Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Tess Marshall of The Bold Life.
For months we’ve been hearing about job loss, foreclosures, downsizing, homelessness, and lack of work. Many can’t pay their bills or afford health and car insurance. Others have lost their retirement savings.
How has this affected families?
The strain of the recession has taken a toll on relationships causing increased stress, anxiety and depression. Because nobody knows what the future holds uncertainty, fear and doubt also prevail.
Whether you’ve lost your job or not everyone is discovering the need to cut back, become more frugal and live a simpler life.
80% of the people who have lost jobs are men. We live in a society where men are expected to play the role of economic provider. When men lose their jobs they lose their status as a provider and often feel like failures.
Many wives have become the sole provider in relationships, often feeling totally responsible and pressured to bring home more income.
Children who normally have excess now need to adjust to having less. Parents feel guilty for not being able to provide like they have in the past.
Our economy offers us an opportunity to grow, become stronger, and keep our marriage happy, healthy and intact.
What are we to do?
- Work as a team. When change is difficult we often forget we are on each other’s side!
Refuse to work against your spouse. Pay bills together and agree on the changes that need to be made. Stand united for your children, don’t allow them to get in between.
- Communicate. Be gentle with each other. Change can be very difficult. Watch your tone, intention and words when you speak. “We will make a plan to get through this” vs. “why can’t you find a job?” Speak honestly about loss and feelings.
- Make a plan and commit to the plan. Create a budget together. Take care of all of your needs. Eliminate restaurant meals, movies, golf, $4 coffees and spa treatments; these are “wants.” Barter and trade what you need with members of your community.
- Realize these are choices not sacrifices. Refuse to be a victim, “Poor me I can’t _________anymore. (Fill in the blank)
- Delay gratification. Shopping is often used to dull emotional pain. Instead learn to save for what you want. Don’t think of cutting back on extras as a punishment. It’s a necessary step to survive.
- Make things special again. Give gifts and eat at restaurants only on birthdays and holidays and only if you can afford them.
- Become flexible with parenting and household responsibilities. As roles and dynamics shift between spouses take 100% responsibility, be flexible and go the extra mile.
- Appreciate each other. Focus on the character traits, sense of humor, and other reasons you fell in love. Say thank you to each others at least twice a day.
- Establish a routine. If you need a job spend at least thirty five hours a week searching. Make a list and time block your activities. Take 15 minute breaks and give yourself time to each lunch. Your job now is to find a job.
- Exercise daily. Exercise will release endorphins in your brain and decrease stress. Do it the same time daily. While walking, running or biking focus on gratitude.
- Pray or meditate together. Create the time and include these activities in your routine. You will feel refreshed and hopeful.
- Expect a miracle. We get what we focus on. Choose to focus on the best. Instead of fearing the future expect miracles to happen.
- Appreciate what matters in life: Your health, laughter, love, relationships, and family.
Focus on interacting and connecting with your children, family, friends and neighbors.
Find new free or inexpensive activities to do together.
- Ask for help. Seek professional help if necessary. Join a support group. Everyone needs help at some time in their life. Smart people ask for it and wise people take it.
- Use our difficult times to grow emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Now is the time to practice what you believe. Now is the time to walk your talk. This is your opportunity to make your family stronger, happier and healthier.
Tess Marshall M.A. is an author, life coach and blogger at www.TheBoldLife.com She has been married for 37 years and has three granchildren. You can download her book, “Flying By the Seat of My Soul” or purchase a paperback copy over at www.TheBoldLife.com.