An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands

man-shrugging-shoulders

I was a shitty husband.

And it’s not because I’m a massive jerk, or abusive, or particularly difficult to get along with.

I was a shitty husband because I didn’t respect my wife’s thoughts and feelings about things I mistakenly believed didn’t matter. When two people disagree, both think they’re right. Which makes the other person wrong.

But sometimes there is no “right.” Sometimes, there is no “wrong.”

You liked the movie. She didn’t. She likes salsa dancing. You don’t. Nobody is right or wrong. But we treat one another like that’s the case. That what I think and believe and feel is right. Therefore, you must be wrong.

I was a shitty husband because I promised her in front of hundreds of people we knew that I would love and honor her all the days of my life. In good times, and in bad. And then I didn’t do that. I didn’t do it in the bad times because I didn’t “feel” like it. Because it wasn’t easy or convenient.

For years, I put my wants and needs ahead of her’s. Not for the “big things,” which is all I thought mattered. I put me first in all the “little things.” Disagreements about housework, passively leaving her to manage our schedules, and the logistics of caring for our son.

She tried to talk to me about it. But I didn’t listen.

I thought she was nagging. Complaining. Being needy. Being a bitch.

I thought because I was a nice person, and that I’d made sacrifices for her, that I was a good husband. I thought because I didn’t do a bunch of bad things some guys do that I was a good husband. I didn’t realize it until much too late: Good men can be bad husbands. Just like good men can be bad at designing bridges, or bad at water-color painting, or bad at water skiing.

We don’t want to hear bad things being said about us. Especially from those we believe we sacrifice daily for. So when we do, we don’t listen. We justify our behavior. Rationalize it. Get defensive. And angry.

We disagree with them, and tell them they’re wrong. Sometimes we tell them they’re crazy. Sometimes we raise our voices or call them a name.

Divorce is the great social crisis of our time, and not enough people are talking about it. Two good, smart, nice people marry voluntarily, and deny it though they will, it’s a coin toss as to whether they’ll be married a decade later.

I tell my story so that maybe other people won’t get divorced like me.

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The Posts

Vol. 1

I was in a lot of pain and blaming my ex-wife in the immediate aftermath of her leaving. Vol. 1 represented the first time I began learning to accept responsibility for my very large role in destroying the marriage.

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1

Vol. 2

I got into a really preachy phase with my writing. I’m sure it was annoying because clearly I’m an asshole who doesn’t know anything. But my heart was in the right place.

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 2

Vol. 3

I was at a party and I had a tiny crush on the married birthday girl, and I watched her husband ignore her all night (and already knew him to be a less-than-ideal partner). The whole scene made me sad because it reminded me of how I used to treat my ex-wife.

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 3

Vol. 4

There’s a really scary phase during a couple’s slow descent to divorce that many husbands don’t realize is scary. When a wife finally snaps and decides to leave or have an affair, her personality often transitions from sad and angry to resigned and apathetic. An observant husband will notice the change immediately. But before she snaps, there’s a period of time in which she’s trying to save your marriage. She wants to be married to you, to love you, and to be together for your children. And in her last-ditch effort to reach you, you often dig in your heels in “manly” defiance. “Stop trying to change me!” If you love winning fights and getting your way more than you love your wife, then you probably deserve what’s about to happen.

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 4

Vol. 5

Yes, guys. You have to help around the house. Not sure if you checked the calendar lately, but it’s not 1960 anymore. No matter how insane you think it sounds, she WILL divorce you for leaving a dish by the sink.

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5

Vol. 6

You can destroy your marriage by trying to be “nice.” By letting your spouse make all the decisions. You think it’s a nice gesture, letting the other person have their way. But really? You’re killing them, their respect and desire for you, and it’s all going to break one day. All because you don’t want to be responsible for making plans two weekends from now or scheduling the kids’ dentist appointments or planning family meals. Maybe it’s time to rethink your priorities.

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 6

Vol. 7

Men are generally very competitive creatures. I know I am. But despite that, men AREN’T competitive about marriage. And by that, I mean, they tend to not work hard to be the best husband and father imaginable as a measure of pride. They strive for greatness at work, or in a particular organization or social club or hobby. But men don’t seem to think being the best at marriage is a worthwhile endeavor. Considering it’s one of the most-important things we do in this life, and we have such a high failure rate, I wonder why that is.

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 7

Vol. 8

What starts at an early age on playgrounds, turns into a relationship killer in adulthood. Men using jokes, sarcasm and mockery to belittle their wives and girlfriends both privately and publicly. It may not be intended to be cruel. It often isn’t. But the recipient of those “jokes” often feels as if it’s cruel. Beat her down long enough, and only one of two things can happen: She’ll leave you for someone who respects her, or you’ll break her and she won’t be the person you married anymore. Maybe she already isn’t.

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 8

Vol. 9

Guys like “Me”-time. Maybe everyone does. But a lot of time when husbands and fathers do it, it looks and feels to his wife and children like he isn’t interested in them or that he’d rather spend time alone than with his family. When guys get married young, they often think it’s going to be just like having a permanent girlfriend. That marriage is basically just promising to never have sex with any other women. Sometimes, no one teaches us that marriage isn’t about us. That it’s actually for the person we’re marrying. No one teaches us that the key to sustaining love and happiness isn’t taking. It’s giving.

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 9

Vol. 10

Wives sometimes turn into someone else throughout the course of their marriages. Men don’t like it because the person they married is gone. Women don’t like it because they lose the fun, innocent version of themselves they remember from their youth. Husbands lose their wives’ trust. Not over the big things, most of the time. Over the little things. Men won’t change, so their wives MUST. Resentment builds. And much of the time, everything breaks.

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 10

Vol. 11

I think married couples who are sad and angry about their lives and relationships make the mistake of trying to “fix the marriage.” They spend all their time trying to figure out how “we” can do things different, and how the other person can make changes to make life better. But I think people need to work on themselves to fix the marriage. To look inside themselves and figure out how they can be their best self. Two people working to be the best versions of themselves have a great chance to succeed. Two people expecting the other to change on their behalf seem doomed to a life of sadness and frustration.

