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House husband, no kids

By Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior (that's BONN-yer!) is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and writer. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology focusing on individual and group psychotherapy for young adults and specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.

Q: My husband has been unemployed and job hunting forever. He is immensely talented but bad at the nuts and bolts of making things happen and has not been diligent about getting his resume out there. And now he’s not trying. I make a great salary and I could see him staying at home with kids someday, but I am nowhere near ready to start a family. How do I make him see that we need to jump-start something?

It sounds like, at best, he’s got a bad case of inertia, and at worst, depression, debilitating anxiety or sagging self-esteem.

Here’s a cognitive-behavioral course via newspaper. He must break down the job hunt into smaller steps. (“Buy and install new printer cartridge” is a legitimate goal.) He does one job-search-oriented action each day to uphold his part of the bargain. And, in the meantime, he can get better acquainted with what his barriers are: What thoughts are getting in the way of his progress? Does his mood dip, paralyzing him from action?

Also worthy of discussion: Are both of you on the same page about goals for your family?

Q: There are new neighbors on my street who have kids the same age as mine, and our kids have become fast friends. The problem with this is that I don’t care for the dad very much at all. He is loud and opinionated and even flirtatious at times – it grosses me out. I’m fine with my boys hanging out with his boys, but I really don’t want to pursue a friendship. Do you have any advice to keep this from going further?

First, ditch the guilt. Your new neighbor doesn’t mesh with what you want in a friendship – or even a backyard barbecue guest – so you’re expected to be civil, but nothing more.

Communicate as needed about your children, but don’t feel the need to ask any additional questions. Say hello when he speaks to you, but don’t ask for a breakdown of his weekend.

Don’t extend any family invitations, and politely decline any that he offers. (You’ve got out-of-town guests spending the weekend, bowling just isn’t your thing, you have tuba practice – heck, life makes enough excuses even for people we want to see!)

Andrea Bonior is a clinical psychologist and the author of “The Friendship Fix.”
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