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My Husband Claims His Job is Beneath Him

My Husband Claims His Job is Beneath Him


Dear Rachel,

My husband and I are not getting along. He has been unemployed for almost a year and (finally!!!!) got a job last month. While it is in his line of work, it is not at the seniority level or salary that he had before. He is having a very hard time coming to terms with this. He feels that it is "beneath him." I say that the economy has been tough on everyone, and he should be thankful for whatever opportunity he was given. He just complains, and last night he told me that he was thinking about quitting. I am ready to go through the roof! How could he want to quit? Not only do we need the money, but he was driving me crazy being home. How can I convince him not to leave his job?

Seriously Frustrated

Dear Seriously Frustrated,

I hear how upset you are with your husband, and it is very understandable given your circumstances this past year. While you are very thankful that your husband is working, he is really not happy with his job. This is a complex situation, which unfortunately many couples have to navigate these days, but I will address some of the underlying issues.

Men need to feel respected, and they need to feel that they are able to provide for their families.

Men and women have different core needs. Men need to feel respected, and they need to feel that they are able to provide for their families. Women need to feel loved and taken care of. For the past year, neither of you were getting your basic needs met.

It is important for you to understand that for most men, their jobs are part of their identity. If a man’s job is not meeting his expectations (or he doesn’t have a job!), it can be quite threatening to his self-image. And if your husband was previously very successful, it can be a blow to his ego that he is not in a position that he feels is suited to him. There are probably many thoughts running through his head that may be affecting his decision-making right now. He may feel like he let you down for the past year, and I am sure he is concerned about his marketability in today’s economic climate. So while he has good intentions to obtain a better job, his method for doing so is causing you to have anxiety.

In order to communicate effectively, I suggest that you take some time to think about your husband's feelings. Sympathize with him. Let him know you understand that he feels demeaned (even if you don't really see it), but at the same time, talk to him about how important it is to stay in the job market. In addition, you can appeal to his desire to support his family byRemind him that the best time to look for a job is when you already have a job. thanking him for sticking with something that he doesn’t enjoy until something better comes along. Remind him that the best time to look for a job is when you already have a job.

Both of you need to recognize that we are not totally in control of our parnassa (income). Our income for the year is determined on Rosh Hashana, and G‑d does what is best for us, even if we cannot always understand it. While we have to put in real effort toward generating our income, ultimately it is up to G‑d how much money we will make. While on one level this can be frustrating, it can also be freeing. Frustrating, because it feels like our circumstances are out of our hands, but liberating as well, because we know that G‑d is ultimately taking care of us.

Hopefully the two of you can work together to come to a reasonable resolution to your problem. But because emotions are running so high, it can be extremely challenging to communicate in a positive way. I encourage the two of you to look for some guidance, either from a therapist or rabbi, to help you during this challenging time. I hope that you and your husband are able to get through this trying period as a stronger, more connected couple.

Beryl Tritel, MSW, is a therapist with offices in Jerusalem and Ramat Bet Shemesh. She has been living in Israel for over 10 years with her husband and their 5 kids. She also offers Skype sessions. She can be reached at
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Lisa Providence, RI October 13, 2013

Husband's Job is Beneath Him Seriously Frustrated, you were smart to remind him of the economy, and it's unrealistic of him to expect his new job to be what his old job was. A smaller paycheck is better than no paycheck at all.

You didn't say whether or not you work, but if you do, it should help your husband feel that he's not being "burdened."

You can't force him not to quit his job, but you can remind him that he's more likely to find a new job if he's employed. Reply

Sheldon Steinlauf Park Ridge, IL August 20, 2013

Have faith that Hashem will guide you both thru this stressful time. Until then, your husband has to man up and stay the course. It is much easier to get a decent job if you are employed when you apply for the better position. Until then, he may have to find a part time job to supplement his income from the full time job.
Lastly, The wife can also look for employment. Every Dollar helps. Reply

David Aharon Lindsay Lindzon Toronto, Ontario Canada August 20, 2013

More on the JOB situation The Mister forgets that his job is where Hashem wants him to be AT THIS TIME so he can make Changes in his approach to the JOB. Let him stay longer, do better work, make and suggest better ways to do things and Quit KVETCHING over the fact the job is "Beneath" his chance to do something. He needs to change his mindset. If he makes these efforts, maybe he might get a promotion within the company or one of his company clients may offer a new higher JOB. I'd recommend on his spare time, he read The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill and the Garden of Emunah By Rabbi Shalom Arush [Rabbi Brody's translation]. Reply

Dianne Seattle WA August 19, 2013

Expectations create suffering I feel for your husband. I'm not a man, but I derived most of my self-esteem from identification with my professional job. Unemployment has been very, very hard on me and I am working jobs that are low status and pay much less to get by.

I do know that when our worlds fall apart we need reassurance. I hope you let your husband know how much you value his contribution and enduring the frustration of working below his hopes to do his part.

And the idea of getting professional help for depression is a good one. The situation will get only more depressing for him if he quits his job and sits home throwing applications into the void.

