zombiedrew2 says:

        Hey fromscratchmom and linds,

        I find these discussions fascinating, and they really seems to illustrate to me that how we view the world is VERY much impacted by our own experiences. Which makes sense, as when our experience is X and not Y, then it’s easy to imagine that everything is X.

        Fromscratchmom – I can’t really say much more than some of your experiences sound awful, and although I realize my experiences may have been different if I was a woman, your experiences with men don’t really line up with what I have known.

        My dad has his issues (like anyone else), but disrespecting/belittling women was not one of them. I would like to think that my dad has always adored my mom, and modelled that to me growing up through his words and actions. And that shaped the way I grew up seeing women.

        Perhaps because of my own beliefs, I’ve largely surrounded myself with friends who share similar philosophies to me on women. So I guess that colors my view on guys (maybe skewing it more positive than we are as a larger group), because pretty much all the guys I talk to/associate with are looking at their girlfriends/wives as partners in every way. And though they will gripe about things occasionally, they all seem to value and respect their wives, and love them for who they are.

        For most of us, when we know our partners are having body image issues we’re kind of dumbfounded – because we find our partners beautiful. Sure, they aren’t necessarily bikini/lingerie models, but who cares. They are the women we have chosen to be with, the mother of our children. And they are beautiful for all of what they bring to the table in the relationship.

        Of course I suppose it’s possible our partners/spouses may think we are jerks and don’t value/appreciate them. If that would just go to show that our image of self doesn’t always line up with the reality. But the guys I know seem to put forth consistent effort, and value the women they are with.

        When I read a comment like “I think men’s “appreciation of beauty” in regards to women is really usually more of a function of their own ego.” it actually makes me kind of sad to think that’s what women think of us (and I’m not even sure what it means, but it doesn’t sound positive).

        Beauty is all around us if we just take time to be in the moment and appreciate it. It’s found in the little things, the quiet moments, everywhere.

        I think part of beauty is just “being”. And when people’s minds are too busy with all the things that need to be done I think they’re usually unable to see what’s right in front of them.

        Liked by 2 people

        • linds01 says:

          Hey Drew,
          I really appreciate you! I am glad that you can see beauty as something to appreciate. In all honesty I have thought several times before about creating flower gardens in poorer areas of town, just for others to be able to have some beauty around (And to me flowers are beautiful :) . I really believe it changes your mood and perspective.
          My comment about “men’s appreciation of beauty being a function of their own ego”, is as bad is it sounds I’m afraid.
          It’s not all men, but many men, maybe even most men ,like pretty women because it pumps up their ego. Guy’s are really proud to have “a hot girlfriend”.
          Even if they end up taking it for granted later.
          This isn’t an indictment on men. It is just MY experience, like you said.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Matt says:

            I’ve seen this a bunch of times, too, Linds, and I think there IS an element of trophy-flashing happening with some guys.

            There are a few other angles also, though.

            1. Attractive partners which fall into that sort-of universally agreed-upon “She’s hot!” category can create a couple of problems for people who don’t have their Things That Matter shit together (you know, the inside stuff — real love and values and whatnot). Not all men enjoy their girlfriends or wives getting visually molested every time they’re out in public, and not all men are emotionally/spiritually/psychologically prepared to deal with all of the very-direct, very-real interest she gets from others, regardless of her relationship status.

            2. It’s not always superficial. In a relationship where physical intimacy is a foundational component of something lasting, and where emotion (sometimes for the worse) plays such a huge role in our behavior and thoughts, there is value in finding visual beauty in your partner. It doesn’t have to mean we don’t also love (perhaps more so) all of the internal beauty, or that we’re only with someone because of what others might think (beauty is always, always, always in the eye of the beholder, anyway).

            I think there is value in waking up on Saturday (or any day) and seeing someone at their “worst,” and feeling the things we feel when we look at our children, or an incredible night sky, or the rolling ocean, or a mountain lake, or a gorgeous sunset.

            To be taken by someone in that way has value.

            And I know you already think those same things. But I just wanted to make sure we’re not broad-brush painting everyone with surface-level “beautiful” partners.

            Because often, maybe even most of the time, there’s a lot more going on.

            At least, I hope so. :)

            Like

            • linds01 says:

              Hey, Matt-
              Thank you for making it balanced. Less broad strokes!
              I agree- that attractive people are also – people. They have all the capacity as the next person to be a lovely person. So, I know, it isn’t just superficial. And, I’d agree that physical attraction is kind of needed in order to make all the right chemicals flow. I like it when someone finds me attractive, certainly.
              I would hope that men valued and thought a woman was beautiful for the things that made her characteristically her. A certain smile, or her laugh lines, or some gesture she doesn’t even know she is making. I would hope men really loved the details about their wives, and thought they were beautiful.
              But, I don’t think happens until later in life, most times.
              I guess I have just known too many of the other kind of guys.
              I kind of don’t even want to bring this up, because I really like and respect what you said, but even within the last 5 years there was this “thing” circulating in the mega-churches here that I’m going to call “The damn- my- wife- is- hot” movement.
              I don’t know what they were trying to do. I think they were trying to say it’s ok to compliment your wife. And sure, that’s great- but, it just came off really, really poorly.
              I think part of the original comment was about women’s worth being equated to beauty.
              And, at this point, I think it is. Even if that isn’t the only reason why a man might find worth in her, for us-to know we are beautiful, is to know we are worth something, I think at least emotionally that is true. I do think many women still do find SOME sense of their worth and value in being loved or being attractive to a man, and I don’t think it is necessarily wrong. ( I know that there ARE women out there who don’t feel that way, or think that way, but I don’t think it is uncommon, either). I would just hope that men’s sense of beauty would be more keen on the characteristics of the person, vs. whatever happens to be “hot”.

              Like

      • Fromscratchmom says:

        I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to this. I realize it might not even be seen at this point. But I didn’t forget y’all, I’ve just had all of my time and energy being taken up with the traumas and dramas of life, lots of needs of my daughters, lots of financial and legal threats and attacks, etc, etc.

        Thank you, all for your input. It means a lot.

        No, the ego connection to beauty which I have seen quite a bit of is not good at all. It’s basically destructive. But the type of situation where Zombie describes seeing wives as beautiful and relates it to them being the women chosen and the mothers of their children is a good thing. It’s a thing that can lead to great compliments. And I hope it can be a part of actually caring and loving which should be mutually exclusive with being willing to hurt her. That type of appreciation of her as beautiful for her real look and her character is very much one of the things that I wasn’t sure if men are capable of. Even my soon to be ex claimed it was his way, at least from time to time but since he spent most of his time on the attack in one way or another, or ignoring me, and always always making me feel like dirt, his claims to his better side which he has finally permanently rejected are clearly pretty worthless.

