Dear Dr. Smith,
I lost my job recently and now we're living off my wife's salary. Although she is well-paid, it's a struggle running a house on one income when we've had two for so long. How do I stop myself from feeling like less than a man, or feeling that I am a disappointment to my wife?
I contribute to the household in other ways. I clean, do dishes, take care of the kids, but that is not the same as earning the lion's share of the wages.
How does a man who lost his job find validation? How do I make myself feel better about myself?
Crestfallen in Creedmoor
Validation is something that comes from within.
We live in a society that likes to measure individuals by the accumulation of material items. However, the true measure of who one is and what ultimately defines one's legacy is how they live their life and the values which are evident in their cumulative actions over a lifetime.
When one applies this to the relationship of a married couple - who probably took vows that said something to the effect of "till death do us part" - the energy, support and commitment of the relationship is what is most important, not who makes the most money.
If a couple has truly managed to create a marital "team", that means that each person plays a role and plays it well. To use a football analogy, a kicker is as necessary to a football team as the quarterback. The linebacker as important as the left guard.
The poor play of any position likely ensures that the team will lose.
So understand that your role is vital to the long term health, stability and optimal evolvement of the relationship.
Finally, our society can often be shortsighted in terms of getting caught up in the "now". If we view our lives as a nice long novel, with highs and lows, sorrows and triumphs, and ultimate life lessons learned, this can help us appreciate the building blocks that comprise our lives.
From this vantage point, the horrendous adversity that we initially thought we would never recover from - losing one's job, for instance - becomes a mere building block that teaches us a valuable lesson and contributes to the person we currently are.
In essence, the story is still being written, and as a co-author of your life, you have the ability to write a happier outcome. Set about changing your attitude and envisioning a future of winning!
Anthony J. Smith, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and Executive Director of Alase Center For Enrichment. We are delighted that he will be writing a column for The Saunders Report and answering readers' questions concerning issues in their lives.
Send your anonymous questions to Dr. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or to email@example.com and he will answer them in The Saunders Report.
To make an appointment, you can reach him at (919) 957-7357 or visit his website at www.alase.net.