Coping With an Out-of-Work Husband Does a recent layoff have you both spending too much time together? Here are 6 ways to not just survive, but enjoy each other's company. BY DEBBIE MANDEL
Don't let a recent job loss drive you to lose your marriage as well.
Most women who take their marriage vows do so with the unwritten agreement that their man will be home only for dinner, weekends and holidays and of course the occasional flu or sprain. However, the recession has changed the dynamics of the marriage contract.
Just have a look at what some of my female readers have frantically emailed me:
"I feel like I have adopted an adult child."
"He wants to be included in everything, I feel like we are joined at the hip. I need therapy!"
"Now he wants me to prepare three-course lunches for him while he doesn’t do his fair share around the house."
"Now that he’s home, all he thinks about is sex. He wants a quickie when I am busy with my to-do list."
In summation, Prince Charming has turned into a channel surfing toad plopped on the couch with a ravenous appetite for whatever. And now, you feel wed-locked.
Clearly, you are experiencing a bit of road rage in your own living room. Before you run him over, make sure to shift gears. Self-improvement means home improvement. This is the time to get yourself in balance and think straight. Consider the teachings of martial arts, which resemble marital arts. Don’t oppose an aggressor’s strength head on. Instead, the idea is to yield to an oncoming force in such a way that it is unable to harm you, yet at the same time redirecting its strength away from you, guiding the force where you wish.
Here’s how to get his attention:
1. Don’t waste energy with judgment or nagging. Make him feel that he is indispensable. If he can’t feel safe at home, where can he? Learn the difference between force and power. Don’t compel him, but do tune into him to expand your sphere of influence.
2. Become a team player. Perception changes everything—see yourself as a team—each with a separate skill set with your own defined goals decided together. Based on your strengths, these are your daily tasks. Based on his strengths, these are his tasks. When he succeeds at a chore, heap on plenty of praise and he will gladly take on more.
3. Schedule a series of little adventures. Nothing deadens the heart like routine. Research shows that boredom is a marriage killer. Have some unscheduled fun, like taking a day trip—play hooky from work to be with him. If you always do quickies, stage a longer romantic scenario. If you never do quickies, then try one along with a change in location. Consider a quickie as an appetizer to be followed later on by a main course.
4. Maintain your individual life. Communicate calmly and compassionately that you need to cultivate your separate identity with your friends and promise that you will bring new stories to the dinner table. Encourage him to spend time with his guy friends.
5. Keep growing and learning together. Share your personal growth and inspire him to take classes, volunteer and attend lectures.
6. Exercise together to manage your collective stress. Exercise and sex have a lot in common. Get physical together and enjoy the emotional benefits.
When he finally goes back to work, you will miss him—honest!