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Man berates wife for her negative portrayal of his parenting on social media; MIL says, 'Oh no...her episodes are back.' AITA? UPDATED 4X

Man berates wife for her negative portrayal of his parenting on social media; MIL says, 'Oh no...her episodes are back.' AITA? UPDATED 4X


When this man is upset with his wife's portrayal of his parenting on social media, he asks the internet:

"AITA for losing my patience and saying hurtful things to my wife due to her social media usage?"

My wife (34F) and I (32M) have been happily married for 8 years. We have two kids, 6 and 4. Until recently, we've been able to effectively divide our household chores and parenting duties equally.

About 6 months ago, my wife's tiktok and instagram algorithms started showing her content that's primarily been involving criticism of men, particularly in terms of their contributions to marriages, parenting, and chores.

I'm all for constructive discussions about gender roles and stuff like that, but the content I've seen from her account take it to an extreme, stereotyping all men as lazy, and neglectful.

In the past few weeks, my wife began posting her own content about our personal life, portraying me as a negligent and uncaring husband and father who doesn't pull his weight around the house.

I was really hurt when I saw these posts on our account, particularly because she has close friends, and family members on both sides who follow her account and are reaching out to me asking me if everything is okay in our marriage now that she's posting her own content, and not just reposting other videos she finds.

Not only was her content way inaccurate, but I feel uncomfortable opening up these elements of my personal life to all of our friends and family, let alone strangers who have found themselves engaging as well.

I attempted to discuss this with her. She shrugged it off, and accused me of being insensitive to the struggles with women, and not understanding her need for an outlet to vent.

I completely lost my patience in front of the kids. I told her she was being a keyboard warrior more interested in getting clout from toxic women online than the reality of our life. I also told her she was being an ungrateful dickhead and spreading lies about me and our marriage.

As soon as I called her a dickhead and seeing her reaction to what I was saying, as well as hearing my daughter starting to cry, I regretted it. She looked more sad than angry with what I was saying, and she just sort of shut down and hasn't spoken to me since, outside of very minimal conversations about breakfast or plans for the kids.

I feel like I have a right to be upset about what she's saying on social media, but I think I took it way too far. I really don't know how to approach the rest of the discussion we obviously need to have.

Here's how we split tasks: Me: Take the kids to school; Pick them up from school; Cook dinner; Clean up + dishes after; Lawn duties; Adult laundry; Her:Sweep + mop the house 2 times a week; Kids laundry + towels and linens; Dusting the common areas; Breakfast for kids; Packing daily lunches/snacks for kids; Maintains finances (this is what she does for a living)

Together: Folding and putting away laundry; Weekly "house cleaning day" where we go from room to room with the kids to set good housekeeping examples for them; We alternate bath + bedtime routines for the kids; Bathroom cleaning (she takes the half bath, I take the master, and we both take the kids together)

I can't really think of anything else off the top of my head. In her social media posts, she has mentioned that she does all the cooking and the laundry, and has made comments that I criticize her cooking in the videos she makes. These are flagrant lies."

Clarification on meals: "Meal plans are me. Arranging events are sort of nebulous. I guess we kind of do those together. Shopping list and shopping is me, with her input. Sometimes we go shopping together, especially if the kids are coming with us." Clarification on yard work: I'm happy to clear up confusion here.

Yard work takes about 45 minutes to an hour total, once a week, between mowing, edging, and blowing. I also spray the driveway for weeds. No snow where we are thankfully. We call professionals for the roof, and for general major repairs. The gutters I do like once every couple of months. They don't get that messy.

Her and I both water the bushes. Of course, I've approached her about it before, but maybe not had like a discussion with her.

One time, I told her that my mother called me and asked me if everything was okay because she saw some of the reposts she was sharing, and if she could please cool it with that. She shrugged it off, and said "they're just funny videos" and stonewalled me after that. I didn't want to get into an argument with her, so I let it go.

Then I've just made comments here and there, but they basically went ignored until we had the discussion.

I entered it calmly, in an attempt to get to the bottom of what her issues were with me, and why she was lying about it, and she got really aggressively defensive and acted like she was tired of hearing about her social media usage, and saying things like, "fine I guess I'm never allowed to vent about anything ever" and "fine I'll shut the f up and smile around your family". This is about where I lost my patience.

I especially regret losing my patience at this point in the convo because I felt like I was about to learn what was making her unhappy lately, and I blew it.