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 11

Vol. 12

Cheating is never okay. We don’t want to do it. We don’t want it to happen to us. Almost everyone agrees it’s a horrible, destructive thing. Yet, it keeps happening over and over again. Even with a very decent spouse at home. Even with children and a seemingly happy life. I think it’s important for people to understand WHY this happens, so they can be more self-aware, and so that spouses can work to fill the voids people try to fill with extramarital affairs.

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 12

Vol. 13

Maybe somewhere, there’s an example of pornography and masturbation radically improving marriages and relationships. Anything’s possible. But what often happens while couples are slowly drifting apart is that husbands turn to porn and masturbation for sexual relief. Some people don’t think it’s a big deal. I think I’ve seen and heard enough evidence to convince me that heavy porn consumption and masturbation, especially if it’s being hidden as part of a secret life, can negatively affect marriage, and not always in ways people think it will.

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 13

Vol. 14

Of the many things I didn’t do that might have resulted in a successful marriage, my failure to mindfully plan fun activities and make tiny time investments to communicate how much I valued my wife and our marriage is probably the most egregious. There’s no excuse that doesn’t ultimately end with: Thousands of times I could have made a slightly different choice to focus on her and us, instead of me and whatever else. And I didn’t. Of all the things that could have saved the marriage, this would have been the easiest to do differently. In some respects, that makes this my greatest relationship failure.

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 14

I Provide Relationship Coaching and Divorce Support Coaching Now

I’ve always liked that I wasn’t a thought leader or subject matter expert about marriage, divorce, or anything in the family therapy realm. After several years of writing here, I’ve heard from hundreds, maybe thousands of people who believed THAT was my secret to connecting with people. I am NOT a counselor or therapist, and I’ll never pretend to be.

What I am is someone who can sometimes bridge the divide between two people struggling to connect with or communicate effectively with their spouse or romantic partner.

If you are searching for a better way to connect, or as if the end of your relationship is inevitable and you are seeking a support network, maybe I can help. To learn more, you can email me at MBTTTR@gmail.com with “Coaching Request” (or whatever) in the subject line, or you can visit the Relationship Coaching & Divorce Support page here.

What Qualifies Me for the Job?

Nothing.

But I have a funny little brain and it works like this: There is nothing exceptional about me. Not a thing.

I am the averageiest average person alive.

I possess average intelligence, average physicality and average skills in many facets of life. I am average looking. I earn an average income. I live in an average house in an average town. I had an average upbringing. And now I’m just your average divorced dad stumbling through adulthood.

You know what I think that means?

I think it means A LOT of people can relate to me. I think it means that the mistakes I made and the things I think and feel are JUST LIKE all of the mistakes you make and things you think and feel.

And I’m willing to write it down.

And I have absolutely no idea why that helps people. But I know that it does. It helps people.

Shitty Husbands Abound

You know a shitty husband.

You are one, or you are married to one, or you were raised by one, or you’re friends with one.

Shitty husbands ARE NOT always bad people. Sometimes they are very good people who are simply not very good at being married.

You don’t have to be abusive or neglectful or adulterous or deceitful to be a shitty husband. You need only put your wants ahead of your spouse’s.

You do that enough times?

All while not listening to her pleas for help? Her cries for attention? Her desire for emotional and intimate connection?

She’s going to start having sex with someone else and leave you, or she’s going to WANT to, which is equally bad. It’s true.

These An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands posts are consistently among my most popular posts.

I like some of them more than others because some are poorly written. But what I’ve heard time and time again from frustrated wives and ex-wives (and some husbands and ex-husbands) is that they recognize the truth in all of this.

Male-female relationships tend to follow the same patterns and tend to result in the same conflicts.

And THIS IS GREAT NEWS.

Because if we’re all experiencing the same afflictions and symptoms, then we can all fix it with the same treatment and medicine.

Losing my family was the worst thing that ever happened to me.

I’m cool now because a lot of time has passed, and a lot of healing happened. But it was all very, very bad. And I don’t want other people to have to go through it. Especially children.

Not everyone is going to make it. We’re human, and we fail.

But there doesn’t have to be this much brokenness in the world. So many marriages fail that don’t have to.

It makes me sad. And I believe it can be better.

And this is my small contribution to trying to be part of the solution.

I hope you’ll join me.

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871 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands

  1. sadtoseeherleave says:

    This had to be a low life loser woman that started this topic. Oh by the way, there are many of us good single men out there that had been very hurt by women already as well. Been there.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Or it could have been started by me.

      Low-life loser is subjective. I suppose I could be that.

      Like

      • DOnald says:

        Dude honestly stop being a b. You’re a man; so just like me & everyone else no one cares about us or our requirements. Females have insecurities; and that’s about it. They can love and hate and everything, but the fulfillment of those insecurities and lack thereof will eliminate every & each of that. Our only value in life to them is how much we can play around with their insecurities and keep them hooked.

        Sorry you had to go thru shit tho. Keep some fight in you, because that’s the only thing we get to keep for ourselves without being “greedy”, “toxic” and “patriarchical”

        Like

    • Penelope says:

      Let me guess, she left you because you were such a great guy.

      Like

    • Vex Cuomo says:

      You just want a slave and a sex toy as a “wife”.

      Like

      • Susan Adams says:

        That’s what my mistake wanted me for, a slave and a sex toy.

        Like

      • Jamie says:

        Slave is a bit much… maybe.

        I think they just want us to fill the gender role that they were told (by media, example, and society) we would do. I find that most men don’t really ask for more than what they think our duty is: cleaning (dishes, walls, floors, laundry, their messes, children’s messes, ourselves, etc.), look polished, cooking, childcare, emotional/ego support, sex goddess, gardening, shopping, pay bills, organize activities, and now we get to work full-time too.

        They want all that, and they don’t want us to complain about or need anything… ever. I mean, after all, they go to work everyday and work hard to provide for the family. You don’t hear them complaining that you’re not giving enough. Life is fine. Your complaints are silly. Why do you want to argue and cause a fight? You’re ruining the relationship.

        My mate will say, “But, I don’t ask you to do of these things.” Yet, he wont do them if I do not. Eventually, we would live in filth and starve (or eat corndogs). To be honest, he wasn’t a great household manager in his own place, so I kinda expected it, but he did seem to go out of his way to show me that he appreciated me, for the honeymoon period anyway. Now, outside of going to work, which I also do, he can’t be bothered to do or deal with anything that doesn’t directly benefit him and only him.

