When a couple splits up the responsibilities of the home, especially when that home includes children or animals, it can be easy for someone to feel taken advantage of.
This is particularly true when one person holds a lot more responsibilities than the other person, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
But Redditor Particular-Willow-17 did not agree when his wife confided to him that she could use a little more recognition than she was getting.
When she said he was treating her like a servant, the Original Poster (OP) was frustrated.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for telling my wife that she should stop constantly expecting appreciation and just get on with her job of being a SAHM (stay-at-home mom) already?”
The OP and his wife made arrangements for her to be a stay-at-home mom.
“I (36 Male) work full time and my wife (32 Female) is a SAHM looking after our 2-year-old twins.”
“When we got married, we both agreed that my wife would be a SAHM, especially since we don’t have any family/grandparents nearby. We were both in agreement and my wife made it clear she wanted to enjoy seeing our kids grow up (we don’t plan on having any more).”
“I make a good wage so we are comfortable. I don’t give my wife any spending limits (obviously we discuss big purchases) so she is free to buy herself things, I make sure she has access to money and she takes care of everything around the house.”
Their work-life was imbalanced.
“I work from home and a typical day for me is 7am – 5pm. Once I finish work, I go and spend time with the twins while my wife makes dinner.”
“We put them to bed together and my wife usually clears up in the kitchen.”
“She is great at her job and the house is spotless.”
“I am happy with this arrangement and I thought my wife was too.”
The OP’s wife tried to talk to him about this.
“Recently, she has been coming to me and saying that she feels burned out, unappreciated, and taken for granted.”
“I asked if I could do anything to help and she said that it would be nice if I did something now and again to show that I appreciated her, like buying her favourite bar of chocolate when I go to the shop or something small, just as a gesture of appreciation.”
“I’ll admit that I didn’t do this, purely because I am not in the habit, to be honest.”
The OP did not take this suggestion well.
“We recently had a massive argument because my wife got completely fed up with being ‘treated like a servant.'”
“She basically said that her working hours are 5am – 9pm, 7 days a week, and that she feels like I take her for granted.”
“I told her that I understand it’s a tough job but we both get on with our respective roles.”
“I never ask her to thank me for making money, I think that’s cringeworthy. I get on with my job because I have to provide for my family, whereas she wants presents and treats for doing her job.”
“I essentially said this to her and now I’m wondering if I am the a**hole.”
“Looking after kids and the house is tiring and she does work hard and takes care of everything. But at the same time, do I need to thank her on bended knee and buy her things just for doing her job?”
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 said it was a big deal for the wife to confide in the OP.
“A relationship is healthy when people feel comfortable communicating their wants, needs, and concerns, and aren’t worried that it’ll lead to a fight, or some passive-aggressive retaliation.”
“So many people have had a parent, friends, sibling, roommate, partner, maybe even a boss passive-aggressively punish them for not meeting an expectation that was never communicated, or for doing something ‘wrong’ but won’t actually say what that was.”
“OP is lucky! OP’s wife tells him very clearly how she’s feeling, and what she’d like him to do, and after his reaction? I don’t know if she’ll be that honest again for a while.”
“They say when she’s asking for what she wants, she’s still invested in the relationship. It’s when the asking stops that you should be worried, because it usually means they’ve mentally disconnected from the relationship and they’re figuring out when and how to get out.” – VisualCelery
“YTA It’s amazing – it’s like your wife wants to treated like a wife and partner, instead of an incubator/nanny/housekeeper.”
“Your wife is telling explicitly what she needs- she needs you to show her that she’s appreciated. You are told – in a variety of ways at your job – that you are appreciated, I have no doubt.”
“Your wife expecting that low bar to be met is reasonable.” – rak1882
“YTA for sure. And the fact you were so cold about her feelings makes you a huge AH. I’d be shocked if she sticks around unless your attitude changes fast.” – araknay
Others said the OP definitely was being recognized at work.
“Think about it though OP. Do you have people at work that show you appreciation or recognize you for a job well done? Does your manager say, hey nice job on that thing? Does anyone support your ideas or validate your contribution?”
“My guess is yes. Being valued and appreciated at your job is part of what makes it meaningful. Knowing that you are making a difference. You have sources at work for this so you don’t need your wife to do it.”
“Your wife does not have these people. She’s got you and you aren’t giving her the validation she needs. You are her sole coworker. Let her know she is doing a good job.”
“YTA” – heyelander
“One thing to add that my wife actually pointed out to me… Maybe she doesn’t thank him for making money, but does anyone at work thank him? In most workplaces, it’s normal to get at least some cursory ‘Thanks’ for doing something that affects someone else, even when it’s totally within the job expectations. Special treats to show general appreciation are also pretty standard.”
“OP isn’t her ‘boss,’ but he’s the only person who is in a position to show appreciation for her work. A workplace where literally no one ever mentions your work or their appreciation for it is a bad place to work.” – homebrew_ken_
“He didn’t ask his wife to appreciate him for “making money” BUT unlike his wife, he doesn’t work in an isolated vacuum.”
“I’m certain he gets ‘appreciation’ from work, his higher-ups notice what he does, the clients and co-workers he works with thank him and recognize him.”
“He gets raises and promotions. He makes good money so I’m sure that does culturally – he gets the social kudos we give all men who look like they do well for themselves plus the social rewards of being able to support his family well.”
“While his wife has no one but him to acknowledge her. She gets no raises, no promotions, no one is hiring her a helper or assistant. Our culture does not reward SAHMs – it treats both SAHM and working moms as if they made an irresponsible decision.”
“The only source of acknowledgment and encouragement she has is him, and even though she’s working 24/7 he can’t be bothered to offer her anything because he never asks for anything – because he didn’t need it from her.”
“YTA. You’re wildly selfish and clearly ungrateful for the fact that you get the life you have on the labor of your wife. (Would you have that job and those hours if you had to do child care? Would your weekend be as lovely if you did any portion of the housework? Etc.)” – LimitlessMegan
While the OP seemed surprised by his wife’s feedback, the subReddit understood why she was asking.
On the one hand, her confession suggested that she still wanted to work on the relationship, rather than walking away from an imbalanced situation. On the other hand, it was eye-opening how little the wife was asking for, despite the OP’s terrible reaction.