Unemployment: A time for giving extra love

Losing a job is one of the hardest things in life. It takes money to live, and when that’s gone your world can feel hopeless. Having a loving spouse at your side can make a big difference. Here are some strategies to help you through such a crisis.

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  • People are losing their jobs right and left. Companies are cutting back in order to stay afloat. You can’t realize the full impact of this until it hits you or a member of your family. It’s a devastating feeling to have to tell your spouse you lost your job, especially if you are the main provider for your family. It’s frightening news to hear. The effect on the family can be enormous.

  • To avoid this being the tragedy that it is for many, plan ahead while you are employed. Do everything you can to have enough money in savings to live for six months. You may never have to use it, but if you do, it will take you out of panic mode and put you into a we-can-do-this mode. Having time to search for a new job without immediate pressure can be a great relief to you and your family.

  • If unemployment hits you or your spouse here are a few tips to help you through the difficult time.

  • 1. Stay calm

  • It may feel like it at the moment, but it’s really not the end of the world. Take a deep breath and allow a little time to mourn the loss. It’s OK to shed a few tears over it, just don’t let it accelerate into buckets. It’s OK if you and your spouse shed some of these tears together.

  • 2. Validate your spouse’s feelings

  • If it’s your husband who just lost the job, let him share his feelings of disappointment or anger about it. He won’t be able to do this if you grip at your heart and blurt out, “Oh, no! What will we do?” If that happens he’ll know he can’t be open with you. Just listen and let him feel what he’s feeling. You don’t have to cheer him up at that point. In fact, if you try he’ll think you don’t understand how he’s feeling. Positive encouragement can come later, when he’s on the way up emotionally. Right now, he just needs to share his feelings without interruption, suggestions, or a pep talk. Of course, this works no matter which one of you lost the job.

  • 3. Comfort each other

  • There is nothing quite as reassuring as a tender hug when life gets tough. Too many couples pull away from each other during hard times. That only increases the pain of the situation. Hold on and give comforting hugs to each other, and at the same time assure each other that, “together we can make it through this.” Physical closeness brings added strength.

  • 4. Make a plan

  • After the original shock and things have quieted down, perhaps the next day, sit down together and discuss some options. If you have some money put away you can talk about how to use it. If you don’t you can talk about what your possibilities are. It’s amazing how resourceful you can be when you put your minds to it.

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  • 5. Go about your job search methodically

  • Update your resume, let friends and other acquaintances know you are looking for a job. Explore every avenue. Talk with your spouse about the possibilities. Don’t slack off. The full-time job of the unemployed is looking for employment. Include God in your search. Prayer can be a powerful ally. John H. Groberg said, “We should always pray for help, but we should always listen for inspiration and impression to proceed in ways different from those we may have thought of.”

  • 6. Let the kids know what’s happening

  • Children who are old enough to understand need to be told what’s going on. Otherwise they will sense that something’s wrong and wonder if it’s their fault. Depending on their ages, let them know that this is a temporary setback but that it will all work out. In the meantime, you need their help. They may have to cut back on some of their wants and desires. If you’re open with them, they’ll feel respected and more willing to do what they can to help. Children are resilient when they know the truth of what’s happening. Give them plenty of hugs and love along this journey.

  • When you include your spouse and family in hard times like this it can actually strengthen your relationships and bring a closeness that may have been missing before. Remembering these words of Ralph Waldo Emerson can help: “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” You can make it through difficult times victoriously, and so can your family.

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Gary Lundberg is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Joy is a writer. Together they author books on relationships.

Website: http://garyjoylundberg.com

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