        I want to appreciate my mate, but if he can not show me the same for all I do, resentment builds and the relationship erodes.

        Like

    • E says:

      You sound like a real good, and I’m sure STILL single man. We’ve all been there. It’s just some of us that self-reflect.

      Like

    • Gina Benyue says:

      I stopped feeding my husband all the supplies he needed/required to feel like the king of the castle, the controller, the person who makes everyone shiver in their shoes when he speaks. Now he is the brainless mouse he was born to be.

      Like

    • greg says:

      Your a low life with a man foopA

      Like

    • Susan Adams says:

      Poor baby man.

      Like

  2. aeysun says:

    It’s a beautiful article. Thanks for being so open about it. It made me realize I can believe in things getting better.
    God bless you.

    Like

  3. Ginger says:

    Any tips on how to get a husband to to read all of this?

    Like

    • Megan Rondeau says:

      I second this question. My husband refuses to hear my cries for help, refuses marriage counseling, and refused to read an article about deprsession that I asked him to read so that he could understand what I was going through. This is literally my last ditch effort to fix my marriage.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Penelope says:

    A few random thoughts I had after reading vol 1-9:
    1). I bet more women are reading these. Why? Because they’re the ones who have googled “what am I doing wrong to make my husband so out of touch/selfish/clueless/unsupportive” and then carry the burden to do the emotional labor to come up with the solution;
    2). Why does it take a guy to write 1,000s of words for a man to believe “this is a thing”? How about, “Believe in the depth of your wife’s experience. She’s not making it up.”
    3). Why should it take the threat of divorce for men “to behave” or “sit up straight”? It just seems like another level of childishness. How about just be decent and own shit equally.
    4). I don’t understand how men succeed at work without a wife or mother “just asking them what to do.”
    5). I found your insight so profound. It helped me see and name the feelings behind my anger and sadness.
    Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. gretchen buss says:

    I’m astonished. Nice to know that ”misery loves company” is peopled by so many, wanting the same thing, knowing we’re not crazy. I’m 75, married 40 years and concerned about not getting Covid-19. My husband doesn’t take it seriously enough for me to feel safe being around him. I can’t just pack up and leave. I’m wish my husband would read this and get a clue. The comments were inspiring. Thank you so much.

    Like

  6. john says:

    The wife might consider me a shitty husband, but she falls real close to a shitty wife. Our marriage is just as much both our doing. And personally I don’t give a dam what she thinks.We don’t live under the same roof she has the house and I live in my garage, work shop, apartment place. Best move I ever made was moving out, we been married 54 years and that was the worst thing I ever experienced.

    Like

    • Vex Cuomo says:

      Blame the woman. Of course. She needs to get away from you NOW. You are toxic and are killing her!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bitch are you tr0lling

        If not kill yourself asap because hes metaphorically killing her but you are killing 2 boys a minute who are reading your articles in major depression….oh wait you don’t care about men. Why do we need men right? Seems logical enough. If only you could stick to your point…but you bite your upper lip & get wet every time you see a hairy manly dude with pressed clothes 20 years your younger and you suddenly feel reproduction isnt so bad and this man is just somehow an exception…especially when he “accidentally” knocks you up, scoring one for the team giving you responsibility and reality you can’t handle, exactly as you deserve and you somehow don’t feel bad about it because of how your b00bs are gonna get bigger and you’ll get more attention from Men…the same men you hate on the internet but dream about in your bed

        Fuckin wh0re kill yourself or at least get yourself c@strated so the world doesn’t get another one like you again

        Like

  7. Interested in interacting more on the subject

    Like

  8. […] came across the Open Letter to Shitty Husbands today, and it wasn’t the volume about cheating that caught my attention. It was the volume […]

    Like

  9. Lucille says:

    I’m almost to the point of asking for a divorce. My husband is as cold as a box of ice. He’s emotionally distant, seemingly disconnected. He never holds or touches me, never says he loves me–he won’t even tell our adult sons that he loves them.I feel like I can’t talk to him like I used to, that he’s not there for me emotionally. I feel so alone. When I try to talk to him about this, he’s defensive and bitterly attacks me, making me feel resentful. I don’t know what to do.

    Like

  10. Kodidog123 says:

    My husband is not a bad man, but he is a childish, selfish, shitty husband. Thirty years of me doing EVERYTHING by myself, raising our two sons (one with Autism), being responsible for all the bill’s, managing appointments, all the cleaning, laundry, cooking, pet management, yard care (except mowing – because we have a rider and requires no effort) and whatever else requires ANY responsibility so he can spend as he wishes and sit in our garage to smoke, drink and now smoke pot to the detriment of his health (2 heart attacks – one I am still trying to pay for.) He ignores our son with Autism and has little interaction with either of them. I have worked a flexible part time job since my first was born to help pay bills, which also was helpful when my younger son had therapy 4 – 5 times per week (I had a flourishing career, but wanted to raise my children myself.) At 52 I have now taken a full-time salaried position with benefits to help my older son get thru college and support my younger son when I finally pay off all the medical costs and leave him or he kills himself with his habits first. He used to be considerate. He used to be fun. He used to do things with his children. I have begged, pleaded and stood on my head to try to communicate my needs to him – all to no response or he attempts to placate me for two weeks and then slides back to old habits. A lot of it is my fault for loving him so much and doing everything I could to be a good “wife.” Waiting on him, picking up after him, handling his problems, making up for his financial inadequacies, not making him participate in child care. He has lived like a king while I took care of him and I have created a selfish, entitled monster. He is now bitter and angry because I am exhausted and can no longer “wait on him.” He is churlish and intentionally lazy to push my buttons. He will leave clothes on the chairs in the living room after I have already picked up, and put dirty dishes in the sink after I just washed and put them all away (we have a dishwasher.) He spends unlimited to the extent of overdrafting our account (I have to hide money in my own account to pay the bills.) Everything is about him and his wants and needs. My 23 year old son who recently had to give up his apartment and move home because of covid is appalled at his behavior and actually helps me cook, clean and take care of my younger boy – it is not his responsibility to be the parent. The stress is affecting my health. THIS is a shitty husband, you sounded like a jem!

