my husband emailed my boss about our decision for me to resign

It’s Columbus Day and I could use a break, so here’s an old post from 2012 that I’m making new again.

A reader writes:

Recently, I accepted a part-time RN position, but resigned within the 90-day probationary period due to several personal and professional factors. I had tried to re-enter the workforce after being a stay-at-home mother for 9 years. I had mixed emotions about leaving the position, but overall it was not meshing well with our family needs. I felt like an RN number rather than a respected individual.

My husband sent a polite, professional email to my former nurse manager, expressing our family decision for resignation. He sent the email to communicate that he was no longer going to be able to support me in the endeavor of working. He was fed up with the financial burden the job had become. Childcare costs and commute were draining my earnings. He told me that I was not being “assertive” with them and so he took the matter into his own hands. He felt he had the right to do so since he is deciding what is best for our family situation.

His email said (editor’s note: names changed to protect identities), “Speaking to you as Jane’s husband, I now have a problem with Jane’s full time schedule, which is producing unnecessary stress and financial burden on my family. My original support for her was limited to part time weekend only work to maintain a healthy family structure. From one professional to another, I ask for your understanding that Jane can no longer continue to meet the needs of ABC’s work schedule.”

The nurse manager expressed during my exit meeting that she and the nursing director were “concerned” about the email from my husband and sent it to H.R. I had sent her an additional email in my own words after my husband had sent his. My email was much more emotional and expressed apologies for resigning. I told her that my husband meant well and was only trying to help me out. She stated she has never received an email from a husband before and that it appeared as if he were sending in my resignation for me.

I did not want him to send the email, because I knew that they would not understand where he is coming from; it is odd and unorthodox. It’s absolutely “out of the box.” But nothing threatening or negative was said to justify her sending it to HR or telling me it was “concerning.” I can understand her saying to me that it might be inappropriate, but “concerning” seems very judgmental. 

What is the meaning behind sending his email to H.R.? And does quitting within the 90-day probationary period banish you from possible employment in the future for a different role? Or did my husband’s email cause that? Should I be apologizing for his email with another communication to H.R. or the nursing director? I personally think the nurse manager has a hard time with thinking outside of the box. There is a first time for everything.

Oh dear. Yeah, you can’t have your spouse contact your employer on your behalf about anything. The only exception to this would be if you were in the hospital and he needed to inform your manager.

Having your husband involve himself in your resignation (or salary negotiations, or requests for time off, or anything else) is … well, it’s not done, it’s unprofessional, and it would absolutely be alarming. It’s not about “out of the box” thinking; it’s a huge violation of professional norms and what it means to conduct yourself in the work world as a professional. Your husband crossed a line that made you look unprofessional and made him look … a bit crazy, and possibly scary too.

The thing is, this is so very much Not Done that when it happens, people will assume that you’re either in a scary, dangerous situation or that you lack professional judgment:

1. Scary, dangerous situation. You may bristle at this, but the reality is that having a spouse appear to dictate your decision to resign — and to go so far as to convey that decision on your behalf — makes most people wonder why he has this much control over your professional life … and whether that level of control indicates an abusive relationship. This type of control (including speaking on the spouse’s behalf in a situation where she should speak for herself) is a common hallmark of abusive relationships. That doesn’t mean that you’re in one — but it means that it sure looks like a possibility from the outside. (If this rings at all true to you, you might take a look at this for more information.)

2. Professional judgment. First, let me be clear: It’s completely your prerogative if you want a marriage where your husband makes the decisions for your family. As long as you’re a willing participant, that’s your call and no one else’s. But this arrangement only applies to the two of you, and you can’t expect people outside your marriage to play by those rules. Your employer’s relationship with you is with you, not with your family or your husband. You can’t ask an employer to accept that they’ll be talking with him rather than with you. It just doesn’t work that way. And if you appear not to recognize that, it will raise questions in people’s minds about your judgment.

I’m hoping this situation is #2. I suspect it probably is, and so I’m going to answer the rest of the question assuming that it’s #2. But please don’t disregard #1 without thinking it through.

In any case, this is why your manager reacted the way she did. She said it was concerning because it is concerning. And she forwarded the email to HR because if it’s scenario #1 above, she wants HR in the loop, and if it’s scenario #2, they’d want it in your file in case you apply in the future, because they’d have concerns about your professionalism and judgment.

As for what to do now, I would just let this go at this point, rather than sending another email; another email will just make this more convoluted than it already is. I would not reapply with this employer in the future; getting emails from an employee’s spouse announcing her resignation is not something they’re likely to sign up for more of.

And I think this does raise questions that it’s worth spending some time thinking about. Good luck.

{ 225 comments… read them below }

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I was just thinking the same thing! I can’t pinpoint exactly when I started reading AAM because I spent a lot of time in the archives so a lot of the older reprints still sound familiar, but I *definitely* remember this letter and going Oh, no, no, no, noooooo.”

      1. Natalie*

        This is one of the first ones I remember with what felt like a million comments at the time, that didn’t die down after a few hours.

      2. Captain Radish*

        I know this is WAY before I started actually commenting, but I remember this myself. The thing is, I’m pretty sure I’ve not been reading AAM for four years, so I may have linked to this somewhere.

        I remember though that this was probably the first letter that made me uncomfortable.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        I had to go back and revisit the comments for a refresher… That one got pretty wild pretty quickly! Wow.

      1. Worker Bee (Germany)*

        Ditto. I’ve been missing her.
        And as all above remember this one very well. Sure hope OP is doing well. Worried very much for her.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I do too. I also go back and read this letter every once in a while. The OP’s responses in the original comments were pretty weird and combative, too. I’m always curious about this one.

      1. OhNo*

        Oh yeah, I remember that! This was one of those where I always kinda hoped the letter writer would come back with an update of some kind, but alas…

      2. Lola*

        What username was OP posting under? That post has a ton of comments, and it’s hard to find OP’s.

        1. Adam V*

          She originally posted as “OP”, but then changed to “OP Changed to PO (pissed off)” then just “PO”.

          1. (Another) B*

            I just read all the comment (rabbit hole) – she is a boat load of crazy. And in denial. I hope she’s sorted herself out since then.

      3. designbot*

        oh gosh, I hadn’t seen the followup comment the first time I read it. It’s so unfortunate that the genuine concern people felt for her was so offputting that she couldn’t see where everyone was coming from.

      4. Tequila Mockingbird*

        Yeah, OP’s replies in the thread were FAR more disturbing than her letter! They went from sheepish and defensive (“we’ve been to marriage counseling, please don’t be so hard on him”) to sarcastic and hostile (“screw all of you, you’re all a bunch of idiots”).

        In the end, I think commenters agreed that BOTH she and her husband were serious mental cases.

        1. eplawyer*

          Unfortunately those in scenario 1 often act that way. If they deny there is anythng wrong and people “just don’t understand us” then they don’t have to admit they are in a scary situation that they need to get away from immediately. Plus they are so used to deflecting to avoid more problems later. If you don’t defend the other person, then the other person gets mad and there are … consequences.

          I really hope this person got out.

          1. Lance*

            Very much agreed. And hopefully not in the way of ‘leaving the kids and husband behind to pursue my own endeavors’ that she mentioned as a possibility at one point.

    2. EA*

      I wasn’t a reader at the time, but I remember when I first started reading I found this in the archives. I also remember all the comments from the OP. I hope she found some peace.

    3. AnonAnalyst*

      I do too. I found the original letter and the OP’s replies weird and somewhat unsettling. I had just started reading AAM shortly before this letter was posted, so this one really stands out in my mind because the other letters I had seen leading up to it had been so normal in comparison.

      1. Yet Another Liz*

        I’m half expecting the original OP to pop out of nowhere since this was reposted. Don’t know why I feel that way, since that’s never happened before that I know of. Yeah I remember this one too! Time flies when you’re having….fun?

        1. Kay J*

          I’ve seen a few of the Inc. posts where Alison re-answers questions have the original OP in the comments.

  1. Central Perk Regular*

    We had a similar situation at my old company. Marie, a very high-ranking executive at the company, allegedly got into a car accident while on a family vacation. (I say “allegedly” because there was all sorts of weirdness around the event and what followed.) Marie had been with the company a short time before the accident (less than a year I think).

