Savage Love Letter of the Day: When Your Husband Is a Good Friend (to Everyone but You, His Best Friend)


1 Don't have kids


3 Don't Have Kids
I don't think this marriage is going to last. Four months in and he's stopped paying attention to her, closed the lines of communication, and refuses to listen to his wife's concerns? That's very bad.

Ultimatums are a weapon to be used only with great care and a willingness to follow through, but I think in the interest of being in a respectful, caring relationship that build the LW up, one might be called for here. "I feel that you're disregarding me entirely and you no longer care about how I feel. If this marriage is going to work, we need to get to couple's counseling ASAP." And then, if he refuses, the follow through: contacting a divorce lawyer.
Kinda sounds like rather than hide his behavior he's trying to gaslight her.
And none of these signs were around before you tied the knot?

I doubt it. Still you picked him. You're the problem, not him. Divorce and choose better next time.
Tax Laws are changing regarding divorce; so if you are unhappy now is a great time to get that divorce because if you have to pay him alimony it counts. (usually it's the guy but times have changed)

Lastly, He's trying to get you to back off for a reason. Sure he could be a 'good friend' he also could be a sucker giving away your life savings without even talking to you.

Lastly; don't forget good communication is a key quality of a good relationship. It will not survive if he goes off to sleep with some random girl without telling you a thing.

It also will not survive if he leaves to stay at a friends house overnight without telling you a word.

You might have been confident; but he's slowly fractured your confidence
I actually don't think he's cheating. I do think he's an being asshole, though.
LW, what was the situation like during the five years that you two dated? Did you know him to routinely give money to friends? Was he often out late or overnight with friends? Was he a good communicator? And over the past five years, have you gotten to know his circle of friends well? If so, are they good people, and have they made you feel part of the group?

If he hasn’t really changed his behavior, but you thought getting married was going to change him, you’ve been proved wrong. If his behavior has suddenly changed it could be that he wasn’t ready to get married and is acting out. If so, perhaps some counseling might provide a path through which he can settle down, if you’re willing to put up with his behavior during that time.

Lastly, if you did develop any close connections with his friends during the past five years, perhaps one of them might be willing to clue you in regarding his state of mind. His friends may already know whether he wants out of your marriage.
LW it’s irrelevant what he was or wasn’t like before marriage. You need to take responsibility for your own happiness now. Marriage is not a prison sentence - you are not happy with your hubbys behavior and your situation. You can try to talk to him and mediate this, but it sounds like he ain’t interested. He is playing you or avoiding you or trying to wreck the marriage. Either way, get a great lawyer and learn the rules. You want to be a kind person? Don’t screw him in the divorce. Get out quick and move on.
@4 oh for heaven's sake, even if she's the problem it's flat out just wrong to say he's not the problem. A bad relationship can require two people's mistakes!

And you have no idea how well he may or may not have kept up a facade before marriage. It's ridiculous to talk on unaware that some people are pretty good at that.

If the LW sees a pattern in how she picks 'em, she can write in about that, but the situation right in front of us is that this husband is not acting like he wants to be married.
The nub of this issue is what WW says in the last sentence--that he's stopped communicating. And that he brushes off her concerns. There could be many reasons for this. It could be as glaring--and as awful--as some of the commentators, and maybe Dan, believe: that he regrets marriage and has already begun to cheat in protest. Or the explanation could be fairly close to what he says it is: that marriage for him comes with a pre-assurance of commitment to his wife, and that in those circumstances it's reasonable for him to meet other friends' call on his time and emotional energy. But even if the way things stand for him emotionally are the last, there's still an issue--in that his behavior is making the LW feel unhappy and he isn't fairly and decently communicating.

