Like I blogged just last week, sometimes I feel like we’re never going to get ahead financially. Still, things are what they are and whinging never got anyone anywhere.
That said, I’m big on honesty and I’m not going to lie, being forced back into one-income land sucks. Of course, it’s even worse for T, but I’m not particularly enjoying things either. Selfish? Yes. True? Abso-frickin-lutely.
Rather than subject you all to a wave of self-pity, I thought I’d consult some other smart bloggers about coping in the aftermath of a layoff and dealing with all the feelings that follow – gracefully. Here is our collective wisdom on how to deal with a layoff as a couple.
Be mad, but then shake it off
You will resent being the only one bringing in an income (particularly if your partner is not a good housekeeper, on top of it all). Acknowledge it, but remember that nobody is winning in this situation and try to move past the anger. Definitely do not lash out!
As Gina Marie Rose sagely observes: “I know it’s hard not to feel resentful toward your partner when you’re the only one bringing in money, but do your best not to make them feel guilty about it. Trust me, your partner does not want to be unemployed, broke, and having someone else support them financially.
“But sometimes, shit happens and we have to face circumstances that are out of our control, like layoffs. Being unemployed and broke is one of the worst predicaments in the world; the last thing your partner needs is for the one person they love most to make them feel even worse about it.”
Michelle from Fit is the New Poor says: “I often reminded myself how much I loved him and how he was there for me financially and emotionally in the past. He did his part by understanding when I needed space or to blow off steam.”
Sally from Tiny Apartment Design, for one, has left several jobs during her relationship. “It’s tough when you feel like you are carrying the weight of two people, but I find it helps to talk about it, uncomfortable as it is,” she says.
Vent to someone else
Let it all out … but not just to your partner.
Gina suggests venting to people you trust and who you know won’t change their opinion of your partner as a result.
And find some stress relievers that work for you.
“During the whole time Chris was unemployed, I practiced yoga 3-4 times a week. Probably one of the best decisions I made during that time!”
Lend an ear
And of course, let your partner vent too.
Says Gina: “Listen to them vent about their recent job rejection. Ask how that networking event was that they recently attended. Let them cry on your shoulder when they feel hopeless and like they’ll never get a job. Being unemployed and broke sucks big time, so be supportive. You’d want the same from your partner if you were in their shoes.”
Focus on the silver linings
No job is perfect. So take the opportunity to remember all the downsides of that old job, and thank your lucky stars that you guys no longer have to deal with them!
According to Michelle: “I would be mad at him for losing his job, but then I would remember all the times he would complain about his boss making him stay late or emotionally abusing him, and I would go back to thinking that this may be a better way!”
Be supportive on the job-hunting front
Not that this really needs stating, since you BOTH want to get back to the full-employment bandwagon…
Check your partner’s resume, edit cover letters, trawl your list of contacts for anyone who might be helpful to him, keep an eye out for interesting job listings, rehearse answers for interviews.
“I remember the first time Chris did an interview role play with me: it helped me memorise my answers better and feel more confident when it came to saying them out loud,” Gina says.
Michelle suggests asking the hard questions your partner might not consider, be it in regard to interviewing or to choosing jobs.
Keep a tight lid on your finances
Now, more than ever, is the time to keep on top of your money. I revisited our 2014 budget but the key is tracking our spending, especially with T’s habits.
“Since you’re now providing for two people, it’s probably a good idea to keep a close eye on your finances so you can save money where possible,” Gina says. “I didn’t do this while I supported Chris, and I regret it! I feel like my money went so fast during that time because I wasn’t keeping track of what was going in and what was going out, and I didn’t change my spending habits even when money got tight.”
Budget in little treats
Much as I would like to forbid T from spending a single dollar until he finds a job, that’s pretty cruel and also insanely unrealistic. We’ve settled on $20 a week, although in reality that’s creeping higher.
Gina’s advice? Treat your partner once in awhile.
“While I was unemployed, I was depressed because not only did it seem like no one would hire me, but I didn’t have any money to go out and do things or treat myself. Chris saw how depressed I was and decided to take me out to lunch/dinner/a movie every so often to help get my mind off my job search. He also spoiled me rotten for Christmas. (Being unemployed during the holidays is the worse because it’s a season of spending buy you have nothing to spend!)
“When Chris was unemployed, I treated us to a little getaway to Santa Cruz for a couple days. Do what you can afford and know that your partner REALLY appreciates the distraction.”
Michelle encouraged her husband to be active outside of the home while unemployed. “He was depressed, obviously, but we would still go out with friends or on (cheaper) dates. I would also put him in charge of dinner so he felt like he had a purpose and was “paying me back.” Our house was spotless for the time he was unemployed!”
And plan to celebrate when your partner finally lands that job.
“We ended up going on vacation with our travel miles, we rented a beach house on twiddy‘s rentals with the extra money and at the end it turned out to be one of the best vacations we’ve had. I think all of that kept a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ feeling going for us when we felt like our situation would never change.”
I’ll wrap up with this succinct summary from Michelle:
“Celebrate the good because there won’t be much of it, remind yourself that you love him despite his situation, give him tasks and jobs to do to keep him active, and try to think of an awesome celebration for when he does get a job!”