For many, identity and occupation are linked. Our self-image is often formed by our career accomplishments and how those affect our family's perception of us. It's no wonder, then, that a career change can throw every aspect of life into a tailspin.
Initially, it's exciting to land that dream job or receive a promotion, with a larger paycheck to boot. The new position may afford a nicer house — and maybe a few more luxuries. But how long will the excitement last? Even positive change can be stressful. Will you have to work more hours or weekends? Will you have a long commute? Can you live up to the boss's expectations?
And if that new job is in a new city, you're in for even more stress. Relocation challenges the entire family, particularly where school-aged children are concerned. Leaving friends behind can extend the turmoil.
Unwelcome or unexpected career changes can be even worse. Companies fold and people are fired. In some cases, a working environment becomes so unbearable that resignation seems to be the only option. Depression, fear and anxiety are all common feelings during times like these. You may wonder how your family will pay the bills. Will your spouse have to take another job? How can you regain your self-confidence?
The average American will change careers five to seven times before retirement. That means a lot of upheaval. No matter how many times you change jobs, you never seem to get used to the stress of adjusting.
Keeping the lines of communication open with your family and including everyone in the decisions can ease the transition, providing a sense of security for the changes ahead.
Unemployment rates high on the list, along with death and divorce, as one of life's top stress-inducing events. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources and guidance for those coping with their own unemployment. But what about the rest of the family? Unemployment impacts spouses and children, too.
Joe's wife JoAnn says she feels a combination of sympathy and anger towards her jobless husband.
"I don't know what to say to him when I come home from my own job and he's obviously had another rough day of dead-end leads. The house is a mess and he's lying on the couch in his underwear," she explains. "I know he's had a rough day, but can't he make himself useful while he's waiting for callbacks?"
Unemployment places strain on a marital relationship for obvious reasons. Aside from the financial burden unemployment places on a household, a spouse who continues to work faces his or her own issues in dealing with a displaced, depressed family breadwinner. A wife whose "secondary" job is now a couple's only source of income may suddenly shoulder the burden of paying the bills. Not only that, but she must also play the role of counselor and cheerleader to a traumatized, demoralized husband.
A woman in this situation walks a fine line between compassionate helpmate and tough-talking coach. If you happen to have a "caretaker" personality, you may have to watch a tendency to give your spouse unspoken permission to stay stuck in self-pity and inaction. Push too hard and you risk coming off as cold and uncaring.
As soon as possible after a job loss, you and your husband should sit down together and strategize not only the job hunt, but ways you can head off (or at least minimize) conflicts that come with unemployment stress.
The days ahead aren't going to be easy. Put your heads together to come up with a "plan of attack" — because that's exactly what you'll need to handle the pressures that can undermine a marriage in these tough circumstances.
First, practice an attitude that treats unemployment as a temporary — and manageable — situation. The repeated rejection that goes with a job search is hard, but the odds are that a new job will eventually surface if you both remain focused and deliberate in your quest. Keep a healthy perspective. Be open to what God might be trying to teach you both through this experience.
If you still have children at home, be open and honest with them about your situation. Communicate realistically, but optimistically, about the future. (It's not the end of the world!) Plan regular times together as a family to discuss feelings, finances, priorities and how everyone can pitch in to ease stress at home. Explain that everyone will have to sacrifice (temporary cuts in allowances, cutting back on clothes shopping, etc.) for awhile until Dad finds a new job. Remind children that you're in this together — and together you'll come through this, better and stronger for the adversity you've experienced, and perhaps with newfound compassion for others in similar circumstances.
Insist on at least one night a week when you can schedule time alone or with your own friends. Help your husband understand that the time you spend on yourself will help you be a better spouse when you're together — because it will. Even in the best of times it's good to cultivate your own hobbies and interests.
Remind yourself and your spouse to take this one day at a time. Help your husband avoid catastrophic thinking (I'll never find work!). Be positive in your attitudes and pray together every day for God's provision — for your physical, emotional and material needs, and for your relationship. And keep talking! Deliberate communication mitigates the effects of depression and helps boost bruised self-esteem.
