Are Husbands Really Assholes? Or Do Their Wives Just Think They Are?

Why do some men report that even the attempt to be a good husband is a soul-crushing experience?

There is a conversation that started with some guys in The Good Men Project—in person, by phone, via email—where men were asked to talk deeply and honestly about their marriage. What came out was startling: there is despair in the voices of married men. The refrain heard over and over is some variation of “I want to have a good marriage. I love my wife. But sometimes, all I feel is resentment—from my wife, toward my wife, toward the marriage. I believe my wife thinks I am an asshole, and she treats me as such.”

My first thought was: If an alien came to earth and read this, it would think marriages are a form of torture chambers. My second thought? Wives should know about this. I don’t think they do.

These guys seem to feel that a marital relationship comes down to more than compromise. Some go as far as to say it’s a form of humiliation—“a bitter pill that I have to trust will be worth it.” Often a man will admit that a central issue in their lives is dealing with the irrational-seeming criticism from their wives in a way that isn’t defensive but shows compassion and love, despite the cost to their souls.

There is an obvious breakdown of communication in the marriages where men feel resentful and women are oblivious to that resentment. But the saddest thing, to me, is that the breakdown is destined to continue; many men agreed to be quoted only if they could do so anonymously. They can’t talk openly about their marriages without fear of reprisal. The last thing they want is for their wives to find out.

Not every marriage is doomed, of course, and even where guys talk openly about the problems, there is a ton of love and joy that makes up for it. But others have lost hope that there is a way to solve the problem. Because, as men readily admit, maybe they are assholes, sometimes. We are all human; we are all flawed. Women are equally imperfect. But almost always, the men we talked to start with an intention of trying to understand their wives, get a grasp on what would make the marriage work, and have an intense desire to move toward an increasingly great relationship, instead of one where they feel continually disconnected. And yet, they can’t seem to get there. Despair is the end result of ongoing frustration and disconnection.

Here are some of the responses we received:

  •  “There’s an easy way and a hard way to communicate with my wife. The easy way is to admit she is right, immediately, no matter what. The hard way is to fight now and admit she is right down the line when you run out of steam.”
  •  “Women are constantly trying to control their husbands. If a man dares to critique his wife, she immediately goes on the attack, screaming and crying with the express intent of teaching, so that no good man would ever do it again. Most men learn the lesson well and early and learn to ‘seethe in silence.’ The resentment continues to grow. Men feel defenseless against this kind of attack and don’t know how to have any equality.” (John Wilder, marriage coach)
  •  “Most every problematic marriage I’ve seen has one theme in common. The woman is so busy trying to force the man to attend to her agenda that she doesn’t appreciate, or even notice, all of the things he does for her.”

The reason marriages fall apart is that we don’t communicate. The reason we don’t communicate is fear of reprisal. Obviously, these discussions should be going on, but they do not appear to be, and many men are at a loss for a way into the conversation.

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Communicating is hard when you are always trying to duck and cover.

Difficult discussions are a given in any relationship. But this is different. The men we talked to appear unwilling or unable to displace their animosity and bitterness. Many want to hide behind the cloak of anonymity. The consensus is that the only way to protect the marriage is to not talk about it.

He says: “My suggestion: duck and take cover in an undisclosed location. I do have hope. I have watched my brother-in-law deal with my older sister in a very cunning way. He just ignores her, walks away, and goes to get a beer or smoke a cigar. I guess he is a man beaten down to a slow retreat each time the shit hits the fan. Calling them on the carpet doesn’t work. Countless times, I’ve asked my wife, ‘What’s up? Why so many orders, I am not your personal slave!’ She fires back, ‘I am not giving orders, only making suggestions.’”

She says: “I tried very hard to be the ‘good wife’ when the marriage was young. I think, however, that we women in general expect too much of men—we expect you to be our ‘soul mate’ and the source of all our happiness. Our white knight in shining armor. Whatever. Then reality hits. There is no way any man can live up to what were fed in romance novels and RomComs. So no matter what, you look like an asshole. We can’t handle the disappointment and are too brainwashed to admit that our expectations are just too high. So we lash out.”

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Explaining the forces at work: a list and some details.

A quick, non-scientific survey of self-appointed experts in the perception of husbands as assholes, despite a lack of evidence, turned up a list of potential causes of this phenomenon:

  • “Marriage is hard work. There is no disparity here. Wives feel that husbands order them around. ”
  • “Some kind of Freudian thing that women generally resent their fathers and take it out on their husbands.”
  • “It’s just a hormonal thing.”
  • “Men see the locus of control inside themselves, so when shit goes wrong, they try to fix it, where women more often see it externally, so they blame others.”
  • “It’s about sex. They want to make you earn it.”
  • “The beauty-maintenance-insanity correlation. If you want a beautiful wife, you are going to pay the price since they have other options, always, and will make you aware of that fact implicitly.”
  • “Guys really are thoughtless assholes. We need a woman to slap us upside of our face to get us to do pretty much anything.”
  • “Golf. Too much golf is the source of all problems.”
  • “Every guy secretly wants to marry a stripper, and your wife is just letting you know if you do, it’s really, really going to be painful.”

Women and men both were quick to jump in with some of the details.

She says: “Look, maybe we don’t ‘nag you constantly’ at all. Maybe we’re just flapping our lips and you’re projecting. Think about how much time we spend on the phone versus how much time you spend on it. Consider that we can talk to our sister/best friend/cousin five days in a row and never run out of things to talk about. We need to discuss and dissect our mother’s insensitivity, our job’s unrelenting pressures, and the nasty look the cashier gave us when we tried to use an expired coupon at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Most of the time we’re not saying, ‘You are such a jerk for leaving your socks on the floor!’ but ‘Oh my god would you look at the socks all over the floor!’ We’re giving a play-by-play of the minutia that is our lives (because that’s what we do), and you’re getting defensive because, well, you know you’re a slob, so you assume our ire is your fault. Sometimes it is, but just as often it’s not. (Tip: When we’re on a rant, the very-best way to diffuse it is some variation of ‘You sure do a lot around here and I am one lucky son-of-a-bitch.’ You should try it!).”

He says: “This ‘male’ training goes back to the built-in insecurity of wives fearing their husbands will abandon them and stop providing and protecting them, and hence to need to keep them on a short leash. I still like being a guy better. Remember—it’s easier dealing with a difficult woman than living as a difficult, demanding woman 24/7. That’s why many women don’t like other women, too. We guys are simple and lower-maintenance on average. We just want women to be in a good mood, give us some positive reinforcement, do fun things with us (such as sex), look good (but not over-the-top perfect), give us some space, allow us our food and sleep, and clear out some other hassles and roadblocks in life. That about covers it. What do women want? Everything. Without having to spell it out first—but then get mad afterward if he doesn’t do it. Because after all, ‘if he really cared about me, then he would have [fill in the blank].’”

She says: “As a woman, we suffer from a behavior which I have named ‘I’m not happy and it is all your fault.’ We have learned that unless we are in “control” of our spouse’s thoughts and behavior (‘don’t fold the towels that way, why did you say that and not this’), then there must be something wrong with our spouse and the relationship. There is a line from the movie As Good As it Gets that illustrates this perfectly. Jack Nicholson’s character is asked how he writes so successfully about women. He states, ‘I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability.’”

♦◊♦

One of the scariest things about these conversations, and the reason it’s important to get them out in the open, is that not only does resentment beget resentment, but it starts that dangerous spillover where men and women start to make vast generalizations about each other, based on what they see as repetitive behavior in the one relationship they would like to believe is unique. As some men told us:

  •  “Men want to be good husbands but they honestly don’t know how. And the women they truly adore pound them as a result. Rather than talking it through, they ultimately get to the point where they give up on dialogue and just take the punishment as part of what they have to endure. And what’s interesting is how that enduring punishment comes out sideways over time in terms of men’s true view of women.”
  •  “We don’t have the verbal endurance to match the detail of women’s reasoning, and we cave. Even though they’ve missed the point entirely. Part of the problem is the support they get from their friends. Without that extra inspiration and misplaced confidence they might actually check with us to see if they’re on the right track. Naaaah.”
  •  “It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Somewhere along the line, the sewing circle (or whatever the XX version of the boys club is) started telling each other what they would and would not accept from their husbands, sometimes not letting the truth get in the way of a good story. The Elk Lodge, on the other hand, felt like they had to one-up each other with sometimes-apocryphal tales of henpeck-ery. As time marched on, men felt like they didn’t have it too bad at home, women felt like they didn’t have it quite good enough, and an entirely fictional middle ground was met.”

♦◊♦

What if a contract really was a contract?

Perhaps, then, a new framework is needed.

I remember working in advertising with a creative superstar, one who yelled and screamed at vendors, photographers, directors, and colleagues in an effort to get them to buy into his creative vision. One day I was sitting in his office, cowering, and he turned to me and said,

“Hey, you know, I’m not really an asshole when I leave the office. I go home, kick off my shoes, pat my dog, and invite my girlfriend over for a bottle of wine. My assholeness at the office is all a performance. I just need to get shit done.”

And yet, when you look at what guys are saying about their marriages, the reverse is often true. In the office, they are treated with respect and courtesy. They’re listened to, and negotiations happen aboveboard and frankly. But when they get home, all hell breaks loose, the rulebook is nowhere in sight. There’s, at best, a sense of anarchy and, at worst, a feeling of slavery.

Here’s what some men said:

  • “It’s funny how I can go from the office where people seem to respect me—my intelligence, my work ethic, my abilities—to a house where I am more or less treated like a lackey,”
  • “Where men handle their power in the workplace, there is a disconnect with the rules of engagement at home. Men enter into romantic relationships with no concept of the extremely ‘contractual’ nature of all human interaction. The contractual aspects of being at work are apparent and, even if you missed some of the fine points of your offices etiquette standards, enforced by everyone. No one likes to see someone break the rules of behavior in an office. Whenever someone yells, they’re reprimanded and ignored until they can ‘act like adults.’ If someone is condescending, they get called on it, are made to prove the correctness of their position, or labeled an arrogant creep. Threaten to ‘walk out,’ and you get fired. Make a claim you can’t prove against another employee, and you may get a lawsuit along with your pink slip. Even bosses must bend to the structure the company has decreed. Try to break these contractual points, and you are let go. If you are continually exposed to those ‘breaches,’ you will instinctively leave and seek a better job.”
  • “Compare that to the home life scenario. Men are exceedingly flustered by the treatment they receive by their wives. But even though we have plenty of anecdotal evidence to indicate they could have called their spouses on it at any time, they don’t. They hide, they “Yes Dear” to things they know are unreasonable, insulting or unfounded and they just take it.”
  • “Married men treat their wives differently than they do other women. In a well-meaning but unhealthy way, they don’t hold them accountable for their behavior, thinking that they’re doing everything they can to please their wives. Unfortunately, the lack of confrontation fuels the woman’s view that she can do whatever she wishes without encountering any resistance or blowback from her husband. Over time, he does what he can to keep the peace, while she continues to grow ever more demanding, testing his limits. You’d never see a guy do that in his workplace, but he does it at home. Half because he thinks he’s making her happy and half because he thinks he’s doing what he can to keep his home harmonious. Neither works.”

