Working with your spouse or significant other can be fraught with difficulties, especially when your partner thinks they’ve got extra authority just because you’re the boss.
That’s the sticky situation a man on Reddit found himself in when his wife threatened to fire an employee. He wasn’t sure about how handled it, so he went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for input.
The Original Poster (OP), who goes by the name Honest_Doctor8039 on the site, asked his fellow Redditors:
AITA For telling my wife she’s not the boss?
“For starters my(M[ale] 41) wife(F[emale] 39) have been together 16 years. When she met me I was at the height of my business and starting to go up from there, even during the pandemic my business is still booming. I had my own house(that I lived in by myself), a couple cars and a cottage although that is unrelated.”
“I own my own factory refurbishing various re-engineered equipment, mostly HVAC stuff. About 3 years after we got married she decided she had enough of working odd jobs and making not-so-great money at it so she expressed she wanted to be a SAHW.”
“I had no problem with this, we don’t have kids and don’t plan on having any so I saw this as a win-win as she got to stay home, and I came home to a nice house.”
“After 3 years of this she was tired of being a SAHW and wanted to re-join the workforce. Since she could really only find odd jobs I suggested she work at my shop. I pretty much created a job for her doing small admin stuff, nothing crazy as I used to do all this myself plus work on the floor but this took a load off my shoulders; obviously she got paid a healthy wage for her work and I hired a cleaner to come in once a week to help us clean and maintain the house.”
“On to the problem: one of my workers accidentally order 20 of one part instead of 2. This was a bit of a big deal as now instead of being out a few hundred dollars I’m now out thousands. While I wasn’t royally pissed off this did put a large dent in my overhead so I had to offload these parts. Barely made my money back but that’s beside the point.”
“My wife however found out and absolutely BERATED this poor guy. I’ve had this guy work for me for over 10 years and his work is solid; he’s a hard working man, 2 kids, another on the way and he’s become my go-to guy for almost anything.”
“I didn’t hear any of the situation until I heard screaming from my wife that she was going to fire him and he cost her hours of re-work and budgeting etc…(this is simply not true as 2 phone calls and some editing on our books and everything would be right as rain, tops a 1 hour affair)”
“She and he finally filled me in and I told her to leave the room so I could talk to him. She refused; I asked again and once again she refused. I asked one more time and my worker was on the verge of tears and I yelled at her and told her ‘You’re not the boss, I am. I make these decisions, now LEAVE’.”
“I talked it over with him, we made amends as it was an honest mistake and he hasn’t had a screw-up like this since he started so I’m not concerned about it happening again.”
“My wife was livid and after yelling about his screw-up has refused to talk to me. I’m clearly in the dog-house here but I refuse to think I did anything wrong as she was, in my opinion, being needlessly unreasonable and on a power trip. AITA?”
Redditors were then asked to weigh-in on who was in the wrong in OP’s situation using the following acronyms:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
And they were pretty much unanimous that OP’s wife was way out of line.
“If your wife pulled that crap in any other job she’d be fired on the spot. At work she’s your employee, not your wife and she has zero business treating your employees like this. Employees with far more seniority to her none the less.” —kalkiki
“NTA, she should be fired and have concequences for her actions, no boss would tolerate this sh*t. She can work odd jobs again.” —Mera1506
“This so hard!”
“Not only she has no place to be the owner’s wife at a place of work if she herself a worker, she had no place making threats to emploees when OP. The OWNER HIMSELF, wasn’t making it that much of a deal”
“NTA op!” —L1K34PRO
“Yep definitely NTA. This comment above needs to be explained to wife. She’s your employee, not boss, not supervisor, not manager, not in a position to make such calls. This is your realm to manage and she needs to respect your decision or find somewhere else to work.”
“Unfortunately it can be very difficult working with family members as boundaries are often crossed and relationships destroyed. Hopefully you can have an adult conversation about it where she understand the error of her ways.” —lu-cy-inthesky
“NTA but this is one of the reasons many people refuse to mix business and family. It inevitably becomes personal and not everyone can separate the two.” —Breadcrumb-Forest
Though a few people felt OP was partially in the wrong for creating this workplace dynamic in the first place.
“…OP created this situation by hiring his wife, and enabling a situation over the course 10 years to the point where she thought she was the boss too and obviously has some influence with other employees yet does not have the skills and perspective to respond appropriately.”
“Assuming that wife reports directly to OP, OP is completely responsible for correcting the behaviour of his direct report towards another employee. But he can’t do it effectively because he’s married to her…”
“…OP you sound pretty patronising of your wife while having nepotismed her into thinking she was doing a lot more than you think she is – everything you say about her role might be true but did you really think it was never going to come back to bite you that you basically think your wife is, at work, no more than an admin flunky you don’t really need, while also giving her a protected role in the business you manage?” —elsehwere
Hopefully these two can learn from this and find a better working arrangement.