No concern of the LW deserves to be brushed under the carpet--certainly not her fear he's cheating, even if this plays into a belittling stereotype of wives--that they care about infidelity in marriage, but not the suffocation of loveless social conformity. But I don't think the issues with his behavior turn on whether he's cheating or not. Perhaps she needs to confront him? To grasp the nettle? To tell him that she is very unhappy on account of his actions, and that she feels he has to address her worries seriously? Then she might ask him whether he thinks he has recently communicated with her well. If WW raises the stakes in this way, it would seem that morally the onus is on her husband to respond seriously and with an open heart. Perhaps he can't; and then the commenters are right in advising her to reassess the marriage.
Clear out that bank account as soon as you can and lock that money down. You'll need it for the lawyer.
9 is correct. The pattern of behavior suddenly changing after marriage/moving-in-together is well-known in certain personality disorders, particularly narcissism. Actually, quite a bit of what she describes is consistent with narcissistic personality disorder.
@12/attitude devant: Does the literature suggests that pathologically narcissistic individuals can keep their behavior in check for as long as five years, and only after marriage reveal their true personality? That would be surprising. And wouldn’t someone with such a disorder engage in anti-social behavior with others?
"...very difficult to communicate with in quality settings. He is often on his phone playing a game...staying over at friend's houses without giving me a clear timeline of return...1:20 am I had received no contact or updates...didn't return home until the next morning...he either explodes or shuts down the conversation...
Husband is a self-absorbed asshole of the first magnitude. You chose him, but it's not too late to turn your brain on...…
13, sure. They can't fool all the people all the time, but they can fool a lot of people much of the time. The pattern (which unfortunately I know well) is that they reel you in with nice (and they can be quite charming) and then when they are sure of you (as in after marriage) they see no need to keep the facade up because you're stuck with them, or they get caught in their self-centered behavior and drop the facade. Once they've been found out, you are the enemy, and the full flavor of the narcissism comes into view: the money in the bank account was his, his fury at her inquiring as to his whereabouts, his giving her the silent treatment, his complete disregard for her comfort and her feelings. Notice he takes no responsibility for any of it, even though he's the instigator. The next step will happen as she pulls away and he goes on a charm offensive. It may take her a while to realize what he is.
@4: “You're the problem, not him”

What is wrong with you?

She made a mistake marrying him and will be better off without him, but he’s “the problem” in their marriage.

@6: I’m not interested in arguing or trying to convince you here, but why do you think he’s specifically *not* cheating on her?

@12: +1
All you need to know is that he says he’s a giver.
First sign of a taker.
Two problems:

He's cheating on you.
He's gaslighting you.

Even if he's not cheating (he is), he's still gaslighting.
Even if everyone here says it's okay for him to stay out all night (we're not), it bothers you. You're not getting what you need.

He may or may not be cheating on her. He may or may not be a narcissist. He may or may not think his new marriage was a mistake, or have slipped her into a place of complacency. She may or may not be overly clingy and insecure.


1. He is not communicating with her. She's his wife. He should ask or at least let her know when he is taking money from a joint savings account and giving it to friends. He should let her know when he expects to be back when he goes out without her.

2. He is not being nice or respectful to her. Explosive anger, shutting down conversations and refusing to discuss issues, accusing her of overreacting, and failing to give her the basic courtesy of a text message when he is out late without her - these are bad behaviors and inappropriate toward a spouse.

3. He seems to be acting as though he's still single. He's not. Marriage isn't a trap or a jail, but it is a commitment. Staying overnight out of spite at a friend's house 5 minutes away is not what you do when you are married, whether you are 25, 45, or 85.

4. He is giving only in one direction - away from her. And he is giving not just of himself, but is taking from her to give to others - his time and attention due her, and her agency in their partnership.

Really, my first instinct is DMTFA. But in the unlikely event that he is merely clueless/thoughtless or maybe adjusting poorly ot marriage, maybe the LW should offer counseling first. Doesn't seem likely, since he believes she's overreacting but she obviously cares a lot for him.
My read is that he's an inconsiderate asshole who pretends to be giving to try and impress people -- and once he got married, well, he didn't have to keep trying to impress her anymore, did he?

That said, I don't think he's cheating. I honestly don't. But if he's trying to be a good friend (regardless of motive) to someone in the middle of an emotional crisis, and something awkward happened like she got a little drunk and maybe threw herself at him, he might be inconsiderate enough to think he's preventing suspicion by not talking about it. I could very well be wrong, but I think we've all known someone who's gone through something that they couldn't deal with without shanghaiing one of their friends literally all night. This sounds like a singular incident that, to me, points more towards 'inconsiderate prick who takes his partner for granted' than 'cheater.'