Perhaps, then, the answer lies with both parties—men and women—seeing marriage as the contractual relationship it really is, to explicitly honor the vows to “love and cherish.” No matter how hard it is. To look at those words as action words, not feelings. It’s impossible to commit to “feeling” the same way forever. But it’s not impossible to “act in love” with the person you cherish, until death do you part. You only need to believe that it is possible. And, for the record, I’ve never been to a wedding yet, where one says, “I vow to be an asshole and to let you treat me like one for all the days of my life.”

Out loud

It still bothers me that there’s no real dialogue around this issue. Men feel resentment, women appear oblivious, and conversation around the topic seems nil. Men and women both hope that their spouse will suddenly turn into the magic mind-reader, someone who will wake up and “get” the anger and disconnection that they are feeling. But if we can’t start the conversation husband by husband, wife by wife, then let’s start it together and get some of these issues out in the open.

As one guy mentioned, “I was having lunch with a friend who is about as happily married as any guy I know, to the same women for the last 25 years, and was telling him about this article. He just started laughing out loud and commented, ‘every guy I know can relate to that one.’”

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Poor, Poor, Pitiful Men: The Martyr Complex of the American Husband, Hugo Schwyzer
Being the Man Does Not Automatically Make Everything Your Fault, Jackie Summers

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—Photo klaaspieter/Flickr

About the Editors

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Husbands aren’t assholes until they become husbands. It’s that old joke “why does the bride smile so much at her wedding? Cause she knows she’s given her last blowjob.”……the ring makes him an instant asshole eliminating all blowjob possibilities forever.

    FOR ALL YOU YOUNG MEN…..DON’T DO IT. MARRIAGE IS BULLSHIT.

  2. whereishe? says:

    For some reason, as our relationship progressed, my husband saw fit to begin speaking to me in a condescending manner, second guessing how I do things and insisting I do things his way (like not using foil for certain purposes, not spending time on the internet for anything except what he deemed “important,” dropping anything I was doing to look at the cat or read some article at that very moment just because), or otherwise treating me like a child through incessant lecturing if I for instance forget to do something. Sh* like that. When I push back and ask not to be spoken to in that manner, oh my God! The fury would come out and indignant “I’m just trying to have a conversation,” and then “oh you just think I’m an asshole!”

    Now what the hell kind of conversation consists of basically berating the other person letting them know how wrong they are? Is that a dialogue??? I have become so frustrated at times that I burst into tears and/or just went smooth the f** off on him in a rage. Now he’s afraid to “speak his mind,” I swear to God I feel like he’s deliberately mind f** me and trying to drive me crazy.

    Now, for the most part, I just turn off my ears when he has a lecture and bite my tongue. Sometimes I do forget. This morning, for example, we have seconds to get out of the house. He’s taking the garbage to the curb, but I notice there’s another bag in the inside trash. I decide well I’ll grab that, but I see he’s practically to the curb and I ask is the a trash bag in the one he’s carrying out. He says yes. I am still on the porch and inches from the inside trash so I just put the bag back to save time.

    I get to the car and he asks why didn’t you just bring the other bag? I wanted to save time. But did you take it out? I was still on the porch, I say. So I just put it back to save time. Well he goes off about that. Did you take it out? He asks pointedly. I concede yes, I took it out but you were already putting the other on the curb so I just left it to save time because we were already running late. Well he has a problem with that because of the way I said it. Basically in the same tone with which he was addressing me. Now, mind you, this is a very typically argument we have.

    I apologized by text when I got to work and have not heard back from him for hours now. Oh well. I think men are basically asserting dominance over the wives and DO NOT think of us as equals. That is the problem. How else can he expect to get away with talking to me as if I’m a little girl and raising his voice towards me and expecting me to fall in line and do everything his way? What else can I call that? He wants to be king of his castle and king over me.

    For the record, I do not think my husband is an asshole. I want to know where is that kind man that I fell in love with?

    • I would image because your lack of intelligence and common sense when dealing with everyday situations began to annoy him. Then he realized he married an idiot and it wasn’t going to change.

  3. Valter Viglietti says:

    Great article, Lisa! (as always 🙂 )

    And a discussion of the utmost importance. Really something people should be openly talking more and more.
    Personally, I think “Lack of clear communication” and “Women’s too high expectations” are the topmost source of relationship’s trouble.

    My actual girlfriend is so sweet and accepting and grateful for everything I do/give her; I feel I’m a “gift” for her (just like she is for me).
    In comparison, I can see how much my previous partners were so demanding and critical, and thus how much the relationship became sour because of that.
    But we weren’t married, so when I had enough I could always leave. 😉

    It’s (tragically) funny, that women cannot realize this simple truth: the more you’re demanding, the lesser you’ll be loved. ❗
    You know that saying, “you catch more flys with sugar, then you do with vinegar”. 😉

    • She’s trying to hook you dude….Tell us how your relationship is doing now 4 years later. I assume you married this wonderful woman.

  4. Yes. Husbands are really assholes. They only make you the center of their universe when courting but after 6 months of marriage they treat you like crap. You can talk and talk but they don’t listen. They only care about themselves.

    • Nice bit of misandry in the morning, and wives lie about their sex drive so after the wedding cake is cut they stop having sex with their husbands right? ZOMG the wives are bitches!11!1. Or you know…men n women are individuals, some are assholes, some are bitches, so please don’t generalize about a gender as it’s pretty fucking insulting.

  5. When women get angry about “little” things and “fly off the handle” we need to listen carefully to what they are saying. When we shut down we have no opportunity to hear whats really going on. My wife laid into me big time because I had failed to put some things in the basement back in their proper places, thus making it impossible for her to find something she needed for a project. The project was getting some stuff together for a painter who was coming the next day, so it was not time critical. What would be to me a minor inconvenience (I’d just wait to ask where it was if it were me, no big deal right?) was something huge to her.
    1. She had to rely on me, which made her feel helpless and dependant.
    2. She felt like I didn’t care about keeping the house in good order, which is very important to her, so thusly I am devaluing her, and not respecting her.
    When these feelings come into play, they can turn a mountain into a molehill real quick. I find that these feelings of devaluation and disrespect can apply to damn near anything that seems to be blown out of proportion to a man. I think a lot of it comes from the fact that women are often judged by others on how the house is kept, so when you leave dirty dishes in the sink, or forget to pick up your socks, you expose them to judgement from the world. That would be enough to piss off anyone.

  6. wellokaythen says:

    There is a very important difference between “resignation” and “acceptance.” I think that’s one of the keys to having a good relationship based on some degree of compromise, because ultimately it may be more important how you feel about the compromise than whether the compromise worked objectively. Feeling resigned to something, or just giving in, is not really the same as accepting. For years, when I ducked my head and acted accommodating, I thought I was just “accepting reality,” but that’s not really what I was doing. The difference is in how the result makes you feel. Resignation usually carries resentment with it, while acceptance does not.

    It’s a lot easier for me to accept a mutual decision if I feel like I was part of the decision in some way, like my opinion gets at least a minimum level of respect. If the final decision wasn’t my preference, but I consented and felt good about the larger negotiation, then I can accept it. What I realized about myself and my relationship was that my “letting her decide” did not necessarily mean that I accepted the choice. Being a relatively equal party helps lead to acceptance, but caving in out of resignation leads to resentment.

    If you think your husbandly resignation is working, I ask you to think again. Really, honestly, how well is that working for you?

    • I really honestly believe that above just men and women issues that there is a societal issue (at least in the US) where compromise is a largely untaught skill. We are taught regardless of gender to go for the kill and go for the win. If we don’t win we lose, period. There’s no such thing as win/win. And there certainly is no such thing as agree to disagree or a civil disagreement. Because, after all, the goal is to drag you to my point of view. There can’t possibly be a middle ground can there? Women and men are both pretty guilty of this. Women are reinforced when men go to the less traumatic mode of resignation. Not that I think there should be all out fights over stuff, but I think learning how to communicate would be a good thing for every couple.

      I also don’t think we are taught how to communicate effectively either let alone how to communicate for the purpose of compromise.

      • wellokaythen says:

        I think you have a very good point. We don’t get a whole lot of behavioral models showing us how to negotiate effectively. Instead, we’re taught a lot of the “one-up/one-down” way of looking at our relationships. You’re either the dog or the fire hydrant. Even people like legislators, who have compromise and discussion as key part of their job description, don’t show us a lot of good communication skills. Meanwhile, we are encouraged to wallow in our own pain louder than the other people wallowing in theirs, in a sort of race to gain the most attention based on who has it the worst.

    • @Wellokaythen:
      I think you raise some very good points with “resignation” and “acceptance.”

      I don’t think that any kind of “resignation” generally earns any favours to you.
      But also that compromise requires true, unbiased communication on both parts.
      If you find your partner more often than not is resigning instead of accepting in a discussion, maybe it’s time to also ask *yourself* in what order you are really taking your partner’s opinion into consideration?

      I think that resignation often is a clear sign of someone feeling that their opinons isn’t being listened to.

      • wellokaythen says:

        “If you find your partner more often than not is resigning instead of accepting in a discussion, maybe it’s time to also ask *yourself* in what order you are really taking your partner’s opinion into consideration?”

        Wait, are you suggesting that wives may not be good listeners!? Why do you hate women so much? ; – )

  7. wellokaythen says:

    This is a great start to a conversation that really needs to take place about how spouses communicate with each other. Unexamined assumptions can take on lives of their own. The biggest one is assuming that your partner sees the world the same way you do, or sees the relationship the same way you do.

    It’s amazing, and surprises a lot of spouses out there, that two people who are so intimately connected on so many aspects of their lives can have totally different perspectives on the same relationship, and that this disconnect can go on for decades. Huge things that you thought you would have been aware of? Totally invisible. You thought things were going great, but your partner was living a nightmare. Surely he must know that he’s acting like an asshole – except he doesn’t think that at all. Surely she must know how unreasonable she’s being – except she doesn’t see it that way.

    Great stuff here about the unreal expectations people put on their spouses, and I’m glad to hear recognition that these things happen on both sides. Thank god there’s a woman who can publicly admit to the existence of the “I’m not happy, and it is all your fault” neurosis. It makes a great dance partner for the “I have to fix it” neurosis that lives in the brains of many husbands. This often goes hand-in-hand with the “She’s complaining, which means she’s asking me to do something about it” assumption.

    I was in a marriage for a number of years that had all the bad stuff mentioned here. We resented each other, she nagged me but didn’t see herself as nagging me, I avoided her but didn’t see myself as avoiding her, the whole runaround. Going along to get along is a really bad long-term strategy. What surprised me was how little I accomplished by just caving in most of the time. It didn’t make her any happier, and it made me miserable, so what was the point of all that?

    That was what my wife and I call our “Old Marriage.” Before a very painful time in our relationship and then a year or two of some roll-your-sleeves-up therapy. We essentially had to start over from scratch and build up a different kind of a relationship from square one. We can even laugh about it now, but sometimes the joke comes with a little shudder of bad memories. It can be done; you can start a marriage over, but man, it’s gotta be so much better to start it off well from the beginning.

