Divorce is devastating, and no man knows that better than 36-year-old Matthew Fray.
What’s often hardest to bear is that the way to resolve your marriage usually becomes clearest after it’s over. Such was the case for Matt.
Once his wife left him, he noticed the reason for his marital demise glaring straight at him from the kitchen sink. That’s right. The dishes.
“It seems so unreasonable when you put it that way: My wife left me because sometimes I leave dishes by the sink,” he writes in his blog post. “It makes her seem ridiculous; and makes me seem like a victim of unfair expectations.”
But he makes it clear that in hindsight, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Sometimes I leave used drinking glasses by the kitchen sink, just inches away from the dishwasher. It isn’t a big deal to me now. It wasn’t a big deal to me when I was married. But it WAS a big deal to her.”
Maybe he thought the dishes were stupid, but she didn’t. It wasn’t about the 4 seconds it would take to rinse out a coffee cup. It was about the message it sent about her worth to him.
Doing the little things meant he treasured her time and treasured her as his partner. When you get past the running water and the soap suds, that’s what the dishes were really all about.
“Every time she’d walk into the kitchen and find a drinking glass by the sink, she moved incrementally closer to moving out and ending our marriage. I just didn’t know it yet,” he writes. “But even if I had, I fear I wouldn’t have worked as hard to change my behavior as I would have stubbornly tried to get her to see things my way.”
Matt shares that being respected is one of the top priorities for men, but he now realizes that he was trying to gain that respect in all the wrong ways: by deliberately putting his foot down over washing a spoon that could definitely sit there ’til tomorrow, by tossing a dirty sock on the floor, or by leaving crumbs on the counter just because he could.
He wasn’t trying to be mean; he just didn’t see it as important—and he was pretty sure he was right about that.
But you see, “importance” is all a matter of perspective. When we label subjective terms with objective truth, we can all get ourselves into serious trouble.
In trying to uphold his manhood, Matt now sees how childlike it really was.
“Men are not children, even though we behave like them,” he admits.
“I remember my wife often saying how exhausting it was for her to have to tell me what to do all the time. It’s why the sexiest thing a man can say to his partner is ‘I got this,’ and then take care of whatever needs taken care of.”
He always reasoned that if his wife wanted him to do something, she should just tell him for goodness sake.
“But she didn’t want to be my mother,” he writes. “She wanted to be my partner, and she wanted me to apply all of my intelligence and learning capabilities to the logistics of managing our lives and household. She wanted me to figure out all of the things that need done, and devise my own method of task management…I wish I could remember what seemed so unreasonable to me about that at the time.”