Either way, she should look to get out.
I am a woman in my 50s and have had close male friends my entire life. And, because I have always valued those friendships and the romantic relationships I and my male friends have had over the years, I have ALWAYS strived to make these friendships as non-threatening as possible. (I was considered quite the hottie in my day so was extremely respectful to the ladies so as to cut off any jealous feelings that might ruin my friendships). I did this because I realized it was MY responsibility to make sure my partners, and my friend’s partners, felt safe and secure.

This guy is an inconsiderate dick. He either has something to hide or enjoys being a manipulator. Both of those things suck and can only spell doom for a marriage. The LW is certainly not out of line to be concerned about his behavior, because it is truly abysmal. Yeah, maybe he got married because 5 years and is now feeling trapped/suffocated because marriage really can change a person, but he either needs to figure it out and learn to take his primary commitment seriously, or end things so he can devote his time, energy, and money to his friends.
The timeline is telling.

Put me in the he's not cheating (yet) camp. The truth is, he just doesn't like you, but LW really liked him, and more importantly, LW screams the kind of person who thinks life success is being parried. So LW really wanted to get married, after 4 years everyone around you was assuming you were going to get married, and he didn't have the balls to say no. Now he's married to someone he just doesn't care about ... as evidenced by his behavior.

How old is LW and her husband? I got money that this is the husband's first long-term relationship. And now that he's figured out how to not be a creeper and women are paying attention to him his wife is just an obstacle to the single life he wants. And I have more money that three years into the relationship LW started badgering her now-husband that it was time to get married because LW wants to be in a good marriage so bad she needed to write a columnist to figure out her husband is being a dick desperately hoping Dan would tell her that her marriage really is a good one.

Or he's just an abusive asshole, either way, he's just not that into you, DTMFA.
Short version: LW is codependent and really wanted to get married and husband is over it and doesn't know how to get out.
[I am usually a very confident woman.]


Had that sentence begun, "I thought I was..." I shouldn't have my current impulse to think that LW isn't fit for anyone better.
@12 attitude devant. Yes exactly. I had a crazy bff and we became platonic roommates after college. I moved halfway across the country and I swear to god, it was like she saved up all the crazy until after the lease was signed. All she really wanted was cheap rent to get herself through grad school. She gave zero fucks about my wellbeing and was verbally abusive and threatening. Every reasonable request I made was ignored when I tried to talk about things. I moved asap when the lease was up, cut off all ties and told her to go fuck herself.

Abusers/narcissists are expert manipulators, but hindsight is 20/20. When I looked back it was clear how badly she actually treated me the entire time and not just once we were roommates. only felt like the crazy hit all at once when we became roommates. Truthfully she was a batshit alcoholic with a violent streak all along, but she was good at hiding it. I would guess that there may have been similar problems in the LW's relationship the entire time, only now that he married her she's seeing more of his bad side than ever before.
Talk to a lawyer FIRST. Then when you know your options, the expected cost(s), and the process, go talk to him. There is a lot of documentation that would be greatly in your interest to get in place BEFORE telling him you're considering divorce, especially if you have joint accounts or credit cards.
@25 gamebird- yes for sure. She should get legal advice before he backs her into a corner any further than she already is. Also, if she suspects cheating, it's surprisingly inexpensive to hire a private investigator. In the area where I live, the cost starts around 700 for the minimum of 10 hours. I looked into it while dating my ex-bf, b/c he was suggesting a future together, but his actions/words were inconsistent. 700 isn't really pocket change for me, but I thought if it keeps me from marrying a cheater and saves me years of heartache then it's more than worth it.

The firm I contacted works like this: you hire them to be on-call and they put a gps on his car. Then, when he says to you that he's going "out of town for business" and you're feeling suspicious because he's acting strange- you call the firm, they activate the gps and track him to find out that he's actually at a local hotel. Then, a private investigator goes out for an hour or two to take pics of him at the hotel with the other woman.

In my case, I chose to listen to my instincts instead of going to the trouble of hiring an investigator. I felt that if it had gotten to that level of mistrust and we're not even married, then it's already a disaster beyond repair anyway. I flip-flopped for awhile, wondering if I was a crazy paranoid bitch...but then finally came to the conclusion that the cheating suspicions were irrelevant. Either way it was a mess. Even if he wasn't cheating, his constant criticism, put-downs and cruel remarks were more than I could take. However, I highly recommend an investigator for a married person who is looking to document cheating, b/c proof of infidelity would translate into a much nicer settlement.
I should have been clearer. Yes he's a problem, but the core root of the issue is that she chose him - that's a problem.

