Lost all respect for my wife

She’s never held a job longer than 2 years because she always claims her supervisors hate her. She quit her most recent job 2 years ago and hasn’t lifted a finger since. The promise was, “I can focus on finding a new job if I can do it all day. It shouldn’t take long!”

That wouldn’t be so bad, except she stopped looking completely after about 2 weeks.

And I would actually be okay with that if she helped out around the house but she doesn’t do a damn thing. The most she does is walk in to the kitchen literally 5 seconds after I finish washing the dishes and says, “I was just about to do that!”


She sleeps all day and just watches TV all night. She makes messes everywhere she goes and doesn’t give a fuck. She’s “sorry” after I get angry about it, but otherwise couldn’t care less. She’s destroyed the bedroom by just covering every flat surface in her own dirty laundry, another thing she doesn’t “do.”

She’s a professional gardener but refuses to touch her own yard, so I have to deal with it.

Oh, and she was earning about 50% more than me when she was working, but now we’re just living on my salary.

Her mother gave us $10,000 to fix our kitchen floor (it’s all fucked up, different story), but she’s just using it to live on.

Then last summer she develops OCD out of the blue and suddenly she can’t bear to touch anything “dirty.” And now she wastes $100 a week on disinfectant wipes and rubber gloves that she uses only to incessantly clean her cell phone. I think it’s all just another scam to avoid working.

Yeah, I know, “she sounds depressed.”

I agree.


I’m holding up my end of this marriage. I’ve had the same job for this entire relationship. I’ve been loyal and supportive, but my love and kindness are clearly being taken advantage of and I’m reaching the end of my patience. Things need to change around here quick.

We’ve had numerous discussions about it and she always promises to help out more but ultimately nothing changes.

I don’t want to get divorced but I’m running out of options here.

And don’t tell me to stop cleaning up after her, because if I do that, she’ll just pile up her dirty shit everywhere and then buy all new shit to pile on top of the dirty stuff.

Ouch, Dude. As a divorced person, I’ve been where you might end up. Do you really LOVE love her? She needs some help upstairs, what are you ready to do to make that happen?
No judgement, BTW, sometimes walking away is an option. But it’s never as clean as it sounds.

As someone with OCD myself, sometimes it happens because of a trigger. It was usually there all the time, but was bubbling under the surface, but sometimes it just kicks into overdrive from something and then it manifests itself obviously like your wife is now. Is there some big event that made her turn bad in the past few years, or has she always been a flakey mess?

But yeah, sorry about her irresponsibility. She needs to get her act together.

The other impression I get from your post is that there is something big that your wife is not telling you. Not necessarily something “bad.” But there is a big chunk of her reasoning, motives, and behavior that is being withheld from you and that’s why she seems like a flakey-nonsensical person who just wants to be lazy. Usually when or if that withheld information is finally explained or made clear, all the pieces fall in place.

And a temporary separation may do the trick. You don’t need to divorce her, but you might benefit from letting her live by herself alone for a month with no contact from you. That may give her the needed reality check.

Lastly, she sounds kind of like my sister, who has job-hopped incessantly for a decade and quit jobs after a short time, typically claiming bad bosses or whatnot.

I’m sorry this is happening.

My only thought is for you to check in with a counselor yourself on ways to handle this. It may be time for an ultimatum, but a counselor would be able to guide you better on that.

My mom once gave me some very useful advice that I think about whenever another person’s behavior gets on my nerves. She said I should ask myself “Is this important enough to me to end the relationship over?” If the answer is yes then proceed accordingly, up to and including informing the other person that ending the relationship is 100% on the table if no accomodation can be reached. If the answer is no, then it’s up to me to decide how I’m gonna deal with the behavior. Everyone is responsible for their own behavior and trying to get into an interaction with the view that you’re going to change the other person’s behavior is setting you both up for utter failure.

So yeah–wife does sound depressed but that’s not an excuse. I am prone to anxiety and depression myself but I feel it’s also every person’s responsibility to maintain their mental health such that they don’t cause an undue burden on those around them. I get to be as depressed as I like and express it as I like most of the time because I live alone, but back when I had a partner I didn’t excuse his mental state from endlessly causing me pain and troubles and that’s why he don’t live here no more.

Seems to me you have some decisions to make. Hope it all works out for the best for you both.

