You’re Right, Guys—You Can’t Make Women Happy

unhappy wife

(Image/Moldova Christina)

Listen to audio version of this post here.

A common complaint among married men is feeling like their wives are always complaining about something—that they’re never happy for long and that nothing he does ever seems to be good enough for her.

I remember feeling that way for a few years before spending the final 18 months of my marriage sleeping in the guest room until she finally left for good.

I’m a pretty nice guy and most people seem to like me, and because of that, I always believed and acted as if she was the one with the problem.

I know how frustrating it feels to exchange your bachelorhood for a lifelong commitment to love someone else, only to be told over and over again that you’re doing it wrong.

I know how much it hurts to want your spouse to want you back when they clearly don’t.

I know what it feels like to want to die when they move out and choose some asshole stranger over you after a dozen years together.

Those are honest and real feelings I experienced in the months between her driving away permanently with our preschool-aged son in the backseat, and a court magistrate nullifying our marriage.

Because I hadn’t yet learned the critical life lesson that we can’t and shouldn’t always trust ourselves, I was confident that my interpretation of my marriage and wife’s choice was accurate. That, for whatever my marital shortcomings and mistakes might have been, in the final analysis she was MORE wrong for quitting on our family.

After all, I was happy being married to her. If she would have just stopped finding stuff to get pissed about, it would have been awesome.

But she was hard to please. She was ungrateful. She was the one with the problem.

It’s Not Your Fault, Guys—No One Taught Us Differently

The notion that “girls are crazy” or that women are “stuck-up bitches” or “hard to understand” or “always finding something new to complain about,” isn’t something me and my friends invented. We heard men and older boys and TV telling us these things.

Collectively, men are FAR from innocent victims in all this. But I have no doubt that MOST guys grew up believing this narrative—because situations with crying girlfriends, angry mothers, and stories from their guy friends about their experiences with girls/women seemed to reinforce these beliefs.

That girls/women are too emotional.

That they’re crazy and irrational.

Thought exercise: If you honestly believe a person you’re talking to is capable of temporary moments of insanity where they become hyper-emotional and their judgment becomes clouded to the point where they’re “wrong” or “misjudging” a situation, how do you handle a disagreement with them?

Most guys are set up from childhood to not only believe (as most everyone does) that our first-person experiences and emotional interpretations of them are a reliable guide for determining right and wrong, but many of us also believe that our girlfriends and wives are WRONG when they react emotionally to something we say or do, and during arguments.

I thought my wife frequently overreacted to something she was upset about.

I left a dirty dish by the sink, and she decided she wanted to argue about it. I thought it was irrational to elevate a dirty dish to a marriage problem.

And because I believed my wife to be irrational, I believed she was wrong.

Because I believed she was wrong, I was never really motivated to change.

She’s the one with the problem.

The Danger of Not Recognizing the Difference Between “Trying to Make Her Happy” and “Not Hurting Her”

A lot of people read my most-popular articles—either “She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink” or “An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands”—and sometimes afterward men will tell me what a stupid dumbass moron I am because of whatever I wrote.

They think I’m advocating for men to start selling out and doing whatever they can to placate their wives so she won’t want to leave. To “make her happy.” They think I wrote that all men are dicks who deserve to be left and all women are victims who never make mistakes in their marriages.

I recognize these guys right away now—the ones still wearing the blinders they inherited from childhood. The ones that taught them that women are often crazy and wrong. The ones that might have even taught them that men are somehow better than women.

They confuse my message of “Stop hurting her” with “Do whatever the little missus wants and worship her no matter what,” and it’s sad because they and their families will inevitably suffer for it, but it makes sense to me because maybe I would have had a similar reaction back when I was still blaming everything on my wife.


Shameless Self-Promotion Note About My Coaching Services

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


Let the record show that this isn’t intended to be gender-specific. This dysfunctional conversation/argument dynamic can just as easily exist in a role-reversal scenario in relationships that look differently than mine did. But this is generally the kind of relationship I see and hear about most, and the kind I lived through.

The one where husbands and wives get caught in a Man vs. Woman vortex, and slowly hurt one another repeatedly for many years until their marriage fails.

Not from any one moment. In isolation, none of these past arguments seemed like a big deal as they were happening. Certainly not marriage-enders.

None of these moments were scary enough to trip the emergency alarms. Marriages have fights! You just get over it and move on! No big deal!

Until one day the pile of No-Big-Deal arguments gets so big that the floor collapses beneath you, and everything falls apart.

Most marriages don’t end because of something big and dramatic like a gunshot or bomb explosion.

Most marriages end from bleeding out after being paper cut to death. One, even 10, paper cuts aren’t that scary. But after tens of thousands, maybe you bleed so much that you die.

The #1 Thing That Ends Relationships

I believe, when you strip away all of the bullshit and psychobabble, that one idea sums up why more than half of all relationships fail:

Men frequently demonstrate an inability or unwillingness to recognize the pain they cause their wives or girlfriends and then fail to intentionally adjust the behavior to stop hurting them.

Empathy can often be hard for people to exhibit when we don’t relate to nor understand what someone else is going through.

His wife is telling him that something he is doing HURTS her—not unlike him punching her in the face or stabbing her with a knife.

Only the smallest percentage of men would ever actually punch or stab the woman he loves. The VAST majority of men take seriously their role as “protector,” regardless of whether his wife or girlfriend needs protecting.

“I would never hurt you,” men say to their wives or girlfriends.

He says it over and over again, and believes it with all of his heart. He’s being totally serious and genuine.

This situation his wife or girlfriend is describing during this most recent silly argument is too ridiculous to be taken seriously.

She’s overreacting again. Making a federal case out of something that doesn’t matter. She’s saying this HURTS her? No way.

I don’t care when she leaves a piece of laundry on the bedroom floor, so how could it HURT her when I do it?

I don’t care whether she gives me a gift for our wedding anniversary, so how could it HURT her when I forget to do it?

I don’t care when she forgets something at the grocery store, so how could it HURT her when I do it?

I don’t care about Valentine’s Day and think it’s stupid that people make a big deal out of it, so how could it HURT her when I don’t agree to treat the day the same way she wants to?

I felt like my wife was getting lightly hit with a pillow but responding emotionally as if I was swinging a bat at her.

And I thought that was CRAZY.

I thought she was wrong.

I thought she was hard to please.

I thought she was acting like an ungrateful bitch for acting like nothing I did was good enough for her.

My wife thought I was either hurting her on purpose, or cared so little about her that I was refusing to change any of my behaviors that might help her.

When you tell someone that something within their control is HURTING you, and they not only demonstrate an unwillingness to stop, but also are telling you that you’re too dumb, too crazy, too WRONG to know what’s real and not real—what do you do?

Stay calm?

Put on a happy face and pretend everything is okay?

Decide to carry on as an intimate partner to the person who hurts you more than anyone else, and seems unwilling to stop?

Bad news, guys: You CAN’T make your wife or girlfriend happy no matter how hard you try. Not because they’re hard to please, but because all people must make peace with themselves before they can ever feel content and comfortable in their own skin. Until then, we’re all just fumbling around in the dark breaking shit.

But you CAN stop hurting her when she says “Hey. When you do that, it hurts me.” You can stop hurting her by treating her as if she’s insane for feeling hurt by something just because that same thing might not hurt you. You can stop hurting her by continuing to do whatever the thing is that she says is hurting her because you don’t respect her enough or take her seriously enough to eliminate the pain-causing behavior.

I’d like to see what happens when a sad and angry wife or girlfriend tells her husband or boyfriend about something that’s hurting her, and instead of telling her she’s dumb and crazy, he apologizes sincerely, and moves forward giving his best effort to not let that happen again.

I want to know how many of THOSE wives and girlfriends go “looking for something else to complain about.” I want to know how many of THOSE husbands and boyfriends feel disrespected and mistreated by a wife who never makes him feel like he’s good enough.

When you reduce your wife or girlfriend to a stupid, nagging bitch while she’s privately bleeding from hundreds of papercuts you’ve already forgotten about and never apologized for, maybe it makes sense for her to try a dramatic, emotional outburst to get your attention.

When you dismiss her plea for help repeatedly, maybe it makes sense for her to remove herself from the relationship in order to preserve her health and wellbeing.

And just maybe, when you take responsibility for the pain you might have accidentally caused, respect your partner enough to listen and believe her when she tells you about it, and LOVE her enough to make sure the painful thing stops happening—just maybe that’s where marital peace and healing live.

Just maybe that’s how you get to ‘Til death do us part.

I wouldn’t know, because I never actually considered that I might be wrong about her, and that I was not only capable of hurting her, but that I actually was.

I wouldn’t know, because I never actually took any responsibility during our marriage for hurting my wife. I never apologized, then followed it up with a behavioral change that would allow her to trust me again.

I wouldn’t know, because my marriage and family fell apart despite my insistence that nothing was wrong. My marriage and family fell apart long before I ever developed the humility necessary to ask the right questions.

If my wife repeatedly hurt me and every time I told her about it she blew me off and told me I could expect her to keep doing so, would I really agree to stay in the marriage?

Is it possible that the same situation can hurt one person, and not another?

If I was hurting my wife and she couldn’t trust me or feel safe with me anymore because I told her a hundred times that she was crazy and mistaken instead of believing her, wasn’t she SMART and WISE to reluctantly end our marriage?

It took many years, but the truth eventually hit me hard.

I’m not divorced because my wife was hard to please or that she felt I was never good enough for her. I’m divorced because when my wife told me something was wrong, I treated her like a second-class mental patient and all but promised to never change.

Sometimes I wonder what might have happened had I not.

Instead of wondering, maybe you can actually find out.

Isn’t she worth it? Aren’t you?

