My husband, Daniel, worked for a great company that specialized in building booms for Caterpillar for several years. He received many great bonuses, fringe benefits, profit sharing, and this company paid for his medical almost 100% even after ObamaCare came out. He had not just vacation time but sick time as well. What a wonderful company who really cared about their employees.
We keep up with economic news that just isn't available on CNN or Market Watch. About 3 years ago we noticed the country slowing down. There were starting to be a lot of layoffs and a lot of companies downsizing. (Something you may not know is, right now, most every big company is cannibalizing itself to keep their stocks at a high value.) We noticed 2 years ago Caterpillar was downsizing. This is big news on the economic front, because if our country isn't using Caterpillar we aren't building, growing things, or exporting much. This affected us quite personally as Daniel's company specialized in making booms for Caterpillar's equipment.
We also found out Obama vetoed a pipeline that was to be built here. Oil and gas is the lifeblood of Tulsa, and that alone caused thousands of layoffs here and in other cities in Oklahoma. This past January alone, there were 100k layoffs. That is just one month.
Sure enough, his hours got cut two weeks before Christmas a year later when Caterpillar just couldn't pull off a profitable quarter to save their lives. A few months later he started seeing people getting fired for relatively small infractions. Finally, a few months after that, the layoff came and they laid off everyone in his shop except 9 lucky people in one day.
If your lives are going great, then this is good news as you can begin preparing now, just in case anything happens. Preparing for harder times is a Biblical directive. I think most women want to save and prepare on an instinctual level. I know I'm always thinking, "Just in case". A wise woman will stock up food and keep a little cash on hand, just in case. A wise woman will have jugs of water under her sink, just in case. A wise woman will pick up skills unknown to most modern-day women, just in case.
So, my husband was laid off. We had his unemployment check which would pay the bills but not much else and we had a year of financial security in this. This wasn't enough for us. We were worried what a year off would look like on a resume, so he hit the streets and came up with what seemed like a good job in a couple of months. Well, he walked out on them two weeks later when they were asking him to do some unsafe, life-threatening stuff. Why? Because in Tulsa right now there are so many people looking for work, men will do about anything for a decent paying job so companies can skimp on not fixing cranes and other big equipment. Not to mention this company was cutting hours itself. It just wasn't worth it.
So, we had no unemployment and no income. He started looking for other work and in the meantime fixed up houses and cars off of Craig's list. I actually went with him on a few jobs. We worked very hard together trimming trees, tarping roofs, and so forth. We paid our bills by him, (and on occasion me too) doing this for quite some time actually. He did find another job, only to find out it was much the same as the other place he worked at. They wanted him to roll this part that weighed thousands of pounds with a breaker bar because they didn't fix the equipment he told them was needing maintenanced the week before. They didn't do any maintenance and it broke down. So they expected him to do this kind of work right up against a tube a story high, 40 feet long, and made of solid steel with a breaker bar. Not to mention the drug problem there was very bad causing some men to be injured due to someone else being high and not paying attention to what they were doing. So, Daniel left there. It just wasn't worth it.
Still making money off of Craig's list ads, a little while later he found the job where he works now. It's a decent job with good pay. Only problem is, when he started working there a month or two ago, there were four shops and they had mandatory overtime working everyone there 70 hours a week. Gas prices are falling. This is bad for us. Two weeks ago they laid off two shops. They still have 40-50 hour work weeks, but do you see a pattern? What do you think is going to happen to us in six months? I see the writing on the wall too. We are hopeful things are going to turn around, of course. We do not expect it to though.
Right now, I am trying to catch up from before, when he was first laid off from that great company. I had food stored at that time, so we didn't need to grocery shop for months, really. Now, however, I barely have a months worth of food, if I really wanted to stretch it. I'll put a Preparation section or something in the sidebar of this blog in the coming days so I can show you what to buy so you'll be able to hold out for a while, just in case. For now, know that I'm already purchasing dried goods and saving every little bit of food I can by making things stretch and freezing leftovers and such. I'm crocheting blankets for the winter. I'm saving even quarters and loose change whenever I can. Hard times are probably coming. I want to be as prepared as I can be, just in case.
Okay, so let's say your husband is laid off right now. He is in the house, up your rear, and you can't seem to get a lick of work done. What can you do?
Firstly, your husband is home. You have no money, but you can treat it like a vacation. You have an opportunity to spend some time with him. Make this time as pleasant as you can. Have a soft heart and be kind. Your husband is probably looking for work, but he is going to be home for long stretches of time, so make sure his time at home is peaceful by not arguing. He is going to be frustrated and in a bad mood, so he might say something to you with a tone once in a while. Let it go. Don't bring up sore subjects if you can help it. This is not the time to pull out your honey-do list to keep him occupied. Watch good movies and play games. Look at the Date Night ideas in the sidebar of this blog and try one or two of those out. Try to enjoy each other.
