In this counseling answer:
“It is likely that your husband is not so much opposed to you working as a doctor as he is worried about how he fits into the whole family picture. He might worry about how he can have a “masculine” role in the family structure. In other words, he needs to have a masculine “function” and a sense of purpose.”
Wa ‘Aleikom As-Salam,
This must be a very frustrating situation for you. I can relate to your sincere desire to provide a stable situation for your family. Perhaps, if we find a way to “reframe” your proposal that you go to work as a doctor your husband might be more amicable to it.
As you already know, it is very difficult for our men, especially those who have relocated and, as a result, their skills may not be as marketable. This is in addition to the fact that since the Global Financial Crisis more and more women have been working and becoming the primary wage earner as a result of many factors. We are caught in a situation where we need to find a way to satisfy both male and female natures while surviving the world as it is today.
For many, this hits hard at the core of how some men see themselves. Your husband likely feels a need to be the “provider” and “protector” of the family and has a perception about what roles he “should” be performing in order to fulfill this “duty”. He also has ideas about masculinity and what it “means to be a man”. He may feel inadequate right now, especially if he compares himself to men who have had more opportunity to acquire skills that are marketable in the USA. Yet, due to circumstances beyond his control, he is not able to exactly match his picture of these roles. This can really affect a person’s sense of self-worth. You have the power as his wife to help him become aware of his strengths and of his value to you as a husband and as a man. Remind him often of his good character, his wisdom as a father, and how much you appreciate his care, love, companionship, and protection. Compliment him on his genuine attributes that you find in him. Let him know what it is about him that you admire.
It is likely that your husband is not so much opposed to you working as a doctor as he is worried about how he fits into the whole family picture. He might worry about how he can have a “masculine” role in the family structure. In other words, he needs to have a masculine “function” and a sense of purpose. Along with that, he may also feel afraid and insecure about you going into a world where there will be a lot of professional men. He may be worried that you see him as less of a man than those professional men that you will be working with.
If you can find a way to help your husband redefine himself and take on roles and responsibilities and alleviate his fears about losing you, he might then be able to think in a more collaborative and practical manner with you. He needs to know that no matter what, he is the most important thing to you in your life. He needs to know that you value him more than your career. If he can feel this in his heart and be certain of this in his mind, he might relax.
One way you can help him is to encourage him to volunteer in community programs such as Red Cross or other large organizations. This will open him up to what is out there and he will be building both skills and connections with whom he can network. This may very well lead to a good position in the future while making him feel needed and useful now. You can remind him of how needed his masculine energy is and how much you, your children, and the community needs and benefits from his guidance.
If you can find a “soft approach” and introduce these concepts and ideas to your husband, he might just encourage you to work as a doctor. Also, remind him that caregiving is a very feminine profession. No one is more the caregiver than a doctor. So, he can be assured that you are not trying to ‘wear the pants”, it is simply the best way to go for now given the circumstances as your expert skills of nurturing is needed in the community as well. After you put some thought into these ideas, let me know what you think.
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