With unemployment on the rise and companies cutting costs and closing doors all across the country, relationships may be undergoing new levels of stress as one or both partners lose income or positions. Just because you’re facing an experience that takes a pot shot or five at your self-esteem and pocket book, there are ways to keep the love alive through the transition.
Communication is going to be even more important than ever. Try not to assume what your partner is feeling by the latest transition since everyone reacts differently to job loss. Some are going to feel relieved for the excuse to pursue a new opportunity, others are going to go into a dark cave and not come out for a while. Some will hit the job hunt immediately and hard with little time for anything else and others may approach it like a long and on-going project to manage. Whatever the reaction, talk to each other about the realities of the situation and the changes that may need to occur in order to stay afloat. Penelope Trunk has a great article in her blog about how to talk to a friend who’s been laid off. Her suggestions are a gold mine of practical and compassionate advice.
Find ways to economize without making the other person feel like they put a crimp in your style by losing their job. Perhaps you were used to 20 star kind of meals five nights a week, but this might be a good time to start having those dinner parties with friends you’ve been talking about where everyone brings food to all cook together. By just changing the focus from expensive time out to quality time with friends, you gain something instead of feeling like its one more loss you have to deal with.
Understand that the time at the gym, at the dog park, playing pool with the guys, coffee with her best friend, etc. are all very important to the job seeker feeling balanced and like some part of their life still works. Treat this time as sacred and do what you can to help protect it for your partner. Please hold back on making snide commentary about that time being better used for the job hunt. After all, you just never know when that friend, fellow runner or dog owner will be the one to pass on a great job lead.
Refrain from running their job hunt yourself. There is no quicker way to alienate someone who loves you than by becoming their parent. Just remember that with all parent-child relationships, its the child’s job to eventually individuate and become autonomous from the parent. Unless you are going for a long-view break up, let your partner do their thing without your machinations.
Laugh together. Nurture and cultivate whatever tickles your funny bones… whether its a certain kind of movie or a certain kind of friend. Find your laughter together and remember joy.
If you are looking for some cheap and easy ways to keep love alive:
- love notes left in places where the other partner will find them in the course of the day.
- just saying “hi” via text, email or voice-mail. Not in a “you’d better call me back” kind of way, just a little something to let them know you are thinking about them.
- pay attention to each other. Actively listen when your partner is sharing his or her thoughts, dreams and emotions with you.
- cooking together (unless you are the kind of chef that whacks people with sauce spoons when they try to contribute to the meal — if you are a kitchen Nazi, maybe keep your cooking as a solo activity…)
- getting all those little things that need doing done for your partner. If you’ve been meaning to get around to fixing that gate for a while now, it might be the perfect time to get on that.
- arranging time with supportive friends doing things like game nights, book clubs, etc. Whatever strikes your interest and would be a good way to connect not only with each other but also with people you enjoy.
- create a CD for each other of music that reminds you of the best times in your life together.
- write a song or poem for your partner to let them know how glad you are to have them in your life (Top 10 lists are great too — ie. The Top 10 things I love about your mind, The Top 10 Things I love about our relationship, The Top 10 Things I love about you, etc…)
- sexy reminders… be it pictures, a sexy text, a piece of lingerie where they’ll least expect it. Sometimes the libido takes a hit when you’re wondering where the next dollar is going to come from, but continuing to share passion even when stressed can do quite a bit to not only raise your mood, but also to bind the relationship together.
- don’t forget to say things like “I love you,” “I want you,” “You are hot!” More than ever, your unemployed partner needs to know that they are important.
I’m sure you can come up with some great ideas that I simply missed… if so, please share! And if you are the one facing unemployment… Good Luck and let us know when you get that great new gig!