I am the wife of Dale, author of How Long, O Lord, How Long? Devotions for the Unemployed & Those Who Love Them. Today we want to talk specifically about the spouses of the unemployed. After all, Dale’s unemployment journey is my journey too.
You might be a spouse, a close family member or the friend of someone who is unemployed; and, if you are, accept that – just like me – it is your journey too. In some ways, it’s very different; in other ways it’s the same. Unfortunately, people don’t recognize it impacts us too – we rarely get asked how we’re doing.
Yes, it’s different because I’m not unemployed. I am not personally dealing with the loss of a community of friends I worked with every day like my spouse is. My self-confidence hasn’t been impacted. I don’t have the feelings of embarrassment from not having a job nor has my identity been impacted. In fact, my day-to-day world hasn’t really changed. It remains the same except that he is around more often. Yet we deal with similar emotions as our spouse or our friend.
I too can be angry because this changed our world; and it hurt the person I love. I too can have anxiety and fears about what this means for us as a married couple – things like, how will we pay the bills? How do we tell our children? Will this impact my world? And just like him, I too often say, How Long, O Lord, How Long? When will this end?
My job as the spouse of an unemployed partner, or your job as a friend, is to be supportive of them even though it’s not always easy. We need to be their cheerleader even though it’s hard to know what they are going through exactly. Sure, we know there will be good days and some bad days; but we believe this journey will be over soon and life will be back to normal. But when it’s not, when this journey is longer than either of you ever imagined, we too begin to grow weary. We forget how much energy goes into to a job search, and we begin to question and want answers. However, there really are no answers.
What I can do as Dale’s spouse, and what you can do as a friend or a spouse, is be a good listener. In fact, this is something God wants. We should pay attention to the words in James 1:19, My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
Listening is a way to support them, allowing them to talk about their search. Listening has been an education too; a way for me to learn about the job search process. We now share a calendar, so I know more about his day. The more I know, the better I can be as a supporter and encourager. I have learned that, when he’s down, he needs me to be available and to be the cheerleader. The best thing you can do to be a support, as well, is to be a good listener and an encourager.