Tag Archives: Shitty Husband

The Search for Answers: ‘My Husband is an Asshole’

(Image courtesy of The Guardian.)

(Image courtesy of The Guardian.)

Maybe she was a housewife home alone. Maybe she was crying.

“My husband is an asshole,” she typed into Google.

More and more often, someone like her finds one of my An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands posts. Usually Vol. 1.

They’re getting 250-300 reads a day now, which is a lot relative to most of the posts here.

People are out there broken and looking for answers—probably easy ones—but there aren’t any.

When your marriage is falling apart, there are no magic how-to manuals on the internet to save you. No YouTube videos that show you how to do it better. No Buzzfeed lists to give you pointers.

A part of you dies.

So she types: “shitty husband” into the search engine and she stumbles upon this place.

Anne read Vol. 6. She wrote me:

“This article is as if you have observed my husband since we got married. Thank you for your articles… We do not have children, but everything else is spot on. He thinks I’m the only woman like this and to ‘require less’ when I beg for some attention and help. I am not sure if I can hang on much longer… Thank you for making me believe that it ISN’T just me, that my feelings matter, and I deserve more.”

It’s funny. Things are so different now. Inside me. I was so sad and angry. And it was easy to go off on all these subjects related to marriage where I see guys doing the wrong thing and a bunch of marriages falling apart. Some guys aren’t particularly good people. (That probably applies to some women, too.) And they don’t feel any remorse for violating their marital covenants or abandoning their families.

But I’ve come to believe that most guys are good guys that do want to keep their families intact. Even the really shitty husbands. I don’t think they’re bad men. I think many times they’re good men who just happen to be bad at marriage.

I think learning how to be good at marriage is like learning how to be good at selling pharmaceuticals or smoking ribs or developing commercial real estate. I think it’s a learned skill.

I was angry at all the men who had what I wanted—what I missed. My family. And I was pissed at them for taking their wives and children for granted just like I had.

Some people need to figure things out for themselves.

Some people need to learn the hard way.

Megan wrote:

“I’ve read every single one of these letters now, and they’ve taken the wind out of my sails. It’s incredible really. This is exactly, down to the smallest detail, what I’m going through. I’m pre-divorce, but I’ve told myself I’ll give it 3 more years, until our youngest is 6. And I have some way to support myself, and maybe somehow my husband will care.”

I don’t think about this stuff nearly as much as I used to.

As time marches on, I get further and further away from being a husband. It was so shocking at first. I felt so lost. So without purpose. I was supposed to be a partner. Someone’s husband.

And then I wasn’t. It felt like overnight even though it was a long time coming. I freaked out. Panicked.

It felt hard just to be alive.

But then I got a lot better because that’s what happens if you just keep waking up every day. I was writing and writing and writing, including these posts about what I perceive to be my shortcomings in marriage, and by extension, the shortcomings of so many other men out there.

As I see it, I’m super-average. Nothing extraordinary. And because of that, I figure there must be many people out there who feel how I feel and think how think and do many of the same things I do.

That doesn’t bode well for their marriages.

Stella wrote:

“I’m sitting here crying my eyes out because everything you wrote is so true and I hope my last ditch effort of sending it to my husband of 19 years might wake him up, because no matter how many times I try to talk to him about feeling alone and unloved, he gets the stupid deer-in-the-headlights look on his face. I used to want to cry or slap it off his face, but now I don’t even try to talk to him because it’s too frustrating and I’m sick of banging my head against the wall. I wish I would have stumbled onto you years ago. Maybe it would’ve saved millions of tears and tons of arguments.”

It’s so good for me to read these comments. To be reminded that all those painful keystrokes served a purpose.

That all those ideas—all those feelings inside me—have merit and are shared by many others.

I have no idea whether I have what it takes to be a good husband. I’ve never been one before.

But I feel certain I understand the choices and behaviors that helped facilitate my divorce, and how making better choices and behaving differently in the future could prove a better way to co-exist with a partner.

It’s all still theory at this point.

But this stuff matters to people. And that matters to me.

Morgan wrote:

“I found your blog today after googling “shitty husband” (why I was googling that particular phrase probably doesn’t have to be explained). I read all the open letters during the Murray State basketball game today, which speaks volumes to how much I related to and enjoyed it. I laughed. Even shed a tear or two… it definitely had an impact on me… a positive one. So thanks for that… for your honest take on how much work this whole marriage thing is, for reminding me that I am not perfect in this, but most of all, for reassuring me that I’m not the only girl struggling with a shitty husband, and that there is hope.”

Yes, Morgan.

Hope.

Our hearts don’t have to stay broken. They mend. Like magic.

With just a little care, a little honesty, and the perfect amount of time.

And I believe strongly that hearts can heal within a troubled marriage where two hearts were always supposed to beat as one.

Things break.

But they don’t always die.

Then we give just a little bit more than we did before.

Speak to each other just a little bit smarter than we did before.

Forgive just a little bit more than we did before.

Hug just a little bit longer than we did before.

Love just a little bit harder than we did before.

All these people. Desperate for answers. Trying to save that which matters most.

“Husband is a first-rate piece of shit,” someone typed.

You’re not the only one.

Broken people. Shitty husbands.

But we don’t have to be.

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Marriage: A Global Epic Fail

marriage_fail_by_bytebullet-d4um8y1

Artwork by bytebullet at Deviant Art.

If seven out of 10 children flunked out of school or demonstrated a complete inability to adapt to the classroom and learn basic curriculum, everyone would lose their minds.

The top priority would be to fix this totally broken and dysfunctional system. There would be plenty of blame to go around. But the basic premise would boil down to: Ummm. Maybe we’re doing it wrong!

You think?

Education is already one of the most-important political and social issues of our time, and that’s with 90 percent of our students graduating high school or achieving an equivalent degree. About 34 percent earn a bachelor’s or higher degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

So, I got to thinking. And I came up with this: What the fuck, world!?

SEVEN OUT OF 10 MARRIAGES FAIL AND NO ONE IS DOING DICK ABOUT IT!

To be clear, 70 percent of marriages don’t end in divorce (but more than half do). According to Ty Tashiro, who wrote The Science of Happily Ever After, 70 percent of marriages end in divorce, or feature two people who resent the hell out of one another.

I’m just trying to understand! Plenty of people care about this. It’s impossible for us not to. Divorce affects 95 percent of us!

But there’s no national or global dialogue about the problem. I’m having trouble understanding why.

Maybe People are Out of Fucks to Give

But it couldn’t have started out that way. As a percentage, how many couples do you think wanted to get divorced on their wedding day? Like, con artists aside, we’re dealing in the zero range, right? Right.

So everyone REALLY gave a shit and was like “Hell yeah, let’s get married and love each other forever!!!” and then seven-ish years later were like: “Honestly? This is shitty. I hate my life. I have no more fucks to give.”

Then, BOOM. Divorce. And everyone’s sad. And all the kids cry. And we get boyfriend and girlfriend and step-parent drama. Everyone has less money afterward. It’s seriously so unbelievably horrible and shitty in most instances that despite trying hard, so hard, I can’t come up with multiple reasons why this is happening more than half the time.

There can only be one reason.

We’re Doing It Wrong

Just own it. You’re fucking shit up right now. I know you are. Because you’re a person just like me and even the really, really, really, really, really exceptional ones mess up.

