Ask Amy: Stressful layoff stresses a marriage
Dear Amy: My husband was recently laid off from a company he’d worked at for 15 years. He also recently had surgery. He also has high blood pressure.
While I am the primary income earner, if his income is not replaced, it will require us to make changes in some key expenses.
I have tried to give him time to process this, even though I am the kind of person who (for good or bad) moves straight into solutions.
It has been eight weeks since the layoff, and when I forward a job opening that looks interesting, or try to talk about him networking, he asks me not to, saying it increases his stress.
I think he wants me to just trust him to work through this.
I do trust him, but I feel this is something we should work through together. I have suggestions that could help, since I have gone through a job transition before and he has not. Not talking stresses me out.
In our 20-year marriage, we’ve struggled with the difference between micromanaging or interfering — and working through something together.
I say I’m trying to help, and he says it’s hurting him. What do I do?
— Stress-inducing Spouse
Dear Spouse: If you want to completely paralyze an easily paralyzed person, then the thing to do is to push, push, push.
You know that you are trying to help him, but this is not the help he needs right now.
You are a proactive self-starter. He is not. This doesn’t mean that he is incapable of making his next move, but he will not do this on your direction or timeline.
Yes, offering up ideas and solutions is your idea of being a good team member, but another way to emotionally support someone is to say, “You’ve got this, and I’ve got your back.”
I’m suggesting that you do something that will be very hard for you. Stop. Stop coaching and prompting. Stop asking. Try this for a week. After that, you could suggest that you and your husband set up a time each week for a “family meeting,” where you open up your finances, see where you stand, and where he can share his latest efforts with you. He should volunteer this information. If he doesn’t, do your best to resist your desire to press him.
A lower-stress part-time seasonal job (or volunteering for a local cause) might be the best way for him to recover his health and self-esteem and kick-start his job search.
Dear Amy: Because of the current pandemic, a friend’s daughter got married at an outside location with only immediate family present.
I have no ill feelings that we weren’t included.
My issue is this: My wife — on behalf of both of us — sent a generous check to the new bride and groom as a wedding present.
A few weeks later, the bride called my wife to thank her for the money. The bride asked my wife to extend their thanks to me, as well.
Is this the new normal?
I personally haven’t heard a word from the bride. I’m also upset that they didn’t send a thank you card.
Dear Slighted: Given the very high volume of questions I receive on this topic, I’d say that if this couple received a gift and then actually reached out to acknowledge and thank the giver (even over the phone), they should get a parade.
I think your nose is really out of joint because the bride didn’t thank you separately.
However, you state that your wife sent the check “on behalf of both of us.” She accepted the thanks “on behalf” of both of you.
If you had sent the check on behalf of your wife and yourself, you would have been thanked primarily and personally.
Unfortunately, just as young couples don’t seem to write notes often enough, maybe older men don’t take responsibility for gift-giving often enough.
Dear Amy: Responding to the question from “Let it Be,” one good thing about being in my seventh decade is the realization that not reconciling with those who hurt you (or you have hurt) leaves deep scars and regrets that never go away.
I have tried to reach out to people in my past in order to reconcile and forgive. What saddens me most is to find out that person is gone forever, and I will never have a chance to reconcile the relationship.
Dear Experienced: It takes personal courage to attempt a reconciliation. Good for you.