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Husband says, 'I respect your mental health, but if you won't work we can't eat.' AITA?

Husband says, 'I respect your mental health, but if you won't work we can't eat.' AITA?


"AITA for telling my wife it is time she went back to work?"


My wife has been out of work since 2018, she had a mental break down during her fifth year of teaching. She has been going to therapy since, and we started marriage counseling during Covid. Reason for marriage counseling was because she thought I was pushing her too hard to go back to work before her and her therapist thought she was ready.

I tried to explain many times that was not my intent but realistically, speaking for me, to keep up with expenses, and retirement contributions I pretty much have to take on extra shifts which sometimes clock in over 18 hours a day. On average I have been pulling 84 hour weeks. I have been doing this since she stopped working.

We recently had a fight because I had an extremely rough week and had the conversation again about her going back to work. She opened up with the same line she always does; 'We do not feel it is the right time yet, she feels I have made great progress and if I rush it I run the risk of losing it.'

The 'we' being her and therapist. I told her I really do not give a f*ck what her therapist has to say, and I am sick of you hiding behind her words whenever this topic comes up.

She started to cry, telling me she does not like being this way either and I am belittling her due to suffering from mental health issues. I replied saying I do not indeed to belittle you or not take your issues seriously problem is I am running myself ragged, and what happens if I have a mental break? Do you think I will have the luxury of not working? No, I will have to push through my demons.

She said her therapist warned her this would happen sooner or later I would try to manipulate her into doing something she was not ready to do. This is when I really lost it and just let it all out. I did not say anything kind. I told her she insults me for thinking what I am doing is manipulation.

I told her I am working these extra shifts so she can be home and bullshit playing games. I told during this entire time you have not even made an effort to improve on certain skills, I told her she can still not cook to save her life, and that was sick of coming home after 12 or 18 hour days just make us dinner cause her idea of making dinner is pretty a pre-made in the oven or ordering out.

Among other things, that were said she stormed out the house crying yelling and shouting how I am a piece of s@*t, and rather see myself comfortable verse her getting better. So here I am, I do not feel at the core I am wrong, and while what I said was harsh I think it did have to be said. So reddit was I the a**hole here?

Hey I appreciate the replies, going to leave a quick update to answer and clarify what I can. I apologize if I miss something. Thank nonetheless.

Yes, I have been to a couple of sessions with my wife and her therapist. Tbh it largely felt I was getting ganged up on. My wife brought up how I was always tired, so I explained I am working harder to maintain our home.

When I suggested part time work would allow me to work less, their counter suggestion was to cut things like saving for retirement, and hold off on paying off debt, and tackle such things after my wife gets better. Then I suggest renting out the house to cover the mortgage and we downsize to an apartment.

Her therapist said such a drastic change to her environment could have a negative impact on her depression, and advises against such major life changing events.

During another session she brought up how my suggestion she tries cooking to save is money so we do not order so much. She felt insulted because in terms of money coming in I am making slightly more then our combined income, and she was able to cover her expenses so she does not understand why we are having such a hard time.

I was honest, it has less to do with money per-se and more so the fact the amount of hours I have to work to maintain the income. I told her I pretty much am working two fulltime jobs. The cooking or doing things around the house was dropped fairly quickly and became a critic on how I cannot mange money since I am making more, yet I never had issues when she was working with how she spent.

More or less every session became what I could do to help my wife, and I get it her therapist has to look out for my wife and generally my concerns are small compared to my wife's. My wife is not a huge fan of our marriage counselor because she offers suggestions that go against her therapist.

My friend has also suggested I speak with a lawyer to see exactly what my options are. After reading many of the comments and thinking back on everything I think I am going to do that. I love my wife and I know she is sick but I am good to no one if I keep up this pace.

Here were the top rated comments from readers:


NTA. You sound like you are almost at the end of your tether. 12-18 hour workdays are not sustainable for you, and it sounds like she is doing fuck all around the house. Certainly she's not cooking.

Therapy or not, for the past five years she has basically lived a lifestyle where she gets to relax as much as she wants and it's all subsidized by you. You have my sympathy for that. But let's be clear what your options are here. You cannot force her to work, either in the paid workforce, or keeping house for you. You can ask, but you cannot force her.

All you can do is decide whether you're prepared to live with someone who does not pull their weight in this relationship. If you decide you cannot, then you tell her that (not as a threat, not as an ultimatum - simply stating a fact), and you find yourself a lawyer.


Find a lawyer first. She’s got all day to call every lawyer in town to make an appointment so you can’t use them. See an attorney first. Say nothing until the day before she will be served.

Edit to say reading comprehension is hard I guess. I don’t write that he should call every attorney but it’s a common suggestion made to women. He just needs one good attorney. And to be quiet.


Despite the blow up, I say NTA. You sound burned out and pushed beyond capacity. FIVE YEARS of up to 84 hour weeks? Do you sleep?

If she can’t go back to teaching, then it’s time to find a different career. “My therapist said this would happen” sounds like a bigger manipulation tactic than you telling her you are at your limits, but don’t have the luxury of not working as hard as you are. She has all the regard for her own mental health, but no compassion for how her inability to work is making your mental health suffer.

Not to stir the pot here, but is she actually going to a therapist? Like, you know she is attending and talking to a person? I would question a therapist who is claiming she is making progress, but there has been no visible improvement in half a decade.


Regarding the therapist. It will all boil down to what she is telling the therapist. Is she telling truthfully that OP works up to 84 hours a week, pays all the bills, and every single expense in the house, plus comes home to cook dinner, etc.

Or is she feeding the therapist? 'I tried to cook dinner today, but he was complaining!' But forgets to mention it was one of those tiny portions of frozen food that will give no nutrition to a grown man who works his ass off. Because if she said, 'I cooked dinner!' Then, of course, the therapist will see that as 'progress, ' but her big bad husband was hindering her.

So, all in all. It depends on what the woman is saying in therapy. She could honestly just be painting the 'poor me' picture and nit picks what the therapist said to get her way.


OK, this really resonates with me because I'm currently in recovery from a burn out. I don't like to make comparisons because maybe your wife's recovery is taking longer but 5 years seems excessive. I'm in therapy and my therapist has never said any of the things to me that your wife is parroting to you.

I've been encouraged to clean my house, cook meals, even do some volunteer work because the worst thing that you can do is just sit around doing nothing. You do indeed need to take some rest and let your mind and body recover but doing nothing can lead to you getting stuck in a rut that you can't get out of (sounds like your wife might even be there).

All I can say is that I think you're NTA. You're probably burnt out yourself after dealing with all of this for 5 years. Should you have shouted at your wife? Possibly not but you're a human being and you can only take so much.

I actually don't think it would be unreasonable of you to end this relationship if this is what you're going to have to deal with for the rest of your life. You deserve a decent life as well. Good luck with everything OP xxx

So, do you OP is in the wrong here? Is he being insensitive to his wife's mental health?

Sources: Reddit
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