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When your husband loses his job…

by bevbarnes on April 26, 2012

My husband lost his job last week. He’d worked for 30 years at the same company, well actually 5 different companies if you count name changes, mergers, bankruptcies and sales. He would have been eligible for an early retirement pension in two years. His job was eliminated from the organizational chart. That is corporate-speak for getting fired, let go, downsized, restructured, bid farewell, turfed, adios, au revoir, later loser. I digress.

I should be angry.

I should be upset.

But I feel like dancing a jig.

Ten years ago, my husband knew that his job no longer fit who he was. He didn’t quit. Quitting isn’t what men do. That’s why most of my clients are women, by the way. He believed that staying in his job allowed him to fulfill his role as a man – provider, hunter/gatherer, Tarzan. He gave up his soul for a regular paycheck and benefits – what he was taught to do. Over the last few years he was miserable. He tried to hide it but unhappiness at work spills over everywhere. He bargained with himself every week as he approached that early retirement date. He stretched the elastic of his soul trying to hold on.

You’d think that since my husband lived with a Life Coach who helps people to find and fulfill their true calling in life, that he knew that his real job in life was to express his true nature and add love to the world.

You’d be wrong.

The rules of society that he’d been taught to follow were so much more powerful. In his era the rules went something like this: Get job. Do what the company expects you to do. Keep job your whole life. Retire. Start having fun. Get sick and die within two months of your retirement while you are regretting that you didn’t have the courage to do something different earlier.

As the wife in this scenario, I have had the opportunity to take risk after risk in my work pursuing honest self expression in part because my husband had a “secure” job. In fact, my sister joked when she first heard the news.

Sister: So are you going to get a real job now?

Me: Actually, no. What I’m doing is my real job in life. So there! (Said with indignant outrage like it never occurred to me that his miserable job helped me in any way.)

Which brings me to the point of this blog.

The old agreement that employers and employees used to have, the one where they acted like parents – took care of you (pay, benefits , belonging and a job for life) and you got to be the child (show up, do what they asked you to and be gainfully employed) is dead.

Grieve it.

Because it never really existed.

Learn from my husband’s story and from many, many people who have lost their jobs when they never thought they would.

Your job security comes from you.

Figure out your talents and gifts now and find or create work that expresses your true nature. You create job security – by doing things you love and providing that to people who need it.

Losing a job that doesn’t reflect your true nature is a gift. 

It is the response to a silent prayer.

It tells you that the universe has been listening to you.

It gives you permission to finally start doing something that expresses the real you.

Grieve the loss of the old world. Grieve the loss of your old schedule and colleagues. Grieve the loss of your future pension. Do some financial re-jigging. Put aside your ego and false pride. Embrace your truth.

Celebrate the freedom that is coming.

Take the keys to the prison, escape from the dungeon, dare to decide to recreate your life.

The universe has given you permission.

Embrace it.

This is what I’m embarrassed to admit. What I really feel about my husband losing his job is gratitude.

I’m grateful that he lost his job – because now he can leave that chapter behind him.

I’m grateful that it is his turn to learn this lesson – because the universe doesn’t give you anything that you can’t handle and this means he’s ready for it.

I’m grateful that it’s not too late – because he’s healthy and still youngish and can still do anything he wants.

I’m grateful that he can finally glimpse the joy and hope that is waiting for him just around this corner.

If you or someone you love has lost a job that doesn’t reflect their true nature, remember that you’ve been given a gift.

Embrace the gift and celebrate.

Share below on the blog your thoughts about this, your best tips for people who lose their jobs and your experiences with downsizing. I love to hear from you!

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle Ainslie April 26, 2012 at 10:37 am

WOW!!
I absolutely love this post.
I think it is the best one I’ve read all year in fact.
Because it is EXACTLY what I keep saying too. I lost my job when my contract ended in March (just one short month ago). Now, by doing what I love I am making more money than I ever have before.
Recreate your life – I adore that line.
I am in the business of helping people make money by doing what they love, simply because in my opinion there is no other way. Jobs are getting more and more unstable and unpredictable. It’s time to take your destiny in your own hands. CREATE your dream life!

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Bev Barnes April 26, 2012 at 11:35 am

I agree Michelle. I think that once you get through the shock and even before, you start to glimpse your freedom and realize that you can recreate your life. Glad you and me are here to help people do that!

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Debra Smouse April 26, 2012 at 11:44 am

I really keyed in on this, Bev: “You’d think that since my husband lived with a Life Coach who helps people to find and fulfill their true calling in life, that he knew that his real job in life was to express his true nature and add love to the world. You’d be wrong.”

I personally believe that as life coaches, we know that this kind of decision has to be when a person is ready to make that change – and not one moment before. You love your husband for WHO he is and you aren’t looking to change him from who he is at his core. Your role in his life is not as “life coach” but partner.

You feel gratitude because you love him and we desire that the people in our lives be happy. I have no doubt that with you by his side – as his lover and partner supporting him no matter what happens….he will get through this period with flying colors.

My advice to him is this: allow yourself to grieve and then find the gratitude in the opportunity to find work that sets your soul on fire.

