With the declining economy, losing a job is becoming more the normal experience for most families than working with the same employer for 20-30 years. So when a job loss happens for whatever reason, such as lay-offs or budget cuts, it can feel devastating to a family, and even more so to one-income couples. However, Scripture list benefits of being a couple when working through a difficult situation, such as a job loss. It encourages us that "two are better than one ... for it they fall, one will lift up his fellow" (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12). Going through some job losses during our marriage, my husband and I have learned a few things including how to help lift each other up when needed. Here are four ways we've learned to work through the challenging months following a job loss.
1. Stay Positive
It's easy to think about what your mate could have done differently to maybe retain the job, but in the long run, there is no way of knowing if any or all would have made a difference. Often, it's an organization's budget or re-organization that is the determining factor. Instead of rehashing what may have caused the loss, focus on your spouse's efforts to succeed and past accomplishments. Encourage your husband or wife by concentrating on his or her strengths and how they are an asset to any company. Also, discuss together how this is an opportunity for spiritual growth, in learning how to trust God, and to believe that while doing our part, God is also opening up doors of new opportunities.
2. Be a Visionary for Your Spouse
Losing a job is a loss, so it's natural for a person to experience grief, pain, and feeling down at times; all emotions that can hinder attempts in looking for a new job. It's easy after a lay-off for your spouse to think he or she will never be hired again or if so, will have to start all over again.However, instead of looking back, help your spouse to look ahead to jobs where past experience will help to qualify him or her for better positions than held before. And since job loss can cause self-confidence to be at an all-time low, it's helpful to be a spouse who can see beyond the situation by helping to look for even a better job than your husband or wife had before.
When my husband lost a job a few years ago, I kept thinking with all his experience, he could be a Vice President, a step up from his past positions. I started telling him how I saw his next step as becoming a Vice President. Soon after being hired as a Chaplain, his supervisor decided to promote him but wanted his input on what that would mean. With all the cheerleading I had been doing with him to be a VP, he suggested the title and she agreed.
3. Help Carry the Load
In my husband's past job searches, I help out by doing much of the footwork for him by looking for openings, submitting his resume, writing his cover letter, and so on. After all, he has to do the interviews, so it helps to save his energy and also helps to make job searching more of a team effort. With us, I also take care of tracking the positions applied for, along with filtering the responses including rejection notifications. Seeing a stream of rejections can have a depressing effect on anyone, so directing correspondence through me helps him to keep an upbeat, positive attitude.
For couples where the job seeker prefers these tasks, there are other things a spouse can do to help carry the load. If one is still employed, that's a help in itself. In a marriage where the mom stays at home full-time and finances take a quick nose dive, a wife may want to look for temporary part-time work to help during the transitional times between her husband's jobs. With more telecommuting opportunities opening up, there may also be part-time work from home, or freelance contract work that both partners can find to help during financially lean times.
4. Trust God with Your Future
Philippians 4:5-7 encourages us to "not worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need." Of course, this can be easier said than done but when we do so, the verse continues on to say that we will experience God's peace in a way that will guard our hearts and minds through difficult times. Instead of panicking or feel distressed, God gives us some direction to help during trying times. His plan includes working together, trusting Him in the situation to lead, guide, and keep us on the right track, and to offer assistance through lifting each other up during job losses.
Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters and serves as associate editor of Ungrind. Her writing has been published in numerous publications including Focus on the Family Magazine, Decision, Today's Christian Woman, KirkCameron.com, Start Marriage Right, Growthrac and more! She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University with experience in broadcast media and also serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.