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When A Job Loss Hits Your Marriage

How to protect your marriage and move forward in job loss

This week a very close friend of ours lost his job.  For our friend, his loss of employment came quickly and without warning.  He and his wife were stunned. He’s a godly man, a hard worker, and a stellar employee who exceeded every quota.  We can empathize with them because we’ve been through this as well. Twice when Brad lost his job.

If this hits you or someone you know, how does a couple regroup and move ahead in such a challenging time?

For the spouse who lost their job…

1. Grieve for a day or two.

It’s appropriate to grieve a loss. Giving yourself space to do this will clear your mind and heart emotionally to look ahead at the task at hand.

Make sure you get up each morning, get dressed, and spend your day looking for a job.  That’s now your “job” so take it seriously. Have a routine.

It may be that in the interim you need to work at a local grocery store, drive for Uber, or do some other type of work to make ends meet.  Don’t feel that those types of jobs are beneath you. We experienced a season in our marriage after Brad lost his job where he worked for a local hardware store. It ended up providing additional income and Brad made some good contacts. He even sold his own plasma over 100 times to cover expenses.

2. Tell your friends, acquaintances, and church about your job loss.

It may be difficult to do this, but people can’t help you, network for you, or pray for you if they don’t know what you’re experiencing.  During difficult times your friends and church can be the support structure you need for assistance and support.

3. Revise your resume and look at your social media accounts.  Update (or join) LinkedIn.

Today companies look at a potential employee’s social media accounts.  Make sure there’s nothing compromising or distasteful on yours.

4. Guard your heart against bitterness and anger.

Perhaps you were mistreated or fired unfairly.  Jesus was mistreated too.  Don’t let bitterness take root in your soul.  It will ultimately poison you and cloud your thinking.

Determine what you will say to others about your job loss and your company.  Maybe write out what to say and memorize it so that when others question you, you know exactly how to respond.  Don’t bad-mouth your former boss or company.

5. Investigate EVERY opportunity.

This is the advice we received when Brad lost his job.  We followed it and it led us to an incredible opportunity that lasted almost 10 years.  When we first heard about this job, we weren’t super excited but took one step at a time and that opportunity, though initially unlikely, was God’s provision for us for several years.

For the Supporting Spouse…

1. Be sensitive to your spouse’s need to grieve and process.

For your spouse, their job was a huge part of their life, community, and even identity.  They spent hours a week working.  Your spouse has lost that sense of purpose and accomplishment as well as the work relationships he/she had.  They may question their abilities or their calling.  Listen patiently as your spouse processes their loss and hurt.

2. Encourage your spouse with the truth.

Remind your spouse of their past successes and achievements. What does your spouse do well?  How have they excelled?

Tell them you’re “with them” and will stand behind them.  Offer to help them during their transition.  Perhaps this may mean you get a job temporarily or you adjust household responsibilities for a season.  Remind them gently that their worth is not found in their job.  Their worth is determined by who they are in Christ.  That’s the person you love.

3. Don’t berate your spouse or tell them they’re a failure.

Understand that many companies today merge and eliminate positions.  Some companies are revolving doors for employees.  It’s rare for a person to remain at one company for their whole career.  Help your spouse to focus on the future, not the past.

Try not to panic and create more stress for your spouse.  Be proactive and reduce your spending without your spouse asking you.  Maybe you don’t go to dinner with your friends, you lengthen the time between haircuts, you cut out movies or that class at the gym, etc.  Do what YOU can to relieve your spouse’s anxiety and don’t guilt them for what you have to do without.

4. Stay physically intimate.

Discuss what you need from each other.  For some spouses, this may mean having “comfort sex” or being held.  Don’t let Satan create havoc in your relationship when your life is already stressful.  Stay united as husband and wife physically.

5. Pray for your household and your spouse.

Pray for your spouse to find the right job quickly through the right connections. Pray for the two of you to have wisdom and discernment.  Pray for your finances. Pray that the life of your vehicles and appliances are extended.  Pray for good deals.  Pray for unity and encouragement.

For Both of You…

1. Reduce expenditures and pay off bills.

If you’re receiving severance, take some of that money and eliminate as much debt as you reasonably can.  Immediately review your budget.  Are there things from your budget that you can cut or eliminate?  Can you cancel that trip?  Reduce your grocery bill?  Stop eating out and buying new clothes?

2. Don’t panic and liquidate your 401(k) or pension plan.

If possible, spend your savings first or use your emergency fund.  Often there are penalties associated with early withdrawals on 401(k)s or pension funds.  Make every effort not to touch the money in those.

3. Trust God.

Although your job loss may be a surprise to you and your spouse, it wasn’t a shock to God.  Remind each other that God is in control and He will walk with you through this difficult season.  As a couple, you are going to weather the storm, grow closer to the Lord through it, set a godly example to your children, and as you trust God to lead you to your next job you will Build Your Marriage.