Looking Back

“I Didn’t Appreciate What I Had”: 10 Men On Their Biggest Marriage Regret

Refusing to attend therapy. Not providing the right kind of support. Forgetting their priorities. These are the marriage mistakes these men want others to avoid.

Originally Published: 
Man and woman embracing in their home

Find someone who doesn’t have any regrets about their marriage — what they should’ve prioritized, what they should’ve said, what they should’ve done more frequently — and you better grab a camera. Because you just spotted a creature as rare as sasquatch. The thing is, everyone makes mistakes in relationships. Hopefully, you interrogate them and learn to do a bit better down the road. But it’s always good to know about some relationship regrets from those who’ve been there to keep yourself from making the same mistakes. That’s why we spoke to ten men who were kind enough to share their biggest marital regret with us. From overlooking their relationship when the kids were little to refusing to attend therapy, here are the big regrets they want others to avoid.

1. Forgetting To Listen

“I wish I had prioritized listening to my spouse more deeply and empathetically. It gnaws at me because I now realize the immense power of truly hearing and understanding one's partner. In the early years of our marriage, I often found myself caught up in my own thoughts and concerns, unintentionally neglecting the importance of active listening. I wish I had recognized the significance of providing my undivided attention when my spouse wanted to share her thoughts, dreams, and worries. By not fully engaging in those moments, I missed opportunities to connect on a deeper level and truly comprehend her emotions. By not being fully present, I unintentionally created a barrier between us, hindering the growth of our emotional intimacy. I now understand that listening goes beyond mere hearing; it involves being fully present, empathizing with my partner's perspective, and validating her feelings.” - Max, 48, Ontario, Canada

2. Not Being As Supportive As I Could’ve Been

“The biggest regret I have in my marriage was not paying closer attention to and supporting my wife as she changed careers. I wish I had done a better job of comprehending her struggles and encouraging her more. I can now clearly see how my lack of support affected her self-confidence and happiness, and it eats at me. I wasn't fully aware of the emotional toll it took on her at the time because I was focused on my own job. I regret not being more proactive in reassuring her and expressing interest in her goals. Looking back, I understand that marriage requires comprehension, encouragement, communication, and regular emotional expression. I realize now that it is a collaboration and that it's essential for a solid and happy marriage to support each other's aspirations.” - Haseeb, 36, California

3. Not Taking Enough Time For Our Relationship When The Kids Were Little

“When we had our first child, I wish I had taken the time to really learn how to be a better parent. Even though we both had experience with parenting from our own families, there were so many new things to learn and it was hard for me to figure it out on my own. I regret not taking more classes or talking to other parents who have been through similar situations. These would have helped me to better provide for my family and be a more supportive partner. I still feel guilty about not taking more time for our relationship when the kids were younger. I wish I had taken more time to express my appreciation for all the hard work my partner did. She took on a lot of extra responsibilities in order to keep our family going, and she deserves credit for it. As much as I tried, I don't think I showed her enough gratitude. I regret not taking the time to thank her more often.” - Christian, 35, Arizona

4. Siding With My Mom Over My Wife

“I’ve been a mama’s boy for most of my life. My mother is wonderful, and was so helpful when we needed someone to help out with the kids as we were just getting started as parents. The problem was that I never made a concerted effort to show my wife that I was loyal to her when disagreements occurred between her and my mom. I didn’t stick up for her in a meaningful way, and it caused both insecurity and resentment. It just became a big mess, where I always felt like I had to pick a side but never could. I realized too late that my wife’s is the side I’ve chosen to be on, and I need to honor that commitment for better or worse. Once we were able to acknowledge that, through conversations and therapy, everyone’s relationship seemed to improve. It makes me wish I’d realized and done something about it much sooner.” - John, 45, New Jersey

