Helping a Spouse Through Job Loss

Losing a job can be heartbreaking and depressing, and, if a couple isn't careful, it could harm a marriage. Money is at the root of many marriage issues, and, if your income is cut in half, it can add stress to your relationship. If you keep a level head and support one another, your marriage can survive job loss.

Give Your Spouse Time and Space

Dealing with job loss is tricky, especially if your spouse had no control over the matter. You may want your loved one to get back out into the workforce as soon as possible, but you need to realize that this may take some time. Give your spouse time to process what happened. You may come home from work and see your spouse watching television instead of looking for jobs, but take a moment to realize that they can't be looking for jobs one hundred percent of the time. Second, they need time to recover from this loss.

Losing a job is a lot like a break-up: A person needs time to mourn. Give your spouse some time to relax, think things through and move on before looking or applying for a new job. Make sure to communicate about how they are feeling, what kinds of jobs they'd like for the future and what this lost job means for both you and the marriage.

Part of giving your spouse time for dealing with job loss means that you may need to ask for marriage advice from friends, family members, church groups or a counselor. Don't be afraid to ask how other people got through this difficult time; it may give you some perspective on the situation.

Helping Versus Nagging

You may want to help your partner find a job, but be aware that this may make them upset. Let your spouse look for jobs by themselves, and let them know that if they need help you are there. You want to be careful about asking your partner about their day at home, since you don't want them to feel as if you are checking up on them or as if you don't trust how they spend their time.

Additionally, though your spouse may be at home more than before, don't expect them to take on all of the household responsibilities. Stick to your routine, or you risk upsetting your partner by making them feel as if they have to prove themselves or as if they have to take on more now that they've lost their job.

Think about what you focus your attentions on: Do you ask more about the job search than about your loved one's thoughts and emotions? Make sure to take time to talk through this hard time. If you stop communicating or pretend this hasn't happened, you might make matters worse.

Also be careful about the help you offer: You may think you're being helpful by circling jobs in the newspaper and leaving it out for your loved one, but your spouse could feel as if you are nagging. Instead, let them know that you're there to help and that they only have to ask.

Remember to stay positive, and remind your spouse of their positive qualities. Make them feel as if they are important and loved; this will help them move on from their job loss and realize that life is not over. Do little things for your spouse: Leave notes on mirrors, bring them home their favorite snack and make them small gifts. By showing you care, your spouse will feel supported.

Dealing With Money

Money can ruin a marriage if it becomes a major form of stress and you and your loved one don't talk about it. Make sure to sit down with your spouse and work out a financial plan for the next three to six months. Because you have one less income, you and your spouse will need to adjust your plans accordingly.

Talk about what you and your loved one can do without and what expenses are fixed or can't be trimmed. If possible, your loved one should consider filing unemployment; this payment can be a necessary crutch while he or she looks for a new job. Think of this time as a chance to sit down and evaluate your financial goals.

Still, even if you have one less income, make sure to have fun and include some luxuries in your life. You can trim costs, but you don't want your life to be consumed with cost-cutting. The smallest of luxuries can make all the difference when cash flow is down. The key is to not have too many of these expenditures. Choose them carefully.

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