National Association of Marriage Enhancement

Dear NAME,


Dear NAME,

I have been unemployed for a few months and have been looking for work. When my wife and I talk to our friends, she always manages to slip in some sort of joke about her being the breadwinner. She claims the jokes don’t mean anything and that she is just teasing, but honestly, it hurts me that she makes these comments in the first place. I feel like she might think I am a failure. How do I address this issue with her? Right now, it is like we are skirting around the subject, and she might be using humor to downplay the problem.


Bud of Her Jokes

Dear Bud of Her Jokes,

You’re not alone. This is an increasingly common situation. Now women often bring in higher salaries than their male counterparts. This has become a unique stressor on many modern marriages, but it does not need to be looked at as such a negative thing. Thankfully, God is providing for your family through different means. It is much more important to acknowledge that both spouses are contributing to the family. For example, maybe since you have been out of work for a while you have been able to assist with projects around the house that you hadn’t been able to get to.

It is also very important that you continue to look for work. The Bible says, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim 5:8). But wait, please do not be discouraged! This is referring to one who is slothful, lazy and does not care to help out his family. The Bible is also clear that bad things happen to good people. We face trials in this life, so as long as you don’t give up and you keep actively looking for work and contributing to household responsibilities you are doing your job!

As for your wife, it is important that you both become secure in your roles. A husband’s headship of the home is one of spiritual leadership. You can still be a leader in your household without being the main source of income. (Please read the Bible passage Ephesians 5:22-33 for insight into the roles of husband and wife. Study it together and create a graceful conversation about it, acknowledging one another’s value). Lastly, if the jokes have gotten uncomfortable, you need to communicate with your wife honestly and openly. Let her know that the jokes hurt you and that you desire to provide for your family. This openness should alleviate a lot of the stress of trying to read one another.


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