Especially since 2020, many of us have struggled to separate the space where we work and where we live, and we long for a space where we can purely relax.
But wanting to have our own space can create tension with the people we love the most, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
After moving into the home his father inherited, Redditor ThrowRABunkerMan was pleased to discover what his grandfather had created there.
But when his wife began to question the time he was spending away from her, the Original Poster (OP) wondered how they could compromise.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for spending a lot of time in my bunker away from my family?”
The OP had heard of the bunker his grandfather built.
“My grandfather was an incredibly talented man who also suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.”
“He was convinced that the nuclear apocalypse was going to end the human race at some point, so he built his own bunker.”
“Then he buried the entrance because he was convinced that both the KGB and the CIA were watching him and wanted to keep the bunker a secret.”
“Yes, he was a crazy man.”
The OP made an amazing discovery when he inherited the home.
“My dad inherited his house but never lived there.”
“When I had my first child in 2018 and got married in 2019, my dad made me an incredibly generous offer for the house. I bought computers that were more expensive than the house.”
“The bunker became kind of an urban legend, mostly because my old grandpa used to tell a lot of crazy stories.”
“But out of curiosity, I went looking for it and found the entrance. THE OLD MAN REALLY DID IT!”
“So, thanks to being stuck at home during the uneventful 2020 and 2021, I started remodeling the bunker to look less like a Fallout Vault and more like my own man cave.”
“Everyone loves it, especially the kids (my nephews and friend’s children).”
“So the house is decorated to my wife’s taste, while I can do whatever I want in the bunker, play gaming, fix computers, set up a whole home server, work from home, etc.”
But the magic was wearing off for the OP’s wife.
“However, lately, my wife has been complaining about me being distant and spending a lot of time there and less time with her and our child.”
“She is pregnant again, so she said she was worried, but I just promised to spend more time at the house.”
“After a few weeks, that wasn’t enough for her, and she accuses me of abandoning her.”
“I’m asking for judgment here because I’m trying to be there for my family, but this bunker feels like it’s the only thing that’s really mine and where I can actually have a break.”
“My wife has said she’s going to seal the entrance; otherwise I might miss the birth and not even notice.”
“Should I just move all my stuff into the house and forget about it?”
“Am I really being neglectful, or is this just her pregnancy hormones talking?”
The OP shared a few clarifications.
“To be clear, I do help with the house chores and spend time with my son when I’m there, and I have an intercom in the bunker so my wife can just call me if she needs anything and I’ll go up there immediately.”
“I spend at least six hours at the bunker on weekdays. I work there so I think that is reasonable. And I spend at least four hours on weekends.”
“I forgot to mention: Our son goes to kindergarten, so my wife has time to work and sometimes be alone at home.”
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 didn’t think these were enough hours to make the OP the AH.
“If we consider the weekend as roughly 6:00 PM Friday to 6:00 AM Monday, that’s 60 hours. Is four hours really that unreasonable? Two hours a day for himself?”
“If he spent every waking moment there and did no chores, then I’d feel differently. He makes his living in that space. It’s part of his family history. The wife seems to want his undivided attention.”
“Probably unpopular, but NTA.” – TexasGal0032548
“People forget that there are 24 hours in a day. Assuming he gets his eight hours of sleep, he’s only spending a quarter of his waking weekend hours in the bunker, call it two hours in the morning and two at night, and that’s a super reasonable amount of time.”
“I don’t even care about the six hours during the week, a normal job would have you away for eight to ten hours at least. Reddit just hears an upset pregnant woman and automatically assumes OP is the A H.”
“NTA unless OP does absolutely nothing with the other 75% of his weekend and 100% of his weekday free time.” – Risque_MicroPlanet
“Wait, you work from home (or work from bunker?) for six hours a day and then spend four hours in there over the weekend?”
“NTA, and all of these people are saying otherwise just because of their blatant prejudice. Most jobs, because Reddit users seem to forget, involve AT LEAST EIGHT HOURS elsewhere. Big f**king deal.”
“So long as you’re an active father, you’re allowed your own (literal) man cave.”
“Props on the bada** bunker, but try not to be too secluded. It’s friggin awesome, but so is being a family.” – DragonfruitOk6901
Others thought the OP started being the AH with the weekend hours.
“The six hours a day during the week, when he works there, is NTA.”
“The four hours at weekends make him the AH.” – ThatFatGuyMJL
“NTA for the weekdays as I can even get behind the bunker being your office and you’re away for the workday.”
“YTA for the weekends… is this four hours per day? In any case, it doesn’t even matter. Where is your wife’s break during the weekend? Why does she need to ‘call you’ on the intercom?”
“You have a child and she’s pregnant. You should be readily available without her having to call you.”
“Let’s be honest, it’s not about the bunker. YTA for being a bad husband and not being present. If your wife is worried you might miss the birth of your kid and not notice, you’re definitely spending more time than you’ve told us.” – ImHungryFeedMe
“NTA. I have needed alone time daily for most of my life. I’m an introvert and need it for my mental health and many people don’t understand this.”
“That said, you are likely down there too much. Leave it for a while unless you are working. Make sure your wife feels supported and your kid sees you enough to get bored of you.”
