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Hubby’s provider role under threat

A reader’s husband is struggling to cope with the loss of his job.

QUESTION:

My husband and I are both in our late 40s with teenage children living at home. We are highly qualified professionals working in areas we enjoy.

I recently cut back to part-time. When we married it was not expected by either of us that I should work, but as children arrived and expenses increased, we realised the need for an additional salary.

My husband was never comfortable with this. He feels very strongly that the man’s role as husband and father is to provide for his family. While this traditional concept has charm, it does not readily slot into the expectations of the modern world.

My husband has been informed his department will soon become redundant. Suggestions of alternative areas to approach are all less challenging, less important and come with less salary.

We can manage if I go back to full-time until he adjusts to this drastic change, but he is devastated by the prospect of us relying on my income.

How best can I help him cope? He is already grieving.

ANSWER:

Your husband’s roles at work and home are being simultaneously threatened – a not uncommon experience for professionals in midlife.

Encourage him to retain ongoing employment, even at a lower level. It will be easier for him to job hunt while still part of his familiar working world, with useful contacts.

Work can be a major part of a person’s identity so symptoms of loss and grief are common, especially when the change was not planned.

If your husband faces even temporary unemployment it is important for him to keep active and in touch with others.

Should the situation prove to be long term, then leisure and hobby activities, and perhaps volunteer work can enhance a sense of wellbeing.

Talking to you about how he feels will be valuable and help to keep things in context by being aware of what hasn’t changed as well as what has.

Counselling is recommended to help your husband adjust to change, clarify his career goals and provide support for you both through this difficult experience. Some services will be covered by Medicare if you see your GP and prepare a mental health care plan.

It would be wise to consult a financial counsellor to check that your money is working sufficiently well for you.

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