If you’re part of the mythical 30 percent, you needn’t read further. I’m not talking to you. Just carry on being better at life than me and trust that I appreciate you more than you know.

The rest of you? You’re in this pile of shit with me and I’m begging you to start being part of the solution.

“Hey Matt! Why are you being all snide and cheeky today?”

Because of Scott, that’s why. Who’s Scott? Glad you asked.

I wrote a series of posts called An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands and through the magic of SEO and social media sharing, a lot of people (relative to my audience) read them.

Vol. 1 gets read the most these days, and yesterday Scott read it. I don’t think he liked it, because he said: Fuck women! They can’t be pleased! No matter what you do, it’s never good enough! They’re intolerable, crazy and unreasonable! And I’ll never be happy as long as I’m married to her but hopefully I will be happy when I’m dead!

I’m paraphrasing. But he pretty much wrote that.

Some guy. I don’t know him. Maybe he’s awesome. Might be. He’s married with kids and wants to play golf on Saturday and to be left the fuck alone about it.

Which is fine. I’m not privy to his family’s wants and needs and financial situation and how the decision to play golf as an escape from them affects everyone psychologically and emotionally.

Scott could be anyone because millions of men feel this way. MILLIONS. Just like the millions of women who are frustrated with Scott because he doesn’t understand that it’s not the golf that upsets her. Maybe she feels like he values his friends more than his family and it hurts her. Maybe she feels like the money would be better spent on needs for their children and it erodes her trust. Maybe he’s so emotionally disconnected at home that she thinks he’s having an affair and every time he leaves for five hours it triggers inner turmoil because all she can think about is him being with some imaginary woman and: how is she ever going to make it on her own after the divorce?

It goes both ways. I don’t like to write about it because I don’t like to point fingers. Pointing fingers causes defensiveness and then things don’t get better. But sure, ladies. Let’s deal with it. You’re occasionally awful, too. Maybe give this a read and tell me whether it rings any bells: I Wasn’t Treating My Husband Fairly, And It Wasn’t Fair.

I blame dudes all the time because they’re wrong more than you. On balance, I really believe that. But, yeah. You are also capable of extraordinary shittiness, ladies.

But I’m going to trust you to own it after your other half starts owning his. Someone has to fire up the healing train, and I’m perfectly okay with men taking the lead.

Here’s the Thing

We have to fix this. How? If I figure it out, I won’t have any money problems. I don’t have any answers and I’ve never claimed to. But I know one very important thing.

WHAT WE’RE DOING NOW IS THE WRONG WAY.

You’re doing it wrong! Right now. (Not you, 30 percent!) And I just want to know what’s so hard about doing it differently. Try a new way!

“If she is not happy with all that shit then we should fucking leave them,” Scott said. Scott’s angry.

Well, Scott, I’m fucking angry. Because your way is BULLSHIT. It’s a massive failed experiment (70 PERCENT, man!) and you perpetuating it is just about the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.

Getting mad? Leaving? Complaining? Cheating? Playing more golf? Putting your kids through divorce?

That’s your grand plan? That’s the solution to all your problems?

Try Something Different

So, I wrote back to Scott. Because I want him to try something most people don’t. I want him to take the road less traveled and save his family because that’s hero shit. And I said something like this:

We live in a world where everyone is always asking: “What’s in it for me?”

People get married with the idea that their partner is going to make them happy, and so often failing to ask: “What can I do to make them happy?”

And we wonder why everyone is feeling miserable and shitty all the time.

So, again, I ask: Why not try a different tactic? It might seem a little radical. But, desperate times, and all that.

You give all you have to give. Every day. And you make your marriage about the other person. About their wants and needs and happiness.

Expect and demand (kindly) the same in return. And then maybe you get everything and more you want while providing the same to your partner.

So you have two people. Two people who give to the other more than they take for themselves.

I don’t know much, but I do know this: No one’s doing this (again, not talking to you, 30 percent!) and everyone’s getting divorced or wanting to because their relationships are broken and shitty.

So maybe my way is worth trying. And yeah. It’s super hard. All of our human being baggage gets in the way of executing this plan to perfection. I don’t think it’s easy. I just think it’s worth it.

And I’m becoming more and more convinced this is how we can get a bunch of people to wake up in the morning not feeling angry and sad and lonely and shitty and afraid all the time.

This is how.

Give more than you take.

I did it wrong. And everything broke.

And now you’re doing it wrong, too.

But you don’t have to.

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A New Page on Shitty Husbands

For all I know, this poor guy isn't even married. *shrug* Oh well.

For all I know, this poor guy isn’t even married. *shrug* Oh well.

Because my An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands posts continue to be the most-popular things on this blog, I decided to give them their own page.

You can check out the new page by clicking the link in the upper navigation, or by clicking here.

Maybe you’re interested in those posts. Maybe you’re not. But there are a thousand new words on the page, and it was nice to just write something again.

Please have a look if you care. As always, I’ll more than understand if you don’t.

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An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 7

Men have been competing for centuries. But we aren't competitive about excelling at marriage. Why?

Men have been competing for centuries. But we aren’t competitive about excelling at marriage. Why?

Divorce and broken homes and dysfunctional relationships are a global epidemic.

Men have the most power to help solve the problem.

Why?

Because women are better at relationships than men. They are. A broad generalization? Sure. A stereotype that isn’t true 100-percent of the time? Yep. But mostly correct? Totally.

I think about it all the time because I’m still trying to figure things out 13 months after my wife left and I became a single guy with a son I only see half the time.

There are a bunch of really shitty things that happen in this world. I focus on divorce because I lived a mostly charmed life prior to turning 30 when I lost a job, and later, my family. So divorce represents the worst thing that ever happened to me. I didn’t take it very well. I freaked out, actually. I was so scared. And then I was shocked by the realization that I could feel that afraid. And then I got EVEN MORE afraid because now I had fear to fear as well.

Sometimes I feel like a wimp because divorce was so hard for me while other people suffer through more-brutal, less-common traumatic life events.

But then I remind myself that I’m not insane. (I don’t think.) Divorce WAS (is) hard. Very. I didn’t just make it up in my head. It’s a brutal thing. It was shitty as a four-year-old boy when my parents got divorced and I didn’t get to see my dad very much. It was shitty when I was in my 20s and my mom and stepdad (who I love dearly) divorced. And the worst thing that ever happened to me happened 13 months ago when my wife moved out because she found life with me intolerable.

And now I only see my son half the time and spend most of my life feeling regret and shame and uncertainty.

Men can lead the way on fixing this. Men can take our 50-percent divorce rate, make it our bitch, and change the world.

Changing the world is not an exaggeration.

Imagine a world where only 5-10 percent of couples divorced. How much ugliness would go away if that were true?

Men have the power to reduce instances of marital infidelity. Men have the power to save billions of dollars in therapy bills for couples, divorced individuals and affected children. Men have the power to stop feeling ashamed. We have the power to be the heroes all of us secretly or not-so-secretly want to be.

We can save the day.

How?

By being awesome at marriage.

…..

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.

…..

You Know, It’s Funny

It’s a big fucking mystery to me why guys don’t want to do this. I sucked at it, too.

Men are the most-competitive species on planet earth. Men will race a stranger in the car next to them from stoplight to stoplight. Men will argue for hours about the most-pointless things imaginable. Men make games out of EVERYTHING, and then work their asses off to win them.

You’ve all seen it (or done it) before.

