Has your husband lost his job? It’s not only scary and devastating for him, but for you, too. There are so many things men go through when they lose a job, many of which women don’t really consider or maybe don’t even realize.
In 2008, my husband lost his job for the first time. The company he worked for went out of business. It was unbelievably scary. We had a preschooler and a new baby, lived in new city near no one we knew, and even if we were ready for me to go back to work, it wouldn’t have mattered because childcare costs were much more than I would have made.
He blanketed the region with his resume and literally received no responses or calls. He was crushed. It was hard for him to wrap his head around sending out 50 resumes and not getting a single response or call.
Logically, he knew he wasn't the only one who couldn't find anything. The economy was tanking and a lot of people were looking for jobs, but that didn’t matter. He still felt worthless.
How my husband felt is far from unique - most men feel the same things when they lose their job. It has happened to us three times since then. Each time, it’s just as scary, and he goes through all the same things.
What Happens When Men Lose Their Job
- Fear – panicking about money and healthcare benefits. This is obvious, but it’s probably the first thing you both will think about. It’s hard for men to be calm and positive when they’re freaked out about how to feed their family, pay the mortgage and cover doctor visits.
- Inadequacy – even being laid off rather than fired can bring on feelings that he did something wrong or was a less-than-stellar employee. Many men are workaholics and for them much of their identity is wrapped up in their job. Often men are asked about what they do, and they will typically reply with a sense of pride, “I’m a fireman, accountant, contractor…” Without that job, what are they? Without a job they can lose their sense of self and their purpose.
- Humiliation - it can be very humiliating for a man to not have a job. Many men feel that they are supposed to be the breadwinners and providers for their families. This relates back to a man’s sense of self and purpose - how does one provide for his family without a job?
What Kurt Thinks:
"Being in control is very important for a man. When your husband lost his job he also lost some control over his life. Understanding this can help you to be more understanding of why he feels they way he feels. It's also helpful to recognize that a job is more than just a job to a man - it's who he is as a man."
What Your Husband Can Do When He Doesn’t Have a Job
- Get A Routine - looking for a job IS a job. It’s important to spend a significant amount of time every day looking for a job, but it really can become overwhelming, tedious and frustrating – all of which can also lead to depression in a lot of men. It’s important to have a routine in place. Getting up at the same time every day, establishing how much time to spend looking for a job, networking and even accomplishing tasks around the house should all be on his calendar or check list for each day. Taking a break will be important as well. Even though he doesn’t have a job that pays, he’ll still need to take a break from job-hunting, too.
- Get Some Exercise – it cannot be stressed enough how important this is. Exercise releases chemicals that are the body’s natural stress-fighter. He can work out his frustrations about not having a job, literally, and once they’re released, he will feel better. ANY type of physical activity is good.
- Get Out Networking – seeing friends and former colleagues will help boost his confidence. While it also could lead to a job, the point is getting out to see other people. When your husband lost his job, he also lost daily contact with other people – maybe even some friends. Connecting with others, away from home, is key to staying mentally engaged and to avoid feeling isolated.
All of these things aren’t just good for getting through the day once your husband lost his job, they will help immensely when he lands an interview, too. They should help him feel better about himself, make it easier to convey a positive image and help him to concentrate on the future he wants to build with you. It can be really hard to watch your husband struggle, but with understanding and perseverance you can get through it together.
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