Praying for the best for you and your family. Reply

David Aharon Lindsay Lindzon Toronto, Ontario Canada August 17, 2013

Re: your dilemma BS"D
Your husband feels his job is below his level. Has he done the following?
Is he applying the idea of DOING MORE THAN PAID FOR ? Is he DOING what he is doing or is he doing less than paid to do? [Ideas from Laws of Success by Napoleon Hill]. is he a Time Clock puncher lined at 4:55 pm or Has he considered coming in 30 minutes earlier? Has he Spent his time looking for ways to solve the problems of his boss? It just takes a bit of looking around to see where improvements in the company morale could lead to an advancement. You as wife could daven to Hashem, and encourage him. Remember it was the Wife who was responsible for Henry Ford's becoming the leader he was in his day. in less than 10 years he went from a shop worker to a producer of CARS. She uplfted her husband from poverty to wealth and power. Reply

Anonymous Clearwater, FL August 17, 2013

My husband claims his job is beneath him. This is total nonsense. In this economy he has finally found a job after a year of searching, he needs to swallow his pride and keep it, at least until he finds something else. We all want respect, and why should it be more important for a man than for a woman? I worked my whole life at office jobs where I was treated like a servant while men received promotions for the work I did for them. My husband got credit for that kind of job while women did the actual work. Many is the time I wanted to quit, but who was going to pay the rent and take care of my children? My husband didn't make enough to pay all the bills, but he was respected. I had no such luxury. Reply

Anonymous USA August 16, 2013

My Huaband Claims I truly think that is a wonderful advise. The economy is very bad and there are those who cannot even get a job for many reasons. Not only "because" there aren't many. I also understand the situation. I have been unemployed for the past year. But before that all I had were temporary jobs. And not very often either. I have just moved to another state and have been very difficult to start all over again. Especially when one is not that young anymore. Being thankful to G-d is the key. We most keep on praying for strength, and faith. Although it is difficult especially when the income is not small and everything is so expensive now a-days. But if you are young, there is much more hope. Reply

Living out Loud Calif August 16, 2013

All good and well..waiting and praying and to have faith... But work has to be done now!! And I'm not being one bit unfeeling or uncaring. That's the first 5 years. If you don't want more time to go by, take him to see the Rabbi and/or a very good professional or two. Life is so short, don't waste it!!. Baruch Hashem. I have this with my husband. Talking to depressed--it doesn't work if you're ill. Many, many good people are. I waited too, but you want Hashem to help you help yourself, right : ) Shalom Reply

Kate Australia August 15, 2013

Is pride to blame? I'm in a similar boat - highly educated and experienced and unable to get a job above minimum wage. Our self-worth should come from what G-d says about us, but when you're at home alone applying for jobs, studying and so on, it is difficult to keep motivated. My husband is now also struggling because he feels that he should be able to solely provide for our family (and that I should only work because I want to, without the pressure of HAVING to)... Sometimes I also wonder whether I am being too prideful in wanting a job with higher status (and thus G-d is trying to teach me humility and patience), or whether I am believing in myself for a change! Reply

ruth housman marshfield street, ma August 15, 2013

this separation of needs has got to be Wrong! Women ad Men, these days, in these modern times, both gain a lot of respect from working outside the home, and the psychological ramifications of not getting a job, of being laid off, are very similar. Most of the women I am familar with, are not looking for the man to provide the sole support for the family, and of course there are women who can and do stay home, and their contributions are as great, and in fact, those women who work and take care of children, and the household, are often holding two jobs, and each is demanding. Women are not looking any more than men, to feel loved and taken care of. This article seems to have missed The Women's Movement, and NOW, and surely the extremes of anything aren't good, but the workforce is filled with women, some who love, and some who hate their jobs, as it is with the men.

Support is a two-way street, and equality among the sexes, came in a long time ago. There are men, and I know some, who are staying home while the woman goes out. Reply

Anonymous Calif August 15, 2013

Shalom Coming from another standpoint, he may be clinically depressed and need to see a doctor. They have small amounts of medicine to take the "edge" off the anger and shame. My problem is similiar and needs some real work. Good luck. Reply

Anonymous irvine, ca August 14, 2013

Get Out of the House, Volunteer, and Coonect with Others Volunteering rather than staying home mopping and perhaps spending money is the right way to go. The unemployed need to go out and meet people to connect to. It beats purely social media, for going out provides face to face interaction. Reply

Yajaira Florida August 13, 2013

BLESSINGS Patience and faith. My husband has been unemployed for 8 years and he just started collecting scrap metal in people's trashes just to help out so he can feel that he is still providing. I have been the sole provider of our house and with the help of God we have been able to pull through. FAITH God has your back in your needs we must sacrifice our wants such as cable, eating out, shopping. God blessed your husband with a job during difficult times that he should see as a blessing of it's own. Reply

David August 13, 2013

Extracurricular Activites Your Husband might want to involve himself in community matters as a volunteer. I have no doubt he knows his own strengths, and if he would like some work satisfaction (not job satisfaction) then let him get involved in the community in a meaningful way in a position that would befit him. Reply

Anonymous Kanata August 11, 2013

faith Having faith in oneself as an educated or talented individual is very healthful. It isn't wrong to try to stay on ones' own path to the dream that is beckoning us to transcend.
Perhaps you are younger people, and so both of you might not have thought to accept work that is lesser as some background or possibly some surprise that becomes helpful toward that career leap or consistency your husband is seeking.
The other thing I would consider as a wife is to work with conditions (how many kids, how old, etc) and to try to make concessions myself toward taking paid work that will balance out the budget.
Men keep it to themselves, but they worry worse than we do sometimes because of the onus that has been laid upon them to be the principal earner/provider/pillar of a family. It isn't good for men, because they sometimes suppress their emotions and this can lead to ulcers or heart failure (etc), so I say be actively supportive, somehow. Not easy for some, I know. Good luck to the two of you!! Reply

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