With the unemployment rate remaining stagnant and the cost of daily living rising, it's still apparent that the economy is having a large financial impact on people's lives.
More than ever, we're starting to really see how this financial stress impacts people's emotional health.
More and more studies are looking at the stress (and resulting depression) that goes along with a layoff and long term unemployment.
While losing a job certainly impacts us on a personal level, the fact is that many of those who are out of work are a vital part of a family dynamic. What are the secondary effects of job loss doing to our family systems?
It's not much of a stretch to guess that the stress caused by long term unemployment can lead to more fights and put the old expression of "for richer or poorer and for better or worse" to the ultimate test.
Often, the unemployed significant other is most likely dealing with identity loss, loss of confidence and abandonment from former coworkers and networks. With repeated rejection, feelings of anxiety, depression and hopelessness can develop quickly.
What's more is that after an initial period of support and understanding, the employed person in the relationship may begin feeling anger or resentment for being financially burdened by the significant other's job loss.
The stress of providing for a family and being a caregiver may make it hard to continue to be understanding and motivating for the jobless partner during this time.
Many times, there is a reversal of roles if the breadwinner is now forced to stay home and begin taking on more household and childcare duties.
This can also lead to feelings of resentment on both sides while one person is envying the other person's employment and feeling less supported in their job search efforts and the other person is feeling a burden of being the main financial provider and might be missing a more active role in the home.
Both partners in the equation need to constantly remind themselves to step back and re-evaluate what's important.
If the relationship and/or family are near the top of that list, take some steps to continue to nurture each other during this difficult financial time:
Monitor your own feelings of guilt, jealousy and anger and remember that the other partner might be feeling the same way.
Take time to have fun with each other, albeit inexpensive fun, and designate the weekend as a "No Unemployment Talk" time.
Work together to discuss and revamp roles so that the working partner can take some time off to support the jobless partner's job search and the jobless partner is fully aware of which household duties need done to support the family's needs and how important those duties are to the overall family functioning.
As in all hard times, it is important to remind yourself and your partner that "This Too Shall Pass" and work together to support and respect each other in your changing roles.
Seek help from family, friends or counseling agencies if needed. Know that change is the only thing that's constant in our lives and if we can be open and adapt, we will always survive.
Jessica Herlihy is the coordinator of Family Centers' Reaching Independence Through Employment (RITE) program. The RITE program free provides vocational counseling, training, educational enhancement opportunities, referral services, resume-writing and interview assistance, ESL/literacy classes and bilingual computer training for residents of Fairfield County, CT. Since it began in 1996, RITE has helped thousands of people throughout Fairfield County find employment, improve their employability and achieve a greater sense of self-sufficiency. For more information, visit www.familycenters.org or call 203-324-3167.