    Like

    • Susan Adams says:

      Yes that is a shitty husband. He probably won’t last much longer. You have to decide if you want to wait it out, or ditch him.

      Like

  11. notagirl1 says:

    I look forward to reading these. It’s not “helping” around the house, though. Both adults live there, both adults eat there, both make messes. Both clean up. It’s adulting.

    Like

  12. appreciativeMan says:

    As a man, many of your articles have been extremely hard to read. This is because I relate so goddamn much to most of them, that it hurts. I truly hate that I’ve gone through life this long, thinking my way is right, and thinking I’m so deserving because I’m not an asshole. I’m going to attempt to employ many of the things I’ve read from you, in all of the places that I’m lacking as a partner. This may just save my future, and I thank you in advance.

    I do have one question/comment though. There’s clearly a bunch of information on here about how to be a better man and form a better relationship, but it seems to lack information from a female perspective(things they do right and/or wrong). Because there’s so much info only about 1 side(what I’m saying may be false, I haven’t read EVERYTHING), it sometimes feel overwhelming. Like shit, there’s a lot of stuff I need to do. And that’s OK. I’m up for it, because the woman I am with is worth it a thousand times over. It also feels overwhelmingly anti-male, which I know is not the intention. I just wish there were some articles in here(again, there may be, and I missed them) about female follies, and things they could do it improve. But, I guess that isn’t and can’t really be your forte, as you’re a man lol.

    Like

    • Maddy476 says:

      Hi, I am genuinely thrilled by your comment. So glad to hear you open to change.
      As far as what women need to do better, I don’t know. I guess that’s up to the men to tell them. When it comes down to it, it’s all about communication and fulfilling each other’s needs, desires and wants. If you want your wife to do something different, you have to tell her in a positive, kind and empathetic way. Timing is everything. Maybe make some changes at your end first and once she warms up to you, bring the subject up over a nice romantic candlelight dinner. Thank her for all the work she has done. Tell her how much you appreciate her. Actions speak louder than words.

      Like

      • Thatnonbinary says:

        I honestly think he has a valid question and really appreciate your response. It is rare where you would see a women admit there are faults on their side. I reviewed 30 sites on this same topic and every one always points to men as being the problem and list the problems with men while giving each other high fives in the process. Not one of them would admit or mention any fault on their side and project themselves to be saints. They only consider their feelings and their sacrifices not once mentioning things they could have done to improve their relationship. Personally I don’t think someone will tell the full truth about the faults of women in the same manner as this article. Not that it isn’t possible but that it’s harder to admit when it’s about you. I’ll admit I’m not a catch, I’m lucky to have my wife and I’ve made tons of mistakes so you can continue to put me down for my opinion after this if you want but I refuse to believe it is as one sided as people make it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Matt says:

          It’s not one-sided. It’s just that the first thing that happens which erodes trust usually begins with the male partner in hetero relationships.

          Happy to discuss it. Don’t really have time to write the dissertation here, though. Thank you for reading and contributing to the conversation.

          All of this shit is old.

          Maybe read the newest one from last week. THAT is indicative of what I’m talking about it usually beginning with a man.

          No one’s blaming men here, by the way. At least not me.

          I’m just advocating responsibility in the interest of having more successful, less-painful relationships.

          Like

          • Hef says:

            My problem is where does the responsibility come from on the other side? Ok, yes I can work harder to validate my wife’s feelings, however irrational they may seem, but what is her responsibility? This cannot be a one way street – that a man must do something first for the woman to make an effort. Does she not also have a responsibility in the relationship?

            If she is bringing daily negativity and doom and gloom, when is enough is enough? So far validation and hugs/affection when she is stressed has gone nowhere – she feels free to be snippy, rude and disrespectful the next day, month, etc.. In a way it feels like your advice is to encourage bad childlike behavior.

            Like

            • Matt says:

              If she hurts and says so, is it negative doom and gloom, or is it someone asking their partner to cooperate in modifying something that causes pain?

              If she’s insane, by all means, end the relationship.

              If she’s a good human being who you chose on purpose, maybe when she says she’s hurt about something, she actually is. And maybe we only trust people who do not intentionally or negligently hurt us after we ask them not to.

              Like

            • Jamie says:

              What is it that you think your wife needs to do? Is there something you need/want that she is neglecting? If neither of you are meeting the other’s needs it’s time to talk and figure it out or move on.

              It sounds like she is telling you want she wants/needs from of you. You think it’s irrational. Are you just wanting her to also think her wants/needs are irrational? Perhaps, in the past, she wasn’t “snippy, rude and disrespectful” but her nicely asking for her needs to be fullfilled were met with someone calling her irrational.

              Eventually, resentment grew, and it has manifested itself in the behaviors that you are describing. I’m not saying that is 100% your situation, but you have stated that you think the way she acts/feels is irrational so it worth considering.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Jamie says:

              What is it that you think your wife needs to do? Is there something you need/want that she is neglecting? Have you expressed that to her?

              This is not a wife-husband thing. It’s a partner thing. Either side can be guilty of being the shitty person that Matt is talking about. If neither of you are meeting the other’s needs, it’s time to talk and figure it out or move on. Divorce is messy but living the rest of your life in a toxic relationship is surely worse.

              It sounds like she is telling you want she wants/needs from of you. You think it’s irrational. Are you just wanting her to also think her wants/needs are irrational? Is that the responsibility you speak of? Perhaps, in the past, she wasn’t “snippy, rude and disrespectful”, but she nicely asking for her needs to be fulfilled and was met with someone calling her irrational and invalid.

              Eventually, resentment grew, and it has manifested itself in the behaviors that you are describing. I’m not saying that is 100% your situation, but you have stated that you think the way she acts/feels is irrational so it worth considering.

              Like

              • Hef says:

                Basic respect, equality and not checking out of an mild disagreement with defensiveness would be a start. There’s always an excuse for why it was okay for her to treat me poorly – being snippy, overly negative, disinterested angsty teenager tone, rolling eyes, etc.. These are not one time incidents but increasingly more common. Behavior she would not tolerate from me. And frankly behavior she would never have for anyone else in her life but me. It feels as if strangers on the street get more respect than I do.

