Holly got a crash course in coping with job loss when her husband was fired from his job in the fall of 2018.
What Should You Do if Your Husband Gets Fired?
- Don't blame him. Give him time to process and tell you what happened.
- Show your husband love and support, even if you're feeling anxious.
- Spend money only on things you have to spend money on and put off large purchases/expenses if you can.
- Find out if you temporarily qualify for health care and food and utility assistance.
- Find your own support. Reach out to close family and friends who can help you stay positive.
- Stick to a routine. Make sure you and your husband get up each morning and begin your day productively. It'll help you both from falling into a slump.
- Help him find a new job, look out for good leads and interesting job postings.
- Be open to a life change. Maybe it's time to pursue that tiny house lifestyle you've both daydreamed about.
Two years ago, my husband was “let go” (read: fired with a capital F) from the company he’d been working at for over four years. In the time he’d been there he’d had consistently stellar annual reviews, regular pay raises and seemed to be in good standing. That was, until there was a huge change in management. It didn’t take long to see that the new management wasn’t as easy to please as old management had been and, without getting into the finer details of what went wrong, my husband was terminated for “personality differences.” Basically, my husband and the new manager didn't jive.
The timing wasn’t fantastic. I’d recently gone down to part-time work, we’d bought our first home just over a year earlier and I was in the middle of dealing with some minor health issues which were, of course, being covered by my husband’s health insurance.
It felt like our world was falling apart from the inside out.
My husband getting fired wasn’t fun, we didn’t always handle it well and it took some time to bounce back. These days though, I can say that it almost feels like it never happened.
Here’s how we recovered and the lessons I learned (sometimes the hard way).
Don't Blame Him
The first thing you need to do when your husband lets you know he’s been fired is to bite your tongue and make sure that every word that comes out is reasonable and fair.
Remember, he’s vulnerable right now, and so are you, which makes you both prone to saying things you don’t mean or letting resentments make their way to the surface at the wrong time.
No matter what the story is behind his firing, give him a chance to tell his side of the story while you nod and listen. This isn’t the time to remind him that he needs to have a better attitude at work or that he should have gone to HR to report his personal-politics-spewing supervisor earlier. This is the time to show him in no uncertain terms that he may feel like the world just turned against him but you’re still by his side.
Show Love and Support
On that note, you may be feeling lost and scared yourself but for the sake of the unit, you’ll need to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and show your husband love and support while he processes what just happened. The night my husband got fired I didn’t sleep a wink. I laid in bed with a pounding heart and racing thoughts as I traced through each dollar we wouldn’t have in the coming weeks and each bill that was waiting on our kitchen counter. Like most Americans, we have very little in the way of savings.
When I asked my husband what I could do for him while he grieved his job loss, his list surprised me:
- Have coffee with him in the morning before I left for work so he wouldn’t be up with his own thoughts
- Let him tell his friends and family about being fired himself
- Help him shop for a new outfit to wear on interviews
When I wasn’t working we spent more time cooking together, taking leisurely rides and talking about the future and what we really wanted from it. We honestly spent more time hanging out than we had since we’d first started dating almost ten years ago.
It was scary and I had a lot of catastrophic thoughts, but we got through it.
If Your Husband Just Got Fired...
Spend Less Money
In the interim, while you figure out what's next, cease all unnecessary spending.
This was tricky for me. My husband’s period of unemployment lasted longer than I’d expected. In that time we had to prioritize our spending and cut back expenses that weren’t necessary like:
- Home repairs. We halted projects until we knew what would fit into our new budget when he landed a new job.
- Getting takeout, which we did often. Instead, we cooked at home so we could make what little savings we had stretch.
- Letting our utilities crank without a second thought. We turned down our water heater, unplugged the gaming consoles and spare TV we hardly ever used and hung clothes to dry instead of throwing them in the dryer. This helped us save at least a little bit on electricity and made us more conscientious of how we used the stuff in our home.
- Paying for entertainment. While we loved to take day trips on the weekends we utilized our $8 Netflix subscription and visited nearby parks for free instead to save on gas, meals and frivilous purchases.
Find Out What Resources You’re Eligible For
If your husband has been fired he's probably eligible for unemployment. He may also qualify for:
- Food assistance
- Health insurance
- Utility assistance (specifically heating)
To find out what benefits he's eligible to receive and where to find them just Google the state you live in followed by the resource you're interested in. For instance to find unemployment we searched "Unemployment in Florida."
Find Support For Yourself
After my husband broke the news to his own family, I reached out to my mom and brother and let them know about him being fired. While I’d tried to be strong for him, it was comforting to have someone else to cry to.
When your husband has been fired, you need a neutral party in your court to listen to your fears, offer advice and to just say, “It’s going to get better, keep going.”