    I can tell you from years of personal experience that the duck-and-cover “yes, dear” husband strategy is very tempting. It has a lot to recommend it in the short-term. As an immediate tactical peacekeeping policy, it is extremely useful at times. It can’t be a lifestyle, however, and there’s a good chance that you think this is what your wife wants when deep down it really isn’t. Combine the self-negating aspect of caving in all the time, your wife’s resentment at you, a decline in your sex life, and throw in a little midlife crisis, and ka-boom! End of bad marriage.

    A really big disconnect, filled with deep resentment, is really just a time bomb.

  8. Mr Supertypo says:

    interesting

  9. I was at a party last week and upon learning that I was divorced an asshole asked me, “Do you still have his balls?” As long as this is the view of marriage we might as well abolish it all together.

  10. I get confused on this topic about the fact that women marry these men who are allegedly assholes. Presumably the men didn’t get married, wake up the next morning and take on all these behavioral traits that are a problem. Really when either gender complains about their married I almost always pose the question of so you’re telling me all of a sudden you’re married and they changed from that person you used to constantly fawn over on facebook?

    Personally I would give anything to find a guy who wanted to have his own hobbies that didn’t have to involve me, who had his own set of friends that he saw on his own (but if we’re together as a group that’s cool too… it just doesn’t always have to be a group thing), who had his own life and interests and opinions and who was ok with me doing my thing like that as well. I make decions all day at work. I don’t want to come home and have all decision making deferred to me there too. I like having someone to talk to about it and who gets when I say I don’t care it’s up to you I really really mean that in a non-bitchy way. What ever happened to two adults having a conversation in relationships? Why do they always devolve into little fits and power struggles?

    • Leave me to do my car audio, woodwork, tinkering in the shed. 😛
      I see my friend who has a gf and this particular woman gets shitty if he does too much of his hobby, if he spends both days on a weekend doing it he gets in trouble, or does it one day 5 weekends in a row. They see each other every day though but still she gets annoyed. She hasn’t got many friends of her own and he’s felt a bit restricted from it. People need their own friends and hobbies. I can’t stand having my time taken up fully by someone, I value my peace, I value my shed where I tinker and I don’t mind if she wants to be there n help or watch but don’t distract me too much and don’t get shitty at me having hobbies.

      • Every time I hear one of my female friends talk about what an a-hole their significant other is it comes down to that she is not the center of his universe (excepting the handful of abusive relationships where it’s a different story). But it always comes down to “he should just know” and then the complete lack of communication and lack of the reality that she’s not the center of the universe.

        I had an ex who would go hunting once a year for an extended weekend. I looked forward to that weekend almost as much as he did. He got out with his friends. We had some space in our togetherness and he came back happy, relaxed, refreshed and we were happy to have something to talk about and share since we weren’t together. If he needed to go out there and vent about me as his girlfriend I was fine with that. Everyone needs to vent sometimes. It was wonderful. Same guy had a hobby of tinkering on cars. Other than to pop in on him to see if he needed anything (parts or help) I left him alone. He left me alone to go hiking because he hated hiking and you know i never took it personally or felt he had to involve himself in that if he didn’t want to. We naturally grew apart after some time had different life goals so we broke up amicably and he went on to a very happy marriage.

        My girlfriends make fun of me and my preferences in this realm. Say taht I have to be neglected to be happy. I value my space. I value my “me” time so I can gather my sanity after having to deal with people all day at work.

        • High 5!

        • Another High 5!

        • CatChester says:

          I couldn’t agree with this more. Women are taught from infancy that their only goal in life is to find and marry Prince Charming. That’s it. End of story. If you fail to make a good marriage, you have failed as a woman. No fairy tail or romcom continues on past the wedding.

          On top of that, Prince Charming is supposed to be all things to us, our soul mate, our best friend, our counselor, our protector, our provider and 101 other things. That’s why so many women give up their friends after marriage, because they shouldn’t need them any more, aside from some double dating with the husbands.

          Of course, no one can be all things to someone else, it just isn’t possible. So women browbeat and try to bully their men into at least appearing to be Prince Charming, even if they aren’t because to many people, appearance is more important than reality and they don’t want to be seen to have failed as a woman.

          We need to change our preconceptions on marriage. For a start, that is is the happiest day of a woman’s life! F*** THAT! It’s the beginning of the rest of your life and a party, that’s all. If women spent as much time and effort making their marriages work, as they often put into making the wedding day “perfect”, many couples would be much happier.

          I doubt I’ll ever marry. I like being single (despite the sigma that I have failed as a woman) and it will take someone very special for me to give it up. I wont settle for someone who is not right, then try to turn him into Prince Charming. Like you, I want him to have his own life (and one of the problems with many men of my acquaintance, is that they expect their wives to become their whole social life), his own friends, and i don’t care if he bitches about me to his friends because everyone does it. I’ll be moaning about him to my mum and sister on occasion too. I don’t want the illusion of perfection, for other women to go “Wow, look at her man” when we pass, or to find their relationships wanting because mine looks so perfect from the outside.

          I want a good friend who I’m also sexually attracted to. Like my other friends, he wont be expected to be all thing to me, nor I to him. I will not try to change him, and he will have to accept me as I am too. We will both have to compromise on some things. If he doesn’t like one of my friends or family, I will see them without him, rather than forcing him to endure the company of someone he doesn’t like. I will seek advice from multiple sources including him, and decide for myself what is best. I will fight my own battles (but a comforting hug before and/or after would be nice). If i ask him how something looks on me, i expect an honest answer, same as i do from my girlfriends. I’m asking his opinion because i value his judgement, not because my ego needs boosting with lies. I won’t stop him going out with his mates (married or single) I’ll even encourage it, and i expect to be able to go out without him sometimes and be happy that he can entertain himself for a while. I won’t abandon my single friends, or only see them when hubbie isn’t around because I’m afraid they’ll run off with him. I expect that he’ll find some of my friends attractive, just as I will find some other men attractive. As long as he isn’t obnoxious about it (which I wont be either), that fact will not crush my ego or wound my self esteem. We got married, we didn’t have our eyes removed and i am not so arrogant as to assume I am the only attractive women in the world.

          Husbands (and wives) are just people and all people are flawed. No relationship is as good as it looks from the outside and we need to stop striving for the image of perfection and instead try to communicate with our other halves, both before and after marriage.

  11. “Men want to be good husbands but they don’t know how…”

    So true….things that are obvious to me are infuriatingly outta sight/outta mind for my husband…

    My husband has attended one spouse support group (organized by my doctor’s office), where 5 -6 guys sit around bagels and coffee and spill all their stuff….nothing is off limits…I don’t know everything they say in those sessions but it has helped our marriage tremendously in diffusing my anger and informing my husband in a nice way how to deal with the situation….

    I guess my husband couldn’t learn this stuff from just watching his own parents’ bickering/nitpicking marriage….

  12. Does fear of some reprisal from wives, even ex-wives, keep men from speaking openly about their marriages? http://bit.ly/QJFna8

  13. My husband would be the first to admit he can act like an asshole, but it just came out yesterday that he has felt he never deserved me and that is why he has screwed up on a regular basis. He loves me passionately, I love him passionately, but I have had a hard time understanding his behavior and motivations. I am very straightforward and rational, perhaps more like a lot of men, and my husband is the dreamy-eyed, romantic type. If we argue, he gets very emotional and I walk away. I think if men are married to women who are demanding and controlling, they need to set limits, as I have had to do with my husband when he has attempted to control me. There is a huge difference between trying to control other people and setting boundaries for behavior towards oneself.

    • Fear makes a lot of people do counterproductive things. And often the counterproductive choice seems like the most logical thing to do…

  14. Someone said that “Love is the delusion that one person differs from any other” or something like that.

    So of course husbands are assholes. Why should they differ from other people…

  15. You need to break someone’s password because you do not trust?
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  16. Did this get reposted?

  17. Wow, some of these comments are brutal, but then my comment is probably about to be brutal anyway – if you’re not happy or can make such awful comments about your spouse when they aren’t looking, you really should just go get a divorce.

    My husband and I have had some great fights – and we have our issues. I mean, it’s a marriage – you have to WORK at it. That includes both sides. He is an asshole SOMETIMES and I fully admit I’m a total nagging bitch SOMETIMES. But then we get over it and MOVE ON – start laughing and spend the rest of the day having fun. 5 minutes of us being pigheaded vs the rest of the entire day/week/month – our lives? Totally worth it. But ya know, we actually TALK to each other, rather than post awful comments on blogs beyond each others’ backs….just saying. Sure sometimes the words hurt – he gets mad and yells, I get mad and scream and cry. Then we go cool down and come back to talk with rational brains and actually figure out what the real problem is and whoda thunk it? It works out – no resentment, no guilt, no lingering anger. Just a happy couple enjoying the fact that we can work it out as rational, grown up adults. Amazing huh?

    Apparently, my husband and I are the “weird” couple that actually talk to each other based on this article. I think as the article says, people (both sides, in any situation) need to learn how to TALK to each other….and as a little extra..LISTENING goes a very long way too…just a thought. But what do I know, I’m the weird one with a great marriage.

    • Well, I for one think you nailed it, Anastasia.
      Just that there’s not much reason talkin’ as long as there’s noone listenin’.

  18. To the author:
    It still bothers me that there’s no real dialogue around this issue.

    Yeah, well, that’s where the “reason and accountability” part in the Jack Nicholson quote comes in.
    I think it’s very difficult to have an evolving dialogue around an issue with someone who’ll say just any first thing that pops up in the head to get you off the case, and then later on deny any recollection of ever having made such a statement….

    • Suzana Alves says:

      The problem is that the phrase says it is a woman thing. Do you even know what not having reason means? That would mean women are not even humans, but just animals with no reason, not rationality. That is what non-human animals are. Dehumanizing at it’s best, and also something most men believe is okay to say about and to women.

      • First, the claim that non-human animals cannot be rational is absurd. The science of game theory–literally the study of rationality–has been hugely successful in understanding the dynamics of animals, because non-rational species tend to go extinct rather quickly. Second, based on my experience as a man having spoken with many other men over the years, “most men” are not as “okay” with making such baseless and insulting generalizations about an entire gender as you appear to be.

        I get the impression that you are profoundly unhappy in your marriage and your hateful sexist bigotry is a byproduct of this unhappiness. (And this appears to be true of a large number of commenters on this article, men and women alike.) Here’s a novel idea: If you want to be treated with some respect , try acting like a respectable adult. This applies not just to you, but to everybody spewing similarly ignorant generalizations to make themselves feel better about their own abhorrent behavior.

        Men aren’t evil. Women aren’t evil. Men aren’t all assholes (indeed, a vast majority of men are not assholes a vast majority of the time). Not all women are nagging bitches (again, a vast majority of women are not nagging bitches a vast majority of the time). Just because you think *your husband* is always an asshole, and that gives *you* an excuse to always be a nagging bitch does not make it alright to act is if all men are assholes. The same goes for men who think it is alright to be an asshole just because their wife acts the way you do.

