By Lynne Klippel
Corporate downsizing, layoffs, and the downturn of the economy have taken a toll on many, especially mid-career professional men. Often, their wives are struggling to help their spouses get back in the workforce and earn enough money to cover the expenses of the family.
As a career coach, Iíve observed how some couples handle the stress of downsizing successfully, and how other couples are torn apart from the pressure. Here are some common pitfalls wives want to avoid when their husband is out of work:
1. Panic - If your husband sees you falling apart emotionally, he will lose confidence in his abilities. Show him your strength and your commitment. He needs to know that you believe in him so that he can believe in himself.
2. Blame - When a man loses his job, he feels like a loser, even if he was not at fault. He will blame himself constantly. He needs his wife to remind him of his strengths and help him get past his feelings of blame and shame in order to be able to interview with confidence.
3. Reinforcement of the victim mentality - Many men become stuck in anger and sadness after job loss. They seem unable to stop talking about how they were wronged by their employer or betrayed by the system. After he has taken some time to vent these feelings, help him shift his focus towards the future.
4. Ignorance of depression - Depression is very common in unemployed people. If wives ignore warning signs of depression, their husbands can sink deeper and deeper into this illness and find themselves unable to make any progress towards landing a new job. Be alert for significant changes in sleeping and eating patterns, extreme irritability, inability to find pleasure in things he used to enjoy, and prolonged gloominess. If your husband seems stuck in a dark tunnel of despair, have him evaluated by his physician.
5. Treating him like damaged goods - If wives treat their husbands like fragile/damaged goods, husbands will feel even more unworthy and unsuccessful. Help him establish a new routine, take responsibility for household tasks, and work with you to solve problems together. This requires a delicate balance of diplomacy, tact, and your best communication skills.
A job loss can be stressful, but it is a temporary situation. Husbands and wives need an extra dose of patience, love and laughter to help them cope. Avoiding these common pitfalls can help wives help their husbands get back on track and back to work.