How to Help Your Spouse Survive a Career Crisis

Let’s say your spouse comes home from a long day at work, looking downtrodden. When you ask about their day, they reveal that there’s been a layoff. Devastated, your spouse shows you the pink slip he or she was handed at the end of the shift.

Your mind starts churning: What’s going to happen? How will we pay the bills? It’s easy to react emotionally–even to feel a bit of panic–but when the initial shock wears off, it’s going to be time for action. Your spouse will need to kick the job search into high gear…but you can be helpful and supportive to them during this time, too.

Career crises can come in many shapes and sizes. Having a career crisis doesn’t always mean a job loss; it can also be a time when your spouse feels stuck in a dead-end job, experiences chronic anxiety about the status of their job, or even has to deal with a challenging boss or office environment. Whatever your situation, if your spouse is dealing with some hard situations involving a job or a job loss, you can help.

This week, let’s take a look at 3 career crisis scenarios you and your spouse might face over the course of your marriage–and how you can help carry the burdens of each.

1. Your spouse is feeling stuck or disenchanted in their current career.

There are a lot of reasons why your spouse might feel like they’re stuck in a career rut. Maybe they…

  • Have been passed over for a promotion–perhaps multiple times
  • Have no interest in climbing the ladder, and now feel rooted in a position that has long since lost its luster
  • Need a more challenging position with more responsibility
  • Want a job that fulfills an innate sense of purpose or calling
  • Aren’t truly passionate about their career path and want to pursue a dream
  • Simply hate their job and want to make a change

At the core, a career expresses our individual gifts. When you’re in a career you love, you feel fulfilled–and you feel like you’re living a God-given calling. And it’s not unusual for people who aren’t working in their gifts to feel dissatisfied with their jobs.

You can help your spouse move in the right direction by talking with them about their gifts and strengths. But sometimes, you also need to seek outside help–especially if your spouse is feeling a little unsure of what direction to pursue. A professional career counselor can help your spouse find ways to channel their passions into productive career paths.

Most importantly, lend a listening ear and be willing to help your spouse brainstorm ideas–even keep your eyes peeled for job opportunities–that might be a better fit for them. Once your spouse is able to move into a career that is better suited to them, you will both reap tremendous rewards.

2. Your spouse lives in fear of losing their job.

Being stuck in a precarious work situation will take a toll on anyone, and your spouse isn’t immune. If he or she is living in fear of losing their job, there are a few things you can do to ease the anxiety of the situation (for both of you).

First, encourage your spouse to launch a job search if he or she hasn’t already. Be willing to assist when needed, and provide encouragement along the way.

Second, instead of allowing yourselves to default to survival mode, work together to create a safety net for you and your family. Ask yourselves, “What’s our Plan B? What’s a strategy that we can use as a backup in case the worst happens?” Taking a little time to prepare can help alleviate anxiety when you’re facing the possibility of an employment crisis. You could discuss whether you’d be willing to sell the house and downsize, and plan to save extra money toward an emergency fund in preparation.

Every crisis provides a window of opportunity, in one way or another. If you’re facing a potential job loss, this might give the two of you a chance to rethink the direction of your life. Use this time as an opportunity to dream together, to reevaluate how far you’ve come, where you’re going, and where you want to go. Whatever causes each of you the most anxiety, use your Plan B to get on the same page and start getting prepared for the coming weeks or months.

3. Your spouse has been laid off from work.

This is a nightmare scenario for many couples and families, and unfortunately, it plays out all too often. If your spouse comes home with the terrible news that he or she has been laid off, panicking is not going to help the two of you move forward.

In order to help your spouse move on to the next job opportunity, it’s important to be encouraging and positive. Losing a job is an incredibly upsetting experience for everyone involved, and your spouse isn’t immune. He or she needs you now more than ever to provide moral support. And if you’re able to help out financially by expanding your own business or taking extra shifts at work temporarily, do whatever you can to assist.

Sometimes, people who have lost jobs are able to rally and find employment quickly. But other times, job searching can become a long, painful process. Resist the temptation to become judgmental or controlling, particularly of the job search; instead, continue to be an uplifting presence.

