Telling your partner they can't manage without you is sure to backfire.
In a popular post on the Am I Wrong subreddit, a man asked if he was wrong for snapping at his wife after a long day at work. He wrote:
My wife and I don’t fight much. And when we do fight, we usually communicate well afterwards and things go back to normal. I brag to my friends about how reasonable my wife is and her ability to communicate and empathize is something I deeply admire. She doesn’t hold grudges. She talks me through my rough times. Until now. Due to a fire, my wife is out of work but still earning her salary (thanks insurance).
We decided she would stay home with our young son while out of work. She doesn’t love child rearing, which is something we knew going into having kids. Honestly, it’s hard to tell. She’s a great mom. Present and loving even when I can see she’s struggling inside. I give my wife a lot of breaks. We co-parent. Split bedtime routines for our two kids. We both pull our weight. Yesterday was a snow day.
My daughter was home with my wife and son. I was working from home downstairs all day. I helped my daughter with cyber school until noon. My wife was with my son in the snow all morning, plowing the drive and sidewalks etc. maintaining the house. My daughter joined them and from the sound of things and some videos, she brought her friends over for playing and hot chocolate.
I worked until around 5:00 and when I went upstairs it was chaos. My wife was doing laundry and helping my daughter who fell and hurt herself on the ice. She sent home the friends and we had dinner. I did the clean up and right after finishing- keep in mind I’ve been downstairs working all day, not even a bathroom break after noon- I go into the play room and my wife approaches me. It goes like this.
Her- “Hey can I go lay down for a bit.”
The maybe offense…I admit I made a face and said
Me- “I haven’t gone to the bathroom all day and I put cookies in the oven.”
I can tell I messed up just by the face she give me
Her- “Fine. Never mind. Forget I asked. Heaven forbid.”
Now I’m sensing some attitude and know I’ve misstepped here. So I say.
Me- “No it’s fine I’ll take care of it all. Go take a break.”
To my complete shock, in front of our kids who I admit aren’t paying us much attention, but are still close my wife says.
“I said never f#$king mind. I’ve been running around on my feet all day watching our kids and other people’s kids and heaven f#$king forbid I ask for twenty minutes to myself.”
I again say “Go take a break! I told you it was fine.” But she’s clearly lost her marbles and is seeing red. She starts cleaning up and helping with the kids and I do too. I tried to overcompensate but she just took over caring for them and they listened to he
In the hall I said “I think you forget I work all day.” And she viciously says.
Her- “thanks for reminding me. I almost forgot.”
I feel like an a$$. I get that she works hard caring for the kids but I work hard too.
I think not having her job and escape is making her reaction to this fight worse. She texted me the next day with her usual communication. She expressed how upset she felt with my behavior and the way I acted toward her. She said she was feeding and taking care of six kids all day in the snow alone and still cleaned the entire house and deep cleaned our craft room.
I explained that I’m stressed at work and that I didn’t get why she’s so upset since I offered her a break but she said “I don’t want your pity breaks” She ended it with “thanks for the apology btw.” Which yeah, I didn’t exactly apologize but for what? And then she asked for the number to my daughters piano teacher. The piano teacher was the only activity that I manage for my kids.
I found out she text her asking to go through my wife from now on as she will be managing the schedule. Normally my wife would text me asking if I can get my daughter from dance on my way home yesterday. I do this every week. I didn’t hear anything and when I got home I found out my wife dropped and picked her up.
I confronted my wife with “I am very present with my children do not make me out to be an absent father.” My wife responded with “if I didn’t manage and ask you for help, you’d see them a quarter of the time you do now. And I’m done managing you.” I get it. I should have just smiled and agreed when she asked for help but this is extreme.
She’s having a fit and trying to ice me out of my relationship with my kids. It’s so petty. It’s like I don’t even know this woman. Gone is the reasonable level headed communicator. So if you’ve made it this far thank you. And please please tell me if I’m wrong here.
If she said she's done managing you, that means she feels like you are adding to her stress, and it's easier and less stressful for her to do things on her own without asking you. That's not a good sign, but it's fixable. Perhaps you need to take initiative and know what's going on and what needs to be done without her having to ask you or interact with you about it.
