Unemployment can be hard on couples. Economic stress along with the emotional impact of job loss can take a toll on everyone in the family. Partners of job-seekers play an important role in managing this challenging time and creating a positive environment in the household. Here are some ideas for supporting an out-of-work partner:
- Listen and be supportive. Don’t try to talk your partner out of feelings such as anger, fear and frustration. All of these are normal after job loss and during a long job search.
- Constantly reinforce the message that “We are in this together.” Say it and mean it.
- Realize and acknowledge that things are tough out there. Most people who are not actively looking for work do not really get how tight the job market is and how challenging it can be.
- Don’t compare or judge. If you know someone who bounced back quickly from job loss, don’t ask your partner why he or she is not doing the same. Everyone’s situation is unique.
- Offer your help. Let your partner practice his or her pitch on you or do a mock interview. Offer to proof read the resume. Don’t pressure or be overly involved. Your offer means a lot, but it’s OK if your partner declines your offer.
- Share your network! Don’t forget all your contacts, even those outside your professional fields, such as your neighbors and other parents at your kids’ school, are part of your network. The beauty of a partnership is that you have twice the networking potential, making for powerful possibilities.
- Cut household expenses without making it a big deal. Support the job seeker by doing everything possible to diminish spending and do it quietly and without fanfare.
- Enjoy the time together and enjoy time apart. If your partner is suddenly home with you all day, you two can make the most of it by doing activities together that you didn’t use to have the time for. If the togetherness is getting to be too much, be sure to schedule time apart for your own activities. Volunteer, connect with friends or enjoy some alone time. Break up the routine so time apart is available and time together is cherished.
Many couples report that journeying through job loss and recovery together brought them closer. If you are supporting a job-seeker, view this time as a chance for you to be at your supportive best and an opportunity for the two of you to grow as a couple.
We would like to hear from you. If you are out of work, what is your partner doing to support you? What would you like him or her to do? And if you’re supporting a job seeker, what is working?