    From that point on, we never heard from Marie again – literally. The only communication that was received was from Marie’s husband, Ron via emails. Marie reported to the company’s president, and Ron would not allow Marie to speak to the president post-accident. Many people were concerned about Marie’s welfare, because Ron has exhibited signs of controlling behavior. I didn’t work close enough to Marie to know this info, but several others did.

    After about six months of no communication from Marie, Ron turned in Marie’s notice to company president. A couple of months after the resignation, Marie’s new job title and company info popped up on someone’s LinkedIn.

    1. Temperance*

      We had a similar issue pop up at my last job, but the woman was pretty low-ranking and it was clear that she had a drug problem or some other issues. Her boyfriend/husband (can’t remember) showed up demanding her last paycheck, which had already been sent in the mail, and he was banned from our building because of the ruckus he caused. She never responded to contact from any of us.

      (She also stole my debit card out of my purse and tried to buy a bunch of camo crap from Cabella’s with it.)

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        Ugh, this sounds like a friend of mine, right down to the camouflage stuff.

        I am so worried about her, but many in our community have talked to her and all we can really do is make sure we are still there for her when/if something awful happens.

      1. Boo*

        Honestly I did once know a guy who murdered his wife and went on a round the world trip with her savings. He got away with it for ages by sending her family/friends emails and texts in her name.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Like The Talented Mr. Ripley?!

          I’m confused about the job title and company showing up on LinkedIn. It showed up on her LinkedIn profile like she had a new job?

          1. Liane*

            He wasn’t the only serial killer to do that, just (probably) the first. Look up John Edward Robinson. It’s recounted in the book about him by pioneering profiler John Douglas.

          2. Mona Lisa*

            I just finished Devil in the White City recently, and I believe it was a woman who was his “wife” but legally wasn’t. (She thought they were married, but it was a sham.) He convinced her to put her massive inheritance in his name, and he used her money to fund his…projects…after he killed her and her sister.

        2. Boo*

          Yeah I wasn’t close to him but we were both active members of the same online community. I remember him posting about setting off on his travels to find himself and how we all cheered him on and followed his blogs and Twitter feed. I felt tainted by association. Point is, it does happen. Here’s a link though be warned it’s pretty horrific:

        3. Jean*

          Was this an English guy from the Nottingham area? If so, a close friend of mine also knew them both. It was a horrible story.

        4. SusanIvanova*

          One of those “true crime” shows (20/20, something like that) had an episode where the murderer made updates on his victim’s Facebook page to make it look like she was still alive.

      2. designbot*

        I probably would have called the police and tried to get them to send someone out to her house to make sure she was ok, or at minimum verified that there was a police report of the car accident. I’d be worried he’d killed her, or hurt her so badly that the “car accident” was a coverup, or was otherwise controlling her movements in a scary way.

  2. Temperance*

    I always hoped for an update from this LW. Her husband’s letter just got under my skin in so many ways.

    I grew up in evangelical circles, where men really do make all decisions for all family members. It’s … odd and dysfunctional, and I don’t miss it. I knew many women who were only allowed to work small jobs while their kids were in school, and they were required to turn over their paychecks to their husband (or deposit directly into accounts that he controlled).

    1. Morning Glory*

      She responded quite a few times in the original post, as I recall. She was pretty hostile to some of the commenters.

      1. Chickaletta*

        Probably because it was questioning her world view. If it was wrong for her husband to do that, then it could mean the foundation of their relationship was wrong, and if that was based on her religious norms then it could mean her religious beliefs were flawed, which could mean that God wasn’t who she thought he was. I realize I’m jumping to conclusions here, but even if the path of cause an effect was different (if it had nothing to do with religion for example), you can see how this might have shook up her foundations.

        1. The Bimmer Guy*

          That’s why I like Alison’s answer, which took into account that having a controlling husband may be a cultural, religious or preferential thing for her; however it’s quite unorthodox and inappropriate for that to seep into a professional relationship with an employer.

        2. Temperance*

          I’ve met a lot of people who do follow this lifestyle, and they honestly believe that the rest of the world is messed up. They don’t really follow the critical thinking pattern like you cite here.

          1. The Bimmer Guy*

            True. But to me, it’s just like the woman from a couple weeks ago who wanted everyone to call her partner “Master” like she did, or something like that. It’s just not appropriate.

        3. designbot*

          I didn’t hear any religion in her posts, but there was a LOT of defensiveness around her choice to stay at home with her kids, which is a similarly pretty sensitive subject for people.

      2. Turtle Candle*

        This letter and the one about whether to put U. of Phoenix on one’s resume are two that have always stood out to me for their hostility–not because they’re the most hostile LW-commenters we’ve ever had, I don’t think, but because they mostly seemed to be lashing out at people who were expressing sincere concern. (Which is rather different than lashing out at someone who told you you’ve done something horrible.) I’ve always suspected the degree of the response, in both cases, was in part because they knew that the commenters were to some degree correct, and it was emotionally safer to shoot the messenger than confront that.

        And in both cases, I really hope the person is okay, hostile or not.

          1. FD*

            Oh, man, I forgot about that one…that was one in-denial OP. (You’ll see all you need to know of the thread if you look for the comment with the timestamp June 14, 2013 at 2:06 am.)

            But that person at least is probably only hurting themselves. I feel sad and worried for this OP, because she’s being harmed by the situation (whether due to abuse or just ignorance of professional norms).

          2. Turtle Candle*

            Oh, wow. I had seen that post but not any of the comments!

            Looks like a question that was a thinly disguised request for validation, and then flipping out when you did not, in fact, validate.

            1. EddieSherbert*

              Same! I must have gotten to the show late and didn’t pay much attention to the comments. Wowwww!!

          3. Gandalf the Nude*

            Thanks, Alison. I was going to get some work done, but now my brain’s going to itch until I go in and read that comment section. :P

          4. jamlady*

            I read 3 of the OP’s comments and had to leave the page. So hostile and just flat-out rude, especially to Alison. Goodness.

            1. Lance*

              Right? ‘I’m not a problem, you’re a problem!’ I don’t think I want to count how many times that OP said something along those lines.

          5. LBK*

            Man, rereading the OP’s comments there always makes me so frustrated. He really spun himself as the victim there (of what, I’m not clear – honest criticism and advice?).

          6. babblemouth aka One Of The Greatest Minds Of The 21st Century*

            I’m reading this one now for the first time. What a trainwreck… I feel like this would have been a great one for the Bad Advisor to reply to.

          1. RGB*

            Oh my! This letter made me snort out loud – I once worked with a recent grad who had a very similar attitude toward me (I was his acting manager). I am one of those rarities – no degree (some professional qualifications specific to my field), loads of real world experience, and earning six figures.

            And my new resource was really unhappy about having to learn from me – he didn’t believe I knew anything he needed to know. He re-invented the wheel on many occasions which led to lost time, late delivery, poor delivery…. only ever made himself look like he couldn’t collaborate with other people or use shared learnings appropriately. Silly.

          2. One of the Sarahs*

            I always remember the one this year who wanted affirmation that an Ivy school would be better for their career than anything else, who rocked up in the comments under aliases, to insult Alison and everyone, thinking Alison would never notice the email address….

        1. GirlBob*

          … Goodness gracious, I’d read the University of Phoenix letter but not too the comments. Why did she send in a question when she was so determined to not listen to the answer?

          1. Blue Anne*

            I think that with situations like this one and the UoP letter, the OP is *really* emotionally invested in one thing being right – University of Phoenix being great, or this HR person being nuts. But they get a niggling worry that maybe the thing they’re so invested in is actually wrong, and write to Alison expecting that she’ll help them crush that niggling doubt.

            Then Alison tells them that their worry is spot on and they flip out because they really, really, really wanted to be told that the thing they were so invested in was the right thing.

            I’m reminded of flipping out at my mom when she told me she didn’t think I was really in love with the guy I was marrying. We’re in the divorce process right now… she was spot on, and I knew it deep down, but didn’t want to hear it.

            1. Candi*

              I know exactly what you mean. From my father, in my case.

              (My mother was part of the reason I was vulnerable; she’d already poisoned the well on how do you treat people you say you love.)

