General Question

casheroo's avatar

How do I help my significant other through this problem?

Asked by casheroo (18017 points ) February 2nd, 2010

Just to get it out of the way, therapy is NOT an option. So please, do not suggest it. Also, sorry this is so long!

My husband and I have been married for about 1.5 years, and together for 4 years. In that short amount of time, a lot of changes have occurred within our relationship. We are about to have our second child, have moved a couple times, and have seen some extremely rough financial times.

When I had our first son (we weren’t married yet), my husband had to work many hours because we both lost our jobs when I was 3 months pregnant, he was able to find something and I had no luck getting anyone to hire me. So, he supported us, and worked upwards of 80 hours a week until our son was 3 months old when he found a steady job with less hours (more like 50–60)—so this was amazing for both of us!
Then he was laid off. We were owed a lot of money from the employer and he never pulled through. It was very difficult for us financially, and very emotionally draining on us both. I was in school and got a part time job to help as much as I could. He eventually got two new jobs to try to compensate for the lost income..yet that meant traveling between two jobs and we never saw each other. :(
Then, unfortunately, at the end of a day shift going into night…he is told the place has been sold and we are yet again left with nothing. So, three times in less than 4 years he has lost his job unexpectedly and we have never made enough to be able to save, so we’re left with not having enough money for rent and food.
We always pull through and I have never made him feel badly for this. But, it has always been very upsetting that he now chooses to work so much. He will constantly be on the phone doing work, working any shift he can, ignoring family at home because work preoccupies his mind. If he isn’t working, then he’s sleeping because he doesn’t get much sleep at night (gets home late).

In December, it came to a crashing halt when I told him he needs to be here more for his family, and that money isn’t everything. He has a steady job, decent pay, we’re actually saving because we moved into my parents house and pay half the rent we were paying before. We are doing fine, and have a cushion which we’ve never had before. It feels great.

I have had this problem where he chooses work over family way too much. We have been communicating a lot because I’ve been expressing my feelings more openly and better since I’m not attacking him (I find writing all out and giving it to him as a letter to be best, so I can gather my thoughts).
He informed me yesterday, that he is not a workaholic (as I have accused him of being). He tells me he is very insecure. He is scared of not being able to support him family, and having the rug ripped out from under him. He says he can’t stop thinking about the money he is missing out on, when he has days off of work, and when he’s not at work he thinks about work because of these fears.
I had no clue he was that scared. I know I should have known, since of course it’s been terrible for me when he loses a job…but I guess since it’s not me being the one losing the job, that I could brush off the personal feelings easier.
I don’t know what to say. He knows I love him and if we can get through all this, I know we can always work our way through anything. I don’t want him to suffer or be that insecure. It can’t be healthy to obsess over something like that, right? How can I let him know that it’s going to be okay?
We have a game plan. We’re young and have time to work on our plan, we keep our eye on the prize and knowing that the other is always there by our side has made this possible. As hard as it has been, with school and work and having kids…it’ll all pay off. I have faith that it will, and I’m glad I get to go through it all with my best friend. He knows he’s my best friend and that we love each other.

So, what can I do to help him through this? How can I let him worry less? I know us having a second child is probably making the issue worse (he’s the money worry wart), so I don’t even know what words of comfort or advice I can give him. Any advice?

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26 Answers

tinyfaery's avatar

You get a job.

Judi's avatar

He is trying to provide for his family. It is probably somewhat emasculating for him to have to live with your parents. I would suggest that you work out a plan. Let him work his ass off until you reach an agreed upon milestone. It might be a savings account, it might be purchasing a house, or it could be paying off any debts. You just have to agree on it. When you get to that mile post then he has to commit to specific hours of family time.
If you make it measurable it could help your relationship and help him to achieve his goals as well.
Write it all down!

casheroo's avatar

@tinyfaery I lost my job because my husband would not work any less hours and we couldn’t afford childcare. I constantly had to leave work early so my husband could go to work (I worked the early shift, had to be in by 5:30am) and it got to the point where my husband would flip out if I worked past 10am. I was fired. I was two months pregnant, in school so I can get a well paying job eventually…So, me getting a job isn’t exactly feasible. I’m hoping to though after the baby is born.

jrpowell's avatar

It could be possible that you don’t know how stable his job is. He might be hearing of layoffs and doesn’t want to scare you by telling you since you are pregnant.

