So we see the Occupy Wall Street movement all over the news. We hear the wonderful unemployment statistics (I say that sarcastically) nearing 11% in some states and over 11% in others and we try to bury our heads in the sand. Sometimes the bad news can be overwhelming. This news can be especially troubling if you are currently unemployed. The only thing you hear the news anchor saying is, ‘ You will never find a job.’ However, the bleak outlook of the economy does nothing to deter your significant other and/or family from looking at you everyday wondering, “When will you get a job?’ The first couple of months of unemployment were probably great. You were probably relieved you no longer had a job. Admit it. Even though you were wondering where the next paycheck was going to come from, a small part of you needed a break. If you were lucky enough to get a severance package, you probably said secretly or out loud, ‘Perfect!! I will take a break before I seriously start looking for another job.’ If you were not that lucky, you probably had to start pounding the pavement the same day.
Either way, both of you, the person with the severance package and the person without one, will eventually get that uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach as you tirelessly apply for job and continue to be denied. Sometimes, you are lucky if you hear anything at all. This uneasy feeling can sometimes develop into outright depression. You may start to feel discouraged, hopeless, sad, irritable or easily agitated, or well depressed. So, how, if at all, do all of these things impact your relationships? After that description, you are probably like, ‘Duh! Of course this horrible situation would impact my relationships!’ But, let’s be honest, when you are in the boat, you rarely know the temperature of the surrounding water. Unemployment can cause divorce, unemployment can cause couples that always thought they were going to make it to question the stability of their relationship.
Unemployment is a loss. A traumatic one. It is the loss of a job, the loss of stability, the loss of your identity, the loss of who you are, who you were, and who you imagined you would be. It hurts. It sucks. It’s awful. You are grieving. Grieving the loss of everything you knew. The stages of grief, denial, bargaining, anger, etc do not have to be sequential. You may stay in one for a long time and then move quickly to another. You may jump around from stage to stage or cycle quickly through to acceptance. Either way, unemployment IS impacting your relationships. The first step to repairing the damage that has been done is to face it. You are in a horrible situation, in a horrible economy, however you must keep the doors of communication open.
Talk openly with your significant other and your children (dependent upon age) regarding your situation. Remember secrets can erode the foundation of any relationship. Talk about how you feel. Find affordable ways to unwind, like having a movie night at home or going for a walk with your family. If you went to college, look up your college career center. Look up local, government programs that may be training individuals to put them back to work. Get help if you need it!! Counseling can help you, your significant other, and your family get back on track emotionally. Trust me, you need their support right now. Many counselors offer services on a sliding scale, as do I.
Even if you don’t come to me for counseling, please get help somewhere if you feel you need it. The only thing worse than being unemployed in a relationship is being unemployed and suddenly single.