So, someone answer me this. I’m DYING for the answer. Because I’m not smart enough to figure it out despite my best efforts.

Why aren’t men competitive about being good at marriage?

I’ll argue with you all night about something inconsequential, like whether that shitty movie we watched involved Timothy Olyphant or lookalike Josh Duhamel. Or worse—I’ll try to “win” an opinion-based argument that can’t be won because there is no right answer.

I’m very competitive.

Yet, I didn’t compete to be the best husband and father I could be. Not for the vast majority of my marriage, anyway.

Could there be a higher calling? How could I be so lazy? So negligent?

Men seem more interested in winning a fight against their own spouse than they are at showing other husbands and fathers how much better they can be at marriage than the next guy. (Essentially leading by example and pushing others to greatness along the way.)

Why wouldn’t you want your wife to think she has the perfect guy? To be proud of you? To brag to her friends and family about how great you are, or how hard you try?

Why wouldn’t you want to be the best father imaginable?

What matters if not that?

Just be good at marriage, assholes! If you’re not good at it, try to be! Learn how. Figure stuff out.

It’s not like it’s some big secret. We know how to fly satellites into asteroids flying by our planet at 20,000-plus miles per hour. We know how to split atoms. We know how to build aircraft. Weapons. Buildings. Vehicles. Separate conjoined twins. Transplant hearts. Clone things.

What humans have accomplished just in the past century boggles the mind. Men have played such an enormous role in all that progress.

Yet, we STILL haven’t figured out that the women in our lives don’t think and feel as we do. We STILL haven’t figured out that treating women like men will break a bunch of things. We STILL haven’t figured out why our behavior consistently makes the women in our lives respond the way they do.

In other words, we’re smart! But we’re really stupid, too.

We’re strong! But we’re really weak, too.

We’re courageous! But we’re really afraid, too.

The information is out there. There’s not some great mystery to unlocking the secrets of failed relationships. We have tried-and-true formulas for breaking up marriages and they’re happening every day. And if everyone is okay with this, then just keep doing what you’re doing.

But me?

I’m exhausted. It’s the worst shit I’ve ever gone through by far, and I just can’t believe more people aren’t committed to the cause given just how many of us are affected by it. We’re raising broken, angry kids destined to grow up and repeat our mistakes.

Plus, doesn’t it just suck? If you’re honest with yourself? Are you really happier now than you were back in the good days of your relationship?

Life’s a Game

It is.

Everything is. And I’m not trying to suggest there aren’t things we should be taking seriously. I am taking this seriously. I’m not suggesting women are a prize to be won by cheap psychological ploys. By a game, per se.

The alpha-beta thing—the “red pill” bullshit—that so many people are thinking and talking about? It’s ridiculous. Common sense and life experience tell us all we need to know about the alpha-beta dynamics in a relationship.

Women need you to have alpha traits in order to find you sexually desirable and to feel safe. That’s caveman shit.

Women need you to have beta traits so she can trust you not to treat her like shit or abandon her after procreation. That’s evolution.

It’s not an either-or situation. You must have both to win at marriage in the 21st century. If you’re an alpha, you’re not reading this, and even if you do, you don’t listen to other people because you think you’re right all the time and you’ll just learn the hard way. Probably with herpes on your penis. (Learning how to make women feel emotionally safe might make you more awesome. Life tip. Do with it what you will.)

And if you’re a beta, learn about all of the reasons the alphas get all the chicks. There are things they do which are not morally reprehensible (Physical fitness. Expertise. Confidence.) which can help you become a more-balanced, more-attractive, more successful human being.

Why Aren’t You Competitive About Marriage?

I’m talking to you, Average Guy Like Me. Guy who is a little bit lazy around the house because you feel like you work so hard at your job, providing for your family.

You watch television. Ball games. You play video games. You have your escapes—weekend hobbies you do to “take a break” from your wife or family.

In moderation, none of that is a problem.

But if you’re a shitty husband like me, you might not even know how much damage you’re causing. There are all of these things happening behind the scenes in your life and you don’t even realize it.

You might love her. You might want to stay married. But you’re procrastinating on the most-important thing you can ever do for yourself: Teach yourself how to be good at marriage.

I don’t have any answers. I tried to save my marriage. Too little, too late. She was having none of it.

But the answers are out there. And you owe it to your wife. Your children. Your parents. Your friends. Yourself. You owe it to every guy that doesn’t want to lose his family. To figure this out.

It’s a game.

A game we can win. With coaching and good advice. With how-to manuals. With patience and love and support from our partners who appreciate the effort we’re putting in.

You can get good at the game, just as you can get good at your job, or get good at your video games, or get good at some other challenge.

Heroes rise up.

The brave swallow pride.

A true competitor finds a way to win at all costs.

So, do it. Win at marriage.

The alternative is to live like me. Where your kindergarten son at school draws pictures of his family you helped destroy, and proudly hands it to you: “Look dad! It’s you and mommy and me and my leopard gecko and the dog mommy’s going to get me.”

A fake life that my sweet kid concocted for his teacher yesterday and handed me this morning. (He inherited my artistic talents.)

Be the picture, man.

Win the game.

Mommy and daddy aren't holding hands. But my son wishes we were. Please put in the work.

Mommy and daddy aren’t holding hands. But my son wishes we were. Please put in the work.

You May Also Want to Read:

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 2

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 3

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 4

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 6

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 8

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 9

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 10

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 11

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 12

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 13

…..

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An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 6

hand holding

If you’re a guy, and you’re married, you’re probably doing it wrong.

You think you’re being nice. But you’re not.

You think you’re doing her a favor. But you’re not.

You think you’re just staying out of her way. But you’re turning yourself into a large obstacle. The one on her path to happiness.

You’re just another nice guy like me. Just another nice guy destroying your marriage without even realizing it.

I spent my entire life being told how nice and wonderful I am. That mostly still happens. That’s why it was always so surprising when my wife got upset with me and acted like I wasn’t.

But I’m so nice to her!

But I love her more than everyone else!

But I almost always let her have her way!

What’s her freaking problem?

Just another crazy, emotional, hormonal woman!

And I totally get it. I do. It’s often easier to just do what she wants (or what you think she wants) than it is to challenge her, argue with her, fight with her, whatever.

Maybe you really just believe it’s “nicer” to do things this way.

But it’s not nicer. And I don’t want you to learn the hard way like I did.

I don’t want your children to have two “nice” parents who can no longer live together because you spent so many years doing so many things you didn’t even know were wrong.

“Not all women in relationships with “nice” guys are drama queens who want to control, emasculate, or dominate their man. In my case, I was desperate for him to make a decision… have an opinion…contribute 50/50. Instead, he thought he was being “nice” by leaving all the decisions up to me… which ultimately led to me feeling more like his mother than his wife. It was exhausting and frustrating. Everyone thought he was so “nice” and the “perfect” husband. Far from it…he was avoiding responsibility and didn’t want to be blamed for any problems or mistakes. So I shouldered all the burden while we slowly began to resent each other and grow apart.” – @jessiesgirl

The Eye-Opening Moments

I had one yesterday.

I wrote a post which was mostly about two things:

1. Things “nice” men do that turn off women.

2. My general belief that “nice” guys are every bit as viable bedroom partners as “bad boys,” but I left out some details for decency reasons.

The results were fascinating. A bunch of comments similar to @jessiegirl’s.

And that’s when it hit me. Sonofabitch. That’s what I did.

And listen up, dicks. That’s what you’re doing, too.

I helped my wife with about 5 percent of planning our wedding.

I helped my wife with about 15 percent of potty training our son.

I helped my wife with about 25 percent of the housework.

But I want to be careful about confusing the messages here, because we’ve already established this: Yes, asshole. You have to help your wife around the house.

This isn’t about you not doing enough physical work.

This is more about you ACTIVELY PARTICIPATING in your relationship. The little things you don’t realize are huge.

“What do you want to have for dinner?”

“Do you want to go to the Smith’s housewarming party three weeks from now?”

“Can you send the RSVP?”

“Who is getting the gift?”

“Are we going to put little Johnny in baseball camp? Karate? Golf? Football?”

“How much do they cost? When do they start? How will he get to and from these activities?”

We can go all night with these conversations.

“I spent nine years with someone who never contributed, he let me organise everything, take the decisions, etc… and by the end of it there was nothing left but resentment… on both sides.” – @larebe

So, here I was taking a step back. Letting my wife control the action, make the decisions, do whatever was “easiest” for her.

Turns out, in many cases, what would be EASIEST is for us—you and me, guys—to make the decisions. To speak assertively and thoughtfully about what we want and why.

It’s not “nice” to leave all of the decision making for so many people to just one person. It’s hard enough for people to think for themselves without breaking something. And you want to ask your wife to think for both of you, all the kids you have, along with all of the other things that need managed?

Hope you like masturbating.

What Women Feel

Me: “Can I ask you for a favor?”

Friend I trust very much: “Of course.”

Me: “Can you write me an email articulating how it makes you feel when your husband doesn’t show assertiveness in making decisions? In taking care of things at home? In being part of the planning and decision making?”

Fifteen minutes later, I received the following.

How do I feel when my husband isn’t assertive in making decisions, in taking care of the home, in planning and decision making for our family??? Gosh—I feel like I do every day. Worthless… oh yeah… and tired… and alone.

I wonder things like:

“Does he even love me?”

“Why would he let someone he “loved” do all the work around here?”

“Does he think our family was a mistake?”

“Why doesn’t he want to help with work and decisions around here?”

“Aren’t we important enough for him to take an active role with us?”

“Are we not enough for him?”

“Are we too much for him?”

“I guess we just aren’t worth his time.”

My husband is a nice guy. The nicest of the nice guys. The give you his last dime-shirt off his back guy. He just doesn’t pull his fair share of the weight around here. And that is putting it nicely. If you ask him he would tell you that I’ve got the “good life”. (He’s actually said this to people.) I make all the decisions and run the show around here. What he would fail to mention is that I do everything else too: cooking, cleaning, laundry, scheduling, laundry, doctor’s appointments for the children, pick up and drop off for school, bill paying, grocery shopping, laundry, vacation planning, homework help, reading books, school shopping, laundry, saying prayers, working full time, and oh yeah… carrying and giving birth to the children!

So somewhere in his mind he thinks he’s doing me a favor by letting me “hold down the fort” or “sail the ship” or whatever. But in all actuality I’d just like him to take control of a little bit of the “good life” that I have. Perhaps 50% of the responsibilities would be a nice place to start. If you look at the list above there are A LOT of freaking decisions that have to be made to run this family. It’s hard on one person when they have to make them all. It’s even harder when there is another capable adult who can’t/won’t step up and do their part to lead a family.

For me—it gives me a feeling of worthlessness. I’m not worth his time. I’m not worth his effort. The decisions I have to make to run this home and take care of this family aren’t even important enough to him to matter.

For me—that leads to questions about his character and his integrity and his ability to be a partner in this life. Which then leads me to questions about my choice in a spouse… It’s all downhill from there!

…..

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.

…..

You’re Not a Bad Guy. Don’t Act Like One.

One of the most-valuable lessons of writing personal stories has been learning how alike so many of us are. How similarly we experience life in our various human relationships, and how our hearts and minds respond to these things.

If I could get back into Doc Brown’s time machine and tell myself 13 years ago the things I needed to know to avoid my life turning shitty, I would have started with all of my marital screw-ups.

Just in case anyone invents time travel AND reads this, would you please print out the following and give it to me in 2001? Thanks!

Dear 21-year-old Matt,

You’ve spent your entire life telling people your biggest fear was getting a divorce.

I have bad news.

You’re going to get one. You’re going to marry your girlfriend. You’re going to have a beautiful son. And then when he’s the EXACT same age you were when your parents split? You’re going to get divorced.

It’s going to tear your entire world apart.

You’re going to cry infinitely more than you ever have before.

You’ll miss your wife and son WAY more than you used to miss whatever parent you weren’t with when you were a little kid. Read that last sentence again. Let it soak in.

You’ve spent your entire life being coddled by your mom.

You’ve spent your entire life being spoiled by your dad.

You’ve spent your entire life being loved and supported by people who felt sorry for you because your mom and dad lived so far apart.

You’ve spent your entire life being told how nice and smart and funny you are.

These things are going to ruin your marriage. And this beautiful girl you’re madly in love with right now? You won’t even remember what she’s like because everything will be broken and shitty.

Every bad thing you have ever experienced is going to seem like an amazing vacation compared to how you’re going to feel from about ages 32-35.

But you can avoid it. You can choose a better life. One with a happy ending.

Marriage is harder than you think it’s going to be. It’s NOT like having a permanent girlfriend. Wives and mothers are something more.

Choose to be a better you. Choose to be great at the only two things that really matter once you’ve made the choice to marry: being a husband and father.

Don’t just give the bare minimum. Don’t just obliviously walk through the world doing whatever you want and wondering why your wife is getting upset with you.

Be engaged. Every day.

1. Give more than you take. Of your time. Of your energy. Of your love.

2. Choose to love even in the moments that are really difficult. Your feelings are fickle. If every couple ended their relationship during the tough times, no one would ever survive.

3. Love and respect yourself. You’re worth it. You’re a good guy. Be a leader. A kind one.

4. When your son is born, don’t even think about leaving your wife’s side. Stay awake for 72 hours straight if you must. Hold your child so your wife can sleep. Hold her hand when she’s holding him. And assure her every single second that she’ll always be able to count on you. Then prove it every day after that.

5. Start writing soon. More than news stories. Stories about your life. It will help you make sense of things.

6. Have crazier, more-frequent sex with your wife. She’ll like it.

7. Just because you say and feel “I love you” DOES NOT adequately convey the message. It doesn’t matter that it’s true. She doesn’t know. You don’t know how she can get upset with you. You think she’s a crazy, emotional girl. You don’t understand. The same is true in reverse. SHE DOESN’T KNOW if you don’t show her you love her. And all the ways you think you show someone you love them? Only some of it is true. Don’t dismiss her when she asks you what you want to do Friday night. Have an opinion. Don’t wait for her to suggest something then shoot it down because it’s not what you would choose.

Pick something. Have a reason. Care about it. Challenge her, if you must. Just do it with kindness and respect. Compromise.

You will have a MILLION of those little moments throughout your marriage.

Every time you say or act like you don’t care?

You’re telling your wife she’s not important enough to care about. To think about. To put effort into.

It’s going to kill her.

And then she’s going to leave you.

And you’re going to miss your son.

And it doesn’t have to be that way.

You get to write your own story. And I want you to listen to me. Because I’m you. Because I already did all the stupid shit you’re about to do.

