Husband Ripped for Accusing Wife of 'Stealing' Money for Gift She Got Him

A woman's purchase of "insanely low" priced shoes for her husband led to a major argument and people on the internet questioning whether she should be with him at all.

The purchase was described by Reddit user Campfire_byLake77 in the "Am I The A**Hole (AITA)" forum, where the post has been upvoted over 15,000 times and includes over 2,400 comments.

The poster, 29, told how she stays home with her preschool-aged children while her 36-year-old "breadwinner" husband pays for the mortgage, bills, household needs, food and kids' needs. He also sets a monthly budget for each category "and handles getting everything done."

She said he recently became "overwhelmed" and told her to grocery shop for the family. Prior to handing her his credit card, he made a list of all the items needed in the household "so he could calculate the total"—as well as have an idea of how much she spends on his card.

"I didn't have an issue with that because this way we'd watch our spending habits," she admitted. "However, he said I'm never allowed to get something that isn't on the list unless I'm paying for it some other way."

She went shopping Friday and saw a pair of shoes on sale. "The price was [insanely] low for this brand and so I decided to grab a pair for my husband thinking he'd be happy with them since he needed new sneakers anyway." The reaction was the opposite of the one she envisioned.

"I bought them and when I showed them to him he flipped out on me, saying I made a huge mistake by buying something that was not on the list," she wrote. "I agreed with him but I thought that since the shoes were for him then it'd be different. He said I screwed up and shouldn't have bought those sneakers without even telling him."

She said in her defense, the shoes did not cost $100 or something obscene and she wanted to do something nice for him. But he went so far as to say she was "stealing" because he never gave consent to the purchase.

"(He) said that I'm being irresponsible with money, that is why I no longer have an income," she said. "I felt hurt by what he said. We argued about it for hours and he avoided speaking to me the rest of the day."

The woman returned the shoes the following day and got the money back, only to come home and find her husband reportedly enraged because he actually wanted to keep the sneakers. She said he called her "petty and childish."

Marital argument
A woman is being urged by Reddit users to re-examine her marriage after she purchased her husband shoes and it sparked a lengthy dispute. iStock/Getty Images

He even called the store to attempt to repurchase the shoes.

"He got even angrier with me but I told him that he accused me of stealing ... when I was just trying to do a nice gesture for him," she said, adding that her husband spent the night out with his friends. "He yelled that I had a lot of nerve calling what I did (a) 'nice gesture' while using his money to do it. I told him he had no right to yell at me after I corrected my 'mistake' and gave back the money he accused me of stealing."

Redditors did not take lightly to the woman's experience, with one stating in simple terms: "Get the hell out of there."

That user said the story presented numerous red flags about finances, a lack of independence in a relationship, emotional instability and getting berated for correcting a "mistake." They used the term "DARVO," an acronym which means "Deny Attack Reverse Victim and Offender—often used as a technique by abusers to shield themselves from criticisms.

DARVO originated in 1997 when it was used in an article by Jennifer J. Freyd, psychology professor at the University of Oregon and founder of the Center for Institutional Courage.

"You are being abused," the user said. "Someone better than me will hopefully reply with an outline of a plan and resources. Please consider yourself and your kids OP."

A 2017 peer-reviewed research study titled Perpetrator Responses to Victim Confrontation: DARVO and Victim Self-Blame reported that DARVO was commonly used by individuals who were confronted, with women more likely to be exposed than men. Also, higher levels of DARVO exposure during confrontation were associated with increased perceptions of self-blame among the confronters.

"These results provide evidence for the existence of DARVO as a perpetrator strategy and establish a relationship between DARVO exposure and feelings of self-blame," the study noted. "Exploring DARVO aids in understanding how perpetrators are able to enforce victims' silence through the mechanism of self-blame."

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab, described as a digital safe space where survivors can access awareness, empowerment and healing, wrote in 2020 that vulnerable individuals are likely candidates for DARVO.

"DARVO is a smokescreen used by narcissists, psychopaths or other manipulators to conceal the truth of their behavior ... (that) enables the narcissist, psychopath or other manipulator to control how others perceive the target and the conflict," they wrote.

Some others inquired about a prenuptial agreement, with one user imploring the woman to go back to work to release herself from her husband's financial stranglehold.

"He is financially abusing you and I'd strongly suggest you leave him," the user said. "But if you don't want to do that, for whichever reason, please go back to work. You can't, and I cannot stress this enough, YOU CAN'T afford being financially dependent on him."

One user speculated the finances are just a thinly veiled reason for the husband to maintain control in their marriage.

"It isn't 'his' money. You are married," they said. "Your job is taking care of the kids. He sounds like he wants you so far under his thumb financially that you couldn't leave even if you wanted to."

Newsweek reached out to the original poster for comment.