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'My stay-at-home wife has been treating our son poorly since I complimented his cooking.' UPDATED

'My stay-at-home wife has been treating our son poorly since I complimented his cooking.' UPDATED


Sadly, sometimes people change for the worse.

"My (38M) SAHW (40F) has been treating our Son (12M) poorly and favoring our Daughter (9F) ever since I complimented his cooking. How should I handle this?"

My wife has always been the one to cook around the house, and as an Italian, it's one of the reasons I fell so hard for her. I've offered to help out in the kitchen or even cook for her sometimes, but she's always firmly, yet politely, told me no and I can't really blame her because I did NOT get either of my parents' good cooking genes.

Because of this I've always been sure to thank her for every meal and I've taught my children to do the same. For the past year or so my son has been watching a ton of cooking videos on youtube and tiktok and he's really been wanting to try his hand at cooking.

My wife was happy to teach him and at least twice a week the two of them will go out to the store, buy ingredients for a meal he found on tiktok and come home and make it.

It's been awesome seeing them bonding more, since they haven't really had much overlap in interests before this. About a month ago after dinner, my son asked his mom if he could try making us all a meal on his own. I said it sounded like a great idea, and she hemmed and hawed for a little while before agreeing.

So that Saturday she took him to the store to get his ingredients and then he got to work. She supervised here and there, but he insisted that she didn't need to so eventually she came to the living room and sat with my daughter and I looking a little bit dejected, so I reassured her that I was sure he'll still wanna cook with her, he just wanted to try it out on his own.

That seemed to help out a little but she still seemed a little off. When he finished and we all sat down to eat, I was honestly surprised at just how good he managed to do on his own. I feel bad saying it but even after a year or so of cooking with his mother I expected him to mess up more than he did.

I wanted to encourage this interest of his so I was sure to let him know while I was eating how good he did, and gently bring up the few mistakes he had made. I did it a lot more than I usually would with my wife's cooking, and in hindsight I can see that that's what started all of this.

His sister, being his little sister, was not as supportive as I was, and quite rudely insulted his cooking. I was going to tell her to mind her manners and be thankful that he cooked for us when my wife made a sound and pushed her plate away, before agreeing and saying that it was too salty and overcooked.

This took me aback, and I could tell my son took it hard too, as his mood visibly dropped. I didn't say anything at the time, since my wife and I never argue in front of the kids, and I just kept up the praise of my son's cooking as his mother picked at the plate for a little while longer before she took her and our daughter's plates to the kitchen.

A little while later, I had went to check on my son, and I could tell that he had been crying, so I comforted him, told him I was sure his mother loved the food and that she was probably just having a bad day, not to take it personally.

Then later, once the kids were asleep, I confronted her about it, and she tried to just brush it off, but I pushed and she got mad and said that I complimented his cooking far more than I ever complimented hers. This caught me off guard, since I didn't expect my wife to be jealous of our son, and I unfortunately let out an involuntary scoff at this.

She blew up at me for laughing, and we ended up arguing for a while before eventually I managed to explain that I was complimenting him so much because I wanted to encourage him to keep cooking, and she even admitted that she shouldn't have been so harsh about it.

She said she would apologize to him and I figured that everything was settled. That Monday, when I was driving my son to school, I noticed he wasn't acting normal, and looking out the window, trying to hide his face from me.

I asked him what was wrong, and he told me he was fine, but I could tell he was fighting back tears so I asked him again and he broke and told me that after I had left to get the car started, she told him that she was going to be cooking alone again from now on. I was furious about this, but kept my cool and told him I would talk to her about it, bought him a snack from the store before dropping him off at school.

I left work early so I could get home before the kids and talk to my wife. I'll admit I didn't handle it as well as I could have and we ended up in a shouting match where I was calling her childish for being so vindictive towards our son because she was upset with me, and she called him a baby and said he shouldn't be so sad about not being allowed to cook since it wasn't a man's job to do so anyway.

We ended up leaving each other alone to cool down, and when our kids got home, my wife took our daughter out, and came back later with a load of toys and clothes for her. I knew immediately what she was trying to do, and that night I told her that I would not let her use the money I make for our family to punish my son. She didn't take this well and we ended up arguing again.

I slept in the guestroom, and have been up to this point. For this past month my wife has kept up this vindictive showering of our daughter with attention and gifts, while almost entirely ignoring my son. I've been talking to my parents and brother about this, and while they agree that she's wrong, they also don't see it as that big of a problem and think it'll sort itself out.

