My In-Laws Expect Me to Be a Stay-at-Home Wife, but I’m Not Gonna Buy It

2 weeks ago

Managing relationships with in-laws requires finesse, particularly amidst clashes between cultural norms and personal ambitions. In this narrative, a woman recounts her path to asserting independence and pursuing a career, despite the traditional expectations set by her husband’s family.

She explained what happened.

So my husband comes from a “traditional” family. Mum’s a stay-at-home woman, father is the sole provider. I come from the opposite — my mother pretty much forbade me from ever being financially dependent on a man and drilled that into me early on.

My husband worked hard to unlearn the values he saw replicated at home. He (often more than) pulled his weight at home, and was an engaged and present father and a genuine partner. The one thing that grinds my gears is how much weight he puts on the opinions of his family. I get that we all want our parents to be proud of us, but this is too much.

My in-laws are staying with us for 2 weeks. Our usual MO is, I prep breakfast, we all eat lunch at work/school, and my husband makes dinner. We have a cleaner, but she’s on holiday, so in the meantime we’re DIYing the cleaning where it’s down to everyone to keep their space clean and common spaces we all clean. This is how we’ve always done it, and it works.

My ILs hate that I’m “one of those modern women.” They hate that I work, they hate that I don’t find my purpose in being a wife and mother, and they hate that my husband pulls his weight at home. We spoke pretty frankly early on, where I established my boundaries and told them I wouldn’t be chastised about how I live my life in my home. When I am a guest in their home, I accommodate their ways and play the DIL they wish I was. They have for the most part respected this.

I got home yesterday after work, tired and starving. I typically get home at 18:15/30, and we eat at 19:00. I said quick hellos and ran up for a pre-dinner shower. When I came down, I went to the kitchen to help set up for dinner and found nothing ready.

I asked my husband about it, but he wouldn’t look at me, and his mother answered that he hadn’t cooked anything. She told me I needed to do my duty as a wife and cook for my family. My coward of a husband still wasn’t looking at me.

I just walked away and ordered a takeaway. I dished up for me and my kids, and we sat at the table to eat. My husband and his parents served themselves and joined us.

My MIL was still going on about what was wrong with me and why I was a failure. I asked my husband if he had anything to say. He said his mother had a point, and it wouldn’t hurt if I acted “more like a proper woman” and “took better care of my home and children.” He said tradition was tradition for a reason, and it was kind of insulting that I thought I was too good for how he was raised.

This is where I might be the jerk. I told him tradition won’t allow a man on 35k to support a family of 5, and he was too broke to be so sexist. He looked hurt, and I saw tears welling in his eyes. He excused himself from the table.

I regret saying this in front of our children, but him saying that to me after I’m cleaning up his mess on top of having to deal with his parents was too much for me.

People supported her.

  • I agree what you said needed to be said. Especially since your in law’s were present. I also agree it should not have been said in front of your children. Your husband let his parents get into his head space and he ran with it. I don’t think it’s helpful to hurt your partner’s feeling in a relationship. However, occasionally you need to take a stand. © Peony-Pony / Reddit
  • Next time the in-laws show up, just take the kids & leave. Let him deal with his parent’s stupidity. © Shutupandplayball / Reddit
  • I think the part where you invited his feedback is very important here. If you haven’t done that, perhaps it would be a both parties’ situation. But you clearly and directly gave him a choice to make. Does he disrespect or defend you? He chose disrespect. © Cold-Lawyer-1856 / Reddit
  • A “proper man/husband” wouldn’t allow someone to disrespect his wife like that and would be strong enough to stand up to a guest in his home. He is weak & cowardly. They can leave & take him with them if they don’t find you a proper woman/mother/wife". © KindlyCelebration223 / Reddit
  • Well played. What else could you do? Your husband shamed you and he did it knowing HIS children were watching. © loverlyone / Reddit
  • First thing to do is tell the IL’s they are no longer welcome in your home. If the husband wants to see them, he can go visit them. I’d put strict rules in place about contact with the children. Your children should not have to listen to them denigrate their mother. © squirrelsareevil2479 / Reddit

Embracing the decision to refuse the conventional role of a stay-at-home wife can be a daunting yet empowering journey. This experience taught her the significance of establishing boundaries, advocating for herself, and pursuing a life that satisfies her both personally and professionally.


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