I have been dealing with this issue with my mate for almost a year now. As of now I have been the only one in our home that has held a steady job. Now I ain't complaining one bit that he is not working I don't mind bringing home the bacon. The only problem I have is his anger and depression with himself.
I try my hardest to be strong for him, but it seems like every time I see him break, I feel helpless and don't know what to say to him. His long bouts with depression make me speechless. I feel so bad because I just don't know what to say other than to tell him to keep looking, keep trying, keep pushing. I feel horrible because he was so strong for me when I went through the unemployment depression and now I don't know what to do for him. He is my soul mate. My fuzzy Polar Bear. Can you lend this Cabbit a hand?
Thanks a bunch
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There are still many people suffering in this country because of the economy. Our “leaders” have made a mess of things, and many Americans now find themselves unemployed through no fault of their own. There are some strong parallels here between your life and mine—my mate used to command a big salary and had an important job, but the industry he worked in changed dramatically and he found himself out of work. This was about five years ago and he is still struggling, but he is making slow progress (more below).
I’m guessing by your letter that it is not your mate's fault he is out of work, but some kind of downsizing? If that’s the case, the first thing to reinforce in his mind is that it is not his fault. (If it was his fault, then the first thing to do is make sure that whatever he did to lose the job is not repeated). In either circumstance, however, be sure to let him no you are not angry in any way and love him with all your heart (just reiterating for my readers, as I am guessing you’re already doing that).
Next, recall what he did for you to support you when the circumstances were reversed. Did he do some things that made you feel better that could work on him as well?
Now that he is lingering at home a lot, make sure that he is kept busy. The worst thing one can do is sit around the house or apartment and mope. Ask him to do some things around the house and thank him when he does so—don’t push him, don’t give him a laundry list of tasks, but do ask for a little help and make your gratitude readily apparent. He needs to feel useful right now, and that is one thing you can do.
Other options that come up include going back to school (don’t go to one of the many fly-by-night schools that have recently cropped up to take advantage of people who are unemployed—you know, the ones that say you can get a certificate or degree in weeks in, say, medical billing, or a few months. Most of these are overpriced places that give out useless degrees). Community colleges are quite good in this country, however, and offer many worthwhile degrees for a lot lower tuition than four-year schools.
Another option is to try and work at home, either by turning a hobby into a business or by doing work on a computer for another company. This is what I do. I quit my publishing company years ago because it was becoming intolerable and went into business for myself as a freelance editor. My hubby bear, meanwhile, is taking his skills in areas like audio editing, interviewing, and public relations to build his own business. It has been a long, hard road, but it is finally starting to pay off for him.
All of the above involve redirecting that anger and self-blame that he has into constructive energy. He needs to feel useful, to feel like he is working toward a goal. You can support and help him with any or all of the above by helping him do research on schools and jobs, talking to him about what he would like to do with his life.
In the most optimistic light, he could view this downtime as an opportunity to reevaluate his life. Many people go through life working dull, dead-end jobs simply to make an income. It is Papabear’s hope that there is something he really likes to do that he could maybe turn into a business or employment opportunity. Talk to him about his dreams and see if you can help him find that new life goal.
If you feel “speechless” at times, Blaze, that’s okay. Sometimes people don’t want to be talked to when they are down. They just need lots of hugs. Be encouraging, be attentive, be helpful, but never pushy. This can take lots of patience. Sometimes years (I know), and it can really be a test of your relationship, but it sounds like you have the right attitude. He is a very lucky Polar Bear to have you.
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