                I’ve expressed many times that I am willing to do the small things and acknowledge her feelings and requests (and done exactly that). She’s even thanked and recognized me for being supportive at times. However, she does not do the same for me and actively resists even acknowledging her poor behavior much less doing anything about it. It’s infuriating.

                Our pattern is that I bring up her negativity or poor treatment, and calmly rationalize how I felt and walk through my thoughts and feelings. Her response is to put up a wall and deny deny deny. “Well I didn’t mean to” is about the only concession. If I get an apology, it takes an 30-60 mins to get there. But mostly she just stonewalls me to the point of saying untrue things just not to give an inch, which has led to outbursts at times with less than nice things being said. I’ve tried to reign that in – but that’s her excuse she hides behind now – “you call me names”. Well, yes your behavior was hypocritical and here’s why. I support you and your happiness but you don’t do the same for me. It’s as if she didn’t hear anything I said while calm and rational (because she was checked out) and only focuses on those few fights where things escalated.

                It’s completely on me to repair the communication in the relationship, she is unwilling to offer any sort of agreement, talk about my side of things, extend an olive branch, etc.. She often will ask what I mean, and I give her many examples of building consensus and then robotically says “I do care” but offers nothing positive or reassuring (that’s apparently for me to do). It’s a complete one way street.

                Like

                • Matt says:

                  Hey Hef. I don’t doubt any of what you’re sharing here because you’re to some extent describing the same feelings I had during marriage. So much of what I was hearing and feeling felt unfair to me.

                  Later, I started asking better questions, and I hope you’ll at least consider it…

                  Is it possible that you do (or don’t do things) that trigger pain and feelings of disrespect, neglect, abandonment, etc. for your wife. Regardless of whether you and I think it makes sense to. Regardless of whether you and I think it’s “right” or “fair” for her to feel that way.

                  Is there a chance things you’ve innocently, blindly done for several years that were not intended to hurt her, but ended up doing that anyway?

                  And now, years later, she’s highly sensitive to those things (and your seeming lack of respect and/or awareness of them)?

                  And is it possible that if she had not felt pain because of things you unknowingly did, that she wouldn’t be doing or saying any of these things that you don’t like in your marriage?

                  I’m not condoning toxic behavior by your wife or anyone else. I’m not excusing it or acting as if I think it’s appropriate or good for your marriage.

                  But. I realized a very important truth about my marriage. All of the shit I didn’t like that my wife said and did? Those were RESPONSES to me. Not preemptive attacks.

                  So. Somewhere along the way, it becomes my responsibility to understand what is hurting her and why. Either she’s delusional and lying and out to get me, OR she’s actually hurt when she says she is.

                  And, assuming she’s actually hurt when she says she is, I think it’s fair for her to expect me to understand how or why something I did or said hurt her, so that she can trust moving forward that that sort of thing won’t happen again.

                  And I think when my wife trusts me to see her, hear her, consider her, and mindfully speak and act in a manner that avoids hurting her in these ways I didn’t realize in the beginning, that she WON’T roll her eyes at me, or call me names, or “act like a teenager.”

                  I think she’ll act like someone who isn’t being hurt by her marriage partner.

                  And once I have my shit in order, THEN I think it’s time to start asking others to modify their behavior too.

                  Because asking hurt people to not act hurt for the benefit of our comfort has never worked in recorded human history.

                  Like

                  • Hef says:

                    Yes, it is possible I’ve said things that made her feel a negative emotion. My issue is I’ve tried to adapt and ask those better questions. But I’m the only one leading with kindness and understanding.
                    What about my hurt and neglect? I have to be mindful of her sensitiveness but she has full license to be self-centered and treat me to the whim of every emotion? Well I’m hurt too – I’ve basically had an unappreciative, unloving wife for years who makes minimal efforts and now feels entitled to treat me with 0% respect when she feels bad about anything or everything – and every emotion is a valid emotion, maturity be damned! We’d be divorced long ago if I treated her that way.
                    It’s as if you are saying only one side matters, and husbands have to cater to that 100% while expecting nothing in return (other than keeping the unfufilling relationship).

                    Like

                    • Matt says:

                      I was just asking. Thank you for answering. While I’m sure she has a different take on this, I am in not insensitive to the idea that you are not getting what you need from your spouse, and that that is not a sustainable situation. I want people to have hope that they can improve their relationships by modifying their own behaviors, but I realize that sometimes no matter what people do, their partners will deny them certain things they need to have trust and respect and intimacy in the relationship.

                      Thank you for answering. I’m sorry this is happening in your home and marriage. I really hope you guys find a way to both feel seen and heard and cared for. Because nothing good happens when those conditions are non-existent.

                      Like

            • megxystar says:

              The way I have interpreted matts message is that invalidation in relationships is predominantly connected with men perhaps because men are more analytical and critical thinkers compared to women whom tend to be more driven by their emotional side. Of course both parties have to be responsible for their own negative behaviours but we’re just talking about invalidation in particular. Contrary to popular belief I’m a young women and I am starting to realise that I invalidate my boyfriends feelings which is killing our relationship:(

              Like

        • Prospect says:

          What were you searching for? There’s certainly websites which focus on what the woman can do to improve their relationship.

          Like

    • Susan Adams says:

      This topic is about shitty husbands. There are guidelines for husbands NO MATTER WHAT KIND OF WIFE HE HAS.

      Like

    • BCMic says:

      @AppreciativeMan Maybe if instead of polarizing the sexes, we frame the issue as how two people could approach the relationship equitably by setting a standard “how rules” to which both strive to live up to, in terms of, equal input and the division of labor in the household. The emotional behavior maybe underscored by the agreement that if problems arise along love/intimacy/psychological then off you go to a counselor to get things back on track.

      Like

      • Jessica Kaufman says:

        That assumes the other person will listen or talk to you. Which is the basis of the issue. I would love to frame this as NOT a gender based issue. But it seems to be.

