In these uncertain economic times, more and more husbands and wives find themselves having the, "Should I return to work?" or, "Should you return to work?" conversation.

Serious times call for serious choices and decisions. While many couples are willing to make the tough choice to get back into the workforce, they have no idea where to start.  And most will start the process filled with fear, resentment and desperation.

You can make this a more rewarding process for your spouse by understanding four important realities: the decision to return to work is unexpected and perhaps unwelcome; might trigger some feelings of guilt or failure; might trigger some feelings of anger or resentment and can feel like a significant loss; grieving and sadness are normal and natural reactions.

When your marriage is built on the cornerstones of mutual respect, mutuality and reciprocity, it matters to you that your spouse is experiencing something that is hard, sad or perhaps frightening.

Here are three tips to help you consider the important aspects and elements related to getting back into the workforce.  The tips are written for your spouse as if she or he were doing this work right now.

1.  My Vision and Values:

When you think of your vision, think of your personal world of family, friends and community—everything in the world that touches you in some way every day and how you want that to be.  Your values are who you are, what you do and how you express yourself. When you live through your values, you make decisions and choices that honor those values without regard for your desires, thoughts or fears and your life has meaning.

Sit down in a quiet place and open up the telephone book.  Flip through the pages one by one, slowly and methodically read all the names of the businesses and all the ads.  Notice when your interest or your curiosity is piqued—do not pay any attention to the qualifications you may or may not have for any particular business.  Mark each page with a paper clip or a yellow sticky.  Go back and make a list of the products and services that piqued your interest or curiosity and keep this list handy.

This exercise will give you a very accurate thumbnail sketch of the kinds of businesses that would be a wonderful match to your vision and your values, or at least be compatible.

2.  My Operating Beliefs and Assumptions—aka—Stop Acting From Fear:

Most people make decisions based on fear, disillusionment or a belief that you will have to settle. You are afraid that you can’t have what you need and want. You are disillusioned about life and you settle because well-intentioned others remind you that life is hard and all about compromise. And you become willing to compromise away the very nature of your being.

Acting from fear can never result in making a decision that matches your most brilliant, passionate self!  Step up and have the courage to be present for yourself and others will be present for you.

Sit down in a quiet place with a pad of paper and a pencil and craft three powerful statements that are true about you.

Here’s a hint:

  • What would your oldest friend say they appreciate most about you?
  • If you have a family member who has been your cheerleader over the years, what would they say you are known for in your family (even if the family doesn’t value this, it could be a big strength of yours!)?
  • Think about people who know you in your community, your children’s school, your church or synagogue.  What would one of those people say about how you touched their life?

You must own and acknowledge your personal gifts, skills and talents and take this knowing with you wherever you go! Add these three powerful statements about you to your phone book list.

3.  My Conscious Choices:

A conscious choice means you are in charge of the choosing: you are deciding; you are saying your real yes! and your real no!; and you are honoring who you are and what you need and want.

The work you did in tips one and two have armed you with lots of solid information about you and now you can begin the job-hunting process with confidence and optimism.  You have a direction to begin this journey.

It is more than a strong possibility that you are deeply grounded and informed by what you know about you. More than likely, you will attract or be attracted to a job that will be a good match.  Your personal knowing is like a giant magnet out there and your next job—maybe not the perfect job—will very likely show up.

If you are unable to find a job that matches well or hardly matches at all, don’t fret.  Your value for working and contributing to your family right now is the motivation that will keep your energy high and your spirit buoyant.  It will be you turning lemons into lemonade, not you giving up or settling for less.

Your support and encouragement as a loving spouse is more important than I have words to express.  Never underestimate the power of your love and encouragement, and the safe container only you can create for your spouse so they can suit up, show up, and in this case, get back into the workforce for the good of the family.

Remember, only YOU can make it happen!


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