  19. To the idiot who thought that feminism didn’t make women happy in the home in the last few years and it should go back to the man dominating everything, that is called dictatorship and was the time of women living in shame about domestic abuse. There is something wrong with wanting that back. If women are the overpowering one, they are perceived of as nagging shrieking creatures. I find that men see things too black and white. One or the other must be dominant and of course they usually think it should be the man because society dictates that it is acceptable. Life is about balance and a lot of couples don’t have it yet but it doesn’t mean that feminism is the fault, it is the problem of the individual couple. This crap about wanting a prince on a white horse to rescue you is another way for society to condition girls and then they will be disappointed when they get the average man. So nobody wins in that situation, thank you patriarchy

  20. I have been living for 15 years with a husband who keeps everything a secret.
    I do not have access to any of his emails, bank accounts, family phone numbers and etc. He is very demanding and does not let me having any relationship with my friends and family. I am not even allowed to talk on the phone with my mom on his presence. I have a job and since I am good looking, I have had many of my male colleagues be extra friendly with me but I have always been loyal to him. There has been many times when he left me and his kid for 2 months to live with his crazy mother but he always came back to us. I hate that he has such an over complicated brain…. I wish I could have a happy life for the sake of my kid….

  21. lovelysunset says:

    People say, that keeping chidren away from an ex- partner is using the Child/ren as a Bargaining chip, But a child/ren is not a bargaining chip. When both parent/s dont both agree with allowing both ex-partners to have access to those child/ren. But child/ren can be used as the possessions of the parent.. For the parent to use through unsupervised access visit/s. To make a person/s the parent knows happy. with the parent allowing the person/s the parent knows- to spend time with the child/ren during the parent’s unsupervised access visits..When unsupervised access, is about bonding time between the parent and the child/ren.

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  23. cornered says:

    I have to take umbrage at the author’s rather ignorant assumption that men get all that so-called deserving respect from their peers and coworkers at work, but get home to a not-so-happy wife.

    I don’t know of any man (and I doubt you do either), who takes that perfect work image home for the sake and benefit of his loving wife. If that were the case, divorce would be nonexistent. I would love it if my husband, who always treats his customers with respect, walks away from conflict, gets the job done in a timely manner, exercised the same traits at home. In other words, wives do not exactly get the same respect and favor from their husbands as do the husbands coworkers. That just blew me away that you could even write such a one-sided thing.

    Men need to learn that the relationship with their wives involves equality, anyone who denies the equality is bound to fail their marriage. Men who seek to inflate their egos at work know they’ll never get away with such a fake image at home because his coworkers and peers don’t know him half as much as his wife knows him. That’s a no-brainer!

    And, as if women don’t have an equal share of problems, duties, standards to adhere to, workload, pressures etc to deal with at work, we just handle it in a different way then men. At home, both husband and wife need to treat each other with the same amount of respect, leave work at the office! That’s why people have private lives, another no-brainer! Sorry, but you can’t compare a work-related image to an image the partner sees and lives with on a daily basis at home.

    That said, this whole article made it sound like men are whiny, juvenile, forever stuck in the adolescent stage because they just can’t bear opening up to inform their partner of how they really feel. Great, so blame the wife because she can’t mind-read! We’re not your mother, not your maid, not your secretary, and may never be your fantasy, so indeed grow up and recognize your partner as your equal and your soul mate and your best friend (as long as you develop and nurture that relationship, that’s what you both want in the end anyway, and what is only truly attainable in reality).

    • Mr Supertypo says:

      ” Men need to learn that the relationship with their wives involves equality, anyone who denies the equality is bound to fail their marriage. Men who seek to inflate their egos at work know they’ll never get away with such a fake image at home because his coworkers and peers don’t know him half as much as his wife knows him. That’s a no-brainer!”

      Does this also work for women, or only men? if it goes both way, why are you just mentioning men? and btw the male ego myth needs to go. There is no such thing. Women need to learn that men have feelings to, and male feelings is not EQUAL to EGO. They are the same thing as female feelings.

      We need to get rid of this BS of male ego, so long we keep this myth alive, men will forever be infantilized and dismissed. Go away male ego lie, go away…

    • The person who wrote this is much smarter and less bias than the author of the article.

  24. If my husband would just critique me that would be one thing, but he will go for months without saying a word and then blow up over nothing. He throws stuff and gets really upset, then I am upset for hours or days afterward. He always apologizes, but deep down he really is an asshole.

  25. Well I know now thing I don’t want a knight in shinning armor, or prince charming. I just want my husband to stop thinking he is king, and the world revolves around him. I work full time, babysit my neice and nephew, take care of my 3 step kids, and cook and clean! And it’s not enough for him! He comes home from a 8 hour shift complaining of being tired, so he wants me to rub his feet or massage him. He also wants me to sit in the room with him and watch whatever he feels we need to watch, while he is playing wow at the same time. He doesn’t like it if I am in a different room for a long time, he whines, complains and acts like a big baby!!! and he never stops talking! I don’t listen to him, I don’t cuddle with him, I don’t respect him, omg he is driving me crazy!!!!!

  26. Love my wife, really do, but I feel like her perception of me is filtered through her overy tinted glasses. Anyone else feel this way?

    • This article is sexist. You can say the same for either sex.
      I only started treating my husband like an asshole long after he started acting like one.
      He broke my heart

  27. I have a few simple rules for myself when it comes to dating:

    1. No alcoholics. I was abused by an alcoholic one too many times when younger, and I am no longer putting up with that. If the bottle is your highest priority, then you’re accountable for that choice, and for all the nasty and/or violent behavior stemming from it.

    2. No Republicans. I’ve met very few of them who don’t see everything in life as a conspiracy against white males with wealth, or who felt Christians were persecuted against (even though in the majority of US states, abortion laws are written expressly to kowtow to Christians). Why, last holiday season, they complained loud and hard about the “War on Christmas,” which is ironic because last I checked, most schools and workplaces close for that holiday. I live in a city with lots of Jews, and they never complain about being unable to get off for their “high holidays” (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), even though they don’t.

    Further, most Republicans of both genders wish for a return to the mythical 1950s, and some even cite scripture stating a woman is supposed to submit to a man, and state that this is how things are supposed to be. The Republicans are free to pursue their own Mad Men-era marriages – no one is stopping them. I don’t want any part of it.

    3. No evo-psych advocates. These advocates believe that every man is the same as every other, and ditto for women. When evidence clearly shows that two people of one gender vary as much as two people of different genders, they howl in protest or cite a “liberal PC agenda.” They won’t believe I chose a high-paying career, don’t like or want kids, and choose to communicate in a clear, logical respectful manner all on my own, because it flies in the face of their “All men do this and all women do that” theories.

    They are best paired with members of the same or opposite gender (depending on how they swing) who will confirm their worst suspicions about that gender. If that means they’re doomed to relationships and marriages where they aren’t heard, are abused, are whipped, or are met with stony silence any time they raise a point or question, so be it. After all, it’s what they want in the first place. I have no sympathy for their complaints, because they specifically sought to partner with immature, badly behaved people just to prove a point.

    My rules haven’t failed me yet. My marriage is great – of course certain Internet critics don’t agree, or claim I must be lying, but it’s pretty clear that lambasting others helps them sleep at night, so they can go right ahead. It’s cheaper than sleeping pills, though unfortunately, just as addictive.

  28. Wow. I want to live in your world.

    “Whenever someone yells, they’re reprimanded and ignored until they can ‘act like adults.’ If someone is condescending, they get called on it, are made to prove the correctness of their position, or labeled an arrogant creep. Threaten to ‘walk out,’ and you get fired. Make a claim you can’t prove against another employee, and you may get a lawsuit along with your pink slip. Even bosses must bend to the structure the company has decreed.”

    No. Male tantrums are strength and female tantrums are weakness. The former gets carte blanche and the other gets career- and soul-destroying pity, while none of us ever manages to grow up. Let’s not pretend that the workplace is any better than preschool.

    You’re simply buying into the old canard that the traditionally male-dominated sphere of the workplace is orderly and logical, while the traditionally female-dominated sphere of the home is chaotic and emotional. You should be above that and I think you know it. Shame.

  29. This was totally coincidental, but a co-worker turned me on to a Kid Creole tune which fits this article nicely. I won’t go into a list of the lyrics ( you can read them here is you care to: http://www.allthelyrics.com/lyrics/kid_creole_the_coconuts/endicott-lyrics-614520.html ), but “Endicott” does everything for his woman ending up with no time left to take care of himself. But all the women love his lack of a life toiling for his wife, telling their men “Why can’t you be like Endicott?”

    All you men know exactly what I mean – and all you women should.

  30. While a very good article, this only touched on the real issue that destroys marriages: who’s the boss?

    Women REFUSE to cede one inch on anything within the four walls of their love nest. Go to any house, and look at how it’s arranged, what furniture it has, etc. If a man is lucky, he gets one room to organize as he sees fit. Most of us don’t get that. In my house, all of “me” has been piled up in the corners and closets to make room for “her”, and when I’m “done playing” it all has to return to the corners.

    Then there are the family activities. I long ago gave up making any plans because little of it would meet with approval. Nothing is fun if you have had a huge fight over it and have to drag around an angry wife plotting revenge! You just stop caring anymore, go through the motions of the approved activity, and dream of better days.

    Then there are friends. You cannot even hint that you don’t like one of her friends, yet all of yours are endlessly criticized. You can’t have them over to see you, and you can’t go to see them. I stopped trying to have friends because I couldn’t spare them any time without suffering punishment later.

    I even gave up a difficult if promising career because she made my life too miserable to pursue it. I wouldn’t have been home every day at the same time with less than five minutes variation. That is not allowed. Don’t even get me started on earning money and what it’s spent on!

    So like too many men, I am a prisoner in a jail of my own choice. I say choice, because I can tell you the day, date, and time I was confronted with the reality of my relationship – and didn’t walk away from it. I’ve regretted that decision ever since.

    If not this woman, then another. The only way a man can still be a man is to not be a husband. Women won’t allow you to be both, and if you choose manhood after marriage, you will pay for it in court. I am not at all surprised that my two sons have very little interest in having a relationship, because they saw the hell their mother put me through. One had a girlfriend long enough to see the walls being built around him. He ended the relationship that same day. He’s in no hurry to get into another one. He values himself too much for that.

    • Not all women are like what you described. My husband and I have been married for almost 12 years and he spends as much time as he wants with his friends. Two softballl leagues a week, with ample “beer time” with his friends after. Season tickets to our state hockey, baseball and football teams, two yearly “boy’s trips”, one always consisting of Vegas. He comes and goes as he pleases, sometimes he is home at 6pm, sometimes 9pm; he spends as he pleases too, and trust me, the list goes on.

      In addition, he was the one who actually arranged the living room furniture and if I try and make plans any earlier than a week beforehand, I am referred to as the “Calendar Nazi.” Lastly, I am constantly reminded that he doesn’t like to be “…asked a lot of questions”, or, “…talk about his day”, so I need to make sure I use up, “all of my words”, somehow before he gets home from work.
      Your not the only one who suffers.
      Not all women are like what you are describing.