        Like

  13. Overcommitted says:

    This is validating to read. I am going through a very painful divorce right now. I was giving so much to the marriage and my husband, I couldn’t understand how it could not be reciprocated. I kept thinking if I’m patient, he will recognize eventually how much I do for him and how much I love him. Plus I did vocalize my needs which he refused to care about. Meanwhile, he has substance abuse issues, is completely irresponsible with money, will not help with the kids or household in any predictable way, and actually at this point does not work. We own a business together but he neglects the business as much as he neglects me. He also for the past few years has accused me of cheating/flirting and won’t let the idea go. Divorce was the last thing I wanted since we have kids and a business at stake. We tried counseling but he gave up before we made any progress. I did work on my self as an individual the past couple years, going to therapy myself and learning about how to set boundaries and focus on my own life. I started going to church which has helped me through some difficult times as well. But In my case, I can’t do anything more to fix the marriage. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way.

    Like

    • Jessica Kaufman says:

      I’m starting to realize the hard way is the only way anyone learns anything. Certainly was true for myself.
      And biggest lesson, ever, about anything, in my entire life?

      I learned the only way to get someone to listen is….. oh, you can’t. You can only express your needs, give what you have and what you hear them asking for, and leave when it’s not enough. I have NEVER, never, EVER met anyone who’s marriage was saved. Never met anyone who actually started listening, like, for real, for more than the one time they need to snow the other person into thinking things have changed. Ever. Not really. Not longterm. I have NEVER, EVER seen anyone ever hear another person’s need when it’s brought to them as a deficit. I know it can happen, theoretically. But never known a person personally who had this happen, had the other partner actually decide to start listening.

      I have only ever seen leaving work. Or people decide to stay in their misery. I’ve never seen a relationship change from unhealthy and unhappy to healthy and happy. I’m beginning to believe it’s not possible, and maybe even unwise/a waste of time to try. I’ve rarely seen people change, but I’ve seen it. But relationahips?

      Naw. If there’s a problem, and the other won’t talk about it?

      Leave.

      I honestly think we do a really shitty job of modeling healthy relationships for our kids, and we get married WAY too fast without knowing the truly important things about ourselves OR our supposed partners. I don’t think anyone’s bad. We’re just hitching ourselves together WAY TOO FAST WITHOUT ANY IDEA OF WHAT THAT WILL REQUIRE FOR SUCCESS. The problem isn’t that we’re bad at fixing relationships. It’s that we’re in relationships that shouldn’t be from the beginning. And thats why “fixing” ourselves works more often than fixing a relationship. Cuz usually the relationships just shouldn’t have started, and frankly can’t possibly succeed, because the two people coming together simply shouldn’t have, and they don’t seem to know better.

      Like

      • Maddy476 says:

        Well said. I married the wrong person. I left and now I am happy. We are all wounded on some level. The challenge for me now is finding someone at 55 years old but I’d rather be single than alone with the wrong person. Good luck to you.

        Like

        • Jessica Kaufman says:

          Yup, I hear you. Funny, I’m as worried at 45 as you seem to be at 55. I suspect we’ll both be in a much better position to find someone who not only “loves” us but treats us well, too, when we understand ourselves better and know what it is we really want. And when we get better at not compromising our desires for someone else’s, and understanding that doesn’t make us “bad.”

          Like

        • Jessica Kaufman says:

          Good luck to you as well :).

          Like

          • Maddy476 says:

            We were all young and stupid and didn’t know what to look for in a relationship (as you said)..but now we do. I’ve never considered my marriage a failure or me a failure because it didn’t work. It would have been a failure to stay.
            I’m sorry that you are going thru a tough divorce but you will be okay and good things are coming !! You deserve it.

            Like

  14. Gina Benyue says:

    Marriages cannot be fixed once a fall from grace begins. People are cunning and most practice one or more narcissist traits. There are two types of people. A giver and a taker and one should never marry the other. Givers end up damaged and takers end up alone.

    Like

  15. Georgette Padilla says:

    Posted some of your work on my Instagram and it’s safe to say you’re getting a nice chunk of people coming here to read and learn. Great to see the reflection and growth. We can all be better.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Lauren says:

    You know… I was her. The one who was giving it all and doing it all and hoping for the best and hoping that one day I’d be listened to and be made a priority. Someone here is reading this and it’s why you’re on this page looking for answers on how to “fix it”.

    Sometimes.. the problem is just not you. If your man is selfish now, I promise, he will stay that way… or get worse. For one year I decided to just not do everything for him and live my own life… and he decided he didn’t want to be married anymore. (and then amazingly “seeing someone” a few weeks later). Let that sink in.. for all of your lovely selfless wives killing yourself for your man. I wish someone had told me this while I was killing myself in a one-sided marriage…

    You deserve more! You’re awesome all by yourself… you won’t change him. If you don’t put your foot down and demand more, or leave… you will be continuously in the same position. Until I got out… I didn’t realise how much I did for him, how tired I was, how beaten down I was and just how unloved I truly was.

    You just don’t see that when your knee-deep in it. Look at your emotions.. how do you really feel about your life? Own it, feel it and do something about it… please. I should have done it ten years ago, but I hung in there for dear life cos I meant my vows.

    I hope this helps just one of you to stick up for yourself… your feelings are valid, you aren’t crazy and you do matter.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Mike says:

    To be a shitty husband you have to be a shitty guy. For instance I have an actual shitty while and really only go home because I love my kids.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I fundamentally disagree with that idea.

      Very good people can be substandard at all kinds of life activities: Math. Aerodynamics. Polymer engineering. Baseball. Chess.

      Good people suck at things.

      One of those things people sometimes suck at are the mental and emotional habits that affect relationships and families.

      Like

  18. Carly says:

    Wow. This was therapeutic. I love my husband, and I’ve given up a lot for him, but he can really wear me down to a nub of nothing.

    Like

    • Carly says:

      Case in point: I just got chewed out for hay being in the SUV, which is parked next to a car he’s dented and scratched up, which is fine, that’s life, but I’ll get a drop cord and handvac and get the hay out in a matter of minutes. I just don’t get a break. He was so mad he couldn’t get the words out — that kind of mad, the kind that gave him a stroke the other year. But can’t say anything ’cause it gets worse. He’s a toothless tiger, so I have no fear, but I just have to listen to it.

