Dear Dr. Elia,
My husband has been out of work pushing 6 months now. I know things are hard and we have savings so finacially we are ok. The problem is he is making no effort to find work. Recruters call about jobs and submit resumes occasionally but that is as far as it goes. He does not try to network, look at want ads or on the internet. He’s just waiting for work to find him. I’m feeling like his mother, You need to do this, you need to do that, otherwise he’d be in front of the TV most of the time. He says it wants to get into another line of work but makes no effort to start that either! I’m sure part of this is depression being out of work for so long. The nature of his work is that there are a few months between jobs but this has been the longest and it’s driving be nuts. If he was trying I would feel different. When I try to talk with him about this it just turns into an argument. I want a knight in shining armour not another child to take care of. What do I do so that I’m not so dissapointed in him? It’s affecting our relationship negatively. Love him but don’t much like him right now.
When someone loses their job it can have a devastating effect on their self-worth. Depression can set in and inaction can soon follow. Having said that however, it is not an excuse for not being actively engaged in securing further employment. As husbands and fathers, it is our stewardship to be good providers. The fact that you’ve been able to live off your savings for 6 months is really impressive, however that’s not going to last forever. It is easier finding a job when you’re not desperate.
You mention that he wants to find another line of work…I coach people everyday who are in the process of transitioning careers. Some are going through a mid-life crisis or as I like to call it, mid-life reflection, and want to do something they are REALLY passionate about. Others are looking to start a new business and are in need of entrepreneurial tools to make them successful. There are others who truly are at a loss of what they want to do the rest of their lives and are seeking insights or discovery of hidden talents. What ALL these individuals have in common is that they are DOING something about it. So what will your husband choose to do? Sitting on the couch and watching T.V. will not bring him happiness nor a fulfilling occupation.
That’s where I would start with him…and if you can do it with compassion, so much the better. Ask him if he’s happy just sitting around? The probable answer will be no…Then say, “Honey what are you willing to do about it?” It’s ok if he doesn’t know and it’s ok to ask for help. What’s not okay is to do absolutely nothing!
Elia Gourgouris Ph.D