This week begins a 4 part series on the impact the economy is having on Normal Males and those nearest and dearest to them. Today I will examine the role job loss and/or job insecurity has on a marriage. Part 2 will focus on the Family impact. Part 3 will look closer at ones’ Social Circle and Part 4 will close us out with an honest look at the Personal impact on men themselves and signs for hope.
When a man loses his job or fears his job is on shaky ground there a number of fears that run through his veins like a runaway train. Let’s look at those thoughts and fears…the ones they are obsessing over, but not sharing with their spouse:
1. I am worthless!
2. This isn’t fair!
3. How do I tell my wife?
4. If I wasn’t the only one bringing in money I wouldn’t feel so much pressure!
5. How am I ever going to get back to where I was on the ladder?
To lose a job represents every dark secret to a man. You see, from early on boys are taught that their value lies in what they produce. Whether it comes in the form of points or tackles in a football game or products or deals sold in the last year, these men could always hang their hat on their title. When their title and uniform are taken away one feels exposed…naked to the world. And, when a man feels naked he fears one thing…scrutiny. Normal Males understand this great tug-of-war and battle themselves, not others, on a daily bases to try and find a certain level of peace.
When you talk to men alone it becomes strikingly clear that so many of these battles are perceived to be out in the open. But, what you are seeing from your husbands is the residue from personal gladiator moments between their ears. What you feel is fear, uncertainty, possible anger, and so the dance begins where communication and sex are dangled like carrots and one wonders who will blink first (read The Top 10 Reasons Women are the Best Role Models for Men).
Normal Males want to feel masculine again. They want to be desired and not questioned. And…the kicker is that they do not want to have to tell you they need these things or even talk about why. The women that I talk to want a conversation. They want a heart-to-heart about how they can work as a team and ensure that they both feel needed during these hard times.
If only men could trust enough. If only men could understand that their ability to be a man isn’t a black or white argument. If only men could see that their spouse can be their greatest supporter and motivator. But, sadly many cannot and the residue you see stinks of arrogance, ill-faded dreams to hit the “home run” with his own business idea, and mornings filled with Sportscenter and punch bowls of cereal.
The saddest part may not be the loss of ones’ job, but the manner in which it is approached following such news. Many men won’t tell you this, but the bitterness they have been harvesting for years stews in their mind and they want someone to pay…and often you are the beneficiary of the “bill” collecting.
Men will lash out and make ill fated statements that undermine your intentions and value to the family system. Your husbands want reparations for the years of “doing” for others. They want you to nod your head yes for every question they pose and they ultimately want you to feel as low as they…WHY? Because once you feel as low as they do they can put on their “Man Hat” and save you and the family.
Normal Males need a cause to get behind so that they can come out looking like the savior in the end. This is why males have loved superheroes for an eternity. To be able to think and dream as Superman means that I could possibly be him if he loses his job.
It isn’t right. It isn’t fair. Those are the facts. Normal Males have egos and a frail exterior. They need to turn the tables so that they can feel powerful again. This kind of approach can be emotionally abusive to you and your children and males of all dispositions need to be called out for such behavior.
With very little in their “tool-kit” to emotionally deal with the news that they have been let go, men interpret that they were not “good enough.” Sometimes that may be true and I call on all Normal Males to share their thoughts and feelings about how they interpret what has happened to them and their families. It is not just about you…men. It is also about your family.