The Other Side of the Story- A Response to MBTTTR


I know many of you follow Matt’s blog, Must Be This Tall to Ride.

Here is his latest post

First up, I bless Matt and kiss the ground he walks on, or the computer he types on, or whatever, for owning up to his role in his defunct marriage. He laid out a pattern out clearly for all to see, and I also bless the people, mostly women, who responded with “that’s my marriage” or like me, “that WAS my marriage!”

Matt explained so clearly (read it!) what men do in marriages when they play out the role of the “nice guy”.

It’s utter poison.

However, as my mother used to say “It takes two to tango”.

I’d like to follow his example and own up to my part of the tango and say what I did to create a dysfunctional dance.  Not perfectly similar to Matt’s situation, of course.  Someone once said “Happy families are all the same. Unhappy families are unhappy in their own unique ways”. Probably true of marriages, too.

Nonetheless, close enough. Maybe some others will see themselves in this, maybe it’s only me.


I love control.

I think I know better. I’m the Captain Kirk of my own Enterprise.

I make decisions quickly and I run people over sometimes in my haste to get from here to there. It’s sometimes a pointless journey, but I’m bound and determined to get there.

I get frustrated when people can’t keep up with MY plan.

I exude annoyance with MEN WHO CAN’T KEEP UP, which is intimidating to some guys. I forgive women a lot faster.


I didn’t even see it.

I know there are good reasons I act this way.  I had a lot of losses in my early life. I learned that competence was a way to get people to like me. I was a little heroine child, with brothers who couldn’t get it together, for their own good reasons.  Children were literally sent away from my home for screwing up. I responded with one shining report card after another, one accolade after the next. No one was kicking me out. I’d make sure of that.  My “perfect” persona was touted throughout the family.

I trotted this persona right into my marriage.


I could have slowed down. I could have waited. I could have done a better job including him.

In the tango, he really did prefer me to lead, though. It was easier. And I was unconscious of my growing resentment, my own need of support, my own limitations.

So when someone else came along and offered me something in exchange for my emotional support, it was so easy, in a time of vulnerability, to transfer that support to the someone else, to “accidentally” develop an intimacy.

My friend helped me clean the garage..a task I’d wanted done for years.

And then the resentment broke open.

The suppressed anger flooded me. Memories hit me.

The time I asked my ex to help me fix the deck and he watched me and my daughter power wash and scrub and re stain it, because “he worked so hard”.  The Christmas lights I loved so much never went up, so the girls and I trod out and put them up ourselves.  The water heater that leaked down the garage that he ignored. The clogging toilets that he wouldn’t replace himself or look into why they were clogging. It’s icky, but it has to be done.  In the end, the bills that had piled up that he hid from me.

Oops, I’m complaining again. Twenty plus years is too long to suck it up. I sucked it up for too long. I responded to his expressions of guilt (“oh dear, I am such a bad person for letting you down”) by giving in and then nothing happened. For an assertive woman, I cowed into being a good girl, a paradoxical nice girl myself. I didn’t like the conflict either, when it came down to it.

I can handle this, I said.

And now I’m typing on this computer in an empty house.

That was my part in the dance. Not speaking up. Letting resentments build. Being convinced my way was better. Getting what I wanted while simultaneously not getting what I needed. A reverse RollingStones song.

I will avoid future partnerships where I can’t be myself. I am competent, and fair, and compassionate, and I need help. I need support. I can’t do it all on my own. That’s part of me too.

I denied that part, and I did it for too long, and that’s at least part of the story.

Thanks, Matt.


7 comments on “The Other Side of the Story- A Response to MBTTTR

  1. Matt says:

    So, this is why people tell me I’m being too hard on myself.


    Thank you for the kind things you said about me even when the things I’ve written must dredge up a little anger and annoyance in you. You’re awfully kind to treat me well, anyway.

    So, thank you. 🙂

    • You are a good model, Matt. You helped me to clarify and take responsibility myself. Yes, I’m angry….and I contributed to my situation. It’s okay. I’m working on forgiving myself.

      • Matt says:

        We are all so flawed and mistake-prone. I do hope you’re able to keep perspective and appreciate all of your wonderful qualities and choices rather then focus on any perceived negatives.

  2. Oh, do I ever get the “I can do it myself” attitude. Guilty as well:) I hope that you find that putting in words helps you recognize and, yes, control it. I know for me it comes from a combination of not wanting to be seen as weak and not wanting to be a bother. It was scary allowing myself to be vulnerable and maybe even in the way, but I found that resistance was in my head, not in the minds of others. Good read:)

    • I think many girls are taught not to be a bother, and grow into women who feel that they shouldn’t intrude on people. I agree with you, people are often willing to help and don’t see you as weak or defeated. Thanks for your feedback and support!

  3. Dawn says:

    I think too often people forget that they play a roll in a failing marriage assuming it’s always easier to blame someone else than to admit you may have had your own part.
    I have owned mine…I have no idea if he has owned his.
    That really doesn’t matter anymore though.
    Good for you for stepping up and saying it!

    • I agree-it doesn’t matter if he/she owns up or not. I think it comes down to our learning. So painful, so hard. I am not good at self-compassion and I need to practice it every day. Thanks for responding!

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