As part of its ongoing series on job insecurity, Alternet recently examined whether or not couples can weather the challenges of extended unemployment. It’s a particularly timely discussion, given the instability of the job market and the ever-lengthening periods of joblessness many Americans face. If you’ve ever been laid off, you may know how intensely it can affect every area of your life. Even if you’re single and have no one to support but yourself, the financial pressures can feel insurmountable, as can the frequent moments of questioning your viability as an employee, the marketability of your skill set. It can deeply shake the foundation of your self-esteem and self-worth.

If one or both parties in a relationship are nursing those independent wounds, imagine how gravely their union could be affected. Alternet’s Lynn Paramore eloquently lays out the central conflict:

Our bodies –and our hearts — were not made to cope with long-term job insecurity. To fully open ourselves to the right person and let go physically, we need a measure of safety in our lives. But three consecutive years of unemployment over 8 percent – the worst such run since the Great Depression – is leaving us fearful and forlorn. Shredded social safety nets and weak bonds of community and kinship mean that there’s little to mute the intensity of anxiety that never seems to fade.

The old saying, “Romance without finance has no chance,” certainly has the ring of truth. But can couples sustain their trust in the other’s ability to regain employment long enough to weather the financial and emotional storm–even if those storms last well over a year?

What do you think?

  • CurlySue

    This is something that’s been on my mind for some time. I’m moving to NYC at the end of the month for a job promotion. My boyfriend of 2.5 years is moving with me but he will be leaving his job here to do so (we currently live together and split everything 50/50). The job here has drained him and he deplores it. While I firmly believe he will find a job in NYC with his background and skillset, I still worry about how our relationship would handle extended unemployment. Hopefully, it won’t come to that. We had at first planned for him to stay here until he found something. But judging from how many networks and agencies he’s applied to in NY with no feedback, many companies are unwilling to hire someone from out of state when there are so many in-state candidates ready and willing.

    I like to think we’re strong enough to withstand it, but finances is said to be number 1 cause of divorce so it shouldn’t be dismissed lightly.

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  • lw

    I am going thru the same thing right now. My man has a degree and is still having a hard time finding even remotely decent jobs. It is eating him alive and draining his self confidence. Rough times. I try to be as supportive as possible, but it does affect every facet of the relationship.

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  • Fa

    This is also something I’ve been dealing with. My boyfriend works in the tourism industry and was laid off in January 2012. Since then he’s been working on his own business, but I also see that his morale and vibes have been down as of late. I’m not sure I’m being as supportive as I can though. These comments let me know we’re not alone, and they have also allowed me to think of what I am or am not doing right to support him.

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  • SheIsMe_APB

    Soooooooooo HELP!! Any ideas on what to do in the mean time- in between time?

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    • Fa

      I’d say continuously be loving and encouraging. Help them to update their resumes, take courses, pick up a hobby, job search, network, etc. Being supportive is so important although it can be difficult in times like this. I’d also say avoid bringing up the obvious- not going out as much, not saying things are boring (these are things I’ve been bad at btw).

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  • http://gravatar.com/tmason823 tmason823

    I’ve been through this with my boyfriend and we are currently going through it. when one of us is employed the other is laid off. Its tough but we’ve both been there so we have that compassion and understanding of what it feels like to be the breadwinner and the unemployed. Its a true test of the strength of a relationship when you barely have money to pay rent. But my spirituality and my love for him allow me to be supportive and loving even through the intense frustration.

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