Job loss is a very scary thing for most people. The sudden loss of an income leaves you worried about paying bills, being homeless, keeping kids healthy and cared for. And during times like these, when many people are being laid off or let go due to a pandemic, it can be even scarier.
You don’t know when, or even if, your partner will find another job. Will it pay as much? What will the hours be? Panic can set it quickly.
Before you start spiraling with worries and doubts, try these tips for dealing with your partner’s job loss.
The first thing is to not panic. Yes, you’ve lost a significant amount of reliable money, and you don’t know if or when it will be replaced. There is a lot to worry about.
But panicking won’t help. First of all, you didn’t lose your job. But your panic could cause you to make mistakes that do cost you your job.
So take some deep breaths and allow the panic to subside. You still have some money coming in. And if you let panic subside, you’ll be able to think more clearly and come up with other ways to supplement your income until your partner is able to return to the workforce.
Remember these things happen
Don’t lay blame on your partner, unless they specifically did something to get themselves fired. And even then, be careful doling out blame if you want your relationship to survive.
Job losses happen to everyone. Budgets get cut, profits are down, and employers need to let people go to keep the business making money. During a pandemic, some places have no choice but to close and that means they can’t afford to pay staff — so instead, they lay them off or let them go.
Being angry at your partner or blaming them for something that was out of their control isn’t going to help either of you. So just don’t do it.
Cut them a little slack
They’re not working and you are. It’s tempting to insist they start cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids and otherwise taking care of the home and family. And if they’re out of work for a long period, they should.
But cut them a little slack in the initial days or weeks after the job loss. First, they’ll need a little time to process what’s happened, particularly if they’ve been in the same position with the same company for a long time.
Second, they need time to update their resume, start looking for work, and apply for unemployment. Particularly during this pandemic, many people are having a hard time filing for unemployment and it ends up taking much more time than it normally would.
If there’s something you need them to do to help you out — for example, picking the kids up from school so you don’t have to leave work — go ahead and ask.
But give them at least a week or two before you start expecting them to take charge around the house if they’re not working.
Be understanding but don’t be a doormat
Job loss and stress over finances are a couple of the biggest stressors on people and their relationships. Before they even come home to tell you they’ve lost their job, your partner is going to be feeling the strain.
Be understanding of the stress they’re under. Know that they might feel a little depressed, forget things, have less patience, and feel a little (or a lot) lost.
But while you’re being understanding, don’t be a doormat either. Don’t let them treat you horribly or manipulate you into picking up all their slack so they don’t have to do anything at all.
Set and enforce boundaries to ensure that this job loss doesn’t have a negative impact on your relationship that it can’t recover from even after your partner finds a new job.
Ask how you can help
We often tend to go one of two ways with a situation like this. We either expect our partner to handle it all on their own or we take over in trying to help.
Try to find the middle ground. Ask your partner how you can help.
They may tell you they want to handle it all on their own. Or they might tell you specific things they’d appreciate your help with, such as proofreading their resume or asking people you know if they’ve heard of any job openings.
If they don’t want you help, let them know you’re still willing if they change their mind. And if they ask for specific help, give them that help. But don’t try to do more. The last thing you want is to make your partner feel inadequate.
Start looking for and making adjustments
You can hope for the best, of course. But while hoping, you should also start looking for ways you can cut costs. Look at subscriptions you have, bills like cable or cell phones where you can downgrade your service, and things you can sell to add a little extra cash to your bank accounts.
During the pandemic, some landlords and mortgage lenders are working with people who are struggling to pay those bills, so reach out and see what options you may have in that regard.
If you’ve paid for services or products that you’re unable to access or use due to the pandemic, try asking the provider for a refund. Even if it’s only a partial refund, it may help.
Use extreme caution with using credit cards or taking out personal loans to keep afloat, however. That can end up creating more debt you can’t cover which will only make your stress worse.
It’s only temporary
Above all, remember that the situation is only temporary. Don’t let worry get the better of you and damage your relationship. Your relationship can and will withstand the strain of a job loss if you’re cautious.
Do what you can to make things easier. Talk to your partner. And keep reminding yourself and your partner that someday it will be a memory — maybe even one you can smile about.
Wendy Miller is a freelance relationship writer & meditation teacher. After years of settling for abusive and otherwise toxic relationships, she got fed up. Using meditation and other tools, she got to work on healing herself, setting boundaries, and only engaging in relationships (romantic and otherwise) that bring her joy. She wants to help other single parents find the love they seek, including and going beyond romantic love. She lives in Florida with her two sons, where she homeschools while solo parenting, while surrounded by what feels like a zooful of animals.
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