By Todd Bavol
A spell of unemployment, or even just a cut in salary for one or both partners, can put the most unbearable strain on a relationship. In an attempt to come to terms with all the feelings associated with being laid off, the series of disappointments which comes with the subsequent job search and the financial constraint that inevitably follows, it becomes the easiest thing in the world to lash out at your nearest and dearest. Even the simple logistics of being ‘under one another’s feet’ all day can lead to even the closest of couples and families driving one another crazy.
So, what can a couple do to make sure that they get through such fearful and uncertain times?
Don’t play the blame game
This works both ways – neither blame your partner nor yourself. Unemployment or financial insecurity has not come about through the deliberate choice of an irresponsible partner, it has arisen as a consequence of world events. If you ever feel tempted to play the blame game, just stop and think whether either of you would have wished for this situation and then resist the temptation to strike out with hurtful words. At the end of the day, you both still want the same things, but blame will only pull you apart.
Support one another
They say that ‘no man is an island’, and in fact, no man wants to be. Having somebody to believe in you, and whom you believe in, is a basic human need and when times get tough a united front becomes all the more important. Support one another – it is you two against the world.
Men in particular are renowned for not talking about their feelings, but at times like this it becomes all the more important to let your partner in and to ask for help. It is so easy to behave distantly when your mind and your heart are full of fear, but unfortunately distance engenders mistrust. Your partner might understand rationally what is causing the new behavior, but when faced with it day in and day out, it becomes all too easy to fill in a different interpretation of events. Keep talking!
However hard it might be to see your partner apparently doing nothing more than sit around watching daytime TV and failing to pitch in with the household chores, try to be patient. The feelings associated with losing a job are akin to those of bereavement. Try to be patient and have trust in the fact that when he or she has worked through whatever it is that they need to work through, they will find the strength and courage to get back out there.
If either of you can feel yourself getting stressed or irritable, stop and reach out for a hug. The close physical contact and comfort of a hug helps to make us feel safe and secure and not only does it reduce the feelings of stress, but it also reminds us of what is really important in life.
Switch off from your job search
When you have done what you can for the day, switch off the computer, tidy away your resume and that pile of business cards that you have been wading through and try to relax and spend some quality time with your partner. Spending every waking minute of the day on your job search will not only leave you feeling mentally and physically exhausted and stressed, but will leave your partner feeling pushed out too.
Change your lifestyle/spending habits
Just because there is less money coming into the household does not mean to say that you cannot still enjoy yourselves. They say that the best things in life are free, and this is a good opportunity to reunite yourself with the simple pleasures in life. Cuddling in front of the television, playing a board game, a walk along the beach or through the countryside or park all cost nothing. A simple picnic beside a river can be one of the most romantic activities a couple can enjoy and a night (or an afternoon) of exquisite passion between the sheets will not only bring you closer together but will make you feel like a caveman (or woman), ready to go out there and take on the mammoths of the job market the next day.
Treat yourselves occasionally
Money might be tight, but if possible, try to put a little aside for an occasional treat. A nice meal out somewhere, or even a takeaway meal at home in a candlelit room can work wonders to lift your spirits and give you a feeling of togetherness.
Never forget that when the recession has passed (which it will) and life is looking rosier (which it will), the last thing you want is to be looking back and realizing that you have lost the most important thing of all – your relationship. Be kind to each other!
I am committed to providing people quick access to job search and career information. Over 20 years of experience in the HR and Career Coaching field has given me a vast amount of information and resources to share with you. You can visit me at http://www.integritycareertransitions.com/blog