If you make the same choices, everything breaks.

As both of us like to say: I hate being right all the time.

So don’t. Make better choices.

Choose yourself.

Choose love.

Then someday when you get a few minutes, maybe you can write Future You and tell me how great you’re doing. Thanks!

You May Also Want to Read:

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 2

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 3

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 4

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 7

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 8

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 9

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 10

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 11

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 12

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 13

…..

Like this post? Hate it? You can subscribe to this blog by scrolling annoyingly far to the bottom of this page and inserting your email address under “Follow Blog via Email.” You can also follow MBTTTR on Twitter and Facebook.

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An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5

mrmom“So what you are saying is, I need to help you around the house and with the kids whether I want to or not?”Husband, searching for answers after wife left him yesterday, taking their two children

Now you’ve done it.

I told you it was going to happen. And I was right.

Not because I’m smart. Not because I’m psychic.

But simply because I’ve been where you are and tend to learn from my mistakes.

You didn’t think she was going to leave.

We’ve got kids!, you thought.

We have the house!

We have our friends!

She’ll snap out of it!

She loves me!

Surprise, asshole! Love isn’t enough. And neither is all that other crap.

Maybe some people will take the beating forever. I don’t pretend to know everything.

But most won’t. Once life really turns to shit and there’s nothing left to lose, a person sheds a whole bunch of fear. They rise up. Fight back.

Your problem is you only see the world through your narrow little prism.

You don’t realize that she doesn’t think like you. She doesn’t feel like you. And the radical changes taking place are under the surface. On the inside of her. Invisible to anyone not paying attention or unwilling to listen.

Invisible to someone just like you.

And now she’s gone.

Shit Just Got Real

Writing these Open Letter to Shitty Husbands posts, I always have a few specific men in mind. Guys I have met or know in real life. Guys I know are guilty of the EXACT same crimes that doomed my marriage.

Because once you get divorced (and publish your life on the internet) people have a tendency to start sharing private details of their lives with you.

Well, one of those shitty husbands just got left yesterday.

The results were predictable.

After untold hours of conversation, marriage counseling, and repeated warnings of discontent and requests for change, he was still in total shock when he came home to find his wife and two children gone.

Even though this is an untrue generalization, it often seems that only a man could be capable of such dense, negligent behavior.

Believe me. I know.

Every marriage is different. And the marital sins of a husband are going to vary from relationship to relationship, depending on a million different factors.

Some men travel for work. Others don’t.

Some men make an enormous amount of money. Others don’t.

Some men cheat on their wives. Others don’t.

Some men know how to be good fathers. Others don’t.

Some men satisfy their wives’ sexual desires. Others don’t.

This particular husband’s marital sins seem to mostly revolve around doing whatever he wants, whenever he wants, with no regard for how his decisions might affect his wife and children.

You’ve heard it, seen it, done it or experienced it all before. It looks something like this.

Wife: “Hey, I have to get up early tomorrow and take our daughter to her doctor’s appointment. So, you’ll have to make sure our son gets to school on time.”

Husband: “Yeah, sure, no problem.”

Wife: “That means you can’t stay up all night watching football or playing video games with your friends. Every time you do that, you sleep in all morning.”

Husband: “I got it, Mom. Thanks. I’m trying to watch this, okay? While I appreciate your concern, I’m perfectly capable of making my own big-boy choices.”

Wife: *deep breath* “Would you please put the dishes that are in the sink in the dishwasher and start it before you come to bed? I’ll take care of the rest when I get home tomorrow morning.”

Husband: “Yeah. I’ll get it.”

Wife: “Thank you. I love you. Goodnight.”

Husband: “Sure. Night.”

Morning comes.

Wife leaves to take daughter to doctor’s appointment. She notices the kitchen is exactly the way she had left it. There is an open bag of chips and two empty Dr. Pepper cans on the floor by the living room recliner.

That lazy sonofabitch, she thinks.

Husband watched football until 11 p.m. Then he played Madden and Call of Duty for four hours.

Tired at 3 a.m., he forgot to set his alarm.

Wife comes home at 9:30 a.m. after dropping daughter off at school. Six-year-old son is in living room watching television and eating a Pop Tart—totally not at school. Husband is still asleep, oblivious.

Fight ensues.

…..

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.

…..

About Helping Around the House

“So what you are saying is, I need to help you around the house and with the kids whether I want to or not?”

This kind of thinking still surprises me, even though it shouldn’t.

This is, literally, what the husband said to the wife who left him. He promised to change and she told him she didn’t know if she believed he was capable. So, he asked THAT.

I wish it was weird that so many men think like this. But so many do.

Dishes. Cleaning. Child rearing. Laundry. Cooking. School stuff.

That’s women’s work!

So many men feel this way.

And I think I know why. I think it’s because these men used to be boys. And when they were boys, one of a few different things happened:

  1. Their mothers coddled them. Did their laundry. Did all the cooking and cleaning. Waited on them hand and foot, much like they did to their fathers.
  2. Their fathers had this chauvinistic mindset which THEY learned from their fathers. And because sons almost blindly hero-worship their fathers, they took on this same philosophy.
  3. Or, both, which REALLY validates this way of life in the mind of a son during his formative years.

It’s classic old-school thinking.

I’m actually reminded of it every day. I live in a suburban neighborhood that was developed during the 1950s. Some houses, like mine, have two-car garages because of later modifications or new construction. But most? They have a one-car garage.

And that’s because in the 1950s, families only had one car. They only needed one car. Because the father went to work in the family car while the wife stayed home and raised children.

And even in 2014, there is still much of society that shares that mindset.

Men are hardworking breadwinners away from home.

And women take care of all that easy stuff—EVERYTHING else. And don’t forget the blow job before you get back to ironing my shirts, sweetie!

While I never shared this mindset—ever—I am a product of a mother who coddled me.

My laundry was always folded and in my drawers or hung up in my closet.

The house was always very tidy.

Breakfast and dinner were always on the table. Mom did all the cleaning, too.

Making my bed in the morning was my only chore until I was old enough to help rake leaves and mow the lawn.

My mom is the oldest of eight kids. She has been taking care of others for as long as she can remember.

While I have stepsisters who I grew up mostly apart from and a half sister 14 years younger than me, I was essentially raised as an only child.

I didn’t have to do anything except homework, then whatever I wanted.

That’s the math formula for creating me—a guy who had a very difficult time adjusting to the responsibilities of a full-time relationship, and eventually, marriage, because I had never been asked to do those things before.

I would encourage parents to think about this when raising children. Might be the difference between raising mature, responsible people with successful marriages, or immature, negligent people whose marriages are doomed to fail.

Guys: You must help your wife with the responsibilities of raising children, which includes the tasks of keeping a house in order—laundry, cooking, dishes, grocery shopping, bill paying, etc.

Don’t? She’s going to leave.

She will, man.

Love in the Time of Selfishness

The answer is: Yes.

You have to help around the house and with the kids even when you don’t want to.

But here’s the REALLY important part you need to be thinking about.

You don’t need to help around the house and with the kids just because your wife doesn’t have time to do it all. In truth, she probably can figure it out. A mother’s multitasking capabilities are unparalleled in the world.

What she does need is to have her wants and desires validated by you.

She needs to feel safe.

She needs to feel loved.

She needs to be able to trust you. Not in a don’t-have-sex-with-other people sense. But in a I-can-count-on-my-husband sense.