I would really work on a transparent budget. Both of you need to be actively involved in your fiances. Write everything down (even a candy-bar) and crunch the numbers together.

casheroo's avatar

@Judi That might be it. He was like this prior to us moving in with my parents though, which was before he was laid off for the third time. Also, we actually have paid all debt off since living with my parents for the past 8 months!! We were pretty damn excited about that. I definitely think putting more into savings is what we need to do, but it’s hard when we know we’re about to have a newborn and the expenses that comes with it.

@johnpowell That could be true. He tends to tell me most things, but if it were something that could needlessly make me worry, he wouldn’t tell me. The owners of the place he works are divorcing, so he is worried that they are sucking him into their fighting…he wants nothing to do with their personal lives and has told them that he is just there to do his job. Hopefully they leave him out of it.

Silhouette's avatar

@Judi Bravo! Excellent answer.

Your_Majesty's avatar

I’ve got to say that you’re the luckiest woman to have such man. The reason he did that might because he feels ashamed that he can’t support his own family to live on a house,or he feels guilty for letting you(and your child) live with your parent after you had your own house(man can feels irresponsible for that). Workaholic is good in order to sustain his family life in such situation and I believe he still has a holiday in his job.
.

marinelife's avatar

He needs to put a value on the time he spends with you and the family. Perhaps before his day off is coming, you can sit down and go over the finances with him, show him that you are doing all right, and tell him how very much you are looking forward to his day off.

Then plan to do something he really likes to do. Spend a day with your little one, and then have your parents babysit, and the two of you go out and do something (going out somewhere does not have to cost a lot of money or even any money).

You two need to reconenct through a way other than his being the provider.

Good luck!

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Perhaps you can work out a slice of time of say four hours, that you and he agree to set aside as family time where you can do anything together that is pleasant for all. During this period, discussion of work, worries and finances are completely set aside.

Treat this time as precious, like a mini vacation from stress you can all count on every week. See how that works!

cbloom8's avatar

It sounds like he has all the dedication in the world for you and your children – don’t sell him short of that. It sounds like he needs to in any way he can step back and look at his work situation. I don’t know what he does or what his education is, but he needs to start trying to get a job that will be a long term, sustainable form of income. This would mean either getting into a line of work that is reliable or learning a line of work that is reliable. He obviously has the dedication and drive, but he needs to direct it efficiently and be a bit more organized.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Judi Excellent answer! Many men (at least the good ones) are “hard wired” to place very high value on being good providers for their families. His obsession with earning in an unstable work environment may be a manifestation of this programming. He associates his love for you and the children with providing for your material needs.

Over tens of thousands of years, the role of the human male has been to protect and provide. As @Judi said, the inability to do this is traumatic to many men. Trying his hardest to be a good provider is his way of showing love.

The idea of setting financial goals to trigger more “family time” sounds good. He also needs ressurance that you recognize his efforts to provide as the sign of love that it is. As long as the job situation remains unstable, he is probably going to continue this pattern of maximizing earnings and savings as a hedge against future unemployment. Until the economy turns around, he will probably continue to have this problem.

Bear in mind that his behaviour is a sign of a good, loving partner as far as traditional male roles go.

filmfann's avatar

I was the same way 20 years ago.
He is going with what he knows. I know it’s a pain, but let him.

Trillian's avatar

Working two jobs myself and going to school I know how he feels. I really need to sleep and hate not having that much interaction time. Well, that’s over because I left him in August, but he was NO help while we were together, always wanting me to wake up to take him to get drugs, or cook, or sit in the garage with him while he fiddled around…. I never got to do what I needed to do to make our lives better, even though he knew what it was going to be like when I started it. All I needed was some support I never got.
Let the poor guy do his thing and be there when he finally crawls out from under. The milestone thing sounds like a good idea, but then back off and let him sleep while he can so he can go back out and bust a nut. I say this from his perspective because I’ll wager he will say the same thing that I do/did. It isn’t going to be forever, but it sucks for me while I’m doing it. I’m doing it for us so….a little help here, ok?

Cruiser's avatar

You are not communicating…writing letters to him is not communicating…him working all the time and not talking about things is not healthy either. You NEED time together! Make one night a week your time…“date” night…just you and him…all this work and no play or quality time together is a recipe for disaster…go get a coffee, for a walk, a movie, a dinner at a cafe. You need a break together…Good luck!

casheroo's avatar

@Cruiser lol! I’d love to see when we’ll have any time for that with a newborn and a toddler. There is “playtime”, he has two days off of work a week.

