TV’s Steph and Dom Parker, 53 and 55, draw on their 22 years of marriage to solve your relationship problems . . .
Q: I’ve been on furlough since lockdown started, and a few weeks ago my husband was made redundant. It’s scary, as I’m not sure if I’m going to get my job back. We’re in our late 40s and have two kids, aged 12 and 15, to support, and I’m worrying about how we’ll make the mortgage payments.
As a result, we are both so stressed about money at the moment. And my husband in particular has fallen into quite a dark place — recently, he’s just been staring at his computer all the time, and has stopped going out to do daily exercise.
I worry about him, but am also getting frustrated at the way he’s handling this. There is a lot of tension between us, and I think the kids can sense it.
I’m terrified it’s going to cost us our marriage as well as our jobs. I don’t know how to stop this damaging our relationship. What can I do?
An anonymous reader asked British TV’s Steph and Dom Parker for advice on having tension in her marriage, since her husband was made redundant (file image)
STEPH SAYS: First, I’d like to say a huge thank you for writing in. I’m so grateful you’re shining a light on something that’s happening to so many people but that many are still wary of discussing. Being open about your fears like this and having the courage to share them is going to bring comfort to people everywhere.
You and your husband must be devastated, fearful of the future and feeling desperately insecure. You’re both dealing with the nightmare of his job loss, while trying to quell the fears about your own. I’m not about to tell you to stop worrying. I get it — few people have guaranteed jobs at the moment. (The only ones I can think of are divorce lawyers and wine shop merchants!)
It’s completely normal to feel scared. In fact it’s perfectly rational and sane.
So how can you start to feel better, and help your husband? I think you both need to draw strength from your family. Your children are old enough to understand what is going on and they too may be worried. You’re all in it together. I would find a time to sit down and have an open discussion — and a very honest one. Explain to them the exact nature of your situation — and that you’re going to tackle it together. I imagine your husband feels it is his responsibility to fix this, but he simply can’t.
You’re watching him slide into depression and you must throw him a rope. There’s nothing worse than false bravado in the family home. It’s not the 1950s any more and your children are part of this too, however much you want to protect them. Being honest should take a bit of the pressure off your husband and your relationship, and your children will be relieved to have you explain it all.
Remember, it won’t always be like this
The other practical thing you can do is to encourage him to down tools for a while. You’re on furlough and him staring at job ads is just going to make him feel worse. Don’t do that day in and day out.
Please try to remember that none of this is his fault. Remind him, and yourself, of that. He has not lost his job because of his performance. It’s because of a global pandemic. Just saying that aloud should help.
And as for planning — well, there are rainy days, and then, there are global catastrophes. Give yourselves a break. You really couldn’t have seen this coming — neither of you could.
And remember, it’s not always going to be like this. Life is going to be different after coronavirus. This way you will have a family team that is unbreakable, honest, respectful — a team that shares highs and lows together.
Dom advised the reader to get as much help and support from the government as possible. Pictured: Steph and Dom Parker
DOM SAYS: This is a timely letter. I understand exactly where you are emotionally and the first thing I have to say to you is you are not alone. Your problem is widespread. These are difficult times, and we are all worried. From the richest of the rich downwards, we are all watching our bank balances go down by the day.
But fretting so much is not helping. We all know worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet is never useful.
Your husband has lost his job, and you are in danger of losing yours and you’re worried you may, in turn, lose your house. That is all true and terrible. But it is equally true that what you do have, and the only thing you can rely on, is your love for each other and for your children.
This dreadful virus is making us all redefine how we live, question why we live the way we do and identify what is important to us and what is not.
Ask him for a hug — they’re free!
We all need food and shelter, yes, but we don’t need our jobs to validate ourselves or boost our self-esteem. For that we don’t need anybody or anything other than each other. Remind yourself of that.
The other thing to remember is that this will pass, eventually. At some point we will be allowed to go back to work — it might not be the same job, but, eventually, there will be another.
As a nation we are fighting right now, and that Dunkirk Spirit is still alive.
We will rally. Businesses will reopen. People will go shopping again. At some stage life will start to look rosier.
So get as much help and support from the Government as you can. You’re worried about the mortgage — ask your bank to help, it should offer you a mortgage holiday. Reassure your husband that, in time, things will improve. Give him a hug. They are wonderful things — and free!
Go out on to your street and look to your left, and to your right, and you’ll find almost every other household is in the same boat. You’ll get through this, and so will your neighbours. We will all get through this.
There is nothing you or your husband can do to stop the economic implications of this global pandemic, but you can change how you face it. Staring at the computer all day is no good for anyone. It’s fine to buff up your CV, and make sure you’ve sought out every loan, grant and scheme you might benefit from. You’ll get through this — together.
Watch Steph & Dom’s Couples Therapy, their brilliant new video series, tomorrow on mailplus.co.uk/stephanddom
If you have a question you’d like Steph and Dom to tackle, write to: stephanddom@ dailymail.co.uk