She doesn’t just want you to do laundry.

In fact, she may literally not want you to do laundry because you’re apt to mess up her clothes by drying things you’re not supposed to, and do a lousy job folding everything.

What she wants you to do is observe, appreciate, and respect the enormous amount of effort she puts in to making your lives what they are.

She doesn’t even need you to thank her and buy her stuff, though that would be a very nice, thoughtful thing to do.

But when you can’t even do the little things she asks you to do, she’s not angry because she has to do that work also. She’s angry because you don’t respect her enough to perform such a simple task, even after saying you will.

THAT’s why she feels unloved. Because she can’t trust you. You’re unreliable.

Because every chance you get to SHOW her that you love her, you choose yourself over her or your family.

She’ll eventually have an emotional reaction. Maybe she’ll yell. Maybe she’ll cry.

You’ll think she’s crazy. You might even tell her so. Maybe you’ll tell her again that the things she thinks and feels are stupid.

Please don’t do that.

She doesn’t like yelling.

She doesn’t like crying.

She doesn’t like feeling alone.

She doesn’t like feeling abandoned.

And she is not out to get you. Or make your life worse. She knows that you two are currently living in ways which are unsustainable. She knows that this can only keep up so much longer, and then it’s all going to break. She knows your marriage is in grave danger.

And you just keep choosing to play golf.

Or to go to the bar.

Or to play video games.

You just keep choosing everything except your marriage.

It might be too late already. Sometimes wives check out. And there’s no turning back.

I’ve seen that play before. It stings.

But maybe you still have time.

Maybe she’s still in the house. Holding on.

Or maybe she left but you still see a glimmer of hope.

Use that fear of loss. Channel it. And use it to fuel your personal growth.

Because that’s the only way this has a happy ending.

If you grow. Not necessarily change. But evolve.

Ask yourself: Am I really happier without her?

Maybe! I don’t know how you experience the world.

I only know my life got infinitely shittier once my wife and son left.

Seriously.

And if you’re like me? If you, deep down where it counts, want to keep your marriage and family intact? Then it’s time to do the hardest thing we do as human beings.

Change.

  1. Stop deflecting blame. Accept responsibility for your role in the breakdowns. Big or small, you have some.
  2. Apologize. Mean it.
  3. Learn about your wife. There are great resources out there.
  4. Pray. If you’re not a believer, just look to the sky and say: “Please help.”
  5. Choose to love. Vow to give more than you take in your marriage, every day, forever.

I know you’re selfish. I get it. I am, too. I know this is intimidating. I know you’re so selfish that you’re asking yourself whether divorce might be easier than putting in the work.

Maybe you’ll need to learn the hard way, like me.

But maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll realize that divorce is not easier than putting more effort into your marriage.

And I’m telling you, you can do it.

You still have time.

To be a soldier.

To change yourself.

To do something heroic.

You May Also Want to Read:

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 2

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 3

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 4

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 6

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 7

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 8

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 9

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 10

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 11

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 12

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 13

…..

Like this post? Hate it? You can subscribe to this blog by scrolling annoyingly far to the bottom of this page and inserting your email address under “Follow Blog via Email.” You can also follow MBTTTR on Twitter and Facebook.

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An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 3

I know a birthday girl. I just met her husband. I don't know if they'll make it. But I really want them to. And I believe they can.

I know a birthday girl. I just met her husband. I don’t know if they’ll make it. But I really want them to. And I believe they can.

I met a shitty husband last night.

And I liked him. First impressions go a long way with me.

And I don’t think he’s a bad guy. Not at all. But I do think he’s a shitty husband.

He’s 34 like me. He reminds me of me five years ago. He’s not a father, and that can be a disadvantage for guys from a maturation standpoint. Sometimes, you don’t really figure out what unconditional love looks and feels like until you hold your child.

And I think that revelation—that recognition of what it feels like to love something more than yourself—can be a very useful tool in a marriage.

Applying the Love for Your Children to Your Partner

Anyone who has ever been in a relationship for any reasonable amount of time understands the infatuation phase—while the most fun—can’t and won’t last.

Just the smallest amount of effort can do wonders for her emotional security, which is directly correlated to how much she wants your penis touching her.

Infatuation and lust will get you so far, then you’re inevitably looking to recreate that feeling with someone else sooner or later.

And sometimes, during the eternal pursuit of that next passionate romance, you just end up breaking a bunch of things.

Families.

Friendships.

Children.

Yourself.

But with a little self-recognition and awareness, we can combat this.

With the realization that the grass is most certainly not always greener—that there is no perfect partner with whom you’ll never have conflict or disappointment or hurt feelings or dissatisfaction—you can learn to stop trying to change your partner. Or change partners.

And you can start trying to change yourself.

There’s only one constant in the lives of those people you know who are constantly in and out of unhealthy relationships. And that’s the individual who keeps putting his or herself there.

They are the common denominator. And that cycle must be broken.

It can’t happen until those people learn how to be honest with others. And more importantly, with themselves.

Once we accept that it’s not going to be lovey-dovey happiness forever, we can move on to learning how to love in ways that matter. In ways that are sustainable.

1. Stop making it about you.

Stop asking why that person doesn’t make you feel the way they used to. Or why all of these things keep happening to you.

2. Make it about them.

Ask yourself how you can make your partner feel the way you want to feel. How you can make good things happen for them. Lead by example, even when it’s hard. Even when you don’t feel like it.

3. Choose to do that every day, forever.

The same way your parents did for you. The same way parents choose to do that for their children—even when they’re acting like little heathen assholes. THAT’S real love. Because it’s not about how we feel. It’s about the choices we make.

…..

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.

…..

I’ve Already Seen This Movie

And it has a tragic ending.

That’s what I was thinking last night when I saw her being ignored by her husband. Literally, the entire night.

The birthday girl.

She looked magnificent. And I’m not sure he told her once.

She misses his company and attention because he has a pretty inconvenient work schedule. But I don’t remember him standing next to her.

I don’t remember him kissing her. Touching her arm. Whispering in her ear. Even just a nice smile from across the room to let her know how happy he was to see she was having a nice birthday.

I’ve seen this fucking movie.

I starred in it.

I played the male lead.

Because that was me. Not doing all of those things I so desperately wish I had the opportunity to do now.

I didn’t tell my ex how perfect she looked. Not enough. I didn’t make sure she knew—without a doubt—how much she was loved and wanted. I was too busy telling jokes and talking football with my friends when we’d all get together.

Guys, you have got to get better at this. I have got to get better at this, should I ever have the opportunity to try again some day.

Don’t do the thing where you ignore them all night and then try to have late-night drunk sex because you’re feeling horny. Please.

Just the smallest amount of effort can do wonders for her emotional security, which is directly correlated to how much she wants your penis touching her.

Tell her you love her. Whisper that you want her. Make eye contact from across the room. Smile. Touch her. Pay attention to her. Maybe when she least expects it.

Care about the things that she cares about—NOT because you give a shit about how her hair color didn’t turn out like she wanted or what color she painted her accent nail or whether she’s wearing new shoes or why she chose to carry that particular purse or handbag that night. Not because you like talking about the same things as her, because maybe you don’t.

That’s okay.

Care about the things she cares about BECAUSE she cares about them. That’s the reason to care. That’s the reason it matters.

Because these things matter to her.