5. Forgetting To Care For Myself

“I got fat. Pretty plain and simple. Once the first kid was born, I stopped exercising because I convinced myself I didn’t have enough time. Then I started eating more fast food because it was easier, and I also didn’t have enough time to cook. Within the first year, I think I put on 44 pounds. I was having trouble breathing, and getting around. I was irritable, and couldn’t concentrate. And I never stopped to think that the change was because I was doing a horrible job taking care of myself. I just chalked it up to, ‘Welp, I’m a dad now. Guess this is how it goes.’ It took me almost a year and a half to get back into shape, and I’ll always regret the way I handled myself with such laziness. It made me a less effective father and husband, and could've really wrecked our marriage.” - Mark, 39, Ohio

6. Not Appreciating What I Have

“Jealousy has always been my biggest flaw. Even when I was younger, I’d always compare myself with my friends. They always had better toys than me. Their parents had more money than mine. They just had better lives, in my eyes. Fast forward to being a husband and a father, and I still succumbed to jealousy on a regular basis. I still do sometimes, but until I started going to therapy to deal with it, I was constantly comparing my family, my house, my job, and just about everything else with my friends. It made me, really, really unhappy most of the time. And it wasn’t fair to my wife or son at all. I should’ve been focused on the miracles that were happening in my own life, instead of always holding them up to measure against the lives of other people.” - Matt, 43, Illinois

7. Spending Too Much Money At The Start

“When we first got married, my wife and I bought too much ‘stuff’. Stuff like nice dishes and wine glasses that we never, ever used. Or art to hang on the walls, and never look at. We both made decent money, but it pains me to think back about how much of it we spent on all of the useless, needless, pointless stuff we accumulated when we could’ve either been saving it or spending it on trips, vacations, or experiences. We were young, and wanted to be the classic married couple we’d always seen on TV. We wanted the niceties, and we got them. And then, after years and years of having them, we realized they were kind of pointless. And then trying to get rid of them by selling them only made me regret that whole mindset more. What a waste.” - Neil, 41, Colorado

8. Drinking To Cope

“I started drinking shortly after our family started growing. It was my coping mechanism and, like most people who turn to alcohol, I thought I had it under control. Maybe I did for a while. But eventually it got the better of me, and I became a useless husband and father. My kids were young, so they didn’t really get what was going on. But my wife, I’ll regret that period of my life every single day because of how it affected her. I was physically around, but I wasn’t much use. And I wasn’t mentally around at all. It took a lot of difficult conversations, and eventually an ultimatum to get me to sober up. I’ve been clean for a while now, and I realize I’m very lucky. A lot of people just keep spiraling, and take much, much longer to come back. Or worse, don’t come back at all. I’m so grateful to my wife for her support and tough love, and being together with her now, and knowing how amazing she is, makes me regret those dark days even more.” - Tom, 47, North Carolina

9 Refusing To Go To Therapy

“My wife and I argued over going to therapy for almost three years. I was dead set against it. And when I look back, the big regret of the whole situation is that I had no good reason for not going. I just thought that the two of us should be able to solve our problems without anyone’s help. And that if we did get help, it somehow meant our marriage wasn’t strong. What I learned was that our marriage wasn’t strong, and that my stubbornness played a huge part in it. When I finally gave in, it was because I was sick of being asked to go rather than actually wanting to try it with an open mind. I regret that, too, because all it did was delay what turned out to be a really, really good experience. Going to therapy did help our marriage, but it’s my fault it took so damn long.” - Anthony, 40, California

10. Forgetting My Priorities

“When my wife and I got married, I wasn’t ready to give up some of the things in my life. Maybe not completely ‘give up’, but I wasn’t ready to reprioritize my life with respect to starting a family. I was still obsessed about sports, and wanted to spend time with my friends on the weekends. I played a lot of video games. I spent more money than I should have on stupid stuff. I was basically trying to have what I thought was the best of both worlds - the freedom of an unmarried guy, mixed with the love and commitment of a husband and soon-to-be father. But, it doesn’t work like that. So, I regret not understanding the importance of making sacrifices, I think. I learned too late that skipping time with my friends to bond with my wife can make both relationships stronger and more meaningful. Honestly, I’m still working at it. But I feel like I’ve grown and matured a lot in terms of my priorities and where they need to be these days.” - Danny, 33, Maryland

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