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462 thoughts on “You’re Right, Guys—You Can’t Make Women Happy

  1. Louie says:

    Awesome dialogue going on here! By far one of the longest threads of comments I’ve seen on a subject since following this blog. While I’ve seen some tempers flare and divisions begin the value of the comments is exponential for those looking for a path to relationship improvement. So my 2 cents worth…..some time ago,as I have mentioned in past posts, my beautiful Anne and I were on the ” outs” . With lots of love, forgiveness, soul searching and intense counseling we found our way back. During one of our more explosive sessions happiness was brought up. She said she wasn’t happy with our marriage,not happy with me, not happy with our future prospects. I shot back with ” I am not responsible for your happiness ” to that she responded ” but you have been participating in my un-happiness “. I was dumbstruck. Those days brought us both a vast amount of awakening and renewed awareness. Mine was in her words. If she can perceive me to be in league with the forces that cause her to be unhappy then why can’t I assist with her happiness? I mean what would it take from me? What would I have to change or start doing or begin fresh with? I had read a quote by Ralph Marsten…”Happiness is a choice – not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.” With that quote I looked at my participation in our happiness together as a journey of sorts. Choosing to be happy started the journey, encouraging Anne to view what made her happy and helping her to apply those things was how I participated. I knew that it wasn’t who I was that she was unhappy with but rather how I was that lead to that unhappiness. For her part she had her own epiphany about her role in my happiness/unhappiness. We learned new respect for each other, re established our boundaries and deal breakers, accepted each other’s views and yes influence. Blessings

    Liked by 2 people

    • gottmanfan says:


      You said:

      “ I knew that it wasn’t who I was that she was unhappy with but rather how I was that lead to that unhappiness.”

      This is key! To be able to know and communicate it’s not a rejection of WHO WE ARE but rather the roles we are playing in the RELATIONSHIP’S unhappiness.

      I’ve been thinking more about the idea of is it your job to make yourself happy or the other person happy etc.

      For me it’s easier to think of it as each partner contributes to the relationship happiness or unhappiness (using those terms loosely as commonly used).

      The adjustments we have to make will vary greatly by who we are married to. Is it my job to clean up more if it means a lot to partner A? Yes, if you are considering the RELATIONSHIP.

      If I am married to Partner B and they hate to clean and like clutter, is it my job to loosen up my standards somewhat? Yes, if you are considering the relationship.

      It’s what good parents have to do all the time. Each kid is different. There are basic things that stay the same because it is WHO you are. But ion adjust to meet the needs and styles of different kids. We don’t say it’s my extroverted kid’s problem to make herself happy because I want to stay inside all the time and read a book.

      Good parents will find a way for BOTH sides to adjust. Because it’s about the relationship. It’s our job to make the relationship strong. And that requires considering what role we need to play based on our differences as well as expecting the kid to adjust.

      Marriages, like any relationship requires that adjusting from both sides. Asking for change does not mean changing WHO you are. It is asking for changing how you show up.

      Liked by 1 person

      • gottmanfan says:

        This is exactly what I had to do with my VERY different daughter. If was our relationship that led me to discover how I was screwing up my marriage with the same mistakes.

        I could implicitly of explicitly tell my daughter it’s her job to make me happy (some practical truth there but if too much reliance on that, lots of therapy ahead).

        I could keep telling her “your happiness is your job not mine” and, of course, that is a true and important thing to learn. But that statement is incomplete.

        Because we are in relationships anc how we show up makes it easier or harder for each other to be happy. That is ALSO true.

        We are both independent and interdependent. Marriage is definitely both things.

        Why do we want to make it harder? It’s so illogical and yet that’s what we expect. We love this person yet we keep making it harder for them to be on a happy relationship.

        We expect to be able to do what we need to maximize OUR individual happiness under the mantra of “you can only make yourself happy.” The problem is we are not considering how that impacts the OTHER person.

        As Louie’s wife said “but you are participating in my un-happiness.”

        What we do will make it easier or harder for the other person to respond maturely. To lead to a better relationship.

        That was my big screwup. Most of it unconscious. I believe it is my husband’s big screwup too.

        The ways they do it differ and I don’t believe it’s always 50/50. But in most average shitty marriages BOTH people are making it harder for the spouse to respond in healthy, mature ways that lead to a happy marriage.

        Two of the best questions I found that work for me to get to a happier marriage are:

        1. What can I change to make it easier for my husband to give me what I am asking for?

        2. What is blocking me from doing that?


        • gottmanfan says:


          1. What can I change to make it easier to give my husband more of what he is asking for?

          2. What is blocking that?

          We have to make it as easy as possible for ourselves to change too.


      • fb19136 says:

        So when your wife complains almost daily about not having fresh flowers on the table or not going out to a nice dinner once a week for date night or not having cooked enough dinner for her despite her having gastrointestinal problems where she eats very little you should just apologize all the time. What about when you do so many many things for her but she doesn’t acknowledge them just acknowledges the things you fall short on. At some point you have to check yourself for being insane to take that kind of beating daily dont you think? I know you may miss your wife but doesn’t the peace and quiet feel good? And how about the feeling of actually being good enough for once in your life.


        • Matt says:

          (I don’t know whether this is for me or Louie, but if it’s for me…)

          Nothing can be all things to all people.

          Everyone’s relationships, expectations, previous experiences, personalities, life circumstances, cultural environment, resources, education level, family and social support, etc. are totally different.

          I understand that my experiences and your experiences and the experiences of some guy in Bangladesh are not going to be the same. And I’m sorry if you are an exceptional husband, and your wife is a constant source of criticism who disrespects and doesn’t appreciate you. And I’m sorry if you felt as if I think my stories about my marriage somehow apply to yours.

          I don’t think that.

          I just tell my stories, and various amounts of people can either relate to it, or they can’t. They can either pull thought exercises and life lessons from it, or they can’t.

          I want to help where I can. I certainly don’t mean to pile bullshit on you if you’re being your best self and giving your all to your marriage.

          Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts here.


        • gottmanfan says:


          The answer is not to alternate between two extremes of either

          1. Don’t stand up for yourself and just accept whatever from the other person or

          2. Wait for the other person to change to give you what you need before you change

          A THIRD option is available to learn.

          I’ve talked about it endlessly in other comments but the tldr is learning a set of skills to respond mature ways and to regulate yourself.


    • GG T says:

      Just went out last night with two married guys I haven’t seen in awhile. Both completely broken by their wives to the point where they had almost lost their individuality. Both had to facetime multiple times just to play some power and control game and prove what they were doing. FYI, women despise weak doormat men, so the more you subvert yourself and your masculine nature to “please” her the more she will subconsciously reject you.

      It is a well known fact among single guys that married women are easier to pick up for casual encounters then single women are. All you have to do to entice her is be the free stallion she really wants and not the broken and trained plow horse she has at home. So many men wonder why their wife left when they do everything they can to please her and provide stability with a 9-5, chores, listening and “feeling” for her, etc….. Dude… think about it. You are boring and stable, super predictable, and follow a set pattern. This is everything that is the opposite of exciting. Women get bored easily.

      So what is the solution, well for me its to stay single, work out, travel the world, make over 100K a year, invest in myself, and thanks to feminism, get sex if I want it without having to courtship or marry. So if you aren’t understanding, think of this, I am sitting here telling your wife about my latest international sailing trip, and after that she is going to go home where you tell her about a bunion on your foot? This isn’t rocket science why women cheat and leave good but boring men.

      I haven’t found a woman yet who hasn’t tried to turn me into a plow horse. It is in their nature to control and be completely overbearing with any man they live with. They have very little empathy for male feelings. Ladies, Male needs matter. Male opinions and emotions matter.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bill says:

        My brother was married for nine years. Found out his wife was cheating on him with whoever whenever she could. Messed up man. So messed up.


  2. gottmanfan says:

    Here is some lyrics from another song that I think sums up many men’s point of view about how impossible it seems to make your wife happy.

    “It’s Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long
    The Notorious Cherry Bombs

    She used to call me baby
    I thought she was such a lady
    But my how things have changed since times moved on

    I give her my last dollar
    Now all she’ll do is holler
    Oh my life has become a country song

    I’ve learned she can’t resist me
    By the way she always disses me
    And comes to bed at night with that cold cream on

    Sometimes I might feel frisky
    But these days its just too risky

    It’s hard to kiss the lips at night
    That chew your ass out all day long

    All day long
    It goes on and on

    If a tree fell in the forest
    And she didn’t hear it
    Would I still be wrong

    I guess I should admit it
    She ain’t never gonna quit it.

    It’s hard to kiss the lips at night
    That chew your ass out all day long.”


    • Lisa Gottman says:

      I add this to agree with Nate and Matt’s emphasis above that it’s important to point out things to change with “soft startups” and also to notice and appreciate as many postive things as you can.

      Otherwise it can feel like an endless stream of having your ass chewed out with no positivity ever in sight.


      • Lisa Gottman says:

        That is one of the things I have had to change. Everyone has their point of view that explains why they do things.

        My husband felt constantly attacked and no positivity like the song. I think this is a common male reaction.

        I could explain my reaction or why mine is “better” or more “accurate” or more “justified”.

        But really if wives want to live in a 2 person system with the husband considering our point of view valid even if he doesn’t feel it, we HAVE to model it. We have to walk the talk.

        And often wives have to do it first since they are better trained from girl culture to better know how to do it. We often just get blocked in a heteo relationship because of all the misreadings of meanings.

        Maturity is hard sigh. But if we want him to consider our point of view, we have to consider his.

        Why doesn’t my husband want to spend time discussing how improve our relationship? Well lots of answers to that but one of them is:

        It’s hard to when you feel like your ass is unfairly chewed out all the time.


  3. marilyn sims says:

    Hi Gottmanfan,

    I was re-reading some of the posts and, for some reason, some of the explanations, comments and asides were annoying me to no end. I began thinking about Carol Gilligan’s book “IN A DIFFERENT VOICE” I went to “google” it and found several reviews and also found a reference to another book titled, WOMEN’S WAY OF KNOWING”.

    Anyway,since I am still trying to think of new topics that I can suggest for Matt. do you think Gilligans book has anything to offer?. It does say boys and girls.differ in the path of their moral development. As far as the other book, I don’t know –are you familiar with it?


    • Lisa Gottman says:

      Hi Marilyn,

      I am familiar with Carol Gilligan. Terry Real references her work often. I have seen videos and read excerpts but I have not read her books.

