Everyone felt the weight of the pandemic, and some continue to feel it, depending on where they live and where they work.
Some have had to choose different jobs or even return to work after being a stay-at-home parent.
This is a serious sore spot for one couple on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Ok-Mathematician2855 didn’t know what to do next when his wife refused to speak to him after he suggested her going back to work.
When she continued her silence for more than a week, the Original Poster (OP) was at a loss.
He asked the sub:
“AITA? I want my wife to return to work, but she wants to remain a SAHM (stay-at-home mom).”
The OP and his wife had an arrangement.
“We are both in our early 30’s and prior to the world deciding it needed to shake things up, we were working and earning well.”
“The conversation of kids came up, and she said she wanted to be a SAHM, and we worked out the financials of it all, and it was fine.”
“I was up for a promotion that came with a decent increase in salary so we would still be fairly comfortable. Even without the raise, we would be able to make it work.”
“We got pregnant and everything was fine, I had plenty of time with our kid, and my wife took to being a SAHM well.”
Everything changed with the pandemic.
“Then the pandemic hit, the company I work for took a big hit and scaled back the workforce a great deal. I was offered either redundancy or a lower position and job security.”
“The wife and I agreed it was better to have a stable job during these tumultuous times, and when things got back to normal I could look into a spot similar to my old position.”
“Well, the industry hasn’t really recovered and looks like it won’t be recovering any time soon (if at all).”
“We are struggling financially and I personally have had to take on more work just to keep our heads above water.”
The couple had to make some tough decisions.
“Now on to the problem.”
“Where I work offers free daycare in-building which would allow me to spend more time with my kid, and let my wife return to work.”
“Her industry is now actively recruiting and it would double our income while allowing myself to not constantly work overtime.”
The OP’s wife took this terribly.
“When I broached this subject she didn’t take it well. She does not want to return to work and feels I am backpedaling on our agreement that she could be a SAHM with our kid.”
“I tried explaining that things change and we can’t afford not to have two incomes right now but if it changes again in the future then we can return to the ways of old.”
“This wasn’t enough for her and now she hasn’t spoken to me in a week.”
“I know I am an a**hole for having to change the house dynamic, but it’s necessary.”
“Should I just suck it up and keep going as is to keep a happy household?”
“I should add a bit of info, before we had a kid, my wife was a little apprehensive due to her upbringing. In my mind, I think the only reason she concluded to have a child was that she could be a SAHM.”
The OP also clarified his wife’s reasoning in the comments.
“The main reason she wanted to be a SAHM is that her own parents were very notably absent during her childhood, she was almost exclusively raised by her grandparents while her own parents worked away from home.”
“I don’t want her to feel like she is repeating the same errors her parents did.”
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’s wife needed a reality check.
“NTA. Refuse to do the extra overtime. The agreement was based on one full-time job so roughly forty-hour workweek or whatever hours you did and the rest was your time with your baby and free time. You didn’t agree to overtime, or doing extra work to keep things going.”
“First do take your son to daycare a couple of days a week so you can spend time with him. You are his father too and want to experience fatherhood like she is doing.”
“Second, say you will not do overtime and it’s up to both of you to split work and child care until you can get one job that will pay enough down the road.” – Careless_Mango
“She needs to see actual consequences for what she wants to do. A month or two of no overtime can show her what that new standard of living looks like. Honestly, I feel like forcing you to work overtime for the rest of the near future is financial/emotional abuse.” – somedayillfindthis
“Write up your current budget and divide things by wants and needs. Sit down with your wife and go over it. Let her know that your current lifestyle is not sustainable with your one-income family.”
“Be prepared to trim off everything in the wants category. This may include cable/satellite. This may include only getting very basic internet. If you have 2 cars you may have to get rid of one.”
“How much is she willing to give up in order to be a SAHM? As things stand you won’t even be able to think of putting any money aside for your child’s future college or build up any retirement funds. You may have to move to a cheaper place to live which may be in a less desired school district.” – Avebury1
Others agreed and said it was an unfortunate financial reality.
“NTA but please tell me where you work childcare costs half my hourly wage and I make decent money…”
“Parenting is about collaboration and compromise for the sake of your kid.”
“S**t has changed, your request is reasonable as long as you’re willing to split household labor and child-rearing 50/50.”
“Doesn’t sound like relying on your overtime being permanent is realistic or really sustainable for you. She should care about your work/life balance as well.”
“If she absolutely won’t budge suggest she work from home as a nanny and take on childcare for others out of your house as her job, I’m sure she’d prefer to return to her previous work given that option.” – Working_Ad4014
“Since she wants to do this for her son, is there any chance you can use that as part of your explanation for why this isn’t an option atm (at the moment)?”
“The really tough thing about raising kids is that there are times when you have to choose to be TA to your spouse in order to avoid being TA to your kid. The kid always has to come first because they’re so dependent upon you and have no other options.”
“Having a SAHP can be a huge benefit to a child, but only if the family is stable. If staying home with Mom comes with poverty or the inability to afford the things SAHMs and their kids go do, then it honestly negates a lot of those benefits.”
“Or does she have working mom friends? Maybe she knows the way she was raised isn’t what she wants… but doesn’t actually know what it looks like to do it healthily?” – itsjustmo_
“Have you suggested her working part-time? If you can have three days of free childcare, then that would be a lovely top-up to your income, and your wife would still be at home 4/7 days a week with the tot.”
“If you have free childcare I feel it’s criminal not to take advantage for even one day a week – it costs more than most people’s paychecks here!”
“You may find that after having the money and seeing you relax a bit, your wife is happy to work part-time. NTA” – throwawayj38sld
Some were concerned about how selfish the wife was being.
“NTA. You have a daycare at your work where you’ll get to spend time with them, there is no concern for your children’s safety. Her refusal is selfish as you are now picking up extra work for income she could easily supplement. Finally, the silent treatment makes her a Triple AH.” – Roylmc
“The problem here is that since you have to work overtime or maybe multiple jobs, there is a possibility that you could be labeled as the absent parent in the future, while she can be the parent who was there for the child at all times. There’s a possibility that your child may resent you just like your wife resented her parents (hopefully it won’t happen, but who knows what future may bring).”
“Hope your wife may become at least somewhat sensible enough to understand the situation she’s willingly putting everyone in.” – Orleander97
“Tell her bluntly it’s not acceptable she is forcing you to miss out on being a dad, your kid to miss out on seeing you the majority of the time, and the agreement you made is no longer valid as the economy and your employment have changed.”
“She needs to return to work, and depending on the pay that will determine how much. She may be able to return to work part-time.”
“Detail your budget fully, tell her to stop being selfish and ignoring your needs, and make it clear she needs to step up. Do not let her sulk or refuse, keep pushing.” – lexia_extreme511
Though the OP’s wife had ignored him for a week by the time he posted, the subReddit agreed with his idea. Needing more money coming into the household is an unfortunate reality, especially after the pandemic, which means it’s time for some tough decisions, particularly for parents.