Unemployment leads to financial stress and that can wreak havoc to the relationship between spouses or partners. This stressful situation can lead to divorce or the partners breaking up. However, there are several ways that you can utilize in your relationship to more effectively handle the situation when your partner is unemployed.
Reconcile Yourself to the Situation
The journey toward effectively handling the situation when your partner is unemployed begins with first reconciling yourself to the harsh realities. Before you can help your partner to overcome the discouragement and other issues involved with unemployment, you need to brace yourself for all the possible scenarios. Accept the facts of their unemployment and the increased financial pressure, and make the necessary adjustments to your current budget. Work out a plan for how you both can survive the situation.
Balance Your Emotional State
The second part to this process is to find the balance with handling your own emotions. For example, you may initially feel obligated to continually sympathize with your partner. However, there will come a time when you must support your partner without enabling negative behavior or emotions. Enabling your partner encompasses behavior that ignores the situation and never takes any steps to inquire about the job search status. Furthermore, don’t enable lack of job search activity on the part of your partner because he or she has taken up all of the housekeeping and cooking duties. Another emotion that can take over is anger that your partner is inactive in the job search or has succumbed to depression regarding their unemployment. Your main job during this process is to continue with your daily routine and job tasks while maintaining a healthy emotional state of mind. After all, you cannot save someone who is drowning if you are drowning as well.
Take Care of Yourself
In addition to balancing your emotional state, you also need to find a way to take care of yourself, physically as well. With your partner being unemployed, it will be necessary for you to take on more of the financial burden of your household. You may feel increased pressure at work to ensure that you proficiently complete daily tasks so that you don’t lose your job. There is no way that you will be able to effectively emotionally support your partner if you are not first taking care of yourself during this trying time. Find ways to decompress and don’t feel guilty when you take a personal day or spend time on the weekend to relax by yourself.
Develop a Specific Strategy
It is vital that you and your partner develop a strategy that will ensure you both successfully survive during this stressful situation. You must be open and communicate honestly with your partner regarding your feelings and emotional state. Ask your partner to also agree to be as honest as possible with you. Working together will increase your chances of getting through to the other side without breaking up the relationship. Devise a strategy for how you can supplement the lost income. Decide whether or not you will take on extra hours at work or if your partner will seek immediate part-time work or odd jobs to help out. When you have a strategy in place, it will help you to maintain a healthy emotional state as well as assist your partner in staving off depression.
Encourage, Don’t Become a Nag
One of worst things you can do in this situation is to discourage your partner by constantly nagging—how many jobs did you apply for today, any interviews yet, what are your plans to find a job. The better option is to become an encourager, giving support as well as constructive criticism when needed. If the situation of unemployment is handled correctly, you and your partner greatly increase your chances of strengthening your relationship and staying together.
Make Helpful Suggestions
Your partner needs to feel that he or she is accomplishing something rather than being forced into a new situation. Especially for a man who is unemployed, he will generally feel useless and depressed because he can no longer provide for the household. Your job is to think before you speak, and make helpful suggestions. If your partner is constantly spending time at the gym, channel surfing, playing on his Xbox 360 or hanging out with other unemployed friends all the time, you may need to step in with an intervention. However, remember to be constructive in your suggestions and refrain from nagging. Additionally, be sure to suggest that your partner also takes time for him or herself to relax and have fun. This weekly decompressing activity will help your partner to succeed in overcoming depression and also then in maintaining a healthy mental and emotional state.
Avoid Enabling Behaviors
Back to the subject of enabling, be mindful of the dangers of non-empowerment behavior on your part. Find ways to empower your partner to become the best person that he or she can be. Encouragement and genuine support will help your partner to proceed more effectively with the job search process. Some enabling behaviors to avoid are listed below.
- Nagging instead of encouragement
- Job searching for your partner
- Acting as their recruitment officer
- Ignoring the blatant issues between you both
- Becoming overly protective of your partner’s feelings
Of course, you cannot turn a complete blind eye to the situation. You must find the balance between positively acting on positive emotions rather than negative ones. Learn how to manage your emotions without blaming your partner for the job loss. Take the time to decompress and relax to ensure that you are at your optimal state of emotional and physical health. Work with your partner to develop and implement a specific strategy that will work well in your current situation. Encourage without nagging and learn how to make helpful suggestions that will take root with your partner and help to bring him or her to job search success.