            2. Anon for this*

              I want to say something in defense of you flipping out at your mom. My mother walked into the room where I was doing my hair and makeup an hour before my wedding, with the warning not to have any kids with my husband, “because you’re going to get divorced anyway”. We did get divorced, so she was technically correct. But we were married eighteen years, have two fantastic children, are on better terms now than we were when we were married, and frankly, looking back at those eighteen years, we each did a lot of things right in that marriage. It didn’t work out in the end, and we had a few really awful years, but it had a good chance of working. And my mom had no call to evaluate a relationship/marriage of two people whom she both did not really know at that point. She and I had never been close, and my husband and I had never lived in my home town so she hadn’t had a chance to know him at all by that point. She just accidentally happened to be right; even a broken clock etc etc. Really, IMO, with the exception of abusive relationships when one or both sides have been so gaslighted/brainwashed that they cannot tell which side is up, the only people who are qualified to say anything on the state of a relationship or marriage are the two people married and maybe their therapist, if they have one. An outsider just doesn’t know what he or she doesn’t know.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          I think it actually might be the other way around – that in both cases the OP was writing in with what they thought was a straightforward, reasonable question, and was expecting a simple response that was in line with their view of the world. Instead, they got an overwhelmingly unanimous response that they were wrong, and in a way that went completely against the way they viewed themselves and their lives.

          In this case, the OP was facing the realization that her marriage, which she had seen as quite normal and reasonable, was widely regarded as creepily controlling and possibly abusive, and that her employers were right to consider her wildly unprofessional and question her basic work competence. In the Phoenix case, she was facing the realization that the degree she had spent significant time and money and effort on and was really proud of was actually from a scam company and employers were justified in rejecting her for listing it.

    2. Liz*

      I know many and have myself been in situations where another person had the authority over such decisions in the relationship. But the communication to the employer still needs to be direct and professional. It boggles me that the husband felt somehow entitled and necessary to say all of that. It was their choice to have her take this job, not the job’s fault of meeting what they wanted. A resignation needs to be two sentences to the effect of “I am leaving, this is the date.”

      So it’s not that the husband had the authority here, it’s that it was used in such a strange way that would have me concerned.

      1. Natalie*

        How so? Temperance is describing her own experiences growing up in a environment similar to the situation in the letter. Presumably she can be trusted to relay her own experience in an evangelical community.

      2. Tequila Mockingbird*

        No, it wasn’t. I too grew up in an evangelical family; my grandfather was a preacher. Everything Temperance said was spot-on.

      3. Temperance*

        I’m an ex-evangelical, and I know the lifestyle quite well. I was providing insight to the type of person that the LW could very well be. I don’t see it as unnecessary or uncalled for.

      4. Aim Away From Face*

        No, it wasn’t. It is absolutely appropriate, whether you like to believe it or not.

      5. Salyan*

        I agree with harryv. I’m sorry for the commenter that said this, who has obviously had a rough experience with ‘evangelicalism’, but please don’t paint all evangelical circles with the same brush. While I would agree that some extremes are dysfunctional (and, more to the point, unbiblical), male leadership in the home is not necessarily dysfunctional simply because someone else does not agree with it.

  3. KimberlyR*

    I agree that the letter is full of red flags for anyone not participating from within this marriage. As an outsider, I would be concerned at receiving the email from the husband (not only the existence of the email, but the content as well.)

    If the OP is 100% comfortable and happy with her marriage the way it is, great. (OP, if any part of you feels not all the way on board, then it may be worth it to speak with an advocate, just to get a feel for healthy relationship dynamics.)

    But employers and coworkers should be able to expect all communications regarding OP and her work to come directly from OP, and for the husband to not be part of any of that. Otherwise, it looks controlling and abusive from the outside.


    I remember this letter and just shaking my head. Because either way – damn. Either this woman is in an abusive relationship and needs help and that’s sad. Or she doesn’t get why having your husband resign for you is so beyond the scope of professional and that is just… head shake worthy

  5. orchidsandtea*

    The comments on the 2012 post were pretty incredible. If I’m remembering right, the husband showed up.

    As Esra and fposte said in 2012, it’s deeply concerning that “from one professional to another” includes the boss and the husband, but not the letter writer.

      1. It happens*

        Is it weird that this was my first response to re-reading the original? I started reading AAM just before this original post and now I notice that the regular, thoughtful posters change over time. Yay, for new people, but sad to lose people. I have AAM nostalgia…

    1. Natalie*

      I don’t think the husband ever showed, but what “what about the menz” type guys popped up at the very end to rail against a double standard he completely made up. So that was nice.

      1. Dweali*

        I honestly thought the comment that was specific about the “Mercedes-Benz” was from him…although, I still don’t get the argument about “too much money for child care etc” when they can afford a luxury vehicle

    2. Chickaletta*

      Exactly. The husband basically implied that his wife, a nurse nonetheless, isn’t a professional. Mix with a dose of referring to everything as “his”: “his” wife, “his” family, sprinkle with a condescending tone, and of course people are going to be concerned for her.

    3. Tequila Mockingbird*

      I don’t think the husband showed up, not that we could “prove.” But OP’s posts changed tone very quickly and dramatically – she went from being meek/apologetic/defensive to VERY sarcastic and rude, that many wondered if the latter posts were written by the husband.

      Also, there was a random mens-rights-advocate who posted something at the bottom of the thread, defending the husband. Might have been the husband himself, but it was posted 3 months after the letter, so who knows?

  6. Stellaaaaa*

    This got so messy because at face value it’s such a mundane issue: OP tried to go back to work and quickly found out that it was neither the right time nor the right position. She was going to do the respectable thing and resign before her employer became invested in her. Instead, her husband grabbed the reigns and fired off an email that made it all about HIM. HE is the one who takes issue with the burden on HIS family. HIS support for her desire to work only extends to whether or not it’s convenient for him. “From one professional to another”…that sounds like Jane’s being looped out because she’s somehow not adult or smart enough to understand grownup stuff. I find the semantics more troubling than the fact of him firing of the email.

      1. Natalie*

        Maybe not, given what I’m assuming was her worldview. Part of the deal with those patriarchal Christian families is that the husband is always supposed to consider the needs & wants of wife and children, *without* them expressing those needs or wants in any direct way. If she had been in that type of household for 9+ years, it would start to feel like a normal way to interact with authority figures like bosses.

        (No comment on whether that’s the reality of those households, or if that makes the system fair or egalitarian.)

      2. sam*

        yeah- I wasn’t around for the original letter, but some stuff that really stuck out to me reading through the original letter and her responses were the idea that the job (while she was still in her 90-day probationary period!) was not bending over backwards enough to accommodate her myriad personal needs – letting her only work weekends, take days off, generally care about her emotional well-being.

        I mean, it’s great if you can find a job like that, but my understanding is that those probationary periods are generally the times when jobs are going to be the *least* accommodating, because you’re basically on an extended tryout for a permanent position.

        It’s perfectly fine if you go back to work and then realize quickly that you made a mistake/realize that the job isn’t what you wanted/isn’t what it was cracked up to be, but your employer isn’t really your friend. They hired you because they have specific staffing needs. They’re not employing you to do *you* a favor, and every time you can “only work on weekends” or need to stay home with the kids (all perfectly valid things for *you* to consider before taking any job), that employer needs to impose further on *other* employees to fill the gap.

        1. sam*

          oh, and all this is to say that she was clearly unhappy with the job for these reasons because it obviously caused conflict with her home responsibilities. So even before the wackadoo resignation situation, she was basically trying to have the job tiptoe around her home life.

    1. Bwooster*

      That “as one professional to another” is creepy as hell but considering that he started the letter with “As Jane’s husband…” he needs to make up his mind as to what capacity he’s speaking in. Or best yet, speak in no capacity at all.

    2. Sunflower*

      I’m not sure what he meant by her not being ‘aggressive’ enough. If OP had tried to resign and the company was a jerk and attempted to ‘not let her’, that would be one thing(still absolutely does not validate what the husband did) but what kind of aggressiveness do you need to resign from a job?

      ‘This isn’t working out, I’m resigning.’ For most employers, esp from an employee who is still in probationary period, that’s more than enough to get your point across.

      1. Natalie*

        I bet a million dollars that “not assertive enough” meant the OP hadn’t quit because she didn’t want to.

      2. Tuxedo Cat*

        I read that as the husband expected the OP to go make a bunch of demands and that the workplace would agree to them.