I really don't know why she's doing this. My guess is that her first post on the topic got more attention than she was expecting, which made her feel good. But she stonewalled me every time I brought it up.

I tried to have a sit down with her already, and this was the result of that. It feels like she knows how to push my buttons in an argument.

That's not to say that there's an excuse to lose my temper the way I did, but if I try to calmly approach it again, I just feel like it's going to go back to the "I guess I'll just shut the f up and smile forever" stuff, which I feel is super manipulative, unproductive, and just uncaring about my feelings.

I could try to approach the topic of marriage counseling, but at this point, I'm just afraid of approaching the topic again.

Before we give you OP's updates, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

crime5 writes:

NTA - OP’s wife has absolutely no business airing their dirty laundry out in the air for the whole world to see. ESPECIALLY if they’re blatant lies, which I’m inclined to believe. That’s the problem with todays world. Everyone wants to air laundry out for the whole world to see.

There’s no communication between spouses anymore. It’s straight to the imaginary internet world so they can get advice from complete strangers that have never ever met either spouse. The worst part of this though is that she has mutual friends and family following her. So now they think he’s doing something wrong when for all we know, he is perfect.

nowrirgbht writes:

NTA. While I 100% do not agree with name calling, arguing in front of kids will not damage them beyond belief- in fact it’s a normal part of growing up showing that couples don’t always agree and how to properly handle conflict and disagreements.

Social media for many is very addictive and any attention provided in those platforms brings them some sort of emotional affirmation.

The frustration you felt must be enormous - and even more so because not only is she NOT talking to you about how she’s feeling or perceived issues, she’s posting for the whole world to see. Regardless of the truthfulness behind the posts, she is not coming to you- her partner. That is not behavior conductive to a healthy relationship.

I agree with others, you should get individual therapy- and if she refuses to speak to you about these issues, and refuses to stop posting personal information online, and does not agree to marriage counseling- that’s an answer in itself.

I would document every post, her every response in the case that your marriage is dissolved so that you can ask the courts to prevent her from posting about you and the children later. This could be considered slander and negatively effect your ability to obtain jobs in the future.

baba writes:

NTA You really need to sit down once emotions aren’t so high and discuss your marriage. Say that for that conversation the social media presence is off the table and just discuss the marriage.

What is she unhappy about, what needs to change regarding division of labour, emotional labour etc. I think it is very easy for men to dismiss the toll additional mental and emotional labour takes.

Once you have worked that out you need to have a separate conversation about the damage her social media content is having on your relationship and perhaps more importantly to her the damage it will have on your children.

Because it will. Once it’s posted it’s out there forever and sometime in the next five or so years, your kids and their friends are going to see this content and come to the conclusion that you are a negligent parent.

This content will most likely have a huge damaging affect on their relationship with either you or your wife depending on their perception of reality as a kid.

OP's first update (6 days later):

I don't really know where to begin. A lot of things happened really quickly, and I'm super emotional, and need to use Reddit as a sounding board again. I told myself I wasn't going to do this again, because I really didn't want my situation being stolen and ending up on tiktok or whatever, but I'm just finding that I need more direct realism from strangers rather than just people patting me on the back.

I'm pretty sure my marriage is over. I don't know. I sat her down to talk to her about it again, this time away from the kids, and a lot more confident that I was going to keep my cool. I prefaced the conversation by saying I didn't want this to be an argument, I just wanted to get to the bottom of this behavior, and wanted to explain how it was affecting me, and how other people view me.

Pretty much the moment I began talking, she shut me down, and... I don't know if what she did is gaslighting, or if she's having some sort of mental break, or maybe a wizard came down and magically hypnotized me for the past several months, and I'm just now coming out of it.

Basically, she said that everything she is saying on SM is true, and that I have no right to police what she does or says online.

I decided my best course of action would be to try to challenge her on the "everything I'm saying is true" part by breaking down the chores for her, and showing the division of labor.

It was at this point that I noticed how everything I'm doing is the bare minimum and "expected of me," while she expects to be treated like a hero and a martyr for doing her chores.

I found this to be highly transactional and adversarial for really no reason. I asked her why she was only bringing this up now instead of communicating with me, and she didn't have a real answer.

Something to the effect of, "it's not my job to teach you things you should already know" which I'm paraphrasing, but the discussion got really heated at this point.