    • GirlGlad4theGMP says:

      ToppHogg,
      Unfortunately, your biased statements are rooted in your own unhappy marriage, and therefore colouring your perceptions of all women. A hell of her making and your admitted choosing. Saying that all women are one way or another is as wrong as stating all persons in a racial, religious or sexual oriented group behave a certain way. Wrong. And certainly not helping people who actually want to have successful relationships. Yeah, there are controlling wives out there, just as there are controlling husbands out there. I know of a group of men who all married Asian women because they found American women too demanding. Fair enough, you’re entitled to find whatever makes you happy. The not so fairytale part? Two of there 5 men are now obsessively controlling with their two wives (what to cook, what to wear, which friends to have). My former fiancee was controlling (it only surfaced after we were engaged), so I gave the ring back and wished him well in finding a woman more suited to his needs…so there you have it, both sexes are subject to idiocy.
      My partner and I are in a successful relationship because we talk things out. We both keep an open mind, don’t jump to conclusions, and work to create a space in which we both feel comfortable speaking. He calls me out on things if he deems necessary, and vice-versa. We can talk about what we like and don’t like about each other, and not get offended, because we trust each other enough to know it’s coming from a good place.
      Our example is not unique, but it’s not common either…I have 15 years of anecdotal relationship experience to that effect. Part of the solution is in opening our minds and mouths to speak up in a non-threatening way when something affects us (good and bad), and the other is to choose our partners wisely. There ARE rational, caring people in both genders, eh…

  31. I try to live my life with one maxim I don’t find in the Bible, and I subtly ask that everyone who wants to be friends with me live by it as well:

    “If you’re not willing to ask for it, you don’t deserve to get it.”

    I believe holding this idea in high regard, actually vocalizing what you want from your friends, family, and life itself, is half the battle. Most of my friends WANT me to have the things I want, and they want those same things too. No one can read minds. No one knows you like you know yourself. Taking presonal responsibility is what it takes, and no one can do that for you.

  32. I couldn’t stay married to my husband if I thought he was a jerk. We’ve been married 28 years and we’ve had our moments (months sometimes) of thinking the other was beyond redemption. But we’ve managed to work things out every time, by talking about it. Sometimes the talking took months, too. But it’s a second marriage for both of us, and we’re just bloody stubborn. Expectations, as commented by bobbt above, are responsible for so much disappointment. And yet to have no expectations at all leaves you open to getting treated badly. There’s a balance in there somewhere, but I sure as hell don’t know how to get to it. I guess we were just lucky.

  33. Years ago, an “older guy” ( about my age now) said to me” remember,a woman takes a man for a husband figuring she’ll change him as she sees fit. Meanwhile, a man takes a woman as his wife hoping she’ll never change. They usually both end up being dissappointed.

  34. Jose Vizcarra says:

    I couldn’t continue reading. I don’t know where this story arrives at the end. In our marriage, I am the bad guy, bound to cheat, my wife checks my email, mail, Facebook, phone log and text messages, times my ride to and from work, berates me if I go out to a bookstore or cafe to read, hates my co-workers, has me delete old female friends from FB, and has promised that if I ever divorce her, I will never get to see my two daughters again. This article just brought everything up to the surface of my mind and I’d rather just not dwell on that and bite the bullet.
    Thanks for talking about that topic anyway. There is a lot of it going on in this world.

    • The Wet One says:

      Mr. Vizcarra, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m so glad I’m not you. I almost married a woman who is exactly like your wife. Thankfully I didn’t. My best decision ever!

    • SuperUltraJulie says:

      Did you ever cheat on your wife?

      I’ll bet the answer is “sort of” LOL!

      • I got that kind of treatment beginning the day I said “I do”. It has never eased and there has been no reason for it.

    • I’m so sorry that is happening to you. You should divorce her. Your ‘wife’ is acting just like the stereotypical ‘controlling boyfriend’. People need to see that these behaviors are not only confined to one gender. You are in an abusive relationship and you should get help. It’s sad that she is holding your children as a bargaining chip. I wish the usual legal avenues would be able to help you but the way our society is set up, the public would just view you as “weak”. This is why men and women need to be equal and held accountable for all things. This man deserves to be with his children and deserves to be able to leave his wife. I really feel for you Jose. 🙁

    • Welcome to the club, brother. None of us knew we were forever giving up any control in our lives the moment we said “I do.” We never thought we’d never get to make any decision again.

    • I am so sorry you are going through this. What your wife is doing is not okay, but let me say this: I have to try very, very hard not to exhibit those sorts of behaviors. My husband is a wonderful, trustworthy man who has never given me a reason not to believe he is completely faithful. However, I have been cheated on, emotionally, physically, you name it, by many other men. Not only that, but our culture tries so hard to constantly convince us that men are lying, cheating bastards, and that it is “natural” for them to be. Even my mother, who has been married to my father for over 40 years, and believes that he is and always has been absolutely faithful (as do I) raised me by the maxim that “women need a reason, men just need a place”. So at a certain point, the constant paranoia is not about THE man, it’s about men in general. Because I love and trust my husband, I do not do things I am very tempted to do, like read his text messages. As a married woman, I have realized that the emotional drain that this sort of “man hating” takes, on both partners. It’s about realizing that trusting your mate is more important, and at the end of the day , more fulfilling, than succumbing to your own bullsh*t impulses. I would rather feel trust in my husband, not because I read his email, but because I don’t have to. After all, women who worry about cheating are fundamentally worried about men failing to control their impulses, and violating the bonds of marriage. But what good is that bond and control if you have to enforce it? I can’t possibly see how this type of agreement makes your wife happy. I know from experience that it becomes a miserable ouroboros fairly quickly, and certainly doesn’t quell any fears of infidelity. Every time you check Facebook to confirm that your husband isn’t stepping out, it reinforces the notion that he would, can, and someday will, even if that is far from true.

      Very sad. DTMFA.

    • woodenrose says:

      Men cheating on the mother of there children. and men mistreating the mother of there children, while always treating there girlfriends or there own mother better then the mother of there children is fairly common (a woman will think of the man she is with-(that had previous children with a woman-as her perfect man-even if her prefect man was imperfect in the past-when mistreating the mother of his previous children, while treating the current girlfriend hes with as better then the mother of his previous children) . so she fears loosing you, shes insecure knowing this happens to other women-and she thinks she might end up being one of those women. let her know your not one of those men and your always there for her and love her-and let her know her insecurity is creating a divide between you and her-making you feel uneasy around her-and its driving you to want to spend time away from her with others or by yourself.

    • It sounds like you are in an abusive relationship. I suggest you visit a domestic violence/abuse counseling center and/or a therapist– not only for your mental health, but also to document the abuse, which will help in future divorce proceedings.

  35. First of all, the Rom Com model is fantasy, pure, unadulterated fantasy. No one should believe in fairy tales. Prince Charming? Knight in shining armor? Fantasy. It’s called emotional pornography and it’s just as destructive to relationships as the visual porn that men consume. If women buy into that fantasy then that’s a serious problem they have. At this rate, men will have to be vampires in order to be attractive to women (Twilight reference).

    As well, let’s keep the political and social agendas out of the household. How a husband and wife interact is not a political statement. Perhaps the husband does take the lead in the relationship and the wife is happy with that. Leave them be. Frankly, men do need to take the lead in the relationship.

    As an aside, political correctness in language is simply the control of the debate through control of the vocabulary. It’s a clever tactic of oppression and privilege. Yeah, I said it. That’s because I had the balls to say it.

    Also, who created this whole equality in marriage thing? Men and women are different, above and below the neck. With a divorce rate of 50%, perhaps the conventional wisdom about equality in marriage is simply wrong. As well, the overall happiness of women has been in decline for decades now. How’s that whole feminism and equality thing really working for women?

    As for women complaining about the patriarchy and how men have all the power, these women are under the delusion of the apex fallacy. Shockingly few men are in positions of real power. The vast majority of men have little or no power but these men are simply invisible to women. Let’s compare the number of male corporate CEOs to the number of men earning less than $35K annually. Strange, there’s very little feminist discussion about men earning under $35K annually. Why is that?

    Also, there’s not much feminist discussion about family courts. That’s quite telling.

    Women really need to figure out what makes them happy and stick with it, regardless of the constantly shifting social expectations. Women need to put on their big-girl panties and learn to deal with life like adults.

    • Feminism and equality are not a problem. Just like civil rights are not a problem. Everyone deserves to be treated equally. The difference between men and women is much less than you think. Gender is defined by the social culture.

      Also please remember that power is not synonymous with money, money is just a tool for gaining power. Power is multifaceted.

      I do agree that family courts are VERY problematic. The court’s favoring of mothers over fathers
      is influenced by society’s that men aren’t interested in their children and will be neglectful. This is wrong and biased treatment and it will take both men and women to resolve this.

      • It is very difficult for a man to build a real relationship with his children, because everything is subject to the approval of the mother. No man is ever good enough to be allowed unsupervised time with the kids. Everything has to be approved in advance, and always something will be criticized later. Dad gets belittled in the eyes of his kids, respect goes out the window, and what could have been a good relationship is destroyed because it isn’t as Mom thinks it should be.

  36. great conversation-starter, lisa. which was obviously your intention, so kudos. i just hope it provokes husbands and wives to actually speak to each other (and possibly seek help).

    what i don’t get is why so many folks seem to be putting control of their own judgments, actions and foundation of self-worth in someone else’s hands. for both the people quoted in the article and some of the ones making comments here, there seems to be A LOT of blame going around. has someone forced them into marrying their spouse? is someone keeping them from making their own decisions? did they miss the part about men and women being different? are they willing to let stereotypes define them? history cloud their future? do they not trust their own inner compass? i’m baffled. and worried that the barely stifled hostility will give them more upsetting issues.

    but i will hope for the best. communication is certainly a good place to begin. start with yourself! 🙂

  37. I think its fair to say that of any gender are being assholes to the other its women being assholes to men.

    You will never see a large section of the male population whooping, cheering and lionizing a man that cut up their female partner in a domestic violence incident.

    What happened on the talk and with Lorena Bobbit, is indicative of how men are viewed by women, in general.

  38. glad I’m not alone. strangely, the romcom analogy came to me the night before reading this article and it’s so true – you just see the highlights of a romance in a 90 minute movie and expect a lifetime to be like that? they even throw in some lowlights which lead to more highlights but in real life the lowlights don’t tend to get so nicely resolved. makes me wonder if the trends in movie production have a correlation with trends in the divorce rate, and I wonder how we (I) could be so gullible.

  39. Justice Marshall says:

    Reading many of the comments here I’m reminded of the problem with seeing the world through an ideological lens: one closes one’s self to the complexities that are usually closest to truth. Everything becomes black or white – ideas either support or challenge ideologies and are adopted or rejected with little real exploration. Sadly, this makes it even more difficult to truly understand or improve relationships.

  40. As an overly accommodating wife of eighteen years (now divorced), I can’t express how sorry I DON’T feel for all these resentful husbands. I think a nice follow-up to this piece might be, “Are Wives Really Nagging Shrews Or Do Their Husbands Just Think They Are?”

  41. The Bad Man says:

    Thanks for the nice article Lisa.

    Yes, women do dominate in marriage.

    As reported by Ms. Magazine, Dec. 2010

    Women, according to the JEC report, control 73 percent of spending within their households, which is equivalent to approximately $4 trillion in yearly discretionary spending. Furthermore, women are more likely than men to control daily expenditures in more than half of middle and upper-class household

    In a 2008 study by the Pew Research Center:

    Of 1,260 couples, married or living together, surveyed this summer, women wield more decision-making power at home.

    In a 2007 study reported in the Journal of Counseling Psychology.

