Everyone knows the economy is bad. You can’t turn on the TV without hearing about how unemployment is affecting the nation. While the effects of unemployment are widely advertised, one thing that’s not talked about is the effects of unemployment on a marriage and how to overcome job loss together.
When someone loses a job, there are often feelings of embarrassment, guilt, and shame. In a marriage, it’s common for spouses to feel the same way. This makes it difficult for spouses to talk about job loss. Tough times create opportunities for spouses to come together, bond and overcome challenges, and when two people work together to overcome challenges, the outcome is often much, much better. Here are a few tips to help you and your spouse overcome job loss together:
1. Talk about the job loss in detail
Because there’s a stigma surrounding unemployment, people are often reluctant to talk about it. Instead, they often quietly focus on finding a new job. This isn't helpful for your relationship nor your ability to find another job. Spouses are supposed to be together for richer or poorer, through sickness and health. Not talking about the job loss tells your spouse that you’re ashamed and embarrassed, and that creates strain in your marriage. Go ahead and talk with your spouse about it. This helps you connect in your relationship and make necessary plans for the future.
2. Don’t Let Unemployment Define Your Marriage
. People have lots of identities that define them: mother/father, friend, jogger, etc. One of these labels people use to describe themselves is their job (e.g. accountant, medical assistant, etc.). The same is true in your marriage. Couples often identify themselves by what they do for work. When you or your spouse is unemployed it’s easy to fall into the trap of identifying yourselves as being unemployed or the couple whose spouse is unemployed.
Even though, you may no longer be an accountant you still have other (more positive) identities. You’re still a wife/husband, jogger, a gardener, etc. Focus on things you like to do as a couple and encourage your spouse to focus on their identities, too. Strengthen these identities and find new ones. You may find some you never knew you liked, and these may lead into a new job/career path.
3) Relish the moment
I know, when you’re worried about how long your savings will hold out and where you’ll get your next meal, the last thing on your mind is relishing in the moment of being unemployed. Think about it, when was the last time you or your spouse was able to be home with your kids right after school? Once you find a job, you probably won’t be able to do that, again. Take advantage of these moments. You’ll both have a much more positive experience, positive outlook, and you’ll look back with less regret, too.
Remember, job loss isn’t fatal. While finances may be tight, you and your spouse can still enjoy the changes and work together to overcome the challenges. This does wonders for your relationship and can help you find a job sooner. After all, two heads are better than one.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog for expert information on how to improve your relationship.