How to support your spouse through unemployment

When you spouse loses a job, your attitude can make a big difference in her success in finding a new job and in the strength of your marriage

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  • My husband came home from work, looking discouraged and asked me to sit down. “Today I got laid off,” he said. I couldn’t believe this had happened to us. I was scared about how we were going to pay the bills and worried about how my husband could find another job in a difficult economy.

  • Today, you may be facing the same fears I faced as you support your spouse through unemployment. Your attitude throughout the job hunt can make a huge difference in the strength of your marriage and in your spouse’s success in finding a new job. Here are some tips:

  • Stay positive

  • Like me, your first reaction may be to worry about finances. Of course, the budget is something you’ll need to discuss, but first, set aside your worries and show some sympathy. Do something special together and have faith that your spouse will be able to find another job.

  • Network

  • Unemployed people often feel inferior and want to hide the fact that they’re unemployed. Most of the time, the best strategy for finding a new job is to do the exact opposite. Let friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors know that your talented spouse is looking for a job. Brag about your spouse’s abilities on social networking sites, asking your friends to be on the lookout for openings.

  • Focus on the job hunt

  • This is not a time to remodel the kitchen or build a deck. Your spouse will need to spend full-time hours looking for a job. With the amount of competition in the job market right now, most people need to apply for hundreds of jobs and interview with several dozen companies before landing a position.

  • Be a cheerleader, not a coach

  • Some wives and husbands make the mistake of coaching their unemployed spouses through the job hunt. For example, they may expect a report of each day’s activities or give lots of advice. Eventually, this will strain your marriage. Leave the coaching to someone else, and be a cheerleader instead. Smile, show physical affection, spend time together, enjoy inexpensive activities, and compliment your spouse often.

  • Cut back on unnecessary expenses

  • Obviously, you’ll need to scale back on some of your spending. This can be hard if you like to shop to relieve stress. Make a list of some things you can do to relax that don’t involve spending money. You might like to:

    • Go for a walk.

    • Take a bubble bath.

    • Check out your local library.

    • Volunteer to help someone who’s less fortunate.

    • Try a new recipe.

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  • When it starts to get old

  • It may take months or more to find a job. If this happens to your spouse, you may need to rededicate yourselves to positive thinking:

    • Find uplifting quotes to post around your home.

    • Listen to motivational speakers on audio files or find their books at the library.

    • Make a list of all you have to be grateful for.

    • Play music that makes you happy.

    • Take a few minutes to enjoy the beauty of nature.

  • If your spouse seems unusually hopeless, consult a doctor or therapist for help. This may also be a good time to change your job hunting strategy.

  • Be open to new possibilities

  • Finding a job for your spouse may mean changes to your lifestyle. You may need to relocate, live on a lower income, or adjust your schedule. Be as flexible as you can, but make sure you address any concerns with your spouse.

  • The future is bright

  • Rest assured that with effort, your spouse will eventually find a job. In the meantime, remember that marriage is about more than careers. You might have even promised to love each other whether you’re richer or poorer — in sickness or in health.

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Rebecca H. Jamison is a full-time mom and part-time author. She graduated with a BA and MA in English. She enjoys running, dancing, making jewelry, reading, watching chick flicks and writing novels in her spare time.


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