When we don't choose wisely, we're the problem. We can't change people, e.g. the "I'll rescue him" or "he change after the honeymoon/baby" fails just about every time.
@27 refers to @16.
@26: That is very poor advice.

They've been married 5 months. In the majority of states, they'll split whatever meager marital assets they have 50-50 and move on with their lives, any infidelity won't matter.

Even if they're in a state where infidelity does matter, there's probably so little property they've accumulated together in the time they've been married that trying to push the distribution to even 80-20 isn't worth it.
For LW, I would fire a shell across the bow, take half of the joint checking account and put it into your own individual account. See his reaction. If he act worse, or is not contrite for his actions, talk to a divorce attorney. No matter what to protect yourself, separate him from your money..
Alanmt @18 - the problem with marriage counseling is that abusive manipulators are good at charming the marriage counselor so the other spouse looks like the problem.

This guy announced already that "he is a giving person by nature and that this will always be a part of him," and that WW was "ridiculous" for being concerned. He's not going to change.

Assuming WW wants something more out of life, she'll have to walk away and start over.
I am reminded of the line in When Harry Met Sally about how men and women can't be friends

No idea if your husband is cheating or not, but please forget this stupid and insulting trope. It's nonsense.
@20, that was my first thought after reading this. The key isn't how he behaves (according to LW), or LW feelings. What really tells in this situation is how his 'friends' are okay with him being independent of his wife. My friendships with married folks, opposite gender or not, is always to recognize they have made another person their highest priority. If these "friends" don't bat an eye when a man doesn't bother to call their spouse during a late-night tete-a-tete, or when borrowing money from them, they already know his attitude towards his wife. They know he doesn't care about her.

So, LW, if you still have any doubts about the advice you're getting, pay close attention to how his friends act around you. If they treat you casually, like a ball and chain, or a servant, or whatever, they are showing you his real attitude towards you.
LW, this guy, your husband, is being a prick, that's obvious. Is this some post wedding bull, to prove he's really his own man or has he behaved like this for five long years. One assumes it's pretty recent, hence the letter to Dan.
Maybe give him a bit of his own medicine before you pull the plug on the marriage. Say you're popping out for a visit with friends, and don't go home. This may just be a very weird post marriage jerk off thing.
Pull the plug on this money trip he's on. If it's a shared account then he asks you before lending it. Just like you would ask him.
I never could go the shared account route. Shared expenses, yes.
Since the husband is making the money in the relationship (she says the deposits into savings are his), and he's not demanding anything from LW, I don't see any obvious ulterior motives to suggest he's a manipulator. He didn't rush her into marriage. He's not actively possessively. If he was a nut, he wouldn't/couldn't hide it for five years anyway.

Instead, LW's husband seems genuinely indifferent. Maybe he's falling out of love or in love with someone else. Or, maybe he's pissed/hurt about something. For example, maybe LW set off some alarms by trying to tell him what he can/can't do with the money he earns.

As for communication, surely you two have ongoing issues you argue about - every long term couple does, so it's curious that nothing is mentioned here. Is it possible he has told you the problem and you simply aren't registering it or taking him seriously? Shutting down is a natural reaction when communicating doesn't get you anywhere.
I don't think he's trying to get out of the relationship. I think he sees her as a Wife Appliance. It's useful to have her around for financial support (they probably both have jobs) sex, housekeeping, emotional support, and company when he wants it. However, all his good deeds are focused outward on maintaining appearances and social status, which doesn't include his wife. She's like the expensive vacuum cleaner or the blender - nice to have, but you don't care about impressing it, and you definitely aren't going to ask its permission before you spend money or stay out late (while possibly banging someone else).

DTMFA, and find someone who sees you as a person, not an appliance.
@1: Oh joy, Commie is back with a new alias. Go away, nobody missed you.

Putting on my reading-between-the-lines projector glasses, my first thought is: Is hubby an alcoholic? The "losing track of time" jumped out at me as a symptom of this. (Partly because I myself was one, and this caused a lot of grief for my then-partner, which I was in denial about -- before anyone jumps on me for sexist projection).

