Ugh. Your husband has been out of work for months and you're almost at your wit's end. The vibrant man that you married is slowly turning into a lethargic, day-time television-addicted mess and — short of putting a lit firecracker under his backside — you don't know what to do.
You are not alone. Company downsizing and closures have rendered thousands of husbands across the nation unemployed — leaving legions of frazzled wives wondering how to help their hubbies get back to work. And according to new research on modern fatherhood conducted by the University of East Anglia, fewer men are taking up the role of breadwinner. The Institute of Education and NatCen Social Research surveyed 1,500 men across eight countries — France, Sweden, Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Poland and Britain — and they found that just one in five families are still considered "traditional" (as in a working man and a homemaker wife).
And while your guy is the one that has to make his re-entry into the workplace happen, there are a few things that you can do to help to keep the relationship strong.
1. "There's a good chance that I'm depressed."
No amount of gender equality will change the fact that women and men are wired differently and men get a great deal of their self-worth through their jobs. Losing his job is like losing a huge part of who he is as a man. As a result, he can become depressed.
Depression shows itself differently in males than it does it females too. Some of the symptoms of male depression are moodiness, anger, a sense of shame, a need to blame others or insomnia. If you think that your spouse may be suffering from depression, you will need to seek medical advice.
2. "Can you be a source of support for me?"
Before offering your "help", make sure you check that you're not using a condescending tone. The loss of his job has likely caused a sizeable dent in your hubby's self-esteem, so he may be a tad bit defensive. It is important that your offer of assistance does not come across as an attempt to be controlling or mothering. Instead, adopt a warm and encouraging approach.
Once you've established the right tone of voice, there are several roles you can play to offer help:
Sounding board: Be willing to provide solicited feedback on ideas. And, remember, do not mock or criticize his ideas--no matter how ludicrous you deem them to be. Respond in a respectful, but truthful manner.
Proof-reader: Offer to look over his resume and cover letters. Again, be sure to begin by praising the positives. Then, and only then, provide constructive criticism.
Interviewer: If your husband experiences nervousness prior to a job interviewer, you could run him through a mock interview for practice.
Lead seeker: You could also offer to phone some friends for potential job leads, check the want ads, and engage in other lead-seeking activities on his behalf.
Social networker: If you are the computer-savvy part of your pair, you can offer to post his resume online, create a professional profile on LinkedIn, and use social media to find job leads.
3. "I might need you to be open to alternatives."
Your husband may require some re-training in order to secure a job. If this is the case, you can help him find ways to make this a possibility:
Researcher. When it comes to problem-solving, two heads are always better than one — and so are two sets of hands and two laptops. Help your hubby by seeking out possible study programs, information on different educational institutions, and labor statistics. You can also hunt down sources of financial help.
Budgeter. Before your husband embarks on a lengthy educational pursuit, you will need to know that you can maintain a roof over your head and food on the table. This involves devising a doable budget and cutting unnecessary expenses.
Losing a job is a jolt to the system and blow to one's self-esteem. Your husband will need a little time to lick his wounds and regroup — but, then, he needs to climb back in the proverbial saddle.
Have you or your partner experienced a job loss? How did you cope? Let us know in the comments below!