      Like

  19. Susan Adams says:

    You described the shitty husband who lives in the same house as me almost perfectly. I left the bedroom 12 years ago. I took off my wedding ring many years ago. He says he wants to stay married, but he continues to act like an asshole.
    He literally spends more time with the dog than he does with his kids. He is more interested in a picture on a cereal box than anything I have to say.
    I really want to move to Alaska with a lonely man in a wilderness cabin. Someone who truly wants someone to love.

    Like

  20. Kathy says:

    Can I add something to the list? When you listen when she’s trying to tell you how she feels about something, don’t immediately turn it around so that it’s her that does the same thing but worse. I don’t care what I tell my husband of 43 years when I’m trying to make things better, he immediately says that to me. This has gone on for far too many years. I’ve finally given up and have detached and checked out emotionally. How about you just listen to her tell you honestly how she feels. She can listen to you too, but don’t just turn it around on her. At least have a little originality. She’ll also check out if she knows exactly what you’re going to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Weena says:

      Wow. So my husband is just plain unoriginal in doing the tit-for-tat thing:”Well, what about what YOU did?” if I’m gently letting him know he has said or done something [extremely] hurtful; or, if I’m making a point about how I feel or what my needs are, I get, “Well, I NEED (fill in blank)….” Always the oneupmanship, always the competition for attention, canceling me by redirecting everything to his needs and complaints while mine get no hearing; no energy coming this way, always going that way, into HIM, not me.

      I am so tired that last year I collapsed, August, during the pandemic. I actually nearly died from physical exhaustion from holding things together with supply shortages and being housebound. I went into extreme physical self-destruction and am just now rebuilding a body that gave way and nearly gave up. I see it as a physical expression of all the energy I have put into something that is eating me alive.

      Like

      • Jessica Kaufman says:

        Mine wanted to go to counseling together so he could tell me about *his* needs and how badly I’d made him feel by not wanting to live with him anymore. 🤦 Like it was my fault he was such a dick that I moved out, that it was MY fault he didn’t live in a house for a year. He’s an adult. He’s got a job. He also has savings, more cash than me. But his behavior was atrocious in some ways, and then he blamed me and constantly referred to how hard on him it was to not live in a house. Jeez, I took care of my shit and got a house to live in and tried to move on, though we’re back together and he’s since talked with Matt. OMG #TiredOfBeingMom
        I took a hard pass on that kind of counseling, like *I’m* the one not listening to *him*. At that point, it was either he contacted Matt or he could stay in another state. He contacted Matt. And I’m looking forward very much to him joining me now when his contract ends. I do love him so much, but I have to love myself as much or I’ll disappear under the weight of his needs.

        Like

      • Prospect says:

        You’ll baulk when I write this, but never mind. But Laura Doyle’s podcast (“The Empowered Wife”) has examples of women turning things around in their marriages, often without their husband’s conscious knowledge. But it will, I suspect, sound retrograde and triggering at times. I certainly cringe listening to it as well. But she DOES make a very good point of women putting their self care needs first, doing things for themselves that they enjoy EVERY DAY. She gives an example of one woman who insists on having two hours a day to herself where she can’t be disturbed. Not by her children, not by her husband.
        You may be beyond wanting to repair your marriage, but it might be worth listening to.
        At the other end of the spectrum is the Female Dating Strategy podcast, who are anything BUT retrograde, but a lot easier. Their recent podcast on communication styles of men and women was excellent. Women waste a LOT of time trying to communicate with men and it gets them nowhere. And so they discuss different ways of communicating, usually by taking action which is the only thing men take notice of.

        Like

    • Jessica Kaufman says:

      Wow, this is textbook male behavior for me. The second I say something about how I feel about something he did or didn’t do, immediately it’s ME that’s the bad guy for doing that exact thing only worse. It’s exhausting. My guy has been really changing, but I’m still waiting for the first time we have a discussion that doesn’t end this way unless I simply walk away. Then he listens and things change. I just wish I didn’t have to lose my shit AND him to get there.

      Like

      • Maddy476 says:

        Omg. I can relate so much. Why do we have to lose our shit before they pay attention! Then they turn around and blame us for being angry when their defensiveness and lack of ability to communicate is the root of them problem. I really do like men but even my therapist says we are the smarter sex.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jessica Kaufman says:

          Yup, and here’s another dude (Matt) who credits his supposed success at talking to these guys to HOW he talks to them (non threatening) rather than the fact that he’s a dude, so it suddenly means more. Sigh. [Insert sound of deflating balloon.] But that’s typical, I guess lol.

          I was non threatening too, the first 1000 times I said the same shit.

          But good for Matt, he’s getting a best seller deal for saying something that women have been saying since time began. When a man says it, though, it means something.

          Seriously, you need to talk to Ron Howard about a tv show deal, Matt.

          I’m gonna be so frustrated when that happens and I don’t make anything off it, argh lol.

          Like

          • Jessica Kaufman says:

            And I say this liking Matt, what little email interaction we’ve had, and I’m grateful SOMETHING got thru to my bf. Wish it had been me, lol, but whatever.

            Like

      • Prospect says:

        You’ll find that “whataboutery” is standard male behaviour.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jessica Kaufman says:

          Whataboutery. I love it. That’s such a great term. I’m going to use it.

          So after 4 years of this happening to me, I finally left him a couple of times, then he talked to Matt, and things so far are very different. We’ll see what happens when he moves out to join me, but I’m hopeful. Of course, annoying that it took a man to get him to listen, but whatever. But leaving was essential. Men stop listening to words. It sucks. You have to leave, and then sometimes they realize what they have been doing.

          Whataboutery. I love that.

          Like

          • Prospect says:

            Men only notice action. He talks to Matt AFTER you left him. I don’t know if you’ve done this, but please listen to the Female Dating Strategy podcast on communication between men and women.
            Women are so into talking problems out, but men switch off after a while, if indeed they ever were switched on.

            Like

  21. Jillian OKeefe says:

    THANK YOU, MATTHEW!
    I believe all of the negative comments I’ve seen posted here are proof at how damaged, and damaging, so many people in society are today. It’s not only sad, but depressing, and discouraging as well.

    Although I have yet to read ALL of your writings thus far, what I have read has, without a doubt, hit- the-nail-on-the-head in several aspects of my relationships, both past, and unfortunately present.

