Many adults have dealt with layoffs and other types of unemployment. While such an event can be frustrating and disappointing, most people quickly bounce back and land new jobs, some which pay even more than before.
Some, however, become depressed and unmotivated. They find it hard to get a new job, and as a result, they stay unemployed for months or even years. If the person is married, this can create a lot of tension in the marriage. The other spouse may be forced to go back to work or take on additional jobs while the unemployed partner is at home.
While the partner is home, they should be helping with childcare and household duties. However, that is not always the case, especially if the laid off partner is the husband. Many women report having to be both the breadwinners and the primary caretakers. This can be extremely frustrating and cause a lot of tension. In fact, men who are not the breadwinners in a marriage are more likely to get divorced.
This is probably not surprising, given that one of the main causes of divorce is money issues. A person who is unemployed is not earning any money. This puts pressure on the other spouse, which then leads to anger, frustration, resentment and, ultimately, divorce. The couple has to reconfigure their family budget and figure out how to make do with less money, which is never an easy task. Therefore, unemployment can affect not only one’s resume, but one’s marriage, as well.
Long stretches of unemployment can also give the impression of laziness. Working hard is an admirable quality, and nobody wants a partner who is lazy. Therefore, the unemployed partner can quickly become unattractive to the working spouse, especially if the person is also not pulling their weight at home.
In any case, a long stretch of unemployment needs to be addressed in a marriage, as it can be a pressing issue. Many households rely on multiple incomes to pay bills and daily expenses, and the loss of that regular paycheck. While this can be stressful to the working spouse who is now under pressure to make enough money to cover all the household expenses, the unemployed spouse is likely stressed out, as well. Lengthy unemployment can lead to depression, illness, substance abuse, anger, and violence.
Left untreated, these issues can lead to divorce, but that does not have to be the case. Many married couples deal with unemployment at some point. While unemployment often does cause a marriage to end, there are some things you can do to prevent that from happening. If you want to stay married, here are some things to help you and your spouse get back on track.
What to do When Your Spouse Becomes Unemployed
If your spouse has been unemployed for quite some time and you are frustrated at having to pick up the slack, there are some things you can do to help your spouse make good decisions and keep the marriage in a positive direction.
- Start a dialogue. Obviously, if something in the marriage is bothering you, you need to address it. While you may be frustrated, yelling and blaming will do no good and will only make your spouse feel worse. The discussion needs to be productive and should hopefully make your spouse change his or her behavior. You will need to focus on how you feel now that the other person is not pulling their weight. Be open and honest. Realize that these discussions need to happen weekly. Make it a point to check in once a week to see how the unemployed spouse is progressing.
- Allow the unemployed spouse to continue with his or her role in the family. If your spouse helped make certain decisions, allow him or her to continue to do so. Do not make a spouse feel even more guilty for what happened, especially if the job loss was beyond his or her control. Excluding a spouse from certain functions will only make things worse.
- Allow the person to grieve. Losing a job can be like losing a family member, in some ways. That person loses a job, money, co-workers, a routine, and an identity. If the person liked the job and was there for a long time, getting laid off can be especially devastating. Allow your spouse time to grieve the loss.
- Think about the positives. If there are children, then having just one spouse working means that the unemployed spouse can now be the caregiver. You no longer have to pay for daycare, so that is one bill you can eliminate. The children also get to spend more time with their parent, which is always a plus.
- Get help if needed. Job loss can lead to other issues. If your spouse no longer wants to get out of bed in the morning, then he or she may be depressed. Have your spouse see a doctor for help. If your marriage is deteriorating and you and your spouse cannot seem to stop arguing, then it is time for counseling. Seek therapy before deciding on divorce.
Seek Legal Help
Unemployment means a loss of financial security, which is a common cause of divorce. Money impacts every marriage, and when there is not a lot to go around, it can cause tension and anger and even cause a marriage to end.
Palm Beach divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler understands that divorce can be stressful, but so can staying in a miserable marriage. Contact us today to learn more about your options. To schedule a consultation, call (954) 346-6464.