Accept that you'll have good days and bad days. On the good days, discuss what makes them good and brainstorm ways to keep up positive energy (going to bed at a reasonable hour, rising together, morning exercise, prayer time, etc.). Maintain a routine as much as possible. Be mutually accountable, setting a daily agenda for both of you: job interviews, personal appointments, chores around the house, etc.
Unemployment can make people want to withdraw — but avoid becoming socially isolated. Continue to attend church and keep up social commitments during the week. Share what you're going through with friends. You need support now more than ever — and contrary to what you might think, friends will be honored by your desire to confide in them.
Plan activities together that will help you let off steam. Many big-city zoos and museums have occasional "free" days. Get outside in the fresh air, take a bike ride, have a picnic. Plan a time where you agree to put aside job worries and focus only on having fun.
Your spouse is facing a tough time, but you are, too. Pray to God for the energy, compassion, patience and insight to get you through this challenging season. And remember: like all the seasons that make up a life, this too shall pass!
Unemployment doesn't just affect individuals; it can devastate entire families, too. Throughout America, an estimated 9 million people languish on the unemployment rolls. Their families suffer the financial and emotional consequences as the job search drags on for months — even years. …What can you do if unemployment knocks at your door? We've found that although the stress of unemployment has remained, these four things have helped our family. Perhaps they will help you, too.
Whether you've been laid-off, fired, downsized, outsized or right-sized doesn't really matter. If you've been forced out of a position without a new one in sight, the road you're traveling is likely full of speed bumps, potholes and detours!
My husband is out of work. How can our family make ends meet?
We realize that this can seem like an overwhelming situation, and we encourage your husband to persevere in looking for another job. If he can't find the job of his choosing, it may be necessary for him to take one or more part-time positions in order to make ends meet while he continues to search for the job that he really wants. For more information on this topic, please read Crown Financial's Unemployment Fact Sheet.
When emergencies arise and you do not have savings to meet the need, Scripture says that your family and your church should help. We encourage you to ask for help from these sources rather than turning to credit cards.
When you experience a loss of income, we believe that you need to switch to "survival mode."
This could include:
If you cannot make even the minimum payments on your bills, we suggest that you take the following steps:
If you would like help setting up your budget, you can meet with one of our volunteer budget counselors. These volunteers offer free, in-person assistance, and they can show you how to establish a budget, to become debt free, and to honor God in your finances. If you want this kind of financial counsel, please call us at 1-800-722-1976 and we will be glad to give you the name and phone number of our nearest volunteer budget counselor in your area.
In the meantime, you may also want to download Crown's Budgeting and Debt and Credit article lists.
The roar of my husband's electric razor startles me into bleary-eyed semiconsciousness. The alarm clock reads 6:30 a.m. Within minutes, Cameron will don a suit and tie and head out the door. He won't report to work, though. Instead, he'll pound the pavement of Phoenix, enduring the blistering heat and the searing heartache of constant rejection.
My husband, you see, is unemployed.
Day after day, Cameron searches: Networking, knocking on doors, circling want ads - even dialing job hotlines until midnight. Occasionally, he lands an interview. It's hard work, this business of being unemployed. Hard financially, emotionally and spiritually.
Meanwhile, I've learned what it's like to be the sole provider for my family — a responsibility that's given me a new appreciation for my husband. My workday goes into full swing around 10 p.m., after I've gotten the family off to bed. I write newsletters, brochures and articles often until four in the morning. I sleep for a few hours until I get up with our 3-year-old daughter, Leah, and shift into her morning routine. Then I nap with her in the afternoon.
This new lifestyle began after our family faced a series of setbacks in New Jersey. After much prayer, we decided to sell our home and head for the promised land of Arizona. Traveling cross-country, we joyfully taught Leah a children's song about God leading Abraham to a new home.
Those first weeks were upbeat. The once perpetually exhausted Daddy suddenly had all the time in the world for his little girl. We took long walks. We talked and dreamed. We became more active in church and enjoyed a time of spiritual renewal. We watched eagerly for the "Aha" — that moment when God would reveal His wonderful plan for our lives. (Translation: A great job with better pay and a beautiful home in Scottsdale.) Months passed and the "Aha" never came.
We're afraid it never will.
Instead, we've settled into a time of wondering. Wondering if we missed God's way. Wondering how bad it will get before it's finally over.