If hubby is such a "giving person," he should start by giving a bit more (consideration, time, respect) to his wife. Counseling stat, and DTMFA if he won't go. He's probably not a CPOS, he's an IPOS -- inconsiderate piece of shit. If he wants to behave like a single person, he should be one.
@12 and @13 Colbie Holderness, the former wife of Senior White House aide Rob Porter, told the _New York Daily News_ that "she and Porter dated for three years and his abuse never surfaced until they tied the knot."…
Dougsf @3: Kinda sounds? That's exactly what he's doing.

Phoebe @4: Blaming the victim, hurrah. We don't know if this was how he behaved before marriage. And even if it were, that still doesn't mean she's at fault for being treated like an afterthought. How is she supposed to "choose better next time" with insults like yours on top of her injuries, eroding her self esteem? Is "dump your motherfucking attitude" a thing? It should be.

Gold star comment to Alanmt's assessment @19a. Hope WW is reading.

Phoebe @27: No, you should have shut up. The only way that WW might be the problem is if she has a pattern of choosing men who take her for granted. There's no evidence that this is the case. Read comments 9, 12, 15 and 24. For all we know it's just as likely Husband let his guard down once he'd locked WW into the relationship and stopped being nice. (She must call him her "best friend" for a reason.) Or, as Biggie says, he resents being pressured into marriage in the first place. You can't claim to know. This guy seems as if he DID change after the honeymoon. Hope she gets out before the baby.

Dadddy @35: She never said all the deposits into the joint account were his, just (at least) the amount he lent to his friend. I agree with the commenters that she needs to take "her share" out and sock it away immediately. And damn, you and Phoebe with the victim blaming. SMH.
1. Joint savings accounts seem like a bad idea to me. If you're going to have one, you need to set clear boundaries with the other person about what is an what is not acceptable financial behavior. Personally I think it's best for each partner to have their own bank accounts with an understanding that they'll be sharing most expenses, partly for financial security in case of divorce but mostly just so that you can make your own financial decisions. I don't want my husband to know every time I buy an overpriced sandwich because I forgot my lunch, or how much I spend on my hair cuts. It's my money and it's not really his business. If one spouse is the sole breadwinner, obviously it makes more sense to have joint accounts. But marrying someone without an independent income and establishing a joint account with them means it's not just your money anymore, it's theirs too, and it's their business regardless of whose paycheck it came from.

2. Google "emotional labor," read the articles that pop up, and send one or two of them to your husband with a message saying he needs to step up an deal with the problem he's created. Even self-identified feminist men who genuinely want to be good partners rarely understand how much effort women proportionally put into heterosexual relationships. They don't understand that all that "nagging" we do is way worse for us than it is for them, that it makes us constantly examine ourselves harshly and question our own value, worth, and sanity. It's possible that your husband is a manipulative asshole, but it's also possible that he's just a careless idiot. I personally had a surprising amount of success talking to my husband about the issue of disproportionate emotional labor in our relationship. Something clicked for him and he's been different. I'd suggest giving this discussion a try with your husband and, even if you do end up going separate ways, keeping some relevant articles in your back pocket. Because it's more likely than not that you'll have the same problem with every man you date and/or marry after him, too.
How did we get to this point? Or have we always been here?
How is it possible that infidelity is Worried Wife's main concern? Or rather, how is possible that the possibility that she's being a crazy, possessive, overreacting wife is her main concern? Like she's considering that she deserves what she's getting.

I'll concede that we don't know if Mr. WW is cheating. We all seem to agree that it doesn't matter. The problem that I see is that Mr. WW is on his phone or playing a game when they are home together, he leaves the home at a moment's notice without consulting his wife, he takes money out of their joint account, he stays out all night without telling her he's going to do so and even when coming home would be easy. Communication is at a standstill. He refuses to discuss what's important to her. He calls her concerns ridiculous. Remove WHY he's doing these things or why he MIGHT be doing these things, and they're all still objectionable enough to end the marriage.

These are things that are objectionable enough they'd be grounds to leave an open marriage.

