When someone you love hates their job, what can you do?
Sure, you want to help, but how?
Here’s the question my reader asked:
My husband hates his job. He’s in charge of a large company and is constantly miserable and grumpy. He says he can’t quit because he needs money for our kids in university. He’s really burnt out, doesn’t sleep and won’t seek help. It’s ruining everything. Any suggestions for him?
If that sounds like you, here’s some help. But first, a few caveats:
- I’m no relationship expert. I’m not attempting any marriage counseling here.
- And second, I’m not a therapist, and it’s always possible there are bigger issues at stake here that are better handled through therapy than coaching. (Yes, there is a difference, with therapy often focusing on understanding our past and coaching focuses on taking actions toward our future.)
But based just on this email, and based on what I’ve learned watching people in similar situations (on both sides of a relationship), here are actions I suggest this reader—or you—try if someone YOU love hates their job.
My Answer to “My Husband Hates His Job”
First, good for you to really see the truth about what’s happening for your husband. I can tell how much you care, and also how frustrating this has to be for you.
But there’s one thing to know right now–one thing that will help you make the best decisions for yourself, and for him.
We can’t change anyone if they don’t want to change.
The sooner we realize that, the calmer our lives can get.
In fact, each of us only controls three things:
- Everything we say;
- Everything we do, and
- Everything we think.
(More on those here in my article, “How Do You Take Control of Your Career?”)
Since your husband’s behavior is impacting YOU and causing YOU stress, it’s time for YOU to take control of your own experience.
Let’s look at the three types of action you can consider:
Consideration #1: What can you SAY?
You’ve probably already said how concerned you are.
Maybe multiple times.
But have you gotten specific enough.?
Often, our brains need specifics in order to pay attention. We ignore the vague, general comments but perk up when it’s clear and concise.
So you may choose to say something like:
- “When you do X, I find I’m doing Y. I need to stop doing Y. Can you help me by doing Z instead of X?”
In real life, that might translate to:
- “When you don’t log off work until 8 and eat dinner by yourself, I get really lonely and feel I’m not important to you. I know that’s not true, but can you help me by planning that we’ll have dinner together each night at 6?”
Get very specific about:
- the behavior you see,
- the result it’s causing, and
- the different choice you’d invite the person to make.
Sometimes we resist saying how someone else’s behavior is impacting us. But by making a very specific request, we are asking for what we need.
We also hand the person control, and they can accept or reject your specific request. Again, we can’t change someone who hates their job. All we can do is make sure we’re asking for what we need of them.
Another thing you can say
You can also introduce him to outside resources, like ones in my free tools library here.
You can say something like:
- “I came across this person today who works with a lot of professionals wrestling with challenges like the ones you’ve told me about at work. I like what she has to say, and you might too. Here’s the link to some of her free tools.”
And then–leave it alone.
Don’t ask if he’s looked. Don’t ask if he’s read.
Let him bring it up in his own time.
Consideration #2: What can you DO?
If your finances are intermingled in your marriage, one thing you can DO is to really figure out whether the excuse of “we need the money” is true or not.
Very often, saying “I need the money” or “I don’t have money” is just an easy excuse to hide behind.
But is it the truth?
(More here in my article, “What Are You Afraid Of? Three Fears Blocking Your Next Career Decision.”)
Maybe it is. But sometimes it’s not. So it’s time to do the math.
Grab one of the amazing free apps out there to help. Or hire someone to help you do it, like a fee-based financial planner who can meet with you to look at what you have, listen to where you need to go, and help you see whether you’re on the right path or not.
No matter how you do it, though, DO look closely at the excuse of money.
You may find that you and your husband absolutely need to continue generating $X00,000 year while the kids are in university.
But you may also find you need less.
Or you may find that yes, you need a certain amount of money, but you have not yet explored other roles or companies where you could make just as much.
Or you may find that you need to help teach your children now about their future expenses, and start preparing them for whatever support they’ll need to handle on their own.
There are many levers to pull, but you have to know the facts first.
Doing your homework to know the facts lets you explore all the options, so you know what’s real, and what’s just imagined.
Consideration #3: What can you THINK?
If he’s not responding to what you say or do, your only choice is to change what YOU think.
For your own mental health, you may need to change your thoughts from “I’ve got to help him” to “he’s a capable adult, and when he’s ready, he’ll start to help himself.”
And then go about your own business, doing what you need to to make yourself happy.
Changing what we think can be one of the hardest things to do, but often is the best way to help us manage through difficult situations that are not in our control.
You can’t let yourself go downhill because he’s letting his current situation negatively affect him.
You can still love someone but not love their behavior or actions.
Often, when we stop pushing and start trusting that the person we love just has to struggle through work challenges on his or her own, they’ll eventually figure out what they need to do to change.
It’s sad to see someone we care about struggle, but we can only control our own thoughts, words, and actions.
Hey—want more help?
No matter what’s happening in your life at work—or the life of someone you love who hates their job— a 30-minute chat with me can help you get unstuck and move forward, fast.
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