For better and for worse…

| September 8, 2011

The economic downturn has impacted so many facets of everyday life, and dating is no exception.

My boyfriend was laid off back in February, and at the time, the topic was too sensitive for me to explore in this column. It was one of the most trying times we’ve experienced as a couple.

It’s an enormous blow to a man’s ego to lose his job, even if it’s through no fault of his own. I was shocked by the toll it took on him physically and psychologically. It was difficult to witness, and in many ways, I felt my presence exacerbated the situation. But we got through it, and we’re stronger for it.

Now unexpectedly, we find ourselves in the same predicament only months later. Yet, this time around, we are both mentally equipped to handle it.

Given that unemployment has struck many relationships, I’d like to share my findings on the strategies that proved effective for us in the coping process.

Stay Busy

Just because you don’t report to the office anymore, doesn’t mean you’re on vacation. Try your best to keep a routine; set an alarm and have an agenda with objectives for each day. It will keep you motivated, and the perseverance will not go unnoticed by your partner.

Get Out of The House

Take your laptop to a local coffee shop and work on the job search there. Leaving the comfort of your own home provides a sense of normalcy. It’s a reason to get dressed in the morning, and the atmosphere keeps you away from distractions like TV and household chores. Everyone needs a healthy dose of human interaction.

Know When To Stop

It’s unrealistic to expect that every waking moment of the day will be filled with job hunting. Be proactive, but practical. There’s only so much you can do in 24 hours, and you’ll drive yourself crazy obsessing if you don’t escape from it periodically.

Accept Help

Whether it’s proof-reading your resume or hunting leads, your significant other wants to participate in your success. Working together to solve the issue is a healthy outlet for both parties to handle the stress.

Cut Back Together

One of the biggest advantages to being in a relationship while unemployed is the fact that you have someone there who enjoys your company and needs little else. Take advantage of the extra one-on-one time with at-home movie night or do-it-yourself Sunday brunch. You’re not only saving money, but you’re strengthening your bond.

Do What You Can

When my boyfriend lost his job, he was suddenly very aware of his contribution to our relationship. No offense to him, but I wasn’t exactly being showered with gifts while he was employed nor would I ever expect that.
He needed reassurance that he was in some way providing for me and found purpose in doing one of my daily errands or chores. He’d pick up my dry cleaning or do the dishes. It was a sweet gesture and huge help. To be honest, I’d take a clean house over flowers any day.

Look to Each Other

A strong relationship is rooted in many things, and your partner’s employment status should not be one of them. Unemployment is a difficult chapter for any relationship because of the spectrum of emotions it evokes. Anyone who would leave you in a time of need like that is not with you for the right reasons.
Be open with your partner about the process and your state of mind. Communication is paramount in any relationship, and in times of trouble, that goes two-fold.


Category: Dating and Relating

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