One of the trickiest conversations two or more people have to have when they decide to live together is how the household responsibilities will be split up amongst the residents.
But perhaps an even trickier question is how the load of responsibilities should change when someone’s work-life balance changes, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Swissmiss440 was at a loss when her husband was no longer working and also not helping out at home, which led her to snap at him about it.
When she saw his reaction, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she had been too harsh.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for asking my husband to do more around the house or go back to work?”
The OP accepted a new job in a small city.
“I (30 [female]) have been married to my husband (33 [male]) for five years, with no children.”
“Until 8 months ago, we lived in a major city and both worked in high-pressure corporate jobs.”
“Early this year, I was offered a job in a smaller city for a lot more money.”
“My husband’s employer gave him the option of working remotely, but he expressed that he has been feeling very burnt out and needed a break and a fresh start.”
The OP and her husband adjusted their lifestyle.
“With my pay increase and the reduced living costs in our new city, I calculated we could afford to live off one income if we reduced some of our unnecessary expenses.”
“When we were both working full-time, we had a housekeeper in each week, sent out our laundry, and regularly ate at restaurants/ordered takeout.”
“We agreed that if he took on the cleaning and cooking responsibilities, he could leave his job and focus on starting a more creative career that would bring him joy.”
“Initially, this went very well. He dealt with the majority of the cleaning, cooking, and grocery shopping, while working on his writing.”
“I’d do the dishes after dinner, extra cleaning on the weekend, and cook a few nights a week.”
Then the OP’s husband’s performance declined dramatically.
“In the last month, things have gone downhill.”
“He’s been doing minimal to no cleaning and forgetting to do the laundry and go grocery shopping.”
“He’s completely stalled on his creative projects and spends his whole day playing video games.”
“I’d gently checked in to see if he was feeling depressed but he got angry and told me I was treating him like a slave and it was unfair to expect him to look after everything in the house.”
“I blew up back at him and told him if he didn’t want to look after the house, he needed to go back to work, because I wasn’t going pay for him to sit at home on his a**.”
The OP wasn’t sure what to do after the argument.
“He hasn’t spoken to me since we had the fight two days ago.”
“I’ve received messages from my MIL (mother-in-law) and other family members saying I’m treating him unfairly.”
“I’ve apologized for how I phrased it, but I haven’t backed down on the need for him to go back to work.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some said the OP was absolutely right to bring this up.
“NTA, that was the deal. You want to be a househusband, then be a househusband. Otherwise, start job searching.”
“You agreed to a househusband, not a leech.”
“I could see forgetting the laundry for one day, but forgetting grocery shopping doesn’t even make sense. That’s just an excuse.” – BazTheBaptist
“NTA. You’re working all day asking him to do the household chores is not ‘treating him like a slave.'”
“Marriage goes both ways and he really needs to pick up some slack, because it seems very one-sided.” – Fine_Pride
“I ended up in the husband’s situation due to getting furloughed last year (home with no kids).”
“Even with taking on 99% of the household chores, and walking the dog on long walks 3 times a day, I still had hours of free time every day to devote to hobbies and chilling.”
“The husband here really has no excuse not to stick to the initial agreement.” – DiligentPenguin16
“NTA. But I really don’t understand these posts. One adult at home, no children… how much cleaning is there to do?”
“Laundry every few days and grocery shopping once a week for most people? Give the house a once-over every week.”
“Ask him to explain to you what constitutes ‘slave’ in his mind. I’d love to hear his response.” – shestammie
Others agreed and were angry about the husband bringing this to his mother.
“He tattled on you to his mommy? Send him back until he gets out of the teen years.” – CJSinTX
“Yours needs to stop tattling to his mommy. I really cannot understand people who feel the need to insert themselves into a relationship by texting their opinion, but he invited them in.” – mellow-drama
“But his mummy said it was unfair to make her little pumpkin do chores. Why doesn’t he move back in with her and she can spoon feed him again to her heart’s content?” – Dashcamkitty
“She should not even need to ask him, that’s the part that gets me, it should not even have gotten this far.”
“Any normal adult knows that if they are not working in the partnership, they should sure as h**l be busting their butt to contribute to the house in any other ways they can.”
“OP, you are NTA at all but your husband, and his family are major AH (why do they even know, why do they even feel ok coming at you about this, did he run and tell them? Another red flag, FYI).”
“If it was me, I’d be telling my husband tonight that if he isn’t either back on track or has an appointment with a therapist scheduled by the time you get home from work tomorrow, that you are going to start taking official steps to stop financially supporting him.”
“That includes changing wifi passwords, shutting off his phone, and limiting access to all funds that you earn moving forward.”
“He can use it as a wake-up call, or you can and GTFO (get the f**k out).”
“Also, I would make clear to him that if he EVER goes and runs to his mommy and daddy again about your marital problems, that he won’t have any more martial problems because he won’t have a marriage.”
“My husband is the stay-at-home in our house and even though our son is in school now and we don’t need him to stay home, I actually prefer it.”
“He does the laundry, cleaning, shopping, and really anything that needs to be done around the house and I DON’T NEED TO TELL HIM WHAT TO DO LIKE A MOTHER WOULD. He just knows by being a functioning member of our house what needs to be done.” – FudgreaTheDestroyer
Some did point out, however, that the husband might be depressed.
“OP, yelling at you when you ask if he’s depressed is the opposite of ‘no.'”
“You don’t go from happy, organized, and productive to messy, lazy, and irritable naturally. He’s depressed. Get him into therapy, stat.”
“Also, once he’s been in therapy for a while, insist that he take an online writing course. This will give him accountability in his writing.”
“People who’ve never had time to write and suddenly do, often fall apart. It’s a weird psychological thing.” – usernaym44
“The husband sounds like he has at least mild depression but doesn’t realize it or doesn’t want to admit it.”
“I know because this sounds a lot like how I was at least 2 years before actually being properly diagnosed.”
“Not wanting to do anything, video games almost constantly, getting mad at little things like someone asking if I’m OK…” – LuminDoesStuff
“You’re still NTA for not possibly reading between lines that are intentionally set up to be hard to read.”
“You obviously tried to be aware. Therapy is good, and as a person who has dealt with depression/other mental health stuff – having things to do, chores that exist is not unmanageable. It’s harder, sure, but possible.”
‘See if you can get in with a therapist, and if not/while waiting, maybe write out a list of tasks/dates they have to be done by.”
“Clear and listable tasks are a bit easier to do when struggling, instead of ‘manage the household.’ (Not that you are at all at fault for anything whatsoever – this might just make things easier.)” – Intelligent-Store321
“Does he have friends around the area? Weekly or biweekly visits to his family? A pet he can chat to?”
“I’m not saying that he should not take responsibility for his actions and continue contributing to the household, but moving from a large city to a small one and rearranging his life in one go is draining. He may be depressed or is missing interaction from others.”
“We have to remember that even in the 21st century, men are told that the ONLY value they have is as a breadwinner. Under a vacuum, he loves working as a creative and having a simple life.”
“But unfortunately, we do not live in a feminist, truly equal world. Even messages from media can make him feel like a grumpy sod for not working.”
“I would sit down with him and explain you’re worried. Maybe ask for an intervention with his family. This man is not who you married and your social contract has done a 180.” – Flyingfoxes93
While the OP felt at a loss for what to do next, the subReddit supported her need for fairness in her household. That might mean sending her husband back to work if he had simply become lazy, or to get him the help he needs if he had slipped into depression instead.