What Is The Impact Of Unemployment On A Couples’ Relationship?


Research shows that losing one’s job is as devastating a loss as divorce and death of a loved one.

More than 42.6 million Americans have filed jobless claims since the pandemic shutdown began in mid-March.

You and your partner may already be amongst the 42. 6 million, or you may face the real possibility of unemployment in the future.

If that happens, it is important for you to understand a job is essential our well-being because it provides a sense of identity, self-confidence, respect and stability.

The loss of a job, therefore, can shake that feeling of well-being and put the vow “for better or for worse” to the test.

Furthermore, the loss of a job will place massive pressure on the best of relationships, as well as create emotional and mental strain, not only for the person experiencing it, but for their partners as well.

How To Manage Emotions Effectively When One Partner Loses Their Job

Unemployment can create powerful feelings of anger, sadness, fear, doubt, and insecurity, to name a few, in both partners.

Research says that how a person copes with their job loss is highly variable and that his or her actions and attitudes ultimately predict how the situation affects the partnership.

With the interplay of heightened emotions, financial stressors, and many of potential relationship conflicts resulting from unemployment, how can a couple successfully support each other?  Consider the following.

According to my relationship model, Yours, Mine, Ours: Relationships Done Right, all relationships are made up of three distinct entities – two individuals and the life they share between them.

To nourish the relationship as well as cope with each individual’s feelings (about the unemployment circumstance), both partners need to understand and express themselves openly and honestly while also being sensitive to how they affect their partner and how their partner affects them.

Solving a relationship crisis triggered by unemployment is about partnership cooperation, not competition of individual needs, where one person wins and the other loses.  Nor is it a home improvement project with one partner “fixing” the other.  (There’s a difference between encouraging your partner to find another job versus telling them what they should be doing.)

Solving A Job Loss Together

5 Ways to Encourage Each Other:

  • Be supportive – If there’s any time to put yourself in each other’s shoes, it’s when a couple is confronting a job loss.  It’s well known that money is one of the most common things that couples fight about and one of the top reasons relationships end.
  • Keep lines of communication open – Remember that an important part of good communication is listening.  It’s not wrong to feel things, but it is essential to listen to one another. Even when communication is difficult, try to respond in the most caring and respectful way to what is said.
  • Gain control by making a game plan together – If you and your partner share expenses, you should put together a game plan right away.  You can also plan how to begin the job hunt and what role the newly unemployed wants their partner to play.
  • Focus on what you have, rather than what you don’t have.
  • Be empathic towards one another – Each person will respond to unemployment differently. However, one piece of advice that will apply to everyone is to be empathic at all times.

Remember, even though your partner is experiencing the emotional distress of losing their job, the essence of partnership is that you are both in this together and can come through it stronger, better, and closer.


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