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When Job Search Stress Rocks Your Relationship

Relationships can be tricky at the best of times. Two people with different backgrounds come together and expect to live harmoniously for the rest of their lives. But once the honeymoon is over and real life steps in, most people find that it takes work to keep a relationship strong.

Under normal circumstances, with normal life stress, couples can typically weather the tough times. But a long-term job search can really put a relationship to the test.

Job searching can wreak havoc with the job seeker’s self-esteem.

Here are just a few of the challenges job seekers face on a daily basis:

  • REJECTION – from constantly being turned down for the job
  • FRUSTRATION – at not hearing back from hiring managers
  • CONFUSION – not knowing what you’re doing wrong or what you should be doing differently
  • HELPLESSNESS – from not being able to control the situation
  • SADNESS – grieving over a lost job or the kind of life you once lived
  • SELF-DOUBT – if you’re constantly told you’re not good enough, you start to believe it

These kinds of feelings can wear out even the most optimistic job seeker and can cause them to become edgy and reactive or fall into a depression. Unfortunately, the partner is normally the one who bears the brunt of the job seeker’s frustration and worry.

So how does any relationship survive the strain of a job search?

By keeping perspective, committing to the relationship and following these simple steps:

COMMUNICATE

Constant bickering is a sign that there are deeper issues at hand. Chances are, no one is getting their needs met during this difficult period. Set aside a half an hour a day to hash through your feelings and talk about your needs. Although it might be difficult, try to make an effort to satisfy each other’s needs – which could be as simple as one partner needing a bit more space or the other needing to be heard.

And whatever you do, don’t argue in front of your children. Arguing can fill children with insecurities – so commit to being strong parents no matter how bad things get – and protect your children from your very grown-up issues.

Advice for men: Show empathy. You’re not going to be able to change the situation, but chances are your partner is frustrated and just wants to be understood and reassured.

Advice for women: Avoid nitpicking. Recognize when you need to talk and ask your partner to sit down and discuss your concerns. Men are more likely to be empathetic when you show you`re softer, more vulnerable side than your angry side.

CREATE A BUDGET

Create a budget you can both live with. Print up a bank statement from the past month and go through each expense. From grocery shopping to eating out to cash withdrawals, it will become more obvious to both of you where costs can be cut. By eliminating wasted money, you might find there’s a bit of fun money left over. Even if it means going out to a cheap restaurant once a week and sharing a meal, just having some funds allocated for “splurging” can give everyone something to look forward to. Another fun thing to do is to challenge yourselves to find as many free activities as possible in your area. A simple online search for “free things to do” in your city, will turn up results you never expected.

TAKE SOME SPACE

When the arguments escalate past the point of any sensibility, someone needs to immediately take some space. One of you needs to be the bigger person and diffuse the situation, even if it means walking out of the room. Don’t be a Right Fighter. Ask yourself the question that Dr. Phil asks guests on his show: Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy? By stepping away, both parties can reflect and regain perspective.

SHOW EMPATHY

I know when couples fight, it’s difficult for either one to back down and feel anything but anger for the other. But this is the time when showing kindness and empathy will pay off in spades. Chances are the job seeker is feeling vulnerable and that’s the time they need to know that their partner is there for them. Something as simple as a hug and these words – It’s going to be O.K. – can make all of the difference.

DON’T GIVE UP

Always remember: the grass is NOT always greener on the other side. In today’s society, marriages have become disposable. With a divorce rate of 50% in the U.S., many couples give up without really trying.

If you think you’re under stress now, try getting divorced. The Health 24 website gives a list of the 41 Major Life Stressors and assigns “life change units” to each stressor. Losing your job was given 43 life change units while divorce was #2 on the list with 73 life change units. Only the death of a spouse ranked higher. So before you throw out your relationship thinking it will make your life easier, consider these statistics.

AND REMEMBER: The job search is only temporary. Even if it takes a year, in the big picture, it’s a short period of time – so hang in there.

Some of the strongest couples I know have weathered difficult events that it seemed no relationship could possibly survive. I think you’ll find if you can hang in there and put these simple steps into practice, there’s a light, a job and a stronger relationship at the end of the tunnel.


About the Author: Carol James is an EssayLab psychology department writer and senior editor. She has MA degree in social sciences and is an excellent specialist in this field. Carol worked with numerous materials on the subject and is eager to share her knowledge with our readers.

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