Q&A: Facing job loss as a coupleWritten by George Stahnke
Question: My husband lost his job three months ago and hasn’t had much success finding a new job. He is bored, depressed and has begun to feel worthless. How can I support him through this difficult time?
Your concern for your husband is understandable. Much of a man’s self-esteem is derived from his ability to provide for his family. The longer he is unemployed, the weaker his sense of worth can become.
How to encourage an unemployed spouse
My suggestion is to offer a listening ear. Let him know that he can lay aside the tough exterior of manhood and honestly share his feelings with you. Do your best to engage him in heartfelt conversation. If he openly shares his insecurities and frustrations with you, seize the opportunity to build him up. Affirm your husband and reassure him of your faith in him. You might say something like: "We have gone through tough times before, Sweetheart, and together we will get though this one, too. I believe in you, and I am praying for you."
Be his cheerleader. The very effort of looking for work and submitting resumés should be celebrated. Encourage him with meaningful rewards such as a candlelight dinner, a funny card, something that says thank you for his effort to provide for his family.
In addition, you can gently remind him of the importance of staying productive. Idleness will only feed his depression. Encourage him to work on the honey-do list, volunteer at church or in the community – anything but sitting on the couch. You may also need to call in reinforcements, such as a friend who can take him to a ball game or provide some other temporary diversion.
Your unwavering faith in your man, along with your words of encouragement and practical support, will help keep his spirits up. And remember: This difficult season, like all seasons of life, will pass.
George Stahnke was a counsellor in the pastoral care and counselling departments at Focus on the Family in Colorado at the time of publication.
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