You’re describing some pretty major issues that are very difficult to improve. It will likely be a long, hard slog to work on these issues, and it’s not clear what the end result will look like. I doubt that she’ll do a 180 and change all this stuff that you’re upset about. Things can get better, but who knows how much and how hard it will be to get there. The key will be if she’s willing to fix things. If you have to do all the work and are continually trying to motivate her to improve, it’s not likely that things will get better. Think about if the marriage worth saving. Life is short. Think about if she is the who you want to spend the rest of your years with. And for background, how long have you been married and any kids still in the house?

Or he comes back to a house trashed beyond repair.

No easy answers here, man. It’s your life, and you only get to live it once.
You need to decide what you’re willing to accept. I know that ultimatums are frowned on in relationships, but it’s not an ultimatum to truthfully state that you can’t live like this anymore and won’t if she doesn’t take active measures to address her mental health.

Frankly, the way you’re talking now it may already be beyond that. Think long and hard and make the decisions that are going to make you happy. Good luck to you.

First, I am sincerely sorry you are going through this and understand how difficult it is.

This. I’m definitely not about divorce as a first solution and cutting and running, but what I’ve come to learn is perhaps something that is trite and obvious, but that you can’t make people change. If they desire help, if they want help – because, like you say, it very clearly sounds like there are underlying mental issues, anxieties, stresses going on – work with that, but you’ve gotta take care of yourself, man. You only get one go at this. If you want, for your own reasons, to stay married, then you have to figure out thought patterns and coping mechanisms that work for you, because trying to get the other person to change through nagging, pestering, fighting, ain’t going to work. You can only control yourself, your thoughts, your feelings, your actions. And you deserve to take care of yourself, because if you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re short changing yourself and other important relationships in your life.

Counseling would be a good first step if you want to try and if she’s up for it. If not, then the only real choices as I see it are to accept it and learn to self manage the stresses such a living situation brings or to move out for at least awhile, work on your own mental health (because these types of relationship are damaging to it), and reassess. I’m not going to say cut & run – that’s your choice – but that is a rational choice given the situation you’ve described, and you should not feel selfish about taking care of yourself and doing the things that make yourself happy or beat yourself up about it (as people have a tendency to do.)

If you mentioned kids, I missed it. I generally don’t believe in marriage and for me it’s only worth doing sometimes “for the kids.” Long story short, been there done that. So my wife and I pretty much just became co-parenting roommates. I don’t get aggravated by the stuff you describe anymore because I just do my thing. I work, do my things, take care of my space, etc. If we didn’t have kids I could not imagine staying one second longer.

I’ll share a personal story in hope that it will be illuminating for you.

My first husband was a good guy. But he wasn’t a good guy for me. I could admire his many fine traits, but we were tragically incompatible. Still, I hung in for 13 years (of my life I will never get back).

Off we went to counseling. We spent many sad hours with this first counselor, me imploring my husband to consider making just a few changes that would benefit us as a couple. Weeks dragged into months. I had already modified my own behaviors a great deal and simply couldn’t imagine doing anything more.

Finally, a close friend recommended a new counselor. First session, the counselor listened to us for about 30 minutes. He then turned to me and asked, “Why are you still with this man? You’re doing 120% of the work, he’s doing nothing. Obviously he has no wish to be in this relationship. Can’t you see this?”

My ex later shared that he watched my face change in that moment and knew I was done. Because the counselor was right.

I’m not saying counseling won’t help you. We’re all in different situations, and people can change if they choose to change. My ex and I did not have the consideration of children, but I’ve never thought staying together “for the sake of the children” was a good idea, either. (Feel free to PM me if you want more insight into this opinion.)

You’ve gotten excellent advice from @pulykamell and others. You won’t change her. You can only inspire her to change herself. Truth be told, it rarely happens.

I wish you all the best.

I will say from my childhood experience that staying together “for the kids” is not a good idea.

Yeah, this is hard. I’ve been there. If you want her to change you’re going to have to do all of the work, at least to start. If you just want to vent, then I totally get it. Just scroll past the rest of this. Below is what I learned from dealing with a similar situation.

She’s probably depressed, so you could hand her the cure and she wouldn’t give enough fucks to bother taking it. She needs to see a psychiatrist who can diagnose her, get her on appropriate medication and into therapy. And that last sentence, just getting to see somebody, is a month of work she’ll just resent you for doing.

So, start with your insurance, and look for psychiatrists that treat adults, are taking new patients, don’t specialize in something she clearly doesn’t have, and are actually located someplace you can get to regularly. Now get her to go. She might not think she needs to, and she might not want to, but also maybe she’ll just go along because you’re pushing her to do it. You’re going to have to go with her to the doctor, otherwise she won’t make it there.

