Thousands of internet commenters were quick to call out one partner for refusing to intervene when their mother began insulting their husband and his mother.
In a viral Reddit post published on r/AmITheA**hole, Redditor u/Genuinely-Optimistic (otherwise referred to as the original poster, or OP) said their husband and mother have long had a toxic relationship and detailed how tensions nearly boiled over at a recent Mother’s Day celebration.
Titled, “[Am I the a**hole] for telling my husband it’s time to hash things out with my mom?” the post has received more than 5,700 votes and 2,300 comments in the last 12 hours.
Beginning with the explanation that their husband and mother “fight constantly,” the original poster said their mother often instigates confrontations, prompting their husband to quickly escalate the situation.
“It’s exhausting for the entire family, and they don’t even fight over something worthy, they just nitpick each other’s words,” OP wrote. “My husband told me many times that the solution would be that he stops going with me over to my mom’s house [but] I refused this solution because it’s not practical nor is it fit for [the] long term.”
On Sunday, the original poster said their family convened at their mother’s house for a Mother’s Day dinner. During the meal, the original poster said their mother relentlessly spewed insults about their husband’s mother.
“Mom noticeably started commenting on my husband’s mother implying that she hated her children and isn’t proud to be a mom,” OP wrote. “My husband wanted to respond but [I] whispered to him to let it go and stay calm.”
“He did,” OP added. “He still looked visibly upset but didn’t say a word which made me think that my solution worked.”
When the couple returned home, however, the original poster learned quickly that their solution had not worked and, in fact, had only angered their husband even further.
“He started throwing a fit about me watching my mom insult his and not wanting him to react,” OP wrote. “I snapped and told him he was acting childishly.”
“He tried to make excuses saying my mom created this situation and tried to put all [the] blame on her,” OP wrote. “I told him he’s no saint either, he has his moments and has a habit of letting things get this far.”
“I told him his problem is with her and that it’s time [to] hash things out with her once and for all,” OP continued. “He sorta looked like I just offended him and told me I was wrong because this is my mom and it’s my JOB to put a stop to her shenanigans.”
“I told him he’s an adult [and] why should I defend him while he hides behind me?” OP added.
For both married men and women, dealing with an overbearing, overcritical mother-in-law can be a nightmare.
In March, parenting website We Have Kids published a list of 14 harmful behaviors exhibited by toxic mothers-in-law. Included among the were behaviors ranging from dismissiveness to repeated smear tactics to expectations of complete subservience.
However, one behavior stands out among the rest.
Posted under the headline, “She’s vindictive, spiteful, grudge-holding, and punishing,” the eleventh toxic trait listed by We Have Kids pointed directly at mothers-in-law who deploy multi-fronted emotional assaults on their child’s spouse.
“If she feels threatened by you, she’ll figure out a thousand ways to make you suffer for it,” the We Have Kids website reads. “Get ready for guilt trips, silent treatments, finger-pointing, button-pushing, and manipulation.”
Responding to the viral Reddit post, many Redditors were adamant that the original poster’s mother exhibited many of these toxic behaviors and ripped OP for allowing her to continue verbally abusing their husband while attempting to absolve themselves of any culpability.
In the post’s top comment, which has received nearly 26,000 votes, Redditor u/_ewan_ assured the original poster that they deserve at least a portion of the blame for the sustained familial tension.
“OK, so your mother starts s**t…And you ask your husband not to defend himself…And then you refuse to defend him either,” they wrote. “In this scenario, just who is supposed to be putting a stop to your mother’s s**t? The answer appears to be ‘No-one, he should just shut up and take it, forever,’ and at that point yes, [you’re the a**hole].”
Redditor u/crockofpot, whose comment has received more than 6,000 votes, also focused on the original poster’s refusal to defend their husband against their mother.
“How in the world are you going to try to play the ‘you’re an adult’ card when you are acting like a cowardly little child who can’t say one word to Mommy?” they questioned. “You admit she’s the aggressor and the instigator and you expect your husband to just, what? Spend his whole life being a meatshield for your mom’s aggression?”
“Stop holding your mom’s coat while she bullies your husband,” they added.
In a separate response, which has received nearly 4,000 votes, Redditor u/LeastDragonfly4247 echoed that sentiment.
“What’s the matter with you?” they commented. “Your mum keeps picking fights with your husband and rather than speaking with your mum about it and placing boundaries, you instead tell your husband to shut up and take it?”
“[You’re the a**hole],” they added. “A huge one.”
Newsweek reached out to u/Genuinely-Optimistic for comment.
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