It bothers me that Worried Wife doesn't realize this.
The husband is not necessarily earning all or the majority of the income in the relationship. I worked and earned the majority of the household income. All our bills were based on my salary. When my husband would earn anything, he considered that money "his" to do with as he pleased, rather than to be split in who benefitted from it the way mine was. So his money was HIS. My money was OURS. He was an abusive person who made sure I never had a dime unallocated, while he'd save up 'his' money just in case he needed it, or to pay for indulgences we didn't need or couldn't afford (including giving it away to his friends when we were in debt).
Perhaps Mr WW married WW to "prove" that he loved her, since his behaviour was offering scant evidence in that regard. Fichu, gold star for your first paragraph @41. Either Mr WW changed (for the worse) post marriage, or WW expected that he would change (for the better) post marriage, but he just figured saying "I do" was all the proof she needed and he didn't have to bother being nice anymore. If he ever was.

He is definitely gaslighting her; she is definitely not "overreacting"; and if he won't go to a shrink with her, she should go on her own, to figure out why she is even considering that she's brought it on herself. (Comments like Phoebe's may be one clue.)
My take on shrinks.

Best case would be one where WW divorces with only the help of a lawyer, not a psychologist. Maybe later if it turns out being attracted to gaslighting assholes is part of a recurring pattern, or maybe if she continues to have general bad luck in the relationship department, she sees a professional to help her over the hump.

If she's having trouble with the emotional aspects of divorce, I'd advise her to see a shrink on her own, someone who can assuage her doubts that she's overreacting and help her see the ways she's being gaslighted.

Only as a last option would I suggest couples counseling. By definition, the couples counselor is employed by both of them, and the couples counselor has an obligation to help them work out their difficulties as a couple. That makes the situation ripe for Mr. Asshole to enjoin the counselor is making WW see his side of it, i.e., playing up her fears that she's being unreasonable. Over and over I've seen counselors attribute problems to bad communication when there's an imbalance in power. Or put it more benignly, a failure to compromise is put in terms of a failure to communicate.
I stopped reading and caring about the LW with "let him go over to her house". "Let him"? For all I know everyone's advice to her is good...but I wonder about the LW too.
Curious @45: The phrase that made me go hmm was "quality settings." Eh?
Perhaps WW is a bit overbearing, but not texting her to say he wasn't coming home is a childish, passive aggressive response to that, at best. Again, a counselor should be able to tell her whether her expectations are reasonable, and if she does repeatedly either choose childish men or preemptively act motherly, driving them to behave as guiltily as charged, help her figure out why.
He “explodes” to shut down conversations about his behavior — that last item is controlling-bordering-on-abusive behavior.

I don't think this is correct or useful - this is how a majority of people react to being "accused" of things repeatedly. Abusive people and non-abusive people fall into this trap quite easily.

This relationship seems to have fallen into the Nag/Retreat pattern that many (doomed) relationships fall into. Husband feels constant pressure from the wife, finds reasons to get out of the house, Wife feels let down and isolated. I dunno if he's cheating but we're not that far away from a "Dan, I'm in a sexless marriage [reasons]" letter which had the commentorati screaming DTMFA and Dan suggesting professional outlets.

My overall guess? Christian woman with agnostic/lapsed man who is maybe in denial about his own lack of religion.
@32 Yeah I think LW is looking to blame Fraternization Between The Sexes because it's easier than blaming the man she married.

Men and women can be friends. No clue if this guy is fucking (both of?) his female friends (at once?), but whether or not he is, he is not cut out for marriage. I'm sure it'd be easier to deal with this if he were cheating, since that's a marital trouble people are familiar with, but I no (nice, non-abusive-to-my-knowledge) people who got divorced because, even after long pre-marriage relationships, they discovered that they had incompatible ideas of what married life should be like.

So he's:
-maybe cheating, who knows
-almost certainly a terrible asshole
-100% certainly not the right spouse for LW, even if she decides to take an absurdly charitable view of his behavior
There are multiple versions of reality that could be informing this letter: one where WW is a loving, accommodating partner with an inconsiderate cad of a husband; one where WW is an insecure, controlling jerk with a husband who's at the end of his rope; one where they're both behaving badly to some degree. What's clear is that their behaviors and communication aren't working for either of them (WW feels neglected; husband reacts defensively, so their communication clearly isn't happening in a way that works for him). They need to sit down and have an honest, good faith conversation to see if they can work out compromises around various issues. What we know for sure is that the existing dynamic is unsustainable; if they can figure out something that works, they might be able to have a happy marriage. If they can't, they should split sooner rather than later.
@47: this is how a majority of people react to being "accused" of things repeatedly

I'd say this pattern is common when one partner brings an anxious, controlling style to a relationship with someone who doesn't enjoy being dominated.

