What Not to Say to Your Unemployed Spouse

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Having your spouse out of work for any extended period of time can be stressful especially in an economy where the unemployment rate is the highest it has been in over 20 years. Many unemployed workers are looking for any job whether it is in their profession or not just to cover the bills. In addition, there is also an increase in the number of employees dissatisfied in their work place but afraid to change jobs for fear of an extended unemployment. Talk about stress.

Added to that stress is the normal stress of a marriage relationship. As if there wasn't enough to be stressed about in a marriage with mortgages, finances, kids, in-laws, bills, minimal cash flow, lack of communication and decreased sex drive; now add to that the stress of unemployment. These are the kind of stressors that can make or break your marriage relationship, but this is precisely the time that the vow "For better or for worse" was intended.

It is hard to know what to say to friends during difficult times because it can literally make or break a friendship. But if you say the wrong thing to your spouse during this time, it can paralyze them for days of inactivity precisely when activity is needed. Even when you try to be encouraging, it can sometimes come across as patronizing. But by looking at what not to say, you can minimize the damage. Here is a bit of humor at what not to say to your spouse during these times.

1. The grunge look ended in the 90's.
2. How many Star Gate episodes are you up to now?
3. Did you do anything today?
4. Didn't you wear that yesterday?
5. My headaches will go away when you have a job.
6. Here is your "To Do" list to do.
7. Did you get a job yet?
8. I knew this would happen.
9. I see why you were let go.
10. You can always go work for my dad.

A better approach is to put yourself in their shoes and be more loving in your comments. After all, unemployment has a way of making even the most secure person insecure for a period of time. While your spouse may seem unmotivated, unfocused, and unproductive for a period of time, this is a normal reaction to unemployment. Instead of the above comments, try words of encouragement, a kind gesture and an act of service which are far more productive in the end than nagging or complaining.



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About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

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