No, You’re NOT a Bad Person, Just a Shitty Husband

I stumbled upon an interesting book that I wasn’t expecting to read all the way through, or even thought it was a book that I would learn something from, seeing as I typically do not bother with books from celebrities or random influencers as they tend to be a load of uninformed trash. The book is called, This is How Your Marriage Ends, by Matthew Frey. What makes this book a rare, insightful, and despite the lack of qualifications by Frey himself (apart from having been married, written a few books, and deciding to become a relationship coach; which lets be real, those accoplishments don’t scream, “I’m qualified to talk about these things.”) I found myself by the end of the book feeling like everyone should read it, have a copy, and highlight the most relevent parts that pertain to you, because it is important.

What ultimately changed my mind, was the first few chapters. A man being so candid and honest about his marriage failing, the role he played in it, the effect it had on his family (specifically his child and wife), and he just genuinely took full accountability for being insensative, insecure, and selfish. Frey (also within the first few pages), explained that after his first book, that dealt with how he handled his wife leaving and what going through the experience as a whole taught him about himself and how he had been acting and behaving that not only destroyed his marriage but also the relationship with his son. Frey even ommitted that he had confided in friends that he felt like he was being a fraud with no experience in psychology or family and marriage counseling, but he also felt that because of his oppenness, maleness, and the ability to explain the concepts from a man’s point of view gave him. His friends encouraged him to be a Relationship Coach because his insights could prove to be invaluable to those who are struggling in their marriages with inattentive, complacent, and woefully insensative husbands that inadvertantly make it worse. 

I prefer books by authors with some sort of qulifications for example: Doctors, Neurosurgeons, Neuroscientists, Psychiatrists, Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers, Family and Marriage Counselors because I don’t want my work to be littered with information that isn’t at all factual, nor do I wish to spend my time constantly leaving citations because it really takes away from my point here because at the end of the day, this piece, hell this book, is meant to persuade you to read this book that everyone can learn something from.  

My opinion was swiftly changed by the lack of expertise he admitted he didn’t have and wasn’t proclaiming to have, and I could tell I was becoming curious because it seemed like it would be a more honest and genuine book about the more relatable side of the every day lived experiences of the average individual or couple, and I was kind of sold. As I ventured further into the book, it only made me feel vindicated in my decision to give this work a fair shot. Once I hd finished the book, two REALLY prominent things stuck out to me, that seemed to really resonate with me and we will discuss the first prominent thing in its own post, as someone who has dated the man who is bad and has no intetion to become a better person, the good man who has no idea the pain he’s inflicting on his family (and doesn’t think there is anything wrong in the relationship), the good man who desires to better, and is aware that he’s screwing up but doesn’t change his behavior, and then the good man that knows something is wrong, doesn’t know what it is and ultimately ignores the problem until it “goes away,” and these are the categories (roughly and in my own words) that Frey has so thoughtfully placed these men into, while being absolutely unwilling to tolerate the idea of staying with and working together with men he puts in the “bad men” category.

Once you understand how Frey categorizes men (which was context that was needed, otherwise the first thing that “stuck out” wouldn’t really make sense, and I don’t believe this to be the type of book that you can “spoil”), you immediately understand why this first quote stood out to me and really “spoke” to me and that is when he had an epiphany, and said in a moment of realization:

“You can still be a good person, and be a shitty spouse.”

Frey continued on to explain this ( slbeit in way more detail than I’m going to go into because, like, seriously, read the book) by saying that when his wife had needed help emotionally, he dismissed it, and he did so not out of genuine concern, but out of defensiveness. He said that he felt he was a good person, and that there are some husbands that drink excessively, cheat, party, and go to strip clubs, he felt like he hadn’t done anything wrong and she (his wife) shouldn’t be upset with him because he didn’t agree with her lived experience because it wasn’t the experience he was living. Frey went on to describe that this kind of thinking is what destroyed his marriage, invalidated his wife’s feelings to the point where he might as well have said,

“Aww, look at you and your dumb emotions, I promise  your girl brain will get over it soon.” or “Honey, what I want to do is more important to me than validating your feelings because they make me feel bad and they’re wrong because that’s not really what’s happening, you’re just being paranoid.”

This is where he explains that a lot of men were taught that you would be considered to be less of a man or “weak” for expressing any emotions (in my experience the only ones men are good at expressing is anger, jealousy, and sadness, but that’s just been my experience, and I’m not so self-centered that I cannot comprehend the fact that I do not speak for everyone, I just thought I would throw that in there) other than the ones that were deemed appropriate for men at the time. Women are taught how to get along with others, show empathy, and are expected to strike a balance between their “masculine” and “feminine” sides that men do not have to navigate. Men are not taught these skills, and while women have been trained for decades on how to cook, clean, do laundry, run a household, have children, speak properly (and approproately depending on the venue), take care of a man, and how to live cooperatively with others. Even when those skills are lacking in girls (especially in the age of social media) and young women, we are far more adept at learning those skills quickly.

