Content Warning: silent treatment, emotional abuse
No relationship is perfect, and every relationship is bound to evolve over time.
But sometimes, deeply problematic and troubling behaviors can emerge later in a relationship or marriage, cringed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Leaf_On_The_Window had been surprised by the silent treatment behavior her husband had started displaying in the past year.
But when it started impacting her experiences during her pregnancy, the Original Poster (OP) attempted to start setting boundaries, much to her husband’s displeasure.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for asking my husband not to come to my prenatal appointment?”
The OP and her husband recently got in an argument.
“Prior to my fourth prenatal appointment, my husband and I got into a fight.”
“The fight occurred while I was describing a situation at work and got frustrated and emotional while explaining myself. My husband was questioning and challenging my interpretation of it.”
“I felt he was being argumentative, so I said, ‘You wouldn’t understand, you don’t have to work with gossips and judgemental people’ (he works from home and has limited in-person interaction with other people for his job).”
“I started crying out of frustration and he got angry and said I was blowing up over nothing.”
“He then went silent and didn’t speak to me the rest of the day.”
The OP set a boundary against her husband’s silent treatment tactic.
“His conflict management style is the silent treatment, often for days, sometimes for one to two or three weeks at a time.”
“Anticipating this, I told him that if we were not on speaking terms at the time of my prenatal appointment, I would not feel comfortable with him coming. Instead, I would get ultrasound images and provide a summary of the appointment for him.”
“I told this to him in words and by text.”
But the OP’s husband did not respect her wishes.
“Well, he showed up to my prenatal appointment and forced himself in.”
“I was too humiliated to make a scene but quietly said, ‘What the f**k are you doing here?'”
“After, he said, ‘It’s our baby, so it’s our appointment.'”
“I said, ‘Actually, I am the patient and it’s my appointment and you are there as a visitor.'”
The OP’s husband continued to disregard her feelings.
“I told him I felt violated and betrayed. Truly, I feel bullied by his behavior and would like an apology.”
“I wanted him to be there, and he has come to most of my other appointments, but I didn’t feel comfortable with him being there if he was engaging in the silent treatment and aggression.”
“He maintains that he has every right to be at my doctor’s appointments whether I am okay with it or not.”
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 took serious issue with how the OP handled the situation.
“The whole story prior to you not inviting your husband is irrelevant. Are you the a**hole for assuming you can uninvite your husband from an appointment that you wouldn’t be having if you weren’t pregnant? Yes. It may be to check on you, but it’s ultimately for your and his child. YTA.”
“As far as the beginning, you got upset with him when he dared to disagree with what you were telling him and completely disregarded his input. Then the waterworks come out and blah blah blah. To me, you are the abusive one and I wouldn’t speak to you for long periods of time, either. YTA.” – DaveBelmont
“YTA. If you can’t separate adult issues from your kids before they are born, how do you plan on doing it after?”
“You didn’t get the response from him you wanted so you took one of his moments of fatherhood away? Because that’s real normal… I’d run far away from you if you keep this lifestyle up.” – Walter-loves-wet-stuff
“YTA. Sorry, but you’re being a drama queen. The guy obviously cares about you and loves your baby. Shutting him out is a foolish mistake. You owe him an apology.” – Hestia_Hippolyte
“You had an argument so you gave him a taste of not being apart of his child and pregnant spouse’s health as a punishment. YTA.”
“If he had listened to you and stayed home that day and the doctor hit you with some crazy tragic update that he could not be there for, how do you think he would feel? Oh well doesn’t matter he isn’t the patient!”
“These other comments are crazy. Argues with you? EMOTIONAL ABUSE. Silent treatment and doesn’t argue with you? EMOTIONAL ABUSE!”
“Unless he is a physical threat to you or the baby, it is wrong and petty to deny his involvement in the process. He is not welcome at the appointment but will get all the information from it?! Don’t do that. It’s small and pedestrian treatment.”
“You literally tried to make a mountain out of a molehill after he pointed out that’s what you do.” – HiroshimaRoll
“YTA. You know how your husband is and you’ve allowed it. He isn’t changing. You can’t do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.”
“It was wrong of him to show up after not being available to discuss the issue at hand for days/weeks. But he will steamroll over you because keep allowing him.”
“He knows that he can stop talking to you for two weeks and you’ll be there. He knows he can show up because you’ll be too embarrassed to stand up to yourself. He knows he can dismiss your feelings because he can and you allowed it.”
“Good luck. But you can do better for your child. They don’t deserve to be raised in such a household.” – luniiz01
But others were much more concerned by how the OP’s husband was behaving.
