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Your Spouse Lost a Job - How to Cope

Your Spouse Lost a Job - How to Cope

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Published by Leigh Harris
With job loss a distinct reality to 9.5% of Americans, Leigh offers eight steps and a short narrative to cope with your spouse's job loss.
With job loss a distinct reality to 9.5% of Americans, Leigh offers eight steps and a short narrative to cope with your spouse's job loss.

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Published by: Leigh Harris on Aug 06, 2010
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08/23/2010

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Your Spouse Lost a Job  How to Cope
By Leigh HarrisPeter hides it well, but I know he is miserable, and the tension in our house is unbearable attimes.Pamela confesses to me over coffee.Pamelas husband recently lost his job. She is nervous about spending a single unnecessary dollar, andthe only way she agreed to meet me is after I offered to treat her  a frank and necessary reality.I wish I could help him, but he balks at any suggestion I make, as if Im the cause of this problem.Pamelas story is increasingly familiar in this economy.Peters job loss, part of the 12.2% of Californians out of work in June 2010
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, has him bitter, angry andfrustrated. His wife Pamela is worried about their finances, but doesnt dare talk to Peter about it. Sheurges him to search the job market each day, but he gets upset with her nagging. She sometimesargues back, frustrated with what she sees as indifference.I am tempted to push him out the door each morning to look for another job. We need him to work!but Ive never seen him this upset, and I dont want to make him angrier.Pamela sees how this affects the kids too. Normally talkative, Alex, seven and Rachel, four, are quiet atthe dinner table. Now they need a nightlight to go to sleep and Rachel started to wet her bed again.I dont know what to do. Pamela feels caught between helping and hindering Peter, uncertain how toimprove their finances or their family situation.Her bewilderment is understandable. Until someone has been laid off themselves or had their hours cutback, advice or services to cope with a new financial reality are almost invisible.Yet with the 2010 US overall jobless rate unchanged at 9.5% (the most recent available
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), you may beginto recognize this situation in yourself, in a friend, or through an acquaintance.So how does someone like Pamela cope with a reduced (or non-existent) income and a newly joblesshusband, while maintaining some stability for herself, her children and her marriage?
1.
 
B
e a Good Listener
Let him rant and rave if he needs to. Keep the focus on his feelings and words, not on the stress you maybe feeling.Breathe deep! Always remember to take a breath before you respond. You will be less likely to reactemotionally, and more likely to answer objectively. Provide the solid support that he needs.
 
Understand that his frustration is his own. When you react with blame, sarcasm or frustration of yourown, you become part of the problem. (And you dont need another problem.)Dont allow his frustration to turn into verbal attack. I am here to listen, but not if I become your verbalpunching bag. Lets focus on your feelings, on a solution, or we can talk about it later.
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Off 
er Help but Then Step
B
ack
O
ffer open-ended questions.
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Is there anything I can do to help?
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How can I make each day easier for you?
y
 
The Lanigans have invited us over for dinner this Saturday. What is your preference?
O
ffer neutral comments, requiring no answer.
y
 
I read a local article about your industry. It is on the couch if you are interested.
y
 
The kids and I are going to the park in an hour. You are welcome to join us.
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If you want an objective eye on your resume before you send it out, Id be glad to help.
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The news mentioned a website today that offers free job coaching and resume writing. Ive leftit near the computer.Respect his answer, or lack of one.
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Cut Spending at Home
E
stimate monthly bills.
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Pull out the last three months utility bills and record how much they cost each month. Addmortgage or rent and insurance onto this. Use an excel spreadsheet, if possible.
E
stimate other monthly expenses.
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Record grocery, gas and auto, entertainment, household, medical, pet, clothing andmiscellaneous expenses. Find these expenses through recent credit card statements, bankrecord of ATM purchases, and receipts. If you use cash, record the cash you withdraw andestimate where it is used.Cut out restaurants, movies, soda, alcohol, delivered pizza, snack foods, candy and clothing. Askyourself: Is this essential for family health or can I put it on a wish list for when we are employed?Search for lower prices: Buy bulk instead of singles; use coupons; check the dollar store (some havegrocery sections, and paper and cleaning supplies).
 
Credit cards with high balances? Freeze them in ice, cut them up, or cancel them at the bank. Frozen,you have time to reconsider a purchase; cut up, they cant be used; and cancelled, you reduce yourliability should you need to talk to your bank about a loan.Determine a new budget. Utilities and rent/mortgage are fairly static (though unplugging cords, turningoff unused lights, and air-drying clothes help). What can you afford to spend on groceries, clothing, andcar expenses? $1200 a month is doable for a family of four.
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$800 a month is even possible withcreativity.If you have space in your budget, add back in a few inexpensive treats.
y
 
O
ne bottle of low-cost wine for Friday night.
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Buy frozen pizza one night, instead of take out.
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Search for a kids eat free night at local restaurants.These treats make it less likely that youll blow your budget due to frustration.
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.
 
Keep Family Healthy
Dont cut spending by eating fast food. It will cost you more in the long run in low energy, weight gain,and medicine.Cut out junk food  it costs money and fills the family up with empty calories. If this habit is a hard oneto break, purchase good quality chocolate (the more cacao, the better) and eat a single square, slowly,as a treat.Cut out prepackaged dinners (boxed macaroni and cheese, frozen dinners, ravioli in a can, or packagedmuffins), and cook fresh and basic:
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Dry noodles, cooked, with tomato sauce and spices from your cupboard
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Small portions of meat, chicken or pork purchased on sale
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Homemade muffins, made with whole wheat flour, fills a tummy for longer than refined flour orpurchased muffins
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Cut up large carrots (not prepackaged small ones) and celery, serve with ranch dressing for dipChoose vegetables that pack a vitamin punch. Choose fresh or frozen over canned, bright colors over allone color (more variety of vitamins). Purchase in-season local versus out-of-season shipped.Cereal  choose lower sodium, minimal sugar (glucose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup), whole wheatversus refined, fewer preservatives, no added color. Cost? Look for sales: less than one cent per gramfor value (400g box should be less than $4.00).
O
atmeal is one of the best cereals for cost and health.Add a cut up pear and a bit of brown sugar to cooked oatmeal.
5
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Look
or employment

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