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Bev Barnes April 26, 2012 at 11:53 am

I love that Deb and totally agree. Thanks for sharing.

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Linda Ford April 26, 2012 at 12:10 pm

great article Bev. My husband is in a job that is totally uninspiring right now. But he gets up every day with a good attitude and tolerates it. It’s all he’s ever done. I think it’s a very male thing. He is looking for another job, but my heart breaks for him that he has to live this way. And yes, being a coach myself who “tries to inspire others to find their right life”, I’m very much aware of what he’s going through, and what role I play as his life. It’s not easy to coach your husband!

It just goes to show that when you tolerate stuff in your life, when you don’t pay attention to how your REALLY feel, re: work, life has a way of joltling you to wake up to yourself. It’s a strange place to be, because its scary and at the same time incredibly freeing. It’s a gift. Here’s to his freedom! ps. does that mean you might move?

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Bev Barnes April 26, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Hi Linda! I agree that life jolts you awake. I laughed out loud when you asked if we were moving. Let’s just say anything is possible!

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Elle April 26, 2012 at 1:18 pm

This is a great article, Bev. When my husband’s contracts dried up a few years ago I thought he would take the opportunity to do something else. I tried to encourage him, but he was so focused on the money and bills getting paid that he now still does the same type of work he has always done with a crazy travel schedule. I’m glad to know that even husbands of life coaches don’t listen.
I bet you will have better luck than I did because you are so wise, intuitive and encouraging.

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Bev Barnes April 26, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Thanks Elle. He’s starting to see this as a new beginning.

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Serena Siqueira April 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Bev – I cried when I read your post. As you know, I work for the federal government. We’ve been going through a heart wrenching down sizing exercise over the last month. While my job has not been affected, many colleagues around me have. I am experiencing a host of very mixed and conflicting emotions. These include feeling secretly sad that I wasn’t affected so that I would be forced to reckon with and re-write my future; to feeling guilty that I continue to have a well paying job while others around me are thrust into fear and uncertainty. I also note that I have been surprised by the very positive attitude of many who have been affected once they’ve gotten over the initial shock. They’ve expressed liberation, as in “this was exactly the kick in the pants I needed to find work I can love better.” Thanks for sharing so openly. I wish your husband well as he sits down to write the next chapter… I routinely refer people to you and your website because I think you do amazing work.

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Bev Barnes April 26, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Yes Serena, the conflicting emotions abound. I think people need to start talking about this so I’m really glad to get your input!

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Maryna April 26, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Bev,

Thanks for this beautiful and eloquent message. I lost my job almost two years ago and though I knew to be grateful that I could let go of all the frustrations of trying to force myself into a mold that didn’t fit, I still go through doubts about making my new life work for me financially. It’s inspiring to feel the wisdom and truth of what you’re saying here and pull just a little closer to knowing that I am on my right path and that things are working out.

And even though he may not be fully aware of it, I think your husband is very lucky to have you there walking this new journey with him.

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Bev Barnes April 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I’m so glad that this helped Maryna. Yes re-creating your life after job loss changes everything but I think it’s worth it!

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Ignace April 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm

This is a fantastic reflection of what is actually happening in my heart and head (sorry, I’m an engineer by trade, but am I really, I will now have time to find out !). I’ve just been excluded from the organigram of my company last thursday ! Part of what I felt was relief. I was wondering why ? Reading you Bev, I understand, at least I’m starting to understand. Of course other feelings inhabited me these last days, but I’m happy to read your post and get a larger portrait of the whole situation. As a “provider”, ” hunter”, “gatherer” , we men think that paying the bill and insuring the security of the family is the main goal. It is, I think. But let me make you a promise Bev, I will try hard as I can to use my talents to do it and recreate a life around all this so getting to work, won’t make me feel like it’s an earning obligation.

Big thanks you for that post Bev.

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Bev Barnes April 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Thanks for commenting Ignace and committing to walk down this new road. I am thrilled for the possibilities that lie ahead for you.

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Julia April 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Bev, thanks for writing openly and honestly about a major life change that often inspires fear and even embarrassment, and is so very common. I hope your words help many, including Ignace! My husband lost his job years ago, then found consulting work that paid more than he had been earning. He’s now out of work again after a nasty 3-year legal battle with a business partner, but the joblessness is such a relief! With both of us unemployed, it will soon be time to start something new, and I’ve been worrying about it. Thanks for reminding me of how lucky we are.

Wishing the very best of luck to both you and your “youngish” (love that word) husband as a new phase of life begins. Enjoy!

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Bev Barnes April 26, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Julia, you are so welcome. Thanks for telling a little of your story. It confirms once again how often this happens. I love that “youngish” word. I slid it in 🙂

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dwayne April 26, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Bev:
Sorry to hear the your husband lost his job. Having worked in both regular jobs that I loved (and in one case, lost unexpectedly), and having worked as a freelancer off and on for 5 years, I can see the pros and cons of both modes of employment. I love the flexibility of consulting work and the constant variety, but when clients take forever to pay or the phone doesn’t ring and the cash flow gets tight, there is something to be said for at least one partner having a regular pay cheque, benefits and a pension plan. (And here’s a big shout out to my wife who punches the clock every day at a job that she mostly loves…).

