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How to Encourage a Discouraged Husband

Group Therapy: How Can I Encourage Him?

This question comes from Group Therapy in our TrèsSugar Community. Feel free to add your advice in the comments!

Ok, I could use some advice. I've been married for almost 4 years to my husband, and we have just had the biggest disappointment in our relationship so far: he applied to grad school, and had to audition (it's music) and we found out earlier this week he didn't get accepted. We were both thinking he would definitely get in (probably me more than him even) and were excited about the big change (we would have had to move far away, explore a new city, etc.) but I guess that's just not how things are going to work out.

I want to know how I can best encourage him and let him know that I'm still proud of him and everything's going to be okay.


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Being a good provider is important to him, and his plan was to get his masters and then get on track toward a good career, as a teacher or professor. Now he's not quite sure what he's gonna do, but we've been talking about it, and he doesn't seem extremely devastated or anything, but I know he's disappointed in himself. In his personality he tends to be on the melancholic side of things typically, and I'm usually the upbeat, happy-go-lucky one.

We've rarely had major problems in the relationship, but I feel like my major weakness is communication, especially communicating encouragement towards him. I mean, I really suck at it, he just thinks I'm being sarcastic when I try to tell him how proud of him I am or how much I respect him. Because this grad school thing was so important to him, and to us as a couple, now our future is, y'know, uncertain for the time being. I know I will have to keep working full time and we have to put off having kids until he has a stable working situation... and on and on.

I'd appreciate any help in regards to how I can encourage him, especially verbally. We need to move on from this and I want to go forward as a team and be a positive influence on him, not a negative one.

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a-million-suns a-million-suns 7 years
My fiction prof has said that you should basically expect to get rejected the first time you apply for an MFA program, maybe even the first few times. I imagine music isn't much different. The schools like to see you reapply because it shows that you're truly interested and you're not about to give up. All arts take major dedication, so that's something they're looking for. Anyway, that doesn't really tell you how to communicate exactly but it's something you could pass along to him if it helps.
mix-tape mix-tape 7 years
These things always happen for a reason. Maybe you were meant to stay in the city you are located in for a bit longer. It's possible a better job could become available, or next year he'll get into the school if he reapplies OR he could end up at another school in a better city. You never know. It's normal to feel sad about the rejection, but don't dwell too long on it.
weffie weffie 7 years
This isn't really my department so I can't offer advice, but I just wanted to say that you sound like an amazing wife and a really sweet person :) It's really refreshing to read one of these from someone so faithful, positive and caring! For everything a reason, so something great is probably just up the road for you two once you navigate this bumpy bit... Good luck!
KawaiiGiggle KawaiiGiggle 7 years
my advice is just to ask if he wants to talk. don't force anything. with my boyfriend we've had some drama, and i don't force him to talk, but i do encourage him to talk. i ask him questions, etc. i also know when he's down i leave little love notes saying how special he is, how proud of him i am, and how much i love him. sometimes a little note by his toothbrush is the best thing to do at moments if he doesn't want to talk.
chequettex chequettex 7 years
He could apply to another school, and he's thinking though the possibilities, but there are a lot of options and we're talking about that. But I'm not really looking for outside advice on that topic yet. I'm supportive of anything he wants to do, but personally I'd rather him not go to grad school, because it's not absolutely necessary for him to accomplish his goals, costs a lot of $$$, and every year it's delayed (he's been out of undergrad for over 3 years) it further pushes back our timetable for settling down & other plans for the future. We had some very good talks over the weekend and I think he's definitely feeling more optimistic about everything, but time will tell.
dikke-kus dikke-kus 7 years
Could he apply to another school? Just curious becuase I was rejected at a couple of colleges for a masters over my GPA. At the third college I was accepted. They were willing to forgo the .3 difference I needed. Sometimes its a big blow and you think the world is coming down, but all I had to do was try again. Just a thought.
JoeTyndall JoeTyndall 7 years
Getting a man to put his head on the woman's shoulder is 90% of the battle. Be his rock. And let him be your rock too.
chequettex chequettex 7 years
I think perhaps for us the sooner we do this the better, but you're right, I shouldn't rush it. I can hold his hand and that, and I would love to try to get him to put his head on my shoulder (he's done that before in painful situations) though that's much more likely to happen at home than in public, as he's a foot taller than me. :) Ok, leaving to go home and see him now - Thanks Joe!
JoeTyndall JoeTyndall 7 years
Yes, sometimes it is too soon and too painful to re-experience something like that. Do not rush it, take your time, but eventually it has to be done. Be understanding, reassuring, comforting, supportive, tender, and encouraging. Don't forget the physical part of being comforting -- hold his hand (literally), put your arm around him, etc. What he really needs to do is put his head on your shoulder and use you as his rock. Is he mature and self-confident enough to do that? If it is too early for him to re-experience it, then he needs to just his head on your shoulder in silence. (And it sounds like you need the same thing, so the two of you need to take turns putting their head on the other person's shoulder.)
chequettex chequettex 7 years
Well, we haven't had much time to talk about it since we found out Monday - because of my current schedule, we've only been able to talk for a few minutes before falling asleep each night this past week. Tonight, Friday, is our unofficial date night and I imagine we'll be spending a good amount of time talking about it, so these are some good ideas for me to try - though I am afraid of "re-experiencing" the moment myself! I had a few tears when I got the email "sorry to tell you this way, but i found out that i didn't get in..." That night, he was waiting up for me when I got home, and we talked about it the most then, but it was difficult to gage how he really felt about it all - neither one of us is usually very coherent late at night! So I think it would be good to kind of go over it somewhat tonight, even if it is painful.
JoeTyndall JoeTyndall 7 years
First things first. Has he sat down with you and told you how he feels about all of this? It's obvious he is unhappy, but he still needs to say it out loud. I use this three-step approach. 1. Have him say what happened. 2. Have him use a word like angry, hurt, etc. 3. Have him go back and describe what happened when he found out, and have him reexperience the unahppiness of that moment. Be there for him as he reexperineces that moment.
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