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Question
Posted by: Maria | 2011/09/20

How do I help my husband gain some self worth?

My husband has a very low self esteem. He has no real tertiary education, he has debt, is stuck in a retail job- he just feels terrible about himself. I think he’ s a lovely person and I don’ t even care about money and status and that kind of thing, but he is devastated at his life. I think it’ s because his sister is doing very well for herself. But his parents never guided him and supported him the way they have his sister. He was never encouraged to do sports (even though he would play cricket until 20:00 at night when he was a child), they never offered him tertiary education, never took him for aptitude or personality tests to help him find his way…  they just kind of left him. While his sister was taken to finishing school and the sorts, they paid for her tertiary education (which she never finished), paid for her to au pair overseas (but she never went), etc. As a child they paid for his sister to go to concerts, to buy new clothes, bought her electronic goodies- my husband was working on and off during his school years so he bought all his own things. I’ ve seen the favouritism and the blatant disregard for my husband with my own two eyes and it disgusts me. I think it’ s because his parents (especially his mother) wanted a girl- his mother had her first child when she was 19 and it ruined any kind of modeling career she could have had. She has three other sons which she doesn’ t speak to and my husband has only met the one. I think his mother is trying to live through her daughter, and in doing so she has shattered my husband with her maternal neglect. We are very lucky that my parents have given us opportunities, they have helped us financially, etc but it kills him that we can’ t afford to travel, we can’ t afford kids, he can’ t even take leave when he wants (he has taken no leave this year- he took only one week last year). His mother never punished his sister, and as a result his sister is a nasty piece of work who thinks the world must bow down to her…  but she is still the favourite. My husband will NOT go for counseling (it is something I have suggested many times over the years). We are saving now for him to take a couple of courses (which I hope will make him feel better and will help him get out of retail), but what else can I do for him?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Sad how often we can let ourselves become disappointed in ourselves, just because someone else seems to have done better in some ways. The aim neds to be that old cliche about being the best Me possible, rather than a second-best Him or Her.
And its unfortunate when parents are foolish enough to obviously have a favourite child, who gets spoiled while others get neglected. Oddly, I find this is sometimes because the spoiled one is the child they think needs support and imagin is less able, while the neglected one they feel confident will do fine on his own.
Anyhow, he was neglected and discouraged, which is really bad parenting.
The other sad problem you highlight, is the awful error of a foolish parent trying to live through one of their children - the child who must be a model, or musician, or whatever, because the parent wanted to be one. In an odd way, even the "favoured" child is neglected, though in a different way - she is not respected in her own right, but only as a proxy for the fanatical parent, and not encouraged to develop her actual self. And she may be given the false impression of specialness, and become deeply disappointed when in real life other people don't consider her to be the princess mom insisted she was.
As you describe the sister is now a horrible, spolied and unloved creature. While your husband though insecure, is a fine and loved person.
I am not at all convinced that most "courses" on offer are of any lasting value ( other than to those who collect the fees )but if he accepts that idea, it might AS A START be better than nothing, if it encourages him to consider counselling, which could be far more useful, and would probably be cost-effective compared with a Course

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2
Our users say:
Posted by: asd | 2011/09/28

i think you''re man shares my life.

Reply to asd
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/09/20

Sad how often we can let ourselves become disappointed in ourselves, just because someone else seems to have done better in some ways. The aim neds to be that old cliche about being the best Me possible, rather than a second-best Him or Her.
And its unfortunate when parents are foolish enough to obviously have a favourite child, who gets spoiled while others get neglected. Oddly, I find this is sometimes because the spoiled one is the child they think needs support and imagin is less able, while the neglected one they feel confident will do fine on his own.
Anyhow, he was neglected and discouraged, which is really bad parenting.
The other sad problem you highlight, is the awful error of a foolish parent trying to live through one of their children - the child who must be a model, or musician, or whatever, because the parent wanted to be one. In an odd way, even the "favoured" child is neglected, though in a different way - she is not respected in her own right, but only as a proxy for the fanatical parent, and not encouraged to develop her actual self. And she may be given the false impression of specialness, and become deeply disappointed when in real life other people don't consider her to be the princess mom insisted she was.
As you describe the sister is now a horrible, spolied and unloved creature. While your husband though insecure, is a fine and loved person.
I am not at all convinced that most "courses" on offer are of any lasting value ( other than to those who collect the fees )but if he accepts that idea, it might AS A START be better than nothing, if it encourages him to consider counselling, which could be far more useful, and would probably be cost-effective compared with a Course

Reply to cybershrink

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