People who have been unemployed for a prolonged period of time can be susceptible to depression, so pay careful attention to your spouse’s patterns and help him or her seek counseling or medical attention if needed.

A career crisis is a terrible time to experience in marriage, but it’s something we will all walk through at some point. Have you or your spouse experienced a career crisis? How did you help one another get through it? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.


  • Atwan Brown says:

    We are currently going through this very same scenario. My wife has been laid off for more than 8mos & at first, she was very frustrated, confused & unsure of herself. She’s a very emotional person so I knew that “the old me” could not come forward. “The new me” was very encouraging, reminding her that we, as a unit, will be fine. DO not worry about finances, activities, etc., as long as we are talking & loving on each other, things will fall in place. I told her to take her time deciding what she wants to do, but do not feel our happiness as a couple, as a family, will be determined or dictated by her choice. As time went by, I made sure that expenses were rarely spoken about, but they were still addressed when needed. I did not judge or give the impression that I was uncomfortable with our financial status. I wanted her to see and feel love and happiness from me, my expressions, my body language. I believe, even with only one real income & some side money making opportunities, we’ve been more happier now and ever.

    • notmyrealname says:

      Atwan, You are amazing. How do you do that? My wife is struggling and feels like a failure with her career (we work in the same profession, met in grad school). She refuses to get help, is stubborn in her own ways. Well her own ways without seeking assistance, and trying to better herself is causing her to fail in my opinion. You need to see outside help, learn to better yourself, not expect things to come easy and put the actual work in. Everything I suggest: career counselors, books on improving yourself, all the stuff that turned my life upside down from a suicidal depressed person to someone who is fairly successful in their career. But she won’t buy any of that advice. It’s maddening. God bless you, I wish I had your patience. I’m thinking of seeing a psychologist, I don’t know how to help her.

  • Darlene says:

    My husband has lost his job 5 times within the last year. The companies he works for promises him that they hire to keep. He just got off of over the counter drugs. It’s been almost 6 months. We’ve been married for 22 years last month and he was on them most of our marriage. He had a temper but is usually Avery sweet guy. He could be impatient. I think the years he had been taking the drugs has done something to him. Please pray God will restore what the locusts have taken away. His dad was a minister and he was from a Christian home. He has always played video games too…ugh. Thanks for all your encouragement and sorry for being so long 😁

  • Allen Cooke says:

    I have been unemployed since September. My wife has been very supportive even though I know she is as worried as I am. I am fortunate that I was able to put money away for retirement so we have been living on that for the past few months. We just had to fork out over $700 in car repairs but were able to do it because we just got a financial aid refund from school. God’s provision has always amazed us but I am very discouraged. My wife does not know the depths of my depression or discouragement. I will graduate with my Masters in Human Services Counseling – Marriage and Family in less than three weeks and, even though I should be enjoying this time and the anticipation of graduation, I am am scared. I have been searching for work for over seven months and I have not had one solid lead. I have had professionals look at my resume and there is no reason I should not be getting calls. I just believe that God has something out there for me that is perfect for me and where I can most honor and glorify Him but I have pretty much lost hope of finding it. I’m at a loss.

  • Lulu Bis says:

    Hi. My husband has not been able to find a permanent job in over 7 1/2 years. Sometimes, he will get a temp job for a few months, but that’s not consistent. Last year, he only worked one month!! And, I work as a Teacher’s assistant, and only get paid 9 months out of the year. We keep holding onto hope, but it’s been super tough on our marriage. We have been having early morning times together with GOD, doing Biblical devotionals and praying, before I head out for work. That’s helped us to keep our faith & trust in the LORD, as well as give us peace. Lately, we’ve been coming across a lot of devotionals talking about patience, and trusting in God. It’s really amazing to see the sovereignty and provision of our Almighty GOD! I don’t make enough for our mortgage, let alone any other bills, yet, Jehovah-Jireh always sees us through!! This particular issue has been a great strain on our marriage, but, we are awaiting a miracle. We wait in childlike wonderment, trust, and eagerness. A dear friend bought us tickets to attend “Fight Night” at our church, so, we look forward to applying what we learn from that. We certainly appreciate your prayers. Thank you.

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