The discussion had spiraled completely out of control, and she started to pound the table, and at one point threw her mug into the sink so hard that it broke. Things had gotten completely unproductive, so I went to go wake the kids up from their nap, and take them to a friend's house for the day for things to calm down.

I went into their room and started getting them ready, and when I walked out into the hallway (out of view of the kids), she came from around the corner and sucker punched me, and screaming that I, I guess because I was taking the kids out for the day, that I'm weaponizing them and manipulating the situation to make her seem crazy.

I don't even remember the small details of what happened next. The kids were scared, I eventually got them into the car, and left.

I went to my friend's house, who already knew everything that was going on. I just stayed there for a bit while the kids played with his dog in the back yard.

A few hours later, the police show up at the house. Thankfully she didn't make any insane accusations like I feared when they pulled into the driveway. Essentially she just told them that I "took her kids without her permission" and told them where I was.

They told her that they can't do anything about me taking the kids, because I'm their custodial father. They came to sort of tell me what was going on, and to let me know what they talked about. I did not tell them about her punching me.

But I'm just done now. Barring a serious neurological disease causing the issue, there's no conversation that I can have with her that will allow me to get past all of this. My friend agrees with me.

My marriage is over. I'm calling a lawyer tomorrow, and I'm going to be as low-conflict as I possibly can to get this all over with and move on with my life. That's all I can do.

Her mother has bipolar disorder, but it's been well-controlled for over 2 decades, and I've never experienced any evidence of it for as long as I've known her.

Her mother is bipolar but it's super well controlled, and I've never experienced any evidence of it in her behavior. Is bipolar disorder genetic? None of the other stuff that I'm aware of. Her family are beautiful people.

Update 2:

Apparently my wife went to the hospital for something, stayed there for a few hours, and is now back home. We texted a bit, and it seems like she's beginning to understand the gravity of the situation.

For everyone telling me to file a police report, I'm going to meet with a lawyer tomorrow and take their recommendations first and foremost. They're most likely going to recommend I file a report, but... I don't know that I'm ready emotionally to take these steps.

Despite the fact that our relationship was deteriorating, this all happened really fast. This went from a solvable, annoying problem to "my life as I know it has ended" so everything I do feels heavy, and every decision I make is going to have severe long term ramifications for myself and the kids, and I'm just trying not to take that lightly.

The punch wasn't so much of a "punch", more like a, not sure how to put it, maybe like a push made with her fist? It didn't hurt, I was just in shock for the most part.

I didn't really know what to do or say, so I just removed myself from the situation. When she did it, and got done screaming, she looked like she didn't realize what she had done, then proceeded to let me take the kids.

I know I said that there are several things that I'm not going to be able to get past, but I can't shake the feeling that something about this situation is off. It didn't make sense a few months ago, the big fight still doesn't make sense, and the situation is only getting worse. Is she suffering from some sort of mental break? What the f is happening to my wife.

Update 3:

I spoke with the attorney that I set the meeting for this morning. We started discussing the paperwork, the fees, and basically everything I need to initiate a divorce. He did recommend I file a report with the police, just like everyone else did.

About 2 hours ago, my mother in law called me. She had been speaking with her daughter for a couple of weeks, and was already worried that her daughter had been having an episode similar to the ones she was having when she was younger.

For those of you who had missed it in the comments, she is openly bipolar, but it's well controlled, and she hasn't really had an "episode" in many years, for lack of a better way to describe what she believed to be mild anger issues.

(Editor's note- because there has been some confusion, based on OOP's comments I think the situation is that his MIL is the one that used to have episodes when she was younger, but her bipolar is now well controlled and OOP has never seen MIL experience these.

NOT that the wife has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. MIL is recognizing possibly similar signs in her daughter as what SHE (MIL) experienced when she was young)

Anyway, after our last fight, my wife called her sobbing, saying she doesn't know what's wrong, and that we just had a fight that spiraled out of control, and now I'm leaving her and taking the kids.

My mother in law said she was going to fly into town, and told her to go to the hospital in the mean time if she's afraid of hurting herself or anyone else.

So she called the police to tell them what was going on (not to report me for "kidnapping" the kids, as I previously thought, also based on what the police officer told me which was just false I guess), and then she went and checked herself into the hospital for short term psychiatric care.

She was evaluated, and determined not to be a danger to herself at that time, and was sent home with an anti anxiety medication and a referral.

Her mom and I talked for a long time, and she started talking to me about her episodes and how they would present themselves, and to be honest, it sounded a lot like what's been going on.