It goes like this: His behavior triggers her anxiety, she reacts by nagging and picking at him, he responds with anger, she pathologizes his response, they argue about his yelling instead of her nagging, which leaves him more resentful and prone to anger, and allows her avoid taking responsibility for her behavior, so he grows distant and shuts down, she writes a letter to Dan containing zero insight about her own husband's motivations, which leaves us all guessing, and makes me question her reliability as a narrator.
This letter really makes me sad, it seems she has tough times ahead. I hope she has some good friends and a great therapist who can help her get through this.. If I were her, next time I tried talking to the husband, and he shut down, I would just ask, "do you want a divorce?" His answer should tell you everything. Good luck LW...
@47 I don't think this is correct or useful - this is how a majority of people react to being "accused" of things repeatedly. Abusive people and non-abusive people fall into this trap quite easily.

Two issues:

1) Was he "accused"? I got the impression that he blew up at mere "Honey, I would appreciate it if you would/ prefer if you wouldn't..."

2) When someone makes a wild accusation against me, my prior instinct was to cry. Now that I've wised up to it as a manipulative tactic, I roll my eyes and laugh. Most cases of such have been paranoia or projection. How could you be angry about an accusation that's patently ridiculous?

Blowing up, to me, indicates that it hit close to home, e.g. "even if I haven't, I'd sure like to."
@52 accuse might not be the right word... more like the continued bringing up of grievances (which can be but are not always accusations). eg, "You're always looking at your phone!" - it's a fair enough complaint a few times, but after the umpteenth complaint (valid or not), most folks lose their cool and "blow up". I disagree that it needs to hit close to home - just think of all the times someone has nagged you about X or Y and it's annoyed you - in retrospect, sometimes it's some very non-important stuff. The last time I "blew up" it was at my friend who wanted to bump their favorite song on the radio after I picked them up at the airport at 1am and then ignored me when I said I wasn't trying to hear it.
Yet another “young man seeking to understand and be a better man.”
@Sport @53: Sure, continued nagging can cause blow-ups. But then, if your friend tells you "You're always looking at your phone!" more than a few times, it probably means you look at your phone too much.
So, she bugs him about the phone, about loaning money he earned, about telling her when he's going to be back from friends' houses, and then insinuates that she doesn't trust him with two long-time female friends.

I don't think he's the only problem here.
If you ask your partner for reassurance and they won't give it to you, you don't have a partner. DTMFA and find someone who wants to be with you. If you can, it's a lot harder than Dan seems to think.
@39 - I was too harsh and I feel badly about that. Of course there are awful men who don't reveal their inner nature until its too late; still I think in most cases there are signs that emerge. I wish someone had been as blunt when I was myopically choosing bad men many years ago.
@58: I don't think that bluntness like that ever works. The person just pulls away.
@59: Of course, it's news people don't want to hear. Don't mean that good friends don't speak up.
Pheobe @58: Thank you for admitting you were really bludgeoning your younger self instead of this LW. If only other commenters could accept that their reading of situations is distorted based on their arbitrarily adding details based on their own experience. And Nocute is right: if you want to be listened to, you can't go on the attack. You have to say things like, "I'm concerned about you," and "are you sure you're happy?" That's what a good, concerned friend would do in a situation like this, if they saw warning signs the abused individual didn't see. (I'm basing my comment on Phoebe's theory that this guy was like this all along and WW ignored the red flags, which, again, may or may not be the case.)
Ciods @55: Agree. If you continue to ask someone to stop looking at their phone all the time, and they don't stop looking at their phone all the time, it's still the original behaviour that's the problem, not the nagging. And while many people may indeed "blow up" in response to nagging, that doesn't mean that blowing up is OK. This isn't the first time I've seen Sporty justify bad behaviour using the "logic" that that's what he does/has done. If your partner asks you to stop using your phone so much, either stop using your phone so much, or have a conversation about why you don't think it's problematic; don't give lip service to the request and then blow it off.
It's shitty to stay out all night and not give your partner a head's up. It's shitty to not answer the phone, etc. This dude probably needs to work on communication and respect.