    3. LawLady*

      I agree that the “from one professional to another” line was the creepiest bit for me. It sounded a lot like how a parent might say to his young child’s teacher “from one adult to another…”

      1. memoryisram*

        As someone who has been in controlling situations before, this reak of that kind of behavior. He will only support her working if it doesn’t disrupt his home life? Oh boy. I’m assuming he wants dinner on the table when he gets home from that sort of language.

  7. silvertech*

    I remember this one, it sent my anxiety levels through the roof just by reading the letter. And when the OP started posting hostile comments, I wasn’t sure if I was more worried about her or angry at her. If she was indeed in an abusive marriage, that showed how abuse can completely warp your perception of reality…

    1. some1*

      “how abuse can completely warp your perception of reality…”

      This is why I think the LW got all combative in the comments. Her question implies that she was looking for validation from Allison that the supervisor and HR overreacted to the email and she totally thought she’d get it.

    2. Tuxedo Cat*

      I didn’t bring my abusive relationship into the workplace for the most part (had to take off some days to get my life sorted out), but her responses were a more aggressive version of things I said to friends.

      I’m not saying she was/is abused, but they really did remind me of how I spoke about my ex/my relationship when I was with him.

      1. NW Mossy*

        In my state, we’ve actually passed legislation that protects abuse victims during this “get my life sorted out” phase by protecting victims’ jobs when they need to take time away for this purpose. While I can certainly understand why someone might be reluctant to call upon that protection, I’m glad it’s there.

  8. Moonsaults*

    I haven’t been around that long, so this is a freshly chilling feeling to say the least.

    As a professional woman, who has only ever contacted anyone else’s employer once and that was when my mom couldn’t stop vomiting to call in, it scares the daylights out of me that anyone just thinks that it’s not really that big of a deal, controlling tone or not.

    I had to unplug and block my former boss’ family from contacting me after awhile because I quit and they would not stop talking to me and asking more and more. Still even then, the idea of my partner jumping on there and said “well I said NO, so that means no!!!!”, hell nah.

  9. Tequila Mockingbird*

    I remember this email. So sad. I still believe the OP is/was in an abusive marriage. I hope she got out.

  10. SL #2*

    This is the one where the OP came back and flipped out in the comments about the abuse speculation, right? I don’t have much to add, just that I hope she’s doing all right, in whatever situation she finds herself in.

    1. Grey*

      I could see why she was frustrated. Armchair diagnoses are discouraged around here, yet everyone decided he must be abusive. Nobody would listen to her when she said that he wasn’t.

      1. anonymouse*

        Yeah this. There’s a lot of armchair diagnosing going on in this post’s comments too. Most blogs and corners of the internet have their own hivemind of interpreting or reacting to things and AAM is no different, so I can understand why the original OP might have been angry if she insisted it wasn’t abuse and everyone here insisted it was.

        Sometimes I really wish people wouldn’t jump to the worst conclusion with some of the letters here.

        1. AD*

          That’s not really how the thread went, if you bothered to read it. There were a lot of concerned and supportive questions and posts regarding the OP’s letter, and then she joined the conversation and became defensive, rambling, incoherent, and weird.
          Let’s not unnecessarily slam the commenting community here if it’s not called for, ok?

      2. Morning Glory*

        I agree that armchair diagnoses aren’t very constructive as a general rule, but I don’t think that is exactly what happened in the original post.

        Every comment that the OP left, even the early ones, raised new concerns, like how she had asked him not to send it or at least to send it as coming from her, and he ignored her. Her comments grew weirder and more hostile the longer that she commented.

        Most of the commenters four years ago used softer language than today, talking about signs and indications of abuse instead of saying, flat out, that it was an abusive situation. Abuse comes in a lot of forms, not merely physical violence. So while it would certainly be speculation to say this was a physically abusive relationship, it is no stretch at all to say the signs of abuse in general were there. In fact, I would argue it’s important to point those out because an online advice blog is for more people than the original letter writer. Putting the word ‘abuse’ to controlling behavior and contacting one’s employer against one’s wishes may have helped other readers in similar situations.

        1. Dweali*

          that is something that I wish had been brought up to OP, that she may not be in an abusive relationship but you never know who else is reading the comments and end up being helped by them.

        2. Lance*

          Key points right here. Nobody insisted he was abusive; just suggested he might be. And the OP, frankly, provided nothing to clear any doubts; instead, she started being defensive right off the bat, which is, inevitably, only going to add to those doubts. Not to mention the point where she went totally off the rails.

  11. labradoodle*

    I think this is definitely a case of abusive behavior. This is totally something my ex-husband would have done and he was completely emotionally and verbally abusive and extremely controlling. In fact, the wording of the letter is eerily reminiscent of how he would describe situations. Not to go into details but i wound up with a lot of professional roadblocks because of his demands that my job accommodate his preferences. All of my employers knew how he was and they all disliked him immensely. I can see my ex doing something like this if i wasn’t acting fast enough for his tastes since clearly i didn’t know how to or wasnt capable of handling things properly. Funny thing is that after years of putting my professional advancement aside to accommodate his demands, he divorced me for another woman and now is trying to back out of alimony and child support claiming I am capable of full time employment.

  12. Annie Moose*

    Upon rereading this response, you know what Alison’s comment on interpretation #2 really reminds me of? The recent letter about the employee who wanted coworkers to refer to her partner as her “master”. This line in particular applies very well:

    “As long as you’re a willing participant, that’s your call and no one else’s. But this arrangement only applies to the two of you, and you can’t expect people outside your [relationship] to play by those rules.”

    Obviously a quite different situation (the employee’s partner didn’t appear to have any interest in interfering in her work life; it was the employee herself making things weird), but the basic thrust of the advice still holds.

    1. AW*

      My thoughts exactly.

      I could decide to livestream every moment of my waking life, that doesn’t mean my employer is required to allow the cameras in their office.

  13. Bwooster*

    >There is a first time for everything.

    The alarming thing about what your husband did isn’t that its the first of a kind but that it’s behavior that is so out of date, it’s archaic. There was a time when all decisions about a woman’s employment was made by her husband but that time is far enough back now that it isn’t something that anyone expects to encounter in their working life. Your husband is so out of date, he could have traveled here in Delorian.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      More like traveled here in something with drum brakes.

      I know she says she’d been out of the workforce for awhile, but . . . how long? I feel like she left a zero off the end of that “9”.

  14. sayanontothis*

    I’ve only been reading AaM recently (this year), but I still did read the letter from 2012. My spouse is kind of bossy, and obviously leads our family, while I have anxiety and a math learning disability and so can’t lead/budget well. And due to finances and having to care for pets/house, I can’t make a lot of daily time/money choices on my own. (I mean things like only having a joint bank account so that hopefully with auto-debit we won’t overdraw the account, or have to pay fees on a 2nd bank account, being told we need to save the gas in our cars for work till payday so I can’t go anywhere but for a few days, not having a ton of money of my own to spend, and being asked to be home at X times and only go to the gym or appointments and Y times). Since we have both been earning more, I have more freedom, now.

    Even so, my spouse would never dream of resigning FOR me! Professionally, they tell me to learn, and stand on my own.

    1. Knitchic79*

      I know you didn’t ask fire advice, but possibly look into some financial classes. Even with, or especially with, a math disability it can be helpful to have someone break down the basics. It’s just a good skill set to develop; if anything (heaven forbid) happens to your hubby you’ll be glad for the head start.

      1. sayanontothis*

        We’re lesbians. No husband! But thanks.

        I understand some basics, like, “we need X a week/two weeks for Y expenses, which are this much,” and how not to go over a budget. I get how the money is separated for different things as needed.

        I just can’t add/subtract anything 3 digits or over on my own, make a long term plan, or compare options for big purchases.

        1. Loose Seal*

          I am the exact same way. Dyscalculia plus anxiety about money and things that cost money (so almost everything?). The way I solved this for myself so I wouldn’t be so anxious was not to spend any extra money. I paid the bills, which were fairly consistent amounts, and bought the same groceries every week. I bought the same set of toiletries every month. I would go for years before buying new clothes because I’m never certain of the relationship between the cost of new underwear and my bank account balance. (Which is probably impossible for someone without this disorder to comprehend.)

          Now that I’m married and our money is combined, my husband has nudged me into making more purchases that are “fun” or wants, rather than needs. I’m afraid that I’m in the habit of spending money without thinking now and if something happens to him, I will not be able to get back to my previous austerity.

          Completely off topic, but I wanted to let you know you are not alone.

