1. People & Relationships

How to Support Your Unemployed Husband or Wife

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What happens if you get married and your spouse loses his or her job shortly afterward? Unemployment can happen to anyone at any time. If it happens to your spouse, especially early in the marriage, it can be devastating.

Getting laid off or fired, besides being a downer, can lower one’s self-esteem. The now unemployed person feels as though he let down is employer, family, and most of all him or herself. Often, he or she feels like a failure and worries about the future. But you can help your unemployed husband or wife. Here’s how to support your unemployed husband or wife:

Lift his or her spirits.

When your spouse first loses his or her job, do something special. Make his or her favorite meal, go to a ball game, or just spend extra time together. Besides providing a distraction, these kinds of gestures will show your spouse that he or she is more than a job and that you love him or her no matter what.

Never nag.

While it’s all right to send prospective jobs your spouse’s way after you’ve given him or her a few days to throw a pity party and get over the initial blow of losing the job, you should never put pressure on him or her to find a job. Even subtle pressure, such as often asking about what’s happening with the job search, is a no no, too. Your spouse is probably putting enough pressure on him or herself and will only resent you for making matters worse. The feeling that he or she is disappointing you will cut down on confidence and make getting a job that much harder.

Encourage your husband or wife.

There’s a fine line between encouraging your spouse and being annoying. Don’t cross it. Tell your spouse what he or she offers to an employer – good presentation skills, efficiency, a fantastic network, etc. Don’t dwell on his or her weaknesses. Let he or she discover those for him or herself. Consider yourself your spouse’s own personal cheerleader. But be careful not to overdo it or he or she won’t believe your compliments. If your praise is too saccharine, you risk seeming phony. Speak the truth instead. If your husband is good at helping his boss save money, then tell him so because that’s his true strength. It gives him a starting point for marketing himself to potential employers.

Don’t expect your spouse to become a domestic god or goddess

Some people think that the unemployed spouse should spend his or her day cleaning house and cooking elaborate meals. If it didn’t happen before, it probably won’t happen now. In addition, your spouse ideally should spend his or her day working on getting a job. Therefore, you’ll still have to share the household chores.

Be realistic about finances.

Throwing it in your spouse’s face that you can’t afford that vacation you were planning is a big mistake. Instead, try to cut back on spending, sock away some extra money in case your spouse stays unemployed for a while, and try to put off luxuries such as a vacation until you can truly afford it. Going into debt will only add to the pressure for your spouse to get a job quickly and put stress on your relationship. Remember that most marriages face lean times, and if you’re smart about saving some money for a rainy day, you will survive.

Give advice only when asked for it.

Do not offer constructive criticism to your husband or wife. It rarely goes over well when it’s unsolicited. Criticizing your spouse will only cause tension, which will cause a rift at a time your spouse needs you the most. Your best bet is to offer advice and tips in the most sensitive way possible only if your spouse asks for your help. If your husband says, “Honey, I could use some help writing my resume,” then you can jump in. You may be able to offer to help, depending on the type of relationship you and your spouse have and his or her personality. Only you can know if offering would be appropriate.

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