We are facing the greatest time of economic uncertainty in almost 100 years. Our world has experienced many layoffs, and it is entirely possible that many more are coming.
Although everyone is negatively impacted by a job loss, many women don’t recognize a crucial truth about how it hits men in particular. And yet we need to. Last time in Part 1, we introduced Tip #1 on how to respond and explained a shocking truth running under the surface that will change–should change—how we respond when our husband loses his job. (Or if he’s even worried about it.)
In this Part 2, we’ll tackle Tips #2, #3, and #4 on what that means in practice: what we can actually do at the outset of the journey.
Tip #2: Always Respond To The Inner Man—Not The Outer One
Our man may look so confident in himself. Sometimes, even when everything is falling to pieces around him, he might seem strong and sure.
Don’t be fooled. As mentioned last time, most of the men on our surveys for For Women Only (about 75%) said that this confidence was just a mask. Inside, most men hide a deep self-doubt about one question: am I any good at what I do?!
Whether or not the job loss had anything to do with your husband’s job performance, he will perceive it as a confirmation of all the insecurities he had about himself. He will perceive it as the worst thing that he can be: a failure. A confirmation that no, you are not any good at what you do. Thinking that he can’t cut it—or worse, the idea that someone else has decided he can’t cut it—is a humiliating feeling that every man wants to avoid at all costs.
And yet, now, the worst has happened.
So, in everything else that you do—as you apply or adapt all the rest of the advice we’re sharing here—always, always, respond to the real, vulnerable man your husband is on the inside. No matter how assured or strong he might look on the outside.
Tip #3: If He Needs It, Give Him Time And Space To Process The Shock
If you are a verbal processor (which the majority of women are), and if your husband is an internal processor (which the majority of men are), there might be a clash. You may need to talk. Badly. You may have a million questions about what happened. What are you feeling? Have you talked to anyone else who got laid off? How are we going to pay our bills? Should I do more with my side hustle to bring in cash? Why aren’t you talking to me?!
But if your man is like most, his brain needs to process through his thoughts, feelings, ideas, and fears before he can even hope to talk about it. And the more sudden the layoff, the more difficult it may be to process. Was there any inkling that it was coming? Did he have a chance to say goodbye to his co-workers? If he was totally blindsided, he had no opportunity to mentally prepare.
Give him a chance to process what’s happened. Whether your man wants to spend some quality time with his fishing pole in tranquil waters, play pickup basketball with his buddies, or sit staring at the TV—accommodate that for a while. Even if it is making you crazy to wait.
Here’s the advice of one man who has been through an emotional “failure” situation in business:
“I think a lot of guys don’t even know what they are thinking or feeling in a situation like that. That sense of failure goes so deep it takes over his ability to even think for a while. And once his brain starts up again, he may need to go into his cave to think and process. So he needs to know his wife is there for him.
Ideally, he would probably like to just go off in a corner and work through it by himself, make a plan, and come out with it all figured out. But he has to know that his wife needs something, too. That she’s hurting, too. So early on, she might say something like, ‘I know this must be such a blow. I want you to know, I’m in your corner. I believe in you. If you want to talk about it, I’m here. If you need time to yourself to figure things out, I’m okay with that too. But just so you know, for me, at some point, I need to talk about it with you. Because I love you, and the only way I can fully process it is with you. I need you.’”
Tip #4: Make Sure He Knows He Is Meeting Your Needs
When you see the end of that previous quote in Tip #3, you may think, “I don’t want to pressure him with my needs, when he is the one going through such a difficult time.” And yet, the men in our research were clear that one of their greatest desires is to know that they are needed.
But the nuance to this is crucial. He desires to know that you need him, and that he is doing a good job at meeting those needs. Remember: he doubts himself. Especially now that his insecurities have been heightened in excruciating fashion, he may be on a knife-edge about whether he is being the husband you need. The dad your kids need. And that is highly tied to whether he feels like he is doing a good job at what he tries to do.
Look for every opportunity to affirm that. For example, let’s assume that two days ago you said something like what was suggested by the man in Tip #3. So tonight, it would mean the world to your husband if you said, “Honey, I could tell that you were feeling down tonight. That you were looking at the bank account and worrying. And that you didn’t want to talk about it. And yet . . . you did. You were willing to sit down after the kids were in bed and talk about it because I needed to. That meant so much to me. You are a great husband.”
So now you’ve got a foundation for the beginning of the journey. But what do you do in the days to come? See the next steps in Part 3. Click here to automatically receive Part 3, 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.