Man Backed for Turning Off Gas So Mother-in-Law Doesn't Burn His House Down

A man is being supported for his decision to turn the gas off at his home while he and his wife go out of town for two weeks, even though his mother-in-law is still living there.

The original poster (OP), u/throwaway18688, shared his story to the popular Reddit forum r/AmITheA**hole, earning 4,500 upvotes and 700 comments for his post, "[Would I be the A**hole] if I turn off the gas before going on vacation?"

In the post he explains that his mother-in-law lives with them, but calls her "irresponsible, lazy and petty." He says whenever he and his wife leave her home alone while they eat out, she will cook a meal for herself—but then leave the gas stove on.

He says that whenever they come back the house reeks because the burner will be off, but the dial is turned on, letting out gas. He and his wife suspect she's doing it to "punish" them for leaving her at home alone, but they can't prove it.

However, the two of them are going to go on a trip out of town for two weeks, and the OP is considering turning off the gas.

"I'm worried we'll return to a pile of ashes or a dead body from gas inhalation," he wrote, asking if turning off the gas would be the wrong thing to do.

In comments, he says that his wife thinks this is a passive-aggressive move, but she also won't let him "confront the situation head on," either.

gas leak mother-in-law poison explosion passive-aggressive danger
A man is being supported for his plan to turn off the gas when he and his wife leave for two weeks, as his mother-in-law has been leaving their gas stove on when they leave her alone. Filippo Carlot/Getty

While OP and his wife think that his mother-in-law is doing this intentionally—especially as it sounds like she's turning the burner off to douse the flames, then turning the burner back on but not letting it catch alight—this kind of behavior could also be seen as a sign of dementia.

Dementia is when a person loses cognitive function—not just when it comes to memory, but also when it comes to reasoning or figuring things out, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA). This can sometimes include a lack of control over emotions and even a change in personality. According to the NIA, about a third of people over 85 have a form of dementia.

Symptoms of dementia, according to the NIA, include memory loss and poor judgement; difficulty with speaking or understanding; getting lost even in familiar spaces; acting impulsively; not caring about the feelings of others; delusions, hallucinations or paranoia; and losing interest in daily events. While Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, there are also other types including frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia and vascular dementia.

Of course, in this case, it may not be dementia, but just a person with all her faculties deciding to be a jerk—in a very dangerous manner. Left unattended, a gas oven can easily poison people or even cause a large explosion. By leaving the gas on, the OP's mother-in-law is playing with fire—both figuratively and literally.

Reddit supported the man for turning off the gas—though some suggested it might be a case of weaponized incompetence.

"[Not the A**hole], her behavior is a clear danger to everyone's well-being. That said, this is definitely escalation behavior and I'd recommend finding some way to resolve the conflict that is less passive-aggressive, as it could exacerbate things down the line," u/Don_Ciccio wrote in the top-rated comment with over 7,400 upvotes.

"I kind of feel that [Mother-in-Law] needs a doctor's appointment. She is either fine spite poisoning herself, or doesn't smell the gas and recognize that it is a warning sign. Both situations require a caregiver of some sort for some of the time if she is alone for the weekend," u/Glittering_knave wrote.

"[Mother-in-Law] needs to be put into a care facility. Whether she's doing this on purpose or not, the fact remains that her actions are putting herself and everyone around her in danger," u/Publius246 wrote, though the OP replied that neither he nor she have the money to afford a home for his mother-in-law.

"You're not responsible for keeping someone who might murder you and your wife, one slip of a spark and you're dead," u/ZippNex wrote. "I understand that your wife obviously cares for her, but your mother in law is putting the three of you in danger and there's no compromise to this."

"Gas leaks aren't just a danger to you. They're a danger to everyone in the surrounding area," u/fishminer3 wrote.

"This seems like a cry for attention. Like: 'I just wont cook anymore so you have no other choice to take me out to dinner with you guys'. I would't be worried about leaving the gas on, since she probably will only do it when you're about to return,but I understand it would be less stressfull to turn it off," u/Pure-Perspective-70 wrote.

"This s**t. This is learned incompetence to get you to take her with you," u/Snoo_68114 agreed.

Newsweek reached out to u/throwaway18688 for comment.