Men will typically shut down emotionally during times of stress. Don't take it personally. Give him some time to cope and deal with what he is going through. He has a lot of responsibilities to take care of and he's unsure how he's going to do that. Let him work it out. Don't constantly ask him, "What's wrong?" Don't comfort him like a baby if he's off by himself trying to read or fix that leaky faucet. Let him be alone if he needs to be alone. You know your husband. There's a time to speak to him, and there's a time to leave him be.
Go over your grocery shopping expenditures. Can you trim it, or cut it out altogether? Can you survive on beans, rice, dry milk, and homemade sourdough bread for a while? Don't go into convulsions because you all of a sudden can't get your nails done. Be supportive by trimming whatever expenses you can. Cut the internet and cable bill. Don't turn on the lights during the daytime. Whatever you can do to trim, do it. During the depression, women would bring their pasta to a boil, then they would cover it and turn off the gas. The noodles still cooked and without that extra few minutes of simmering over a flame. Educate yourself on what you can do by researching what women have done before, and not just in America. What did people eat in Ireland when there were no potatoes to be had? What did women in Germany do when it was cheaper to burn money than to buy firewood? Our grandmothers have had it tough. Never give up a chance to learn from them, even if it's only through a historical-type website.
Speaking of strong women, don't cry. Not in front of him. If you are about to crack, and I can almost promise you that you will and many times, leave the room. Go take a long shower and cry quietly in there. Go to the kitchen and bake something. Take the dog for a walk. Do whatever you have to do, but don't cry in front of your husband. He has enough to deal with, without having to coddle you and your sensibilities. Cry if you must, but get it all out somewhere private.
Don't ask for things you know you can't have. It's childish, but I've actually witnessed a woman asking her husband in the store for something, and I could tell by the look on his face that they really didn't have the money, but what was he going to do? His pride was on the line, and in front of people he didn't even know. I know it's only a dollar, but just because you have the money, doesn't mean you can afford it. (A pearl of wisdom from my own great grandmother.)
You will get through this time much easier if you maintain some structure. Keep going to Scout meetings with your kids, finish out your bowling league season, or whatever it is you do. If you always make gingerbread houses at Christmastime, make sure you do so again this year. Maintain a solid bedtime schedule and wake early just as before. Don't get caught up in staying up til the wee hours of the morning and sleeping til noon just because he doesn't have to work the next day. Also, keep up your chores. For me, it's very easy not to clean when Daniel is home because I want to hang out with him and do fun stuff like watch movies or whatever. A messy house will breed discontentment and laziness.
Provide some time for him to be alone. He needs peace and quiet to job hunt, work things out, or just to be away from children playing for a while. Take the kids to the park every day after the supper dishes are done if you have to. Make sure he gets the privacy he needs to conduct his business. You don't need to listen to every call he takes from prospective employers. Give him some space and some quiet whenever it seems he needs it.
If you are both agreeable, do a couple's Bible study together. It might help to keep things in perspective. Sometimes it's hard to remember we are only on this earth a short while when we are in the middle of some serious strife and hardship. A study will also strengthen your relationship and give the two of you time to talk things out. If you know going into it your husband might want to vent to you, it is easier to deal with than just having him blow up over spilled milk all of a sudden because he hasn't vented in a while.
As always, the most important thing you can do in your marriage is pray. Spend some time every day praying for the two of you and for your husband. Pray for work. Pray for strength. I've heard it said, "All I can do is pray." I think that's probably the best thing you can do. Be a prayer warrior and pray wholeheartedly during this time tough time. Keep close to God and you just might have His ear.
Lastly, respect your husband. My role is to look after our home. His role is to provide a home. How would you feel if you all of a sudden couldn't care for your home? If the ability to cook a decent meal was taken away from you and you had to listen to growling bellies because you weren't able to cook? Sure we gripe about doing laundry, but what would we do if we couldn't wash clothes and our families were running around in dirty underwear? We'd feel horrible. Like failures. Now imagine your husband coming in and suggesting things to help you as if you didn't know what needed to be done. Or worse, asking you why this had to happen now? What if he broke down in tears because you were unable to bake him a cake for his birthday? He knows his responsibility. He knows the rent is due and the electric company is coming on Tuesday to shut the lights off. He knows everyone has been eating beans all week. He knows he needs to bring in a paycheck. Be supportive, but don't tell him things he already knows. Don't make him feel even more like a failure than he already does. He knows it's not his fault he was laid off, but it will still feel like it to him.
Remember to keep in your Bible and pray. Remember to love your husband. Always be thinking of how to save a nickel and you will get through. You are your husbands other half. Act like it. Have his best interest at heart. Don't give up.