Where is the line between helping a friend with their struggles no matter what and acknowledging when they’re taking advantage of your generosity?
A recent post on the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit explored that.
In the title, the Original Poster (OP), known as tway2342342342 on the site, showed how far things went.
“AITA for just being upfront with someone about why he wasnt invited?”
OP began by describing some recent, major shifts.
“Just for some context~ I used to go to church, I dont anymore but I still keep in touch with 5 of my friends that I had made there.”
“One of them is married now, his wife was in an accident and since then she has become severly disabled and is wheelchair-bound, she has some control of her motor functions but not much.”
And an upsetting trend began to emerge.
“We have invited him out to things, his wife comes with him everywhere we go because he is her primary caretaker…”
“I honestly wouldnt have a problem with it but its obvious that he comes just purely off the fact that its his one time to just put her on other people.”
OP got into specifics.
“For example, we will go to a restaurant, and rather than sit next to her, he will leave her with one of us while he has a conversation with the rest of the group, she can speak but its really hard to understand her because her speech is slurred.”
“I’ve cringed at watching the uncomfortable conversations where one of us is really trying to understand what shes saying but we just cant, and have to repeatedly say ‘can you repeat that?’ or ‘excuse me?’ “
The list went on.
“Sometimes she drools, and rather than him clean it up, he laughs and asks one of us to grab a napkin and clean her off for him.”
“We play basketball and other sports from time to time, and he will take up a whole net sometimes just letting her shoot while we stand there and watch.”
“When we play catch at a baseball diamond or tossing around a frisbee, he will stop us entirely and try and give her a turn to throw it around, which I have no problem with, but he makes a point to get us all involved in watching him and throwing it with her.”
So OP and friends made their move.
“Slowly we’ve been hanging out just the 5 of us excluding him, we still invite him out to things with his wife (like eating at restaurants from time to time, etc).”
“Things like basketball and activities involving sports we just dont bring it up to him anymore.”
But that news got out.
“He found out about this and went off on all of us. I sat him down one day and just flat out told him that its unfair because hes just putting her on the rest of us, we understand that shes a part of him now, and we admire that hes sticking with her…”
“…but none of us signed up to be caretakers for her too, and when he sits away from her at restaurants, or makes us do activities with her, its uncomfortable for the rest of us guys and he should understand that.”
For OP’s friend, that didn’t suffice.
“He told me that we can all go to hell and to sever all ties with him and his family unless we start treating his wife with ‘respect’ “
“Im at a loss, I feel like even though I feel somewhat justified in my reasoning, deep down I feel terrible that we are excluding him like this and we are all just being very insensitive. AITA?”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Responses to OP’s post were a bit mixed, with a slight majority of responses assuring them they weren’t the a**hole.
“Nta, as sad to hear about his wife. He cant expect others to take care of her” — newbootg00fer
“I have experience in this area. My ex husband became paralyzed from nipples down. It was NEVER our friends responsibility to care for him in any way. I think the friend is definitely the AH here. He’s burned out and reaching for help in the wrong ways. OP is NTA.”
“At no point was it ever his or their other friends jobs to care for the wife. The friend is acting like his wife is mentally compromised (which she may be- it wasn’t stated). But his actions definitely slow lack of concern for her dignity.”
“Whenever the ex and I were out we had a game plan of how to make sure his needs were met with the least disturbance to others and dignity savings way for him. Caregiver burnout is very real. And there are avenues for help. Pawning the care off on people against their will isn’t it.”
“The friend group was just trying to let him know they still cared about him. They didn’t sign up to take care of his wife. OP is definitely NTA” — Momofthtewild-3
“NTA You were honest and while it’s probably hurtful to him, it doesn’t change the fact that you don’t feel comfortable taking on his responsibilities of caregiver for his wife. If you can, refer him to an adult daycare center in his area.”
“It’ll give him a well-deserved break and she’ll probably enjoy it, as well. There’s no guilt in doing that. Everyone needs Respite Care. His insurance may help pay for it or at least a professional caregiver to help him once or twice a week.”
“He sounds like he’s feeling overwhelmed. There’s a name for that: Caregiver Burnout.” — LoveBeach8
Others, though, weren’t so patient with OP.
“YTA: sorry doesn’t sound like he’s asking you to be a caretaker (minus asking you to wipe up her drool).”
“But your complaints were that he expect you to talk to her and if you play a sport to involve her and let her play as well. Yea you sound like a crappy friend of you believe having a conversation with someone count as taking care of them” — OneMikeNation
“YTA, a disabled adult is still an adult, and you’re talking about them like he’s bringing a baby and expecting people to take care of it. Talking to someone’s wife at dinner is not ‘taking care of’ her. It’s just treating a person like a person.” — blinkingsandbeepings
“YTA From what you’ve described, it doesn’t sound like he’s hoisting responsibility onto you, he just wants her to be involved – whether its in conversing with friends or playing a sport. She is still his wife and still a human being.”
“It’s not just about him having the opportunity to get out of the house, it’s an opportunity for his wife to have as much of a normal life as she can.”
“He isn’t the problem. She isn’t the problem. It’s the fact that you can’t be around her without cringing that’s the problem.” — Love_Shaq_Baby
And some people said both OP and their friend were acting out of turn.
“ESH. (Except the wife, of course) He should be the guy caring for her, making sure she’s comfortable and has what she needs when they go out. The rest of you? Yes, it takes more effort, but you lot aren’t in 4th grade any more.”
” ‘Cringing?’ AYFKM? How tf dies an adult feel embarrassment at another’s disability? Instead of feeling like you’re the victims, how about taking the time & effort to learn how to communicate better with her?” — TheHouseOnTheCorner
“ESH. Him for obvious reasons. Under no circumstances should he expect his friends to act as his wife’s caretakers. That must be humiliating for her anyway.”
“You for acting so completely put out that he dare try to include a disabled person in throwing a ball or frisbee around. You were all good until you went there.” — RealmEmpress
With so many wide-ranging responses, OP may be forced to reflect a bit more on this one.