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Woman Livid When Chronically-Late Husband Skips Her Birthday Dinner After She Left Without Him

woman looking at watch
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*see end for update

Chronic tardiness can be related to neurodivergence. But there are methods and strategies that can be used to address this issue.

However, selective chronic tardiness is a choice on the part of the person who is always late.

A wife and mother tired of her husband’s selective tardiness turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

AcanthaceaeWilling69 asked:

“AITA for going to my birthday dinner without my husband when he wasn’t ready on time?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“It was my (40, female) 40th birthday a few days ago and we had a reservation for a table at a nice restaurant for 7pm. It takes about 20 minutes to drive to the restaurant, so I planned to leave the house at 6:30pm to build in time for traffic and picking up my father.”

“My husband (43, male) had decided to do a bit of work on his car about half an hour before we needed to leave. At 6:30 when the kids—ages 11 and 13—and I were waiting by the door, he was still doing it.”

“He hadn’t changed and hadn’t showered.”

“I told him to quickly get ready, but it got to 6:50 and he still wasn’t ready yet so I decided to just leave without him.”

“He was well aware of when we needed to leave. I always give everyone a 30 minute warning and it was on the schedule for weeks.”

“He has a habit of always running late when we go out as a family and he is always the last one to be ready. It’s rarely this bad though.”

“It’s a pattern he developed regarding just family plans. It’s normally things like getting changed when it hits the time I wanted to leave or needing to find his wallet and keys and such with no sense of urgency while we stand around waiting.”

“There was a time a few weeks ago where he decided to walk the dog and wasn’t home in time.”

“He’s always on time for work and for his own plans that don’t include the children and myself—like meeting his friends—or for things that are for him—like his birthday dinner. Up until a few years ago though, he was normally on time for everything.”

“I was a stay-at-home-mum until a few years ago.”

“He changed when I went back to work—he wasn’t keen on it, although I don’t understand how that would affect his time management, unless there’s a different reason for him being late.”

“Normally I can tolerate it since it only sets things back by ten minutes at the most, but my birthday dinner was important to me and I had been looking forward to it for weeks. My husband likes the restaurant and we went there for his birthday too—which he wasn’t late for.”

“Making us wait for 20 minutes was taking the mick, so I yelled out that we were leaving and left, because I didn’t want to lose the table since we would have arrived about 7:20.”

“The kids were upset because my husband wasn’t ready and because I was stressing. They thought he didn’t want to spend any time with us.”

“They have personally been let down by him when it comes to things like him picking them up from a friend’s house.”

“I’ve brought it up multiple times before, but nothing has changed. I do admit that I can be a pushover when it comes to waiting for him, but I’m sick of having to put other things on hold in order to check if he is ready and being late to family plans.”

“He was late for my mother’s funeral last year, and after this birthday incident I’ve decided not to give him anymore leeway and start standing up for myself.”

“I’ve actually brought up counselling before and he wasn’t interested. He said it was a waste of money and time.”

“Honestly, I’m not interested either any more, I think we’re past the point of it doing any good. Being late for his mother-in-law’s funeral and not showing up to his wife’s birthday celebration after she has said how important it is to her is inexcusable.”

“My husband has no problem facing social situations, his job has a big social factor and he loves it. He also goes to a very busy pub with friends every week and looks forward to it.”

“He has plenty of time to himself. We only go out as a family maybe every other week.”

“I have made it very clear in the past that if he is not up for something then there is no pressure for him to join us. We don’t do everything together and ‘couple time’ happens even less.”

“The problem is not him needing time to himself.”

“The problem is the lack of respect and disappointing his children.”

“I called the restaurant to let them know we would be late and we luckily still had our table, but my husband didn’t show up at the restaurant and when we got home he was mad at me.”

“I told him that I was tired of him not respecting my time and always making people wait for him, and that he could have made his own way to the restaurant.”

“It really upset me but I kept it inside because of the kids. I suppose it wasn’t a huge surprise but I’ve come to terms with it since then.”

“I talked to my dad about it a bit which helped. My father agreed with my decision to leave without him, but my kids were a little upset that he wasn’t there to have dinner with us.”

“So, AITA?”

The OP summed up their predicament.

“The action that needs to be judged is me leaving without my husband and this is also what might make me the a**hole.”

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 unanimously declared the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).

“The kids aren’t wrong. It certainly seems as if he didn’t want to spend any time with your family.”

“What would your husband say to that? Does he care?”

“Your kids are picking up on this vibe through his actions. I’m so sorry you have to go through this, but when someone shows you what their priorities are, keep your eyes open.” ~ fatflip1978

“Starting work on the car half an hour before departure for his wife’s birthday dinner is making a clear statement.” ~ lemon_charlie

“NTA. He knew what time was ‘Go time’ and he chose to ignore it. By saying ‘yes’ to car tinkering, he chose to say ‘no’ to your birthday dinner.”

“He had the same information you had, and he prioritized what was important to him. You just did the same.” ~ FairyCompetent

“Unless the car had a flat tyre and that was the car you were travelling to the restaurant in, he had no business tinkering with the car when he should have been getting ready to go. You’re NTA.” ~ karlachameleon

NTA, and I want to add for your kids that were upset you didn’t wait for him and he didn’t show, please take time to sit them down and explain people have to respect other people’s wishes, time and joy.”

“You just stood up for yourself and your husband not only didn’t respect you, he was trying to play the victim and that’s not OK. They should know both to stand up for themselves and to not disrespect others.” ~ According_Chard_4612

“Either he makes people wait on His Highness, or he gets to skip the family event and do as he pleases. Either way, he’s playing ‘I Win, You Lose’ with OP on her 40th birthday.”

