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An architect has sparked a debate after questioning whether he was wrong to tell his husband and his in-laws they are “delusional” for expecting him to work for them for free.

The man, who goes by the username u/Embarrassed-Track474, recounted the dilemma in a post shared to the Reddit subreddit AITA [Am I The A**hole] on Thursday, in which he revealed in a post titled: “AITA for telling my husband and in-laws they are delusional if they think they can get my professional service for free and sending them a colleague’s referral?” that he was recently approached by his husband and his in-laws about overseeing the expansion of their medical clinic.

According to the 35-year-old architect, his husband, 37, is a dentist, and works at a small clinic with his father, who is also a dentist, and his mother, a dermatologist. However, the architect said that the family’s clinic has recently expanded and hired additional doctors to provide more services, which he noted is “where [he] comes into the equation”.

In the post, the Reddit user then revealed that his husband, who he shares three-month-old twins with, and his in-laws, approached him about their plans for the expansion, which he said include “more space to build around five new offices, a small operating room, an X-ray room and an ultrasound room, and a whole renovation of the lobby and also landscaping”.

According to the architect, when his husband initially asked him if he would manage the project, he declined, as he is already working on a project. However, he said he told him that he would refer a fellow architect, who he noted is “smart” and could handle the project.

The suggestion did not go over well with the OP [original poster]’s husband, as he said his partner said he would be disappointed if the roles were reversed and OP sought help from another dentist. In the post, the man acknowledged that he ultimately agreed with his husband. “I understood because If I had a dental issue I would want no one but my husband to see me,” he wrote.

He then explained that he agreed to visit the site with his husband and in-laws to see “what they had in mind,” and that the four of them went to a cafe after to discuss their plans, at which point he asked about the budget.

“I asked about the budget they had and they told me the amount they had in mind so I asked: ‘Is my payment included there?’” he recalled.

According to the architect, the question did not go over well with his husband and his in-laws, as he then revealed that his mother-in-law asked him if he expected to be paid even though the clinic is his husband’s, and would one day belong to their children.

In response, the Reddit user said that he told his husband’s mother: “Yeah, I still have to dedicate a lot of time doing this or do you expect me to design and supervise it for free?”

In the post, the man recalled how his response had led to an abrupt end to the conversation, and that he and his husband left shortly after. However, he said his husband was clearly upset, and that when they got home he told him he was being “unbelievable”.

“He told me I was unbelievable and told me that the idea of expecting me to pay if I require his service would never cross his mind, and reminded me that it’d be like if I expect my kids to pay because it’ll be theirs one day,” he said. In response, the OP said that he reminded his husband how, when they had been engaged, he had booked an appointment with his mother and paid for the service.

He said he also informed his husband that his work on the project would be “way more expensive than a [dermatology] appointment (because they also expect me to supervise the project)”.

According to the OP, his husband said that the appointment he was referring to was “different” as they hadn’t been married at the time.

In the post, the man then said that he “had to admit” that he “had a dental issue last year and hubby was the one who solved it,” before reiterating that “this project is way more expensive” and that he even offered to give his husband and in-laws 50 per cent off.

The man concluded the post revealing that his husband has barely spoken to him and that his mother-in-law keeps comparing the situation to OP charging his own children. “So AITA or do they just want to take advantage of me?” he asked.

As of Friday, the post has been upvoted more than 5,600 times, with hundreds of Reddit users weighing in on the comments.

According to the majority of the comments, the architect is not the one who is wrong, as he would be losing money if he were to accept the project.

“NTA. You’ll be spending a lot more time than they would on a dental appointment.That means you will not be working on another project that would pay your full fee. So you would lose money by doing it for free,” one person wrote, adding: “50 per cent off is a very generous offer.”

Another person said: “Yep. They view it as taking money from their business… You view it as taking money out of your current business.They might be talented medical professionals, but they are bad at business.”

“Equating an appointment with a project that you have to dedicate time and effort to for several weeks if not months, is ridiculous,” someone else wrote. “It rubs me the wrong way that your husband and in-laws are expecting you to do it for free, and the only repayment is that ‘one day it will be your children’s’.

“Umm what if the business tanks? Or you no longer have the clinic anymore in the future. I feel it’s very disrespectful that they didn’t even consider paying you anything. If you do go ahead with this, make sure you have a contract written up stipulating your pay and exactly what your responsibilities are.”

Others noted that the couple’s children may not take over the family business in the future, in which case the clinic may not actually benefit or belong to them.

“The future is so fluid. It’s such a silly excuse to not pay OP for their work,” one person commented, while another Reddit user said: “What if their kids don’t want to be dentists? What if gasp they want to be architects like their dad?”

However, some Reddit users said they were undecided about who was correct in the situation, as one person noted that “a lifetime of dental and dermatological care” for OP and the couple’s children, “especially if braces and such are needed,” may “eventually end up” equalling the same amount as the price they would have charged for the renovation.

“I’m a bit undecided. I feel like OP could have tried some kind of compromise like he makes the design for free but then they hire another architect to supervise,” they continued. “But also I can’t imagine charging my own husband for something our whole family will benefit from, especially since we both tend to help each other out. But yes, to each their own.”

Someone else noted that they could “see where your husband and in-laws are coming from,” but added that they shouldn’t get “to dictate whether or not you deserve to be paid for doing them a favour,” especially considering the costs and time that would go into the extensive renovation.

“NTA, do not mix business and family!” another person advised.

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