Should your spouse's (or partner's) opinion influence your job search? One job hunter who lost his job and went through what he calls 'various stages of mourning', says yes. In a post, Jason of the JibberJobber career blog shares the story of how he and his wife "made it through okay."
"I write this from my heart, not to offend anyone," he says. "I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot since we went to a new friend’s house for dinner last week. On the way to their house, my wife asked 'So… how much can I tell her? If she asks how much money we make now, what can I say?' My wife asked because she has a tendency to share… well, everything. I tend to be significantly more private. My response to her was, 'Honey, you can say whatever you want. Tonight, I trust you.'"
Jason goes on to explain how the dinner was something he now wishes he and his wife could do more often.
"After dinner, my wife was alone with my buddy’s wife and, when I went up to make the 'let’s go home' signs, I noticed there had been tears — lots of tears," he writes. " It was a good reminder of how raw and in-the-moment this 'I lost my job, and I am worthless' the feelings are."
Jason went on to write a list of 13 suggestions for how couples who've lost their jobs can cope, together. Ultimately, he suggests that your spouse should play a role in your job search. Here are some of the key points he makes for how they can play a supportive role.
1. Providing support.
Studies show that couples who support one another succeed more — in both their relationships and in their careers. In fact, research published in the Harvard Business Review suggests that "mutually supportive relationships let us take career risks, help us be more resilient to setbacks, and even 'lean in' at work." While these relationships can be difficult to find, the fact that support is beneficial is nothing new.
"What I really needed was support," Jason writes in his blog post. "Most of how I defined myself professionally, which helped me define who I was as a human being (I hear this is a male characteristic), disappeared overnight. I went from Jason-the-somebody to Jason-the-loser. I really needed support, even though I turned into a loser overnight."
2. Providing a network.
"I remember a guy who learned about the power of networking in a job search… he said his wife had a really hard time since he was out networking (lots of breakfasts and lunches), and not at home on the job boards... submitting resumes," Jason writes. "Please, please know that the best use of time is not sitting at the computer all day… When your spouse goes out to network, be proud and encouraging (and know that he/she is probably doing something out of his/her comfort zone)."
In fact, you can both help each other network, too.
"When I lost my job, my world shrunk to my neighborhood, since I didn’t commute or travel anymore. Unfortunately, I didn’t really know any neighbors. My wife did, however, and she started talking to her friends about my job search, and what I was looking for. In fact, I leaned on her too much for networking, thinking she could spend her time networking while I spent time on the job board. Your spouse can’t do all the networking for you, but he/she certainly can tell their friends, who might help you network into your next role. This felt like one of the most helpful things that my wife did during that time."
3. Providing intimacy.
"From my perspective, the job search is filled with enough rejection… let me encourage you to continue to be intimate even during the very difficult, emotional job search," Jason writes. "You can make it through this, and continuing the sweet somethings of a relationship can be quite reassuring."
Of course, intimacy goes beyond physical means of appreciation. Being intimate also means allowing yourself to cry, being honest with each other and keeping communication open.
"Look, I know you both want to be positive and strong for one another, but you can also be honest and sincere… Don’t let months and months go without communicating your wants, needs, desires, dreams and feelings for one another," he says. "My wife and I didn’t communicate for months because we were trying to be strong for one another. We were really only going to share positive things with one another (we didn’t plan that, it’s just how it happened). Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot of positive that we saw during that time… and very few words were exchanged. When we did talk, it seemed like a fake hope. I wish we could have gone back to that raw time and communicated more, with a lot of sincerity and honesty."
4. Providing encouragement to ask for help.
"It’s okay to ask friends and family for help," Jason adds, also noting that professional help is key. "There is nothing wrong with getting professional help, whether it’s counseling or medicine… at least you’ll have someone qualified to help you know if you are at the point where you do need the help." It can be difficult to ask for help, so encouraging your partner to seek someone to talk to can be the push they need for a happier, healthier and more productive job search.
5. Providing organization and optimism.
Studies show that keeping clear of clutter can lead to more career success. Plus, if you keep your home life organized (like your house clean), you're not taking so much time away from your job search to take on built-up chores. In other words, just because you've lost your job, don't let things go elsewhere. And your partner can help you in that.
Likewise, they may help you in making a few extra bucks here and there while you look for a job.
"The day I got let go is the day my wife got her first piano student — within three weeks, she had 20 students," Jason writes. "She undercharged, in my opinion, but the few hundred dollars she brought in each month was so, so helpful. A few hundred dollars when you don’t need it is play money. A few hundred dollars when you are unemployed might cover all of the utility bills. What a relief it was to know that our utilities were covered."
In fact, being able to focus on your job hunt without the stress of home life or bills will even help you stay positive or, as Jason suggests, "less negative." That's one of the biggest things with which spouses can help one another.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.