That’s the point I would get out if the resistance is too high. If she whines but goes along with it, fine. If she absolutely refuses to participate, then that’s really it. You tried.

If she participates, even reluctantly and with lots of moaning and “I don’t need to be here” and takes her meds (you’ll need to remind her), goes to therapy sessions (you’ll probably have to drive her), then just maybe she’ll start to come out of it.

You are likely to need to do several iterations of this, as the first psychiatrist and therapist may not be good fits. The first set of drugs may not work, or have intolerable side effects, and on and on.

The final real fucked up thing, if it does all work, and the depression goes into remission, then she’ll question why she ever needed to do any of it, because “she feels fine.”

Whoa, echoreply, are you me? I married and had kids with a likely autistic person with classic bipolar I and ended up with both kids also bipolar of one sort and another and both have wicked ADHD.

All my crazy is due to trauma but I have a decent baseline for sanity, enough to know when I’m off kilter and one of the hardest things I’ve ever learned is that not every crazyperson knows when they’re off the rails and their ability to rationalize their points of view and behavior is absolutely stunning in its scope. Learning to set boundaries and enforce them to maintain my own sanity when I’m surrounded by manic people on a tear has been harder than just about anything I’ve ever had to do. The first hurdle was when I had to acknowledge that my med refusing husband was just too much to handle AND raise two young kids so I had to decide whether to be his wife or their parent because I simply did not have the energy or resources to do both.

I don’t consider it a moral failing to honestly admit that you bit off more than you can chew and vows notwithstanding seems to me that it’s valid to reassess when your partner significantly and unilaterally changes the conditions of your contract.

There’s also the possibility that your wife wants out of the marriage herself but is too afraid, proud or self-deluded, so she’s doing whatever she can to make sure that you make the first move. She wants to divorce you, but she wants you to be the bad guy.

This is going to be a bummer of a story, but I feel obligated to share it with you.

My wife started to act in a very similar manner. She couldn’t be bothered to go to work, she lost interest in outside activities, her (minor) housework obligations went undone, she stopped paying attention to her appearance and hygiene, and so forth. She also started to drink more. Over the course of about a year, I tried everything. I even browbeat her into going to therapy with me, but it didn’t help. I tried many resources for help with her “depression.”

Finally, it reached the point that I absolutely had to do something. The turning point came when she simply skipped all Christmas activities at her parents’ house. She had always loved Christmas and her behavior was totally out of character. With the assistance of her family, I arranged for an “intervention.” We took her to a local behavioral health center and checked her in for in-patient treatment. She was fairly cooperative about the process.

Four days later, one of her attending doctors came to me and said, “It’s not depression. It is apathy. We believe that the cause might be organic. Will you give permission for some brain scans?” I did. The results showed some abnormalities in the frontal lobe, so they did a (major) biopsy. The surgeon literally came straight from surgery to us and said, “I’m sorry. It’s an anaplastic astrocytoma in the frontal lobe.”

We went through the chemo and radiation over the next year or so, but she passed away 30 months after the diagnosis. (Median survival is probably 18 months.)

I don’t blame myself for failing to consider the possibility that there was something like a tumor affecting her behavior, but I do look back and wonder why that possibility had never even entered my mind.

My deepest condolences, and thank you for sharing that story.

Divorce her as long as you can make sure you’re not on the hook for alimony.

Alimony seems inevitable in a situation like this, absent some truly rare circumstances. He’s paying all the expenses anyway, so paying alimony instead will likely reduce what he is paying for her, plus provide freedom to find happiness. It’s a small price to pay.

I feel for you. Been there. Was living with someone who was constantly between jobs and who had the attitude that working retail/service/food was beneath her but dodging bill collectors apparently wasn’t. Would sit at home all day and do absolutely nothing, content to live in her own filth if someone else wasn’t going to take care of it for her. Would sometimes lament how mom & dad weren’t there to take care of her like she was used to. Was given multiple chances to clean up, get a job, etc but would blow them off because, face it, getting your shit together isn’t as much fun as fucking around on the internet and eating Ramen noodles all day.

Finally had to sue for custody of our kid and watch her fuck off to some other guy who was apparently willing to put up with her shit. Wasn’t easy but was easily the best decision I made. You can’t spend your life with someone not only unwilling to help share the load but actively expecting you to carry them as well.

How does one achieve that lofty goal, other than the Scott Peterson approach?