Comforting someone going through a personal tragedy can be incredibly difficult.
The wrong word or a bad tone can ruin the entire moment and you’ve done more harm than good.
So, what happens when not only are the wrong tones and words used, but you aren’t entirely sure comfort was the intended objective?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) throwraHS3000 when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for making my wife feel like her pregnancy isn’t that big of a deal”
OP started with a little background.
“I 44 Male and my wife 39 Female have been married for 15+ years, had stopped at 4 kids but we got surprise baby due December.”
“My wife hasn’t been pregnant in 5 years so this was a big deal for her and me.”
“So she’s constantly talking about it, telling everyone, and that’s fine.”
“But it becomes a problem when she brings it up in inappropriate situations.”
“For example a child in our town had unfortunately passed away in hit and run, and at the vigil my wife said something along the lines of, ‘I’m so thankful that our baby is okay, I couldn’t live with myself if this vigil was for one of our children or the baby”’.
“I know for a fact that a few people heard her because they shot us a dirty look, and scoffed.”
“I love my wife I do, but there are some things you don’t freaking say, especially when a couple is mourning their dead child.”
After a digression, OP got to the situation at hand.
“But this post isn’t about that situation it’s about something else entirely.”
“My brother married a woman who immigrated from Iran a little over 8 years ago.”
“She’s a lovely woman and happy to have be apart of the family.”
“Now if any of you know about the protest in Iran you can get an idea on where this is going.”
“My SIL has been so anxious, and having breakdowns because she hadn’t been able to reach some of her family members (she has members of her family who have been protesting, female and male relatives.)”
“After the news of Sarina Esmailzadeh (RIP 🙏) got to her, she deteriorated even more.”
“She’s been crying, not eating, no showers, etc.”
“She cut off all her hair to show support, but my SIL just really needs to see that her family is okay.”
“My wife and I went over their, we brought some meals, and my brother and I were going to give the ladies a spa day.”
“In the middle of eating my SIL begins to cry silently, and while my brother is consoling her my wife goes into say this, ‘(SIL) I know how you are feeling. This pregnancy has been hard, it’s hard to eat, and I cry that something might go wrong because of my age.”‘
“‘But both of us will make it though this. Now let’s go to the salon and do something about that hair.”’
“My wife had a genuine smile on her face.”
“My SIL began to cry even harder, I said sorry to them ushered my wife out of their house, and got into the car fuming.”
“My wife noticed I was upset and asked why and I said, ‘Stop making everything about you and this pregnancy. SIL is having night terrors because of what’s happening in her country, worried sick that her own family members may possibly die for protesting.”‘
“‘Yet you go and compare her issue and your pregnancy together?”’
“My wife tried to explain her reasoning, saying she was just trying to make her feel better.”
“How the hell was commenting on her hair and comparing your pregnancy to the protest in Iran going to make her feel better?”
“My wife continued to say she did nothing wrong but there is a time and a place for everything.”
“My wife took off to her parents and I’ve been getting calls left and right from my in-laws for not caring about my wife’s pregnancy.”
OP was left to wonder,
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Many pointed out how egocentric OP’s wife was being.
“OP NTA AT ALL.”
“You are doing wife a favor by calling her out.”
“I hope she’ll actually listen and get a clue.”
“She’s unnecessarily alienating people, including your bro and SIL, and making people think she’s completely self-absorbed, insensitive, and hurtful.”
“I hope this kind of stuff only happens when she’s pregnant?”
“If so, then I guess at least she won’t behave this way after she has the baby.” ~ EmeraldBlueZen
“I cant stand it when women turn every converstion into how they are pregnant.”
“Being around someone like that after I had a miscarriage was hard.”
“Knowing how hard it is and how it can affect people for years, I was very careful about the subject when I was pregnant with my son.”
“Because you never know.”
“And someone should not have to share sensitive information they arent ready to to get you to shut up.” ~ LordRoach371
Others saw this as a larger systemic issue.
“Doesn’t help that she’s probably had a lifetime of reassurances and validation in whatever drama she finds herself in from her parents.”
“I’m sorry but given the amount of stories I’ve read on here, there should be no conceivable way mankind is truly this tone-deaf, this dense or this obtuse.”
“Like, we should’ve died out LONG ago if we were.”
“There is no freaking way a person (her parents) with an IQ higher than that of a gnat could hear this story and look at them and not see what op did.”
“WHY DO THEY KEEP ENTERTAINING THEIR DELUSIONS?!?!?!”
“If this were my child, adult or not, the reality check I’d give them would be so brutal they’d practically factory reset.” ~ SufficientWay3663
Some pointed out that OP’s wife wasn’t just insensitive but deeply insulting.
“I also hated her ‘now let’s do something about that hair’ comment, like wow way to lowkey insult a sobbing woman’s hair.” ~ TheAshenDemon4
“And the wife was completely culturally insensitive to SIL cutting her hair.”
“It wasn’t because she simply went to a bad stylist; she did it as a form of mourning and protest.”
“For the wife to not understand this with SIL having been in the family for eight years is just terrible.”
“It indicates to me the wife’s never really gotten to know her.”
“edit: typo” ~ MzQueen
“Oh my god the literal point of the hair was to show solidarity with women who are oppressed.”
“OP’s wife could not be more out of touch with reality in that comment”
“’Your expression against oppression is not pretty enough for me to look at”’ ~ Messychaos
Commenters thought this might be a deeper issue with OP’s wife.
“NTA, however, you need a have a more serious conversation about this without there needing a prior event, this way you can convey what’s wrong without there being an emotional backing to it.”
“I can forsee her doing this some more after the baby is born.”
“Your wife is trying to take over every conversation with her pregnancy.”
“Idk what it’s called but the best example I can think of is from “The Big Bang Theory” when Howard went to space and he would slip it into every conversation.”
“YouTube Howard changing topics to his space trip (if you haven’t seen it)” ~ AsuraRathalos
“It could be main character syndrome, yes. Another possibility is wife being socially obtuse.”
“I know people who, in their efforts to empathize and find ways to contribute to conversations will make convoluted comparisons.”
“If this is the case, it sounds like she is very tone def to gravity of the situation in Iran.” ~ Bnhrdnthat
“You’re wife has major issues with reading a room and social norms.”
“What she’s doing is a quality in unlikable people.”
“She takes what anyone says and makes it about her. She needs to know the things she says are very rude & insensitive even if it’s not her intention.”
“She needs to stop and think before she speaks.” ~ Holmes221bBSt
Commenters tried to see this from the wife’s perspective.
“🤔 This baby was a whoops.”
“Wondering if despite being ‘happy’ to have another child the reckoning of the realization of another 2-4 years of diapers, no sleep, baby illnesses…all the things.”
“She’s – in a kinda internal not ‘this is how I will be in the world’ upset that you both will have a demanding wee human again & she’s actually, sad, mad, afraid, overwhelmed and so many other negative things & there’s rarely space for a mother to be to share that in the world.”
“She needs therapy, professional emotional support & direction.” ~ No_Appointment_7232
“It could also be less sinister and just actually be true that she is worried about her age and it‘s always on her mind so she doesn‘t even realize what she is doing” ~ swzslm
Comforting someone in emotional pain can be dangerous because you aren’t quite sure how your words, or tone, or actions could be perceived by the person in pain.
While we all do a terrible job at consoling someone from time to time, we can take comfort in the fact that we’re all failing together.