Q. My husband works from home since the first lockdown back in March, and I’ve continued going into work. I leave early in the morning and get back around 5pm. When I get in he’s usually in front of the TV with a couple of dirty plates and several half drunk cups of coffee. I greet him but he hardly responds.
He owned up last night that he stays in bed until 10-11am. He switches on his computer, logs on to work then spends the day in front of the TV. He doesn’t always wash, won’t cook a meal or do anything around the house. I spend my evenings clearing up his mess and weekends catching on cleaning and gardening, and food shopping. I’m exhausted.
He’s an events organiser, usually bubbling over with energy, talkative, engaging and funny. I’ve tried to engage with him by asking about his day and what he’s been doing, but he usually replies – ‘nothing much’. If I prod further we end up in an argument; if I complain the house is in a tip he explodes and storms out; and if I don’t say anything, we end up orbiting around each other in silence, with me counting the hours until bedtime.
I don’t know what to do.
A. Based on what you’ve said, it seems your husband has lost his sense of purpose and is drifting from day to day without a focus. If he’s used to being busy organising events, dealing with colleagues or customers daily, the current pandemic restrictions will have brought his world to a stand still with no clear path to when it will end. He’s not alone, there are many people globally going through a similar experience, some even worse. But knowing that won’t help the situation.
He appears to be behaving like a stroppy teenager, not facing his responsibilities and treating you as if you are his mother or housekeeper, not his wife. You’re feeling unsupported whilst going to work everyday. You’re angry and it’s possible he may be suffering with depression.
Find a time when you’re both calm and relaxed to talk about anything other than work, yours or his. Keep it short, simple and light. Suggest going for a walk together, he may say no, but don’t let it stop you asking again the following day. Let him know that you can see he’s struggling and that you’d like to help, and right now you’re struggling to know how.
A question you can ask him that I find really helpful is – what do you need right now?
Avoid judgements, criticism or any negative comments even though you may be ready to scream at him. Take care of yourself too; don’t over do it trying to keep the house spotless and end up running around like a headless chicken. Make time to be together, look at old photos, talk about when you first met, go for a walk and also enjoy the silences.
If symptoms persist I suggest your husband seeks the help of a qualified therapist, either me or with a therapist near you.
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