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Ask Laura: My Husband Lost His Job – and His Libido

Q: My husband was just laid off. We’re ok moneywise, but he’s cranky and not interested in the kids – or sex. Can our marriage survive this?

A: Losing a job affects more than finances; it can shake a person’s confidence. And while it sounds like stereotyping, many men still feel responsible for providing for their families. When they can’t, their masculinity takes a hit – that can make even the most enlightened man irritable, standoffish, and even disinterested in sex. By offering the right kind of support, you can get through this tough time together. First, let him be. While we women may feel better by venting, most men – no news flash here – find the idea of sharing their deep, dark emotions about as fun as watching QVC. Let your husband know that you’re available to listen if he wants to talk, but then give him space. Next, help restore his confidence with compliments (not fake ones or he’ll feel patronized). For example, tell him what a great dad he is when you see him playing with the kids, or that he’s a fantastic chef when he makes dinner. As for your intimate life, while it can’t hurt to keep making advances so he knows you’re still attracted to him, try not to be offended when he’s not in the mood. In time, his confidence and libido will return. If they don’t, it’s time to look beyond the job situation. Have an honest discussion about ways to fix the problem, or seek the help of a counselor.

Laura Breman, Ph.D., runs The Berman Center, a sex therapy clinic for women and couples, in Chicago. Send her your questions here.

Are you dealing with unemployment in your marriage? Is Dr. Laura’s advice helpful to you?