top of page
  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

This Is How Your Marriage Ends: A Hopeful Approach to Saving Relationships by Matthew Fray

Matthew Fray always considered himself a “decent guy” - so he found himself blindsided when his wife told him she was leaving him. It happened as his son turned five - the same age Fray was when his parents split.

Frustrated and devastated, he followed the advice of a therapist and started journaling about his emotions. Gradually his fury waned, and he started to reflect on how he had contributed to the break-up. In this book - and his 2016 provocatively titled blog She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes By the Sink, read by several million people - Fray explains how he came to realise that the conflict over the dishes was symbolic of his lack of respect for her needs and feelings, which had gradually chipped away at her trust and love for him: “We didn’t go down in a fiery explosion. We bled from 10,000 paper cuts.”

Every American self-help book apparently needs to be based around a theory with a quirky name, and This Is How Your Marriage Ends is no different; Fray believes all marriages are imperilled by what he dubs “The Invalidation Triple Threat”. Essentially, when your spouse expresses their hurt over something you have done, you react by saying that their thoughts about the situation are wrong (“You shouldn’t feel hurt because you’re wrong about what happened… this is how it happened…”); that their feelings about the situation are wrong (“You’re overreacting, you shouldn’t care about it so much”); and that whatever you did was, in fact, justifiable - even if it did result in your spouse being hurt.

Fray isn’t a trained therapist, but his blogging and reflecting on relationships has resulted in him becoming a relationship “coach”, and now, wanting to share his ideas with a wider audience by publishing this book to help avoid “the social crisis of our time”: our high divorce rates and their impact on children. His advice is directed primarily at heterosexual males that have been raised in a society that equates masculinity with being tough and stoic, bottling your feelings and avoiding looking like a sissy at all costs. His blokey, jokey, slightly sweary tone - that of a mate sharing advice over beers - reflects that.

Fray’s insights may not be new or earthshaking (although women worldwide will undoubtedly cheer when he declares “the idea of the nagging wife is nonsense”) but perhaps the fact that it’s coming from an ordinary “decent” guy might be enough to make others like him reflect on their own behaviour in their relationship, and seek help beyond the excellent advice Fray gives here. Fray is fully frank with his feelings and fuck-ups - he even reveals the worst thing he ever did to his wife, and it was pretty awful. Here’s hoping his vulnerability is catchy.

Obviously, it’d be a good idea to read this before you get married, but if indeed divorce is on the cards, reading this could possibly at least stop you from making the same mistakes in your post-marriage relationships.

Reviewer: Stacey Anyan

Allen & Unwin


bottom of page