So your partner just informed you that he lost his job. Regardless of whether he was laid off, fired or quit, there will be no paycheck coming in next week. Life is about to change, possibly big time.
While losing a major source of income can be a scary prospect for anyone, a mid-life job loss comes with its own unique set of challenges. Suddenly everything you’ve spent the past 20 years working hard for may be in jeopardy – your lifestyle, savings, home, children’s educations, and the hope of a comfortable retirement.
Then there’s the matter of working on your bucket list. How does one do that when she’s worried about paying the mortgage and buying groceries?
During my 20 years of marriage, I’ve dealt with job loss on more than one occasion. I have not always handled the stress with the grace and dignity I would have liked. When your family’s survival is at stake, it’s easy to let negative emotions get the best of you.
Try not to lose faith. Remember: This, too, shall pass. In the meantime, take a cue from some lessons about job loss I’ve learned the hard way.
- To the extent possible, remain calm. This is not always easy. Fear naturally kicks in when one’s survival is threatened. While fear has a place in our lives, it can cause us to overreact, behave irrationally, or become paralyzed. Stressful situations require reasonable, rational thought and action.
- Fight fairly, and not in front of the children. No matter how tempted you might be to lay into your partner, restrain yourself. Once spoken aloud, harsh words cannot be taken back, nor are they easily forgotten. Especially don’t let your children hear you speak to their parent in a negative way. And don’t argue loudly in front of them, especially about money; it scares them.
- Focus your energy on solutions. It is an absolute fact that every problem has at least one solution. Direct your energy here instead of on blaming your spouse or feeling hopeless. You’ll feel more empowered, less emotional, and you might even be able to turn this nightmare into a blessing.
- Take care of your health. In stressful situations, we may eat more junk food, drink too much alcohol, cut back on exercise, or watch too much T.V. – all in an effort to numb ourselves from the reality of our situation. Now more than ever you need to take care of yourself, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Effectively dealing with stress requires strength and stamina.
- Be willing to take action. When my husband was fired from a six-figure job a week before I gave birth to our youngest son, I thought I might die from the stress. Though he was able to find another job quickly, it was at about half of his former salary. As much as I didn’t want to, I put my son in daycare full-time to take on more hours at work. Sometimes, you just have to suck it up and do what’s necessary for your family’s survival. Try to do it without complaining.