Coping with a spouse’s job loss

"It’s just really hard when you’re looking for help and wind up with an even bigger emotional workload dealing with the stress of your would-be helpers."

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July 9, 2020 - 9:51 AM

Dear Carolyn: This week, my husband lost his job. I make enough to cover the bills while he’s out of work, he has a few solid leads on other opportunities, and our overhead is low — no kids, no mortgage, no student loans. Basically, I can reason through it that we’re going to be fine, but this is really scary and stressful. He was a star employee and fired for a stupid mistake that none of his colleagues realized was a fireable offense. It really killed him to be let go because he loved his job.

Carolyn Hax

I just can’t talk to anyone about all the fear and uncertainty I’m feeling. I can’t stand people’s pity and I’m baffled by the judgments people can extrapolate from any crack in my bravest, this-is-fine face. If I am anything but positive and confident, I’m flooded with pity, unhelpful advice and platitudes.

For instance, my parents and in-laws were screeching that we can’t pay rent next week, which we absolutely can, but now I can’t express fear to them because I’m calming them down. I told my sister I was upset that he’d made a boneheaded mistake and then hear from my brother that we’re on the brink of divorce, which is absurd. I told a friend I was shocked because he was a rising-star employee, and she sends me reams of advice she’s not qualified to give on pursuing legal action for wrongful termination. If I want people to treat me normally, it feels like my only option is to cheerfully tell people we’re absolutely a-okay!

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