That said, I got a bad controlling micromanaging vibe from the LW. Some red flags: communication in "quality settings" which sounds like I-Message type therapy speak, "without giving me a clear timeline of return" which sounds like he must ask for permission and then stick to it without wavering without additional permission (which is reasonable if they have children or other responsibilities/plans that he would be shirking but she doesn't say anything about that) plus "timeline of return" sounds like micromanaging therapy speak again, "was happy to let him go" word choice sounds like she considers herself the person who gives him permission to do things, "By 1:20 am I had received no contact or updates..." which is weird because it's exactly 20 minutes after the time that she assumed (with no indication from him) that he'd be back so it sounds like she was staying up to see if he came in or not- and did she call him or just stare at her phone waiting for him to call her?

I agree it's reasonable to be upset that your husband stayed out all night with his friends but context matters and she isn't providing it. If they were in crisis mode, were they pulling an all-nighter hashing it all out? Or was he drinking and decided to crash there rather than drive? Is this a one-time thing or an on-going problem? Is there any indication that the women are interested in the husband?

Sounds like the husband needs to learn to communicate and stop exploding and shutting down conversations- that's not helping anyone. But I wonder at his motivations and the context. Maybe he's afraid to get sucked into an endless therapy talk type conversation about quality settings and script flipping and being heard. That doesn't excuse the guy- he needs to clearly state what's going on and be better about keeping his wife in the loop with his plans. But I just wonder about the other side to this story.
@Daddy there is no indication that the husband is the one who makes the money in the relationship, only that he deposited some money into their joint savings account and then loaned it out again. Both my husband and I deposit into our joint savings account. Once it's there, it's our money. Also you have no idea how they arrange their finances. For example, in my marriage we have two separate accounts and he deposits in one and I deposit in another even though both of our names are on both. It just keeps things easier to manage. Because I'm better with paperwork, I tend to pay the bills from my account and transfer funds between them to handle savings and investments. But it would be absurd to claim that I make all the money in the relationship just because I'm paying the bills from my account. My husband actually earns a bit more than I do and all the accounts are joint. So the fact that he deposited money into a savings account and then loaned it out to someone gives you zero information about their finances. And besides, once you are married and managing a joint account, that money is shared regardless of who makes more money or even if one partner earns nothing.
Sounds pretty familiar. if he isn't cheating yet, he will be.
Staying out all night, missing money, mood swings/defensiveness/rages, distracted/apathetic toward new wife's feelings. Trust your instincts. He's hiding something. If it's not cheating, it could be drugs. Whatever it is, you don't have to tolerate it. Take your half of the joint $ and open your own account. Stop begging him to be understanding and set some hard expectations and behavioral limits. If he's so giving, he will have no problems giving generously to you, his chosen spouse. I highly recommend the book "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by Lundy. It will help you figure out what's going on and what to do about it. I know that leaving might seem devastating this early in your marriage. But trust me, someone behaving this selfishly is not going to change his behavior until he realizes that you are willing to make your own choices that do not include him. I used to be that girl who would plead from the heart. Now I plead with hard consequences. You would not believe how quickly a man who loves you will change his behavior when he realizes that you are willing and capable of walking out. If he loves you. It's better finding out now than 10-15-20 years into the future. Good luck.
She needs to lay her needs down on the table like the law. A marriage is a partnership and they aren't playing together right now. Joint checking=our money, so check in with each other before spending. Not going to work? Get separate checking accounts. Need to know what time he's coming home? Make it necessary and hold him accountable. Is there a reason he is on his phone rather than talking to you? Have him tell you and you can work with him to find the right balance of alone and together time. He can't read your mind and if it's in an argument it's on deaf ears. Call a family meeting and have a level heart to heart. Spouses are supposed to call each other out on their bullshit so they can grow into better people together. Don't enable him into staying shitty, illuminate where it's going wrong and offer support in helping and accept the same in turn.
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