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February 22, 2010
by Debra Bacon

Supporting your spouse through job loss

February 22, 2010 14:50 by Debra Bacon  [About the Author]

By Debra Bacon
Debra Bacon Contributor


The Pink Slip

Losing a job is very stressful for a family. The emotional impact it has on the husband or wife can be very different. Both may feel depressed and anxious as a result of the loss. Self-esteem and worthiness issues are common. These factors, combined with the financial implications resulting from a spouse’s job loss, place a strain on a marriage. However, exercising solid coping skills during this transitional time can lead to a successful outcome.

Time to process

It is important to give your spouse time to process what has happened and get a handle on the future. Often our job defines us--reinforces our worth to our family and others. While our self-worth should be shaped by other measures, our job plays an important role in our lives.

Due to the financial strain resulting from a job loss, the natural response from both parties is to get a job as soon as possible. However, finding a new job can take time. During this time, sensitivity and careful response is essential in supporting your spouse. Encouraging words and conversations about other things can help ease any tension that money issues can cause in a marriage.

Avoid picking out jobs for your spouse. As well meaning as this approach seems, it often backfires. They may begin to feel you have lost faith or trust in their abilities to manage their affairs properly.

Questions about how the unemployed spouse spent their time during the day may be offensive. It is important to be aware of trigger points that may spark conflict. A person may lash out because they feel inadequate or are depressed.

As important as processing time and feelings of the unemployed spouse are, so are those of others involved. It may be helpful to talk to a counselor during this time. A counselor can help you identify the unique feelings and stressors experienced during a time of loss. They can offer feedback and coping skills you may not have considered previously.

Reach out to friends and family that may have experienced a similar situation. Ask them how they managed the process.

Fear and Finances

A financial plan is an imperative step in eliminating fear and uncertainty of the future. The plan should be developed to encompass at least three months that follow the unemployment.

Together, determine what you can cut back on, or live without. Big changes should be considered carefully. Remember, the situation is not permanent.

Your spouse may be eligible for unemployment compensation. This benefit can be very helpful when facing job loss. Consulting a financial advisor or counselor may be necessary in some cases. However, cutting back on special perks or extras can trim a budget quite a bit.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, your marriage and relationship with one another is more important than anything else. Be kind to one another. Talk about your spouses good qualities, compliment them. Take notice of the extra help you are likely receiving around the home, or in other areas of your life. You will likely come out on the other side stronger and closer than ever before.


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