“OP is NTA and should make it a consistent point to be punctual with or without the man. The fact that he’s making less than zero effort on her birthday is a crying shame.” ~ lyan-cat

“The fact that he wouldn’t stop to take a quick shower, but kept working on the car while she waited tells us everything we need to know about him. For some reason he chose her 40th birthday dinner as the time to pull out that particular power dynamic.”

“I can only imagine the conversation in the car ride home with her father—the kids probably stuck up for their father because they fear divorce more than they fear their mother’s righteous anger at their narcissistic father.” ~ Maine302

“NTA. Tell him clearly that from now on, you are going to tell him when you plan to leave. And you don’t care what he’s doing at that point, because if he isn’t ready to leave you are leaving without him.”

“And then do exactly that. And if he gets upset, tell him that he was well aware of what was going to happen.”

“And then the next time the two of you plan to go anywhere, tell him exactly when he needs to be ready by and that you are going to leave at that time. And then whether he’s ready or not, leave.”

“After a few experiences like that, he is sure to catch on that you mean what you say.” ~ Effective-Several

“NTA. It was rude towards you, and rude towards the restaurant. Many places will only hold a table at most 15 minutes.”

“So even if you hadn’t actually told him that you wanted to set off at 6:30, logic should have told him that a 20 minute journey, picking up another guest and accounting for delays with traffic or finding a parking spot would require that sort of time.” ~ Ok-Status-9627

“Don’t cover for him. If the kids are upset, have them ask dad directly why he’s not ready on time, and why he thinks it’s okay to make them wait.”

“I guarantee if they repeatedly made him wait, he wouldn’t be okay with it. So why is it okay for him to do it to you and them?” ~ Alibeee64

“Sounds like he’s got some underlying resentment towards you for going back to work. Being intentionally late and making people wait on you is a form of passive aggression.”

“He needs therapy to learn how to use his big boy words instead of acting like a brat.” ~ sophie_sass

“OP’s husband feels a lack of control now that OP has some independence, so him doing this passive-aggressive sh*t is his way of lashing out. God, what an a**hole.”

“I hope OP doesn’t have to deal with any other sh*tty behavior patterns, but something tells me she does.” ~ SussOfAll06

Chronic tardiness is annoying for the people affected, but targeted selective lateness is petty and childish.

Sounds like OP’s husband has something he wants to say, but doesn’t have the skills for adult conversations.

So dude, what’s your damage?

Two weeks later, the OP returned with an update.

“Firstly and most importantly, thank you so much for all the support and advice. It really means a lot to me. Since so many of you have helped me out, I thought I would give an update on how things have been over the past couple of weeks.”

“My eldest had a school football match last week, a few days after I posted my original post. I planned for us to leave at 5pm and, as per my resolution to not tolerate his tardiness anymore, left at 5pm without my husband since he wasn’t ready.”

“Just like with my birthday dinner, he didn’t show up. My youngest and I had a lovely time watching the match and supporting my eldest. He even scored a goal and his team won!”

“Last weekend I met up with a couple of friends to catch-up over lunch, and both my sons were going to their friend’s birthday party the same day. My husband was in charge of dropping them off since my thing began about an hour before the party.”

“I told him a week in advance, the day before and before I left the house, that he needed to get the kids to the party on time. I even followed the advice of some comments from my original post, and told him that the party began at 12:30 instead of 1pm, so that the kids wouldn’t be late if my husband wasn’t ready to leave on time.”

“At 1:30, I got a call from the birthday boy’s dad asking if my sons were still coming to the party, and I also saw I had a missed call from my eldest. My husband had not taken them.”

“I rang him several times and he wouldn’t pick up, so I called my eldest and he answered the phone in tears. He said their dad was doing work on his car again and when the kids asked him to take them to the party, he yelled at them and called them ‘whiny brats’.”

“-I said goodbye to my friends and went home to take my kids to their party. They were an hour late. He didn’t care that the kids felt humiliated and missed a good deal of the party, which also meant that their friend was upset with them.”

“Something inside me snapped and I decided I was done.”

“Your comments have put my marriage and my husband’s behaviour into perspective and opened my eyes. I’ve had a look at some of the literature and such that some of you recommended, and have talked to my dad about what to do next.”

“I spoke to the kids as well, about the very likely possibility of their father and I splitting up. They weren’t completely happy with it, which is understandable, but they agreed that it was the right decision.”

“They said they had felt scared of their father on several recent occasions and didn’t trust him anymore, which was heart-breaking to hear. I haven’t been happy for a while and neither have the kids I now realise.”

“In addition to my husband being late or not showing up at all, there are other issues in our relationship and you have helped me realise the truth about his treatment of our family and given me the strength I need to put a stop to it.”

“I can no longer justify his behaviour or make excuses for him. Along with being late to my mother’s funeral, he offered no emotional support when she died, to either me or the kids, which should have been enough to make me seriously consider my marriage, but I’m glad it’s finally happened now.”

“A couple of days ago, I told my husband how I felt and sent him my original post. To be honest, I have no interest in marriage counselling, I just want to move on with my life, but I suggested he look into therapy for himself.”

“I explained that it didn’t feel like he was part of the family anymore, and that our sons and I were struggling with the strain in our marriage, and I’m sure he has too. It’s not a healthy environment for me, my sons or my husband, and I can’t let my kids miss out because of their father’s incompetence any longer.”

“I told him that I want a divorce, as I’m sure many of you predicted, which he accepted. He told me that he no longer wants any involvement in anything to do with the family and will move out ASAP.”

“My sons and I will go about our lives, and the soon-to-be-ex-husband will go about his.”

“I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. You’re all my heroes and I will be forever grateful. Thank you.”

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.