16th July 2024

Joke Adeniyi (not real name) was devastated when her husband, Samuel, received a sack letter from his company sometime in April amid the coronavirus lockdown.

They married in December 2019 and planned to save some money from Samuel’s salary for her to start a business. They met at one of the state-owned universities in the South-West and started a relationship.

Samuel got a marketing job at a Chinese firm in Ikeja in 2018 and according to him, the company was doing well in the Nigerian market – until the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Earlier during the pandemic, governments across the world shut down businesses to prevent people from spreading and contracting the coronavirus. Also in Nigeria, the Federal Government shut down businesses while only those offering essential services were allowed to operate. But on May 4, the government began the gradual reopening of businesses and recently, airports were also reopened for domestic flights.

Nevertheless, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on the global economy: millions of people worldwide are said to have lost their jobs, many companies have also been forced to shut down or reduce staff strength.

Many countries have entered recession and recently, the International Monetary Fund predicted that the global economy would enter “a deep recession” later in the year.

Samuel’s company, which used to imported products from China, was one of those affected by the pandemic. Amid the lockdown in April, with no sales in Nigeria and supply from Nigeria, the owners decided to shut it down.

“We just finished our morning prayer on the day my husband received his sack letter via email. I was devastated,” Joke told our correspondent.

The 29-year-old narrated that the development caused her to suddenly develop a fever that day due to many reasons.

She said, “I had no job and we were planning that my husband would save some money from his salary so I could start a business, even if it was home-based. He started saving in January and we thought if he could save for a year, I could raise enough fund to start the business I planned to do.

“I have also been searching for a job and I hoping I would get one this year. But right now, I wouldn’t know if my faith is strong again. Recently, I got a job as a petrol station attendant with a meagre salary but I have to manage it for now.”

Joke said her husband had since been looking for another job, adding, “We are just hoping things go as we wish before this year ends.”

Losing a job is tough, especially if it happens suddenly as it is being witnessed during this period. Whether it’s a dream job or an interim one, one will probably experience emotions such as anger, frustration, worry, second-guessing oneself and one’s job skills.

“When your partner loses their job, it can be a scary and emotional time for both of you,” Danielle Gonzalez, a career coach based in the United States, told Bustle.

“Although it can bring instability, tension, and doubt into your lives, it is important that you stay positive and show support to help your partner process this loss,” she said.

Gonzalez said doing this could help one’s spouse rebuild their confidence and make progress towards their next move. She and other experts identified ways to support one’s partner having lost their job, particularly during this pandemic.

Actively listen to their frustrations

According to a US-based marriage and family therapist, Heidi McBain, listening plays a key role in any relationship, and it’s a particularly important skill when it comes to supporting one’s partner if they lose their job.

“Actively listen while they vent,” she told Bustle. “This gives your significant other a chance to talk about all the things that are going on in their head in a safe and secure place.”

At the initial stage of job loss, McBain warned partners not to try to fix what was going on or offer solutions but to just listen and be as supportive as they could be to their partners who just lost their jobs.

Also, a marriage therapist, Lauren Dummit, said, “Allow your partner to tell you what happened without interrupting. Sometimes, the best gift we can give someone is just to be fully present with them while they are sharing something emotional. Eye contact or simple gestures of connection, like holding the other’s hand, can demonstrate that we are fully present.

“Sometimes, someone just needs to vent without the other person trying to fix it or tell them what to do. You might ask your partner if they would prefer you to just listen or if they would like you to help them problem-solve.”

Give them space to heal from the situation

Gonzalez said sometimes, a partner who just lost their job might just want some time alone, hence giving them space was essential. “Give your partner time and space to grieve. Losing a job can feel like any other significant loss in life, so be empathetic in the ways you support them,” she said.

Similarly, Dummit advocated giving one’s spouse some time to grieve after a job loss. “Of course, it is not helpful for them to dwell in self-pity for too long, but a period of sadness is appropriate.”

Remind them you’re together in it

McBain said there was nothing worse than having an unsupportive partner, especially during a job loss. “Let them know that you’re in this together. Help them not to feel so alone and remind them that you’re part of the same team,” she said.

McBain said one could also tell one’s spouse that one would work together to figure things out financially.

She said, “Everyone processes things differently. Simply ask your partner how you can best support them and what they need from you. Would they like some time alone to process everything? Would they like to go for a walk and talk? Would they like you to pick up their favourite meal from the restaurant down the street? Ask them what they need and then follow through and be supportive of them.”

Carry out acts of kindness for them

Gonzalez said to ask oneself how one would want to be supported in a similar situation. “When you’re at a loss with how to be an encouragement to them, put yourself in their shoes,” she said.

Also, Dummit said doing acts of kindness for one’s partner was vital at this time. “When we are feeling down, simple acts of kindness can be really touching and remind us that we are still loved. Going out of your way to do something nice for your partner can be a sweet expression of love and affirm your support,” she said.

She added that reminding one’s partner of all the things one loved about them – that is, pointing out their strengths – could help them not to lose their self-esteem.

“It is even harder to find a new job when we are not feeling confident about ourselves, and this will help them keep a positive attitude,” she said.

Offer to cut down on expenses

“When your partner is ready to get into action, offer to help them brainstorm and create a plan,” Dummit said. “Whether the plan involves creating a new budget, exploring ways to cut down on expenditures, or searching for a new job, feeling as if you are on board can help relieve some of the burden of responsibility on your partner.”

She said this also involved expressing any realistic concerns regarding the impacts of the job loss with tact instead of blaming or shaming one’s partner.

Also, Gonzalez said. “After they have had some time to process the loss and have begun their job search, help them define goals and be an accountability partner for them.

“This is a delicate balance – you don’t want them to feel it’s nagging or accusatory, so if it seems to be shifting in that direction, engage a career coach or another professional who can help with this.”

Go do something fun together

Even if your partner is job-hunting 24/7, they need a break sometimes, and so do you. “Go do something fun together,” Gonzalez said. “Take the reins and plan a date night– sometimes, they just need to get their mind off of their situation, even for just a few hours.”

Gonzalez added that doing something fun together would not only create a memory but would show one’s spouse that one truly cared about them more than one cared about their job title.

“It will also show them the amount of value you place on them,” she added.

Dummit noted that doing an activity – such as taking a class, working on a project or volunteering, or taking a trip together–could help boost one’s partner’s spirits.

“This cannot only provide a distraction from the negative feelings associated with job loss but by taking advantage of the extra time, this can help one make meaning of their experience and maybe even evoke gratitude. Plus, it can also provide an opportunity to strengthen your relationship,” she said.

Help them explore other passions

Quoting Alexander Bell who once said, “When one door closes, another door opens,” Gonzalez said it was important to help one’s partner to explore their passions, as this could ultimately be a money-spinner for the family in the long run.

“In addition to giving them space to heal from the loss, give them space and permission to dream big and be creative. Take this supposedly bad situation and use it as an opportunity to try something new,” she said.

Similarly, a Lagos-based career coach, Mr Bob Majekodunmi, said losing a job was usually not the end of life. He advised those who had lost their jobs due to COVID-19 to explore other opportunities around them.

He said, “I usually scold people who cry and lament after losing their job. Of course, I understand their situation at that moment. There are usually fears and worries but many times, there are always other opportunities to explore. I expect them to see beyond their present circumstances, though I know this is not an easy thing to do.

“So if a partner loses their job, I would advise the other partner to stay strong when the one who lost their job is weak. After grieving, let the other partner help the one who lost job to explore other passion. Sometimes, this passion eventually turns out to create an income source. I’ve witnessed this in many cases.”

Source: punchng.com

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