          1. animaniactoo*

            fwiw, you might want to try having a separate “discretionary” funds account. Money placed in that account is by definition “not needed just nice to have” and can be spent at will on anything you want without ever worrying that you have spent the rent money.

            1. animaniactoo*

              wish I could edit that – meaning you can work with somebody who can help you figure out how much you can transfer into that account, but once it’s there, you know it’s “safe” to spend. That is, if you haven’t tried an approach like this before. If so, please ignore.

            2. Kira*

              Our family does that–not with a separate account, but mentally. We call it our “fun money”.

              It might not work for you, @Loose Seal, I don’t really understand your disability, but it might. Basically, if my fun money has $50 then I can buy anything I want with that $50. Maybe I get a ton of candy, or one really fancy pair of underwear, but as long as it’s under that number I’m safe.

              1. animaniactoo*

                (loosely speaking for LooseSeal based on other convos we’ve had – I may get corrected)

                If the level of Dyscalculia is strong enough (and is here), there is no way to add/subtract in your head to figure out what is going to remain under 50 bucks. Or if 50 is all you have truly spent after you’ve made 2 or more “small” purchases. Potentially possible to figure it out with a calculator, but that still may be a struggle. That’s why I’m suggesting a separate account – because that way it’s not possible to go over the limit of what’s been set aside, which can create freedom from the panic of whether you’re overspending and going to be in real trouble.

                Dyscalculia – in simplistic terms – is a numbers equivalent of dyslexia. The numbers jump around, look alien/unrecognizable, etc.

          2. FiveWheels*

            In a bit late here, but I’m not great with money and the way I got in control of my finances was to restrict spending to before payday.

            It’s normal where am I among a lot of people to buy luxuries on or right after payday, then they’re broke for the month. I strictly buy all luxuries within a few days before payday, so I know what’s in the account is legitimately spare.

        2. Moonsaults*

          Thank you for putting a face of sorts to this. I haven’t heard of it specifically, thought I know there are plenty of folks with budgetary issues in one form or another. As someone in the finance world, it does give me anxiety thinking about. I truly appreciate the POV from someone in those shoes to knock me down a few pegs.

          I know that at times there are things like this where we need a spouse who isn’t afraid to put their foot down. Something like this can lead to devistation when you’re on a shoestring budget like it sounds like you most likely were before you both started gaining more financial cushion!

        3. seejay*

          It’s not always a sign of abuse or control if one person handles the money. I was in a relationship where my male partner was pretty bad at paying bills and budgeting and he knew I was good at it, so he let me take care of it and manage it all. The main thing though was I still kept him in the loop of what was coming in and going out, we discussed major financial decisions, and we had worked out budgets for our own individual paychecks and the household management. And the kicker was that neither of us tried to use it as a way of controlling or taking advantage of the other.

          The key thing that I learned out of the whole mess I got myself into (when I handed over full control to someone else) is that at no point should you ever feel trapped, where you can’t / don’t have the financial means to get out. Never bank on your relationship being permanent and always being there until the end… even if you don’t split or break up, there could be a sudden death or accident that leaves one of you having to take on the tasks the other one was primarily responsible for.

          And even after I got out of my mess, this story drilled it home for me. Always, always, ALWAYS, have a “fuck off” fund. You never know when you’re going to need it.

          1. sayanontothis*

            That’s a neat story; but, you need resources people don’t have, and that I don’t have, to build up that fund. You have to have little student debt, be generally healthy, and be able to work weird hours.

            I have really bad allergies (full-face swelling with potential anaphylaxis a few times a year), and constant skin issues. Trust me, even with insurance, unexpected medical bills mean I can’t save much at all, aside from the $10/wk I DO get. And my problem is made a lot worse by stress, so I can’t work more than about 50 hours a week. I had to recently put off an important repair on my 10 year old car.

            I can’t yet consider such a fund, is what I mean. Maybe talk to me about it when I’m NOT asking around as to whether there’s in forma pauperis paperwork to qualify for free or discounted fees for keeping up my professional license.

            I don’t intend to sound mean; just that you should recognize your privilege and position. For a lot of people, they can’t “just save.” However, my local LGBT community is strong, and I have good professional relationships. I am sure that my communities and colleagues would help me if needed.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Sure, but this is getting into “not everyone can have sandwich” territory. (See the commenting guidelines if that reference doesn’t make sense.) Most advice won’t work for everyone in every situation, but that doesn’t make it not worth offering to the people who it does apply to.

            2. seejay*

              Yes I get it… not everyone has resources to build it up. I didn’t when I got out of my last bad relationship, and it took me 6 years to actually get on my feet and start saving enough that I *could* even begin such a thing (and even still, I’m not saving that much, I’m a part time student).

              I do fully recognize my privilege and position, and I got to where I am with a lot of hard work on it, I didn’t just get there by birthright or whatever. I had some things due to privilege, other things I didn’t and I had to work my ass off for. I supplied the story for anyone who might be able to make use of it and also to point out the value in *having a resource to fall back on*. You can read it literally as it is, which is monetary, or you can also apply it to your particular situation. If you can’t build up a monetary FoF, then there are other ways to take care of yourself, which you’ve stated you have (even if you don’t realize you stated it): a strong LGBT community and professional relationships that can step in and help is a resource and something that can help bail you out.

              Basically, my point of posting in the first place is to emphasize: don’t get stuck where you’re isolated and without any sort of escape plan. It’s fine to have someone managing X, Y and Z in your life, as long as it doesn’t go bad, but make sure you can take care of yourself and have a way out if things to pear shaped. Please don’t accuse me of privilege and position, I was simply speaking about an experience and some valuable lessons I learned and hoping others might also gain some insight.

              1. sayanontothis*

                Right, and I am sorry for how I phrased things. It’s just that I have worked with low-income clients and been in that place myself, and I am pretty literal. I could probably make it on my own, financially, with my job, but it would really suck, and I would first have to disentangle my money from hers. And I probably would not be able to afford health insurance.

                Realistically, should we ever split, I would probably stay with a friend or my community until I could do so, and then rent cheaply in a shared LGBT space.

                But you are right; and for now, to help me, independence-wise, I can build my relationships and professional network.

                1. seejay*

                  It’s ok! I don’t take offense too easily! :)

                  It scares me a bit when I read about tangled finances between a couple since I tend to project the bad decision I made and got myself messed up in. And honestly, I wouldn’t have been able to get out of it except I had a few resources that helped at the time, mainly a family that could financially back me until I got my feet back under me, and a small piece of property I had squirreled away. Without that, I would have been lost, since I got out of that mess with $30k in debt, no credit rating, and absolutely nothing going for me at the time. It was a harsh lesson and I’m lucky that I can build up a financial fund now because I don’t have a community to help out, even now (I’m genuinely a little jealous that you have a community, I’ve not been able to build up such a thing for myself here due to a range of things, so I *have* to rely on finances being the only way to save myself, I don’t have anyone here that can help, my family is 3000 miles away).

                  Part of why I’m also a student right now is another bit in my “take care of myself” fund. One more bit in my background to have credentials that will help on the career side if my job goes to pot, plus it’ll help with immigration (ideally).

                  As long as there’s a support net (financially, emotionally, community, etc), then that’s what’s important. When I got lost, I didn’t have finances (he controlled them), had no family support (they were too far away and I was too embarrassed to tell them I’d made a bad decision relationship-wise… again), and no community (the only “friends” I had were his, at least locally). There was a reason why I was depressed and suicidal.

        4. Knitchic79*

          Sorry, should have gone with spouse. I’ve got a friend with the purchase anxiety thing, that part is tough to learn. She’s always doubting her decisions. As long as you have a reasonable idea of how finances work you’re fine. It sounds like you have the best handle for you.

        5. Kay J*

          Okay, I don’t think my partner would be posting anon on AAM but I keep squinting at this comment like “….are we dating?”

  15. Sunflower*

    I also think maybe the forward to HR might have been a CYA sort of thing.

    Can someone resign for you? I don’t think so. I would be concerned from a legal perspective. I don’t even know what kind of things could result from this but if I got this email as a resignation, I’d probably send to HR and say ‘this has never happened to me, what do we do?’