Men are currently driving down the average life expectancy because of stress, depression, and mental health problms that can cause numerous physical consequences, mostly issues with the respitory system and cardiac problems including heart attacks and strokes that are unknowingly sending men to an early grave. Men are killing themselves and we need to start addressing it. While women attempt suicide far more than men, the number of suicide deaths among men have skyrocketed in recent years because they are more likely than women to succeed in their suicide attempts, because most men prefer to use guns, while women prefer overdoses and hanging, methods that have a far lower success rate than a gun. Even the number of marriages are being affected, with marriage rates are falling, and divorce rates steadily climbing as well (probably causing Ben Shapiro to go into conservative cardiac arrest………you get it? cardiac issues?! Like a physical ailment that can be caused by and excess in the stress hormone cortisol being released in the brain in excess? To the point where it could cause cardiac arrest?). While I’m sure that there are numerous other causes for these changes, for example the cost of having a child, everyone hardly being able to pay their mortgages and rent, the future of the planet (while not a concern for most of us, SOME people give a shit about that kind of stuff, not me, but, ya know), racism, lack of economic growth, lack of access to abortion, prenatal care, and just normal healthcare, all of the mass shootings at school lately, and all of the bills and laws that are trying to whitewash, erase, or rewrite what children are taught in schools, I mean, I could go on for days on end.

But I digress, the point is that we do not teach our boys skills that young women are almost expected to know, like, basically right out of the fucking womb, and to say that these skills are only applicable or beneficial to girls amd young women is demonstrably absurd. We are teaching boys to be entitled, cold, unfeeling, and to value toughness over treating your peers with respect and dignity, and teach them to control their emotions and use proper techniques and coping mechanisms for those emotions.

My husband and I have issues to this day, 6 years, and a whole ass daughter later, and we do still struggle with these sorts of things (although, certainly they have become less in frequency and intensity) and empathy isn’t something we teach boys as a society, and while we are slowly but moving away from and having conversations about the damages of toxic masculinity and also how that affects women in the long run, the going is slow. It’s slow and it’s being held back by people who have no idea the consequences of holding such beliefs. Men have become more depressed, isolated, and angry (quarantine has also probably exacerbated this issue, no doubt about that) and instead of calling little boys and young men “weak” for having emotions and feelings that everyone has and telling them that being tough, mean, suppressing emotions and feelings to preserve some weird gender norm that’s hurting our boys. They don’t want to go to school, they feel dumb, and they’re even enrolling in college less now too. Women are slowly becoming the breadwinners, enrolling in college in higher numbers (same with graduating), and more and more women are starting to abandon the gender roles that society has tried to confine them to. This is great for progress among women but I don’t think it needs to be at the expense of the male population’s health and wellbeing.

The bottom line is, when women ask for intimacy from their husbands (or partners, LGBTQ+ are not exempt) the first thought they have is that they’re failing to somehow “be a man” because his wife is unsatisfied. They take it personally, conflating your needs with an attack on who they are as a person and who they are as a man. It’s shameful and embarassing when you’re wife is telling you that you aren’t making her happy in one area or another. Men do not understand, nor were they taught that empathy is a skill that is deeply needed to have successful relationships whether in their social lives with friends, co-workers, your children, and your wife. It’s essential to connecting with people and forming new friends and even healing old wounds. Empathy is a skill that not only has to be learned (if you aren’t familiar with it at all), but it also has to be practiced and built upon. Otherwise, just like any other skill you learn and don’t maintain, you will lose it.

I’ll conclude with this last point and that is that this isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s not your fault, your grandma’s fault, it’s not your moms fault, or your great grandmothers fault. No one was taught how to be married, no one was taught how to merge your life with someone else’s, no one was taught what exactly the sacrifices are that are made when one agrees to spend the rest of their life with another, no one was taught that, yes, despite popular belief women’s happiness in a marriage matters. No one knew that men prefer monogamy and tend to outlive divorced men or men that never married. No one knew that statistically the happiness of women declines with each year that she is married. No one knew, was taught, or was shown an example of what a happy, loving, compassionate, and non judgemental marriage looks like, where BOTH the man and the woman are equally happy and satisfied with each other. Just like Empathy, learning how to be a good husband, an attentive husband, and a loving husband is a skill. Skills can be improved, refreshed, and learned. You can learn how to be a better husband (or spouse) and it’s been scientifically proven that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.

So no, you aren’t a bad person, just a shitty husband.

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