    Researchers found that wives, on average, displayed more power than their husbands during problem-solving discussions, regardless of who brought up the topic of discussion.

    Psychologist John Gottman, the marriage therapy guru, has stated that “the biggest revelation we’ve had about how conflicts are best resolved in successful marriages” is if husbands yield to their wives. That is, the key factor in whether a relationship will be happy and successful is whether the husband listens to and obeys his wife. In a statement that shows women’s demanding nature, Gottman also says that women bring up over 80% of marital conflicts while men tend to avoid these stressful discussions

    • The Bad Man says:

      Especially, thanks for validating men’s experiences, it’s rare.

    • Actually, Gottman said that husbands need to let their spouses influence them. He never said that husbands need to let their spouses lead them or dominate them. Gottman even praised male-dominated marriages where the husbsand let his wife influence him.

      Most men will say that their wives make the little decisions, but not the big decisions of the household. Deciding what type of laundry detergent to buy is a little decision, but deciding how to invest the family money is a big decision. And deciding that the husband’s career will be more important than the wife’s career is a HUGE decision. As long as the husband has the big career in the family, men will rule the world.

      There is much research suggesting that women defer to their husbands on major financial decisions.

      • Maria Says:
        “There is much research suggesting that women defer to their husbands on major financial decisions.”
        If there is so much, maybe you would be willing to provide a few citations?

    • Daily expenditures are not the same as major investments.

      It’s still a male-dominated world, and it will continue to be as long as men like you pretend that marriage is female-dominated.

    • As long as the man makes the money, he can take away her “control” of daily expenditures whenever he wants. And if he leaves her for another woman, she could end up in poverty.

      There is no substitute for a woman having her own provider-level income. As long as she is economically dependent on the man, she is one-down. He may delegate daily expenditures to her but he can also take it away.

      • No, he cant Kath, the wife can evict him and abscond with more than half of the assets and the children at the drop of a hat.

        • The Wet One says:

          Could someone kindly explain to me again why people get married? I’ve seen pretty much everything discussed here in my parent’s marriage in my poor divorced friends marriages.

          It’s really not clear to my why people marry. Are we all stupid or something? Do tell…

    • SuperUltraJulie says:

      “Psychologist John Gottman, the marriage therapy guru, has stated that “the biggest revelation we’ve had about how conflicts are best resolved in successful marriages” is if husbands yield to their wives. That is, the key factor in whether a relationship will be happy and successful is whether the husband listens to and obeys his wife. In a statement that shows women’s demanding nature, Gottman also says that women bring up over 80% of marital conflicts while men tend to avoid these stressful discussions”

      What this says to me is that you have one person who wants to communicate & the other who doesn’t. A man who does this not work on the emotional management of his marriage (that’s women’s work after all) & allows resentment to fester – his (because he feels controlled) and hers (because she has a less than fully engaged PARTNER.

      “Women’s demanding nature”? How about a man’s unwillingness to engage in the emotional heavy lifting required to have a happy marriage?

  42. I worked very, very hard not to be a bitch when I was married. I was calm, reasonable, logical (far, far too logical, as it turns out) and willing to work. But it was hopeless, because my ex- really was an asshole.

    I accepted blame for everything, I apogized for everything. I didn’t understand when he said I kept telling him he was wrong; every day, I told him he was right.

    I did all of the housework while he played computer games. He was usually up until 1 or 2am, playing, and would sleep late in the morning. I got up on time every morning, tiptoed around the house to as not to wake him, and ate breakfast alone. He made a great show of rushing downstairs to tell be goodbye before I left for work.

    He bragged daily about getting to work late and his boss being OK with it, or falling asleep in his office for over an hour and no one saying a thing. I had a stressful job and tried not to burden with him that stress.

    I would ask him for help with the housework. He said that if I wanted it done, then it was my project and I should do it. The dishes and garbage were supposed to be his job; the garbage would overflow, fill a second bag that I would hang on the pantry door, garbage would fill the base of the pantry and start falling out across the kitchen floor. Eventually, I would take out the garbage. He would usually protest that he was “going to do that” but if I stopped what I was doing, he would wander off. The dishes would sit on the counters for months, attracting flies, until eventually I would wash them all.

    I picked up his dishes and used tissues from all over the house, put away his books, his shoes, his jacket, his laundry. I would sort loads of laundry, wash, dry, hang and fold the clean clothes, and carry the baskets of clean clothes back upstairs. I asked him to carry his hanging clothes back upstairs (I would carry my own) and he would throw a fit that would last for days. His shirts regularly hung downstairs for months at a time, while he would complain repeatedly that he had no clean shirts.

    He thought that getting the oil changed in our cars every three months was equal to all of the housework I was doing.

    He treated my every conversation as tho I were feeding him straight lines, and turned my concerns into jokes. He used me to make himself feel clever, while I felt lower and lower.

    Maybe all of these men who are complaining about their wives’ anger are not like my ex. Maybe they fold clothes, carry out the garbage, and wash dishes. Maybe they vacuum and take the dog for a walk, and take their wives’ concerns to heart. Maybe they listen and console, and treat her like an equal. But I bet at least of them are like my ex-.

    Maybe if I had been a complete bitch, we’d have been evenly matched. But I’m not. So I had to leave him.

    • Hey Kitty
      As a marriage coach, I will be the first to admit that there are asshole husbands out there and you were truly married to one. There are also a lot of good men who do the majority of the housework and are still denied sex by their wives.

      As to the previous earlier discussions, the courts are inherently sexist with the modus operandi being that men are bad and that women are good. Family court is called The House of Pain by lawyers who practice there. There is zero justice there. There are laws regulating women’s behavior that are never ever enforced like withholding visitation but men if they don’t pay child support (and they need to) can and do have their wages garnisheed, lose their driver’s license and have their tax returns seized. Nothgin is ever done to women who withhold visitiation. In fact there is a syndrome called Parental Alienation Syndrome that the courst are clueless about where the vengeful ex wife poisions their children’s minds against the dad. It happened to me twice. Then there are the gaurdians at litem who are overwhelmingly women who have absolute immunity, can’t be prosecuted or fired who routinely submit false affidavits to the courts which would get an attorney disbarred. I can go on and on and yet MB won’t budge an inch or give any credence to wrongdoing by women. As such she is not taken seriously but just a hysterical feminist. And for the record I will be the first to admit that there was a need for feminism because of wrongs committed against them but we have legislated those away.

      John Wilder

      • SuperUltraJulie says:

        I take MB very seriously. I think her words are causing you to be HYSTerical (what’s the origin of that particular word, John??)

        I find it comical that men don’t have THE BALLS to stand up to their wives because they are afraid that their wives will withhold sex.

        Do men really care about sex that much? Are you really sublimating your sense of self for a 3 minute burst of pelvic pleasure?

        How pathetic.

        Or maybe…there are men who don’t agree with your views.

  43. It is part of why wives don’t like the single friends of their husbands. Single men remind the husband of what he puts up with and undermines the constant wheedling of the wife. It is anecdotal but only one marriage of my friends is healthy and that is because the husband doesn’t put up with any of his wife’s crap. He holds her to the standard of human adult behaviour. It has been 20 years and they are still together.

    From my own experience I understand now why my girlfriends were not marriage material for me, and make no mistake in my earlier years I was looking for marriage with the right person. All of them started on the behaviour of nagging, attempts to control my life and to shape my thoughts to suit their agenda. When I spoke to them about it they unabashedly stated it was what girlfriends/wives do and they have a right to make me a better person.

    I’m single, not looking and infinitely happier than when I was on the dating circuit.

  44. Dear Lisa,
    I gotta say, some of the comments above are interesting to say the least!

    Where do I stand?

    In the family I grew up in, we (my elder 3 siblings and I) never witnessed our parents in conflict in the way that we could see a difference of opinion arising, an argument ensuing, and a resolution being achieved. We only ever knew our parents had had an argument because we would witness our Dad obsequiously saying (EVERY TIME!): “I’m sorry dear, your were right, I was wrong, I didn’t think.” EVERY TIME! This was the early ’60s, mind you, and he really was a 1950s man. Still is, really, at 94 years of age.

    So I grew up not being comfortable with conflict. Any interpersonal conflict was always threatening and overwhelming, and should always be best avoided. In the past, if I ever was in conflict in a relationship, when saying nothing, and trying to ignore the difference of opinion didn’t work, I just needed to eventually yell a lot to let her know that I was upset (doh!).

    I’m 52, and I’ve been married and divorced twice.

    I am currently in a long-term relationship (11 years and counting,) and I am the proud Dad of two beautiful 2 and 5 year old children, and the proud partner of a woman I intend to be with for the rest of our lives.

    And I have learned:
    Conflict is OK, but it is best not to seek it out, and ‘make’ it, if you will.
    Heated conflict is nipped in the bud by maintaining respect for her point of view, and listening to what she has to say.
    She will listen to what I have to say when she has had her say, and back and forth it goes.
    If I am in conflict, it doesn’t make me a bad person, I’m simply in the midst of a difference of opinion: it’s simply a problem that needs to be cooperatively resolved.
    If my partner and I are in conflict we rarely do it behind closed doors: we want our children to witness – and to be able to model later – how conflict arises, what to do about it, how to resolve it, and most importantly to realise people aren’t ‘bad’ – i.e. ‘assholes’ because they are in conflict.

    Utopian? Brainwashed by the feminist paradigm?

    I honestly don’t think so.

    All the best

    Richard

  45. “It still bothers me that there’s no real dialogue around this issue.”

    Lisa, there is real dialogue around this issue when both women and men admit that we still live in a patriarchal society and are willing to take equal responsibility for it. I have seen that real dialogue and think it needs to be on your website.

    Someone recommended Allan G. Johnson’s “The Gender Knot.” I highly recommend it, too. Allan Johnson is a novelist, sociologist, husband, father, grandfather and consultant who knows how to talk about patriarchy without getting people on the defensive. He knows the difference between individuals and systems, and he also knows how they interact with each other.

    I strongly suggest that you invite Allan to write articles for The Good Men Project.

  46. This was very interesting, Lisa. I really like that the word asshole can mean either cruel or stupid. Sort of covers the basis of what women generally complain about regarding emotional misunderstandings. I’d love to see a look at this from the POV of European, South Asian, South American, Central Asian, African and East Asian men. You could ask Aussies and Native Americans but I feel like I have a pretty firm grip on the pulse of both peoples.

    Enjoy your double-standards, friends.

  47. Sorry, but this was just another superficial article about conflict in marriage.

    Marriage has never been an equal partnership. It is still a male-dominated relationship, so naturally, most women are angry and most men are resentful. The problem is much deeper than communication.

    • Marriage is currently a female-dominated relationship, just as society has been female-dominated for the past 4 decades. Society’s views are reflected in the legal system’s bias against men. Women can get almost any court to side with them, regardless of the facts or merits of the case, so those women who don’t really love their husbands and are nothing more than vindictive little chihuahuas use the threat of legal consequences to keep decent men locked into abusive relationships.

      Yes, it is time to open the door and shine the light of truth that men can be victims of abuse too. Hopefully, the days of society’s misandry, or sexism against men, will come to an end.