      I think anything you can add to the comments reflecting her work would be enlightening. Some may agree or disagree but that’s the point. 😀


  4. marilyn sims says:

    Hi Matt,

    I remember your statement about feeling challenged because you felt like you were running out of things to say.

    I’ve been “casting around”, “dropping hints” hoping someone would suggest fresh fields for you to explore. NO LUCK!!!!

    I didn’t want to suggest another book to read, but I’m afraid that’s all I have to offer.

    It’s Carol Gillian’s book, “In A Different Voice”. It was written way back in the “bad old days of women’s liberation” The story I remember most vividly is the one about the test male professors drew up to test the moral development of young children (about 8 yrs old).

    The professors painted for the children the story of a poor, and yet devoted couple who were farmers. They both had lived in the same little village since they were born. They had recently survived.a poor harvest due to a long-lasting drought. If they were careful, they could feed themselves through the winter and trust that the late arriving rains would mean better times.

    Unfortunately, the wife fell very ill and her husband had to scrape together every penny they had managed to save to pay for the doctor. There was nothing left to pay for the medicine that would save the life of his wife. On entering the local pharmacy, the husband faced the heartbreaking dilemna. Should he become that which he detested — a thief and also risk jail if he decided to steal the medicine or should he let his wife die.

    According to the professors, the boys scored higher on the test because they all answered “Yes” the farmer should steal the medicine.

    The responses of the girls left the professors perplexed, to say the least. The girls began to ask questions like, “Why didn’t the farmer ask the pharmacist if he could pay him when the crops were harvested the next spring? “Wasn’t there a church in the village, wouldn’t the pastor help the couple?” “What about the neighbors, couldn’t they offer some help — like taking turns caring for the wife while the husband worked in the village?”

    According to Carol Gilligan, the girls heard ,” Should the husband STEAL the medicine?” , whereas the boys heard “SHOULD the husband steal the medicine?”

    According to Gilligan, the girls were questioning the presence or absence of “the beloved community” .

    I hope you can file this under “FOOD FOR THOUGHT”


  5. somecallmejack says:

    I have been following the discussion here but not responding. In part that’s the result of an exceptionally busy period at work and in part because the comment/response structure on this page (and the number and frequency of comments) doesn’t work very well for me. That seems like an odd thing, because I make my living applying a professional degree to the art and science of marshaling words to advance my clients’ goals. I think the arrangement and formatting on WordPress pages sort of shorts out my brain. ;-)

    A while back I responded very positively to a comment from a woman who essentially told her husband “That’s a “B” response. You’re an “A” husband, and I expect better.” I still think that’s a brilliantly effective bit of relationship jujitsu, even if (or maybe especially because) it speaks to some of the most basic parts of human psychology.

    With that in mind, I was especially disappointed when my wife and I had a conversation that was essentially the inverse of that thought. A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to work out and share some things about how I was seeing the situation with her parents (mid-90s, health problems, living in a single-family residential situation but trying to move to a senior housing community), which has been very difficult for everyone in the family. My wife basically told me that that was a very poor response, and when I responded that I was trying to explain where I was and how I was trying to improve my understanding of the situation and my responses, was told point-blank that I didn’t have what was needed to change.

    This has happened several times over the last two years, and in the past it’s been simply crushing. I could only deal with it by withdrawing and stonewalling. This time, I give myself credit for being able to breathe deeply and stay in the conversation, physically and emotionally, but it put me off my balance for three days.

    Ladies, if you want to shut your husband down quickly, just let him know how little you think of him and how unlikely you think it is that he’ll ever step up and grow up. This is not rocket science, by the way. I learned this 40+ years ago when I was working as a counselor at a summer camp for boys. You don’t need FMRIs and advanced degrees (or millions of TedTalk clicks) to understand this and make it work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gottmanfan says:


      You said:

      “I could only deal with it by withdrawing and stonewalling. This time, I give myself credit for being able to breathe deeply and stay in the conversation, physically and emotionally, but it put me off my balance for three days.”

      Amazing work! I am listening the audibook of It Takes One to Tango that you recommended. The work that you are doing is hard but is unilaterally changing the dance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • somecallmejack says:

        I love that book so much – I owe the author so much. I have probably read it more than half a dozen times in the last few months. My current two favorite guiding principles from the book:

        – Marriage is a choice. As long as I choose to be with my exasperating, lovable spouse, I need to be as all-in as I can be. (For a long time, I was somewhere between 1 and 1.5 feet out the door…)

        – Do something…do something new, something different. That injunction is so apt in my case. I realized that nothing I was doing was doing any good, so what’s the risk in doing something different. :-D

        Liked by 1 person

        • gottmanfan says:


          That book uses Ellyn Bader’s model as it’s framework. I mentioned before I spent a year doing online training with that model. So I could learn to be better differntiated.

          I definitely think it has a lot to offer.
          I like your second takeaway. I relate to that one a lot. Keep trying different things to change the system intelligently.

          I think because you are coming from a stonewalling default that I don’t share some of the takeaways may be different.

          I’m curious was your wife the “pursuer” in earlier parts of your marriage? Or was she always more avoidant as you describe her now?

          Liked by 1 person

          • somecallmejack says:

            Ellyn Bader – you mentioned training. How??? I’ve read In Quest of the Mythical Mate and Tell Me No Lies. I’d love to know more, though their developmental model comes pretty clearly through Winifred Reilly’s book.


            • gottmanfan says:


              I took a year or so of their online training for therapists. I told them I was not a therapist so I wouldn’t be listed as one to have people call me. (One poor lady did call me desperate for help, I referred her to the Atkinson place with does out of state help which Bader does not because of the laws in CA which is so frustrating).

              I often take therapist training courses to learn the information at a deeper level. Since I have to perform surgery on myself I at least want better tools.

              Anyway. The training consists of written information they email you periodically. But most of it is through listening to the calls where Ellyn (and sometimes Pete) discuss the info and use real client cases therapists bring to diagnose and detail the correct intervention. It’s the developmental model explained and practiced over and over.

              You have access to all the archives of all the calls (with a few videos) ever done. So you can pick topics that interest you.

              I found it helpful to pound the information in my head over and over. Very helpful to hear it applied.

              Their model is not ONLY differentiation as you know. Correctly getting the attachment part is important as well. And they spend a lot of time on calls talking about that too. As I said in other comments it’s chicken and egg.

              I really liked what she said about people who jump to the “practicing” stage without completing the differentiating stage. They think they are independent and healthy. Other people can think they are too. Even therapists. But they aren’t. They are just avoidant without the correct level of differentiaton to consider the partner. Healthy differntiation includes healthy attachment.

              That’s my husband’s stage and many men I think. Independence without interdependence is NOT healthy any more than staying stuck in enmeshment. That’s why is not just “only you can make yourself happy”

              The model details how we must go through each stage and come out to end up with a healthy, happy marriage which includes both independence and interdependence.

              I don’t have the link but if you go to their website on the therapists side there is probably something about the training.


              • Lisa Gottman says:

                Lots of women too who jump to the “practicing” stage of independence without completing the steps.

                As you can tell, those types of people bug the hell out of me (too emeshed I know, I know!)

                Because they often will declare, with contempt, that THEY are independent and mature while you are needy. Help yourself they declare, it’s not my job. “You can only make yourself happy!”.

                Like the people who were too important and too busy and “healthily independent” just passing the beaten person by in the Good Samaritan story.

                The Good Samaritan is the model of healthy differentiation.

                Who is my neighbor? Well certainly it should at the very least include your spouse.

                Liked by 1 person

                • gottmanfan says:

                  And let me stress Jack that I don’t think my rant applies to what you seem to mean when you say “you can only make yourself happy”.

                  There can be different meanings to that phrase based on the person saying it. I interpret you saying it as an effort to keep your role clear in your mind in dealing with an avoidant spouse. To focus on your role as being the unilateral change to the system.

                  That’s not what I’m talking about.

                  I am talking about the common use of people saying “you can only make yourself happy” to dismiss their responsibility in a relationship to consider their impact on the person.

                  To accept their influence.


                • gottmanfan says:

                  I think too that the common “you need to chill, I wish my wife could just chill out and not nag so much” is yet another version of

                  “You can only make yourself happy” wanting to jump to the independence “practicing” stage without including the differentiated healthy attachment stage.

                  Wanting her to “chill” so you don’t have to be interdependent.


                • somecallmejack says:

                  Semi-OT, more later, but…

                  I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone “correctly” (in quotation marks because I’m speaking from my own perspective) answer or explain the answer to the question “who is my neighbor”?

                  The answer has nothing to do with how you feel about Samaritans.

                  The point of the parabolic answer, IMHO, is (clearly) this:

                  Don’t ask who is your neighbor. _YOU_ are the neighbor – _be_ the neighbor.

                  And yeah, how about that spouse (who you chose!) ? ;-)


                  • gottmanfan says:

                    Another thought.

                    I think most of us need to be the neighbor (in your terms) to ourselves. Use some self compassion and not yell at ourselves constantly at how much we suck and how others don’t love/respect/care/etc us.

                    Have self compassion and self soothe so that we have more resources available to be generous to our spouses and “neighbors.”

                    I’m not sure I understand your interpretation of “don’t ask who is your neighbor, YOU are the neighbor” maybe it’s too meta philosophical for my humble straightforward mind. 😀

                    Be the change you seek? Something like that? Perhaps you could translate it into a Star Wars/Star Trek analogy so my nerd mind could understand it better? 😜

                    I trust it works for you in a helpful way
                    even if we may think about it differently. (How is that for some fancy differentiaton?)

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • somecallmejack says:

                      Yes, be the change – same concept.

                      Funny, sort of, story. Things are kinda crazy in my wife’s life right now.

                      Me/us. ;-)

                      Very elderly parents, mother more or less dying, parents moving, a real stress-fest.

                      Selling a family house owned jointly with cousins, with tons of issues.

                      The usual (often to me semi-unbelievable) stuff with her college students.

                      This morning in the kitchen she sighs and says she feels like she’s having trouble managing. (!!!) I said: you need some compassion!