        I think our society, our lives, our choices can train both appreciation of goodness and appreciation of beauty out of us. I think that’s where a lot of people are.

        But I’m glad to know there are still a few good folks left.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Fromscratchmom says:

        Another comment about the guy who claims to be a nice guy and occasionally says all the right things that may have come to mind for some in my last comment: you absolutely cannot say the hurtful, spiteful, destructive things and then later blame the person you attacked for being hurt by them or for believing them. Different people have different facets to their personalities and different strengths and weaknesses. But to whatever extent a person is effected by another person going on the attack verbally, the attacker never has the right to claim an attack wasn’t really an attack or that the person attacked is really to blame in one form or another. If it’s your m.o. to let off steam by verbally assaulting others, or to let your negative emotions have free reign to control your behaviors, then you have some important work to do on yourself.

        Like

    • J says:

      Really knowing what is enough for oneself…. I don’t need it all, I don’t need perfection. I can be content with enough. Knowing myself, trusting myself to determine what enough is, is my difficulty.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Shannon says:

    Thanks, Matt. This has been on my mind a lot and a big part of discussion with my partner. We have taken the time to look at all that each of us does to maintain the household. Despite the fact that his list is a good solid one, hour for hour, I work about 25% more than he does just in the house. We counted the stuff that lots of men do not see – the organization of the things that need to be done, not just the act of doing them. Organization takes not just time, but it is the process of reducing chaos into order and efficiency. We discussed things he never does, like cleaning toilets and showers and refrigerators. We clocked the time he takes to wash windows twice a year, a rotten project, against the things I do routinely. The difference was shocking. And then we literally clocked the time it took him to do the same things I do, and found that he works at almost half my speed. We discussed that I am always running against a deadline, because my scroll keeps scrolling, while he feels that he completes something for awhile. Trash is taken out, done for the week. Grass is cut, done for the week. The car is repaired, done until the next time. Etc., etc. Then we discussed the fact that although he is more or less responsible, more or less is his operating standard, which means that he does not always complete the task, although he does some, maybe 75%, of the time. That in itself is fine, but that multiplied throughout a variety of tasks equates to every one of his tasks becoming 100% my responsiblity. I have to check on all of them, and those that are not complete, finish myself. We discussed that he does not understand the pixie sticks nature of our mutual actions and the repercussions of his “small” oversights. We discussed the old saw “she just wants it done her way” in specific and excruciating detail, chore by chore, and realized that means “done completely, not partially done, leaving the rest” to me. We discussed that we agree on our mutual goals – he just does not carry his part in achieving them and covers that with excuses, being pissed that I remind him, or feeling caught out when he doesn’t hit his own standard, then blaming it all on me. We have been getting very raw and down to small detail in our ongoing attempt to make things right. This has been a down and dirty situation, where I do not downplay or soft-pedal or protect his ego, and he has to see himself in a not very good light. So far, we are both willing to go through what it takes to get a better outcome, but it is raw. I look back and what I see is we did discuss our goals and boundaries early on, verbally, but I did not want to scrutinize and criticize and confront his actions,mainly because seen one by one, nothing was that bad. Collectively, over the years, what a mess. Now we have to unscramble years and years of bad habits on both our parts. For me, that means not overlooking things. You can imagine how hard that is on a relationship.

    Like

    • linds01 says:

      Shannon,
      That is such hard work, and I applaud you in it. I think it is extremely typical for most women to protect a mans ego. Brene Brown talks about women not wanting to see the men in their lives “fall off their horse”- how women can’t stand to see a man fail or be weak. I wonder if this is part of it.
      I know when I’m protecting a man’s ego I’m not feeling or thinking that, but I Know that is my typical M.O. – I Do automatically want to protect a mans ego, or encourage it even. I don’t know if that is nature or nuture or what, but it ends up not being fair to either party.
      It’s like the she carries around a 20 ton mask for him to not catch his reflection in the mirror. And, of course the man is oblivious to both himself and the work that is being exerted.
      I think most women do that, especially at the beginning of the relationship, but, if the relationship is actually going to last – she has to stop carrying it. She has to be real, and allow him to be real. Hopefully he will survive the fall from the horse, or the removal of the mask, in order to continue in a better, stronger relationship. (One based in honesty and reality!)
      I know it’s often said here boundaries need to be established and enforced at the onset of a relationship, so I suppose not being so willing to protect a mans ego needs to an exercise from the very beginning. Thank you for sharing,Shannon. This gives me some food for thought:).

      Like

      • Lynda says:

        I applaud both you and Shannon! That is precisely the problem that occurs. It is so much about boundaries/expectations/responsibilities. Shannon, you have outlined the specifics so beautifully. I have to give you and your partner credit for being able to have that conversation…I know how difficult it must be. Unfortunately, many couples don’t get through that conversation without destroying what is left of the relationship, others won’t even broach that topic of conversation for fear it will destroy what’s left of the relationship. What no one realizes, until it’s too late, is that for the relationship to survive and be fulfilling for both partners, that conversation must be had. I tried to have this conversation with my spouse, but he saw it as me nagging him, controlling him and I gave up. Decided to make the best of the situation, but I only succeeded in feeling more and more empty and alone. The sad part of that for some women, myself included, is that now that he’s gone, there is no desire to repeat that situation or even get involved in a relationship at all. Every time I’m asked if I’ve started dating again, I answer why would I want to do that? As far as my experience has shown me, there is no advantage to me entering another relationship…absolutely none!
        Matt, thanks for bringing this topic to the forefront! It is one that needs to be repeated and repeated…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Fromscratchmom says:

        Lynda, I suspect that is part of a real healing process that everyone goes through…er..or that maybe some fail to go through to their own detriment. We need it. We need to learn to be sufficient and see God as sufficient for us. We need to be willing to see others as flawed and possibly dangerous to anyone fool enough to love them. If we run around desperately seeking to believe that everyone is great and good for relationships what’s to stop us again picking one of the many unhealthy (bad for us) guys out there? Maybe as long as we also go through the other healing aspects, seeing others as flawed is what will create the possibility someday to choose to go into a good relationship with a well-suited, whole, and healthy human being who can participate with us in real relationship building rather than exhibiting every stereotypical flaw and holding on to them till they destroy everything.

        Like

    • Fromscratchmom says:

      I totally agree, Lin about there being dangers and damage from protecting men’s ego! It’s a bizarre and tragic irony but so true that women often do a tremendous amount of this…essentially trying to help him feel respected and built up…but most often end up accused of severe guilt for having no respect for him! I think many marriages and not yet marriages fall apart primarily from men not respecting themselves enough and therefor not being able to receive respect. if a am a cant feel respect unless a woman has zero boundaries or needs or thoughts or opinions of her own he’s doomed no matter who he is with.

