- Gender and Relationships
Convincing Your Husband That Losing Money Doesn't Mean Losing You - Relationship Advice
I have a question for you. My husband is going through the worst part of the worst year as far as his business goes. He isn't making money right now and we have some financial stress. I don't work and he pays all the bills so he has a good deal of pressure on. He keeps getting thoughts in his head that if things don't get better soon I might leave him. Really?? He's a total nut I swear! ( .... )Anyhow. Obviously I'd never do something like that, and not for nothing I never had much money in my life before I married him 6 1/2 years ago so why would I care now? How do I convince my husband I dont care if he has a million or a hundred?
- Somewhere in Nebraska
Dear Somewhere in Nebraska,
I left out some parts of your email because I thought they were too personal and revealing to be put out there on the web. But I believe what's left is still a very clear but more objective view of your life and your wonderful question. So here we go.
You said obviously you'd never leave him, but is it obvious? Let's figure out how you can make it obvious.
The fact that you never had much money isn't a plus in the obviousness, it's actually more of an issue. Some men really want to be super heroes. They want to be your knight in shining armor. If they can't be, they can't maintain that image they have in their heads of being your Man, to the rescue and making your life wonderful. If you were financially struggling, and he wasn't, that would surely be a pathway for him to feel important and able to truly bring something into your life.
This of course goes to self esteem. For many people, feeling good about themselves is very tricky. They may not think they are particularly attractive, or particularly smart. They may feel they're rather average in a lot of ways. And maybe that's not so bad. But when it comes to winning and keeping the woman they love, it creates a framework where they find other ways to prove they are worthy. Money would be one. Being physically strong and tough is another. The funny thing is, a really good women is not usually attracted to her man by those kinds of qualities.
You may think that it is obvious that you are into him for his heart and soul and mind, but is it? think about the things you've complimented, or said thank you for recently. Did they involve vacations? Gifts? Trips? Furniture? Or did they involve words, gestures, and thoughts.
What has he done that has made you squeal in delight? Did it involve buying something for you or the house? Or did it involve the wonderful way he expressed his thoughts on something that means alot to you.
Another aspect of this is what you've contributed to the household. I don't mean by your income, as you said you aren't working. I mean by thinking about the big picture. Knowing that it's a tough financial climate out there, and that his business is having the worst year it's had, and we're in his worst time, what have you done to help plan for your future together, showing him that you're his partner in lean times. Has he bought you an expensive gift where you've said, "Please take this back, I love the thought but lets just save money right now." When was the last time he offered to take you out for dinner, and you've said, "No let me make you a romantic dinner at home," because it will save money?
I don't mean the coy answers here either. Like saying, "I told him I didn't need all this jewelry but he insisted." I mean the real proof that you are a partner thinking about the future together, refusing a gift, telling him to save, showing him with your actions that you mean what you're saying.
There may be a real reason why he associates the lean times with losing you. Maybe in his past he's had a loss of relationships or friendships or even family ties when he wasn't able to provide financially for people. He may associate success with having people around him, and business failure with losing those people. This may be something very deep rooted that you aren't responsible for, but as his life partner you have to deal with it now, and you have to do it correctly.
He may be someone that puts alot of his self esteem into his business. Like I discussed earlier, he may feel being able to bring money into your life was something that set him apart from all your other suitors. But maybe it's deeper than that. Maybe it's not just with you, maybe it's with his kids or his parents or his friends too. Having something to prove is a rough burden to live with in life. If he feels he is only as good as his bank account, you're dealing with a damaged person, and that's going to be difficult.
Now that we've gone through some different aspects of where he may be coming from, lets look at some different ways you can be "obvious" in your love and commitment to the man not the money, and help him through this.
1 - Discuss financial climate with him. Don't let him just fester about this in his head, drowning himself in fear and guilt alone. Look up some articles online, watch a little CNN or MSNBC. Sit at the dinner table and talk to him about other businesses that are struggling, or what other people have done to pull out of their debt. Let him know that you know for a fact that it isn't him. It's the country, it's the economy, it's everybody. Don't be negative, be balanced. You can talk about everyone struggling. But try to follow up with how downsizing really helped this couple on the news, or this friend of yours.
2 - Be proactive. Get more money into the accounts so he doesn't feel so stressed and burdened. I don't know what your situation is, if you're able to get a job right now. But even a part time week day fast food job shows that you are a partner. A partner in the tight times. A partner that accepts the burden as an equal.
3 - Don't complain. Reinforce for him through proof and actions that you are not upset about having to have a little part time job, or a smaller vehicle, or share one vehicle. Kidding and teasing isn't funny when he's stressing over losing his business and his wife. So don't go there. Express how much you like this cool little compact car, or this adorable little apartment. Make him think you are actually happy. Now is not the time to keep bringing up a vacation or a house or furniture that you clearly can't afford. Now is the time to prove that you love the simple things that can be provided. That you are happy with what he can do right now.
4 - Talk about selling a recreational vehicle or some jewelry. Let him know as much as you've enjoyed his gifts you enjoy HIM even more, and that right now maybe it would be better to just have the money in the bank. Put your foot down about no more extravagances going forward. Don't eat out. Don't order something pricey when you do. Don't be that person that makes him worry.
5 - Celebrate the simple things. If you think you have before, it isn't making an impression, so step it up. Show how you really feel when you see him with your kids, or with your pets. Celebrate his heart. Compliment how he is with dog or how patient he is with you when you can't figure out how to program the DVD or something. Compliment him on how smart he was about a certain situation. Praise a very inexpensive outing like a picnic. Do not compliment an expensive car or a big fancy house. Do not point out things that you can't afford even just in casual conversation.
The changes you make will generate conversations. Engage in them with tenderness and happiness. Don't be a martyr and say you can suffer through these lean times. Be a partner and celebrate these romantic little dinners at home, and the cute little apartment, and skipping a vacation. If he asks why the new attitude or what's going on, make sure you smile big and pretty when you tell him your heart. Tell him how happy you are that you're his wife. Tell him how wonderful he is and how lucky you are to have him.
Do not qualify that by adding, "And I don't care if we can't buy a big house right now." That doesn't help. It makes him feel unmanly and weak. Seriously. Don't bring down a compliment with an underhanded commentary. Even if you meant it well, try to realize that it will only remind him of what he can't do.
If he brings up for example, that he can't buy a big new house or something, only then do you engage. And don't go along with what he's saying, tell him instead how you love your little apartment. Tell him you don't want to move. Tell him this little apartment is so easy to keep clean and isn't it cute how you've decorated, and you love how close it is to the kids' school.
When you dominate the conversation and the life plans with Wants and Spending, he has every reason to be confused. I'm not saying you do that, but I'm pointing out what you do not want to let him wonder about. Don't let him wonder. Make it clear what he should be thinking about regarding you.
Thanks for your email. Best to you.