Ultimately, I know that you two will land well, but just give him some time to grieve this loss and find his bearings again (i.e. maybe go easy on the “dancing” 🙂 or at least make it a slow dance).

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Bev Barnes April 26, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Thanks Dwayne. I think that time to grieve is essential. Thanks for reinforcing that.

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Alexis Robin April 26, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Oh my sweet brilliant friend. Your words are so wise. This happened to my husband a few years back and to see him thriving today and happy as ever brings more joy than a life of paychecks. Well said Bev.

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Bev Barnes April 26, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Thanks for your input Alexis! Great to hear about your husband.

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Gail Kenny April 27, 2012 at 12:02 am

Powerful.

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graham mclorie April 28, 2012 at 2:10 am

Bev!
It is your honesty and your beautiful reflective nature that draws people to you, the same thing that insures that your husband will remain a happy man despite sh**y work circumstances. When we embrace our own heart we decide that simplicity is the means to purity of heart, and therefore happiness. Your physical beauty aside, the manner in which you discuss your husbands situation disclosses the reality that happiness SHOULD always outweigh the overwhelming need and pressure to produce and provide.
Honestly, I was always in awe, amazed and ashamed a little bit by your partner for his occupational choices, having seen him arrive home from the job completely lacking passion in his daily job. Ironically he is also one of my personal role models regarding how to live a passionate life.
I guess having read your article and reflecting upon my own personal difficulties I am reminded that life is full of S**t. But, while we can not dictate the hand that we are dealt, all we can do as individuals is best play out the hand that we were each dealt.

Bev, I love you and you continue to inspire me. Courage et à bientôt!

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Bev Barnes April 28, 2012 at 11:08 am

Thanks for your adding to the conversation Gary. Now I’m hopeful that my husband will allow himself to be passionate about all of his life!

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Nayla Beaudry April 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Thank you for this heartfelt post Bev. My wish is that your words touch and inspire people from all walks of life during this time where many people in my geographic area are experiencing similar circumstances.

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Bev Barnes April 28, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Thanks Nayla. That’s my wish too!

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shannon April 30, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Bev!!! I LOVE THIS POST TOO! It is so perfect for me because MY HUSBAND’S BUSINESS TANKED LAST YEAR! And I popped our last bottle of champagne! I knew in the core of my being that, even though we were about to face some tough times (and still are), that this “problem” was a liberator in disguise. My husband is now following his dream to open the first microbrewery in El Salvador. Mark my words, this brewery will be the “Sam Adams of Central America” within 5 years. That’s right.

This newfound liberation has also pushed me into the ring to make a serious, profitable, thriving business out of my vocation: coaching! It isn’t EASY. In fact even TODAY it has been really difficult, but I am going to make it!

So, Bev, I am WITH YOU quite literally. Thank you so much for your openness, vulnerability and POSITIVITY in the face of this new development.

Here’s a related blog post I wrote last year when my husband lost his business:

http://yearoflivingangerfree.blogspot.com/2011/08/now-is-time-to-not-freak-out.html

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Bev Barnes April 30, 2012 at 10:29 pm

You are so welcome Shannon. I love it that you have and are experiencing the same thing, and it is pushing you to make a business out of your vocation. Loved your post too. Thanks for commenting Shannon!

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Karen July 12, 2012 at 5:40 pm

My husband lost his job 3 years ago; just 2 weeks short of his 25th year with that company. His job was so specific that finding work has been difficult for him. He has had several contract positions, but that work is still not permanent and leaves a sense of uncertainty just around the corner. Today that came true when the contract he just resigned for 6 more months came to an abrupt end because the new president wants to review long term projects. Now what?

I love your article. In many ways it fits my husband exactly. However, we are both old school and are having difficulty thinking outside the box. Changing careers would mean going back to school and additional monetary output with a lack of an income coming in. We’ve lost 17 months salary in the past 3 years and it is getting harder to keep our chins up. In addition companies will not even talk to him if he is over-qualified and would be taking a significant pay cut (even though he is willing). That is another issue if doing what you love isn’t on par with the work experience on your resume.

However, because of your article we will discuss new career options and how we might be able to fund the schooling (as we still have 2 in college). Thank you for giving me the gift of hope on this very troubling day!

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Bev Barnes July 12, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Hi Karen. I’m so glad that you have a little more hope. I think that uncertain times provide you with an opportunity to do something that you may never have dreamed about and to transform your life in a way that could even be better than what you had planned. Grieve what has ended and start by dreaming about what is most important to you both now and then decide that you can create what you want. You CAN create a new life that works. Take tiny steps and eventually your lives will re-adjust. (That’s what we are doing!). All the best…

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Guylaine May 1, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Hi Bev,

When I read your blog, it made me think of an interesting interview with Rick Jarow I listened to the other day on blogtalkradio. I’ve attached it here in case any of your readers would be interested as well:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/mastermindshow/2013/02/21/create-the-work-and-life-you-love-with-rick-jarow-1

Guylaine 🙂

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Bev Barnes May 1, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Thanks Guylaine!

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