Why Marriage Matters: Supporting Your Spouse Through a Job Loss

by | Marriage | 9 comments

Supporting Your Spouse Through Job Loss GraphicIn January 2009, Hubby came home from work early. I was so surprised to see him and asked if he was feeling well. He had an expression on his face that imprinted into my memory. Before he said anything, a chill coiled in the pit of my stomach. My heart pounded against my ribcage. Then he said the words that sent a spiral of panic coursing through my veins…”Due to economic downsizing, I’ve been let go.”

His position had been eliminated.

I’m a stay-at-home-work-at-home mom, but Hubby’s income was our primary financial resource, and he carried the insurance for our family. 

After the initial shock wore off, I remembered a conversation I had with God a few months before that. I had thanked Him for Hubby’s recent promotion, then asked Him to prevent Hubby from being affected by the layoff rumors.

From January 2009 to July 2012, Hubby had a couple of temporary jobs, but nothing permanent. God opened the door for him to return to school to get his degree in business. However, when he graduated, he struggled to find a job. He received interviews, even second interviews, but no job offers…until God opened that door last July. 

During those three years, I learned a few things about supporting a spouse:

  • Pray for your spouse. Ask God to give you the words to encourage and the patience to endure the trials to come. Ask God to open doors on your spouse’s behalf. Ask God to give your spouse a sense of fulfillment and encouragement.
  • Expect a variety of emotions. Hubby’s career counselor likened losing a job to going through divorce. Your spouse may experience negative emotions–sadness, frustration, depression, anxiety, feelings of failure–and it’s so hard to see him feel this way. Men, in particular, feel the need to be providers. When this is taken from them, they struggle and can feel like they’re failing their families.
  • Speak his language. His love language, that is. Let him know through your positive actions and words that you’ve got his back–you’ll be by his side and you will work through this together. Speak truth to his strengths. Remind him of his positive traits. Encourage him to stay active in his other roles.
  • Voice your expectations. If you’d like your spouse to take on more responsibilities around the house while he’s looking for a new job, be sure to work together so you both know what each other’s expectations are. Men and women have different ideas of clean and what needs to be done. Your hubby may not be bothered by the overflowing laundry basket or realize you’ve been out of milk for two days. Being clear in your expectations helps to eliminate frustration and resentment.
  • Consider your finances. Review your finances as a couple and share ways you can cut back on unnecessary expenses. Be creative for date nights and family fun events that cost little or no money. 
  • Resist the urge to “help” your spouse with his job search. While you may think you’re being helpful by sharing job opportunities from the classifieds or Monster.com, your spouse may feel pressured already. 

Your spouse’s loss of job can turn out to be a mixed blessing–more family time, less time spent commuting. Be sure to take time to communicate concerns. Be quick to listen and slow to lash out in anger or frustration. This is a difficult time for all of you, but it’s a season. God has a plan and a purpose for your lives. 

Why Marriage Matters graphic


Your Turn: Has your spouse or another family member experienced a job loss? How did you support him or her?

If you’d like to write for Why Marriage Matters, be sure to read the details here: Why Marriage Matters Guidelines

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  1. Roxanne Sherwood Gray

    These are great tips for anyone going through a crisis. With a job loss, the last one is especially important and the last one though of. Thanks for sharing your hard-earned wisdom and for the reminder of God’s plans for each of us.

    • Lisa Jordan

      Roxanne, thanks for stopping by. I learned about the last one the hard way. I didn’t realize my “helping” was causing my husband to feel added pressure.

  2. Esther Irish (@LaughWithUsBlog)

    Great advice. I’ve seen so many go through this and it’s hard on so many levels! Recently my husband stopped being paid, which is strange. “Waiting for client checks,” was the response, but we wonder if the end is near.

    • Lisa Jordan

      Esther, thank you for visiting. Waiting for client checks would sound alarms in my head. If this is the end of this job for him, try to look at it as a new opportunity given by God to offer a new direction in his life.

  3. Melissa Tagg

    I’m not married, so I’ve not experienced this, BUT I can imagine it’d be tough. One of the things I think might be the toughest would be silencing my own need to fix and figure things out and just be there to support and encourage. 🙂

  4. momstheword

    Great advice! Especially about praying for your husband because they do get discouraged during that time.

    My hubby was once out of work for a year. We lived on severance, unemployment and our savings. We were blessed to be able to make it through o.k.

    We didn’t go into debt, we didn’t lose our home, and we had the severance and the savings to help us through (not to mention unemployment)

    My doctor, bless him, actually kept me provided with asthma medicine samples so that I always had medicine for my asthma and didn’t have to suffer! 🙂

    I used to try and encourage my hubby to get out of the house and go do something fun (that didn’t cost) because it was better than sitting around the house staring at the computer all day.

    It really does chip away at their self esteem as they feel like they need to be providing for their family.

    But the Lord brought us through it! I am glad that your hubby now has a permanent job. But what a great testimony you have about those last three years!

  5. Christy Joy

    Wow. Thank you for sharing something so close to your heart. This is a great “how to” when your hubby is facing odds that challenge his manhood and his desire to provide. Thank you for your transparency and for linking up with HWC!

    Christy Joy

  6. Sherrinda

    Been there, done that. And boy, it wasn’t fun. I love your advice…you are spot on! Thanks for the openness you shared. 🙂

  7. Mai Bateson

    Great advice, Lisa! My husband is working right now. He and I are talking about having a better job that will support our growing family in the near future. I love ALL your advice especially about praying for your spouse. We always seek God in major decisions that we need to take. What really caught my attention is to “resist the urge to HELP him with his job search” 😉 I don’t’ want to be the cause of added pressure to him. But being supportive and encouraging will greatly help them a lot! Tried and tested. 🙂