Everyone reacts differently to a layoff. Some people jump right into their job hunt, pounding out cover letters and calling recruiters on a daily basis. Some prefer to enjoy their severance package as they catch up on daytime TV. Others hibernate in embarrassment and disappointment, ignoring the bills piling up on the kitchen counter. So, how can you help your newly unemployed significant other navigate this treacherous time? I talked to several women to find out.
Look at your finances. Obviously, money is one of the first concerns that people have when they lose their job. So, if you and your boyfriend or husband have joint accounts, you'll want to figure out where you both stand financially. That's what freelance financial writer Rose Fox, of New York City, did when her husband got laid off recently. Rose ran the numbers and determined that they had enough to live on for several months while her husband looked for work. "Money worries stress us both out, so knowing that we were in good financial shape also gave me more confidence and made it easier for me to comfort and reassure him," she explains.
Shift your spending habits according. If you aren't in a good situation financially, then this would be a good time to get back on track. Nikki Maxwell's husband was out of work for six months last year. Then Nikki lost her job in education, so the L.A.-based couple have been exploring low-cost ways to relieve stress. "This year, we've discovered the library, the parks, the YMCA, and other low-cost local resources," she says. They also spend time volunteering, playing board games, and hanging out at home instead of going out. "The way we lived before was not sustainable in the sense of being able to afford that lifestyle," she adds. "Now we are much more balanced."
Encourage him to explore new interests. A layoff is also an opportunity to try out other options. Maybe he'd like to apply to graduate school, start a business, or chart a new career path. This is the time to do it, so encourage him to try out other options while he has the time and flexibility. Some men even find that they enjoy being home and taking care of things around the house. "One of the funny transitions we've had to face is that he's been the domestic partner in our marriage for years now," says Nikki. "He's better at it than I am. I like my work identity and I like coming home to laundry done and a clean house." If your guy wants to take care of domestic duties, then by all means, let him!
Remember, you're in this together. Though Rose is bringing home the bacon these days, she says a change in employment status hasn't really affected their relationship. According to Rose, "we've simply done whatever was necessary to support each other: paying attention and checking in, taking time for long talks to vent about anxiety or brainstorm solutions to problems, making sure we don't schedule events that we don't have the energy for, thanking each other frequently for the effort we're both putting in to make this work."