Friday, January 2, 2009

First Thing First When You Are Newly Unemployed

Tell your family and close friends. These people are your lifeblood, so they need to be notified almost immediately. You are going to need to count on these people during this time of unemployment. It does not matter if you are out of work for two weeks, two months, or two years. The people who will be there for you day in and day out through this struggle deserve to be given the news right away.

Only on television do people who get fired or laid off keep this news from their spouses. On this fact, I am right. The people who do not tell their spouses, are soon to be divorced. I understand that not everyone is lucky enough to have a really open relationship with their spouse, but if you have a spouse you plan on keeping, you need to rely on them as your backbone and number one supporter.

If you are a man, there is certainly a machismo factor to telling your wife that you have just lost your job. I struggled with many issues related to my feeling like I was the man of the house and the breadwinner, as you will see throughout this book. But let me be clear: It does not make you less of a man to have lost your job or to actually tell people that fact. Now, on the flipside of that coin, if you told your boss to go screw himself or herself and you were fired in this failing economy, you may just be a dumbass.

Your wife deserves to be the first person outside the company that you tell, and for many men, the first person period. In that way, she can prepare herself, the kids if you have any, and anyone else that needs to know from her perspective. This is a two-way street, meaning, if you are the woman who has been let –go, your husband needs to be notified immediately. There are serious emotional, relationship, and financial implications to either spouse losing their job, and these issues must be addressed.

Outside of your spouse, your children must be told, if you have any. The amount of information that you give them is dependent upon the age of the children. You don’t want to overburden the little ones, yet they will notice that there are differences in your routine such as not getting up and going to work every weekday morning. The older kids are going to be even more effected in different ways than the younger kids, and they must begin to adjust their thinking and their lifestyle to fit with this loss of income and security.

Family outside your immediate household should be advised. They can provide the additional help that is needed. Whether that help is in the form of emotional support, financial assistance, or job search help, they can be a wonderful resource for you and your family. For the most part, they are one of the few groups within your life that you can count on in one way or another, especially during stressful periods such as this.

I say that because the sad fact is that not all of your friends, close and otherwise, will still be there at the end. I would hope that your closest friends are there to support you just as if you were family, but this is not always the case. As I (and many others in our situation) have found, the further your sphere of friendship extends, the less likely that they will still be there. This is especially true if the length of your unemployment lasts for months or even years.

This was certainly the case in the friendships of my wife and me. We had some friends and family step up big time, and some of our close friends fell off the radar screen, of which you will learn in later chapters. It is sad, but many people do not know what to do or how to act when you are out of work. The entire dynamic of your friendships changes, sometimes for the better, but often for the worse.


Norm Elrod said...
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Norm Elrod said...

I wrote a post kind of like this...

But I left off the part about telling spouses and family. I just assumed that people would do that. If you can't tell your significant other that you were laid off, what can you tell them? I guess I'm lucky in that way too.

Good post.