In Part 1 we shared the surprising (shocking!) emotional factor at work inside most men that every wife needs to know—especially when he is facing a job loss (or worried about one). In Part 2, we shared several crucial actions to take at the outset of this new journey. In this Part 3 we’ll talk about what to do as the journey continues on. And maybe on and on and on . . . .
And in Part 4 we’ll finish with how to help both of you move forward well—together.
Tip #5: Comfort Him As He Grieves The Loss—Which May Take Time
If you’ve ever lost a dearly loved one unexpectedly, you may know the feeling that you have lost time as well as a person. Where did those two months go? I thought to myself a few months after my father passed away. It wasn’t that I was sitting on the couch so deep in grief that I could do nothing—but I certainly wasn’t as effective as normal at accomplishing things either.
A similar time warp exists when your man loses a job. And in this case, because of the emotional “confirmation” (in his mind) that he is indeed a failure, it can be paralyzing. In research interviews for our books, many hundreds of women told me examples of a husband who initially seemed okay on the heels of a job loss . . . but who grew more and more lethargic as he tried over and over again to get another one.
In other words: from the point when he loses his job to when he secures another one, a man is emotionally feeling the pain of failure over and over again. He is essentially feeling new grief with every rejection, every time he hears “They decided to go a different direction”—or when he simply doesn’t hear anything at all. At some point, it may become so excruciating that he prefers not to try. To stay numb.
One of the few things that will help to pull a man out of that excruciating sense of failure is the overt sense that his wife believes in him. Bottom line: this is not the time for bracing words like, “What are you doing moping around? You won’t find a job from in front of the television! Get out there!” This is a time for stating in many ways that you are in his corner. We may think that the “get out there!” words will stir a man to action . . . but in most cases, they don’t help, because they don’t address the underlying problem: that he no longer believes in his ability to accomplish what he has set out to do.
So what is one key thing that does affirm his ability to accomplish things? Well . . .
Tip #6: Sex
You might have suspected this was going to make it into the list somewhere. In our research for For Women Only I was shocked to see just how much sex meets an emotional need for a man—far, far more than a physical one. And during a season when he is doubting himself or depressed, seeing that his wife wants to be with him in this way is profoundly impactful.
The truth that we as women often don’t recognize is that a man deeply wants to feel wanted and desired by his wife—to feel that he is desirable. He wants to know that he can please her, sexually. When she shows that she enjoys it, it makes him feel that he is good at something important! More generally, when she responds to his advances—or initiates her own!—it is a dramatic emotional support. And it builds a closeness that is hard to build any other way.
As one man told me, “Everything can be falling apart around me. But if I know my wife desires me, there is a sense that I can handle anything. I know it might sound odd to you. But it goes very, very deep into the heart of a man.”
Tip #7: Stay Calm And Communicate Your Confidence In His Abilities
You might be ready to panic over how the bills are going to get paid. But keep your concerns about financial fallout in check enough that you can ultimately trust God to provide, rather than inadvertently putting that pressure on your husband.
Trust me: your man knows that the bills need to get paid. And he needs to see that you are confident that he can and will be a provider again. Your husband wants to provide for his family. It is a burden that probably presses very heavily on him. But since he is already fighting feelings of inadequacy, what he needs to keep going is something that counteracts that in adequacy: to believe in himself. And in most cases, one of the most powerful means of doing that is knowing that you believe in him.
So instead of reminding him (for the third time) about making an appointment with the recruiting agency, affirm his power to provide and thank him for the steps he has already taken. And don’t hesitate to ask what you can do that would help while he’s out there pounding the pavement. For example, if you’re open to adding overtime hours on your job to help take the pressure off while he looks for his, definitely tell him so! Just make sure he knows you’re not doing it to send an object-lesson message that his job-seeking efforts have been inadequate!
Was this helpful? We hope so! The final few tips will help you set yourself and your man up well for the future. Stay tuned for Part 4! Click here to automatically receive Part 4, 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.