                      She said: I’m trying, but I just can’t find compassion for students who are doing stuff and expecting things this outrageous. (I think: OMG, you are just totally missing this, my love…)

                      I said: no, I don’t mean that you should have compassion on *them.* I mean you should have some compassion for *yourself!* Look at all the stuff you’re trying to do, give yourself a little bit of a break. :-)

                      As you said, be a neighbor to yourself. :-)

                      Liked by 1 person

    • gottmanfan says:


      You said:

      “My wife basically told me that that was a very poor response, and when I responded that I was trying to explain where I was and how I was trying to improve my understanding of the situation and my responses, was told point-blank that I didn’t have what was needed to change.”

      It must have been so painful to hear those words.

      I know you probably know this but your wife saying that is her defense to protect herself.

      So much pain on both sides when our defenses hurt each other. Painful words, painful withdrawal.

      Liked by 1 person

      • somecallmejack says:

        “…both sides…”

        So true, and I know you know how true.

        This is a convenient place to say that my comments here over the last, I don’t know, year, maybe?, probably cast my wife in a bad light from time to time. And my journal post about being smacked while I was growing up may make people think about my parents in a bad light. None of that is true. We are all just doing the best we can with where we started. Think about what my father and his father grew up with. :-(

        Liked by 1 person

        • gottmanfan says:


          Oh I understand. I don’t think you have described your wife as a villain. We get caught in these patterns and we each are doing what we know how to do.

          Until we can figure out something better.

          And I understand about being “spanked”. I grew up like that too.

          Though my strategy was to make my dad laugh until he couldn’t spank me that hard. Or to debate the logic of my deserving a spanking.

          These too I have carried into adulthood with varying helpfulness as defenses. 😀

          Parents can love us and do the best they know how still cause problems that need to be sorted out.

          Liked by 1 person

    • gottmanfan says:


      Another thought on your wife saying to you that you “didn’t have what was needed to change.”

      That seems to me something an anxiously attached person would say not an avoidant. Stan Tatkin describes that style as “allergic to hope” which often results in harsh words to there spouses. I relate to that one big time in the past.

      I say all that to wonder if your wife is not really avoidantly attached but a “burned out pursuer” who is anxiously attached. It matters because although they can look the same the underlying mechanisms are different and require different interventions.

      Of course I could be way off. And you probably know thought about this stuff. I throw it out there to give another interpretation of WHY she would say harsh words to your efforts to help. I’ve been in this position so I was thinking your wife might be coming from this position possibly.

      Here is a Stan Tatkin article that you may find interesting if you haven’t seen it already.

      Click to access Allergic-to-Hope_Tatkin.pdf

      Liked by 1 person

      • somecallmejack says:

        Thank you…I am very familiar with that article! I think it’s really me, to a tee. And I think some of my unconstructive relationship habits are being a burned out anxious partner.

        But you raise a very interesting question. Put a couple under a lot of stress for long enough (like, say, 37 years) and lots of things happen. Behaviors change.

        I wonder if a lot of her behavior is dealing with what I wrote about above for all these years. All the hurt and anger and totally walled-off need-to-be-invulnerable stuff that I was (am) so wrapped up in. And trying (and I think succeeding) to protect our boys from that.

        Maybe moving that out into the open and confronting it will change a lot of things.


        • gottmanfan says:

          Yes, that’s what I meant. We change our patterns over time as we get burned out on the first set.

          The thing that puzzles me is that you describe defaulting to stonewalling and that is typically not associated with anxiously attached people. Who keep seeking proximity. And the “I’m a dissapointment/failure script is usually attached to the avoidant person.

          Of course, we are all unique mixtures of things. I wonder if gender scripts add avoidant features onto what is a base of anxious attachment in response to your wife’s behavior? Or do you think you exhibit anxious attachment in most of your relationships?

          We get pushed into positions depending on the stance our partners take as you know I’m sure.

          For example, I am am more likely to behave avoidantly or securely (depending on my skill level) with someone who wants a LOT of togetherness (cough, cough my daughter).

          I’m naturally pretty independent. But because my husband is MORE in need of auroregulation than I am I become comparatively anxiously attached seeking more interdependence than he prefers.

          None of which would be a problem if we had figured out how to successfully navigate these differences but we got stuck pointing fingers at each other because we didn’t understand what was going on or how to fix it.

          My husband changed patterns as did I after a while too. Common as you know like the “walk away wife syndrome” where the husband becomes activated and the wife is disengaged.

          Now that we are better, we have reverted back to the usual default to pursue/withdraw. Though we are working very hard to find healthier patterns of accepting influence from each other to stay out of the defaults.

          Liked by 1 person

          • somecallmejack says:

            I read a good explanation of what happens to chronically disappointed anxious/pursuer types…but of course I can’t find it right now. :-) It was a topic that interested me because I do find myself on both ends of that spectrum. The explanation had to do with the effects of long-term rejection (and anger; frustrated anxious/pursuer people can become very angry).

            Fear of abandonment and anger at people who mistreated you when you expected care and nurture. Blech, what a mess.


        • gottmanfan says:


          You said:

          “I wonder if a lot of her behavior is dealing with what I wrote about above for all these years. All the hurt and anger and totally walled-off need-to-be-invulnerable stuff that I was (am) so wrapped up in. And trying (and I think succeeding) to protect our boys from that.”

          Maybe moving that out into the open and confronting it will change a lot of things.”

          If your wife is anything like most women dealing with a shut down man (including me) then the answer is:

          YES to the first and YES to the second.

          Liked by 1 person

          • somecallmejack says:

            I said above that I think this was the first time in ~2.5 years that my wife has really seen me, really believed that I am serious about this.

            It’s so crazy. I spent some time with my therapist today talking about this. I keep trying to say “it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t that bad, it was what people did.” I kept applying Burns’ cognitive patches.

            He finally said “no, it was that bad. Belts maybe, metal no, metal hard enough to bend it – no no no.”

            And I just want to flip back into “toughen up.” And separately I have this instinctive drive, maybe even a need, to not believe my parents could have been…

            Walling things off and sewing things down was adaptive, though. It was survival. I said this morning that I’d realized that I have been SO angry and my wife asked what that was like. She might have been wondering if she was in any sort of danger. I said it really isn’t kinetic, in the sense that it’s not going to get any kind of behavioral expression. It’s just there. It’s an awareness.

            My therapist has been experimenting with some of the methods in the back part of Schnarch’s newish book, Brain Talk. I think we might try some of those dialogs. Not necessarily ever put that into real life with my father (my mother’s dead), but do just do them between the two of us.

            Maybe this whole work will create some safe space for, well, for me, and also for my wife. (Not physically safe, but emotionally safe.)

            Liked by 1 person

            • gottmanfan says:

              I am glad you have found a therapist who is helpful to work through the anger.

              I know it’s hard to reconcile the damage done to us by those we trusted. Hard to fully be vulnerable with that unresolved and the anger living in the basement.

              It’s hard to judge pârenting standards


              • gottmanfan says:

                Sorry the last sentence got cut off.

                It’s hard to fully judge pârenting standards by things we now (rightly) see as abusive. Many parents in the past did harmful things without understanding the harm because it was done to them or with the idea of making the kid stronger or teaching to obey authority.

                Some parents fully knew it was harmful and did it anyway. Some got pleasure at inflicting pain and control.

                I don’t know which category your parents are in. But as your therapist pointed out recognizing it DID harm you is important to acknowledge. To not brush it away because it’s hard to see your parents as abusing on you.

                From my experience anyway, it helps to acknowlege it to be able to have self compassion for yourself and the defenses we have that get in the way of loving healthy relationships with ourselves and others.


  6. somecallmejack says:

    This is a journal entry I wrote this morning. I shared it with my wife and I think that sharing this may have been the single most impactful thing that I’ve done in the 2+ years that I have been trying to remake myself and our marriage (after I gave up trying to remake her, but that’s another story).

    Rethinking Parts of My Childhood – I am reading (listening to) Terry Real’s book I Don’t Want to Talk About It. The book deals with how boys (and girls) are socialized in our culture, and male depression.

    Listening has brought things flooding back, and I am reframing some things.

    When I was young, my father would hit me (“discipline” me) with a belt. I remember the belt clearly – it was an alligator leather belt. He would take me into their bedroom and hit me with the belt.

    I was so stubborn. I would always steel myself against the belt. I didn’t want to let him know that he’d hurt me.

    Eventually the belt got “upgraded” to a shoehorn. He had a foot-long brass shoehorn, and he’d hit me with that. And I would never let him know that he had hurt me. He hit me hard enough that eventually that metal shoehorn got bent. And I would never let him know that he had hurt me.

    It’s not a sequential memory, but the next thing that came to mind was a memory of the door to my parent’s bedroom. I remember kicking that door. I kicked it so hard that one of the panels broke apart and pieces went the full length of my parent’s bedroom, which was at least 30 feet. There was so much anger in me.

    We used to laugh and joke about it, as if it was funny that he’d hit me so hard that he bent the shoehorn.

    But it wasn’t funny then, and it isn’t funny now. It isn’t funny at all.

    And the crazy thing is that even today, right now, part of me is saying: it was no big deal, it didn’t matter. Toughen up, be a man. NEVER let them know they hurt you. Stand up and take another one. Stand or die.

    And all my life, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously, I’ve been running from the history that created the setting for this stuff. Like my father’s father’s mother, who threw her children’s Christmas presents in the fire. Like what I now recognize as all the contempt and scorn that my father’s mother poured on her husband and her children. Like the telegram my father’s parents sent him from England when he was a junior at Columbia, telling him that they were cutting him off completely. I have been running from this stuff, fleeing. Thinking if I can just get enough space between me and all that stuff, I will be safe and whole and happy. It seems that trying to flee didn’t work very well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gottmanfan says:


      Such a moving journal of your memories! You learned to withdraw and steel yourself against the belt and never let him know he hurt you even when the metal got bent.

      Such strength of will! It’s a great superpower!

      But sadly focused in the wrong directions in certain ways.