“Silent treatment for days, weeks even. Forcing himself into YOUR medical appointment. Openly stating he has a claim and a right over your body and your autonomy with it.”
“…How many more red flags do you need?”
“NTA, but you have a big husband problem and are about to become a co-parent with this walking red flag of a person.” – Jolly_Tooth_7274
“NTA. To be clear, his ABUSE tactic is the silent treatment which he regularly deploys until you Crack, and makes sure he never ever has to apologize or be held accountable.”
“Second, he shows up, forces his way in WITHOUT CONSENT, and without meeting your terms of respect in which to be permitted to do so, and then continues to dismiss and bully you.”
“Gurl… you better get the f**k out of that house and into a safe place fast! That’s not home.”
“Divorce, divorce, divorce.” – tornadoshark1
“NTA. There’s nothing worse than trying to vent to someone and they just contradict you and accuse you of overreacting.”
“He absolutely does not have the right to attend your appointments, and I would make a point of letting the doctor know this could be an issue in the future.”
“As for the silent treatment, what is he, 12? Is this how he plans to resolve arguments with your child?” – Pretzelmamma
“NTA. Your husband is abusive. Not speaking to you for days, WEEKS!, on end is emotional abuse.”
“He literally told you he didn’t believe your interpretation of a situation that HE WASN’T THERE TO EVEN WITNESS and then got mad at YOU for being frustrated.”
“Leave. Now. It will only get worse once you have a child.” – wildclefairy
“NTA. But please speak to someone about your husband’s behavior.”
“People like this don’t improve, they only get worse. Do you have anyone you could go to as an exit strategy or enough independent funds available that your husband can’t access in case you need to move out when his behavior escalates?” – CheeryBottom
“Wait, you’re aware that he uses abusive and manipulative tactics with you and decided, ‘perfect, let’s subject a child to this treatment, too’?”
“NTA in this story, but you are the AH to that poor child. Therapy doesn’t fix abusive and manipulative people, especially when they’re aware of what they’re doing. He will always be like that.” – Beautiful-Mountain73
“YTA. You both sound insufferable and now you have brought a child into this.” – picard102
After receiving feedback, the OP shared a thoughtful update.
“A big thank you to everyone who has commented and shared their story of any similar experiences, positive or negative. I didn’t expect the volume and polarity of responses this post has received. I’m reading through every comment and taking your thoughts to heart. Thank you.”
“To respond to some questions/clarifications and provide updates:”
“My husband asked to speak with me this evening and we had a calm and productive talk. This is a quick turnaround time for him.”
“He clarified that he did overreact and blow up over my crying due to him misunderstanding something I said and that he did think my being upset about work was valid.”
The OP also had some thoughts about her husband’s silent treatment.
“I did not anticipate the number of responses regarding my mention of the silent treatment.”
“I now wish I didn’t mention it in this particular post, though appreciate all your advice, especially the heartfelt and enlightening responses from those of you who suffered under a parent or partner, and those of you who use or have used the silent treatment yourselves.”
“There have been a handful of instances of the silent treatment that were one to three weeks long. Most other instances were a few days.”
“I knew the silent treatment was wrong, it makes me feel terrible, and I know it can be abusive when used to manipulate or punish. I don’t recall him using the silent treatment like that until last year, so this oddly wasn’t an issue earlier in our relationship, even though he describes it as a long-term behavior for him that was normal growing up in his family.”
“I spoke tonight about how damaging it was and my fear of his doing it again in front of, or to, our kid.”
“He agreed it was unacceptable and had to change. I also have some conflict responses of my own that I’d like to work on.”
“My husband does individual therapy and has for some time. I do not currently plan on doing couples therapy again as I did not find it very productive, but rather sometimes counterproductive. We both will continue individual therapy.”
The OP also reminded the subReddit that there was more to her relationship than one post.
“For those asking why I am having a baby with this man: I have provided one glimpse into our relationship, and though it is an ugly one, it’s just a glimpse.”
“I’m happy, not miserable, the majority of the time.”
“I think my AITA question about the prenatal appointment is debatable, but agree that the silent treatment is awful and unacceptable behavior even if it’s not done maliciously.”
“I’m pregnant now with a very wanted baby and will have to work very hard on ensuring a loving, safe, and healthy environment is provided no matter what that requires of myself or my husband.”
Though the subReddit disagreed about who was wrong in this situation, they could all agree that it was super problematic. The couple needed to work through some things before their baby was born, and their relationship inevitably became even more complicated.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, help is out there.
In Canada, help is available through the Government of Canada’s “Stop Family Violence” page.
International resources can be found at Take Back the Night, sorted by country and region.