I Was You
I will be honest. I don’t write a lot about marriage. I never feel like I am seasoned enough to be able to give advice in this area. I have done so little right and all I have to offer are a few things I have learned from looking back over the course of our 8 year marriage.
These were lessons learned the hard way through hard times.
I talked to my husband before I wrote this. This is all still a sensitive subject and brings up emotions that are just too deep and too personal as of yet for me to elaborate on … maybe in ten to twenty years when I have come to peace with more of it. I know you understand though. That is why I am writing to you. You are in the trenches now and you feel how suffocating it is.
I can promise you, being on the other side, that if you are in Christ, He is faithful. It may not be in ways you want or expected, but He shows Himself to be near to those who cling to Him. Friend, you will be clinging to Him for dear life even when you are being tossed about by the waves. Christ is the constant in such a chaotic life as unemployment can bring.
This is not an easy thing to write. I was you, and I understand what you are going through. I know unemployment is hard, but sometimes it is the ripple effect of unemployment that can be even harder. The way it affects your marriage, your attitude … your soul.
Unemployment as a way of life is definitely not okay, but still there are seasons that your husband may experience unemployment. Life will feel turned upside down. There may be friends and family who do not understand. You will feel the responsibility to be a lifeline for your husband through this time.
During seasons of unemployment, I struggled personally with depression. I fought bitterness. I did not understand why God did not seem to hear our pleas for His faithfulness. I felt like I was drowning in anxiety.
How has unemployment made you feel?
Hindsight is 20/20
I will admit, when you are in the thick of unemployment you cannot see past the dark hole, but looking back to those trials in my marriage, I can see where God was working in us to bring myself and my husband into a closer relationship with each other and also a more intimate walk with Christ.
Unemployment is not talked about much. There can be shameful things about it depending on the circumstances. We did not do everything right, but some time later I can look back and see God’s hand in the midst driving events and people in our lives to bless us, challenge us, and move us (literally).
I can also see where God used my husband’s unemployment in my own life to make me grow up and stretch me in ways I never thought possible.
I learned so many things during our stints of unemployment, but I think one of the bigger lessons was in becoming a better wife to my husband.
If your husband is a godly man and he is unemployed he will be struggling personally in ways you will not even see. It is important that you be his help meet and not add to his burden. If we are doing everything to the glory of God, you ought to be a wife to the glory of God too. Glorify God in the way that you love, serve, and respect your husband even when times are hard.
For the Wife …
An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. Proverbs 31:10-12
This Scripture has always felt a little crushing to me. I know I am not this wife. I know I never will be, but isn’t amazing how God gives us these challenges that we know we cannot meet ourselves? It is ONLY through the grace of God that any aspect of the Proverbs 31 woman is attainable.
Looking back over our time of being unemployed I see things I could have done better at. I pray that God will use these in some way to help you sift through your attitude, words, and actions toward your husband so that you might be intentional to be one in which your husband can trust.
1.) Sincerely Support Your Husband. There is a fine line between nagging, patronizing, and being encouraging. Pray that God would still your tongue often. It is a good practice to really think and pray before you speak. I know that I, too often, would think I was helping him with what I was saying, but the underlying interests were selfish so it only served to hurt my husband rather than lift him up. Sincerely support your husband because you love him and respect him. He needs to know you respect him.
2.) Try to See Things from His Perspective. A husband’s role is to provide for his family. Your husband may feel embarrassed or ashamed of your situation. Be careful in how you navigate these waters in order to lift him up and not break him down further.
3.) Understand Your Role. Your place is not in front of your husband or behind him. Your place is beside him loving, supporting, and serving him during this difficult time. Be discerning because sometimes he may need a little encouragement and sometimes he may just need some space.
4.) Pray Together. We do not do enough of this. Going to God in unity, is a beautiful privilege that we all ought to take more advantage. Pray for God’s wisdom, His peace, and His provision.
5.) Keep the Lines of Communication Open. It is so easy to just shut the world out when you are stressed and anxious. If you do this in your marriage you will setting yourself up for failure. You must keep talking to each other about even the hard topics like bills and job searching. It is okay to share your feelings and fears and to create a game plan. I warn you not to over-share your thoughts and feelings though because that can be exasperating – be discerning!
6.) Learn to Be Financially Savvy in the Home. This needs to be in every area. From the kitchen to the kids. Become a minimalist, learn to coupon, save money on groceries, and cook frugal meals. This all sounds harder than it really is – in ways it can really change your life as a homemaker for the better!
7.) Learn to Create Income. Even as a stay at home mom I have found multiple ways to contribute to my family’s bank account. I did not know how to sew and within a couple of months I taught myself how and opened up an Etsy shop selling baby boutique products in the early years of our marriage. I did everything from learn to design websites, to blogging, to selling Usborne Books. These were all jobs that I knew nothing about and had no prior skill, but I learned. What are you good at? Can you create an earning opportunity with it?
8.) Breathe Some Life Back into Your Marriage. Stress and anxiety are hard on a marriage so be sure to add a little fun back in. You might be dirt broke but you can still have a date night. Go to a park and have a picnic, a museum, or antiquing, or go overnight camping. There are lots of fun things to do for free.
9.) Do not Speak Ill of Your Husband to Others. This is one of those “all the time” kind of truths. Never speak ill of your husband to others. If you have a fight about finances, do not go call your best friend and vent about your husband. It is not healthy and only fosters feelings of bitterness, and those seeds will not be left there but grow into deep roots that divide intimacy between couples. You may be going through a hard time right now and have emotional needs that are not met, but go to God. He is your shield in times of trouble. Go to His Word for comfort and correction.
The After Shocks
When I say that I felt like I was “drowning in anxiety,” it is true that unemployment can feel as though you are being stretched to the brink at times. Financial hardship whether you are unemployed or not can be unbelievably stressful and in ways can sow bitterness in your soul against God. This happened to me and I struggled for a long time wondering if I was even saved due to what I knew was in my heart. It is not okay to just let bitterness breed more bitterness against another person, and especially not against God. It is important that you work through those feelings in prayer and meditation upon God’s Word, pleading with the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you.
I can in great gratitude say that the season of unemployment is over for my family, but it does leave deep wounds that take years to recover from. I can also look back and see so many areas that I failed. I can’t encourage you enough to nurture your relationship with your husband during this time. Do not add to his burden. Support him sincerely as you walk this road beside him, and go out of your way to be help in ways that you both agree would be good for a time.
When you live your life to glorify God even when you feel He is far off, when you are brought through a trial, you will be amazed to look back over the course and see God’s sovereign hand moving you in ways to accomplish His goodness in the life of your family and as a testimony to others. It is a long road, but know that you are not alone on it, and though it may seem all if out of your control, there are some very intentional things that you can purpose to do to affect change in your family and for your husband.
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