      We learn things to deal with our early life that we carry with us. And often don’t even know they are causing us to do relationally harmful things in our present.

      I really feel for boys and men. That book by Terry Real opened my eyes and heart. What boys and men go through to be considered “man-enough” in their own head or in the judgement of others! It’s like emotionally being beaten with a metal shoehorn until no emotions are identifiable except “manly” ones like anger or indifference.

      I am so glad your wife was impacted by your sharing this. How you have directed that amazing strength of will to work stubbornly to reach her! Your superpower being used to repair your marriage.

      The adult man telling the little boy it’s ok to let people see your hurt now. You are an adult and it’s ok to show vulnerability. That’s what men do. You should be very, very proud of yourself.

      Great change can happen when superpowers are redirected to their true purpose instead of defenses.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Suzanne says:

    Hey Matt, I’ve just recently discovered your blog and think you nail it in terms of what a woman thinks. Love it, thank you!

    I too have a “great with the big stuff” and “shitty with the small important stuff” hubby… and while I still love him dearly, after years of all the shitty behaviours you describe, I am feeling like I have no option but to walk… This will be devastating for me, our kids and families but how long can you go on bashing your head against the same proverbial brick wall?

    My question is, do you have any advice for us girls still there, still invested in our marriages (albeit by a thread), still living in hope and how we might initiate change before it’s too late? I am trying to focus more on looking after myself, going out with girlfriends, getting more involved in my work and so on…but haven’t seen any change as yet. Help – I don’t want to end my marriage but can’t do this forever.


  8. marilyn sims says:

    To All:

    An article in the NYTimes written by Michael Ian Black (Op-Ed, Feb. 22) was titled, “The Boys Are Not All Right”. It was written in response to the shooting at the Florida high school that left 17 people dead and others seriously wounded.

    Yesterday (Mar.3) an article, “A New Model of Masculinity”, containing letters to the editor appeared in response to the original article.

    If you have a few minutes, please read it — IMHO I think you will find it not only pertinent to issues we discuss here, it might also provide “food for thought”.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Karen mata says:

    I’m hear looking for a solution on anything I can do to help my husband and I. I feel rather pathetic but I don’t know where else I can turn too. My husband and I have been together 9 years and married the last 3 years, we have 3 kids together. I’m not trying to change him.. I want us both to be happy.. He says I don’t ever want to spend time with him, but I do spend time with him, watching a show like he wants to do, I’m happy to do all little things too, and S. It feels like he plays head games when he says I don’t want to spend time with him, I do everything I can to make him feel loved. He doesn’t do anything in return. He doesn’t show any interest in me or our kids, or do anything to make me feel cared about by him. We have talked about things, and he cried one time when he hasn’t cried in 21 years, we both stated things we could do better in our marriage. But that was several months ago and its back to unhappiness for us both or rather I think because he doesn’t talk or do anything with me. I am trying I don’t know what else I can do for us both to be happy. He wants to stay married he has said, but he always always has his phone to his face playing games, never interested in me or us, or our kids or our life we all share as family. I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I think he might have depression or anxiety but idk, I have those though. He won’t do anything about it, he has said he might have depression then goes to calling me names and saying I’m just crazy and acting stupid when I say I know that can be rough, and suggest one of us make him an appointment. I really feel like shit. What do I do to help me and him? Im usually happy other than this god damn shit whole marriage!!!! I just want him to god damn talk to me once in a while! And go out to feed the damn chickens with me, or anything. Life is to short. It’s been 9 years, I want it to be forever he is perfect, but he just has no interest in me. I need to not feel invisible by him, and he needs to feel loved but what else do I do? Can’t even text him to get his fucking attention. Sorry not sorry about my language. This is me being me and I’m being open here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen mata says:

      We have had the same old talks, it gets know where. We are both unhappy and think the other doesn’t care. We try try try but we always feel alone. Or rather maybe he doesn’t try he sits with his phone in his face. I’m trying to say he tries but really I don’t see it. I see it as him being a not good husband. Idk.


      • Keri says:

        I can completely relate. My husband and I were together for over 6 years before getting married. I thought we were in it for the long haul, both wanted the same things, etc. Turns out we did NOT want the same things, he wanted to coast in life while I worked full time, took care of our kids, our home, our finances, everything. He made choices so that his presence was optional – a big thing was that he constantly had his face stuck in his phone. Talking never improved anything. He wanted to do what he wanted to do and to hell with everyone else, including me. After 5 years of marriage I was done. We are now waiting for our divorce to be finalized and while I am sad that our marriage was not meant to last, I finally feel like I can breathe again and live the life I am supposed to. I am sorry you are going through this.


    • Kid Charlemagne says:

      Karen, sorry to hear about your troubles.

      Couple quick questions. First of all, when you say “he has no interest in me”, what does that imply for the normal physical intimacy of husband and wife? Are we talking about a “dead bedroom” marriage here?

      Secondly, I notice you were “together” for six years before you married. That’s an unusually long time! Was there a reason for waiting so long? Did one party pressure the other into it? And how was your relationship during those six years? I assume it was pretty good, or you wouldn’t have married him….is that correct? And was there a big change post nuptials?


      • Karen mata says:

        Hi, what I mean by not interested is he just don’t talk to me, he doesn’t text me back, doesn’t call, doesn’t answer a call, the only time he says anything on the text is I love you too, even on his brakes he doesn’t want to talk, he works 12 hr days and his drive to and from work is an hour long. I make sure he has dinner done and ready, that the kids are clean, the house is clean, I’ll even lay his work clothes out so he can sleep extra, and I put sweats and a towel in the bathroom for when he gets home and can shower. He has nothing to do with me unless a meal isnt to his standards then I get a what is this shit? He eats dinner playing his cellphone game at the same time. Goes to bed playing it, doesn’t say goodnight to me or the kids, i don’t even tell them to say goodnight to him anymore cause he gets upset and says “I’m trying to go to fucking bed, no one cares about my sleep” we share a room with our youngest, she goes to bed and she goes right to sleep and when I bring her in he says “this is why I need my own room, im trying to sleep” he is on his cellphone. He sleeps like a rock, He wouldn’t wake up even if he was sleeping. Oh and we are physically good, we have sex everyday sometimes more than once.


        • Karen mata says:

          Eventually I gave up trying to plan a wedding, he didn’t like anything and refused to be involved in the any of the planning. I told him well whatever, I won’t live in sin anymore, you need to find someone and we will just sign the papers. So that’s what we did. His parents as witness. The guy that did was his coworker, and he didn’t charge us, I found out a couple years ago that his coworker just did it for a case of beer.


          • Karen mata says:

            Our relationship was shit, he was never into me he talked about his x 7 times a day, eventually he saw he and had closure he called it that was like exactly two months after we started dating, then two months more he cheated on me with her, he slept over there and took a shower with her, and kissed her once he says. We kept on dating. I cheated on him, to get back at him I was mad and stupid. Then he fucked my sister to get back at me. Then it was fine for a while no cheating from either of us, played house nice. And he started being mean to me, playing Xbox call of duty 16 hrs a day working part time. We eventually had a son together. I worked full time. He got a good job finally. I applied for it for him. We both agreed I should quit mine. He worked, played Xbox, slept, and worked. Baby #2 came. Same cycle. I’ve always been attention starved. He used to call me names and that was the only attention I’d get. His sisters stayed with us sometimes, they don’t deny his name calling was out of line. We moved to a new town. No more name calling. Now he drives an hour to work and back. Things have always been shitty but not like we beat each other or yell in front of the kids, he don’t yell or call me names anymore, never hits the kids either. So it could be worse.


        • Kid Charlemagne says:

          “Oh and we are physically good, we have sex everyday sometimes more than once.”

          No doubt while he’s playing Call of Duty.

          You know, I’m not one to accuse someone of being a troll or making up a story. But this is asking too much. I mean, I’m wondering about married couples who ARE very content and happy together (and physically attracted to each other) – yet how many of them “have sex everyday, sometimes more than once” after being together 9 years, with 3 kids, and with the husband spending 12 hours a day at work, plus another 2 hours in the car? Ummm, I’m guessing the number is approximately ZERO.

          Then add in all the problems you’re experiencing in your marriage. Sounds like you two would be on the cusp of separating for awhile, but instead you can’t keep your hands off each other and you do it like rabbits…even though he “has no interest” in you.

          So I won’t say you’re dishonest, because I can’t know that. Instead, I will simply say that (assuming you’re being truthful) your relationship with your husband is so bizarre and outside the realm of anything I could even imagine, that I can form no opinion on it nor give you any advice.

          I’ll simply say “Good Luck”, and leave it at that.


          • Karen mata says:

            I just think it’s important to do that. But he does ignore me. He has seriously spent $1,830 on Pokémon Go. All he does is work and phone to the face, screw, and more phone to the face.


  10. Jerry Fender says:

    Dude, she left you because you’re a cuck. My god man, pull yourself up. You sound like a loser. She fell out of love with you period. I’ll bet the guy she lets bang her now leaves his shit all over the house and she could care less.


  11. These post are SO helpful to me in my relationship, but honestly? Sometimes it gets confusing for me. Because SO MUCH about your blog is about the differences in men and women…and so for as long as I’m reading your blog, I have to pretend I’m a man. Because thats how the roles in my relationships have always been. Everytime my boyfriend gave me the old nag treatment about clothes in the bathroom, dishes in the sink….ALL I can think is “why? why do you care? Why do they interfere with your life so much? Why are you making me stop playing the game I’m playing or reading reddit or doing WHATEVER I want to do to pick up something that isn’t hurting you or hindering your life?” When in truth its doing BOTH of those things. My boyfriends a real guys guys. But he was raised in a home that was clean and he wants to live that way. Thats how he’s comfortable. I’m not UNCOMFORTABLE in cleanliness, however, I was raised in a really messy home. Thats what I’m USED to. And so, I have been willing to let him live UNCOMFORTABLY, so as to avoid something that I viewed as tedious and boring…when in actuality, I should view it as an opportunity to SHOW my partner that I love him. Instead of saying it over and over again like a broken record.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. That’s Rich says:

    What if, you made repeated promises to change, kept them only superficially, got worse and instead of keeping your promises, made threats and kept those instead, blamed her for all of it and then apologised again…and again and again…


  13. ladyinthemountains says:

    Once again, I am impressed with your growth and hope you can find love again. It is so sad that by the time so many men realize there are problems, it is over for the woman. For me, I am having a very difficult time trusting a man again or my heart. Too many paper cuts by my ex.