Yes, you work all day, but it's not helpful to highlight that. You're fueling the idea that this is a competition and it likely inspires resentment when you do that. For example, when she asked you about going to lie down, you could have just said, "ok, but first, can you just give me a few minutes to go to the bathroom?"
You are 100% right. I normally do say that. She asks me for a break at least three times a week to take a bath or go read and I almost always immediately say yes. It was just an off moment and I know I reacted poorly but she’s completely trying to ice me out.
I had to argue with her this morning just to let me take my kid to school because “she said she’d do it.” And the kids just went along clinging to her and then when I pushed back my kid started crying for her. She had to calm him down and insist going with dad is fun just to undo what she did.
He was fine with going with me but it’s messy and so unnecessary. I am scared with her behavior. I love my wife and I don’t want to push her away.
Yeah, you screwed up. The answer was. Let me go to the head and then I've got this. yeah she is not having a reasonable conversation. But, it does sound like she has to ASK you to do a bunch of stuff. Managing people is exhausting. Why aren't you ALWAYS picking up the kids,? And if you didn't take a bathroom break, that's on you. And why is she deep cleaning when visiting kids are over? Unnecessary that.
You both need a break from the chaos. Who was watching the kids while she was working? Can you afford someone to come a couple afternoons or a couple days week? You both need to sit down and discuss how your life is going and how to improve the situation. Her, not taking on more stuff, you to be assigned stuff so you don't have to be managed.
My wife has two days during the week without my son or daughter. She’s been painting the house and deep cleaning. My son is gone from 8-2 and my daughter 9-3 Monday and Friday both. I think the snow day broke her but hopefully she’ll come around and be sensible. I’ve never known her to ice me out or stop communicating and it’s freaking me out.
You are not wrong. She's having a crisis. She's stuck not working. She's getting paid, but not being productive in the work she wants to do. She resents having to be the housewife she never wanted to be.
She might feel that you come across as thinking that your work makes your time valuable and hers unappreciated. But her overreaction to your wanting to go to the bathroom and finish baking the cookies is extreme.
She might have been annoyed at the moment, but the follow up is worrisome. You definitely need to arrange for time alone to listen to her and see what you can both do to get her back to her regular empathetic self. Be ready to apologize for not recognizing earlier how much stress she's been under.
Thanks for the response. Her reaction is so out of left field. She really is usually the most reasonable person I know. It’s been stressful for her and I admit I’m also so stressed at my job that I didn’t see it. I figured a few months off paid would be a luxury.
But yeah, now I see having six kids and a toddler alone all day might be as luxurious as a barrel of hair. Guess it’s my turn to be the empathetic reasonable one. She’s done it enough for the both of us.
“Fine. Never mind. Forget I asked. Heaven forbid.
Is this normal for her to say? Because if not, the response should have been "whoa that's a tone. Is everything all right?"
It’s absolutely not normal. My wife really is so patient and empathetic. Her tone shocked me so much I fumbled to respond but I did immediately tell her to go and take her break and that I got things. She declined with more colorful words.
I made one stupid selfish comment to my wife a week or so ago and now my life is in disarray. My wife is in some crisis. Her work is closed and she’s being paid, but she’s home with our kids now, including one 3 year old. She gets breaks on Monday and Friday with childcare. We went into having kids knowing she wanted to be a working mother. So this has been an adjustment…to say the least.
Onto the OG fight. She spent a long day with our kids and the neighboring kids, and when I came upstairs from work and she asked for a break, I didn’t respond well. I made excuses and didn’t offer help and for the first time in years my wife lost her temper and cursed at me. Like an idiot I dug in and thought I was right. I admit we both said some unkind things.
But after reddit humbled me and she made me sit down and write a list of things I did for the family that day and compared it with her… longer list, I apologized. She accepted and I figured things would go back to normal. They haven’t. My wife used to include me in parenting our kids. I did dance pick up most weeks and bedtime was split. I gave baths. Made dinner. All the stuff.
Since our fight, my wife hasn’t asked me for any help with the kids. The first morning I woke up on what was supposed to be my morning with the kids, I figured she was just being nice or trying to prove a point but it keeps happening. She didn’t even send them down to say good night last night.
Normally my wife does this silly game where she sends my son to ask me to read 5 books and then we would negotiate down to 1 or 2 and race upstairs. Last night I heard her racing him and came up to find her doing bedtime yet again. The kids haven’t even noticed. It’s like she’s replacing me.
