Working from home has its challenges, and one of those is definitely setting boundaries between work, the home, and our relationships.
One couple found themselves struggling with this recently on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Amita4580631 found herself feeling the weight of her husband’s work as well as her own.
But when she angered her husband by establishing a new boundary, she wondered if she was wrong for doing so.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for yelling at my husband that I’m not his secretary?”
The OP and her husband had an arrangement until recently.
“My ([Female] 33) Husband ([Male] 37) works full time. I’m a Stay-at-home-mom. It’s a decision I had to make because of medical problems.”
“He’d help with the kids and house chores like cooking and cleaning.”
“Nothing changed but He recently started working from home. He’s very committed to his work.”
The OP’s husband started asking for help.
“However, he started asking for my assistance a few times a day.”
“Like making him coffee or bringing him a file he left on the couch.”
“I was fine with that but he started asking more and more. Several times an hour. During the time I’d be busy cooking or having guests over and I’d have to excuse myself several times to go see what he needs.”
“I found myself doing what secretaries do, like arranging appointments with his clients. Copying papers and reports. Bringing him files. Spending time to entertain his clients when he’s in the bathroom or getting dressed.”
“He brought a 2-line landline as a way to ask me to do things for him instead of shouting my name in front of his superiors and clients.”
“Talking to him did nothing.”
Then the OP’s husband went too far.
“Yesterday. I was having my friend over. She went through a loss (a son) and wanted to spend time with me.”
“We were sitting in the backyard. He was in his office.”
“Suddenly I started getting texts from him. My friend was crying when it happened, so I couldn’t reply to him.”
“The texts kept coming with him asking me to look for a file he left somewhere in the house.”
“I was mad. I turned my phone off til my friend left.”
The OP’s husband started an argument.
“My husband walked out of his office looking p**sed, asking why the h**l I had my phone turned off and ignored his texts.”
“I snapped, reminding him that I already told him about my friend visiting and needing my support.”
“Besides that, I already said I won’t be taking any more requests from him.”
“I flat-out yelled, telling him I’m not his secretary and asked whether he’s trying to turn me into one.”
“He said, ‘No no no of course not, silly, why would you think that?'”
“After arguing back and forth, he yelled that he was in the middle of an important meeting and didn’t want to leave but had to, so he could find the file he asked me to look for, and it took him a long time, which was unprofessional of him.”
“Then he went on about how he’s trying to focus on his job and maintaining a professional working relationship with his superiors to be able to continue to provide for his family and his kids.”
“And there was nothing wrong with me helping out with his work, since he helps out around the house.”
“He then said he didn’t want to argue and wanted to resolve this democratically but I left him no choice. Then left after that.”
“He’s been quiet ever since the argument.”
“Did I overreact here? Was I wrong?”
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 pointed out the inequality in the OP’s relationship.
“Unless he’s willing to be on call when you need him, at the drop of a hat, to help with kids, household tasks, errands, etc, then it seems like your roles aren’t being valued equally.”
“Because you have to drop your job when he needs the slightest thing. So either he leaves a meeting to help you with meal prep, or he does his own job and you do yours.”
“An occasional hand is one thing. But he’s taken advantage of you and needs a course correction. NTA.” – twotreesofvalinor
“Next time you’re in the middle of something – cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc. – and he interrupts you for whatever file or thing he needs, stop doing what you were doing.”
“When he asks later why there’s nothing prepared to eat, or clean clothes, or the house isn’t cleaned up, tell him it’s because he keeps interrupting you and demanding you to shift your time and attention to doing his job for him, so you can’t take care of the things you usually do when he treats you like his d**n secretary.” – Redundant_fox221
“He’s using you as free labor and resentful you’re not OK with it.”
“I’ve managed to wfh (work from home) and run my own small business for a while now and wouldn’t dream of asking my (disabled, so he doesn’t work) partner to do what your husband is asking you to do. My business has grown enough that I’m going to hire someone to do administrative work.”
“He’s not preparing for work like he would in an office and expecting you to do part of his job for him.”
“Not to mention, I have NDAs with my customers, as your husband likely has for his job, and they don’t make accommodations for telling your partner.”
“He could lose his job simply because he’s not organizing his work-life well enough to manage on his own.” – eresh22
“NTA. You are not there to be his assistant. You are there to take care of your children and manage the house.”
“My dad always told me ‘lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine’. In short, handle your own s**t.” – queenoreo
Others stated how unprofessional they thought the husband was.
“So he has a phone on which he can call you and assign tasks…..but he says you’re not his secretary?!”
“IMO your husband is failing to be organized. E.g. having the right files for the right call. He’s relying on you to help organize his work, which is a secretarial role.”
“He shouldn’t ask you to pick up the slack for his poor admin skills.” – ShutUpMorrisseyffs
“That what I kept thinking. Who tf is so important and good at their job but doesn’t plan ahead of important meetings to have the needed files with them?”
“I mean, you’re basically employed as his assistant in your explanation and unless he’s self-employed, his company could end up with problems for you ‘working’ without pay or authorization.” – legal_bagel
“Seriously. This is way unprofessional. OP isn’t an employee, so doesn’t have the duty of care or confidentiality. Plus any guests or other clients could come across the files he’s leaving around.”
“I wouldn’t trust someone who handled my info in such a lackadaisical way to actually have care while doing the work. I wonder how many clients are shopping for a replacement.” – Splatterfilm
“And what’s unprofessional is him not having that file for the meeting ready before it started.”
“OP, maybe sit him down and ask if there is anything unusual going on at work, and if he is ok. Yeah, he’s being a jerk about this, but if this is new behavior, maybe there’s trouble at his workplace and he’s feeling some stress as the financial support for the family?”
“If not, use the convo as an opportunity to set some boundaries between your job and his.” – Seeker131313
“So, your husband is so unorganized that he is still getting dressed when clients show up, leaves work files all over the house (which depending on what he does for a living could be a serious breach of professional ethics), and needs you to be taking care of scheduling, filing, copies, etc?”
“Wow. Most companies have serious rules about who is authorized to even hold a file and usually they want that person to be an actual employee.” – Thriftyverse
The sub was definitely in agreement on this one: the OP’s husband very well could be compromising his job by putting so much pressure on his wife.
Like others who now have to work from home, the husband will have to figure out what worked for him in a corporate office and how he can emulate that in the home.