Husband Going Through a Life or Career Transition? Learn How to Be a More Supportive Partner
I’m not going to lie… there’s nothing that grinds my gears quite like a “how to be a good wife” post.
Do you ever see men writing “how to be a good husband” post?
Maybe. Definitely a lot less frequently.
Call me a feminist. Whatever.
But, there are ways to be a supportive partner when your guy or gal is going through a life transition such as job or career change or lifestyle change.
Being a supportive partner has incredible benefits, not just for your spouse, but for your marriage, also for you, and also for your children!
Recently, I made a huge change from being an elementary school music teacher to doing the stay-at-home mom thing. And my husband is currently going through a potential career shift… we’ll see how it pans out! I’m not going to jinx it by sharing the details just yet, but we’ll know soon!
When Going Through a Major Change
So many people get stuck in their routine.
And let’s be honest…
CHANGE IS SCARY.
Change means facing the unknown. It’s safer to stay in our little bubble and never venture into the unknown.
But never taking a risk means a life full of potential regret.
For me, I’d rather give the risk a shot.
After all, we only get one life.
You might be full of zeal for this change! Or you might feel a sinking in the pit of your stomach when you think about it.
Regardless, when facing this risk, this change, this uncertainty, there are some things that have helped me to support my husband, face the unknown, and understand what this change means.
Follow these 4 principles for how to be a supportive partner during a career or life transition.
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1) Avoid knee-jerk reactions, guilt-tripping, emotional manipulation, and keeping score
Whenever you’re going through a change, there’s bound to be some friction. Change is never easy.
Sometimes a knee-jerk reaction can be very off putting. Just think of how you feel whenever your spouse mutters something under their breath.
Make sure you have an outlet for your frustrations, like journaling, meditating, or venting to your best friend.
That way you can work out your feelings ahead of time, and you can respond appropriately when you interact with your spouse.
But know when your frustration turns from “discomfort of change” to “this is having major unwanted impacts on my life”.
Avoiding emotional manipulation is also a must!
It’s really easy to fall into the pit of using tactics to try to get them to change their mind.
Things NOT to say:
“Well, you’d be pulling the kids out of school halfway through the school year, maybe now isn’t the best time for a career change.”
“This is tearing our family apart, but I guess that’s what you want, isn’t it?”
“I put aside my career when the kids came along, I guess you’re not willing to do the same.”
These kinds of interactions will degrade your trust in each other, and will not only NOT actually work to prevent your partner from making a change, but could put a huge strain of your marriage, relationship, and family life.
You need to get yourself into a good frame of mind.
Any life change takes flexibility, patience, and understanding.
Practice meditation, be aware of your thoughts and words, and stay in a positive frame of mind.
Are you being positive?! Okay, then let’s go on to the next step!
2) Ask Questions
For me, this is the single-most influential aspect to facing change with your partner.
Start by imagining this change as if it’s already happened.
Start to form a visual picture in your brain of how your life would look if this change takes place.
What’s exciting about your new life?
What might be a challenge?
Imagine your life as if it is already happening! Try to dig up the details about how you got there, where you live, what life is like for you with this change.
Now it’s time to see if your vision matches up with your partners.
Change and uncertainty are amplified when you feel left out or excluded. There might be pieces missing or things that you’re left wondering about.
You might even start wondering, “Is my husband thinking of changing his family too? Does he want out of this life?”
Don’t go down the rabbit hole of doubt.
Start by asking your partner some simple, objective questions.
“You’re thinking about getting out of your career. What do you think you might do instead?”
“I know your job doesn’t bring you joy anymore. What do you think you would love to do?”
Or maybe they have already settled on a new area.
“Do you plan to go back to college?”
“How long does it take to break into this industry?”
Hopefully asking questions like this will spark some really fantastic conversation and you can dream about the possibility of where life would take you.
3) Be honest and objective about how their change will affect you
You might be loving your life right now and not be looking for a change. You might be apprehensive about finances and moving… the stress that comes with changing location, finding a place to live, the stress on your children of possibly settling into a new school district.
It can all be overwhelming.
But make sure that you approach any conversations (especially when you are feeling negative feelings) from the perspective of:
We’re a team, and we need to make this work, TOGETHER.
Voice any concerns you have with the tone of being problem solvers as a single unit, not me versus him.
“I’m worried about how this will affect the kids.”
“I’ve found this amazing job I love… what happens if you’re offered a job out of state?”
“It sounds like you could be on the night shift if you take this job, and I’m a little worried about being at home with the kids by myself and doing bedtime routines alone. How can we solve this?”
It might take a lot of conversations when the kids have gone to bed to sort through some of the logistics of a major life change.
4) Give encouraging words & share gifts
Regardless of how you feel about this change, your partner is an independent person who can make his or her own choices for their life! Being supportive means understanding this and offering support.
This change makes them feel good, so give encouraging words!
When they go to their interview, say something nice to them! Wish them luck and genuinely mean it!
If you feel like it, get them a small gift!
Get them a gift card to their favorite lunch spot in town for when their interview is over.
Get them a new tie clip for the big day.
Is your or your spouse’s love language touch? Make sure you share kisses and touch the day of any changes!
If they love food, make some for them!
This will go a long way in showing your support.
I read a story about a man in his 80s sharing marriage advice. He said something like, “My wife has been many people over the course of our marriage. People change and grow. The key is to love them for who they are at that time.”
Having flexibility and being objective are absolutely key to finding happiness.
Following these principles can truly help how to be more supportive spouse!
Has your partner ever gone through a life or career change? How did you show your support?