As she finished preparing her lunch, Maya heard the kitchen door open. That has to be Nate. What’s he doing home? She turned slowly.
His face was an unreadable mix of emotions. “Well, it finally happened. I was laid off.”
Of all the challenging situations a couple faces together, one of the most difficult is the loss of a job. As many people are learning today, a job loss presents a major shock, an uncertain future, and a range of emotional responses. That’s the case no matter who is being laid off, and for what reasons. And most people want to support and help their partner through it.
But based on our years of research for For Women Only and For Men Only, we’ve seen one hidden factor that often arises when it is the husband who is laid off—and which can either deeply help or hurt the relationship. It is whether or not a woman fully understands how a sudden job loss affects a man, and how to support, encourage and partner with her husband so they come through the time stronger—both personally and professionally.
There are so many powerful insights and practical answers that arose from the research, that we’re going to turn this into a short series and share the top 10 tips for any wife whose husband has gotten the bad news—or is worried that he might.
In Part 1, we’ll start with the most foundational first tip.
Tip #1: Recognize What He Thinks the Bad News Actually Is—Because It Is Different Than You Realize
Recently I was speaking to the owner of a new, rapidly growing small business. His acumen had helped take the venture from zero to nearly $2 million in revenue in less than three years.
Yet he also shared a story that is highly telling about the inner lives of men—and why an unexpected layoff is devastating in a different way than we women might realize.
Five years ago, when this man was working for a different organization, his employer had required him to take a neuropsychological exam—and when he got the results, he was devastated. The report said “IQ: 70”—a severely mentally disadvantaged level of intelligence. He looked at the report and internally said, “I knew it all along. I knew that I was a pretender. That I didn’t have what it took to handle things well. What am I doing in this role?!”
After about twenty minutes of misery, he noticed a note: “Numbers listed are a percentile.”
His IQ wasn’t the significantly low raw score of 70 . . . it was in the 70th percentile. He was significantly more intelligent than average!
And yet his immediate reaction had been the thought: I knew it.
Many of us, in that situation, would immediately think: That can’t be right! But not him. He didn’t stop and think about how impossible it would be to have worked this long and accomplished what he had with significantly impaired mental capacity. No, in his mind, it confirmed a long-held, deep suspicion that he wasn’t good enough.
If your husband is like the statistical majority of men, that is likely to be at least part of his subconscious emotional reaction to losing his job. I knew it. This is only confirming that I didn’t have what it takes. It was only a matter of time until they found me out.
They don’t look like it, but roughly 75% of men feel that way inside, according to our surveys for For Women Only and several other books.
If we want to truly comfort, help, support, and build up our man, it starts by recognizing that fundamental, unseen vulnerability under the surface in our husband. And the incredibly important role that we have in helping him see the truth.
What do we do about it? Stay tuned for Part 2. [Click here to automatically receive Part 2, and other articles like this.]
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Shaunti Feldhahn loves sharing eye-opening information that helps people thrive in life and relationships. She herself started out with a Harvard graduate degree and Wall Street credentials but no clue about life. After an unexpected shift into relationship research for average people like her, she now is a popular speaker and author of best-selling books about men, women and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).
Her latest book, Thriving in Love and Money, uncovers the issues that cause money conflicts and provide couples with truths that are relationship game-changers. Because you need a better relationship, not just a better budget.
Visit www.shaunti.com for more.