This applies to her hobbies. Her hopes and dreams. Her career. Her passions and interests. Her stories about her friends or family or coworkers that maybe you don’t really want to listen to.

Fortify your relationship by doing the little things. Every day.

Do that, and there will be an every day.

Don’t? You might be sitting right here feeling sorry for a birthday girl who deserves the world and an oblivious husband who doesn’t know the damage he’s causing.

Tequila Makes Me Smart

Ever drink a bunch of beer and vodka, and then switch to a perfect salted-rim margarita on the rocks and start solving the world’s relationship issues with a fellow divorcee from Scotland in an open-air rooftop bar?

Me too!

Dear Jesus, you should hear me pontificate after eight or nine drinks.

The funny part? People think I’m smart! I con them with my above-average vocabulary and my cocksure attitude on subjects I may actually know nothing about.

I don’t know if any of this shit has merit. I don’t!

But, cocksure or otherwise, I do think I can identify the marital sins of my past. And I REALLY want to help men avoid going through what I’m going through. I REALLY want children to have the opportunity to grow up with both of their parents under the same roof.

This doesn’t have to be a pipedream. It doesn’t have to be so goddamn hard.

It just takes two people willing to give more than they take. Two people trying to out-give one another. Doesn’t that sound fun? Isn’t that something everyone can get behind?

My marital sins were on full display last night. The oblivious husband was me. And the birthday girl was my ex.

And it doesn’t have to be like this.

They are two good people. Two kind people.

She loves him.

And I don’t know for sure, but I just vibe that he’s a good man—a good man who loves her back.

And I know they can make it.

And I want them to make it.

And I believe if he only knew what I knew—felt what I felt—that he’d dig in and try his very best to make sure she felt the way she needs to feel for this to not fall apart.

Loved.

Safe.

Needed.

Appreciated.

Validated.

Respected.

Desired.

If they can make this happen, maybe I can be at her birthday party 10 years from now. Maybe she’ll be smiling. Maybe he’ll be smiling. Maybe it will be at one another. Maybe everyone who sees it will privately Awwwwww. And maybe they can be what the rest of us envy.

Happily. Ever. After.

In real life, it doesn’t look like it does in the movies.

But it can be beautiful.

And I still believe in it.

You May Also Want to Read:

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 2

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 4

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 6

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 7

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 8

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 9

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 10

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 11

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 12

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 13

…..

Like this post? Hate it? You can subscribe to this blog by scrolling annoyingly far to the bottom of this page and inserting your email address under “Follow Blog via Email.” You can also follow MBTTTR on Twitter and Facebook.

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An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 2

love-love-31236730-1280-800

There’s a huge difference between being “whipped” and being a man who puts his wife first.

Being whipped is cowardly. And unsustainable.

Putting your wife on a pedestal and putting her needs first is heroic.

Because it’s hard. And I think one of life’s most-obvious lessons is that doing difficult things is a worthwhile exercise.

And that’s what I’m going to challenge you to do, gentlemen. To be heroes.

To be in the business of saving families.

100-100

In every marriage, the husband and wife dynamic is going to vary.

There are very submissive wives, as well as domineering ones. There are very alpha-male husbands, as well as those happy to let their wives run the show.

I submit that all of those power structures are poor choices.

Conventional wisdom suggests that in a healthy partnership, both sides give equally. 50-50.

But guess what? That’s not enough.

If you want your marriage to work—and gentlemen, I implore you to want it to—you have to give everything.

Unbreakable marriages are built from two people giving 100 percent. Both ways.

Time and time again, I see the wives giving more.

This is by no means always the case. But it happens far too often.

Perhaps your wife stays home with the children. If you’ve spent any time caring for multiple children at once, you should realize this has its own unique set of challenges. She probably does the vast majority of cooking, shopping, and cleaning too.

Maybe you don’t feel bad about this arrangement. Because she gets to stay home while you slave away at whatever you do for money, putting food on the table for your family.

I get it. We grew up watching our fathers and grandfathers live this way. It became ingrained in us at a young age. Men make money. Women make children and sandwiches.

But I know you know that’s bullshit. At least I pray you do.

And if your wife has a career? She has all those professional pressures to deal with in addition to the heavy load she carries at home.

Respect her struggles. Care about the challenges she faces. And help her with them.

…..

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.

…..

Make the Choice to Love

Step One is always going to be to genuinely love and respect your wife.

And I have to believe you do if you’re still reading.

Step Two? Don’t treat her as an equal. Treat her like something more.

  1. I know how hard this is. All humans can be shitty and unreasonable. My guess is your wife is no exception. And when you give a lot and she doesn’t act appreciative or even considerate of what you do, it’s going to hurt. You’re going to resent it. You’re going to be angry. And maybe even feel a little shame.
  2. Guess what? DO IT ANYWAY.
  3. Write this down and remind yourself of it daily: Love is NOT a feeling. Feelings are fickle. They change and come and go with such frequency, it’s impossible to build a foundation on them. Infatuation is a feeling. Lust is a feeling. Love is a CHOICE. A decision. It’s a verb. It’s an action. It’s something you wake up every day and choose to do. The sooner we can get every human being on the planet to understand this, the sooner we can do something about our depressing divorce rate.

If your wife is the anti-Christ, I’m sorry. We all make bad decisions. Especially me.

More than likely, she’s not. More than likely, she’s just a girl trying to make it through this challenging life. Just like you.

She has hopes and dreams, too. And you’d be wise to figure out what those are and try to help her achieve them, big and small.

And she’s scared. Terrified, even. When all the lights are off and it’s just her and her thoughts? If you’re not doing the right things, she’s scared. She’s scared you don’t love her as much as you used to. She’s scared there might not be enough money to pay for little Jimmy’s braces. She’s scared that she might not have the strength to keep juggling everyone in your family’s schedule. That she’s losing the strength to be the glue in the household.

And when your wife is scared, her defenses go up.

And then she nags you. To clean your shoes before walking through the house. About that leaky faucet you still haven’t fixed. About how you spend so much of your time watching the ballgame, playing video games, or working in the garage, and how you don’t spend enough time with the kids, or planning family activities, or making her feel good inside or outside of the bedroom. The sex becomes infrequent or nonexistent.

“I love you” becomes a thoughtless daily thing you’re programmed to say before leaving for work.

It’s human nature to take things for granted. I’m not going to beat you up about losing sight of the big picture once in a while.

But you can train your mind to focus on that which matters most. And boys, your wives and families matter most. And if they don’t, you’re in the wrong line of work.

Sometimes it takes losing your spouse or a child to truly understand what gifts they are.

I’m asking you to not be that way. To be mindful of their importance in your life and to consider how devastating the loss would be if they weren’t there anymore. So that you don’t have to feel the brutality of the alternative.

You’re going to have to disappoint your buddies once in a while when they want to take that golf weekend away, or tailgate at the college football game, or just go out drinking on a random weeknight.

You’re going to have to watch a cheesy romantic comedy once in a while, or take her to the theater.

You’re going to have to listen to music you don’t want to on road trips, and vacation places that aren’t your first choice.

The Righteous Brothers sang about losing that loving feeling. And maybe you’ve felt it in your own life. Maybe you’re not feeling motivated to get it back because she’s on your ass all the time about some chore you’ve been putting off, or because she never acts interested in you anymore, mentally or physically.

You have the power to change everything. You really do.

Love her.

Dude. Just love her.