    1. designbot*

      My instinct would be to both do that and reply to the email and say something like “I’m sorry but if Jane is resigning then we will need to hear that from her, as she is the one employed by us. All discussions of employment status must be had with the employee directly.”
      It reminds me a bit of being a TA in grad school and having undergrad’s parents email me to contest their grades, which I was not at liberty to discuss with them (and furthermore had a poor impact on my perception of the student). I would just reply that my office hours were in the syllabus and if the student was unclear on why they had received the grade they had they were always free to come and discuss it with me. Oddly enough, none of them ever did.

      1. Drew*

        When I was a TA, I had a parent call to demand that I let him know how his son was doing. I took considerable delight (after several years of teaching high school where helicopter parents made my life hell) in saying that I was prohibited by school policy and state privacy laws from discussing a student’s grades without the student present.

        No, it didn’t matter that the student was 17. No, it didn’t matter that Daddy was paying for school.

        Finally, the dad said, “I’m going to talk to your dean and get you fired!” to which I could only reply, “My dean is the one who explained the privacy policy to me, but go ahead.” Never heard about the issue, or from that parent, again.

        The really ironic thing was that the kid was doing fine, so even if I had been able to talk about it, I wouldn’t have had any issues to report.

  16. Turtle Candle*

    You know, in a weird way this reminds me of the “call my boyfriend my master” post from recently. Not, to be clear, because BDSM relationships are like this–but because it’s taking a dynamic that (hopefully–taking LW’s word for it that this is a dynamic that is nonabusive) works for you privately and bringing it to a public sphere where it doesn’t belong. If someone is in a marriage where the husband is assumed to be the “head of household” and to be the final decision-maker for the family, that’s their business–but only up until they bring it to work, at which place it is inappropriate not because they don’t have the right to arrange their family life like that, but because they don’t have the right to insist that other people play by their rules.

  17. animaniactoo*

    Reasons I suspect it’s #1 and not #2. At the very least from a controlling form of emotional abuse.

    • She was going to resign herself. Did he not trust her to do so? Why? If she was saying she was going to resign and still wasn’t doing it, why would it give him the power to force her to do it by starting the chain for her?

    If I needed help resigning, my husband would help me write the letter/e-mail that *I* was going to send, not send his own on my behalf.

    • His e-mail was full of so much “I” – not just on the decision making, but on the impact too. First it’s what *he* has a problem, about *my* (not our) family; then it’s *his* support of how she can work, *he* asks for their understanding.

    He can be in charge of all the decision making without speaking as if he owns all the affected people too.

    But he doesn’t – and I don’t think that’s just an accident of speech. He is genuinely not used to thinking of and practicing “we” and “our” with his wife having equal importance to the family and kids in her contributions whether or not she’s making major or final decisions about stuff. In his view, she does not have equal ownership of the family, and he does not value her contributions or respect her ability or willingness to follow through on decisions he has made (on “their” behalf).

  18. Dee*

    Wow, I’d read that post before, but never gone far enough into the comments to see OP’s responses. Wow.

  19. Anon for this*

    I wasn’t here 4 years ago. I’ll need to go and read the comments when I have a minute.

    This letter is mind-boggling. Did she actually think this family dynamics was “outside the box”? More like “inside the cage”, for her, anyway.

    I converted to Christianity in college and remained religious for 20 years before becoming atheist again. This is familiar behavior. I didn’t see it very often, but I’ve seen it. One couple that comes to mind is the one where the husband forbade the wife to use birth control and she happily complied; despite having already given birth to four children, being in the high-risk group for pregnancy and childbirth, as well as despite the fact that her last birth was extremely complicated. She happily did as she was ordered, because, her exact words, said with a smile on her face, “the wife should fear her husband”. I was worried sick about her health and well-being, until I lost track of them.

    Now that I think of it, throughout my 20 years of being “churched”, I’ve met, not many, but a few people, who would happily do things that made no sense and were fraught with possible awful consequences, all around took massive gambles with their career, health, and life, because they believed that God would take care of things and they would turn out okay no matter what. Sounds like LW might be one of them, seeing as how incredibly okay she is with the fact that her husband had blow-torched her new career before it even started. I’m not equally sure about the husband. Maybe he was just against OP ever working outside the home to begin with, but for some reason didn’t want to come out and say it.

    1. Mona Lisa*

      …are you talking about my aunt? She dropped out of a very prestigious university with a full-ride to join a cult. (It was always described to me as the Moonies, but I’m not 100% that’s her sect.) She got married young and had 4 children in 4 years. Her doctor told her that she should not under any circumstances get pregnant again, but she ended up having a fifth child a few years later at great risk to her health. She eventually divorced the abusive husband and was matched with a man in South Korea whose wife had recently died. The new husband is still living and working in Korea, but his two teenage daughters were recently sent to the US because women are supposed to be in charge of caring for the children. Her health is still poor, and now she’s working full-time as an inner-city public school teacher and raising the now four children that are still living at home.

      Back to the LW, she claims that her husband was supportive of rejoining the workforce in the original comments but couldn’t tolerate her wishy-washiness about quitting when it became clear she didn’t like the job and that it wasn’t working well for their family. It still doesn’t explain *why* he felt the need to send that e-mail instead of handling it herself, but if we take her comments at face value (and that’s a big if), he wasn’t wholly opposed to her working outside the home.

    2. Candi*

      @Mona: My ex was fine with me working -unt he got stuck with caring for our son when his mother was at an SCA event. That was one of the few times I drew a boundary with him during our marriage; heck, no, I wasn’t quitting.

      @Mona & Anon: That kind of “Christian” thinking drives me bananas, since it shows a profound ignorance of the Bible on so. many. levels. Out-of-context cherry-picking is just the tip of the problem. [Insert rant.] There’s a reason I don’t belong to any church or hall.

      I always feel bad for the kids caught up in all these kinds of situations.

    3. catsAreCool*

      The husband is supposed to love his wife enough to be willing to give up his life for her; seems like that would include treating her decently.

  20. Emmanuel*

    As much as I am tempted to laugh at this, it is just to much to ignore. You can’t have anybody,just email your employer.
    It’s just a no no

  21. Rusty Shackelford*

    It reminds me of the recent letter where (if I’m remembering right) the boyfriend emailed the LW’s boss to “ask” that she be given some time off to attend his family reunion… it was also full of weird phrasing that seemed to point at some kind of power imbalance.

    Also, going back and reading the OP’s comments in the original post, it’s funny that so much of her response was about her not wanting that particular job, as if the fact that she wanted to quit was the real issue.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      It was the boss who wrote in for that one, having had the email from the boyfriend asking if the employee could have time off for his family reunion. It was the first the boss had heard of it and when they asked the employee, the employee admitted she didn’t really want to go and had told the boyfriend that work was going to be a problem. The employee then brought it up again when it was almost the time of the trip, did end up going, then the boss found out that the employee had led another coworker to believe that the boss was denying her the time off. (It was speculated that that coworker perhaps knew the boyfriend and so the employee had to feed them both the same story).

  22. seejay*

    I’d read the letter before while skimming the archives but only went back and read the comments now (after someone here mentioned the OP showed up). Wow. Just… mind-boggling.

    Part of it did remind me of when I first moved to the US with a boyfriend a little over 8 years ago. For convenience, because he had lived in the US before and was already established, “we” decided to put all my paychecks on direct deposit directly into his account, and all the utilities and bills were set up in his name. I was listed on the leases for the apartments, but they were still in his name. It was the first time since moving out of my parents’ house that I’d ever let someone else control my finances and living arrangements. I didn’t see it as abuse because we’d both made the decision and (in my head at least), it made sense instead of having to deal with money transfers for bill paying, convenience, etc.

    Two years later, the relationship was terrible, he was verbally abusive, I was depressed and borderline suicidal, and I had no way to get out because he had control of the money and I had no history or credit rating in the US despite living and working in the country legally for two years. Oh, and he’d managed to max out one of my credit cards from our home country (for “expenses” because we were living beyond our means in the US). The good news is, he wasn’t totally an abusive controlling jerk (just mostly so) and I was able to convince him that moving my paycheck to a US bank account under my name was a good idea for building my credit rating/history, and with some outside help, managed to move out and fix everything up.

    But it taught me a harsh lesson about letting anyone ever control my finances again, no matter how “easy” it might look.

    1. seejay*

      Part of the point I was getting at too though is that when you let someone control that much, maybe they weren’t abusive to start with but you’ve handed them the reins to start driving that chariot and if they have it in them, they’re going to run with it.

