I wrote my latest book Dear God, He’s Home: A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at Home Man! to help wives with husbands home for any reason—disability, illness, unemployment, retirement, reintegration from military deployment—whatever has caused hubby to be home 24/7.
Our guest on Monday Morning Blog is fellow author Mary Kaarto who wrote a book to help men and women who are out of work. Today’s article speaks to wives with laid off husbands. Mary and I share the same passion to help marriages thrive and survive during the transition of having a stay-at-home man!
One day you’re out getting your nails done and arguing with Little Sally over which backpack to choose for the new school year, blissfully unaware of how blessed you are that this may be the biggest problem you have. Then your husband drags through the door with a look like you’ve never seen before.
You instinctively know something is wrong, because he heads straight to wherever he goes to hide—the bedroom, his home office, the backyard . . . . Ecclesiastes 3:7 reminds us there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. Only you know whether it’s best to leave him alone for a while – or immediately go find him to ask what is wrong.
For Better or Worse . . .
Most traditional marriage vows include “for better or worse, for richer or poorer” and layoffs provide a challenging – but phenomenal – opportunity for couples to live up to their vows. To grow closer to God and each as the wife supports her husband. Wives can, and should, consider helping their husbands through this gauntlet of pain that seems like it will never end.
Ways to Help a Laid Off Husband
We’re all familiar with the boring drills on airplanes before take-offs, when the airline’s employees remind us to put our oxygen masks on first before helping others, during an emergency. In a similar fashion, it’s important that wives don’t lose sight of their own needs during this time. We cannot take care of our husbands, if we don’t take care of ourselves as well.
- If you’re not already active in a women’s Bible study class or small group, please consider joining one. We women are emotional creatures, genetically wired and created by God to talk ninety-miles-a-minute at any given time! Women NEED to express their thoughts and feelings pretty much all the time, but most husbands cannot handle hearing them at length, especially during a layoff. The poor guys need a break, so consider venting to your family and friends right now.
- One of the highest priorities wives have is to pray for their husbands on a daily basis, in good times and bad. If possible, find a good devotional book for couples to share together each evening after supper and the kids are in bed. Having a regular quiet time together allows couples the security of a routine during a shaky time, and it gives them some semblance of normalcy and something to look forward to at the end of the day.
- Years ago, there was a popular country & western song by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, which addressed the importance of “getting back to the basics of love.” Remember what’s most important in life: faith, family, and friends. It’s not about buying things you can’t afford with money you don’t really have so you can keep up with the Jones. Sadly, in today’s economic climate, the Jones may be headed to bankruptcy court.
- When you have time, make an itemized list of your expenses – including upcoming costs for getting kids back to school, Christmas and birthdays – and see if you can reduce or eliminate them all together. Depending on the age of your children, they may be old enough to understand and learn to be happy with one special gift, rather than many, to open this year. I know, as a mother, this will be very hard to do, but your family’s survival depends on this.
- Show your husband that you’re willing to cut back as much as possible without throwing a fit; it will help lift unnecessary burdens from his shoulders. I’d like to add that this layoff will not kill your family or your kids; it will bring you closer together and your kids will learn some very valuable lessons like … the value of a dollar, money doesn’t grow on trees, how to create and stick to a budget, etc.
All He Needs Is A Little Respect
Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances. – Proverbs 25:11
- Many, if not most, men say the number one need from their wives is respect. By speaking highly of your husband – especially to him and in front of others (but within his earshot) – you help boost his self-esteem when he needs it most and remind him of your love. Men have fragile egos; don’t hurt them unnecessarily by belittling, especially when the world’s already beating them to a pulp.
- Keeping the lines of communication open is important for both husbands and wives, but it’s common for men to shut down when they’re in pain. Pastoral counseling may prove helpful, whether receiving it together as a couple or on an individual basis. Going before God, our wisest Counselor and the best Comforter we could ever have, is always the best idea.
- Physical affection and loving gestures, maintaining direct eye contact, giving your undivided attention whenever possible.
- Continue with your family’s normal life rhythms.
- Most husbands need sexual intimacy like women need to talk, so creating, and occasionally initiating, opportunities for making love may be a good idea. Pray about this, because your husband may be under such pressure that he’s unable to perform sexually and you don’t want him to perceive this as another “failure.”
Although I learned to thrive, and not just survive, during my own two layoffs, I did so as a single mother. From these difficult-but-doable life experiences, I learned that being laid off can be, and often is, one of the best things that can ever happen to someone.
It all depends on their response. Will they turn to, trust, and follow God, their Divine Employer – or will they continue to rely on their own human strength and wisdom? As one of my favorite pastors and authors, Dr. Charles Stanley, always says, “Trust and obey God, and leave all the consequences to Him.”
My web site, www.marykaarto.com, includes a “10 Ways to Support Your Husband During a Layoff” free handout, among other information.
My free devotionals blog is found at www.facebook.com/helpforthelaidoff.
HELP for the LAID OFF is available at bookstores, including Amazon and all online web sites.
About the Author
Mary Aucoin Kaarto is a long-time follower of Jesus Christ, happily remarried after nearly 20 years as a contented Christian single, devoted mother, and “Nammi” to two precious grandkids. She is also the author of HELP for the LAID OFF, a Christ-centered book about trusting God during a layoff. In her former life, Mary covered the oil & gas and healthcare industries in addition to writing numerous freelance articles for the Houston Chronicle and other various publications.