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Unemployment and Marriage
Losing a job can affect every facet of your life, including your marital relationship. When finances are the top cause of divorce, unemployment can push marriages to the brink. Self confidence is shaken. Money woes loom large. There is shame, guilt or blame. And anger. All spurred by an underlying current of worry.
Extended unemployment only emphasized the pressure. I consulted Bellaonline.com’s Unemployment editor Dianne Walker whose marriage experienced an extended unemployment. My own marriage went through a period of unemployment. Together, we came up with the following tips that could help you:
If you become unemployed:
*Avoid misdirected anger, worry and frustration. Work off the angst at the gym or on a long walk. Dumping your negative feelings only spreads them. Work them off instead.
*Leave your job with grace. It’s never a good idea to burn your bridges, professionally speaking. Good professional networks might lead to your next job.
*Be sure to remember self-care practices: exercise, eat healthfully, take vitamins and sleep well. During high stress times, your body needs additional resources to maintain good emotional and mental health.
*Keep up your spirits. Try not to take the termination personally. Businesses need to cut costs in order to survive. If you believe in providence, trust that everything happens for a reason.
*Don't wallow in self-pity. Believe you are employable and sharpen your resume and interview skills. Tap all the employment resources available: your city chamber of commerce, library, colleges, online job boards and professional headhunters. If you’re in a waiting period, don’t use it as an excuse to do nothing. There are many ways to contribute to the running of a household.
Tips if your spouse is unemployed:
*Forget the past. It will only worse matters if you harp on why he got fired. “This is what happens when you show up for work late every morning.” “Why didn’t you take the transfer last quarter?” “Maybe if you didn’t spend half your morning Internet surfing against company policy, this wouldn’t have happened.” Blaming will not get him rehired and will only deflate his self confidence which is necessary to get a new job.
*Be aware that he will face some emotional adjustment. Depression, for example, is a typical phase that follows a pink slip. Although it is understandably upsetting to come home after your own long workday to see that he is still moping on the sofa, it is better to offer encouragement and suggestions rather than resorting to ordering, nagging or criticizing.
*Avoid directing his job search. If he invites your help, then help. But, a job is a personal matter. He might decide to try a new career path. In spite of your anxiety of the possible uncertainties, remain supportive. There's truth to the saying, “When you follow your passion, the money follows.” The termination might be a blessing in disguise.
*Do not demand that he reports to you how he spent every minute of his day. “What did you do after you emailed your resumes?” “You could have at least washed the dishes while you were home all day.” “What did you do for four hours?”
*Don't let the financial pressures cause you to turn on your spouse. Venting, blaming or even voicing your worries about the mounting bills only increases his anxiety. Many people are experiencing serious financial woes today. Companies are willing to work with everyone until the economy turns around. Be proactive in researching your many financial options.
*Remain supportive. A confident spouse will get a job again faster than a depressed one. Good mates are like members of a relay team. There are times to cheer and times to pick up the baton and run the next leg of the race.
Things you can do together:
*Network. Let your family, friends and former colleagues know that you are looking for a job. Use the Internet to post your resume. Attend unemployment seminars, workshops and programs offered by your city library or church.
*Stay positive. Believe that your next job is just a week or two away. Being positive is an attractive attribute in a job applicant as well as a spouse.
*Keep your Date Nights. Dianne Walker, Bellaonline's Unemployment Editor, recommends that married couples still make time for Date Night by taking advantage of free local entertainment.
*Connect socially. Host potlucks or go for walks together with friends. They react according to how you are coping with unemployment. They’ll feel uncomfortable if you remain chronically bitter.
*Volunteer together. Walker says this accomplishes two things: “First, it (volunteering) gives back and helps you to see that there are many, many other people out there struggling. It also provides networking opportunities with the directors and others connected to the organization.”
Consider unemployment a life challenge that the two of you, as a team, can best. And pay attention to the important life lessons and gifts that can be discovered during this time. “You know we didn’t marry each other for the money!” we joke. But there are multi-millionaires out there who can’t say the same for their spouses. Freed from materialism, we rediscovered those amazing joys that only nature can provide free of charge to everyone: the brilliant stars ablaze in the night sky, wildlife in all its glory, and true friends. And unemployment resulted in two new careers for us. We’re far more fulfilled professionally than ever before.
If you or your spouse is living through unemployment, I encourage you to visit Bellaonline.com’s Unemployment site and forum, edited and moderated by Dianne Walker. She provides invaluable job finding resources along with some moral and professional support along the way. The links may be found at the end of this article.
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