      My ex had abusive traits that I saw before, but they weren’t *really* clear/obvious, at least at the time. Handing over the control of the finances and the household brought it out and made it that much more obvious and enabled him to act out a lot more because he knew I couldn’t leave. Control is definitely a huge factor at play in situations like these.

      1. Allison*

        This is a big reason why I’ve never wanted to be a housewife, and why I’ve never wanted to date a guy who paid for everything.

        1. MashaKasha*

          I was more or less financially dependent on my husband in the four years between the time our first child was born and the time we came to the US with two children. So I came here already well-prepared. When we opened checking accounts, we each opened our own in this person’s name only. Being a sole breadwinner is not for everyone and I think my husband let his new breadwinner status go to his head a bit while I was home with the kids. (In his defense, he was 24 years old when he suddenly became the sole provider, it’s hard to expect mature behavior from a 24-year-old kid.) I spent the rest of our life together making sure that we each had our own finances and made approximately the same amount. Made it so much easier when the time came to split up. We each took our own stuff and went our own separate ways, the only asset that had both our names on it was the house and we resolved that issue pretty quickly to mutual benefit.

          The downside of it is that, in the years since we split, I’ve been dating, have been in LTRs and hope to find a lifetime partner one day, but the thought of sharing a house and (some) finances terrifies me. I can’t help panicking that an SO will pull a fast one on me the minute both our names are on a lease or a mortgage. I just don’t have any first-hand experience of running joint finances as a team, without each side watching their half like a hawk.

        2. seejay*

          I’d been on my own or at least responsible for myself for years before this but between moving to a new country and moving in with someone who actually made a *hell* of a lot more than I ever did, it was a bit overwhelming and I wound up falling into a far more passive role than I ever would have let myself under normal circumstances. I didn’t want to be a housewife either and I had a career and a degree and was self-sufficient way before him… just… yeah… I made a bad decision in the moment and it bit me in the ass.

          It was a hard lesson to learn but worth it in the long run. I’ll never let myself get stuck like that again, that’s for sure.

          1. Julia*

            Yeah, these things can happen to everyone. I used to be great at being alone, but once I found someone I loved, I suddenly started hating long stretches of alone time. Human psychology is immensely interesting.

        3. (Another) B*

          Same here. I like being responsible for myself.

          My husband and I divvy up the bills. I make about $20K more than him, so I pay more of them. We both have our own accounts, and one joint one. Works great for us.

      2. aelle*

        Completely agreed with you. We are in a situation close to yours in that for linguistical reasons my husband takes care of all the finances and admin stuff in our household. But when we agreed on that split, we set up some safeguards: I have my own dummy bank account that I just use to receive my paycheck and immediately direct deposit part in a savings account, the rest in our joint account. I have a prepaid cell in a drawer somewhere even though he takes care of both our usual smartphone plans. Etc.

        I believe that part of being a responsible romantic partner is to set up safeguards, legal or otherwise, that prevent you from becoming an asshole if things ever turn not-so-romantic anymore.

    2. Lissa*

      Yes….this is so true. I’m a little bit on the other side of this situation, in that I am in control of the finances, essentially, not to get too detailed. My partner prefers it that way (doesn’t want to have any type of savings account they can access, or credit card, due to knowing they have had bad history with those things in the past) and I am fine with it, but it does occasionally freak me out to think of the bad I *could* do if I were so inclined. Though I suppose I should hang onto that feeling as it makes it less likely for me to do something like that without realizing I am….hmm.

      1. seejay*

        I mentioned above that I controlled the finances in a previous relationship due to very similar circumstances: he wasn’t good with money, had a habit of not paying bills, etc. What was different though was that he was on the bills and mortgage and I kept him entirely in the loop with what was going on financially. We kept an eye on the budget together but it was my responsibility to make sure things were paid on time and that we weren’t going into the red every month. Any big expensive purchases were discussed and worked on together. He had his own bank account and his paycheck did go into it but we had an automatic transfer set up to move a chunk of it over to mine to cover the bills and whatever was in his account was his to do what he wanted with. There wasn’t anything on it that he could get into trouble with though, so if he blew through it, he couldn’t overdraft it, couldn’t bounce checks off it, or use a credit card on it.

        Also, as I mentioned in my scenario, there were some really strong warning signs that my one ex had some serious warning signs of being a Grade A jerk and asshole and the money/control part just exacerbated it.

        Money really is the biggest thing couples fight about, so as long as you’re honest, straight-forward and working through it, it should’t become a major issue if you’re in control of it, but I’d also caution that your partner should be able to take of him/herself in the event that you break up or you wind up incapacitated/injured. Or if he/she wants to leave, they shouldn’t have to feel trapped where they just can’t because you have control of the money.

  23. Allison*

    I wonder if the husband assumed that since nursing is a traditionally feminine job, it would be easy for his wife to be a nurse and still keep the house clean and get dinner on the table by 6 every night. He probably pictured her in a pretty white nurse’s uniform, with that cap on her head, changing bandages and smiling at old people from 9 to 5 every day, and then coming home bright and shiny as ever with a fresh baguette in her band from the market. When he realized that nursing is a tough job that demands a lot of hours and energy, he had to pull her out of there and put her in the home where she belonged. Maybe he’ll eventually let her sell Tupperware if she’s a good girl.

    1. SpaceySteph*

      The OP’s responses in the original thread definitely show a complete mismatch between expectations (husbands? hers? Idk) and the reality of the job she took. I get the impression the husband thought his letter would be met with something of “Oh, we’re sorry, we didn’t realize OP was a mother and a wife and clearly the demands of the home should come first. Here’s unlimited sick time and strictly weekend shift scheduling.”

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Ironically, it’s not really that impossible to get an RN position for weekends only. But that doesn’t mean you can apply for a position that requires you to work weekdays and turn it into one of those weekend-only roles just because you want it to be that way.

      2. designbot*

        yeah, her whole complaint about them counting time taken for family emergencies against her really shocked me–what else did she think that sick time/PTO was for?

        1. Temperance*

          I also find it … interesting … that a person who had a job for only a few weeks could have multiple “family emergencies” come up?

          1. De Minimis*

            This happened to a a co-worker of mine….had a parent pass away during their first few weeks and then the spouse had a major medical event a couple of months later. My co-worker finally ended up resigning after being employed here around six months and being on various forms of leave for at least a month or two of that time period. They had relocated for the spouse’s job and I think things just got difficult to the point where they decided to return home.

          2. SpaceySteph*

            I get that kids get sick a lot but they were so frequent that it was affecting husband’s (presumably already established) career to have to be the one to stay home with them? I’m betting that LW’s guilt over not being a SAHM for that brief period made every case of the sniffles seem like an emergency worthy of taking time off work.

            And aside from that, if husband had been at his job awhile he would presumably have leave built up (and maybe even FMLA eligibility) so there was probably no real reason he couldn’t take off to be with the kids, except that it was women’s work.

            1. designbot*

              yeah I didn’t get the impression that this was an FMLA type leave situation but rather a poor handling of the doctors appointments, carpooling, parent teacher conferences type stuff that does routinely come up with young kids. It sounds like husband had an expectation that the wife would continue to handle 100% of that as she did when she stayed at home because they truly seemed to be in agreement that his career was more important.

          3. Moonsaults*

            Having experienced the excuse train that rolls in with some people, I cannot help but have similar curisoities arise even though I was one of those people who suddenly had multiple issues come up shortly after taking a couple positions. My dad’s health has been poor prior to that to add onto the whole thing.

            Really though, people don’t get that when you don’t know your boss/supervisor very well, you cannot expect them to just trust you. I was lucky and I know it.

  24. Jeanne*

    Even years later, there are still plenty of letters about a spouse contacting or wanting to contact the boss. It’s only ok if your spouse is really too sick and can’t do the contacting. It’s not ok for vacation requests or interfering in discipline processes or anything else.

    1. Joseph*

      Yeah, I don’t get it either. As far as I’m concerned, the comprehensive list of acceptable reasons to have your spouse contact your boss for you is as follows: (i) Death, (ii) Physically unable to talk/email due to illness, (iii) Imprisoned/kidnapped/etc, or (iv) Won lottery.
      If your reason to contact your spouse’s boss is not on the list or similar to one of these reasons, it’s not OK.