      Like

  4. Sue says:

    Once , again, you have given me much to ponder … I cannot even express how much I appreciate your willingness to share your often raw and gut wrenching insights …

    You are the catalyst for much soul searching and growth …

    Thank you, Matt …

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ironmommi says:

    Truth. And you have to be mallible in determining just what is enough!!!

    Sidenote: They don’t say “money is the root of all evil” for no reason. KNOW and understand your partners afflictions and habits when it comes to finances or you’re in for a world of hurt.

    Like

    • OKRickety says:

      I agree that finances are extremely important in marriage. However, for those who care what the Bible says, 1 Timothy 6:10 reads “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” In other words, it is the “love of money” rather than “money” and it is “all sorts of evil” rather than “all evil”. That’s a lot of difference from what is commonly stated.

      Like

  6. Autumn Grayson says:

    I think this scenario can be a good illustration of some aspects of your “dishes” post. I think a lot of guys in this scenario may feel more like they are being attacked for working hard/late, or maybe not spending enough time with their wife. Then the wife can explain over and over that she isn’t upset a him working late, but is instead upset that he didn’t even bother to text her that he was workin late. And rather than at least show that he understands that the should have contacted her, he simply justifies his actions and talks about why his wife is horrible for expecting him to do anything different.

    It’s all about the sad, difficult aspect of arguing where many times people will misinterpret what the other person says no matter what.

    Like

  7. JM says:

    This resonates as a form of Nice Guy-ness. You were nice/a decent husband, thus you are owed complete acceptance of what you want.

    What I find appalling in several of the (male) response here, and the post itself, is that *he was late* is the very starting point of this post. *He was late*.

    If he blew off a buddy would he be this defensive, avoidant, blame shifting when the other guy calls him on it? Or would he start with an apology for … *being late*.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      The controversial, but generally true, counter to your rhetorical question is that guys don’t react emotionally to things like this. We’d call the other guy a name we didn’t really mean and move on with whatever fun thing we had planned.

      That is NOT an excuse for failing to meet your spouse’s expectations.

      It’s really the entire point of the post. Different codes of conduct for different people, depending on their specified or implied needs relative to whatever relationship you have with them.

      So, what’s okay with your guy friend: “Nice job texting, dick. What are we drinking?” might not be okay with your spouse.

      This took me an eternity to learn.

      Being late and ruining plans and poorly communicating it to your guy friend might be a slight inconvenience for one of them, and they don’t even remember it the next day, but be a relatively SEVERE crime with your spouse/partner.

      (I’m generalizing big-time here), but it seems as if guys often believe being “cool” and not making a big deal out of something that seems “minor” to us is the CORRECT way to live life.

      So when a wife or girlfriend reacts differently, or in a less-pleasant way, he views her “overreaction” as INCORRECT, or wrong.

      A fight ensues.

      Because the peaceful, “cool” version seems easier and less painful, and doesn’t require long drawn-out conversations about “feelings.”

      He wants her to agree, and flip an internal switch to start behaving like his guy friends who are “better” than her at reacting to “petty” things like this.

      It’s not illogical from his faulty, ill-informed man-brain perspective. NOT fighting and having a functional relationship by acting as he and his friend do IS objectively better than fighting and yelling and hurting and being angry.

      The crux of his argument is she SHOULD NOT care so much. That it’s irrational. Thus, he needn’t worry about it.

      It’s why everyone breaks up.

      The inability to understand that an identical EVENT can yield polar-opposite responses from different people, and that one is not WRONG or WORSE than the other.

      Stabbing someone in the chest is a very bad thing that hurts or kills people.

      People get that, so they generally don’t stab others.

      But if a segment of the human population literally couldn’t feel pain or be harmed or wounded by stab wounds, we shouldn’t get all pissed off at the non-super-humans who object to being stabbed just because there are other people out there unaffected by it.

      It wouldn’t all the sudden be okay to tell stabbable people to be tougher and stop whining, or that they’re overreacting or unreasonable because they’re like: “Stop stabbing me, asshole. I’ll bleed out and die.”

      I don’t know why people (usually men) have such a difficult time with this aspect of empathy RE: painful emotional responses from their girlfriends/wives.

      Because HE wouldn’t feel hurt by the thing, he doesn’t honor that she does.

      So nothing changes.

      And then love dies.

      Like

      • anitvan says:

        I think it’s the shame, Matt. I know when my man screws up and does something that upsets me, maybe makes make cry, his first reaction is shame. Except it doesn’t always come out as shame, it often looks more like anger and defensiveness. Which just makes things worse. I am all about forgiveness and second (and third, and fourth…) chances, but when I’m being told that I’m being ridiculous and overreacting – basically, being invalidated – well, I don’t react well to that. I don’t imagine anyone does.

        I do know, however, that how I approach my husband with an issue can make all the difference in the world to the outcome. If my start up is harsh and resentful, he is guaranteed to respond in kind. If I open up honestly and non-judgmentally, he is much more likely to “hear” me and participate in working things out.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Good point about the shame, antivan. Shame can trigger instant defensiveness which doesn’t help.

        Matt is right too about how we relate to the opposite gender. My husband is totally different person around other men. It’s okay to brush them off sometimes, to basically ignore their feelings. Those same social rules rarely apply to how you treat wives.

        Like

      • OKRickety says:

        Matt shows his true perspective with the phrase “his faulty, ill-informed man-brain perspective”. Are all of you women okay with that? If so, it’s little wonder that so many marriages in trouble. As to the guys who agree with Matt, I wish you well but it’s probably already too late.

        Like

      • OKRickety says:

        Actually, the phrase summarizes your general perspective. Readers can easily see that you place the primary, if not entire, blame for marriage failures on the husbands. In other words, if men would only recognize all of their faults and correct them, then their marriages would be fine. Of course, there is no need for women to change because they have no faults. They are natural relationship experts who do everything correctly in their marriage and family.

        Your perspective is a primary reason that most of your commenters are women, and, not surprisingly, they are very likely to praise your writing and strongly agree with you. If you look at your subscriber list, I would be astounded if there were less than three women for every man. Do women like your perspective? Absolutely! It fits with what most of them have been taught all of their lives, and it puts the blame on the husband rather than the wife. What’s not to like for women?

        If women agree with your perspective, then the only person in the marriage who might consider changing is the husband. After all, the wife believes she is already doing what she needs to do.

        For the men who agree with you, the only difference is that they are likely to be working at changing, and not just possibly considering it.

        In both cases, it is unlikely that the man has all of the blame for any problems. Consequently, the marriage will probably have problems no matter how much effort the husband gives.

        I’ve noticed that you choose to write nothing that your wife said during or after your marriage. I believe this is out of courtesy and to avoid any misrepresentation. I wish you would do the same for other men and husbands. You are prone to suppose that you have the knowledge to speak for all other men, usually ascribing the negative beliefs and suppositions that I referred to earlier. Believe what you will, and feel free to speak for yourself, but please refrain from writing as if you are an expert on men, their behavior, and their motivations.

