Question: “Is it wrong or selfish of me to ask my husband to try and get another job.? He likes the job he does, but he is working 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. He comes home and goes to sleep around 4 p.m. — or 5 p.m. sometimes. So we don’t get anytime together, and we don’t get to spend anytime together as a family. I feel bad for wanting him to change jobs, but I just want him to be able to be home more and help out with our baby.” K.R.
Brenda: Open a safe, supportive dialogue to understand your husband’s feelings, attitudes, and perspectives about his employment situation.
–Get to know what it is your husband likes best and finds most challenging about his job or work schedule.
–Ask him: “If you could wave a magic wand and have any job, what would that look like?”
–Give him positive feedback regarding his role as an income provider.
–Share that you are concerned that he may be missing out on spending time with the family, and ask him what his strongest feelings and thoughts are about that.
The key is to approach him in a positive and supportive manner, seeking to understand where his emotions and thoughts are about his work-life balance. And it’s critical that you do so with natural curiosity, care, true sincerity, and real sensitivity to learn more about his deeper perspectives and feelings regarding his work-and-home life-balance desires and challenges.
When the inquiry comes in a sincere, non-threatening, soothing tone and word-choice, then it invites your husband to perhaps consider things he may not have thought of before and to feel invited and accepted by you in opening up regardless of his thoughts/feelings. Once you get all this information and — in those moments when he’s opening up to you — be sure to LISTEN (don’t talk). And be sure your facial expression and body language clearly show that you are reacting to his sharing/opening up to you with loving acceptance regardless of what he says.
- When he finishes speaking, give him positive reinforcement ONLY, such as: “Thank you for sharing with me. I know it can be challenging to be honest about thoughts/feelings, and I want to support you in telling me the truth about them.”
- NOTE: Do NOT go into problem-solving mode or tell him what YOU want (this exchange is about him, not you).
- After he has time to think, chances are that — at some point on his own — he may ponder what he’s shared with you. And, perhaps, he may come up with some ideas that he may wish to suggest to you regarding better balancing his family time and income-generating time.
- If you try to bring your opinion or suggestions up before you go through the above process, he’s likely to feel nagged or manipulated — or worse yet, not valued or understood. So be sure you give it time and be sensitive in patiently following the above process.
This approach has worked over and over, for me with my husband and for others who I’ve coached in using it. For me, not only has going through this process brought my husband and me closer, using this approach with my hubby often results in him coming up with great ideas (better than mine) or possible solutions (that work great for him as well as me). And, sometimes, he’s taken action without me ever having to suggest anything (because it’s about him, thinking about the situation, and how he might want to look for another way to do things).