Love her by being kind. By small displays of thoughtfulness. By recognizing and respecting her contributions to your life. By being a strong father. By making her feel loved and wanted when others are watching. And by making her feel loved and wanted when no one’s watching.

Don’t sit around waiting for something to happen. It’s not going to. Nothing good, anyway. Don’t be a statistic.

Make it happen.

Show your sons what heroism looks like. How to treat women. Show them the path to a happy and sustainable relationship.

Show your daughters what it looks and feels like to be treated well and respected by men. That will pay dividends later.

And show your wife—every chance you get—that she is loved and valued.

Give without asking for anything in return. For it is in giving that we receive.

Find a way to be the bigger, more patient, more loving person during conflict. For it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.

Find a way to be the hero.

Because you are the man of the house. And it’s time to start acting like it.

You May Also Want to Read:

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 3

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 4

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 6

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 7

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 8

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 9

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 10

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 11

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 12

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 13

…..

Like this post? Hate it? You can subscribe to this blog by scrolling annoyingly far to the bottom of this page and inserting your email address under “Follow Blog via Email.” You can also follow MBTTTR on Twitter and Facebook.

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An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1

Photo by Mike Klemme

A tradition unlike any other?
Photo by Mike Klemme

Dear Shitty Husband,

Yep. You.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s one of, or some combination of, the following:

  1. I’m not a shitty husband! I work 50-hour-plus weeks to pay for our house, and our cars, and our vacations, and her jewelry, and the kids’ activities. I love my wife and family!
  2. I’m not a shitty husband! I would do ANYTHING for my wife.
  3. I’m not a shitty husband! I fix things around the house that need fixed. I mow the lawn, and walk the dog, and take out the trash, and help change diapers, and run the kids to their little league games.
  4. I’m not a shitty husband! I always make sure she has an orgasm when we have sex once a week!
  5. I’m not a shitty husband! I don’t drink excessively, I’m drug-free, I work out, I don’t hit her, I don’t call her names and I don’t cheat!

And listen. I get it. You really truly don’t believe you’re a shitty husband. And I commend you for all of the good things you do, and applaud you for all the sacrifices you make on behalf of your wife and/or family.

But guess what?

Shut up. You’re an asshole and a shitty husband.

I don’t know everything there is to know about marriage. I might not even know a lot. But I know one VERY important thing: I’m an asshole. And I was a shitty husband.

On Easter Sunday of this year, my wife took her ring off after nine years of marriage and informed me she was leaving.

It hurt. It took my breath away. It frightened me.

But I wasn’t shocked.

Because we (husbands) have an awful lot more control than we think we do.

And all of us—male and female—need to accept more responsibility than we do for our circumstances.

And that’s what I’m going to do now. Accept some responsibility.

As of this writing, I don’t have much of an audience. But what little audience I have has read me talk about how my wife ended our nine-year marriage by leaving me the day after Easter.

But the question on the table today is: Had I been the husband I was supposed to be during the beginning and middle years of our marriage, would we ever have gotten to the point where my wife was looking elsewhere for inner peace and happiness?

She most definitely sucks for ending our relationship the way she did. She doesn’t get a free pass for that.

But this is where I have to take responsibility—at least part of it—for the position in which I find myself.

I was NOT a perfect husband.

I’m not even sure I was a good husband.

I loved her. I was kind to her. I wanted to make her happy and win her approval. I wanted to take care of her and provide for her. I went to work every day for her. She gave me purpose. I wanted to be with her forever.

But I was an asshole. A selfish one. And while I truly believe I redeemed myself during the final two years of our marriage, when I was growing and she was withdrawing, I was a shitty husband for the seven years prior.

…..

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.

…..

Watching The Masters

I didn’t know it at the time, but four years ago, a defining moment in my life happened during the Sunday final round of The Masters golf tournament—generally considered to be the most-popular golf tournament of the year by American golf fans.

Living in Ohio, that general time period around Easter and The Masters is when you can count on the weather to break and really give you some beautiful days.

My ex-wife absolutely loves being outside. She grew up in the country, and sitting inside on a beautiful day is not her idea of a good time.

So, inevitably, it was gorgeous outside during the final round of The Masters. Our son was not quite a year old. And my wife wanted us, as a family, to go enjoy the weather together.

Go hike in the nearby national park.

Go to the zoo.

Go to a metro park trail.

Sounds pretty reasonable, right?

I think so.

But on that particular Sunday, without the benefit of failed-marriage hindsight? It sounded perfectly unreasonable.

It went something like this:

Me: “Babe. I’d really just like to watch my favorite golf tournament. This only happens once a year.”

Wife: “I can’t believe you want to sit inside on a such a beautiful day. You don’t want to go do something nice as a family?”

Me: “I don’t want to sit inside on a beautiful day—I kind of wish it was raining—and of course I want to do fun things together, but again, this golf tournament happens just one weekend a year. And that happens to be today. I’d like to watch it. I’m sorry.”

This all hit me a few months ago during the 2013 Masters. It was on TV at my house. But nobody was home. She’d already left. My son was gone. I was there. I was awake. But I wasn’t home.

I’m tempted to look up who even won the damn golf tournament this year. Because I truly can’t remember. Maybe Justin Rose or Adam Scott. But honestly, who cares?

I chose The Masters over a perfect Sunday afternoon with my wife and son.

And guess what, Guy Who Thinks That Sounds Perfectly Acceptable?

You’re an asshole. And a shitty husband. Just like me.

I committed marriage’s worst crime, after all the obvious stuff like cheating, and abuse, and the like.

I left my wife alone in our marriage.

It looks a lot like that Masters Sunday four years ago.

It’s what it looks like when she stays home on a Friday night to take care of the kids and do chores and watch “Desperate Housewives” alone on the couch while you’re out with the boys.

It’s what it looks like when she invites you to bed during Monday Night Football, but you’re too busy monitoring your fantasy football team to join her.

It’s what it looks like when she asks you to join her for a family function at the in-laws, and you decline so you can watch a movie at home alone, or sit around playing video games, or playing golf, or playing poker.

It’s what it looks like when you go to a party and you spend all of your time drinking and laughing with your friends, and never once squeezing her hand, or whispering in her ear how gorgeous she looks, or making eye contact from across the room and mouthing the words “I love you.”

It’s what it looks like when you leave the hospital to get a good night’s sleep the day your son was born even though your wife is begging you to stay.

It’s what it looks like when you don’t acknowledge all of the many things she carries every day so that you don’t have to—managing schedules, and the household, and buying gifts for birthdays and weddings and graduations, and keeping the house clean, and a million other things I’m STILL too fucking dense to recognize even though I’m still picking up the pieces in my now-empty home.

The hardest lesson I’ve ever learned is that you can have all of the good intentions in the world. You can be kind. And charming. And willing to sacrifice.

And it can STILL break.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I’ve heard that proverb my entire life and I never really knew what it meant until now.

You know, it’s funny. I could have just DVR’d the fucking Masters.

And you can too.

We’re broken people. We’re shitty husbands.

But gentlemen—we don’t have to be.

You May Also Want to Read:

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 2

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 3

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 4

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 6

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 7

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 8

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 9

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 10

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 11

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 12

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 13

…..

Like this post? Hate it? You can subscribe to this blog by scrolling annoyingly far to the bottom of this page and inserting your email address under “Follow Blog via Email.” You can also follow MBTTTR on Twitter and Facebook.

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