        Like

        • Matt says:

          Not an expert on anything.

          But I think maybe I hear (read) as many divorce stories as just about anyone, anywhere. For three years.

          What I have is a large data sample. You misrepresent my position, but I’m not inclined to debate it. There are more than 500 posts here outlining my position.

          I don’t blame “men.”

          I observe men to be, in my estimation, the problem MOST of the time. And I observe them to be doing so totally by accident.

          I have mountains of evidence, and it mirrors my personal experiences.

          I’m not prone to suppose I have the knowledge to speak for other men. I’m prone to suppose I have the knowledge to speak about what commonly breaks marriages.

          No matter what your opinions of men, women, these behaviors, or my writing may be, the fact remains that common things break marriages.

          If you think it’s some sort of anti-man campaign, and making apologies for women, then you’re just not paying attention.

          Thanks for taking the time to explain why you think what you think.

          Like

      • OKRickety says:

        For the reasons I gave earlier, I have my doubts that your large data sample is unskewed.

        I understand you’re not saying men’s bad behavior is intentional, but your “observation” that men are the problem most of the time is your interpretation, and is, in fact, blaming men for their failed marriages.

        Like

        • Matt says:

          Orrr. Maybe just answering the question:

          “Why did this happen?”

          It was the one I needed answered.

          If you accidentally break your relationships and never learn that you’re doing so, you’ll go your entire life having frustrating conflict that never goes away.

          That’s bad.

          Recognizing problems and working toward solutions?

          Maybe if people do that, fewer kids will have to wonder when they’ll see mom or dad again, because people have learned, grown, and changed.

          Good things happen when we do that.

          Like

    • Donkey says:

      JM, thanks for bringing up the points you did! :)

      Hey Matt! :)
      Matt, I’m struggling to believe you. :p
      You said: “The controversial, but generally true, counter to your rhetorical question is that guys don’t react emotionally to things like this. We’d call the other guy a name we didn’t really mean and move on with whatever fun thing we had planned.”

      I definitely can believe (though I don’t operate in that way myself), that many guys (and I’m sure some women) can have this kind of …deal going on in many cases. Certainly for more casual appointments.

      But honestly: If you average buddy had invited you for dinner and he had had to go through the hassle of making plans for someone else to watch his kids (a rare luxury to have a childfree night), and he had spent two hours cooking a special dinner for you two, and you didn’t call/text to let him know you were going to be two hours late and apologize? Would your average guy friend just quickly move on from that and be happy to just grab a drink or whatever?

      If so, well, at least there’s an equal opportunity thing going on there which makes me see this kind of shitty husband behaviour in a kinder light. :)

      If not, then it’s super disrespectful and flabbergasting both that he has a higher standard for himself when it comes to friends, and that his entitlement in the marriage is so pervasive that he can’t empathize/see that his wife was owed a call and is now owed an apology, when he would do that courtesy for his friends.

      Like

  8. JM says:

    Ah empathy. I filed for divorce because my ex was a serial cheater our whole marriage. I view him as incapable of actual empathy. He’s very good at reading people’s emotions, but the intent is selfish manipulation not selfless connection.

    The hardest part about being cheated on was that I did communicate and enforce boundaries and try to understand his need for “alone time” — and he betrayed me to use that time to cheat online. And as our marriage got worse and worse and I tried harder and harder for good enough, I had no idea why he was more and more distant and disconnected.

    We dated for over 5 years (and he didn’t cheat then) — so communicating your valued ahead of time may not be sufficient. What I should have done was gotten marriage counseling the first time things were weird and awkward, where I felt disrespected but it wasn’t because of anything he did rather it was all the things he was NOT doing. Instead I tried harder to connect, to communicate better.

    Like

    • Fromscratchmom says:

      JM, you write so much that I can relate to!

      “The hardest part…was that I did communicate and enforce boundaries and try to understand his need for “alone time” — and he betrayed me…And as our marriage got worse and worse and I tried harder and harder…he was more and more distant and disconnected.”

      If I just remove a few details… ;)

      Although in all honesty I didn’t actually enforce boundaries. I tried to communicate them honestly. I still either disagree with or misunderstand the enforcing part of the boundaries concept. It so often sounds like we’re telling adults to punish each other which is outrageously flawed in my way of thinking. But the sad thing is that when one spouse ones so much to hurt the other it all comes out the same. You get hurt and hurt and hurt by the spouse who refuses to work to grow together into a better and better marriage and it changes you and then they feel punished and hurt you more. It’s all just tragic.

      Like

      • OKRickety says:

        I still either disagree with or misunderstand the enforcing part of the boundaries concept. It so often sounds like we’re telling adults to punish each other which is outrageously flawed in my way of thinking.

        I question whether boundaries should ever be needed when both spouses truly love each other. As far as I can tell, God sets one boundary (adultery) for marriage and the allowed consequence is divorce.

        Problems arise when one spouse wants a boundary that the other disagrees with. [Note: As I’ve said otherwise in these comments, Matt’s post was either very unclear about how and when boundaries are set, or it created a paradox in that he said that boundaries are set by one, and also said that boundaries must be agreed to by both. It is my opinion that he creates the paradox.]

        Suppose one spouse wants a boundary on the maximum number of hours the other spouse works per week. The other spouse does not accept this boundary. How do you resolve this disagreement? To me, it has to be a mutual discussion and agreement.

        As to enforcement, I presume you would agree that adultery is a boundary in marriage that would often have a consequence of divorce. That consequence may not be a punishment to the guilty spouse. They may be glad to get the divorce.

        Of course, consequences for breaking a boundary seems flawed for adults. But that’s a misunderstanding, because it is not adult behavior in a marriage to regularly break a known, mutually-accepted boundary.