When we were fighting I said something really really dumb that’s living inside me and festering. My wife was being nasty and said “you wouldn’t see the kids a quarter as much as you do if I didn’t arrange it and I’m done managing you.” I defended myself, I’m not an absent parent- and said something along the lines of “I’d like to see how long you can manage without me.”
Consider my foot officially in my mouth. She’s started running again. She’s cooking really healthy and often. Every night I come home to my perfectly happy stepford wife, doing it all without me and I feel empty inside. How do I fix this? I don’t even know where to begin…at this point I want to beg her to go back to how things were. This wasn’t what we agreed on.
I dunno…step up? Get involved without her organizing it or instructing you? Are you really this daft?
It’s difficult when they prefer her and she seems to do everything better then me. I work often as well. It helps to have her give me a heads up on the plan with the kids but I’m getting now that maybe that’s done and over with.
Yeah, kids usually prefer the parent that puts in the actual effort.
I gotta wonder if part of the reason you're just fucking around being "I dunno what to dooooooo" is that, aside from the fact that your wife is mad at you, you're actually okay with this new normal?
Like, she's doing all the child care and house work, you get hot meals and don't have to lift a finger. Now if she'd just get over this silly being angry at you thing, you could settle back and enjoy the life you feel you deserve? Because, if not, you'd quit twiddling your thumbs and just start doing what needs to be done without expecting someone to walk you step by step through it all.
And OP responded:
I’m f#$king confused, okay? I had this perfect life with an amazing successful wife and a great job. We juggled two careers and two kids like champions, always communicating who is where, doing what activity. Working together to manage the American dream of doing it all.
Then my wife’s job burns down and she’s home all the time doing everything. She gets stressed and we fight and now she’s totally different. Idgaf about warm meals and a stepford wife, I want MY wife.
My partner. My teammate. And yes my F#$KING manager back! She was amazing. And now I managed to f#$k it up like always by sticking my foot in my mouth. She’s still perfect only now I KNOW she’s not doing what she wants and that I have failed her in some way that seems to have broken her. Or maybe fixed her. Idk. Like I said. I’m confused and apparently an idiot.
Okay, so, minor thought experiment here: do you think that she would describe the Old Way as a perfect life? Do you think that she thought it was perfect that she was your manager? Or do you think it's possible that she might have preferred you to be an equal partner in this, instead? Is it possible that she doesn't actually love being your manager?
And OP responded:
You won’t believe me anyways. I’ve been with my wife since we were kids- 15/16. I know this woman. She LOVED doing it all and she was amazing at it. She always bragged about being a working mom but she never put down woman that stayed home. Her mother was a stay at home mom that got married super young. My wife didn’t want that life.
We used to joke about her earning more then me so I could stay home. She never complained about the kids schedule either. She did drop offs at daycare and I did pick ups. We had a rhythm and flow. I think not being home during the day with them made her soak in the time at night more than maybe I did. Idk. But I honestly think she was happy.
I’m confused. I thought she also works and is just currently at home because her work is shut down for a little while (but she is getting her salary). So my confusion is around:
Is her working ‘often’ also not the norm? When’s she (usually) finding time to arrange things and also giving you heads ups?
Does she work way less hours or make waaayyy less than you? I’m trying to understand why you think your work is ALL that and hers is kinda just there.
If she is currently bringing in a salary and taking care of everything in the household - what value are you adding?
Also, because I too have a stressful job- maybe it’s time to look into how to change that if it’s making you be useless outside of work hours.
My wife works with animals and makes her own schedule. She can schedule days off whenever so she is more flexible. She is home to take the kids into daycare and then I would pick them up and drop them at my moms and my wife would get them around 4. She does not need to work. I pay the majority of the bills. My wife’s job earns less, but that doesn’t make it less worthy.
She actually effects the world. I just type at the computer all day and deal with air emissions. My wife works to pay for daycare. It’s her “big” expense. I do mortgage and everything else. She also uses her money to buy stuff.
She has full access to my account and often transfers money when low. I do not have access to her account. It’s a personal boundary of my wives that she always have her own private money. I don’t need or want that myself so she manages most of the finances. My wife has traumas around being “stuck” as a homemaker and baby maker. It’s a little bit why I think there is more to this fight.