  14. Female male man-thing, if she lets me. says:

    How far do we need to bend over backwards looking for excuses to women’s behavior when it’s poor? Seems it will always be a mans fault no matter what the situation, this is not ‘blinders from childhood’ it is about not reacting to her poor behavior and pretending its OK to behave like that. It’s not. But you want men to just accept that behavior as part of ‘being a man’. Unfortunately the high level you want to hold men to isn’t the same level you hold women too, which is why men are always the bad guy and women are always right.


    • Matt says:

      I’m not excusing anything. I’m seeking to understand.

      In my experience, understanding WHY things happen goes a long way.

      I’ll try to state my position as clearly and simply as possible:

      I believe men (but all people, really, independent of gender) frequently day and do things that cause PAIN. This “feeling pain” component is so key here.

      You describe it as “poor behavior.” I describe it as someone in pain reacting instinctively to experiencing that pain. If I hit your hand with a hammer, I don’t expect you to calmly ask me to stop doing it.

      I expect you to have a mini freak out. It MAKES SENSE for you to freak out because I just hit you with a hammer.

      Now, let’s say every time you say “Why the shit are you hitting me with this hammer!? I thought we were friends!,” I reply with: “Why are you acting like such a little bitch right now? It’s not okay to freak out and yell about stuff like this! You’re being a lunatic. Stop making a big deal out of nothing!”

      You’re going to look me in the eye and tell me that it’s bullshit that I just hit you with the hammer. You’re going to think it’s CRAZY that I not only didn’t apologize for doing so, but denied that anything bad happened.

      How many times will that happen before you’re like “F this guy. I’m out.”?

      The reason this is so hard to talk about is because in these real-life scenarios, one person experiences a hammer, and other person experiences a pillow.

      She might say, “that hurts me, please stop.”

      She feels something legitimately painful.

      But when he lived the moment, he legitimately felt something minor. He thought he was swinging a pillow, or perhaps not swinging anything at all.

      When people are hurt, it MAKES SENSE for them to react like they’ve just been hurt.

      And what destroys marriages is when one person (unknowingly) causes pain, and then their partner tells them they’ve just been hurt, and then the other says: “You’re crazy. It’s stupid to be hurt by that. You’re wrong to feel that way.”

      One person experienced hammer.

      The other experienced harmless pillow.

      Neither of them understand that they’re literally experiencing the same event in radically different ways.

      And what I believe is that if both sides KNEW they were experiencing that moment in radically different ways, and that some things that seem harmless actually can cause major trouble and pain for others, that much fewer relationships would break.

      People don’t know this is a thing. You are one of them, it would seem.

      You see a pillow or some other harmless object. It makes sense that you think it’s harmless. It’s not your fault.

      But I’m telling you, that same “harmless object” is being experienced as a deadly weapon by someone else.

      And until you understand and believe that, you’ll never be able to fully connect with someone and earn their complete trust.


      • Mike says:

        Ok, so I recognized her ‘pain’ as you put it, and tried to get her to identify its source for me and how I might go about alleviating it and ceasing to cause it going forward, you see, i tried your approach, MOST sincerely. You know what the answer is? Get a girlfriend so I don’t have to feel guilty when I have a boyfriend, give me all the house money to spend as I see fit, no more useless spending on practical things like college for the kids, She doesn’t want to work, UNLESS she can do so in a job that lets her dress up and get attention every day, (I’m sure that will get boring after a while too!), Entertain me constantly and don’t ever rely on me to suggest doing something together, that is your job, . . .Do more housework, but when I do, she will complain that i am not doing it properly, (we have been round and round on that one), Dress better, look better, but don’t react when I resent you for doing so, . . .cook all the meals, pay all the bills, get another job, one that pays more so I have more to spend, get us a new house, bigger fancy and more of my ‘dream house’ I don’t like this one that we built 22 years ago, its boring. Make the swimming pool nicer, and the water warmer, (its heated but below 85 is too cold), and don’t forget to keep it sparkling clean. NO sex, you don’t turn me on, never did, and don’t make me feel guilty about that either. BUT don’t divorce me UNLESS you can guarantee that my life will be easier and better. When I have discussed the reality of our separating and the difficulties that would bring for both of us, her reply is “Well, I guess I will just have to be miserable then for the rest of my life” so in essence, that is NOT an option unless I can make it the Utopian answer she needs. Oh, and when I have suggested we part ways I have also added that SHE can do the explaining to our children as to WHY, and HOW I have made her so miserable, . . that one always stops her in her tracks because she knows she is completely full of shit.
        Now I know some of this is menopausal, that is pretty clear, but by your standards I am supposed to ‘look within’ for the source of our trouble and I am telling you I have and I am more convinced than ever that she is simply bat shit crazy, and frankly so are you!!!


      • AG77 says:

        Are you for real bro? You’re using an example of physical abuse and equating it to something way less harmful.

        The people you are talking about are immature and incapable of handling life. Stop telling men to be appeasers. Yes, be loving and respectful, but not trained dogs.


  15. Maken says:

    Thank you for this! It could have been written by me, I am in exactly the same place. Though I’m just in the second month in the guest bed, and have 7 year old twins. I think this realization has come too late sadly, my wife is dead set on divorce. I will hold course and keep trying to improve and build trust, but I think her love is just gone…


    • Louie says:

      Maken. Long ago I heard things like ” I’m done!” “I’ve spoken to a lawyer ” ” I love you but I’m not in love with you” ” maybe if we separated for a few years and saw other people we might get back together ” and a slew of heartbreaking insults and out loud thoughts. I needed to hear that…it was my kick in the ass. I knew that anything I tried in terms of trying to woo her back or any aggressive attempt to get her to see that I now ” got it” were going to backfire. What worked was a self improvement course of action. I proved to myself that I was the man that she and my children needed, I knew that for her to look back to me she would have to realize my transformation was real and was permanent. I needed to see that my transformation was permanent. I fought I never gave up. That’s my wish for you….fight! I speak of the fight often on this blog…I believe the combatants are your spouse, outside influences, and the foulest foe …yourself. Have courage…have strength..have wisdom sir. My prayers are with you and your family


  16. Tony says:

    I do care. I do apologize. I do give her anger validity. I do improve. Each time it’s a smaller and smaller reason why she gets equally as upset if not more than the time before. You don’t clean. You don’t clean good enough… you clean good enough but inconsistently. You clean consistently but not to enough detail, so you lied about cleaning, I can’t trust you. Maybe you’re cheating too? You ever figure that maybe… just maybe… she’s tired of you. Do we not look for reasons to sell our car? But a new one? Get new clothes or hairstyles? Is it not most of the time just a case of, “I don’t like this one so I want another one?” Only in a relationship you can’t be the one to say that, because it means you quit so instead you leave because of the problems you found? When you have problems with people you have to work with do you focus on those issues and bring them up or do you find a way to work around them? I think you’re completely right. You can always try harder because that’s what I get from this article. You can always TRY harder, but do you want to?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      I think that’s for each individual to decide.

      I can’t make a person care about something. I like to believe that married people care about their marriage (and cohesive family if there are children).

      I like to believe people philosophically want their marriages to be healthy and last til death do they part.

      But. If one of them doesn’t? Genuinely?

      I guess it’s over. Tragically. Sometimes shamefully, I suppose. But over.

      Marriage only works when two people actually want to be married.

      It’s a travesty how many people end up married that don’t genuinely want to be.

      Liked by 1 person

      • somecallmejack says:

        “It’s a travesty how many people end up married that don’t genuinely want to be.”

        Not disputing that – but wondering what the data is? That’s sort of scary.

        I would have thought it was more a skills and expectation deficit, but I’m just making that up in my head. :-\


  17. JT McMahon says:

    Great thoughts (actually, how I was raised) – and tell you what:
    you run this approach the next time and see what happens.

    It’s actually evolutionary biopsychology that has set this up. Both sexes.
    And once understood, you can stop whipping yourself.

    But since you’ve now got it all figured out properly why, – seems a flight test would be in order.

    Best of luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. mIke says:

    What a load of horseshit!
    I have been married to an ‘unhappy wife’ for 25 years.
    I have tried every conceivable approach to improve the situation, and I mean EVERYTHING. I even offered to leave, I let her have an intimate ‘friend’, (who of course disappointed her and who did she blame?), The thing is we have a beautiful family, three incredible kids, young adults who are happy well adjusted and successful. There was always too much at stake for me to let it all go. We live comfortably, not wealthy at all, but we get the bills paid, I take her to dinner at least once a week. The problem? she never loved me, she told em so, she married me because everybody else loved me, (figure that one out!). She is completely self centered and absorbed, and completely unaware of it. Every conversation bores her, unless it is about her. NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING is ever her fault. I took a vow before God and have taken it very seriously, but I am at my wits end. This Morning, as I WAS fixing her hair before she went off to work, she was complaining about her ‘hot flashes’ and wondering aloud if the doctor could give her something. I made the mistake of saying, “maybe you could get something for your moods”. She replied she wasn’t moody, to which I clarified for her, are you kidding, one minute your happy as a clam and th enext you take my head off for absolutely nothing. Her reply? “well that is because I am unhappy” . . . What the hell kind of an answer is that? AND she is saying this after she asked me to help with her hair and I am in the process of doing so, . . . . bottom line, she is not right in the head and that is just a simple fact. I KNOW that leaving me for someone else will only allow her to take her problems somewhere else, and as a responsible, committed MAN, I continue to try every way I can to help her, that is what a good MAN does, but your suggestion that the problem is with ‘men’ is the silliest thing I have EVER read, but you keep telling yourself that if it helps yo sleep at night, sheesh!