At this point, with how she's been treating our son, I'm starting to fall out of love with her, but I also don't want to just jump to divorce if there's something that I can do to fix this whole situation. I can honestly say that we've never had a fight this big. Sure, we bicker every now and then, but she's never taken that out on my son in the past.

I feel responsible and guilty about what happened, and I've been trying to do nice things for my son, when I can, but I also don't want to mirror my wife's behavior so I've also been taking my daughter with us about half the time we go places, but whenever we do, she's been very rude and always talks about all the stuff her mother does for her lately, because she knows it bothers her brother.

Seeing the way my wife has been treating our son has made me second guess our marriage, but I don't want to just jump straight to divorce either. Any advice on what I should do, or how to best bring up the topic of therapy would be appreciated.

People had a lot to say in the comments.

Aloreiusdanen wrote:

I think everyone has the wrong idea. They keep telling you to get your kid out of there, NO... Get your wife out of the house.

Tell her she needs to go stay with her mom/sister/someone else. That her mental ab*se towards your son is unacceptable, and the fact that she fails to see this as an issue is even more reason to leave. Tell her she needs to pack a bag and leave for a week or so, until she realizes the harm she has done to your son with her ab*sive behavior.

rmeatyou wrote:

Why does your wife resent your son so much? Such an odd thing for her to get upset about. Does she think your son is going to pick up all the cooking and she'll be out of a job? Bizarre response to a 12-year-old not perfecting a recipe on the first try....she seems mean.

I've had my little cousins bake stuff for me and even when it's not spectacular or barely edible, I would never put them down like this. Your wife is cruel, and your daughter is shaping up to be just like her. Great example she's setting there.

OP responded:

That's what's really been sticking with me the most. I don't understand why she's been acting this way. She's always had a very strong maternal instinct, didn't go through PPD with either of our children, which was surprising to me because both of our mothers went through it with all of their children, not that it's genetic or anything, but I was just expecting it from experience.

I hate to sound misogynistic but I've considered that it could be the beginnings of Menopause, even though she's still young. The biggest thing that's been on my mind is if it's something I did. I added the little spiel at the beginning about always complimenting her because it's something I've been thinking about nonstop.

I never pressured her into being a SAHM, we fully planned on having her go back to work after my son was born, but she changed her mind almost immediately after she gave birth. I do my fair share of the chores around the house, I always wash the dishes, take care of the lawn, we both clean up around the house.

I never hold it against her that she doesn't work, or withhold money from her. I felt awful after I said to her that she's using MY money to punish our son because It just felt like I was being unfair. I'd almost prefer if it WAS something i did, so that I could just blame it on myself instead of having to accept that my wife is capable of doing this kind of thing on her own.

Inksplotter wrote:

It seems like the trigger for your wife was you seeming to favor your son over her.

She isn't seeing your son as HER son. She's seeing him as competition for your affection, which means everything you are doing to try to protect him or get her to be nicer to him will just reinforce her belief that you are 'on his side.'

(The favoritism toward your daughter is to make sure your daughter is 'on her side'.) Your wife is DEEPLY insecure, possibly diagnosably so. Your best chance at getting back to a loving family unit is professional help.

Neat-Pen6522 wrote:

Maybe ask your wife why she isn’t proud of what she taught your son. He was able to cook that meal because of what SHE taught him. Praise for him was praise for her. Does she think your kids’ teachers are miffed when you compliment your kids on their good grades?

Furthermore, you could put an analogy to her of learning to ride a bike. When a child first learns they are boosted with compliments and congratulations but do we also give adults who have been riding bikes for years the same? No, because they shouldn’t need it, their skill is already established.

Finally, ask her which future she wants: the one where her son is complimented on his cooking skills and he says, “Thank you, I learned it all from my mom. She’s the best cook and taught me so much” OR where he says, “Thank you, my mom really discouraged me from learning and it took me years to teach myself.”

Parents often forget that they only have the first 18 years to establish a lifelong relationship with their kids. Soon, they are adults and look back at their childhood with adult eyes and that determines how much of a relationship they want with their parents.

Opening_Track_1227 wrote:

First and foremost, you need to protect your son. It's time to have a "come to Jesus" moment with your wife and tell her she needs to apologize to your son, make it right with him, stop being vindictive towards him, allow him to cook with her or you will divorce her. Give her a time frame and if you don't see any improvement between her and your son, it's time to leave.