      1. Lissa*

        I love that you put “won lottery” on this list :D “Hi, sorry, Charlie won’t be coming in. He just won the big lotto and is running around in our backyard screaming incoherently with joy.”

    2. Lanon*

      I had my girlfriend do that once.

      In my defense, I had pneumonia and was physically unable to talk on telephone.

  25. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    I don’t know that reposting this will give you much of a break! The comments last time must have taken a lot of management.

  26. HRish Dude*

    I always wondered if the husband ever found out about her posting. As much as he was up in her life, it seems hard that she would have been able to hide this post here for very long without him searching her history or what-not.

  27. Non E Moose*

    I just reread all the original comments too.
    Sadly, this reminds me of a friend/coworker who was pregnant and didn’t like the baby names her husband was suggesting (they were names of famous people the husband admired). Instead of telling him to F off, she was increasingly upset. Welp, turns out that the guy was abusive and a meth/heroin addict, and she somehow still thought this person had valid input on anything to do with her or her life, never mind the stupid names.
    I was dumbfounded and dismayed that she could take any input from this guy seriously, as if it was completely normal to let someone like this make decisions and judgments about anyone’s future.
    There are some uncanny parallels with the OP’s story too, including being upset and dismissive when caring people intervened.

  28. Rachel in Minneapolis*

    Loved re-reading this letter and all the comments. AAM and community is so amazing!

    Quick note: seeing “Colombus Day” was a little jarring. Here in Minneapolis, and in most of my online world, we have replaced it with Indigenous People’s Day. So much more to celebrate than Colombus! Not complaining that it was references, since of course it is still a national holiday. I just wanted to give a shout out to any readers who also celebrate Native peoples on this day!

    1. Lissa*

      It’s Thanksgiving for me! (Do Canadian Thanksgiving and Columbus/Indigenous People’s Day always fall on the same Monday? Hm, things I never knew…)

  29. Candi*

    I came across this a couple of months ago now as I made my way through the archives. This kicked off my alerts all around, and the OP’s posts in the comment section scared the ever-living daylights clear out.

    I feel sorry for their kids. :(

  30. FormerSupervisor*

    I have heard stuff that is almost stranger. One example: my partner worked in the HR department of a school district and I have heard tales of an employee bringing one of their parents (I AM NOT KIDDING) to disciplinary meetings. We are talking a fully functioning adult in their mid 20’s here. I don’t know what is more disturbing, that an employee would actually think to do that, or that their parent would consent to going along with it. Totally dysfunctional either way. I never cease to be amazed at what happens in the world of HR/Management.

  31. FormerSupervisor*

    As a former supervisor, of many years, and, over the years, of many employees, I also ran into a lot of strange employee/family behavior. I had one employee, for a while, whose spouse would call me on a regular basis to ask if she was at work. I would politely tell him that I had no responsibility to explain his wife’s whereabouts to him and that he needed to stop calling and asking for this information, it was bordering on harassment of the company (and, of course her, but we didn’t want to make things worse for her by accusing him directly). Behind the scenes, HR was heavily engaged, and the employee was in fear of her safety and ultimately quit and went into temporary seclusion in a women’s shelter. We did our best to help her out while she made arrangements to get out of that abusive relationship.

  32. CuhPow*

    Reading this, it did raise red flags for me as abusive. Also reading that posters said OP got so defensive made me think so too. But I was curious that readers said she began to get angry and sarcastic. I read her comments and began to change my mind a little or at least become more neutral. I could understand why OP got so defensive, because even though many posters offered good advice, most of it was attached to the assumption she was in an abusive relationship. If she in fact wasn’t, I could see why she would write off the advice and not take it because it seemed biased (or conditional, as in: this is inappropriate BECAUSE it alarms us because it seems abusive, rather than the two being mutually exclusive). Also, seeing hundreds of posts assuming what she says is NOT the case, and refusing to directly answer her questions (save the occasional few) without the assumptions, I’d be peeved too if that actually WASNT the case. Because as much as evidence points to something, if the OP says it’s not true (whether she’s in denial) after the twentieth comment offering her help, the subject should have been dropped and the OPs original concerns addressed directly and unbiased. (Not to mention the support of hundreds of anons on the internet doesn’t often help with real life scary and difficult scenarios). It all just seemed to drive OP away from help and back to her isolated family unit.

    1. Cyrus*

      “I could see why she would write off the advice and not take it because it seemed biased (or conditional, as in: this is inappropriate BECAUSE it alarms us because it seems abusive, rather than the two being mutually exclusive”

      It’s hard to avoid that impression because the two things aren’t mutually exclusive. They are related. Having your spouse contact HR for you is unprofessional mostly because in modern Western society, adults are expected to be more self-reliant than that. (Outside of specific weird situations people discussed exhaustively that aren’t relevant here.)(And your spouse taking it upon themselves to contact HR would be even worse.) When adults aren’t so self-reliant, one likely reason is that they’re in an abusive relationship. That is made more likely by several details of this case. (The husband’s e-mail was all about what he wants rather than her or they, and his wife followed up with another e-mail that was very different in tone.) Conversely, one sign of an abusive relationship is trying to control their life, such as getting them fired. It’s neither necessary nor sufficient for abuse, but it’s a factor.

      Contacting one’s spouse’s employer is unprofessional partly because it looks abusive, and vice versa. It would be hard to avoid giving the impression that AAM is concerned about both.

      “Because as much as evidence points to something, if the OP says it’s not true (whether she’s in denial) after the twentieth comment offering her help, the subject should have been dropped and the OPs original concerns addressed directly and unbiased.”

      Eh, true, but this isn’t a problem with this issue or AAM alone but of blogs in general. Look at me, referring to AAM as if it’s one thing, but it’s not, it’s hundreds of different commenters with their own opinions. On some forums there’s an upvote or like system for when someone wants to contribute but doesn’t have anything new to say, and that has its own drawbacks. Here, people very often say identical or nearly identical things. Sometimes they have something new to add in addition to the identical thing, sometimes they think they do but it’s not different enough that anyone else cares about it, whatever. It may look and feel like a pile-on to the OP but not to the people on the other side of it. I wouldn’t blame the OP for being miffed at what looked kind of like a hive mind here. Her reactions went way beyond “miffed,” though, and by the end of it she was working very hard to miss the point.

  33. GrandBargain*

    What happened to Wilton Businessman? I didn’t agree with all his comments, but always found him thoughtful and genuine.

  34. john*

    I was reading the old comments, one poster mentioned that their ex husband had lost his bananas and pulled a door off it’s hinges and thrown it at her. She then later referred to him as unhinged and I know it’s a horrible situation but I laughed.

  35. This Daydreamer*

    I know I’m way late on this but it hits too close to home for me to stay quiet.

    I volunteer at a shelter for women and their children escaping from abusive relationships. Since it’s basically a specialized homeless shelter, the people we see do not have the resources to leave without a great deal of support. Most people, I think, know that it is incredibly dangerous to leave a physically abusive relationship, but most don’t know the other massive hurdle to being able to leave.

    It’s called financial abuse, and it is present in the vast majority of physical abuse cases. Trying to cost your “partner” (I use the quotation marks because this is nowhere near a true partnership) a job is a common form, as is taking over all of the money, ruining the “partner’s” credit, and making sure they don’t have access to a car. These are all very powerful and effective means of controlling her life and trapping her in the relationship by forcing her to rely on him for all of her needs and to make sure she has no money to try to start a new life.

    Yes, I know it’s not always a man abusing a woman, but that is the most common type of abusive relationship.

    I can only hope that the OP has read the comments again and some of it sank in. I really hope she got away.

  36. Stopyouarenthelping*

    I read op’s folia up comments and I think it’s more likely she suffers from depression. By writing this I am violating the commenting rule against arm-chair diagnoses, but so is everyone who strongly insinuated that she is in an abusive relationship. In all her comments she seems very sad and at a loss as to how to make decisions or what decisions to make. If you love a person with this condition especially if you are their partner it is tempting to do anything you can to alleviate their unhappiness because doing nothing is an unbearable feeling of helplessness. I think that’s what drove the husband to do what he did. The wife did need help but for depression not abuse. And they both could use therapy. I agree with the op that Alison and other commenters really underserved her in this instance. I hope she is ok.

  37. Late to the party*

    This lady sounds like she has no autonomy as a person. I felt creeped out just reading her description and her husband’s email. Her former workplace did the right thing.

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