      • If marriage were female-dominated, men would take women’s names, women would make most of the money, men would give up their careers to follow their wives, men would do most of the housework and childcare, men would take almost all responsibility for birth control, men would be on the bottom during sexual intercourse (and all sex would focus completely on the clitoris) . . .

        If married were female-dominated, most of the world’s rich would be women and most of the world’s poor would be men, almost all of the world’s newsmakers, heads of state and corporate CEOs would be women . . .

        The days of society’s “misandry,” or sexism against men, aren’t even close to coming to a beginning.

        • I have to disagree with you a bit on this, MB. Personally I enjoy the missionary position because it provides the right stimulation to my clitoris. I have a lot of trouble reaching orgasm when I’m on top. On the other hand, my boyfriend loves having me on top so he can play with my breasts and grab my butt. He prefers it to missionary for that reason, but we alternate to keep us both happy. So I think you are detracting from your argument here, with all respect.

          • Jill, you may disagree with me on the missionary position, but what about all my other statements?

            Most sex manuals will admit that the missionary position is a male-dominant position because it gives the man more control. They’ll also say that the female-dominant position gives the woman more control. This sounds strange, but older “marriage manuals” often advised against the female-dominant position because it upset the “natural male dominant order of marriage.”

        • MB, have you studied matriarchies at all? You might find them very, very interesting. In a true matriarchy, men are treated with egalitarian fairness and are given equal voice. There are extant matriarchies such as the Mosau and the Lapplanders, completely unrelated cultures, as well as historical instances. Female-dominated men that you describe are actually just copying patriarcy and not practicing matriarchy.

          • I don’t think MB was talking about the “matriarchies” that you describe. She was just trying to show what marriage would look like if it was a female-dominated institution. Some men on this list think marriage is female-dominated and she was trying to tell them all the ways that they are wrong.

            Personally, I don’t think a man delegating the daily expenditure decisions to his spouse constitutes female dominance. It’s more like a CEO delegating some responsibility to a middle manager.

            • Kath that’s a useless analogy, a middle manager cannot evict the ceo for no fault at the drop of a hat and abscond with more that half of the companies assets and his children.

          • Urban slums are 96% mother lead homes, and are the leading indicators of violence, crime, poverty, and addictions.

            80% of the men in prison for violence come from fatherless homes. 96% of the men on deathrow come from fatherless homes.

            I’m not privy to the research you’re mentioning, but it seems to me as U.S. society has become more matriarchal, it has become much more violent. This is a direct result of welfare and no-fault laws.

            There are many many studies which show fathers are integral to the healthy development of children as fathers parent in different ways from mother.

            The problem with the U.S. flavor of matriarchy is that it means fathers are superfluous to the family unit.

        • MB:

          There are some fallacies about what constitutes control/dominance in your post:
          A) What makes you think that because women earn less, they aren’t getting the outcomes in the marriages they want?
          Two articles:
          Per this article:
          ht tp://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/3318366/Wealth-is-key-for-marriage-study-claims.h tml
          Women place a premium on a mate’s wealth and status.
          And this ABC video & article about a women who became the breadwinner when hubby lost his job:
          ht tp://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=7088747&page=1
          She states: “I lost so much respect for him”
          If doing the home/child care is the hardest and least thanked job, then why do women seem to resent their men who lose their jobs and thrust the women in to the provider role?
          The notion that work outside the home is some kind of bed of roses for men (or anybody) is such mindless drivel it makes me want to puke. Clearly many millions of women know that it is intrinsically safer, easier, and more fulfilling to take care of your own children then to be part of the rat race.

          B) The person with the most or all the wealth may have had more control in a marriage in the 50’s, but that was before courts attained the rights to seize property from one partner and give it to the other.

          CEO’s typically work 55 to 80 hours a week. With the changes in family/civil courts (like no-fault divorce which gives mothers single custody 80% of the time, lifetime alimony being the law in most states, palimony suits, etc..). This isn’t the 1950’s where a CEO can divorce a loyal mother, keep custody, and keep most of his money. Women are now entitled to 50% (and much more when you consider she almost universally gets the homestead, and child custody) of what a husband earns starting the 1st minute of the marriage.

          The higher you go financially, the higher your responsibilities become. While listening to NPR I heard about a dairy rancher who would have to sell his farm and send the dairy cows to be slaughtered. This rough tough grizzled rancher was on the radio crying because of the dozen or so families who worked at his farm who would now be unemployed.
          Is a foreman of a plant powerful? In some respects yes he commands other people what to do. Is a mother powerful? In some ways yes, she commands the children.

          If you were to tell a mother that the more children she has the more power she has she would laugh in your face. But, when you tell a man that instead of being in charge of 12 people, he would be in charge of 100 (for little more pay) he falls for it.

          Even at the lower strata where blue-collar workers must abuse their bodies or risk life/limb to earn a decent living (like coal miners, sewage workers, roof repair) the health risks are the man’s to sustain, but the earnings he brings home are equally shared with the woman.Men are 95% of work-place fatalities. Men die on average 7 years earlier than women. Of all cancers that affect both sexes, men suffer them 50% more often.
          Women make 73% of spending decisions. This goes up as you go into the upper classes. If you measure LACK of power by lack free time, and lack of life decisions, and increased chance of injury, life-time ailment, or death then women OVERWHELMINGLY come out on top in marriages.
          In other words: MEN SECURE FOR WOMEN WEALTH, LEISURE TIME, SAFETY, INCREASED LIFE-CHOICES AT THE COST OF THE MEN’S OWN BLOOD/SWEAT/TEARS.
          MEN ARE NOT WOMEN’S OPPRESSORS, BUT THEIR EMANCIPATORS.
          C) most people with a lot of bias are going to selectively look in only spots where they want to back up their beliefs. In this way, they can procure “evidence” that substantiate their beliefs, nevermind that they are ignoring lots of other evidence that disproves their opinion.
          Men:
          * live on average 7 years less than women.
          * are 38% of all college graduates
          * are the targets of 80% of all violent crime
          * are 90% of the incarcerated
          * are 98% of those on death-row
          * are 80% of all suicides
          * are 90% of all homeless
          * are 95% of all workplace fatalities
          * win sole custody of the kids 6% of the time & shared 14% to women’s single 80% & shared 14%.
          $7 on women-specific disease research is spent on each $1 for men
          Despite these STARTLING statistics there are a national and 50 state Commissions on The Status of Women. There is only 1 for men in Massachusetts, which is unfunded.

          While I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to whether most male/female relationships are male or female dominated I would say that easily nearly every single women is very aware of how much the laws advantage her. I would say that many many millions of women take full advantage of their superior legal status to the husband whether in minor or major ways.
          According to this 4state study of 46,000 studies women initiate 2/3’s of all divorces. What are stated as their reasons?
          “Infidelity not a major factor. Exploitation not a major factor.”
          Three major reasons (in order):
          “Because I’ve out-grown him”
          “Because I don’t need him”
          “Because I Will Win”
          Statistically, author Margaret Brinig says, women who filed for divorce most often felt confident they would receive advantageous custody agreements. “The question of custody absolutely swamps all the other variables,” Brinig said. “Our study found that children are the most important asset in a marriage and the partner who expects to get custody is by far the one most likely to file for divorce.” Brinig adds that not only are women certain they will get custody, THEY DIVORCE SPECIFICALLY in order to “gain FULL CONTROL over the children.”

          The younger generations of men are well aware of the misandric nature of marriage and divorce laws. Many men are opting instead to use women as replaceable sperm receptacles and opt for serial dating /hooking up well into the mid 30’s.

          In this regard a great deal of men are now becoming as mercenary and dehumanizing in relationships as a great deal of women have been for the last 25 years.

          It’s all very sad, and you have feminism to thank for this.
          They stated straight out of the box that they were out to destroy the nuclear family and have largely succeeded.

      • HA!

  48. Ahh Hugo Schwyzer , the man who never ever (and I’ve read him at his own site for over 7 years) makes females responsible for anything and acts like he’s an expert to give men advice when he’s on his third wife. Somehow, I think I’ll skip that article.

  49. LOLing Woman says:

    If that was the goal, you fell miserably short of it.

    Are you familiar with Dr. Steven Harley? His research shows that women’s resentment leads women to divorce men and women initiate divorce 75% of the time… often men claim to be shocked / suprised / unaware their wives were unhappy.

    The problem with most spouses is they think of what their own needs are & aim for that. The smart person determines what the other person’s needs are & fulfills those needs.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      But isn’t that exactly the point? If men are feeling resentment, and women are feeling resentment and nobody is talking about it — shouldn’t we try to get some honest dialogue going on? Or should we only have the conversation around what “smart people” are doing?

      • Communication is THE key!! My boyfriend and I have been learning Active LIstening for more than a year. It has greatly improved our relationship.

      • SuperUltraJulie says:

        NO. Read what I stated again & stop trying to force agreement with your article.

        The point is that people are thinking about what they need rather than what their partner’s needs are.

        In the unhappy marriages I see – the Men are often guilty of being lazy when it comes to the emotional maintenance of their marriages.The Women are often guilty of using ineffective tactics to compensate for that.

  50. Nice article Lisa.

    Every relationship is different, so assigning all the blame to one gender is pointless. But I think it’s true that men are often blamed by some sort of default status. I can only speak for what I see in my own life and circle of acquaintances, and what I see is a bunch of highly controlling, borderline verbally abusive women who feel they need to rule with an iron fist. As a result, the man doesn’t resemble the person I knew prior to marriage. Instead, he has to completely change who he is to keep his wife happy. And I believe when you’re not able to be yourself, you’re just living a lie. But unfortunately, living that lie is easier than rocking the boat and standing up to a tyrannical wife.

    Eventually it gets to the point where he walks on eggshells to keep her happy. And at that point, it’s both of their faults. Hers for being so unnecessarily controlling and his for not having any balls to stand up for himself. And the cycle continues.

    • Please stop using sexist language. “Having the balls to stand up for himself” is a very woman-hating statement. It is so male chauvinistic to equate strength with a small, vulnerable part of the male anatomy.

      • The Wet One says:

        Ummm, woman-hating statement? Is saying that “she should have the ovaries to stand up for herself” a misandrist statement?

        Seriously. When you equate this kind of thing to misogyny you lose all credibility. It approaches the very height of hysteria.

        I’ll stop hijacking this thread now. I just could not let that one go. I guess it’s “Having the balls to stand up” to nonsense like that.

        Peace.

        • No, I didn’t lose credibility at all. It is male chauvinistic to equate testicles, a very vulnerable part of the male anatomy, to strength.

          If I said, “He needs to have the ovaries to stand up for himself,” you would also be offended.

          Strong women are often called “ballsy” and it’s very offensive because it equates maleness with strength, femaleness with weakness.

          It is very distressing to hear so much defensiveness and male chauvinistism in the “Speak Your Mind” section of this website.

          • Again MB you are so hypersensitive and ignoring the obvious for your points. The balls are where testosterone is made and thus the essence of manhood. So having balls is a euphemism for having testosterone and not being afraid to confront the wife over actions she has done to offend and/or to hurt the man’s feelings. Apparently you think that women are perfect and men are the louts with no legitimate complaints alonig with your feminist sisters.

            John Wilder

            • Wow, John. So when a woman speaks up and disagrees with you, she has a chip on her shoulder, is drinking the feminist kool-aid, and is just being hyper-sensitive.

