Most of us will struggle at some point with our work-life balance and begin to question what all the work has been for.
Unfortunately, some of us will not have this moment of realization until something else is ruined, like a friendship or a marriage.
One man was forced to consider this recently on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor tempaccoutnt found himself having to choose between helping his wife out at home and performing his work duties.
But when his wife did not respond well, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he needed to rethink his priorities.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for telling my wife I won’t or can’t watch our son?”
The OP was comfortable financially providing for his family.
“I have a good job, I make good money, and I work hard enough to earn it, to the point that about 4 years ago after our son was born, when my wife decided not to go back to work, I became the only source of income.”
“This worked out well and everyone was happy until [the pandemic] hit.”
“Once the pandemic started causing shutdowns, my role was transitioned from in an office downtown to working from home.”
“I was a big fan of this. I work 5 am to 7 pm Monday to Saturday typically, so not having to commute meant that now I got to be home to put my son to bed and read to him at night and have more time to spend with my wife in the evenings.”
The OP’s wife seemed to struggle with the transition.
“The only problem is that my wife has struggled with the idea that the location of my job has changed but my responsibilities have not.”
“I’ve had several discussions with her about the fact that even though I’m home now, I’m not able to watch our son during the day, or explaining why I can’t get to the dishes till that evening.”
“She will nod along to this, but I don’t think she really believes it.”
“This has caused tension but not an outright fight until this week.”
His wife’s concerns became apparent when they were expecting company.
“Some of our mutual friends are coming into town this weekend and we had made plans to spend time with them.”
“However, on Monday, my wife informed me that the couple is actually getting in Friday and she and her friend are going to get lunch and go shopping.”
“She told me that I will need to watch our son.”
“I responded by saying again that I can’t, I have work, and Monday to Friday is not enough heads-up for me to take a day off.”
“She got angry at me, saying she watches our son every day while I just ‘sit in my office from sun-up to sundown,’ and how I should be able to watch our son so she can have a day off.”
“She’s given me the cold shoulder since then.”
“I would love to spend the day with my son; I just can’t take the time off on such short notice.”
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 cautioned the OP to reconsider his work-life balance.
“What’s the point of getting married and having a kid if you’re not going to spend any time with your family?”
“Money’s nice, but you can’t undo the damage of never seeing your wife and child.”
“It sounds like your wife feels isolated and needs help. Why are you prioritizing money over your marriage and child?” – Rainbow_dreaming
“I understand why money matters, but I never saw my dad when I was a kid.”
“He made great money as a high-powered lawyer, but it all fell on my mom, and I know it made her miserable for a time.”
“I also know I’d be a lot happier if I saw my parents not fighting and got to spend more time with my dad.”
“There has to be a balance between wanting to provide and being there with your family.” – irridiumgreen
“My ex-BIL thought it was so important that he make as much money as possible. He actually commuted to Japan from Seattle at least once a month.”
“He’s my ex-BIL because neither my sister or her kids cared if they were wealthy – they just wanted a husband and father.”
“He wasn’t able to be either because he thought earning as much money as possible to support his family was more important than the family themselves.” – Glencora42
“You know if you work 14hr days, so does she, right? How much do you think a nanny would charge for that (not including housekeeping or meals for you usually)?”
“If your wife died, you’d have to hire multiple people to replace her, yet you act like you’re the only one who works.”
“I would never SAHM to someone who works as much as you, I value my free time too much. You may not be the one to burn out first… either way, not healthy, is it?”
“It is unreasonable to expect her to be solo-childcare more than 8 (maaayyybe 10) hours a day.”
“If you can’t do it, then hire someone who can. That’s what the money is supposed to be for.”
“You are not pulling your weight at home because you are making money… that should be paying to bridge the gap instead of relying on your spouse to pick up the slack. (There are plenty of lucrative careers that do not make the breadwinner feel entitled to not do housework or basic adult/parenting duties.)” – tepidCourage
“My husband and I are in the exact same situation. He works from home and makes enough to provide for us, so I am able to stay home with our son.”
“This isn’t so much a choice as it is a necessity. He simply makes way more than I did, and when we had our son, we realized that me working just didn’t make sense. I would basically just be working to pay for daycare, so I never went back to work after maternity leave.”
“He works a similar job to OP, with similar hours… and we struggled a lot at first, especially during COVID. I was trapped at home with an extremely energetic 3 year old, and I just NEEDED breaks.”
“Not because I didn’t love spending time with our son, but because I was genuinely and truly ‘losing it’. And me losing it was not good for anyone, especially our child.”
“You get to work everyday – you have contact with the outside world, you get to use your brain and talk to people. Your wife is in a different place.”
