Has your husband lost his job? Here’s how you can help!
Huma followed her two children as they ran to the apartment balcony, shrieking,
“Dad is here!!”
She was shocked to see her husband getting out of a cab instead of the green Suzuki Cultus given to him by the company he worked in. Looking at her tired and exhausted husband she inquired,
“Where is your car?”
He handed her an envelope and instead of sitting down for their routine evening sessions where they would discuss the day’s happenings, he dashed to the bedroom saying,
“I am tired, just leave me alone.”
Huma opened the envelope and to her surprise it was a letter from the company he worked in, saying that his services were no longer required after the merger. Her first thought was about all the expenses lined up, the children’s pending school fee and the unpaid credit card bills that had been piling up because of her frequent shopping sprees.
Given the economy’s current state, this scenario is common in many households. When companies go through mergers, there are golden handshakes and downsizing and as a result, hundreds of employees lose their jobs. Finding a similar or better position in another company comes as a real challenge, especially for men since such situations ultimately impact the individuals, their families and most directly, their spouses.
I spoke to some of my friends about the situation. Fareeda, who has two school-going children, said,
“I am tired of looking at my sulking husband every morning.”
Another one, frustrated with her current state, said,
“The money from the golden handshake is taking care of the expenses so far but my husband is not the same. I don’t think I can tolerate his mood anymore. I am moving to my mom’s!”
Another close friend confided that she felt ashamed of telling her friends that her husband was laid-off because of downsizing.
The time span between losing a job and finding another suitable position can be very taxing for families. Holding a good job, bringing a steady pay cheque and picking up all the bills is what makes most men proud since they are providing for and meeting their families’ expectations. Without a job, a man can change drastically and can go into acute depression.
So, while unemployed husbands are busy looking for jobs, here are some of the things us wives can do to reduce some of the burden and pressure from their backs.
1) In case of financial strain, pull out your own savings and share the cost of expenses. With this goes a reminder that you ought to save in good times.
2) Look through the classified section of the newspaper with him and help him in composing and sending off his resume. You can even use your own contacts to find vacancies for him.
3) Don’t feel uncomfortable or agitated on seeing him at home every day. Instead, make him feel loved, important and privileged to have all his time to yourself and the family.
4) If possible, take up a job yourself or work from home to bring home some income.
5) You can be stressed or worried for him but don’t feel ashamed or nag him to take a job. Your anxiety will only add to his depression and a confused, depressed person might not stand out at job interviews.
6) Have some fun since both of you have more time together. Catch up on old times and bring back some romance to your lives. Organise home-based games, cook outs, movie nights and family time, while ensuring that no one brings up the topic regarding his job.
7) Don’t whine about financial stress. Instead, keep remembering all that you used to do when he had a job and think positively that he will find employment soon. At this time, you need to be an excellent finance manager operating in the smallest of budgets.
8) Develop extreme levels of tolerance for his mood swings and irritability when he snaps at you or the children. Explain to your children that their father is going through a tough time and they shouldn’t take his negative and harsh comments seriously. It is not easy for a man to stay idle. Hunting for jobs and interviews can be emotionally draining and this is the time when he needs you the most.
9) If there is enough money available and if you can afford it, encourage him to enrol in a short course or program which will enhance his qualifications, resulting in better employability chances.
10) If you’re a fairly young family, you could even encourage him to make a different career choice where the possibilities of finding a job are better and might interest him more. Invite some experienced, older, relative or friend to discuss career choices and possibilities with him.
Being a family unit comes with its ups and downs. As wives, it is our duty to be there for our husbands in times of happiness and sadness. And since our husbands have always been there to provide for us and our children, buying us jewellery and whatever we or the kids want, sometimes we also need to give back.
Believe me, your tolerance and sacrifice will go a long way.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.