  19. Charlotte says:

    Thank you. My marriage ended for exactly this reason. He couldnt be stable: always changing jobs, always trading cars, always wanting more expensive tools and equipment, never noticing how his chasing after these things meant we couldn’t have normalcy. We couldn’t buy a house, we couldn’t take a vacation, etc.

    Whenever I tried to talk about ir he got defensive and oretended i was a psycho bitch. Eventually i got so sick of loving someone who treated me that way that my love stopped. He was shocked when i said my love was gone. He was angry and felt victimized. He still doesnt understand that he caused this with ignoring my concerns for 10 years and acting like i waa a bitch when i tried to address it.


  20. James says:

    Quit blaming yourself. It’s easy to generalize a whole gender so realize I’m not doing this by saying some women, I mean some women. If all. Some women will never be satisfied and that’s all there is too it. My relationship is in deep crap as we speak. Literally I can do no right. Women come up with all these reasons why they resent their husband. Don’t help enough with the kids, don’t help enough around the house, work too much etc. In all honesty I could see some resentment coming out of this if both spouses work about an equal amount of time and one spouse(which yes usually is the woman) is forced into becoming a caretaker. I can also tell you picking up slack is no guarantee, my relationship is quite the opposite. I work about 10-15 more hours a week than my wife, I’m home earlier than her so I default to cooking dinner. My wife comes home to dinner cooked literally every day. I don’t do a lot of chores during the week as I work more than 8 hrs a day already cook dinner. Am involved in bringing my kids to activities sometimes I’m doing it solely. Do note she doesn’t either. Therefore when the weekend roles around I’m doing 5 plus loads of laundry, vacuuming, doing dishes, plus I’m mr. fix it. Garbage is alway almost my responsibility.

    So what does my wife do? Good question sleeps 4 more hours than me every night. Works significantly less than me. Maybe one load of dishes during the week to get to the weekend. So moral of the story you know who resents who in this relationship? Yup you guessed it my wife still resents me. You can be a very giving man to these type of woman and she’ll find a way to raise the expectation bar so you can never meet it. Therefore in her eyes I’m still a failure bad husband etc. something is always wrong.

    So what now stop hurting her? Good luck see the become Mr. perfect on the other stuff you can become Mr. perfect on the being open, apologetic, not hurting her then she’ll create some other thing that hurts her such as you let the barometer pressure reach a certain level and this somehow is your fault. Sounds like I’m being facetious but this is true. I’m walking on egg shells hardcore in our relationship and always will be no matter what. I’ve even gone to couples apologize for every and any little thing that could basically hurt her. Basically I’m apologizing for something I might have done that mad her become viciously mad. I get things held against me pre relationship. In couples my wife openly admits she’s not sorry for how she treats me because somehow I’m the one that deserves to be treated like crap for not meeting her whatever expectations, like being able to change the barometer pressure. She’s been told by multiple professionals that she needs realistic expectations etc.

    So what I’m saying is quit blaming yourself, maybe you didn’t listen. I try to listen but if my wife won’t speak up how can you listen. My wife has gone into counseling saying that I treat her too good, and she wouldn’t change nothing about me. Yet somehow I can’t do no right at the same time.

    I’m sorry this isn’t a generalization towards all woman, but seriously if you provide for your wife so well she wouldn’t habe to work, you listen, you apologize when you’re wrong, you chip in on chores equally. You try to have intimacy with her, not just sexual in nature, and the list goes on it was never you it was your ex wife. You were in a relationship with someone that didn’t love you and never had a chance. I’m sorry this happened to you. I have another story briefly one of my wife’s friends who’s a serial dater and can’t find no one good enough for her let mr. perfect go once and now is trying to find someone as good. I hope women like these that destroy families basically because they’re users and manipulators get what’s coming to them yet at the same time they won’t as the laws tend to favor and protect the women.

    Again some woman just can’t be pleased and that’s all there is to it. Again they’ll create things as you hurt them whatever to justify their hurt. I could tell you stories too personal to tell about my wife. Basically she’ll create an issue that I have no involvement in so she can run around and have a drama to tell about how I hurt her and all her friends pity her and think I’m an D.

    You know if you’re the type of man that pays attention to your wife, listens to her, is loving etc. If you didn’t then you also know it. But I feel like you’re blaming yourself for something that you could’ve never had control of anyways. They always say it takes two to tango but honestly try having a relationship with a high conflict, unrealistic person and you’ll understand this phrase is BS.


  21. Vic says:

    I’m 59 been married 33 year I’m a general manager for a automotive group locally for 35 year. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer testicular cancer I have been going for my treat meant for the last three years. Retired at 57 because of the stress I was under I ended up having a heart attack at work strictly stress. I work long hours anywhere from 12 to 14 hours a day six days a week we live in a day beautiful 4500 square-foot home my wife owns more jewelry then the local jewelry store she has driven the most beautiful and Expensive cars in the world We have taken exotic vacations throughout the world. I have three daughters I have spoiled all three have driven exotic cars as well I have payed there education as well over $350,000. I no longer bring home the money that I did two years ago I am on Social Security which pays me $2800 a month we have gone through our savings. And part of our 401(k) We had a beautiful ranch that is sold because I need the fund for medical experience
    I find my self being pushed asides I feel that I have lost respect in my home, the person that was going to take care of me, just told me that I can do anything for her anymore. I will be living with my parents at the age of 60.. what the fuck happen I know that I am not sexually active and do really want to interact much. I think it time to go to the next life😥
    I do think I did my best….


  22. Shane Goguen says:

    I listened to my wife and really picked up the slack. She now gets angry because she feels guilty when I do it.. wtf


    • Louie says:

      Definitely feels like you can’t win no matter what. Very frustrating! What I learned numerous arguments and some peaceful conversations is that deep inside she wanted to know where the effort was before things got off the rails. Trust me women are not all built that way and I have been trying to get a better understanding for nearly 36 years of marriage of how/What makes my wife tick. Damned if you do damned if you don’t is not acceptable to me so ill push harder for de’tante. I’m thinking long term consistency and a willingness by both of us to get better at communication (I know sounds cliche’) works for the long haul. But I feel your pain B.T.D.T.! Good luck


  23. Sam says:

    You did nothing wrong. Your ex wife had a cheater mentality and used her anger at you as justification. All of your fixes that you think you should have done would have failed. It is only in your mind that these things would have made all the difference. Think hard about that. Look back and imagine being the perfect guy, appologizing and not doing anything to upset her. It would not have worked. Nothing would have worked. It is only in your fantasy that you could have just been better for her so she would be happy and love you back.


  24. Greg S says:


    My wife and I have been married for nine years. Its seems like the marriage has been on a slow, downward spiral for almost that time. We were together for about 3 years before we were married, and the first time she mentioned divorce was on our Honeymoon! Since then shes talked about it almost on a monthly basis…(i know how bad that sounds but there has been plenty of good inbetween now and then).

    Accusations are flung my way every day. I can catogorize them into three different classes:
    1. Something I do wrong
    2. Something I did wrong YEARS ago
    3. Something I had nothing to do with.
    I never know which I will get, and it used to upset me each and every time and we would fight. I do so much wrong in her eyes that it is constant nagging.

    I, on the other hand, cannot raise one single complaint or grievance against her because it will turn into a MAJOR fight, she will kick me out (then tell my family I abandoned her). But over the years I have gotten to the point that I don’t argue about anything any more. I apologize and move on, whether the accusations are valid, invalid or dont apply any more. And I usually do not argue or point out anything that I do not like in the marriage or her behavior.

    Still today though, once in a while I get so pissed about something that she just wont let go that i argue back, or plead my case. This typically ends up in a major fight. If I bring up the slightest thing in our marriage that I am unhappy with, she will scream, cry, call me every name in the book and remind me of EVERYTHING I have ever done wrong in the relationship. Followed by kicking me out.

    Finally one day, Im looking at the woman I loved so much 12 years ago, we were young and I would have done anything for her, she would have done anything for me. I see her and I want her to be happy. I ask her if she wants to split up, have a divorce and that I just want her to be happy. I end up on the couch for a month, in marriage therapy and meanwhile she tells all of my family I want a divorce! (She must have forgotten that she told me the same thing over 100 times).

    She goes to the 1 on 1 counceling and comes back to tell me how bad I am, and (in my own words) that shes finally figured out why Im so messed up.

    I’ve been sharing more with her about what makes me feel loved and what bothers me and without skipping a beat she uses these things now as weapons against me.

    Just last week I took her to Hawaii, as I had a business trip. (We are from NJ and this is the furthest weve ever been away from home). I met with my clients for several hours two days and also had a few dinner meetings where she came with us. I planned several activities for us to attend and she did the same. The whole entire time we were there she bitched and moaned about everything I had planned for her and me to do. she was in such a bad mood on the way home, I dont expect much because I was happy to take her with me but the complaining and griping has just thrown me over the edge. This is the last straw for me. I want to throw out all the souveniers we picked up because I dont even want to remember that trip when I see this stuff….

    I am livid and Im trying hard not to make irrational desicions right now. I cant imagine the pain a divorce will bring to my 8 and 6 year old boys, who we both love dearly. And our families. Both of our families love and adore each of us. Its getting harder and harder to focus on the good things……And of course Im sharing only the worst of it because theres been so many good things over the years.. I cant focus on work and I didnt even go yesterday – barely got off the couch….

    At this point I’m only trying to weigh which decision will bring the least amount of pain to us and our families…….I dont know which is more painful- a divorce or continuing to live with this. I REALLY want to consider my sons, and my wife when it comes to “making the least painful decision”


  25. Steven Tsokada says:

    I hear you, but I am one of those that do make the effort to fix everything that hurts her, she finds something new. Before we married I was more honest about who I was than she was, I was surprised to learn she was a lot different, but I adapted to her, still love her. She knew exactly who I am and tries to change me to something different. Every attempt I actually make and not making the same mistakes, she finds new ones. Where does it end? When do you get to that point you just dont care anymore? Is that what she is looking for?