              You’re a marriage couselor? LOL. What you are is an idiot.

            • Supra deluca says:

              What an ass you are, Sir.
              She/he just mentioned the damned balls, not that women are perfect and men have no legitimate complaints. What. The. Actual. Fuck.
              With your response you almost suggested men who do not confront their wives lack testosterone somehow or have no normal genitals and that testosterone equals courage (what means women have much, much less courage than men). For real old men, can’t you see what you say?

              You may not agree with her/his opinion, good enough. But to just try to prove her wrong by calling her/him “so hypersensitive”? For real? That does not prove you right, and does not make her.him lose credibility or make her/him wrong.

          • The Wet One says:

            You lost all credibility with me. That’s all I’m saying.

          • SuperUltraJulie says:

            You are in no way being hyper-sensitive.

            The words we choose reveals our thoughts.

            You were dead right about this: When we want to call someone weak, we use the word “pussy.” If you want to say someone is brave / strong, people use the word “ballsy.” This is OBVIOUS & you’ll have all kinds of people in denial telling you your perception of this REALITY is the problem, rather than admitting to what the actual problem is.

      • MB, I don’t believe the term, “Having the balls to stand up for himself” is inherently woman-hating, just pro male. I think it is OK to use such a statement in the context it was given, about a man standing up for himself. However, in the situation of women showing courage, I like to use the terms ovarian fortitude or growing a set of eggs, because I understand the biological phenomenon of women lacking balls, otherwise known as testicles.

        The Anonymous General Manager of Political Entertainment,
        The Rated Republican Superstar

      • Wow MB. You need to get a grip.

        And no, I’m not going to change the way I speak just to suit you. Trust me, I’m not a “woman-hater.” It’s a figure of speech. Get over it.

        • No, I won’t get over it. This figure of speech privileges men over women.

          I’m not asking you to change your speech just to suit me. I’m asking you to stop using male chauvinistic language.

          • No guy in particular says:

            My mother once told her (female) supervisor that the supervisor “didn’t have the balls to make a tough decision.” Way to go, Mom! I just can’t find it in my heart to criticize her for using misogynistic language.

            Also, I would point out that male-referenced language and misogynistic language are not the same thing.

            And, if you really wanted to remove all value-laden references to male genitalia, you will also need to stop the use of the words “testify” and “testimony,” both of which come from the same root word as “testes,” from an ancient Greek practice of holding sheep or goat testicles while giving statements in court, an association of honesty with masculinity. Getting rid of those words seems a bit extreme to me.

            • SuperUltraJulie says:

              Of course getting rid of those words seems extreme to you. You are sop used to sexism in language you view it as “normal.” Anything normalized becomes invisible.

            • Supra deluca says:

              “Good men” being cold assholes who just can’t, or just don’t want to, comprehend how much saying women who are courageous or strong are only like that for having masculine qualities (in this case “balls”) is bad and can be hurtful to females and equality. Great. Amazing.
              Just don’t complain when language bites YOU on your ass, though.

        • wellokaythen says:

          When I think about the metaphor, it does seem a little odd to associate testicles with courage. (I don’t think it’s offensive or sexist, necessarily, or if it is, then you have to pick your battles, and this seems like a pretty trivial battle to me.)

          Maybe if testicles were things that males only got when they got older, instead of things a (cis-)boy is born with, it would work better. But, little boys have testicles, too, so it seems strange to associate them with bravery. I’m sure that if I were ever in a combat situation, I would curl up into a fetal ball and wet myself, clutching and dampening the very scrotum that’s supposed to be a symbol of my bravery.

          I’ve always liked “spine” as a better body metaphor for courage.

      • Hey MB
        Your very feminist leanings are showing. Feminism has done more harm to women than it has helped. I would cite for you the feminists refusal to come to the defense of Carrie Prejean who lost a crown due to a gay man marking her at a zero because she had the nerve to speak her feelings truthfully about gay marriage. He called her every vile name in the book leveled at women.

        I accosted many feminists over this slight and their explanation was that they only defended womenh who endorsed their homosexual centric political philosophy.

        Sadly we are seeing rampant Misandry in our society. You even see it on the commercials where the man is portrayed as this hapless boob has yet again gotten himself and/or his family in trouble yet again. The wife is portrayed as super woman who swoops in to save the day all the while tossing off insulting and condascending commments ot her husband.

        The most common complaint about wives that I get from my clients is that women don’t make it safe for men to tell them the truth when it has to do with critique of the wife. Instead of hearing him out she goes on the attack. So yes it does take balls to confront her in her virulent attack.

        John Wilder

        • John, your male chauvinistic leanings are showing. Patriarchy has done a lot more harm to women and that’s why we have had a feminist movement since the French and American resolutions.

          BTW, those commercials about the man being portrayed as helpless are because of patriarchy, not feminism. I don’t think it’s funny to see men being inept at doing housework and childcare. But in the patriarchal mindset, “real” men don’t do “women’s work” and so, it’s considered funny when they do it (especially if they are inept).

          You ought to read Allan G. Johnson’s great book, “The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy.” I

          • As an avowed liberal I doubt if I can reason with you. Those commercials don’t portray men doing housework. And for the record I always believe in an equal division of housework and did laundry, dishes, cooked cleaned bathrooms and changed diapers.

            Maureen Dowd did a column a couple of years ago stating that the only reason for men in our society is to be sperm donors. Wikipedia does an outstanding job of explaining Misandry.

            You of course conveniently ignored my statements about Carrie Prejean. Feminists clearly don’t represent or even bother to pretend that they represent all women now.

            Men have learned to keep their mouths shut because women invariably withold sex as punishment.

            John Wilder

        • I strongly disagree with your statement about feminism. Feminism has been a great boon to me and most of the women I know. It gave me the freedom to dream of jobs that had previously only been held by men. It gave me the right to vote. It gave me the chance to work outside the home. It gave me the right to attend college, to speak my mind with less fear of reprisal, and the right to equal payment for equal work.

          I am very, very sorry to hear that you feel you cannot speak your mind or that you have to “keep your mouth shut.” It appears, tho, that you have plenty of voice here. Please continue to voice your opinions. If my own experience is any indication, it should do you good.

          • Kitti

            “It gave me the freedom to dream of jobs that had previously only been held by men”.
            “It gave me the chance to work outside the home.”
            ” It gave me the right to attend college”
            ” and the right to equal payment for equal work”.

            This is all due to the creation of birth control, a surplus of female friendly jobs and the dual income family economy.

            “The patriarchy” designed full participation on the tax farm.

        • SuperUltraJulie says:

          And now we get to the main point: Feminism is The Devil LOL!

  51. LOLing Female says:

    So.. the author got a woman to sign off on women’s defective reasoning & confirm that men simply have the best of intentions…If only the women would cease and desist with their whining / nagging & lower their expectations… ((Sigh))

  52. It would have been nice to give me attribution when quoting me. It would have also been nice had you provided some realistic solutions like marriage coaching as opposed to marriage counseling.

    John Wilder

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Hi John,
      Since most people wanted to remain anonymous, we didn’t end up attributing anyone. And this article wasn’t about the solutions, it was pointing out what seemed to be a widepread mindset that we didn’t think people were aware of.

      We’d be happy to have you submit a post talking about the solutions such as coaching (and how that differs from counseling) — that would be great. We could run it and link the original article back to your post. That would solve both problems you have with the post. Please email me at lisa at goodmenproject.com and we can discuss.

    • What do you mean by marriage coaching? The woman needs to be respected as an equal leader.

      • Hey MB
        If you would just take that chip off your shoulder, marriage coaching is an alternative to marriage counseling. Traditional marriage counselors have a horrendous failure rate of 75%. Marriage coaches on average have an 80% success rate. There are many reasons for this.

        Women are of course considered equal partners. As to your comments about women centric and women on top for sex, I am a big fan fo women on top. I also suggest that they face away from the guy because she can then utilize a vibrator simultaneously to have multiple orgasms as well as control the rate of thrusting. She can slow way down and the guy gets his own private porno show of seeing his member being buried in her vagina up close and personal.

        As to jobs and wealth, more women today are going to college than are men. More women are being placed into management positions. More women have wealth than men (although admittedly it is inherited wealth from dead husbands). You have got to stop drinking that feminist kool aid. Read Penelope Trunk’s blog on this. She also states that women are making more than men today.

        John Wilder

  53. Thanks for opening this dialogue. I thought I was the only man that felt this way. I tried repeatedly to communicate this to my now ex-wife the best I knew how.

  54. Most of the time it’s just so called “shit tests”. If you are a man, don’t put up with them. Attempt to communicate, see if there’s a legitimate complaint , but if not, it’s best to ignore her or tease her. Whatever one does DO NOT always give into your mate. Only do so when you feel she or he is right. Otherwise, they will not respect you, and when they lose respect for you it is as good as over.

    • But what about if she thinks her complaint is legit and you do not? Teasing or ignoring her will only make the situation worse.

      If seems like you think the man should always decide whether the complain is legit.

      • well said, MB.

      • Well, yes.
        Just like she gets to decide if a complaint you make to her is legitimate, so do you get to decide if a complaint made to you is legitimate. If you can’t agree often enough or over something major, then perhaps it’s best to go your separate ways. The point is this : do not attempt to always placate your partner because eventually they will come to disrespect you. Go with your conscience.

        • Don’t placate , negotiate lol but you may be right that some couples are not meant to be together or should we never give up on someone you love unless they are abusuve or constantly cheating ?

    • Feels like bad advice . I ,as a woman ,don’t play shit games and anyone that does deserves to be left but I really think you have to be sure it’s not a communication problem . I feel like my husband is mistreating me and anyone that has witnessed it has told me I shouldn’t be treated that way. I am trying to make my marriage work but he puts blinders on. I’ve tried the sweet and polite route of explaining things. I am not a bitchy or nagging type. I wouldn’t want that done to me so I don’t do it to him but all that gets me is alone and ignored with an occasional jab on my appearance or smarts or something . He thinks it’s cute to do this. Smdh. So I may be leaving because of that along with other issues in our marriage . He remains oblivious. This is not all men . This is just my husband . I think it’s as unfair to group all men under one stereotype as it is to group all women under one stereotype. If I was ignored because my husband thought I was playing shitty games when I wasn’t doing that at all, it would slowly kill our marriage because it shuts down much needed communication. So I think we have to be careful and make darn sure it’s not just men and women misunderstanding each other because we are so different. If that’s not the case in your situation then fine but being a women myself I am appalled at people who play games in relationships . I want honesty and intimacy, not games . Games are shallow.

  55. Oh wow. Thank you very much for writing this. I just got married two years ago. Perhaps this is why everyone says stuff to me like “Oh don’t worry, you’re still in the first two years. You still like each other.”

    I think this kind of stuff is important for women like me to read because I don’t want to be naive, but I also don’t want to go into marriage assuming it’s going to be awful. It sounds like this is the kind of thing that develops over time… So if I can hear both sides of the dialogue right now, I can try try try to remember this down the road.

    This is extremely enlightening. I know a few people who would relate to this. Thank you again.

  56. WoW …
    Thank you. I am separated … and this article speaks to so many reason why ‘I’ (my side) believe ‘I’ am in the position I’m in.

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