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Weathering the storms together when your spouse loses the job

When I got married, only after three months I got a formal job. Therefore, it was a bit smooth to start our new marriage life on a reasonably financially stable foundation. For thirteen years, we lived on a reasonably financially stable marriage. We were blessed with three children and they attended the best school we could afford. One doomed day I just lost my job. This came as shock and we were confused what to do to move on. We had to do a lot of realignment to cope with the situation. We moved our children form the boarding school they were to a day school. We reduced our monthly budgets among cutting many of our spending. The same year I lost my job is the same year my daughter was completing fourth form and joining university. We struggled with the little we had saved to take her to university and also pay for expenses of the other two children. We faced all kinds of ridicule. For three years I could not a get another job, but only promises in every trial I made to get a job. It is not like I was out of market with my degree in computer science and certificate course in accounting plus other short term courses, but I think somehow it was a spiritual battle and a season of wilderness as I later came to learn when God restored me to a formal job. For the three years my wife stood with me through the storm and was faithful to her vows. I acquired a bundle of lessons that I would want to share that can help in such situations as it is in all storms of life situations;

Unconditional commitment. Ultimately, unconditional commitment is the key to successfully resisting all the marital stressors related to losing a job. It is only when husbands and wives are totally committed to each other that they will be able to withstand the pressures of losing a job that are sure to come their way. That means you have to strive to live by the standards for marriage spelled out in the Bible and in adherence to the marriage vows you made on the wedding day “to live together in riches and in poverty”. This includes putting each other's needs before your own, not giving up on each other during difficulties, and working through situations together as a team. This kind of commitment is the most important step you can take to weather any kind of marital storm.

Pray together. Together, as a couple, bring the things that cause you stress to God in prayer. Ask Him to help you discern what to do to ease the stress in your lives and to help you stay committed to your marriage. Let Him know your needs. Philippians 4:19 tells us that “God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Trust in God's provision together.

Approach challenges with open communication. If there are issues that are really troubling you, you and your spouse should set aside a time to talk with each other in a relaxed setting. You should be willing to share each other's concerns, fears and hopes without criticizing or judging. Talk about how you can work together to improve the situation.

“In order for a couple to work as a team, the partners have to know what each other is thinking,” says Pauline Boss, Ph.D., professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota and author of Family Stress Management. When you and your spouse stop talking with each other, that's when marital problems escalate.

Show your affection. Make it a point to tell each other “I love you,” and say it often. “When you are in the middle of something awful, that is the worst time to just assume your mate knows how you feel,” Dr. Boss says. “It's during the tough times that your partner needs the reassurance of your love even more.”

Cultivate a positive and thankful mind-set. We're told in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks.” No matter what the situation, there's always something to be thankful for. Build a positive focus and be thankful to God for what He has done in your lives. Learn to appreciate your spouse's good qualities—rather than dwell on his or her shortcomings. A thankful mate is pleasant to be around. Not only that, but if you maintain a positive outlook, your spouse is likely to follow suit.

Plan for couple time. Carve out time in your schedule, several times a week, to be alone with your mate and get away from whatever is causing you stress. Creating time for each other should be a practice other than an option and should be practiced even on stable days so that this deposits benefits to withdraw from during the stormy days. Take a walk together. Go out together for shopping with the little you have. Get up a half hour earlier during the workweek so that you and your spouse can have a quiet breakfast in bed before you leave for the office. Go out for coffee Sunday morning while your teens are still asleep. Share a pot of tea after the kids are in bed. If you can't fit “couple time” into your busy schedule, you need to reprioritize your time commitments so that you can.

“No matter how terrible the stress is, you should give yourselves a respite now and then,” Dr. Boss says. “You need time to talk with each other, without the tragedy facing you, so that you can regroup your thoughts and say to your mate, 'Yes, I'm tired,' or 'I need a hug.' When couples are under a lot of stress, they often have so much to say to each other but no time to say it.”

Look at challenges as opportunities to strengthen your marriage. The “rough spots” you and your spouse face can actually bring the two of you closer. “When you work together through it all in a constructive way—you're communicating, you're appreciating each other, you're putting each other's needs above your own—you come out stronger and closer,” Dr. Barlow says. “You'll then have confidence to face the next issue down the road.” Reminding yourself of this can help you have the determination to hang in there.

On Seeking counsel. Try your best to resolve your issues yourselves without bringing in the third person except God. In Proverbs 13:20, the Bible states the importance of seeking the advice of wise individuals. If you or your mate are struggling with any of the issues discussed in this article, be willing to get the professional help you need if it is critically important or urgent to do so. Depending on the problem, this help might come from your pastor, a professional marriage and family counselor, or a financial adviser. However, be very careful on the third person you bring on board to counsel. During the stormy times there are many pretenders who would want to come in and develop a wedge between you to their advantage or maliciously. If you should discuss the issue with a third person, then it has to be a person you can trust. Confine your family issues with a real “God given friend” whom both of you trust for counsel. But, be warned, this should be the last option.