I'm confused. This happened while your wife was laid off? Is that why you cancelled the people/person who did child care when you were both at work? I respect a woman who knows herself well enough to know she's not cut out to be a stay at home mom. I can see why it would be a LOT easier to get annoyed with my spouse
I don't understand why you wait for her to tell you to say goodnight to your children or read them a story or pick them up? You're a grown man, you're their dad. Why are you waiting for your wife to tell you when to take care of your own kids? It's near bedtime, get UP, go to your kids, tell you wife. "I got this" and get to it. This "my mom won't let me" is beneath you.
My wife’s work tragically burned down so she is off with full pay. We pulled our son from daycare for these few months while they renovate the new building. It didn’t make sense spending the money when she’s home.
Dude. Love is something you do. If you love your family, show it through your actions. Don't stand there and wring your hands.
And OP responded:
I earn six figures for them wringing these hands. But I get what you are saying.
Thank you to the handful of people that reached out with advice. Believe it or not, I do want to be a good father and husband. I’ve royally f#$ked up and I see that and fully admit it. This is going to be my only edit and then I’m going to get off my phone for a while and focus my attention on my family. My wife had dinner cooked when I got home. Everything is fine between us so there wasn’t any tension.
After we cleaned up I went upstairs and ran my wife a bath, put Taylor swift on her Alexa and lit a few candles. I told her to go relax upstairs for the night. She was surprised but smiled and went on her way. I’m currently on the toilet watching my kids take a bath.
People mentioned love bombing etc. but I’m just trying anything I can to show her I do appreciate and love her and our family and I want to be a present father. I’m going to do bedtime tonight and probably all next week. I’ll tell her she does so much during the day and deserves the break because it’s the truth. I get that I come off as an AH.
I grew up in a not great situation and didn’t have the best role models growing up. I’m terrified of my children not having enough and I overcompensate by working too much. This new job came with a big pay increase but the hours are longer and I feel like I can never keep up. I’ve reached out to a few recruiters tonight. I used to love my job and was always home by 4:30.
Even if it means taking the lost income, I’m thinking about going back. Relationships are hard. And humans aren’t perfect. For all the people telling me my kids don’t love me and I’m a waste of space, idk guys, just remember I’m an actual person. That s#$ts rough. Anyways that’s all I have for you folks. I need to watch these kiddos and start planning out my long road of groveling and reconnecting. Thanks all!
Anyone else notice that he doesn't even mention anything about not seeing his kids as much hurting him, he just remarked on her running, eating healthier, and proving that she wasn't "being nasty", she was speaking the truth (but somehow still missing that point while typing it out). He only cares that he was wrong, not seeing his kids isn't even an afterthought.
You know when a couple gets divorced and the man is shocked while the woman is fine because she checked out long ago? This is your wife checking out. A basic apology is not enough, you need to act as if she just told you she wants a divorce and is giving you once last chance to convince her otherwise.
I’d start with a profuse apology then book her a week long vacation somewhere relaxing and tell her you want to start being an equal parent and you’re going to handle the kids alone while she is gone so you can start learning how to do that.
Please know that even if you’re successful, this will not go back to “normal” where she serves as kids/house manager for you. It sounds like she never wanted to be manager but was fine doing it as long as she was appreciated for her hard work and sacrifice. Once you belittled that, there’s no going back.
So to summarize, your wife is done telling you what you need to do so you turn to Reddit to tell you what to do? Your wife deserves better. She deserves a husband that doesn’t wait to be told what to do, how to be a partner, how to spend time with the kids. You wrote lists of what each person does? You have noticed with your own eyes the stuff she has done without you? Perfect.
Take her list and do all those activities before she can. If she starts doing something on the list look her in the eye and tell her you will do it, she deserves to be treated like a partner, and you appreciate all the other times she has done it without being told thank you. You also need to continue apologizing.
You sound like my ex-husband. I left him. At the end of the day you realize you shouldn’t need to raise your husband along with your actual children. What really is rich is that you can't last without her - not the other way around. It took a divorce for my ex to step up to parenting and even now he is somewhat helpless, forgetful and lazy. The kids beg to come back to stay with me when with him.
Well, the consensus from the internet is clear, that OP was in fact in the wrong. The real question left, is if the marriage is salvageable.