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How to Help Your Spouse Cope with Unemployment

During the twelve years my husband and I have been together, the two of us have been at both end of the unemployment stick. It can certainly add strain to a relationship, but there are ways in which one may help the other go through this difficult period. These are just some of the actions or factors I can recommend to support your partner.

Being unemployed is generally a difficult situation to be in. Feelings of anxiety and frustration can often overwhelm a person. In industrialized nations, there is a strong connection between identity and work, leading people to believe their job defines them. This can chip away at an unemployed person’s self esteem. So when someone we are married to, or committed to, might be undergoing any of these negative feelings or thoughts, there are certain factors and actions to keep in mind.


Do not blow him or her off.
Remember, even if your day consisted of board meetings and planning strategies with your team, when you get home, your spouse might have been home all day, alone, reading through job sites or posting virtual CVs. Let the person talk for a while, then you can say how tired you feel and that you can resume the conversation after a break. But never let the person feel like you don’t care.

Be supportive with job-hunting. Ask your spouse about the status of his/her applications, re-cap on the companies he/she has applied to. Try to contribute with suggestions of possible job sources like a company you know about in the same field, or a job-searching or job-posting website. Help your partner practice for interviews, reviewing possible questions and company’s profiles.

Encourage your spouse use their free time. Encourage your partner to take up exercise or an activity they might enjoy. Physical activity is not only beneficial to the body, it also helps release stress. Being active can also create feelings of self-satisfaction, helping your partner to boost his or her self-esteem.

Steer away from work during social gatherings. When your social circle is populated by the people you work with, ‘the job’ or ‘the office’ tends to be the topic people automatically navigate to. Try to introduce topics your spouse can contribute to. Your friends will most likely, also enjoy themselves more and unwind talking about the upcoming baseball season or the latest blockbusters at your gathering, rather than the problems with the last marketing campaign.

Be understanding and compassionate. Above all, show your loved one that you care, that you understand he or she is going thru a rough time, and you are there for him or her. Don’t be annoyed if you find him sulking on the sofa when you get home. Be optimistic, and show confidence in the talented, capable, precious person that is your life partner. He or she will feel your support and know that things will get better.

Born and raised in Costa Rica, lived and worked in Canada, Switzerland, Tanzania, and The Netherlands, currently working for Smile Bhutan  View profile

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