This is my attempt at explaining what is going on in the head of a man who has lost his job and how his wife can best support him.
I was oblivious. Sure, I knew the economy had hurt our balance sheet and that things were not perfect, but I had no idea they were to the point I was going to lose my job. One moment I’m walking into a meeting that’s been rescheduled three times (surely no meeting discussing the loss of your job would be rescheduled) and the next I’m hearing things have gotten bad. Not a death sentence. Might be salvaged. Meet again in 3 days and take some time off until then.
Three days later, it’s: “Here is your severance. No way to salvage the job. You are a good man, best of luck, adios.”
I was defensive, and my mind raced 90 to nothing with reasons why this should not be happening. I was angry. I played many scenarios out in my head, and I was not the villain in any of them. I was in shock. (I did not eat for 36 hours and I slept probably 24 of the first 48 hours). I was ashamed. How could I — with so many people at home depending on me — be without a job? How could I face people? What was I to say?
I felt inadequate, a complete failure, totally defeated. Though there were many reasons for the layoff I had no control over, the bottom line is I had not made myself valuable enough to be kept.
I was worried, fearful of the future. How would I support my family? Could we keep our house? And what was my wife going to say? I had told Connie of the first meeting as soon as I arrived home. All these things were going through my head in the 20 minutes it took to get home from the second meeting.
Every day I experience most of these emotions at some point or another. Along with these come anger at myself and everyone else, frustration and helplessness over having no control, and a feeling of being “less than”. Less than I was, less than I want to be, less than I should be, Less than!
Ladies I promise you, if your husband is without work, he is experiencing most of what I am. He may never admit it, but he is feeling it.
I am Blessed. I have a Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who loved me while I was still a sinner; He loved me for who I am, not my job. He tells me to cast my burdens upon him because he cares for me. (1 Peter 5:7)
I am Blessed. I have a wife who loves me, a wife who is just as scared as I am, just as worried as I am. And yet she jumps in asking how we can make it work and plans accordingly.
She encourages instead of berates (not an easy thing in today’s culture).
She makes me feel she trusts and believes in me.
Ladies, a man can do much more with a wife who believes in him than he can ever do with a wife who despises him.
I hope you never find yourselves in my wife’s position. But if you do, remember your husband is beating himself up already. He does not need your help doing that. He needs your help in believing in himself, in seeing something good in the mirror, in feeling you look at what he can be, not what he is not.