    I’d like to THANK YOU wholeheartedly, for taking the time, and having the courage, to write, and to SHARE, the story of your journey through the struggles, pain, loss, fear, anger, heartbreak, self-awareness, accountability, understanding, acceptance, and EMOTIONS (YES, men have feelings, too!). It takes a remarkable amount of courage to allow oneself to be so openly vulnerable and honest about one’s personal experiences and the FEELINGS associated as your writings clearly show. You are a true and remarkable inspiration!!!

    I look forward to reading more of your writings and sharing them with my husband.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Thank you, Jillian. Really kind of you to say.

      Like

      • Ali7731 says:

        First off, I am married to a very good man.. who has done “shitty things”, I consider myself a good wife.. but can’t say that I haven’t done my fair share of shitty things too.
        I think that what you have wrote, can give insight to both men and women.
        My husband tries really hard, but does things he doesn’t even think to be hurtful. We talk and I try to explain, but for some reason we can’t seem to clearly communicate. One of us or even both, hears something other then what was meant to be said. Our interpretation doesn’t match.
        We have been together for over 20 years.. I love him dearly.. and I know he loves me too.. but we struggle a lot with understanding each other.
        Because like you said, thinking that your right.. leads you to believe the other is wrong.
        I appreciate you sharing your experience and opinions.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Mikey don says:

    Tonight I lost
    Tonight I lost my wife because of porn and photos of other women and comments that I made treating women like one of the dudes.
    She has given up a lot to bring her and her daughter down here with me. And I ruined it with lies.
    I never looked at it as an addiction. But may be I was wrong and it ended my first marriage. When my first wife was accusing me of cheating and then I started to look at porn even more because the lack of sex. Now I let my bad habits into a good marriage that I have ruined.
    I was lying, being deceitful , selfish
    I know that I have a lot of things to fix.
    I was never honest with myself or her. Thinking that I could willingly do it and stop. For 10 months I was doing a good job and then April of 2021 I slipped back into the habits l. Before I had over 200 photos and videos of everything saved. After we were married she said if I need to release myself then to do it. And before that when she said no sex before marriage in April it didn’t sit well with me and then I went back to it.
    I have porn accounts before.
    And onlyfans was a new sight. I didn’t get the access through free links to where I didn’t have to be a member until middle of this year. I thought about paying but sites like hamster were free. And she would ask me when was the last time I masturbated and I’ll tell her with the video from hamster. When she told me that some times she’ll watch porn. But I took it overboard and it has brought her to feel shame on her body which I think her body is beautiful the way it is. Again I was being self I never considered her feelings.
    She was right that it would take her leaving me in order to correct my errors and get better. Every time she said divorce I will always continue to fight for her and our daughter. But I have brought so much lies and pain to her. That it was tearing her apart. And when I get stressed out my outlet was the gyms or sex or some times taking a walk. When she gave me a chance to be honest time and time again. I lied about it because of the shame and embarrassment. Now I have damaged her for life and she doesn’t want me to touch her or hold her anymore. Telling me good luck and good by and wishing me luck on my third marriage it hasn’t been 30 days and I have already cause damage that should not have happened. But it did and now I’m lost the best loving wife. I cannot just want to do what I want, be selfish, and hardheaded.
    I have to do better. I’m still praying that she doesn’t divorce me. I want to see our daughter even though she’s not blood related. I call her mine. I want my wife to stay and show her that I’m doing better than before physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. My uncle reach out to us. And she said that she use to work in mental health and doesn’t have the still to deal with addiction. Looking at everything you cannot serve God plus your wife and look at porn and other offensive images. It should always be God, wife and child first. I hope and pray that she finds the strength. If not then I’ll have to keep being strong for the both of us and hope that I can prove myself and let it be enough.

    Like

    • R T Erickson says:

      I thought this kind of result in a marriage, divorce, happened to other people who were not educated, smart and successful like me. These guys must be real jerks. I’m such a nice guy right? Wrong, this does happen to men like me because I don’t bother to address the “little things” and stop and think that when I obfuscate and explain my reasons it just doesn’t improve the situation. But rather, the issue is now worse and feelings are hurt.
      Don’t be stubborn and narcissistic, you will be the one who has lost a beautiful woman and relationship. I need to change my thinking and behavior immediately, if it isn’t already too late.
      Signed, bone-head doctor in Phoenix

      Like

  23. StruggleBus says:

    I’m going through this right now. My husband does not understand how dysfunctional our relationship is. I feel like I can’t talk to him about anything because he blows up and freaks out and stops talking to me for DAYS (I’m on day 5 of him not talking to me right now). Usually it ends with me apologizing (which I now realize enables his behavior) or we go back to talking like it never happened (which is extremely stressful for me because it’s like we never have resolution). When we’re not fighting, things are wonderful! I have so much fun with him no matter what we do and I love his personality. But I’m at my limit now, and I need him to figure out how to treat me like an adult with respect, not pushing aside my feelings and telling me I’m being a “victim” if I’m crying because I’m upset. I do everything for us, and I feel like I’m carrying all of the financial weight and emotional weight. I’m extremely careful how I word things and how I go about trying to resolve conflict as to not damage our relationship, but he doesn’t do any of that. He is extremely rude and blames me and the whole world over everything and takes no responsibility. Most importantly he doesn’t see how its damaging the relationship and how it makes me feel completely alone. Like you said in your article, he cares more about being right than he cares about me. I’m afraid he’s never going to get it until it’s too late. And I’m literally 25. We’ve been together for a little over 2 years. I’ve never seen anyone my age get divorced, it would be so tragic and humiliating. I just wish he understood. It’s so miserable.

    Like

  24. Jason muehlberg says:

    I am just starting to read the Open letter to shitty husband’s. I am going through a separation right now. I want to fix my marriage, but I’m not sure if my still wants to save our marriage.

    Like

  25. Kelly says:

    33 years in, and my husband read my forwards and has “claimed” to agree and acknowledging he is a “Matt”.

    I feel stupid to say I have hope, but since I also am a “low-life loser” to hang around this long, I will try one more stupid thing..and say, “thank you Matt, I do have hope.”

    I appreciate all your words, more than I can ever say, regardless of what happens.

    Congratulations to you!

    If it doesn’t work out, maybe I can give you a call after my divorce. You seem like a great guy, …..now! ;D

    Like

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