When your husband has been fired, you need a neutral party in your court to listen to your fears...
Stick to a Routine
Stay busy! Make a plan to maintain a sense of normalcy so that the time he's out of work doesn't become a free-for-all. Here's some stuff that helped us stick to a routine:
- Getting up at the same time every morning
- Having coffee together before I headed to work to plot out what he was going to do that day
- Checking job postings every other morning - and not more. Checking too much became anxiety-inducing.
- Visiting with family and friends once a week so we didn't feel isolated or alone in our problems.
- Making dinner at the same time every evening. This helped us wind-down and refocus on what's really important to us.
Help Him With His Job Hunt
I’m not super experienced with job hunting but it turns out that job hunting sites are a mess.
When you’re already depressed from being fired, it can be overwhelming to navigate all of the filters. When I could see that he was losing steam I’d hop on my laptop and shoot off an email with four or five interesting leads.
Here's some places to help you start your search:
- FlexJobs.com (I really liked this one, it does carry a monthly cost but they curate work-from-home and telecommute jobs here)
- Facebook (More and more job recruiters are turning to social media to reach candidates)
Be Open to Alternatives and New Adventures
The job my husband ended up taking wasn’t at all related to his former career field. Not only that but it’s one we’d laughed about at the beginning of his new job search. He went from working in a stuffy office where he and his coworkers spent most of the day staring at each other to a fast paced healthcare environment where he and his team band together to help others.
Now, he gets to spend more time helping our community in a job he'd secretly wanted to do but not at the risk of throwing away a solid job.
It turns out that sometimes, it takes a bad situation like getting fired to force you to open up to new adventures.
Reacting to Your Husband's Job Loss
|What You Might Be Feeling||How to React||What to Say to Him|
He's such an idiot!
Maybe he's an idiot. But maybe his boss is too. Either way, coming down hard on him isn't going to help you. If you have negative feelings you need to express, verbalize them in a way that makes him feel understood and backed by you.
"Even if you were late twice last week it probably didn't help that they had you scheduled for opening shifts right after a closing shift. That must have been hard on you and is a good reason to look for a job with a regular schedule."
We're totally broke, how could this have happened?!
Cut back where you can and accept help if it's offered. Look online for resources to bridge the gap until you can replenish your income.
"Once you're settled into a new job let's figure out how we can save a little more each month."
CAN'T FEEL. PANICKING.
Get it together, sister! Seriously. You're a grown up, you can handle this. You and many, many others go through this sort of thing. Do some deep breathing techniques and when you've finished remind yourself of the positive things in your life. Gratitude can ease a lot of worry very quickly.
"I'm freaked out right now but I know that this is temporary and we're going to get to the other side of this."
Questions About Your Husband Getting Fired
Should you seek a wrongful termination lawsuit if he was fired?
It doesn't hurt to just make a call. Search around for an attorney who specializes in wrongful termination and share what happened. In our case, that "personality difference" was really a political difference. My husband's new manager talked about politics on the job a lot and my husband definitely expressed discomfort about this to her when she began making bigoted satements. The attorney we called wouldn't take our case because we hadn't kept enough proof of a toxic work environment so if you can think of anything that would support your side of a wrongful termination lawsuit (say, nasty text messages, voicemails or emails from your husband's former boss, managers or coworkers) that will be immensely helpful.
What does it mean if he was fired for "misconduct"?
What constitutes misconduct in the workplace? I wish I had a simple answer for that but the truth is, it might vary from employer to employer. According to Bright HR, a platform for human resource managers, misconduct is classified as "unacceptable behavior." So vague. On top of that, you can't necessarily be fired for misconduct, you must be labeled with "gross misconduct" for that, which could be anything from stealing office supplies or harassing a coworker to coming into work intoxicated.
My husband went to HR with a concern and was fired shortly after. What the heck, I thought HR was supposed to help?
Going forward, remember that the human resources unit of a employer is literally there to protect the employer not the employees! I took an HR class a couple of years ago and the one idea they made sure to drill into us through each lesson is that HR essentially exists to save the employer money by avoiding lawsuits, plain and simple. If you cause HR to have to do work that costs the company more money than it would save not "helping" you, you've suddenly become a liability. Yikes. So if you cause a stir in an "at will" state (a state which allows employers to fire employees for almost any reason, including that they just don't like the employee) you run the risk of giving your employer reason to fire you. It's messed up!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2019 Holly Howard
bhattuc on August 13, 2020:
Very interesting. Useful tips.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 26, 2019:
This is a useful article.Your tips should be very helpful for people in a similar situation to you and your husband.
RTalloni on May 17, 2019:
Thanks for sharing your experience and the positive things you learned from it. Well done!