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Husband Questions His Wife’s Workload as a SAHM

Newborn baby leg with hospital anklet

Stay-at-home parents have always had to fight to have their daily work appreciated for what it is — work. They may not go into an office or get a paycheck, but taking care of children is a non-stop, 24/7 job that you don’t get to clock out of, one that requires late nights, early morning wake-up calls, and plenty of physical labor. Having all that work downplayed and misunderstood, especially by those closest to you, makes it even harder.

A dad on Reddit is getting flack for doing just that after making some truly boneheaded comments to his wife, a stay-at-home mom. For context, the OP (aka original poster, or the author of the post) and his wife have been married for 15 years and have a 10 year age gap; he’s 46, she’s 36. (This will be relevant later.) They also have four kids, ranging in age from 3 to 16 — truly a full house.

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OP works a job that, until recently, demanded a lot of travel, but now that he’s at home more, he’s making good use of his time by… making disparaging comments about his wife’s workload as a SAHM. When he came to Reddit‘s AITAH (Am I the Asshole?) forum for a gut check on those comments, Redditors didn’t hold back.

‘Wrong Thing to Say’

Setting the scene, OP explained that his wife has been a SAHM for their whole marriage while OP has been working at a job that required him to travel extensively: three weeks away and one week home. As a consequence, about 90 percent of the family’s household chores fall to OP’s wife.

Thanks to a change at work, OP says he’s now home pretty much all the time. That coincides with summer break, meaning OP’s kids are all home as well, leading to an increase in OP’s wife’s workload. When she commented on this, OP’s offhanded response was, “The older kids pretty much look after themselves, so how hard can it really be?” Even OP admitted that was the “wrong thing to say, in hindsight.”

If It’s So Easy, You Try It

OP’s wife’s response was understandable: “since it’s so easy, [OP] could take over.” That’s exactly what he did, and it hasn’t gone well. It’s been a week, OP writes, and “the ship is sinking.” While their older kids do complete a lot of their own chores and their younger kids pick up after themselves, “there are just a million other tedious things I didn’t realize needed to be done,” he writes. “The house seems tidy but it doesn’t feel clean like it normally does.”

Newborn baby leg with hospital anklet

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To his credit, OP saw the error of his ways after this experience. “I apologized profusely to my wife and she accepted,” he wrote.

Looking For a Bigger Change

Think the story ends there? Not quite. Turns out, OP also talked to his mom about the situation — and, as a SAHM herself, she “reamed” him for his behavior. OP’s wife agreed, and now wants a bigger shift in how they share their chores.

OP wasn’t having it. His opinion? If he’s working and is the sole financial provider, then it’s “fair” for her to do the vast majority of household chores. “She said she would get a job and then we can split chores evenly and I told her she was just being petty.”

… Another poorly worded statement by OP, in our opinion, and he continued to dig himself into a deeper hole in the post’s comment section, explaining that his wife has “literally never” had a job, so it would be “impossible” to find one that pays decently. He also said he doesn’t think his wife “actually” wants a job and is just being swayed by other people. “I think my job and paying for everything equals out the chores,” OP wrote — which makes sense, to an extent, but the way he’s dismissing his wife’s concerns is a real concern. He seems to think he’s the only one who gets to decide what’s fair in their relationship, ignoring the fact that his wife should also have a say.

What Does Reddit Think?

Reddit was having no part of OP’s self-justification. In addition to the “how hard can it really be?” comment, one person said OP is also the asshole “for calling your wife ‘petty’ for wanting to get a job. We all know you wouldn’t do any of the chores even if she made exactly as much as you (or even more),” they wrote, garnering 2.3K upvotes from readers who agreed.

Another person pointed out that the age difference in the relationship is telling. Doing the math, they worked out that OP started dating his now-wife when he was 29 and she was just 19. She got pregnant at 20, and they married at 21. Now in her mid-30s, the commenter mused, she’s “probably realized she needs to start working and getting some independence and her own finances,” they said. “When a 31 year old marries a 21 year old, they don’t realize that the barely adult is going to grow and change over the next decade and a half and maybe want some different things.”

One Redditor dubbed OP a “grade A asshole.” They pointed out that OP’s wife has been doing “10 times as hard as you for years,” when it comes to caring for the house and four kids by herself for weeks at a time while OP was away — yet OP is ranking his job ahead of hers because he’s the one who gets paid. In contrast, the commenter offered the example of their own relationship: “My wife and I have never made things about money, always about effort. If one puts in 10 hours with kids and one with 10 hours of work, it’s all work to support the family,” they explained. “You couldn’t make that money if she wasn’t supporting you on the home front.”

To sum it up succinctly: “It seems like you just want everything done your way,” one Redditor observed. “Your job clocks in and out hers doesn’t.”

This is what it comes down to: first of all, OP’s refusal to consider that his wife’s job was as demanding as his, to the point that he had to experience it firsthand to have any empathy for her. Then, even after that experience and his apology, he’s continuing to look down on her and won’t even consider doing more around the house for a more even split. We’re not into the lack of respect and appreciation for all that his wife does. Not only is OP the a-hole, in our opinion; he also needs a major attitude shift when it comes to how he treats (and talks to) his wife.

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