Brother Frustrated About Wife (former SAHM)


This isn’t gossip. This are life issues. This is what families and friends are for. I confide in my friends and family often about my own issues.

My Brother has talked to my SIL many times, but she just keeps refusing to help out with the bills.

Saying “stay out of it” doesn’t help anybody.

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Well, refusing to work if there is nothing physically or mentally wrong with you, when your spouse is pulling all the weight and your family needs the income, sounds like someone is just plain lazy. Don’t know if you need to spend much time analyzing that. If you know your spouse is overworked and wants you to help, and you don’t want to pitch in, maybe you don’t really care that much for him. Yes, we are still in the middle of a pandemic, but everyone and their mother is hiring, this might be the best time ever to get any job you want.

Having said that, you may not be privy to any serious medical or mental issues she may have. She could be seriously depressed or be ill in a way they haven’t shared with you. Or maybe she is contemplating divorce.


You know only what you see and hear. You do not know what is in your SIL’s mind or heart. You do not know what goes on behind closed doors. That is why I say that you don’t know what is going on.

Your brother should go for counseling (preferably with his wife, but alone if she won’t go) because he is unhappy. He wouldn’t be talking to you about the situation if he was happy. Do you want him to stay unhappy? He needs to figure out how to deal with his situation … how to communicate with his spouse, whether or not his marriage should continue, how to fix what’s broken if the marriage should continue, and how to navigate if his marriage isn’t salvageable. Encouraging him to get help figuring out how to deal with his current feelings would be helpful for him.



I do know what is going on because my Brother tells me. Don’t you talk about personal things with your friends and family?

My Brother isn’t unhappy. He is frustrated with his wife. A counselor isn’t going to fix that. The only thing that will make him not frustrated is for my SIL to contribute to the bills.

How else can he communicate with my SIL if she refuses to work? My Brother can’t force her to get a job.

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@rob890 In your OP, you asked for some advice to give to your Brother.

And in the replies you have received, the advice has been pretty unanimous for counseling for your B & SIL, and for you to stay out of it.

And you don’t agree.

Not sure anything else can be said …


Yes, counseling has been mention often. I just don’t believe counseling is the solution to everything.

In fact, the most liked comment on this thread was made by @RichInPitt, where it was stated about being curious about why counseling is being brought up.

I was hoping for people who have gone through this, but it doesn’t seem others have similar experiences or know people who have gone through this.

Maybe your brother should be posting here instead of you. Or maybe your sister-in-law.


My Brother has posted on online forums and got advice. It’s interesting because counseling was never brought up.

I am just trying to do something because my Brother asked me for advice and I thought I would see if anybody here has gone through this before.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not sure why my SIL would go online and talk about not wanting to work

Why does your SIL not want to work? If the channels of communication are open between your brother and SIL and your brother and you, you must have an idea of the reason she changed her mind.



My SIL says she doesn’t work because she doesn’t have to. That’s why my Brother is so frustrated.

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If I had to guess, I would say the richinpitt comment that got attention was the part asking about a neuropsych eval for learning difference than it was suggesting counseling.

Divorce laws vary by state but your brother may be surprised at how much he would owe his wife if they divorced (even if he has made the mortgage payments during the marriage). There are quite a few ex-husbands paying their ex-wife SAHMs a lot of money in support.

You still have provided no info as to reasons wife won’t go back to work. Tough to offer much in the way of suggestions without that though. In addition are there any incentives which could be helpful? If wife gets a job, maybe they both can retire earlier. Or travel more. Save money to give a downpayment to son for a house. Or to save to help future grandkids. Remodel the house.

Like a lot of things, the answer/solution is it depends.



They live in TX. Spousal support is voluntary.

My SIL says she doesn’t have to work. It’s that simple.

Thanks for pointing out retirement because my Brother brought that up. He told his wife he is probably going to have to work until 65 so they can live comfortably in retirement. She told him he would only have to work for 13 more years.

This is why my Brother is frustrated and the pandemic didn’t help. He worked at home for a year and it was just too much getting up every day while his wife lounged around the house. He told me he has had enough and realized his wife isn’t going to change.

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It’s tough. I had friends in a similar situation but the sexes of the working and caregiving spouses were reversed. The Dad really enjoyed his caregiving role after being very ambivalent about it in the beginning. And sort of fell into a depression once the kids were off to college and his more active role in their lives diminished. He tried to go back to work a few times but the compensation at the jobs he was able to find was not even going to make a dent in the family’s finances and I think that made him feel even more worthless. What got him moving in the right direction was volunteering initially (and then working for) a shelter for victims of domestic abuse. When you work in the home, one of your bonuses is the feeling of being needed. It’s tough to switch to a job just for the money after that, particularly if the money doesn’t scream you are needed. I’m sorry your brother and SIL are in this position but marital problems very rarely are due to the machinations of one person. I know this is not advice, but maybe a little understanding.



That really helped a lot. Thanks.

The hard part with my BIL is his wife refuses to go to work. I even had a job lined up for my SIL through my friend’s company, but she declined.

My Brother has brought up depression with my SIL, but she said she is not depressed. She’s not a bad person and I get along with her well. I just think she’s being selfish and entitled.

My Brother is just asking for some help and said he needed her help. He even said an extra $1,000 would help a lot. He’s not asking for a lot and he’s just frustrated his wife won’t work.

First off hugs to all involved parties. This must be a difficult situation for all if you. Thought you might want to be aware of the following from a website describing separate property in Texas:

Remember, anything acquired after marriage belongs to both spouses equally, meaning that paycheck you brought in is no longer yours, alone. It belongs to your spouse, too. And the moment you use joint funds to pay your mortgage, keep the lights on, or invest in improvements, is the moment your spouse suddenly gains an interest in your pre-marriage house.

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The OP has gotten good advice and there’s nothing left to say. Since this falls uncomfortably close to “asking for a friend,” I am closing the thread. If the brother wants to create an account to ask the question, he is welcome to do so.



Thanks so much for the info.

Ah, I just realized this is a reregistration of a long time tr0ll.

I’m leaving up this thread as an example. When you find yourself engaging with a brand new user who is argumentative and annoying, chances are very good that it’s a tr0ll. It’s best to move on and ignore the person. And report the thread, please!