Employment is a large part of our lives. It gives us the tools and finances to grow personally and professionally. For many, work puts food on our tables and clothes on our bodies. When someone you know loses their position, it may change your relationship with them in unexpected ways.
A good job provides hope and opportunity, which can motivate someone who’s struggling. And losing that job can have a significant impact on mental health. During prolonged unemployment, it’s important to have perspective and a support network.
When people lack care from their spouse, family or friends, their perception of unemployment can fuel destructive habits. A friend or partner who is unemployed and depressed may need a hand to hold. If you want to support your unemployed partner or friend, there are a few simple ways to begin.
How Unemployment Affects Relationships
Whether they’re your partner or friend, someone close to you losing work can be a challenging situation. As their other half, you want to support them in ways that validate their hardship but encourage them to move forward. The reality is that unemployment can be a hard hit, so your role as their friend or partner may change during this time.
Relationships are built on respect and support. An unemployed person may feel ashamed, angry, anxious or dejected. These are big feelings that require friends and partners to show and offer strength. Ultimately, both individuals need to be willing to work through these situations to sustain their relationship.
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) discusses how dramatic life shifts can trouble relationships. Unemployment can strain shared finances and even create resentment between partners. Though there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are ways to help your person through this.
6 Ways to Support Your Unemployed Partner or Friend
If you’re feeling lost, you’re not alone. Many people are not sure how unemployment affects their relationship until it happens. That’s why we’ve put together the six best ways to support your unemployed loved one.
1. Validate Them
When someone loses their job, they may feel unfamiliar emotions. Unemployment can often follow the same stages of grief we experience with losing a loved one. One of the most important things you can do during this time is validate your loved one.
Validation tells your partner you’re listening and appreciate them for expressing their feelings. Your partner may need to hear that you understand them, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or paraphrase their words for clarification. Other times, they may only need a shoulder to lean on.
2. Put Yourself in Their Shoes
The golden rule we often hear growing up is, “Treat others how you want to be treated.” This motto rings true when you want to support your unemployed partner or friend, as well. Adjusting your perspective can help you understand why they’re feeling a specific way.
When humans experience hardship, they don’t want other people to blame or pester them. Before you tell your partner that they could have worked harder or talk to them about applications, imagine how you would feel on the other end. By putting yourself in their shoes, you can have more productive conversations.
3. Be a Cheerleader
Some people feel like they can’t discuss the situation when their partner or friend loses a job. Think again! A great way to encourage your person to get a new job is by cheering them on. Instead of increasing pressure, you can reward their progress, whether they’re making connections or sending applications.
Your rewards can be as small as saying, “I’m proud of you,” or, “That was a great idea.” Being your partner’s cheerleader gives them confidence and motivation to continue working toward their goals.
When communicating with your partner, it’s important to listen more than you speak. All too often, people focus more on their words than their partner’s emotions. As their friend, you are there to learn and understand how they feel.
Effective communication creates trust and strengthens your relationship. By having productive conversations, your partner may feel motivated by your support.
5. Set Realistic Expectations
Try to expect the unexpected when working through your partner’s unemployment. You won’t know how they feel until they are comfortable enough to share it with you. If they feel like you’re pushing them one way or another, they might close themselves off. It’s normal for you to both have big feelings, so expect a range of emotions.
Patience is key when it comes to supporting your person. Your friend’s or partner’s confidence will increase when they know you’re rooting for them, so don’t give up!
6. Practice Self-Care
When your partner is unemployed and depressed, you may feel overwhelmed. If you share finances, you may end up working more or finding new ways to save money. When you feel exhausted, make sure you have time to treat yourself. Self-care is crucial for both you and your partner’s mental health.
Because you will be listening and empathizing with your person, it’s important to find your own confidante. Talking with a close friend or a professional therapist about your feelings can be a great form of stress relief. Plus, this person can empower you to be an even better supporter with a new perspective.
Seek Professional Help for You or Your Partner
For all the support you will want to give your partner or friend, there are other resources available if they need professional help. Part of your support may involve a conversation about therapy. At Taylor Counseling Group, we have the team to help you get started.
Unemployment can affect relationships to a point where you may want to sit down with a couples counselor. Our resident counselors have seen it all, and they are prepared to offer relationship or marriage support. Going to couples therapy can show your partner that you’re in this with them and become a starting point for great communication. We also offer individual counseling if you’re interested in personal sessions.
We believe that therapy should be affordable and comfortable for everyone. Our counselors offer a $100-per-session rate so you and your loved one can get the help you need, even in times of financial hardship. Take a look at our affordable care policy to learn more.
To get started with Taylor Counseling Group, schedule an appointment online. We have offices across Central Texas, Houston, San Antonio and telehealth options if needed. If you have questions, please call (214) 530-0021.