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.