I was making my lunch when I heard the interior garage door open. Puzzled, I made my way down to see what was going on. My husband stood in the mudroom gripping his briefcase, his suit bag draped over his other arm.
“Well, I guess that’s it.”
Searching for words in the midst of confusion, I stumbled over my response. “What...what's going on?”
“They fired me. I’m done.”
While I knew there was a possibility that my husband’s job could be eliminated after a corporate merger turned out to be a takeover, his announcement still took me by surprise. A job loss is rarely welcomed, even with the major workplace upheaval my husband and his colleagues had endured over the preceding months.
It didn’t take long for guilt to prick my conscience. I had pled to the Lord for an escape from the responsibilities of caring for our new puppy Theo (click here to read more) so I could get back to my own career. Having my husband around more was one way to accomplish this. I never imagined, nor wished, that my prayer would be answered with a devastating job loss.
I couldn't help my next emotion bubbling up: quiet jubilation as I reflected on the opportunity that had just presented itself. Maybe we could FINALLY move on to fulfill our dream to move to the east coast.
It was an idea that my husband had first presented to me some time ago, and one that he had been increasingly talking about, as he had travelled to the east coast many times as part of his job; a few times with me in tow. It had taken a while, but his idea had grown on me.
I had visions of owning a beautiful place where we could host travelling musicians, writers, people in ministry, family, and friends, who needed a place to rest and rejuvenate; where I could have a little store front; and where my husband could pursue his passion for a counselling ministry. I saw possibility instead of loss, and was excited to see where God might lead us.
I knew that my husband needed time to take in what had just happened, so kept my thoughts to myself. I hoped that, in time, the same idea of taking an early retirement to pursue our dreams--would dawn upon him. As much as I wanted to dive in and orchestrate a new life for us, I knew I had to give him the space to figure things out for himself.
During the first few months after my husband was let go, I was surprised how easily I adjusted to him being around all the time. I always dreaded the thought of him retiring, as I was used to having the whole house to myself so I could have the time and space to pursue my creative endeavours including writing and making music. Although I ended up not doing much creating over those first few months, I did get other work done. It was a blessing that my husband became Theo’s primary caregiver during this time, saving me the early morning walks and feeding duties.
Our house had a measure of peace throughout those first few months as my husband maintained a positive attitude about his future.
“Don’t worry about anything. I’m sure I will get another job.”
It wasn't exactly what I was hoping he would say, but I was grateful for his positive attitude.
Despite some promising interviews, my husband was unable to secure employment. The industry had taken a downturn, and, unfortunately, men in their mid-50s weren’t the most sought after demographic, despite their valuable experience.
As the weeks ticked on by, I decided it was time to have a serious conversation with my husband about moving to the east coast.
After easing him into the conversation through hints here and there, he seemed agreeable to talk things through. We sat down together and planned out on paper what we could do if we sold our house on the prairies and moved to the east coast, where real estate prices were low enough to allow us to live mortgage- and possibly even debt-free if we were careful with our money. It would be a grand opportunity for us to pursue our respective and mutual artistic and ministry dreams. We talked for days about the possibilities.
To help my husband along, I brought home from the library dozens of books about retirement and life transitions for him to read.
Sadly—and despite my devouring every book—the collection I had set aside for my husband to read remained untouched by him.
A friend who was a life/career coach and knew my husband was at a crossroads reached out. I caught snatches of their conversation as I tidied up the kitchen.
“In your heart of hearts, what do you really want to do right now?” she asked. It was a great question to ask someone who is floundering.
Without hesitation, my husband said, “I’d like to have a full-time job working in my industry here in Saskatchewan.”
I was furious. Despite all our lengthy discussions about moving on to something new, my husband clearly could not let go of his career.
As soon as he got off the phone, I laid into him, quivering with frustration and anger: “I don’t understand. I thought you wanted to move to the east coast!”
“I do,” my husband said. “But what am I going to do there?”
His answer upset and angered me even more. All those days of discussion and planning evidently was not finding a home in his heart. My husband was clearly not ready to move on. Disappointed and disillusioned, and I ripped up our carefully thought-out plans and threw them in the garbage.
Unfortunately, employment doors continued to close for my husband in Saskatchewan. Anxious that he do something productive, I encouraged him to finish his Bachelor of Theology--his passion for the last five years, with only a few courses to go—but my husband couldn’t seem to get himself to sit down and complete it, despite the fact that he finally had loads of time. I didn’t understand it at the time, but my husband was sliding into depression.
Meanwhile, we were contending with dwindling finances. By the time he paid his taxes, the money my husband had received when he was let go--those not locked up in RRSPs--had dissipated. With months to wait before he qualified for employment insurance and desperate to prove his self-worth, my husband intensified and expanded his job search into Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. Perplexingly, looking for a job on the east coast never came up.
After more failed interviews, when an opportunity arose for him to work part-time for a consulting company right in our own city, my husband jumped at the chance. I had my concerns as the position was outside his area of gifting and comfort zone.
And while it promised to provide much-needed income, it came at an enormous cost.
Click here to read the next instalment in "Prairie Girl Goes Coastal."