MrsNash's avatar

Therapy works for some people but not for others. At the very beginning of your question you said that therapy was not an option. May I ask why?

casheroo's avatar

@MrsNash No health insurance, and it’s too expensive out of pocket.

trailsillustrated's avatar

itls gonna be really hard but just go with it and be there for him like you are. You are young. things will change, they really will. He is just trying to provide.

Ron_C's avatar

I think your husband is a hero. That’s an amazing story and you should both be commended for overcoming such adversity. I agree with your husband that he’s not a workaholic and I don’t blame him for feeling insecure. He and I share some of the same traits but he’s much tougher than me.

If I was you, I’d give him some slack and try to ease him back into more family routine. It will probably take him a couple years of steady, reliable employment to get over what you guys have suffered. Nagging or calling him a workaholic will only make him feel insecure and work harder.

Frankly, I think you should go with the flow, and ease him, slowly, out of the rat race. You are both lucky that you have found each other and I would hate for you to blow it now that circumstances have improved.

Good luck,

Ron

p.s. I think a psychologist or therapy would only make things worse. Some people, like me, just don’t want to talk about their feelings and all we end up with is guilt for being, in other people’s opinion closed off.

augustlan's avatar

I really like the idea of working hard up to a certain milestone. @Judi really has it right on that. Let him build up your nest egg to whatever amount/goal you agree on, and then try to settle into a more relaxing routine.

In the meantime, be sure you get some time together, and some alone time, too. Ask your parents or a good friend to take the kiddies off your hands for a bit on a regular basis. It’s so easy to get burned out being a mom, especially if your husband is too busy to lend a hand. You’ll wind up resenting him if you don’t get a little time for yourself, too. Good luck with this!

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Help him by letting him tackle his fears by working, lots of us do this because work and making money to hedge against bills is something we can control. I agree with others who write he probably doesn’t feel right or comfortable living with your parents. You’re lucky your husband feels mature and responsible to want to take care of you all as best he can, he might not enjoy much living with his own family either if it were a choice. Have you talked about the timing of future kids? It sounds like you guys have had so much on your plate that he might start to fear you guys might never dig out.

casheroo's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence Oh yeah, no kids until I’m done school. IUD here I come! lol

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@casheroo: Aside from that, I can’t imagine too much else you guys can be up against you haven’t already gone through together and at so young too. I’ll bet when you can have the privacy of your own home with the kids then he’ll mentally ease up a bit :)

john65pennington's avatar

When my wife and i married, we jointly decided that i would be the money-maker and she would raise our children. this worked great for us. i worked 2 and 3 jobs at one time, just like your hubby. from a mans point of view…..its tough on a man to lose his job. its like sinking in the ocean and there is no life raft to save you. its embarrassing for a man not being to provide for his family and wife he loves. time is on your side. its apparent you are in love with your hubby and supportive. this is the core for any successful marriage. just as long as you two are together is the most important aspect of a marriage. your outlook appears great and thats good. there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. right now, your husband has told himself that his family will never be without again. he is determined to fulfill this promise to himself. its a man thing and very important to men to uphold their obligations to his family. like i told my wife many years ago, “we can accomplish anything in life, as long as we are together as one”. this sentence has held us together for 44 years. its she and i against the world. please let your husband read my answer. he will understand it, he is a man.

captainsmooth's avatar

Your husband is trying to provide for his family the best he can. He hustles, works long hours, multiple jobs in an economy in which some people have trouble getting one job. Appreciate what he is trying to do for all of you, cherish those moments when he is home and awake.

Life isn’t supposed to be easy, especially with your youth and your children, but between the two of you, with patience, love, understanding, respect and support for each other, you can get through these rough times. When all of you are in a better place, it will taste that much sweeter.

Gabby101's avatar

I think the problem is that he can not enjoy himself when he is not working. He needs to find a way to think of those times not as a lost opportunity to make money, but as an opportunity to spend time with his family and rest his mind and body (the tools that make money). Constantly calculating how much money he could be earning if he were working doesn’t do any good – it doesn’t make him any richer, so why bother with that kind of thought.

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