        Like

        • linds01 says:

          OKR,
          Hey there. OK- boundaries. They are not meant to be punitive, and they aren’t meant to be manipulative- to get someone else to do what I want them to do. It is the exact opposite of that.
          You’re almost right that if two people really know how to love one another there would be no need for boundaries. There may be little reason to defend them if they are communicated and respected. But there still need to be boundaries of what I can live with , and what the other person can live with.
          Remember that it isn’t the act in itself- the dish by the sink, or the being late to dinner, it is the inconsideration of the other person. It’s as if the other person that lives in the same home really doesn’t matter. It is a lack of respect. Boundaries are an acknowledgement that there are two separate people in the relationship. Both have thoughts of their own (mind reading is a really bad way to communicate), and feeling of their own, as well as different ways to approach things, and different skill sets and ect. ect. ect.
          There has to be acknowledgment that there is a complete other person over there, and because I care for them, I want to know how my actions affect them.
          Women tend to say “I’m fine” and “I don’t mind” even when we aren’t and we do. We allow other peoples needs and wants to take precedence over our needs or wants. We don’t say no. That is neglecting our boundaries, and then we get pissed off because we feel like people are taking advantage of us. We don’t have time to give to the things that are really important. (I have a friend who is really, really good with boundaries. At first I was taken aback, and thought she didn’t like me because she straight up just told me “no” the half a dozen times I asked her if she could do something. She didn’t apologize, she didn’t make excuses or promises to do it another time, she just said “No.” & I respect the hell out of that girl.)
          God did set a boundary around sex for marriage – “for the marriage bed to be kept pure”.
          He set boundaries for emotional, mental and physical safety, right?
          That is why we set boundaries in relationships and marriages.
          If you are looking at it in the Christian aspect, which I assume you are, and I am a Christian also, then it is easy to say that God wants us unified.
          That doesn’t mean we lose our identity in the relationship, or in the Church.
          God doesn’t want us to all think the same, or even believe the same. He gave us a personality and an identity and each one of us individually have our own story.
          I am thinking about when Jesus is talking to Peter by the ocean, (where he keeps asking Peter- do you love me?). Later in the same conversation Peter asks Jesus “what about him”, meaning John, and Jesus’ answer was pretty much- don’t worry about him, what’s it to you if he never dies? I’m talking to you.
          I just bring that up because it is an example to me that we are individuals, we are PARTS of a whole, but we are not one solid whole.
          There is a lot of you tube videos that talk about “Self differentiation”- and it is necessary in a healthy family.
          There is also a website called thelife.com, its a website of Henry Cloud’s, he is a Christian psychologist and writer. He writes from a Christian perspective.
          Enforcing boundaries just means knowing your limits, and living within those.
          When you are in a marriage, and haven’t done that it is a lot harder to enforce your boundaries because it changes the relationship dynamics.
          That doesn’t mean that it cant be done.
          But, if one partner or the other really refuses to adjust, even gets resentful and angry about it, then you have to decide whether the relationship as is, is worth it.
          There is talk about walking away from relationships as a means to enforce those boundaries, but I think that is said in the context of “this is really desperate and nothing is working.” I don’t think it is an encouragement to leave as a manipulation tool, or something to be done without a lot of thought and consideration.
          But, I think when it comes down to it the options are live in a relationship that is slowly killing you, or sever the relationship. To me, either way the relationship is dead at that point.
          Anyway, that is my explanation. I hope it helps. Please let me know if I didnt make sense (I don’t sometimes, you know ; )…

          Like

      • “I question whether boundaries should ever be needed when both spouses truly love each other. As far as I can tell, God sets one boundary (adultery) for marriage and the allowed consequence is divorce.”

        I think there is some confusion here about internal versus external boundaries. One sets boundaries for their own self, not to punish or control another person. In fact, if you’re focused on trying to control someone else you have no boundaries. So I have a boundary, I go take a walk when people are making me crazy. Boundaries are not rules for other people, they’re rules for yourself.

        Boundaries are really critical because if you don’t have them yourself, you become very challenging to love. You tend to dismiss and demean your spouse, you blame them for things that are your responsibility, you try to control or punish them. Without boundaries you become insecure and weak and take everything personally. You become defensive.

        Proverbs 25:28 speaks of boundaries, walls, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Fromscratchmom says:

        I really appreciate everyone’s input.

        And yes, to your question, OKR, I do agree that God sets adultery as a boundary with a limit. Maybe it’s impossible in my physical, temporal life for me to fully understand why I had to live with so much manipulation and abuse for so many years, why I had to learn to accept his lies about me spoken over me and into my heart and to try to be loving towards an abuser before that particular boundary was crossed and it’s consequence allowed. But I guess I can keep praying for healing and hope to be whole enough to be capable of being good to someone who has respect for all of God’s teaching on how to be loving someday.

        Like

      • OKRickety says:

        “He set boundaries for emotional, mental and physical safety, right?”

        My immediate response is “No”, but I’m open to hearing otherwise. I say “No” because God doesn’t seem to have our immediate safety as His top priority. His top priority is to get us to heaven (eternal safety) even if it involves physical or emotional discomfort or even persecution now.

        “But, if one partner or the other really refuses to adjust, even gets resentful and angry about it, then you have to decide whether the relationship as is, is worth it.
        […]
        But, I think when it comes down to it the options are live in a relationship that is slowly killing you, or sever the relationship. To me, either way the relationship is dead at that point.”

        As I understand you, this means divorce is acceptable if one spouse will not adjust to the other spouse’s boundary, because the relationship is “slowly killing” them. I believe that allows a human being’s self-determined boundary to supersede God’s perspective. Whether we like it or not, God is the one who determines when divorce is acceptable (Matt’s Purple Shirt Theory).

        Like

        • linds01 says:

          OKR,
          Hi there. I want to answer your question, but I am afraid this will turn into a theological discussion. Which part of me doesn’t at all mind, but I do NOT want to get into a debate about who is right or wrong. If your questions are coming from a place of genuine curiosity, then I have no problem in talking. But, if they are coming from a place of a need to prove your beliefs absolutely right above everyone else’s, I really would rather not. Those kinds of conversations typically are not very productive.
          I can warn you that I may not interpret the Bible exactly as you do- there is no doubt in my mind there will be a difference of understanding.
          If you want to explore those, I would love it! If not, we will both stay with our current understanding and let God continue to work out the work He is already doing.

          Like

      • OKRickety says:

        Linds01,

        I’m confused because, firstly, I don’t think I asked any questions, and, secondly, I thought there were two parts to my comment – Why God sets boundaries, and why we don’t get to set boundaries that override God’s boundaries.

        I don’t really care much for the whole concept of boundaries. It seems rather like psychobabble that leans away from the Bible as a standard, and toward the worldly concepts of self-esteem and personal empowerment. Misunderstanding can easily lead to problems, especially hardness of heart, the reason Jesus gave in Matthew 19:8 for Moses allowing divorce.

        If you want, respond and we’ll see how it goes from there.

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        OKRickety,

        If you’re interested, Henry Cloud and John Townsend have books and resources about boundaries from a christian perspective.

        http://www.cloudtownsend.com/scoop-on-boundaries/

        Like

    • Fromscratchmom says:

      “We dated…and he didn’t… — so communicating your valued ahead of time may not be sufficient. What I should have done was gotten marriage counseling the first time…”

      I sometimes wonder if that’s exactly what I should have done. But I suspect it would have been fruitless. I can’t own his stuff for him and he was determined not to own it. It’s a shame I ever trusted in him and believed good of him to begin with. But men don’t walk around with their dangers tattooed on their foreheads…”I know how to torture and break women. And I’m going to.” Or “I’m a totally self-centered person with deep insecurities. They will come out as abuse against you.” “I’m going to spend my life seeking gratification from women and doing nothing for them but existing and reveling in it during the times their still happy to be near me.”