“Then start easing back. Sometimes after the baby is born and settled.” – Waitforsigns64
Some understood the wife’s concerns about quality time, but with mixed ratings.
“NTA, but I think your wife is trying to tell you something. When you go to your cave, you are physically removing yourself. That’s a lot different than being in the house and doing your own thing.”
“I think you should consider moving some of your more routine activities inside the house.” – Minute_Point_949
“YTA. I was leaning toward NTA, but then I realized you said you ‘spend time with your son when you’re there’ and ‘You’re trying to be there for your family,’ and ‘Should I just move all my stuff into the house….'”
“Those aren’t things a person who lives there says. So apparently YOU feel like you don’t LIVE there, so it’s no wonder your wife feels like you’re not there enough.” – _Nana_111
“Demanding you give up your own space is 100% overreacting, but there might still be a legitimate grievance beneath it, I wouldn’t just dismiss her.”
“Have you tried making any agreements? Like always having dinner together, making a plan for the household chores and childcare responsibilities, trying to compare expectations, making a point to fit quality time in your schedule, etc?”
“Rather than vaguely ‘promise to spend more time at the house,’ maybe make a concrete agreement so you can show you did your part, and it isn’t up to subjective arguments of how much is ‘enough’ time.”
“I think there can probably still be a diplomatic solution here if you talk to each other and try to have an open ear for each other’s needs (which must include your needs to have a private place to recharge, but also that you do your part with childcare and house chores).” – RafflesiaArnoldii
As the comments poured in, the OP started taking notes.
“Guys, I swear I’m taking notes. I’m just trying to understand what I should change about myself and how to talk to my wife about this.”
“Remember that I spend at least six hours WORKING, not scratching my belly. My manager allows me to log out early if I finished my work for the day, but I can’t log out if I’ve been working for less than six hours. I also spend time talking with my team on Slack.”
“And so many of you are picking up on my language. I would appreciate it if you explain calmly why my choice of words is so bad so I don’t f**k things up when I speak to my wife.”
The OP later said he needed time to process.
“Mini-Update: I had a talk with my wife. Overall, I think it went well since she told me everything, but there are so many raw emotions right now, and I was sent to sleep in the spare room.”
“She had no mercy on me, but we needed this talk, so we can have a clear path for our future together.”
Finally, the OP shared a very thoughtful update.
“I talked to my wife. I asked her to be very honest, and I promised to let her talk until she was done.”
“First of all, it’s not just about the time I spend in the bunker now, but she felt completely alone taking care of our little baby while I spent almost all of my free time remodeling and building and when it was done, I’m just down there.”
“I explained to her that it was basically my office now, and she understood and apologized and then continued to explain herself.”
“I’ll just quote the gist of what she said to me, because we talked for hours.”
“My wife confided, ‘I haven’t been my own person since my first pregnancy, I feel like a doll, every day is the same, I’m bored, frustrated, angry, just when I thought it might get easier, I get pregnant again, how many years until I can just be me again?'”
“‘You have a big hole underground where you can play and not care about the world. I haven’t read a book in years, I can’t read two pages without falling asleep.'”
“(For context, she’s always been a bookworm, and loves books and the aesthetic of having shelves full of them, but it’s true she hasn’t read in a long time. I gave her a Kindle for our anniversary and I pay for her audible subscription. I thought those would be good substitutes, but they’re not.)”
“‘Yes, the house looks nice, but what about a place for me? I don’t want a Kindle, I don’t want audiobooks to listen to while cooking or driving. I want a PHYSICAL collection, but where do I put them? When was the last time I went to a library? When was the last time you gave me something made of real paper?'”
“‘Stop thinking that a screen can solve everything. I need you with me, I married a human, not a sim. Download some emotions.'”
“‘I want to write again, but how? When? Will you read my first crappy drafts or just take a look and say it’s okay?'”
“‘Can you have our son in the bunker for a few hours a day? He’s bored here, he won’t be bored down there.'”
Now back to me: It was hard, but I needed it, and she needed it.”
“I’m going to move my gaming consoles into the house and see if I can set up SteamLink to stream games from my gaming PC to our TV or something.”
“We agreed to go on dates outside the house, and I’m going to take on more responsibilities around the house.”
“I want to address something. I was told by my parents that I had to ‘help’ with the house and ‘help’ with the kids. But then I come to Reddit and it turns out that ‘helping’ is a problem.”
“You talked a lot about mental load, but this was the first time I heard about it, who was supposed to teach me that? ‘Helping,’ not having addictions, being loyal and always being there seemed like what every good husband does, now I realize it was just the bare minimum.”
“I feel like I have to relearn everything, and it’s hard to realize that I’m a bad husband and father for thinking that the bare minimum was all I needed to have a long and happy marriage.”
“I became a Reddit villain by being clueless, but I accept that.”
“I’ll see you again soon, thank you all.”
The subReddit could agree that the bunker was a wonder and an amazing piece of family heritage. They could also understand someone wanting to have their own space, especially when they worked from home and their spaces had become blurred over time.
But it was clear a compromise needed to be created for the couple to continue to funtion. While the bunker was working for the OP, it was not working for his wife, and they needed to figure out a way to make their living arrangement work for everyone in the home.