Dealing with Our Husband’s Job Problems

In the current economic setting, many of us are struggling with the loss of jobs, reduction of income, and more general stress in the workplace as employers require more of employees with no added compensation. As a follow up to the post on being a safe place for our husbands to share their burdens, I wanted to share some practical wisdom I’ve learned the hard way about walking with my husband during a hard time with his job (or lack of job).

First of all, have you personally struggled with infertility or miscarriage? If so, you are uniquely equipped now to better understand your husband’s burdens with his job. If you haven’t struggled with child bearing issues, try to think about how you would feel if you had — if all your friends were easily getting pregnant and telling you what worked for them but none of it worked for you. If your vision for your future involved raising children but you realized your powerlessness to accomplish that on your own. In my own experience, I found very clear parallels between my struggles with fears and insecurities when I confronted the fact I may not be able to have children and my husband’s emotional struggles when faced with unemployment and job insecurity.

First, I internalized my fears with infertility in a very different way than my husband. He does the same with his job concerns. If he lectured me on why I shouldn’t be so concerned about having children, that God is good, and His timing is perfect, it would seem slightly hollow to me as he didn’t struggle with it with the way I did. Similarly, I needed to respect the fact that my husband internalized job insecurities differently than me and THAT WAS OK. Lectures for him to come around to my way of thinking on it just weren’t fair. Instead, I needed to listen to(not lecture) him when he felt like talking and respect his silence when he didn’t.

One thing I noted when I was struggling with infertility was that advice on what to do and things to try was helpful at times. At other times, it just added a weight to an already overtaxing burden. Similarly, during the near year my husband was unemployed, he was glad to try most any and everything anyone suggested. More on his resume. Less on his resume. Try this company. Try that company. But there came a point when every good suggestion he was given didn’t produce any fruit. And he needed a definite break from well meaning advice on what to try next.

Ultimately, with both my getting pregnant and him getting a job, God did it in His way in His good time, not because of the good effort we had put into it but in SPITE of our efforts. My encouragement isn’t to lay back and do nothing. But I also respect our need to sit quietly with someone with no pressure from us to try something new. Sometimes, they just need to sit, take a breath, and not think about it for a while. And it’s helpful for them to be around someone who respects this need.

So my advice is this — Don’t lecture him. Do listen to him. Don’t pressure. Do encourage when the time is right (and not by your agenda but the Spirit’s prompting). Don’t despair. Do empathize.

His job issues will strike at the heart of your need for security as well. You will need to be completely confident in the good hand of your sovereign, compassionate, and all wise God at work for your family if you want to be strong and quietly available to your spouse in this season. God is in control. He loves You. And He knows what He’s doing. Trust Him so that you can be a safe place for your husband.

4 Responses to Dealing with Our Husband’s Job Problems

  1. Jessi November 18, 2009 at 3:43 pm #

    Wonderful, wonderful post. Thanks for your wisdom on this. We're on the tail end (hopefully) of a six month stretch of this and I wish I'd been able to read this at the beginning.

  2. Sharon Miller November 19, 2009 at 4:25 am #

    This post is providentially timed! My husband is in the throes of applying to PhD programs to study theology, and it's been a really trying process for him. Even worse is his oh so understanding wife who berates him with spiritual advice like, “You want to study theology, right? Then you should be trusting in God!” This post was just the kick in the pants I needed.

  3. Wendy November 19, 2009 at 5:17 am #

    Jessi and Sharon,

    I prayed after I posted this that it would be helpful to someone. I am so glad to hear that the lessons from our experience has spoken to you.

  4. Melissa @ Breath of Life November 19, 2009 at 4:40 pm #

    I DEFINITELY needed to read this! My husband's company is closing in the spring, and we are in the midst of praying for God's direction in whether he should return to school, look for a job, etc.

    Thanks, Wendy!