Two months later, OP shared an update.

Obligatory, but genuine, Thank you for all of the support, even the comments that got a bit nasty. That kind of pushback helped me to see that things were a lot worse than I realized.

Some of you could do with being a bit nicer, but the advice is appreciated all the same.

Short recap: My wife and son cooked dinner together most nights for about a year. My son wanted to try cooking dinner on his own, which my wife accepted, but started acting funny.

She ended up rudely criticizing his meal, then the next day she told him that she would do the cooking on her own from then on, and after I confronted her about this, she started neglecting/emotionally ab#sing him while shoveling positivity onto our daughter. The first thing I did after making my previous post was take my son to my parents' house to tell them what was happening from his mouth.

I figured they may be more receptive to seeing the pain their grandson was going through and not just write it off like they had with me. They ended up understanding, and supportive of my next move, which was kicking my wife out till she worked through whatever problem she was going through. Next I went to a lawyer and consulted with him.

He told me it would be best to have the papers ready to go, even if I wasn't sure I wanted the divorce yet because it's better to get it done as quick as possible if I decided to go through with it because in Canada you have to either have to separate for a year, or prove abuse or adultery. I took the kids to my folks' house the next Saturday and came back with my mother.

I let her talk with my wife first, then when they were done I told her that I needed her to leave the house until she sorted out whatever was causing her to act this way to our son. She, surprisingly, agreed to this. I'm guessing hearing things from my mother knocked some sense into her, as they were always quite close.

I told her that my parents were willing to let her stay there during the time because her parents lived too far away, or I could put her up in a nearby motel. I would also pay for her to see a therapist every week, which I told her was mandatory for fixing things. Our kids spent the night with my parents and we moved her out the next day.

We both sat with the kids and told them what was happening. Our son understood, but our daughter didn't and was quite upset, but eventually we calmed her down. Things went well for the first month or so. She went to all of the weekly appointments, and I met her for dinner a few nights a week with the kids and she seemed to be treating our son properly again.

I was really hopeful that she had been making progress.

Then the Friday after her fifth therapy appointment she sent me a wall of text messages about how I was an AH, and I was trying to steal her children from her, and how I was probably f-king someone on the side.

I tried calling her to see what she was talking about but I think she shut her phone off. I called my mother and she told me that my wife had left the house earlier that day with all of her stuff without saying anything to my mom. I'm not 100% sure what happened next, since my wife has refuses to tell me most details, and I can't get in contact with the friends she was with.

The best I can piece together was that she had told her best friend about what was happening, and that friend started telling her all about how I was just trying to kick her out and steal her kids. She then moved in with her friend, and went on a week long bender of clubbing and drinking and dr-gs.

When we were younger we did our fair share of stupid s-t together, so while this was surprising, it was most likely her dumba- friends convincing her to relive the good old days. I hadn't heard anything for about a week, then I got a text from her friend, telling me I was a loser, that my wife was too good for me, and that she was f-king a younger guy.

I tried to demand she give my wife the phone so I could talk with her, but I never got a reply. I screenshotted the texts for evidence if I needed it. I ended up getting a call from the hospital at like 3 in the morning that Sunday. My wife had overdosed on something, and was dropped off at the ER by someone who didn't stick around.

Since I was her emergency contact, They reached out to me. I called my mom to come watch the kids and headed over there. They managed to get her stabilized, and were treating her. I stuck around for a few hours and she was in and out of consciousness, and when she was she wasn't very talkative.

When she properly woke up, she started apologizing for everything, and that's when I found out the few details I know, about her friend and the bender. I asked her if she had been f-king someone else like her friend said, and she didn't reply, which was as much of an answer as I needed. She kept trying to apologize and I just kept my cool and told her this wasn't the time or place for this.

We ended up leaving at about 8 AM the next day. I got her back to my parent's place, got her into bed, and just before I left, I put the papers on the table beside the bed and told her that I expected her to sign them within a week and that I had proof she cheated on me during her bender.

I had told my parents I was planning on doing this on the phone, so I wasn't just dumping this drama on them without warning. The kids are both doing fine. They don't know anything of what happened with their mother or the divorce, all they know is that my wife is still moved out, and that she's busy getting better so we're not gonna be seeing her as much.

