Husband Refuses to Work

Husband and wife are having an argument
What can I do about a husband who won’t get a job?

We’ve been married for 12 years — and for 10 of those, my husband has stayed home and done nothing all day while I go to work. One of our kids has an expensive medical condition, and my job won’t cover all our needs. But my husband still refuses to find a job.



It sounds like your husband desperately needs motivation. After 10 years, it’s clear that something has to change — and he’ll need your help to move forward. The first step? Talk.

Find out what your husband is thinking

Find out exactly what he’s thinking — not to nag, but to get to the root of the problem.

Something is happening that’s much bigger and more complicated than your husband’s unwillingness to get a job. The most fundamental issues at stake are the state of his heart and the strength of your marriage.

And at the core of that relationship is how well you communicate with each other. So, as uncomfortable as it might feel, make time to sit down together and talk.

We recommend that you have these discussions with the help of a pastor, a trusted mentor, or a trained and qualified Christian marriage counselor. (It might even be a good idea to attend a marriage intensive. Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored: A Marriage Intensive Experience holds these programs on a regular basis.)

He still won’t get a job? You might need to separate for a season

If your husband won’t cooperate — if he still refuses to help around the house or find a job in spite of your best efforts — it’s time to move to the next level. This is the point where you need to apply tough love.

You might need to create a crisis by giving your husband an ultimatum. Say something like, Either you start looking for work and we get counseling together, or you’ll have to find another place to live until you’re ready to help resolve the problem. Let him find out what it’s like to do his own cooking and laundry — to provide for his own needs.

A therapeutic separation is a formal separation with clear, specific guidelines and boundaries. Divorce is not the goal. The whole idea is to give your husband a dose of reality and jump-start the job search.

If separation becomes necessary, find and follow the advice of wise legal and Christian counsel. If legally advisable, it’s best if your husband moves out. That way you won’t disrupt your routine or upset your children any more than absolutely necessary.

However, if he won’t go along with that, you might have to move with your children. In that case, make sure you have a support system and a place to stay. (Have a plan, line up your resources, and make your arrangements ahead of time instead of reactively packing and leaving in a hurry.)

Then put the entire matter in God’s hands and trust Him to work things out according to His sovereign plan. Let your spouse know how you can be contacted, and make it clear you’ll restart negotiations as soon as he’s willing to cooperate. A temporary, therapeutic separation might be what it takes for him to admit the seriousness of the situation.

Would you let us help?

Call us for a free over-the-phone consultation at 1-855-771-HELP (4357). Our licensed or pastoral counselors would welcome the chance to hear your story and talk with you in more detail. They can also suggest referrals to qualified counselors and Christian therapists in your area.

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