      Some people embrace their own flaws. They rarely even know why they are doing. They’ve often also embraced emotional laziness and a lack of self awareness.

      Like

      • JM says:

        I think I could’ve known clearly, sooner, that he was unwilling to be selfless. That’s what early MC would have helped with. I might still have thrown myself against his walls thinking that was love but maybe not.

        What I feel Matt is talking about on this site is real selfless empathy. Ok, I don’t care at all about but YOU DO. It goes both ways yet I think women have had more expectations to learn how to do this vs men.

        I totally own accepting his abuse (that I KNEW about — the cheating he LIED TO ME) and yet what could I have done when every time he didn’t what he said or pulled some cruel selfish stunt I talked about how I felt from it, talked about my expectations — and he agreed! Each and every time he said he got it and so we had an almost good enough relationship until the next time he blew it (I’m not perfect, but the ratio was pretty fucking huge). We survived but did not thrive. Good enough.

        And why? The signs on the surface hid that iceberg of him pissing time, energy, passion, emotional connection and fucking outside our marriage.

        What I know I did not do was ask him to talk. A friend recommended, when I thought he and I were reconciling, that I use ‘… and?’ as a prompt. The 5 minute silences were unbearable. If he wanted to talk, to connect, to be honest, he would have. He would have figured out how to address his inability, if it came to that, because our marriage AND ME mattered that much to him.

        In the end what I realized was that I did not matter that much to him. He did not want to give to me and he very much did not want to feel burdened by the weight of what he cheated me out of such that he had much to make up to me.

        One thing Matt might want to ponder is a scarcity vs abundance mindset — the men who don’t want to give emotional energy into their wife’s stated emotional needs might feel that they are unable to give because they have so little for themselves. They give enough to scrape by and be good enough.

        Like

      • Fromscratchmom says:

        JM, there’s a world of stuff there in that comment. I really appreciate your writing it, though I have no hope of responding to all of it in my current state. I’m glad you’re here!

        Like

  9. OKRickety says:

    Matt,

    This post is a fine example of creating a paradox. That doesn’t surprise me.

    [Note: A more careful use of pronouns would make the paradox much easier to recognize. Specifically, sometimes you use “we” for the individual (presumably because there are multiple readers), and sometimes you use “we” for both of the spouses in a marriage.]

    The paradox is that you give each individual spouse the right to determine what is “enough”, and you also give the right to the married couple together. For example,

    ‘Enough’ is Whatever Two People Agree To

    If one person disagrees, it’s not enough.

    That means it will change between any two people. That means it won’t always seem reasonable to everyone.

    “Enough” is what a husband or wife agrees is enough. Nothing more, nothing less.”

    So, is it “‘Enough’ is whatever two people agree to”, or is it “‘Enough’ is what a husband or wife agrees is enough”? That’s the paradox.

    You repeat it again when you write “What’s enough? You decide. And in a marriage WE decide. Two of us—together.”

    “A boundary can be anything we determine it to be. It doesn’t matter whether it seems reasonable to the other person, but we damn sure better communicate those boundaries BEFORE exchanging “I promise to love you forever!” vows with them.

    Have a boundary. Enforce it dutifully.”

    This very much reads that one individual (but stated as “we”) determines the boundary, and it is unilateral.

    Do you really expect that anyone will have determined all of their values (and those values will NEVER change) and associated boundaries at any point in their life, much less before marriage? And that all of these boundaries will have been communicated before marriage to the potential spouse? And also discussed and agreed to before marriage?

    It sounds to me like your concept of marriage is a lot more about rules (you call them boundaries) than it is about love for the other person.

    “What is enough?

    An honest and transparent person who communicates their wants and needs to someone they are dating, and then in love with, and then committed to; and their partner providing the same thing in return.”

    Earlier in the post, you stated “There is no universal Enough.” Now, you effectively give a ‘universal “Enough”‘. Again, which is it?

    I expect your post will be read and understood according to the desire of the reader. In other words, they will make it say what they want it to say.

    [Note: The reference to “southern-twang voice” was inappropriate.]

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I’m sorry you didn’t like it.

      I thought it was an honest answer to a question. Someone asked me what is “enough” to be a good spouse.

      I stand by the answer. What is good, or enough, for one spouse isn’t necessarily good, or enough, for another.

      A lack of honesty, and an APPALLING lack of boundary enforcement, appear to me to be two major reasons why relationships fail.

      It’s not quite the paradox you’re making it out to be. The criteria for being a great spouse is subjective and a matter of perspective.

      If there is a universally accepted blueprint no one told me about, we should start sharing that with everyone.

      One alternative to what I’ve written here would be to say there IS some established criteria for The Indisputably Good Spouse. That no one is allowed to argue with.

      Another alternative would be that people don’t get to decide for themselves what is or is not okay to tolerate, treatment-wise, in a marriage. That once they’re married, they’re somehow stuck no matter what happens next.

      Rest assured I’m no proponent of wimpy “I quit because it’s hard!” divorce.

      It’s particularly stupid if they don’t plan on staying single forever because ALL relationships are hard.

      People should love selflessly. Give more than they take. Respect the SACREDNESS of marriage vows. People should be honest. Patient. Kind. Forgiving. And love hard.

      But we’re people, so me mess up and break things, and mistakenly believe things that eventually prove untrue, and so are the people we partner with. Flawed and broken just like us.

      The Perfect Ideal Scenario would be great, but most of the time, things are imperfect.

      My idea of marriage has nothing to do with rules.

      It has everything to do with love.

      But people stop loving you when you overstep their boundaries repeatedly.

      Like

      • OKRickety says:

        “It’s not quite the paradox you’re making it out to be.”

        So, is it “‘Enough’ is whatever two people agree to”, or is it “‘Enough’ is what a husband or wife agrees is enough”? That’s the paradox.

        Either it takes both spouses to agree what is “enough”, or it only takes one to decide what is “enough”.

        It’s either a paradox or it’s not. How is the above not a paradox? Or are you claiming that all boundaries were created, unilaterally or together, prior to marriage, marriage is explicit agreement to all boundaries, and no boundaries can be created or modified during the marriage?

        Since you choose not to write according to any specific religion, you will be unable to define absolute truth, much less provide a universally accepted blueprint for marriage. Without absolute truth, what is honesty?

        With no foundation, every spouse can set their own boundaries (and, for that matter, change them whenever they want).

        “My idea of marriage has nothing to do with rules. It has everything to do with love. But people stop loving you when you overstep their boundaries repeatedly.”

        Boundaries have consequences. In other words, one spouse sets a boundary and enforces the consequence if the other spouse goes past the boundary. What’s the difference between a boundary and a rule?