I'll probably tell them in a couple weeks whenever school lets out for the summer so it doesn't affect their learning. Over the next couple weeks I've gotten countless calls from her, ranging from begging for a second chance, to screaming at me that she hated me and was going to make my life hell, going back and forth every other day.

I've also been getting vitriolic texts from her family and friends calling my all sorts of names and threatening me that if I don't drop the divorce I'll regret it, All of which have been screenshotted. My parents agree that divorce is for the best, but they're questioning my timing, and wondering if I shouldn't have picked a better time to do this than when she was fresh out of the hospital.

I'm 100% sure I want her out of my life, and I plan on going for full custody of my children as I don't want them around my wife if this behavior is what she's willing to stoop to. And while I do want it done as soon as possible, I'm wondering if I should take back the papers and tell her I've changed my mind, at least until she's a bit more stable?

ETA: I saw comments suggesting I take my kids to therapy to explain the situation to them. I have a session set up with a therapist in a week, just wanted to wait a tiny bit longer for their school to be as finished as possible. I forgot to include it when I first typed everything out.

People were invested in the update.

misterk2020 wrote:

Absolutely do not take back the papers. Your marriage is over and she k-led it. She needs to take accountability for what she did and you are trying to ket her off the hook. IMO I would advise your lawyer what’s going on and listen and follow the advice given. You should be filing for full custody IMO. You can always loosen restrictions later.

OP responded:

Yeah, after I served her the papers I got in contact with him again and have been telling him everything that has been happening. He has every text screenshot I've collected so far and I'm filling him in on any updates. I appreciate the advice still

tropicsandcaffeine wrote:

Be careful of her family contacting your kids. They may try to poison their minds against you.

OP responded:

Neither of my children have accounts on messaging apps. My son has an old phone of mine that isn't activated. It's just a tiktok machine at this point, and my daughter only has access to a tablet for an hour or two after school, and similarly has no messaging apps on it.

The only way they'd be able to contact them is by coming here, or stopping by the school, but I've also contacted the school admins and let them know that I'm to be the only ones picking them up.

When their mom first left the house I had to enroll them in a before and after school program as I can't come pick them up right when school is let out, and the ladies that run it have been made aware as well. I'm doing everything I can think of to protect my kids.

Saint_Blaise wrote:

OP, I'm concerned that she's going to f- up your kids emotionally and mentally, especially your daughter. Please set up therapy for yourself and your kids so you can tell them what's going on in an age-appropriate way in a supportive environment. There's absolutely nothing stopping your wife from taking them and filling their heads with nonsense about you.

"I'm wondering if I should take back the papers and tell her I've changed my mind, at least until she's a bit more stable?"

No, this is a horrible idea. Continue moving forward and consult with your lawyer about how to handle her family's thr-ts.

OP responded:

I am in the process of setting up therapy for the three of us, I see I forgot to put it in the post. I'll edit it.

ElementalHelp wrote:

"I'm wondering if I should take back the papers and tell her I've changed my mind, at least until she's a bit more stable?"

Absolutely not. If your STBX learns that all it takes is a mental breakdown to rope you back in, you'll end up in the neverending loop of fake s-cide threats and hospitalizations and never be able to escape it.

Your STBX made her choices. You gave her every opportunity to fix her shit and she decided to throw your marriage away and go off the deep end. Divorce is the natural consequence of those actions. She deserves to experience the natural consequences. You don't have to be cruel about it or anything. But if you slow or pause your plans because of some crocodile tears, you will absolutely regret it in the long-run.

Please note that the vitriolic texts that you are getting came from a coordinated campaign that your wife is running. She's not some helpless v-ctim right now. She is quite capable of organizing a hate campaign and making your life a living hell. So she is capable of facing the consequences of her actions as well.

OP wrote:

Well, her parents have actually been relatively civil about it. They obviously were upset when they first heard but I explained it to them and they understand. They've been checking in on the kids and have asked if they need anything. It's really the rest of her family doing it, and I just don't have the energy to argue with that many people so I've just been blocking them after getting my screenshots.

yourthoughtitwas wrote:

As soon as she started doing d-gs and CHEATED ON YOU the marriage was over. F- that lady, if you get back with a cheater and a clear ab#ser for your son then this s-t is crazy. Don’t wait till she’s more stable, who the f-k knows when that will happen. Get her out of your life now ! If you keep waiting she’ll just keep having “mental breakdowns” to keep you in.

Sources: Reddit
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