Sylvie says: A few years ago, everything was rosy. Tom was making great money and I was working part-time to save for the kids’ college educations. Then the economy tanked, Tom’s company closed and he lost his job. We’ve had to pull the kids out of their schools and I’m working full time in a job I hate. I don’t have nearly the time to spend with my family that I used to have. And Tom is doing nothing but sitting around complaining. He needs to at least try to find a job!
There’s nothing out there! Tom says: Sylvie doesn’t seem to understand how hard it is for a man my age to get another job. There is nothing out there. After years of building my career, I’m back at the bottom and it’s really depressing. Without my work, I feel like I’m nothing. You would think Sylvie could be a little more sympathetic. What do they do?: How ironic as I (Tom), too, was downsized not just once in my career, but twice! From first-hand experience, both Jo and I can truly relate to this situation. Without trying to simplify the circumstance, there are three actions we have found essential for our relationship to survive the loss of an income and the devastating feelings associated with losing a job and being required to start at the bottom again. First is heart-to-heart communications between us; second is an opportunity to re-invent ourselves as a couple and as a family unit; and third is to take it to prayer. Let us expand on these points as it relates to Sylvie and Tom. First, we can almost guarantee that without a level of communication that encompasses feelings, thoughts, desires and needs, Tom and Sylvie will find it extremely difficult to maintain their marital relationship where “two shall become one.” Jo and I have found that being sensitive to each other’s feelings helps our confidence level to be able to share openly and honestly in creating a new plan of action that is acceptable to us both. No doubt, in this economy, it is tough to find a job – particularly if you will only accept a position at or above your previous wage and skill level. If you are economically fortunate enough to wait for a position, then keeping your skills sharp by going back to school or volunteering may help you move out of a depressed mood. Life is not always fair, and, when it throws us a curve, we can either adjust our lives to meet the new challenge or we can become paralyzed – taking no action and waiting to be dished more of the same. We have always found that by taking the initiative and re-inventing ourselves as husband and wife, and as family, we have been able to steer a course in life that is acceptable to each of us. Taking the helm of life and determining the direction we should take is much better than just riding along – letting someone else direct what we do and where we end up. The time for joint action from Sylvie and Tom is now. Procrastinating will only exacerbate an already difficult situation. Finally, and most important, pray together, asking God what he desires. We have found that when challenging situations are encountered, most often God has a different plan for our relationship than we originally did. Discerning God’s plan means we need to be open to the Holy Spirit’s prodding, open to hidden opportunities and open to making changes, no matter how difficult they may appear. Sylvie and Tom should remember that change is slow, so be patient and the unconditional love you give each other will get you through this hurdle in life. Through it all, be assured that God will be there to provide the grace and strength needed to keep your relationship growing so you can take advantage of new growth potential and opportunities. Deacon Tom Fogle and JoAnne Fogle