My husband recently lost his job and he spends most of his day surfing the Internet and playing games on the computer. He doesn’t interact with the kids or me or help with any household chores. How can I get him out of this depression and get him to go out and look for another job?
Losing a job is probably one of the most stressful things a provider can go through. If your husband is the sole provider, or even the primary provider, it can be even more devastating to lose a job. It sounds like your husband has really taken this hard and is struggling to get his feet back under him after this loss.
I can only imagine how panicked you must feel as well. If you’re depending on him to provide the income for the family and he’s unable to perform his responsibilities, even temporarily, it can be scary wondering when things will change.
Even though there is nothing you can do to make him find a job, you can most certainly work to share your feelings with him in a way that can support, encourage, and help him move forward with his life. Your influence can make a significant difference for your family during this difficult time.
Remember that looking for a job in this day and age requires a lot of computer time. Even though he is clearly distracted and checking out on the computer, you can also give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s probably using the computer to search for work.
It’s highly likely that your husband is depressed. Although it’s understandable as to why he’s depressed, it’s still a serious condition if left untreated. One of the best remedies for depression is a healthy relationship with a significant other. Even though people in healthy relationships can still experience debilitating depression, research shows over and over that healthy relationships buffer the effects of depression.
Regardless of your current levels of marital satisfaction, this is a good time to turn toward your relationship and strengthen it. You can use the gift of time you’ve been given to build your relationship. Invite him to spend time with you and the family.
Let him know how much you appreciate his efforts to provide in the past and express your confidence in his ability to assume that role again.
John Eldredge, author of “Wild at Heart,” teaches that men are constantly asking the question, “am I enough?” and “do I have what it takes?” Much of your husband’s angst is likely the result of him wondering if he has what it takes to do this again. He is probably asking himself if he is enough in your eyes and the eyes of his family. This isn’t something he will explain to you – he doesn’t have to, his behavior is speaking clearly about his sense of powerlessness.
Tell him he’s got what it takes. Ask him how you can support him. Even though you may feel worried and panicked, you can still express confidence in his ability to pull this off. If you don’t believe in your husband and can’t bring yourself to express confidence in him, then I recommend you both seek counseling to address the depression and other relational issues tied to the unemployment.
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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Copyright 2012 St. George News.