This post first appeared here in Aug 2009
Written By: Gilbert Goh
Many people I know have difficulty telling their family members when they received news that they are going to be retrenched.
The agony of losing their job and the trauma of having to inform their loved ones stress them to the point of a break down. Some primary breadwinners even lie to their spouses that they are still working when they are actually out of work. They continue to put on their tie and left their home for office as per normal. They then hang out in the library or Macdonald. It is a very sad state of affair if husbands could not tell their wives directly that they are out of work without suffering an emotional heart attack.
It goes without saying that men holding higher offices have much more difficulty revealing the dreadful news of their retrenchment to their spouses as it means a deep dent to their ego plus their pocket. An impending downgrading of socisl status also means that men feel that they have let their family down.
This is understandable as many have loans to pay and often they are taken with two incomes in mind. When one income is taken out, naturally, the surviving working member will feel the pressure of having to pay for all the household bills and loans. So, many surviving income earner feel the stress and react adversely to the news adding on to the pressure feel by the newly retrenched.
Emotional Trauma of Unemployment
Unless one has substantial savings in the bank account, primary bread winners will mostly face an emotional battle to reveal the dark truth to their loved ones. This is more so for men who often earn more and are dependent on for household bills and other loan repayment. The role of the primary breadwinner changes now and this often stress out the surviving income earner. Both husband and wife now need to sit down and talk out especially on the financial issues affecting the household. Sometimes, it may even lead to a downgrade of housing and lifestyle. Cars may need to be sold off to leesen out the loan repayment and maid has to be laid off. Without discussing properly and leaving things to chance, the marriage is doomed for major repercussion.
A friend of mine who is going to be retrenched soon has yet to inform his wife about his impending job loss. He is waiting for the right moment and has meanwhile dropped her alot of hints hoping that the pre-warning will soften the blow when the news are broken to her.
Another friend has informed his wife about his job loss but was prevented from telling his in-laws to save face. As the in-laws are all doing well, the wife felt that informing them will somehow tarnish their good image. This friend lamented that he felt lousy whenever his parents in law asked him about his job and he has to lie as if he is still working. His wife’s constant harassment about his job search also stressed him out alot and he has told me that it is worse than not having a job.
He has to take on any job more to satisfy his wife’s constant pressure than anything else. This is so wrong and unnecessary.
So how can we best break the bad news to our loved ones when the company has informed us of the job loss?
Ways To Inform Your Spouse
Firstly, never feel that you are at fault at work. Your job loss is not tied to your work performance. It is the ailing economy that is the cause of your retrenchment. Your reaction to the job loss will impact how you feel and may even affect your re employment opportunities. Someone who takes to retrenchment positively will approach the situation with the right attitude and often picks himself up faster than one who reacts negatively.
Many people also feel lousy when they are axed. Some take it out on their family members especially when they feel emotional about the loss initially.
Next, prepare to inform your loved ones at the appropriate time. It is good to drop strong hints along the way but there is always the need to inform our spouses directly. They need to hear from us however ugly it may be.
Couples need to have the aptitude to go through a relationship in both good and bad time. Many only go through a relationship when things are doing well but turn the other way when things go awry.
I have witnessed how spouses, especially women, gave their husbands the cold shoulder when they announced the retrenchment news. Some even pressured them to take up any job just to avoid gossiping from relatives and neighbours.
Bad News Test Of One’s Marriage
I find that this is so wrong and spouses need to adopt an encouraging approach when their men break the bad news to them. It is also a good opportunity for the couple to hang in and support one another when the chips are down. Relationships often come out stronger when the couple manages to emerge out a fiery situation such as an illness or a retrenchment.
Often, it is also a test of one’s relationship thermometer. How much you have invested in the relationship will be tested when there is any setback which will disturb the harmony of the household. Those who have spend time and effort in building up the relationship often find that they have a supportive spouse. by their side when things go wrong. As they have sow in the marriage when things are well, they will reap back much more in return when there is a need for it.
Fortunately, I have also seen how some wives stood by their men when they were jobless. There was not a word of malice in their tone throughout their unemployment period and it was a journey that they decided to go through together. As the greadwinner role switched, wives did not chided their husbands for not bringing in the beacon which may further dampen the self esteem of the guy. They decided to tighten their belt and go for the jugular and downgrade their lifestyle. The kids could also see that even though they go out less often than before, the love shown at home was love personified. Action speaks louder than words here.
So, when the time comes for you to annouce the bad news to your spouse, grind your teeth and bravely break it out. It is not good to face job loss alone and be isolated in the process. We all need our family to provide us the support.
Frankly, the aftermath is more important as you go through in detail how you are going to organise your finances and left nothing to chance. Try to cover every ground so that there is no misunderstanding.
Moreover, any other adverse news such as a sickness or death of a loved one will also affect a good relationship. It is when we go through a bad patch together that we can grow as a family. What good is it when a family only goes through life with us when things are good?
So never deny the positive effect of bad news. Losing your job may be the best thing that can happen to you and your family. It will cement the love that you have for one another and your relationship will be sweeter than before.