Apparently my wife was noticing something small or insignificant (her mom's words) and then the anger would spike, and there would be a chain of different thoughts in a weird progression that ultimately ends up being angry at something that didn't really happen, but "could" happen.

I'm not really sure I fully understand, but I listened, and appreciated her telling me.

Not that I really know what to do about any of this. I can say right off the bat that I'm not as angry about her punching me as you all are. Especially if she is having an untreated manic episode, realizes it, and tries to work on it.

I'm going to take a few days to process this with my kids. My wife knows how to contact me if she needs to, but it seems like she's been giving me a lot of space, especially since she spoke with her mother.

Thanks for reading everyone. I guess I'll update with a post later on with what happens this week. I wouldn't get your hopes up over something juicy or entertaining, as I would like for this all to be over, so that we can all move on with our lives.

Update 4 (3 months later):

My wife's psychiatrist hasn't really... confirmed anything with her mental health, but he does have her on some medication which basically made my wife herself again, other than some other minor side effects.

They are proceeding under the assumption that she has bipolar disorder, but the evaluation was super quick before they gave her a treatment plan.

To be honest, it made me feel like the entire service was just a pill mill because she was prescribed medication on her first 30 minute visit and the "evaluation" was like maybe 10 questions according to my wife.

But apparently she needs to be taking this medicine in conjunction with a behavioral therapist, and then the therapist and psychiatrist get together and tag team the issue I guess.

Her mother has also been an absolutely incredible woman these past couple of months. I really don't know where I would be, or where the situation would have ended up without her, and I couldn't be more grateful that she jumped in and essentially took control of the situation with a lot more love and grace than I could have ever imagined.

I'm sorry to say that I didn't immediately divorce my wife and call the police to have her arrested. I know some of you were really passionate about me doing that. While the "punch" put me in a lot of shock, I reflected on it as more of a wake up call that something was wrong, rather than overreacting about it and treating her as a legal adversary.

I'm not a doctor, so this is just how I understand what happened based on what the doctor told us:

My wife experienced an episode of prolonged mania, which the psychiatrist classified as "chronic mania." Social media has dopamine-releasing effects which could have been a double-edged sword in the sense that it may have been easing symptoms in the moment, but also sort of prolonging the overall issue, as she may have been consuming validating content, and allowing it to shape some of the altering effects of mania.

It's possible that she was showing symptoms, or that they were very slow to present themselves over the course of months or maybe even years, and eventually those symptoms just sort of come to a head.

Part of my wife's treatment plan is to severely reduce the use of social media down to just interacting with people she knows personally for now.

However, what seems like really great news for our marriage then turned into some new problems. My wife has been absolutely grief stricken. She became very depressed in guilt for what she claims she put me and our family through.

Telling her it's okay, and that we're going to be just fine, and that we love her... it's falling on deaf ears, and no amount of consolation from me is helping. Her mom steps in to help, and it works, but mostly temporarily.

We're hoping this level of depression is something that can be worked through in therapy, rather than a side effect of her medications, but right now she's just sort of "submitting" herself to the family, and turning all of her "love languages" up to 10 trying to make up for everything that's happened.

I told her the other day that the best thing she can do for not even us, but for herself, is to just focus on the treatment, and everything will be like it hasn't even happened.

She's just so, so apologetic and I don't want her to be. She's been crying a lot, and I just don't know how to help her sometimes, outside of what I've been telling her.

One conflict we're having right now is that she's trying to make up for a lot of the conflict with se%, and while we've had sex with her being in this state a few times now, I don't feel "clean" about it.

While she's back to being "herself" in a lot of ways, in other ways, this feels less like authentic, mutually enjoyed se%, and more like "apology se%" which makes her more very submissive, and I'm having a difficult time articulating why I don't feel right about it. I just want her to slow down and focus on becoming 100%.

That being said, we're going to be fine. Everything is going to be fine. My wife will get past this hurdle, and we'll live happily ever after.

There were times where I began to think that this wasn't going to be a helpful exercise, because some of the comments made me feel like I was doing the same sort of self-defeating doomscrolling that my wife was doing, and letting a lot of negativity influence how I approach the situation.

And to be fair, there was a lot of that, but there were a lot of people that had me focusing on details that I don't think I would have picked up before things really exploded between my wife and I.

What do YOU make of OP's story? Any advice for him?

Sources: Reddit
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