Love & Relationships: How to Cope With an Unemployed Partner

Do You Resent Your Unemployed Partner?

Getting fired blows, especially when it’s unexpected. It’s a shot to the ego. But the loss of an income can impact more than finances—it can really take a toll on a committed relationship. If you’re getting up at the crack of dawn while your partner sleeps in and if you’re busting your butt at the office all day while your partner is sitting on their butt in front of the TV all day, you need to read on. Here’s what you can do to cope with your unemployed partner.

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Don’t Enable Them

Allow your partner to feel the feelings associated with job termination for a few days, but don’t let them wallow. Don’t let them lie around the house in the same pajamas for days, watching crap daytime television. That’s enabling them. Unemployment isn’t a vacation or a break from the real world. If you have bills to pay, it’s best that your partner finds employment as soon as possible. You can help by encouraging them. Remind them that they are awesome at what they do and be optimistic about a new and better job in the near future. If your partner sees that you can be positive, they can be positive too.

Call Them Out on Their B.S.

You may feel hesitant about initiating an argument when your partner is already feeling depressed about being unemployed. But, if you know they aren’t making a real effort to get a new job, you need to call them out on their B.S. If they say there are no jobs to apply for (and that might be true), they can still network. They can still send their resumes to companies they’d like to work for. They can work on acquiring new skills through online tutorials or classes. Your partner should be doing something every day to improve their marketability.

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Don’t Become Their Career Coach

Your partner has to want to find a new job—you can’t want it for them. And remember, they know how to find a job on their own because they’ve done it before. So don’t send them job postings on a daily basis. Don’t contact recruiters or companies for them and don’t send their resume out for them. You may think you’re helping them, but the truth is your partner could start resenting you!

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Give Them Things to Do Around the House

Create a “Honey Do” list filled with home improvement projects. They can clean out the hall closet, pack the summer clothes away, repaint a bedroom or file paperwork. Give your partner tasks you know they can do and weave into the other responsibilities they’ll have during their unemployment. If they’re bored, you’re giving them something productive to do. If they don’t want to do all this work, you may be lighting a fire under them to ramp up their job hunt.

Make Them Commit to a Routine

They had a routine when they were working and they should have one while they’re unemployed. Your partner should get up at the same time every day, have the breakfast, shower, do a job search, go to the gym, network, take a class to learn a marketable skill—whatever. Your unemployed partner should use the time wisely.

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Give Them More Chores to Do

Perhaps you were sharing chores because you were both working. Now that your partner is unemployed, they can take on more of the chores while you earn money. They can do the grocery shopping, banking, laundry and cooking. They can take the kids to school and pick them up. They can drive the kids to ballet or soccer. Don’t give them all the chores; just give them more than they had before. They have the time now.

Cut Back On Luxuries

Luxuries include any extras you enjoyed when you were both employed. This includes eating at restaurants, taking vacations, buying things just for fun and even getting fancy coffee drinks. These are all things you and your partner can do without. Downgrade your living situation or get rid of a car if you can. You don’t want to blow through your savings and retirement funds or go into major debt supporting yourselves during a partner’s unemployment. And don’t make the mistake of trying to maintain your lifestyle on one salary—you can’t do it and if you try, you’ll start to feel like your partner is a mooch. This will ultimately lead to resentment.

Remember, Unemployment is Temporary

An unemployed, able-bodied individual with marketable skills will find a job. But it could be weeks or months (or years) before something decent pops up, and while your partner is waiting for that next great career move, they need to consider taking any job they can get as long as it helps pays the bills. Remember, money comes and goes but resenting your partner can turn into a relationship disaster.

4 thoughts on “Love & Relationships: How to Cope With an Unemployed Partner

  1. Anna Niro

    I agree with a lot of this, but I feel it all depends on the situation and stage of life. Its a real balance between take action and surrendering to allow flow. This all seems a bit too harsh. There is sometimes a better plan than what we had before and perhaps spiritually we are trying to get to purpose in less struggle with less scarcity concepts. I think doing some of what your saying is good but with some sensitivity. Thank you!

  2. Jenni

    This article was very helpful and I want to thank you for posting it.
    Although this article is about an able bodied person being unemployed……how about someone who is disabled and not able to return to work….this is the situation I am in. He is not handling not being able to work well, as he likes to work and have a routine….I just do not know how to handle his up and down emotions and feel that he is falling into a deep depression! Do you have any suggestions…..

  3. tashia latimer

    This so called partner doesn’t want to work. Thinks he can hold out til a job he wants comes along instead of taking what he can getfor now. In meantime he has run up IRS debt by withdrawing IRA money all year and didn’t pay taxes on it. This yr still no job. Thinks he is too good to work a job but only wants to take care of kids and control them but he is a poor role model for them. It is all BS! The only reason I hvnt left is cause I will have a custody battle for my kids. No one understands what I’m dealing with. What can I do to get myself out of financial obligation that he caused and still keep my kids. A nightmare.


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