If you've ever experienced losing your job, you know the hurt and frustration. But, how do you deal with the stress when your spouse loses a job? You feel some of the same shock and hurt, but this time you also have to be a comforter, cheerleader, coach, and the sole financial provider for your family. This is no easy task.
4 Different Stresses - On your spouse, your family, your relationship, and on you.
The stress you feel when your spouse loses a job is a multi-line attack. You know you need to support your partner, boost his self esteem and encourage his efforts. But that doesn't mean you know the best thing to say.
If you have children, they need comfort, and reassurance, and your relationship has needs of its own. You want to help your partner, but you may also feel guilty if you don't always feel as supportive as you think you should.
It's OK to admit it. You may be mad as hell.
When you first hear the news that your spouse is unemployed, you feel deeply sorry for what you spouse is going through. But you may also feel angry, and not know why. Are you mad at your spouse for somehow letting you down? Or are you mad at life? It doesn't really matter. You can face it easier if you accept it as normal, like the anger that comes with grief.
Let that anger go, and make a plan to deal with the stress of your spouse's unemployment.
1. Comfort and encourage first. There will be plenty of time to tackle your budget. Right now your partner needs to know he is still loved and accepted. If you practice a religious tradition, this can be an excellent time to reach out together in prayer, and take comfort in your faith.
2. Count your blessings. Give thanks for all the good that is still in your life. Acknowledge the strength you've gained from past challenges, and be confident you can overcome this as well.
3. Cheer for your team, while momentum is high. After the initial shock, your spouse may experience a burst of creative energy. Capture that "we can do this" confidence, and applaud his efforts.
4. Don't cancel your gym membership. Any kind of strength training can combat feelings of powerlessness that occur while waiting for interviews. And meditative exercises like yoga or tai chi help calm frayed nerves.
5. Find your center...for stress yet to come. The first few weeks of unemployment are the easiest to get through. Use that time as much as possible to meditate and stay calm, because you'll need it if the stress of unemployment drags on.
6. Become a "tough love" coach. It's an old story. You come home from a long day at work, and find your unemployed husband (or wife) still in pajamas and the house a mess. You don't know whether to scream or sob.
Your spouse may have started the day with big plans, but quickly became discouraged and overwhelmed. Burying your resentment helps no one. A good coach wouldn't let him slide, and neither can you.
Coping with the stress when your spouse loses a job is never easy, and you don't have to do it alone. Whether it is a job coach or a counselor, help is out there. Getting your spouse up and outside, even if for a long walk, helps break the cycle of defeat, and may remind him that you are still a team.