“My husband and I worked out a system where he helps me during the day WAY more. He takes multiple breaks, he has lunch with us, he takes my son to a nearby park for 15-20 minutes, he lets me run to the store and my son will sit in his office and play while he’s working.”
“He’ll cancel the occasional unnecessary meeting so we can all go for a walk or play outside with us during the day. All of this is MASSIVELY helpful and has been life-changing for my mental health – all of our mental health, including his.”
“Surely you have times during the day when you could help out… surely you can take a longer lunch break or a play break with your kid to give your wife a break more often. Surely you can let your kid hang out by or in your office so you can keep an eye on him a bit while she does something or takes a break.”
“If your job is truly SO hardcore you can’t spare any seconds during the day to help out around the house, or help out with your son…. something is really wrong with your work situation.”
“When COVID hit, employers’ expectations changed. It was no longer about how many hours you spent sitting your butt in the office chair, it was about what you actually produced.”
“As long as my husband gets the work done, they really don’t care that he wasn’t chained to his desk for the full 50 hours. You should really re-evaluate what is actually expected of you, and see if you can lighten up your daily schedule a bit to allow for more family time.”
“COVID changed everything, but it also opened up this opportunity for a lot of us. So many of us can now get a lot more quality time with our families – that is a gift. Don’t squander that gift.”
“As for your wife’s ask for a shopping trip…. figure out a way to accommodate it. Maybe work the morning, but take the afternoon off and make up the hours in the evening when she’s back home, or work on Saturday.”
“Call in sick. Say you have a doctor’s appointment. Whatever.”
“Stuff happens – everyone has to take the occasional random day off once in a while. As long as there isn’t some massive project due on this day, or some huge important meeting that you absolutely cannot miss, your work must understand that you taking a few hours off ONCE, is not a tragedy that they cannot overcome.”
“She needs this. Of course she’s mad at you…. after the year we’ve all had, she has the opportunity to have a nice day with someone she loves… that is sacred.”
“Figure out a way to give that to her. She’s not asking for this every week. This is a rare event.”
“Figure it out… it’s not just for her sake, but your entire family. If she’s not ‘OK’, none of you will be.” – bettytomatoes
Others wondered if everything at home was really “fine” before the pandemic.
“Was there really no issue or was he just paying less attention to how his wife felt because he had the excuse of going to the office?”
“Also, if he’s working all those hours managing coders, they should be able to hire a babysitter for a few hours…” – MathHatter
“That’s what I was wondering. How would he even know if there was an issue? He was never there.”
“OP is lucky his wife is nicer than I am. I would have divorced him by now. He may be providing for his family, but he is not currently present as a husband or a father.”
“And, having both taken care of young children and worked more than full-time, working is far easier.”
“If nothing else, he should strategize with his wife about he she can get a break every now and then.” – Arbor_Arabicae
“He was gone 14 hours a day 6 days a week (84 hour work week) + commute. How can he be certain there was no issue? Those hours really aren’t conducive to a healthy relationship with his wife or his child long-term.” – thevaere
“About zero chance he even knows his son, let alone his wife anymore. A whole hour, maybe two, he graces them with every evening? Please. He’s missed every milestone and is a stranger in his own house.” – shaege
Some questioned the validity of the OP’s working hours.
“Yeahhhh, I’m imagining a post from OP’s wife’s perspective, and it goes something like:”
“‘My husband claims he’s unavailable to take our son, so I can clean the house or attend appointments or go to the gym 6 days per week, due to work commitments.'”
“‘But every time I pop my head into his office, he’s gaming or reading blog articles or watching cat videos. I haven’t had a day out with my best friend since my son, and she’s in town on Monday.'”
“‘WIBTA if I tell my husband he’s taking our son, and go out to lunch?'” – itsmemeowmeow
“I’m a dev lead and I’ve got team members in India, Argentina, and Rome, and I don’t put in those hours. That’s not sustainable.” – RichCorinthian
“My Brother in law is a programmer that works with people all over the US. And only works about 7 hrs a day Monday through Friday” – therealneovip3r
“I thought it might be something programming-based. My ex-husband is a programmer and I felt he was married to the job, not to me. He went to work at 7 am, got home at 8 pm, had dinner with me, and went back to his computer to work until midnight.”
“He earned a good amount, but he was barely there. Even when we were together, he was thinking about work.”
“Please do think about your relationship with your wife and son. It simply never occurred to my ex that anything was wrong, because all was right in his mind.” – SereniaKat
Though the OP appears to be highly loyal to his work and work schedule, the subReddit questioned what it was all for, if not for his family.
Though they could agree that the OP wasn’t wrong for feeling like he couldn’t call off work to watch his son, they did question whether he was allowing work to get in the way of the things that should really matter.