What can I do to support my husband now that he's lost his job? He's been unemployed for three months, and though he's searched long and hard he still can't find a new position. Meanwhile, he's becoming bored and depressed, and I can tell that he's beginning to feel worthless. How do I come alongside him at a time like this?
Your concern for your husband is commendable and 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.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do 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've been through tough times before, and together we will get through this one, too. I believe in you, and I am praying for you."
As he steps out into the world in an attempt to find a new position, he's going to need you to act as his cheerleader. Looking for a job is hard work; the very effort of contacting employers, filling out applications 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 diligence in seeking to provide for his family. Little gestures like this will make a bigger difference than you realize.
In addition, you can gently remind your husband 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 rather than 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.
If either you or your husband feel the need of some encouraging words from an outside party, feel free to contact Focus on the Family's Counseling department. We have a staff of trained Christian therapists here who would be more than happy to discuss your concerns with you over the phone. They can also provide you with referrals to professional counselors practicing in your local area.
In closing, remember that your man has no greater asset or resource than your unwavering faith in his worth, your words of affirmation and your practical support. When all else fails, your love and assurances of respect will help keep his spirits up. And remember: this difficult season, like all seasons of life, will pass.
In this iQuestions video from Focus on the Family, Barb Rosberg discusses the three phases of situational depression and offers encouragement to those who are struggling with it.
Money and Finances