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How do I help my husband get his self esteem back when he has lost his job?

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My husband has always had difficulty getting and keeping a job due to his personality (he comes across as mildly aspergers) and a bad job market. He lost his full time job 2 years ago and has managed to get some casual work.

I am mildly physically disabled but work full time to pay the bills, which is exhausting. My husband almost never helps with the housework, and it makes me furious to come home after a day of killing myself to see all of the housework. He is also not very affectionate towards me so my stress level just mounts and mounts, with no release. We have sex maybe once a week if I'm lucky, but unfortunately I find that is the only thing that helps me with my stress and chronic pain. I am at the point where I get to work and can't concentrate most days due to all of these things.

So we finally got in a huge fight yesterday, and he said he doesn't help with the housework because whenever he showed initiative at work people always told him he was doing things wrong and he would get in trouble. Essentially, he feels like if he tries to do any work around the house, I will complain about it. Well how would he know, if he doesn't try it?

As for our lack of sex life, he says he doesn't feel like it or he is too tired. HELLO - he is at home ALL DAY and doesn't spend his time cleaning. I don't believe that he has the confidence to chase other women but I noticed that he does watch porn on the internet a few times a week, and the videos of girls are mostly a different race to me. I still look pretty much the same as I did when we got married 14 years ago.

I think his problem is that he just doesn't feel like a man anymore, but I don't know what to do about this. I am so busy working two jobs to pay the bills and doing all of the housework. I have suggested round about ways that he can get exercise like playing with the dogs or doing yardwork, but I feel like he is just watching TV all day. I have tried to get him to go to a dr but he won't, and I honestly think he is depressed because he is unemployed, and feels guilty about watching my health decline due to the stresses work is putting on me.

Any suggestions for helping him? I am afraid that I will look insincere because I honestly feel so resentful that I am at work all day and he is home and somehow doesn't have time to do housework and is too tired to be intimate when I need it to relieve the stress and pain I am in.

1 Reply 1

HI Um_Brella, thanks for taking the time to share with us about your current struggles. It seems there are a couple issues here that it may be helpful to think about. The first one is about you.
You sound like you have taken on a large amount of responsibility, at work and at home, and that this is taking its toll on you. While time is often short in these circumstances is there some way that you can make some time for you to do things that you enjoy or find relaxing, or perhaps some time to spend with friends? It is important in amongst all that is going on that you take some time to think about your own health and wellbeing.  I know it is easy to say - but it is sometimes the first thing to go when we are stressed or trying to care for someone else. Maybe even a chat with your GP about getting some extra support for a while from a local psychologist might be helpful for you?
As you have talked about, the other issue of concern is the wellbeing of your husband. What can you do? It sounds like you might have already begun to have the conversation about him getting some support but that he is reluctant. That does not mean the conversation needs to stop - maybe it will just need to continue for a while - prodding and encouraging as best you can so that he can understand your concern for him. I wonder also if there is anyone else in his life, friends or family, that he listens to? Could someone else also approach him perhaps and talk to him about your concerns? 
I wonder too if it would help to encourage him to do something that he finds meaningful, rather than the housework, to start with? Of course it would be helpful for him to do the housework but if his mood and motivation is low then it might be more helpful to set some small but enjoyable goals for himself. Being he has been this way for a while it may take a while to get his motivation back, but if he can set small goals each day that he can achieve this might be a step in the right direction? And what about friends - is there anyone who could come and spend sometime with him? Take him out?

Um_Brella, it can often take time to get someone to seek out the help and support they need to move forward. It can be frustrating, tiring and leave you wondering about your relationship, so please keep talking to us here so we can support you along the way. We would also encourage you to seek out your own local support, from friends, family or a local health professional to help you along the way. Our support service, 1300 22 4636, is also there 24/7 if you or your husband want to ring and talk through your options. 
We are here to listen adn support you Um_Brella so come back anytime and let us know how things are going. There is some more helpful information here: