Recently, Gary was complaining about how he will be laid off in a matter of days (he won't) and he'll never get another job (he needn't), and eventually he trudged off in moderate to high dudgeon.
I thought of supportive things to say, and my train of thought went: 1. He really gets a lot of self-esteem from his job, 2. If he didn't have his job he'd feel like a failure, 3. He needs me to be supportive.
So I came out and said, "Hon. even if you're a failure I'll always love you."
"I know what you're trying to do, but that extra little jab of 'FAILURE' there was not what I needed."
I told him some hours later that he was a very successful husband. But still, the damage had been done.
What is going to happen to this man when he retires? How do you keep a retired man's self-esteem stable when he doesn't have daily victories and acclaim?