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How can I motivate my unemployed husband to look for work?

Saturday, 13 August 2005
Answered by: Dr. Jitendra Nagpal
Senior Consultant Psychiatrist,
VIMHAMS,
New Delhi
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Q. I have been married for the past 10 years. My husband has been unemployed for the past 4 years. He seems to have lost interest in life and does not intend to get back into a job or doing something useful. He spends most of his time in the company of older people and considers himself as a semi-retired person. His idle mind has lead him to think that his family doesn't need him anymore as life goes on without his working or not. I have been fortunate enough to hold on to a steady job, which is keeping our family going. The only link between us is our only child. There is no other intimacy between us as the constant bickering has emotionally drained and detached me. I realise that I have to do something to change our lives. How do I motivate him? How should I support him?

A.  From what you report it seems that your husband has indeed taken his unemployment as the end of life. It seems that he needs some professional help. Talk to him patiently explaining that all this is not only unhealthy for both of you, but also for your child who is growing up. Suggest to him about taking the help of a counsellor to deal with the situation. Your suggestion of seeking the help jointly might help him feel supported. If he is reluctant to take help, then you can visit the counselor alone first and later give him a feedback as to how you felt. This might motivate him to accompany you the next time.

A.  From what you report it seems that your husband has indeed taken his unemployment as the end of life. It seems that he needs some professional help. Talk to him patiently explaining that all this is not only unhealthy for both of you, but also for your child who is growing up. Suggest to him about taking the help of a counsellor to deal with the situation. Your suggestion of seeking the help jointly might help him feel supported. If he is reluctant to take help, then you can visit the counselor alone first and later give him a feedback as to how you felt. This might motivate him to accompany you the next time.

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