Four ways to tell your spouse you've been sacked

Getting sacked from a job is a terrible thing to happen to the bread earner of the family. It’s worse when it comes with no prior warning. All seems fine but everything can fall apart when one is handed out a pink slip and, worse, when there are not many options available in a lifeless job market.

Thankfully, such dismissals and job losses are fast becoming things of past, especially in the UAE where analysts believe the economy is moving ahead in the right direction and at the right pace.

Still, as in any job market, there will be instances where solitary firms will have to let go of individuals at some point due to a number of reasons, not always linked to the performance of those individuals.

It goes without saying, the loss of an individual’s job affects the entire family and, often, extended families.

So is there a correct way of breaking this bad news to one’s spouse and loved ones?

Rajesh Dhawan (name changed), a senior member in a local private equity firm, recalls his ordeal about a job loss and his initial attempts at hiding it from his wife.

“There were all the signs that it was coming. Half the team members were sacked a few months back and we were verbally told that we would go in the next round,” he told Emirates24|7 of the events that turned his life upside down late last year.

“I was under stress but decided to keep my wife out of this as that would mount more pressure at home. She insisted on a new car, a more expensive school for kids and some upgrade to the house. I wanted to resist but didn’t as she would get a whiff of the problems happening at work. I gave in thinking I would land another job with the kind of experience I had,” he added.

But Dhawan’s calculations fell short. He was sacked, the ‘other’ job wasn’t forthcoming and he was out of the job market for about four months even as his former employers were kind enough to let him remain on their work-visa during that time.

“It was like a bolt from the blue for my wife. She was unaware and wanted me to explain why I didn’t tell her earlier,” he said.

The case of Dhawan is not an isolated one. Losing a job provokes anxiety and fear, and brings along thoughts of rejection. Like any bread earner in the family, Dhawan was always expected to pay the bills and fend for the family no matter what.

Most men suffer from this as they believe that their wives will not take it easily. “It’s like breaking the marriage pact,” says a Dubai resident who insists his wife is used to the culture of shopping and morning visits to the café.

Psychology-based magazine Psychology Today (<>) describes that marriages can be affected by a job loss and love could fade away as the pay cheques disappear. There are cases when the spouse remains in denial and refuses to understand a job loss can happen to anybody.

In a research paper titled ‘Job Loss: Hard Times and Eroded Identity’, the authors state: “Job loss and the many other events it triggers reverberate through the social network and family relationships of the person, sometimes producing a cascade of subsequent strains in personal and family relationships.”

But hiding it from your husband or wife is not the right thing to do. Breaking the news is hard, there will be questions and problems but there are ways you can soften the blow on yourself and your spouse.

Locally, Ash Athawale, a recruitment expert in the country, who has counseled many on their jobs and careers, says telling the truth is important and the family should be supportive enough to help deal with the crisis.

“This is always a difficult message to relay as it adds a lot of unnecessary stress to the relationship. But the important thing is to truthfully tell your spouse,” he explained to this website.

“No spouse likes to hear bad news especially if it is a termination. However, the role of a spouse is to be supportive. ‘Marriages outlast careers and it is important to go through that phase by supporting the spouse who is already going through immense tension,” he said.

“The circumstances under which the termination happened play an important role but whatever the reasons, the support from the spouse is key.”

So, if telling the truth is the best policy, how do you go about it?

#1 Speak up

First and foremost, tell your spouse what is happening at your workplace and that you foresee problems. This can give you some time to adapt – both emotionally and financially. If you have a few months before you get the last cheque, get your house in order and avoid the mistakes that Dhawan made.

You should stay calm and it’s likely that your spouse will reciprocate the same feelings. Panicking will not help either of you, or the situation at hand.

#2 Answer why?

Just as you’d asked your HR people or even yourself – why did this happen, your spouse will ask you the same thing – why?  Speak from the heart and explain.

“There is always a reason for someone being laid off, and as long as the employee can understand that, be honest with themselves, and learn from it, they can explain it to their other half the reason why (company downsizing, high targets, long hours, wrong environment), and work together to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” says Caroline Gentles, Senior Consultant at Cobalt HR Consultancy.

#3 Come up with plan B

Ideally, you should have saved something in the bank for a rainy day. Sit down together and work out a sustenance plan for the months you might not land a new job.

#4 Scout again

Don’t let a job loss impact your self-confidence. It can happen to anybody. Compose yourself, start networking and look for another job.

Get in touch with hiring managers, former and current colleagues, alumni contacts, personal friends, get referrals, do all that it takes to land another job.

Channel your energies to do a positive thing – which here is working towards another job rather than getting into fights and arguments that can only have adverse effects.

[Homepage Image Courtesy: Shutterstock]

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