Supporting Your Partner When they Lose their Job

There’s a lot to be gained in hard times, though it may not seem like it in the moment. Relationships test both people involved, and when one is going through a rough time, like being unemployed, it can affect the other person in the relationship as well. But it’s important to remember that these hard times are normally temporary, and that the light at the end of the tunnel is impossible without the journey through the dark. Additionally, rough patches test one’s strength, and likewise, can test the strength of a relationship. Sometimes knowing how strong—or weak—the relationship is can be a gift in and of itself.

If you do find yourself emotionally and/or financially supporting an unemployed partner, it’s important to make sure you do the things you should hopefully already be doing to support them. That is, keep open communication by talking about your feelings, being honest, listening, and responding constructively to disagreements or criticism. Additionally, it’s important to set aside special time for you and your partner to bond and form positive memories during what is likely a stressful time. Plan regular dates, and if money is a concern, come up with low cost or free date ideas, and don’t be afraid to get creative. You can have a picnic, go to the beach or for a walk, or get an ice cream cone, to name a few. Try something you’ve never tried before or have been wanting to do again, like dancing or ice skating. You’ll have fun and will both get your mind off of the stress of unemployment.

When someone is unemployed, their risk for depression increases, due to a variety of factors: for example, their feelings of doubt of frustration, lack of socialization and stimulation, and/or increased boredom. It’s important to take measures to ward off depression. It’s likely inevitable to have negative feelings and feel bummed out or frustrated when one is unemployed, and that’s okay, but it’s vital to make sure this negativity doesn’t slip into full depression, which is a serious health concern. To help combat depression, encourage your partner to be proactive about finding a job, and to keep busy with hobbies or learning new skills, or doing whatever makes them feel most productive and fulfilled. Your partner could also feel lonely if they do not have a workplace to go to everyday, so it’s important to encourage them to socialize if they aren’t. They can spend time in public spaces such as libraries or coffee shops while applying for jobs for some minor interactions, but they should also make sure to spend time with friends and family.

It can be hard to watch your partner going through a hard time, especially when it’s affecting your life. You may feel more financial constraints while your partner’s out of work, or just feeling sad for them out of empathy. Make sure you are both taking time to care for your mental health, whatever that means for you: taking walks, keeping a journal, seeing a therapist, etc. It’s important to support your partner productively, without nagging or further stressing them. It may be helpful to talk realistically and reasonably about your finances, and figure out how you can save money, if that is a concern. If you are feeling frustrated with your partner, it is important to speak constructively without resorting to anger or blame. You or your partner’s tension may be high during the frustration of unemployment, but before you snap, take a step back and ask yourself how you can resolve this conflict more productively and supportively. If you need help, it’s okay to seek couple’s therapy or ask a trusted mutual friend to mediate. Frustration and anger are normal during tough times, but make sure to deal with these feelings in healthy ways, remind yourself they will pass, and be kind and gentle to yourself and your partner.

For more information and resources, check out Inpathy.com

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