  26. Colin says:

    No offence but if you truly read into what your saying, you honestly do and only do make this one sided and more than instill the mind state that men are the shit takers and we should not speak out about it as its unhealthy for our wives minds. But what about ours I dont claim to be the best talker or the most emotionally connected male on the planet but I do try.

    I feel that psychology has more than already proven the women in the last 30 years are not truly connected themselves and tend to blame the male in the relationship for most of these problems instead of taking responsibility. Honestly saying hey I shouldn’t have reacted the way about that dish on the counter I should have asked you to move it isnt enough and its more of a problem to act like a small apology fixes these things.

    Has anyone not realized the pure shortage of mental health programs for men the lack of help for men the huge rising rate of suicide in men that in the last 50 years has literally quadrupled as women’s have been declining due to the mind state of men going against sorry to say it 100s of thousands of years of our brains evolution let alone our social evolution as men and women.

    Men are not better than women, that statement I read You stated that men usually feel superior to women in our keep it together mind frame and I dont think thats true. I think you have sold books based on false information and sadly the view of men. we appreciate a strong woman just like a real woman will appreciate a strong man both emotionally and physically just simple fact supported by hundreds of years of psychological research and study.

    I do believe tho that we need to grow together in todays world and accept that marriage usually fails because of a lack on “both sides” of failing to recognize a problem and change it. We typically blame the other partner male or female as no human likes to admit responsibility or take liability for there end of a problem.
    I’m not crashing your article but as i said its not just men pointing fingers and its defiantly not that men only need to change our way of thinking this is a coin with 2 side my friend.


  27. […] another blog post, two years later, he writes about how it’s not the big things, but the endless number of papercuts that wear down a relationship. And ever since I read that, that metaphor stuck with me. It follows […]


  28. satou says:

    “sometimes afterward men will tell me what a stupid dumbass moron I am because of whatever I wrote”

    Have you considered that perhaps you ARE a stupid dumbass moron?

    You say your wife would argue with you about a dirty dish you left by the sink, enough that it created problems for your marriage. You then argue that you should stop hurting women if you want the marriage to work.

    If you washed the dish, she would find a small speck on the countertop to argue about.

    If you washed the countertop so that it was spotless, she would complain about the temperature of the room. If you changed the thermostat, she would complain about the temperature again. Oh, 72 degrees was too cold before, but now it’s too hot.

    You sound like someone who doesn’t want to accept reality and refuses to learn from experience, and for that I can’t continue reading anything you write.


  29. That Is Fact says:

    Women today unfortunately aren’t like the old days at all, that is for sure.


  30. Tim whocares says:

    You are such a pussy. That’s right, you minimize me. You laugh at me. Everything you spew is about men changing women.

    IT STILL WON’T MATTER. When women check out they don’t come back until they are ready and nothing any man does matters worth a shit. More to the point, none of the nonsense you talked about is really even the issue. This is bullshit. Women only care about external validation from friends and those who are not obligated to find them important. Facts man


    • Matt says:

      Oh. So you’re the angry one who emailed me. Sorry that your relationship sucks and that you’re mad at me about it. Hope things get better soon. If you’re this cool with everyone, I’m sure the ladies will be flocking.


  31. Joe Bagadonuts says:

    She was just another crazy a$$ b!tch. There are a million and a half of them out there. You’re better off without her.

    Stop trying to make excuses for her over and over again with all of these blogs.

    All of those things that you “provided for her that she never said thank you for that you didn’t expect a thank you for,” she should have thanked you for. Over and over again

    And one the way she could have said thank you for that is not picking fights over dirty dishes left next to the sink and stupid piddly little a$$ shite like that.

    Move on, and go find a second wife that appreciates a man who is a man…

    As I said, you are better off without her. Now move on


  32. Zee says:

    What if u did appolgise Everytime but she kept bringing up 10 years old things in every argument. Or she that you behaved with cruelty but never told you how?


    • Matt says:

      If my wife had a burn wound hiding under her shirt sleeve, and I hit it by accident, and apologized, I would hope that she would forgive me and continue to trust me that I love her and would never want her to hurt.


      If I accidentally hit her burn wound multiple times per day, or almost every day, for months, or for years, I would understand why saying “I’m sorry” wouldn’t feel particularly sincere or meaningful.

      No matter how well-intentioned we are, and no matter how many of the pains our spouse or partners feel are accidents, they will STILL lose trust in us if they continue to feel hurt by things we do, or don’t do.

      It’s not enough to be sorry. It’s not enough to love.

      We must behave in ways that do not mathematically result in another person feeling pain. And sometimes, no matter how good we think we are, or how much we don’t want to hurt people, the sum of our actions (perhaps our habits) results in other people being hurt.

      That doesn’t make us bad. It simply makes us a threat to cause pain. It simply makes us someone that the hurt person will eventually decide to stop trusting, stop feeling safe with, and stop wanting to voluntarily be with.

      We have a choice.

      Do whatever we want, and let people decide for themselves whether they want to be with us.


      Figure out what hurts and/or feels good to other people, and make choices accordingly, if we want them to be part of our lives.

      It’s not more complicated than that.

      10-year-old wounds still hurt. Especially if they’re still happening today, or were never acknowledged or apologized for.

      We can be sorry. But if we’re a threat to do the same thing tomorrow and next week and next month, then that person will still not trust us, and still feel hurt by the idea that we haven’t adjusted our behavior to protect them from harm.

      Love is a choice.


  33. Max Roswell says:

    No man I changed everything and my wife finds new things to complain about. If it’s not 1 thing it’s another. I stopped growing marijuana and now things got major out of hand. Then I stopped smoking marijuana and things got worse. Now I can’t see my kids and I lost our business we built because of all this. She’s a controlling one and I got a job to try and make her happy but still that’s not good enough. Women are I reasonable, lie, keep secrets, girl code she probably started cheating because this is not normal for my wife and I. But I’m not addicted to weed anymore and I can definitely find a more attractive and loving woman. My wife acts like a man but has no idea what it’s like to be a man or deal with racism. She’s a girl so everyone loves her and takes her side while I navigate strifes. I worked every day while she cannot take care of the kids or cook or clean. My house went to garbage when I got a job because I work long hours now where as before I owned a business with her I would only work 4 hrs a day 3 days a week so I can cook and clean and take care of the kids man my wife is worthless I’m over it


  34. Meow Meow says:

    Honestly? What garbage
    The wife was suffering from lots of paper cuts?
    How many paper cuts do men suffer from when they are sexually rejected? Much more impactful than a “left the shirt in the wrong place”
    How many times are you tired and want to relax and someone can’t stand to see you enjoying yourself so they make up shit for you to do or start an argument?
    So women are crazy, anyone severely connected to their emotions is not to be trusted, period.
    They need copious amounts of rejection and of a shaky floor to feel like they must actually do something for the marriage to work.
    How many women get married and start piling on weight like pigs?
    Mine after committing to a pricey mortgage was coming on with the conversation that she wanted to not work anymore, like I don’t spend equally or more time with the kids and cook.
    I sometimes wish I was gay, at least men you can understand and you would tell another guy to go f himself when the stupid ideas come to the fore


  35. Roger says:

    Isn’t possible for there to be mean, nasty, narcissistic women no matter what you do?


  36. Dexter Morgan says:

    Wow really!


  37. AG77 says:

    Sigh, more beta advice. You know, sometimes a person just cannot be pleased. And yes, if they are mad about something insignificant, you should talk, but not just buckle to keep the peace. I guarantee you that if you are with a woman who gets so mad about little things, it doesn’t matter how much you “show” you care because they will find another thing to get upset at. Frankly I find these kind of articles insulting to women. Why it’s not their fault they fly off the handle. If you just performed like a well trained robit, your wife would be just peachy. Look dude, women are capable of controlling their emotions and it is up to them to decide how to handle things.

    Example: My wife was upset at me for doing the laundry wrong. I forgot/missed a tissue in a pocket and you can guess what happened to the laundry. Now instead of saying “hey you messed up and I don’t have time to fix this” she instead blows up and sends angry texts. Yes I’m not perfect and I’ve messed up several times, but I’ve tried to get better and I’m trying to help her so she doesn’t have so much on her plate.

    In an effort to keep a disaster from happening again, I decided I’ll turn some of the pants and other clothes inside out to be safe from a missed tissue or lint. What do I get? “I’ve been trying to hold back tears because I have to fix all these clothes.” Yet again, a simple can you help would’ve been ok. Nope, you get a detonation. I’m done with laundry for the foreseeable future. She want’s to throw a tantrum, then she can have at it.

    There are just some people who will be mad no matter what you do. Instead of trying to appreciate the help and understand that the person doing the help is sincerely trying, they go off because it’s “not the right way.”

    Here’s the problem, if you think that your spouse is trying to hurt you, no matter of Mr. Nice Guy is going to cut it. She already assumes you’re a jerk and has a low opinion of you. My wife will hang up dress pants in a way that leaves a crease. I’ve asked her to not do that for years. Do I think she’s trying to hurt me? Do I blow up? No, I simple remind her not to do that and keep the comments about how annoyed I am to myself. She’s trying to help and do something for me.


  38. Dave says:

    True. My wife’s in laws stayed with us for two months and I was kind and gracious with them. They are fantastic people and I miss them. But they night after they left my wife was operating a loud machine so I went to iron my shirts in another room. She then enters the room and says if I don’t want to be with her then maybe we should divorce. What??!!! This crappy treatment came after I treated her family like royalty.

    Some women are simply impossible to deal with. Their expectations have been lifted sky high due to the inane rom-coms, Sex and the City, Facebook, and other garbage they have devoured. When the man cannot provide her with these idealized versions of life then he is at fault, not her for allowing herself to be brainwashed by trash.

    Maybe we can piece this back together. It’s up to her. When she treats me with respect and acts sane we do pretty well. When she tries to treat me like dirt, which is becoming more frequent, both of us are miserable. I’m no psychologist, I’m just a decent man trying my best to be a good husband. My wife then takes a giant dump all over it. There are no suggestions from her I can take to heart, just childish pouting and antagonism from her. If other men are in a similar boat don’t blame yourselves. Some women are just narcissistic whackjobs best left alone.


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