From Two Down to One, the Family Experience of Job Loss
By WMM Contributor: Cassandra Stanford
In June of 2017, I received a call from my husband while I was at work. He sounded very upset and I knew something very bad had just occurred. After hearing this in his voice I instantly began prying to figure out what was going on. He slowly began to explain to me that he had lost his job, but it would all be okay. He would fix up his resume, and hit the job boards. He would find something quickly and everything would work out.
After getting off the phone I instantly began to fill with uncertainty, fear, and sadness. Something major was lost that day, and it felt like I was mourning a death. I stumbled through the day dreading to go home, and face the reality of being the only parent working in our household.
I knew my husband would be upset, and I knew in my current state I was in no shape to provide any support. So I cried all the way home, and prepared to walk in the door with a smile and some forced positivity.
We got through the nightly routine and got our 3 year old to bed, avoiding any serious discussion of how we were going to handle this situation. After our son was in bed we sat down, and I listened to my husband’s story of what had happened. I listened intently, and didn’t say or ask a lot of questions. He really just needed to vent and be heard. Then after this we got to the planning portion of how this was all going to work out.
Together we came up with a plan, some weekly goals, to-do lists, and tried to establish a deadline for when my husband would have a job again.
Needless, to say the deadline for re-employment wasn’t met. Time went on and on, many interviews were scheduled and executed to no avail. It felt like we were in a time of war beaten down and waiting for relief that would never come. We survived day by day, but it was tough.
I went to work every day and my husband stayed home applying for jobs and dealing with the household matters. It was hard to hand over the household duties, but it was in our agreement that he take on some extra tasks since I would be working and picking up extra hours, when available.
Eventually we had started to establish a new normal. We took it day by day and threw the plans and to do list out. We had to keep living and life kept on going. In January of 2018 we welcomed our second son. It was impossible not to find joy in this beautiful time. The only plan we continued following was our strict budget. The most difficult part of our new normal was accepting help from others.
My husband and I grew up believing that you work for everything you have and you don’t take handouts. However, when your one income household can’t foot the bill, something had to change. We had to stop being too proud to ask for and accept help from others. We received support from our family and my husband made new professional connections from contacts shared by friends and family. This practice of gracefully receiving help was key to our survival, we wouldn’t have made it through without the help and support of others.
By Spring of 2018 things were finally starting to turn around job interview requests started to pick up again, and the warmth off the summer on the horizon had brought a new hope to my husbands almost year long job hunt.
Then - finally in May of 2018 my husband accepted a job with a great company! We were so happy to see this difficult chapter in our life come to a close. It was exciting to have a new beginning, but it was important for me to reflect on this challenge and all I had learned.
Being a one income household wasn’t easy and I still marvel at how we survived it, together. In fact I believe it brought our family closer than we have ever been before, being vulnerable and honest with each other allowed for us to provide the emotional support that we needed. I am proud to look back at that time and see all the hardships we faced as a family; and in the face of it all we had the strength to make it out together.