        Like

        • Matt says:

          Two things, and then I have to cease engagement on this conversation, though I promise to read and ponder any response you have.

          1. In the context of life’s biggest questions, I believe in Absolute Truth. I don’t believe we get to just make up our own “truth.” Taking that to its logical conclusion = the most horrible things imaginable can be perfectly okay if someone decides it’s okay for them. It’s relativism. And I’m certainly guilty of evaluating life through the prism of relativism, because I, perhaps foolishly, trust my conscience implicitly. I believe strongly that when an event takes place, my sense of fairness can appropriately evaluate whether it was good, neutral, or bad. I am FULLY aware that most people also believe that, and that’s why everyone screams at each other about abortion and homosexuality and divorce and whatever.

          I simultaneously acknowledge that, no matter how much I trust my own judgment, I know full well that I could be HORRIBLY wrong in the context of a Supreme Being. If, indeed, the God I’ve believed in and sought out for strength, guidance, mercy, wisdom, grace, hope, etc. my entire life exists, then I must acknowledge that ANYTHING can be “right” or “wrong” or The Truth, and what I think and feel about it means absolutely nothing. I call it the Purple Shirt Theory. People who believe in God aren’t allowed (with intellectual honesty intact) to cry foul on a subject of morality as if it’s somehow unreasonable for an almighty, all-powerful creator to have established some rule their little ant brain can’t reconcile. Beings who create vast universes are allowed to establish that “Wearing purple shirts is a sin” and no matter how unreasonable that might seem to us, that DOES NOT make it untrue.

          Your criticism is fair, though it’s mostly semantics. You’re acting like my hastily written blog post is some important piece of literature. It’s just something I wrote in an hour. I know it’s flawed like everything else I’ve written.

          Whether one believes in God or not, there MUST be Absolute Truth. For any given subject, there is the perfectly optimum combination of events to achieve whatever “perfect” would be. That’s Absolute Truth. SOMETHING is true. I think we’re obligated to seek it in an effort to be our best selves and help others be their best selves.

          HOWEVER, and this is pretty important.

          I don’t presume to believe that I, nor ANY human living or dead, has ever come close to “knowing” absolute truth.

          The lack of humility required to be so self-righteous is the very thing that has turned so many people in the world away from God and the many, many, many good things that religious people do.

          The judgment, hypocrisy, and self-righteous moral authority on display from devout religious people who don’t also exhibit true love and humility and forgiveness is a major, major problem.

          I will not be a part of it here, even if I do pray and attend church on Sunday.

          2. No matter how faith-filled we are, there are still very real, very documented things that happen with humans RE: psychology.

          No matter how sacred I consider the institution of marriage to be, doesn’t minimize the fact that a certain common pattern of human behavior (some often by men, others often by women), frequently lead to divorce. The evidence is, in my estimation, irrefutable.

          I write from my male perspective. I do not pass judgment on the female experience I don’t have first-hand knowledge of.

          I’m about accountability.

          It’s not all men’s fault.

          But some things are. And I believe if we owned them and worked collectively to be better, that the world would change.

          Everything I write, is rooted in those beliefs.

          I’m sorry you don’t like it.

          Like

      • “But people stop loving you when you overstep their boundaries repeatedly.”

        All in good humor here, Matt, but no, no we don’t. We allow ourselves to be chewed up and spit out. I’ve had four teens who have violated my boundaries repeatedly, but we don’t stop loving them. Husbands, spouses too, love is a willingness to stick with it in spite of those boundary violations. Now of course, people break, people can’t take it anymore, it can become too psychologically painful to endure, so we need to respect one another’s boundaries, recognize them. That is true.

        I think perhaps part of the misunderstanding here is that many men don’t enforce their own boundaries, instead they are avoidant. So when men don’t listen to their wives who are telling them something is wrong, they are being conflict adverse and avoidant. So if a husband doesn’t have confidence, faith in his own ability to protect his boundaries, he cannot engage with her, he’ll feel too threatened, he’ll dismiss and demean her. That reads as contempt towards her. It’s not her boundaries that need to be enforced here,it’s his. He needs to have enough confidence, security within himself that, that he can engage, trust, walk through conflicts with some ease.

        Women do not stop loving you when you over step our boundaries, but we can stop loving you when we are confronted with the hopelessness that you haven’t got any boundaries of your own. That leaves us either banging our head on a brick wall or trying to stab jello, both of which are exercises in futility.

        Like

      • Fromscratchmom says:

        Wow, IB, that’s is the most spot-on thing I’ve read in a long while! You need to post it to your blog, please. I get so much out of all you do. Thank-you and *Internet hugs* to you.

        Like

      • linds01 says:

        To kind of tack on to what IB was saying, and maybe (partially) answer OK Rickety’s question about how the seeming contradiction of one spouse, or both spouses ,getting to say what is “enough.”…
        IB made the comment that “it’s like banging our head, or stabbing jello” when we are confronted with the hopelessness of a partner who essentially refuses to make changes in his or her behavior, and acknowledge boundaries.
        She also mentions that this is the point that we stop loving the other person. That may or may not be true- but, my thought is it doesn’t matter when it happens, or even if it ever does. You can still feel love for a person and see that there is absolutely no way you can continue in the relationship and survive.
        So that is when one person gets to say it’s enough, and that’s essentially because the relationship isn’t a mutual one. At this point it’s typically one person giving and giving, and doesn’t get any real regard in return. The person has to either give up any say in how or what happens in their life and accept disrespect, and even accept someone else’s version of reality (I’m thinking about the lack of empathy, and being told “you’re making too much of a big deal” about whatever ), or they have to be very, very firm that who they are, what they think and what they feel should be valued and should be respected. The discussion on boundaries really has to start with enforcing your own boundaries on your own behavior. What are you willing to tolerate, what do you know is good and healthy for yourself. Women tend to shrink back from their boundaries bit by bit- because “we like this person, and we want this person to like us” so we accommodate. There is nothing wrong with being pliable, and to consider other people as most women do,- that can be a really great strength, but when we continually shrink our own identity to accommodate someone elses, there will be little left of us . I picture some kind of Viking invasion, but they give you flowers after they have trampled everything, so to them, they think it’s ok.
        If there are not two well defined people in the relationship, there is an imbalance – weight gets shifted, parts get worn out earlier than they should. There is more stress.
        If there are two welled defined people : (meaning they have a healthy respect for themselves and others and they know where they end and the other person begins), then that couple can usually agree to what will work for them and their relationship.
        That’s when the couple gets to decide.
        I’m pretty sure that is why Matt stresses knowing your values and boundaries before anything serious, because- don’t you want to be in a relationship where both get to decide proactively, instead of one person having to make a reactive decision.
        There has to be mutual respect, and genuinely caring about how issues affect the other partner. So that when values and boundaries do change, that too can be discussed and respected.
        Too often that isn’t the case, because “love” is usually about getting our own needs met. It isn’t about actually loving another person, its about loving ourselves.
        We shrink back to accommodate because we want to be loved, and take without thinking, because we tend to think that is a natural right.

