So you are unemployed. You are unemployed, your spouse or significant other is employed, or you are reading this in an attempt to help someone who is. It should not be a surprise that unemployment impact relationships. However, it may be a difficult task to talk to someone who is unemployed without feeling guilty. You may feel you are adding to the pressure they are already experiencing because they are unemployed. You may also feel as if you do not know what to say. In this article, we will review some of the ways unemployment impacts relationships and briefly discuss some possible solutions to the ‘rut’ a relationship may fall into when someone in the relationship has recently lost a job.
First of all, it is important to understand the meaning of a job. For some individuals a job is only ‘a job’. This means their job was merely a way to make money, pay the bills, or keep food on the table. These are all very important tasks, however when someone loses a job, it may be easier for them to begin looking for another one. There was not any personal or emotional investment in the position. However, when a job is ‘a career’ or a ‘life choice’, things can become much more difficult. Many people invest emotionally into their career or life path. If unemployment strikes it is going to be taken much harder. The person may feel like a failure. Many times this may be their first time being unemployed. They may feel as if they are unable to continue to be who they were without their job. Both perceptions of work can have a negative impact on a relationship, however the latter will inflict damage upon a relationship much quicker. The impact can also be much more intense and difficult to maneuver.
So what do you do in both cases and how can your relationship survive and even thrive? Understanding which part of your relationship has been impacted is very important. Per Robert J. Sternberg, love is made up of 3 components, passion, intimacy, and commitment. Passion is the hot, sexy, part of the your relationship. Intimacy is the closeness you feel with your partner or friendship. Commitment, of course, is the trust and promise of monogamy. Unemployment can attack a relationship from all sides. A person who no longer feels important due to job loss may lose interest in sex (passion). The unemployed person may feel as if they no longer have anything to talk about because work is no longer a topic. You may feel guilty sharing information about your work day because they do not have a job (intimacy). The unemployed person may start to feel as if you no longer want to be with them or are ‘stepping out’ on the relationship because they are no longer employed (commitment).
Getting It Back: So how do you get it back? What can you do? Here are some tips.
1. Talk it out and keep talking – During times of stress, communication can stall. Men, especially, can turn their stress and frustration inward and stop talking about their fear of not being able to find a job. These stressful periods of silence can get worse in periods of extended unemployment. This is when it is more important than ever to keep talking. Both of you should talk about your feelings and how unemployment may be impacting your daily lives. If talking becomes increasingly difficult, you may need to talk to a therapist.
2. Set up an inexpensive date night. Sometimes renting a movie, popping popcorn, and cooking dinner together can be a great way to connect and relieve the stress of spending money. Talk about why you both fell in love in the first place. Share the good and bad parts of your day. Reconnect with each other.
3. Laugh, Laugh, Laugh – Humor is a great way to get through tough times. Even laughing at yourself can help. One of the first things to go in a home experiencing the stress of unemployment is laughter. Playing a board game, looking at old pictures, find ways to bring back happiness.
4. Kiss, touch, hug, love- Sex in a relationship serves many functions. It fosters intimacy, helps a couple reconnect, AND it can relieve stress. Get back to touching each other, kissing each other, and holding each other as much as you can. It may feel awkward at first, but keep at it, it will be worth it.
5. If you feel as if your relationship needs urgent care, it may be time to see a therapist. Think you can’t afford one? There are many therapists that will see clients for discounted rates if you financially qualify. Before you discount the possibility of seeing a therapist, ask around. Call some couples’ therapists in your area, if they do not offer a discounted rate, ask them if they know of someone who does.

Unemployment can cause many issues in a relationship. Although these are some quick tips, there may be more issues that you can handle alone. Make sure you stay close with your friends and family so you have constant support.

Author's Bio: 

Seria Chatters is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Tampa, Florida. Seria specializes in counseling couples, families, adolescents, and adults. Seria is currently the President of the Florida Association of Marriage and Family Counseling and the President-Elect of the Florida Association of Counselor Education and Supervision. Seria teaches courses in Mental Disorders, Consultation, Assessment and Appraisal, and Human Sexuality and Development at the University of South Florida. Seria has been invited to present at conferences for the American Counseling Association, Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, the Florida Counseling Association, and the New York Mental Health Counselors' Association.