        Liked by 1 person

      • OKRickety says:

        I don’t think most people are at all concerned about Absolute Truth. Instead, they are selfish and short-sighted, and relativism allows them to justify acting accordingly.

        I don’t presume to believe that I, nor ANY human living or dead, has ever come close to “knowing” absolute truth.

        I posit that you have just given the reason that you trust your conscience implicitly. If you don’t have a belief system that provides a reasonable understanding of Absolute Truth, then you will be unable to know Absolute Truth and you can only trust your conscience.

        You write from your male perspective. You are more likely to understand the male perspective better than the female one, but you do not have first-hand knowledge of the perspective of other men. As I said before, speak for yourself, not for all men.

        It’s not all men’s fault.

        But you admit you have the perspective that men have the primary responsibility for most marriage failures. (Note: I agree that men commonly fail to relate perfectly and should own that and work to improve their behavior.) That perspective allows most women to see little or no fault on their part and hence no need to change to be better themselves. That is the most significant reason I do not like much of what you write.

        Like

      • Fromscratchmom says:

        Interestingly I agree with you both on different points. I think Matt explains his view on a difficult to express topic very well. I don’t think it’s hard to understand or contradicts itself. Enough is what two people decide and two people can’t jointly decide what enough is if one of them disagrees so the decision of each individual as to what us enough counts. It’s reasonably stated even if some disagree with the view. And I think it’s pragmatic and shows what really plays out in our divorce culture. Maybe quite often when someone decides it’s not enough they’ve chosen badly but it’s still what happened. And in some of those situations whether it was truly OK for that person to decide that or not doesn’t obsolete the other for the mistakes of his or her own stuff that they could have and/or should have done better.

        I agree with you both on the existence of absolute truth and with OKR on there being much more of a possibility of coming to know Truth. That’s why the Bible speaks to us to teach us God’s ways, His truths, and even His admonition to train our consciences according to His wisdom and His commands.

        Weirdly, OKR, many women so draw reason to own their own stuff from Matt’s writing. Often things look and feel that skewed to us because of the abuses we’ve suffered. No one can make the ones who won’t own their own stuff. But those who are willing tend to see that they need to in many of Matt’s entries.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. J says:

    I read blogs, I read books, I listen to friends, family, coworkers and my therapist. It’s crazy making, the frustrations we feel, the challenges we face…I haven’t heard much that’s new. It’s all the same or very similar. Sometimes I identify with the wife, sometimes the husband and sometimes both. My relationship is teetering on the edge and I want to believe that all that I read and learn from other peoples experiences will save us from divorce.

    The ideal of entering marriage after outlining our values and establishing boundaries, respecting and enforcing them….well, I wish that for the world but what percentage of couples do that? Maybe everyone out there is doing that now….. We dreamed dreams together(I thought that meant we shared the same values), we fell in love or at least we thought we did. We were young and we were doing our best. And then after 17 years we find ourselves where we never imagined we could be.

    I have greater perspective now. I can see how I could have done things differently, I can see where he could have done things differently…but we didn’t. And even as we try to now, it’s slow going.
    There are the should have, could have, would haves. But all we’ve got is right now and a whole lot to learn, from all that was. At this point it is a matter of- what’s best for the kids? what do we want? what am I willing to do? and what are you willing to do? And do these decisions support our values? Can we do this together?
    Somehow I naively thought I’d find definitive answers. I have learned a lot. I’m still ‘just’ doing my best, though my best it is better than it used to be.
    The inherent differences in men and women; I think are more than mere differences. They are different realities that we endlessly deny and take personally.
    Thanks Matt, for sharing your process with us. It is insightful and I appreciate and admire your choice to learn and grow from your experience.

    Like

  11. Donkey says:

    JM, thanks for bringing up the points you did! :)

    Hey Matt! :)
    Matt, I’m struggling to believe you. :p
    You said: “The controversial, but generally true, counter to your rhetorical question is that guys don’t react emotionally to things like this. We’d call the other guy a name we didn’t really mean and move on with whatever fun thing we had planned.”

    I definitely can believe (though I don’t operate in that way myself), that many guys (and I’m sure some women) can have this kind of …deal going on in many cases. Certainly for more casual appointments.

    But honestly: If your average buddy had invited you for dinner and he had had to go through the hassle of making plans for someone else to watch his kids (a rare luxury to have a childfree night), and he had spent two hours cooking a special dinner for you two, and you didn’t call/text to let him know you were going to be two hours late and apologize? Would your average guy friend just quickly move on from that and be happy to just grab a drink or whatever?

    If so, well, at least there’s an equal opportunity thing going on there which makes me see this kind of shitty husband behaviour in a kinder light. :)

    If not, then it’s super disrespectful and flabbergasting both that he has a higher standard for himself when it comes to friends, and that his entitlement in the marriage is so pervasive that he can’t empathize/see that his wife was owed a call and is now owed an apology, when he would do that courtesy for his friends.

    Like

  12. Well shoot, I can’t nest this comment where I want. :)

    Regarding beauty, attraction and some of the things Zombie, Drew, Scratchmom and Linds where saying about how, “This discussion on beauty and body image is important,” by far I think men appreciate the way women look far more than we appreciate ourselves or one another. That is such huge issue within our culture, within ourselves,and we tend to project that onto men, assume they are judging us and judging us negatively. I’ve really found that to be untrue. In general men are far, far more willing to over look our flaws than we are. Much of our body image issues actually come from ourselves, the media, and other women. Men tend to just find us attractive.

    Of course there are exceptions. There are some lunkheads out there and there is locker room talk. However, the vast majority of men are not perceiving women in the competitive, judgmental way we often perceive one another.

    Like

    • Fromscratchmom says:

      Well, IB, maybe just from respecting you and Zombie I can try to believe there are more men out there like that than I can credit from personal experience. I can try at least. It would be nice if there were more nice people in the world and fewer evil folks. ;)

      God gives us what we need and I’m finally recognizing that my family not speaking to me falls into that category. Took me long enough to get there!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Nebulize says:

    Wow,

    What a post. The comments are so much part of the post, it took a while to get through, but well worth it. Gives me hope for my daughter to know there are will be a man in her future who will listen to her and she can listen to. Not listening for demands, but to their wants, needs, and their “enoughs”.

    Have a good one,
    Neb

    Like

  14. Megan says:

    Well this hit close to home…

    >

    Like

  15. Jeff Strand says:

    Wow Matt, your ex sounds like a real peach! Assuming she’s able to get some sucker to wife her up, I feel sorry for the chump.

    Like

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