“It is good to consider whether financial covenants should be changed” –Psychologist explains how unemployment can affect relationships
Finances, rhythm of everyday life and potential shame: unemployment always affects the relationship as well. A working life psychologist explains how to deal with the matter with a partner and what kind of effects unemployment has if there is no partner.
Becoming unemployed always means change, and change always affects people’s minds. Thus, it always affects close relationships in some way, says Psychologist Sari Nuikki, Head of the Mental Health Unit for Unemployment at Mieli ry.
“Fortunately, it can be influenced by how the matter is handled and how it is coped with. A relationship can get into a crisis if one side is in crisis – but not necessarily. A relationship can also be an incredibly good support and help in the midst of a crisis”, Nuikki says.
However, there are many different types of relationships, and it is not self-evident that support can be received from a partner in the midst of unemployment.
“Uncertainty about the future can hit the unemployed hard, but also their partner, who can experience, for example, financial pressure on their part.”
This is why finances are one of the most concrete issues that should be discussed again with the partner in the wake of unemployment.
“There are different financial agreements in relationships; should they be changed if one side becomes unemployed? At least you should be able to talk about them openly and confidentially”, Nuikki points out.
If one side’s income drops significantly, it also affects joint activities: how much can you dine out or what hobbies are possible?
“It would be good to consider how to flexibly create equality in the new situation.”
Does the unemployed side have to do all the housework?
In addition to the financial aspect, unemployment often changes the rhythm of everyday life considerably. Suddenly, the old routines are broken and one person has a lot of free time. In her work, Nuikki says that she often encountered the fact that a working partner automatically assumes that the unemployed person takes over the main responsibility for housework.
“If this doesn’t happen, it might be difficult for them to understand. Unemployment can be a traumatic thing for the other side, which drains their energy and affects their ability to function. So becoming enthusiastic about housework may not be easy”, Nuikki says.
Of course, home and family life also bring necessary meaning and relevance to the everyday life of the unemployed.
“Suddenly you can spend more time with the children. It’s worth enjoying this, even if unemployment itself isn’t enjoyable.”
The experience of meaning – or lack thereof – is one of the factors that Nuikki encourages you to pay attention to if unemployment happens to you or your partner.
“Everyone has the need to succeed, develop and experience acceptance. It would be important that these experiences should also be gained outside of working life, and one’s own identity would not only be tied to work.”
Why does unemployment cause shame?
Unfortunately, unemployment often involves shame about one’s own – or the partner’s – situation. Although this is, of course, completely unwarranted, it would be important to discuss it together.
“It would be good to think about how and to whom to talk about it. Does it seem natural to simply talk about unemployment or do you want to use other expressions, such as ‘looking for new challenges’.”
Nuikki emphasises that this is not just about words, but about what kind of identity the unemployed takes on. Putting emotions into words and confidential discussion is the starting point for everything when unemployment happens in a relationship.
“And not only by listening to and supporting the unemployed. The partner also needs understanding and support”, Nuikki points out.
How does unemployment affect a single person’s life?
What if there’s no partner? When a single person becomes unemployed, the situation is often even more uncertain, Nuikki admits. The financial impact is greater when everything is one’s own responsibility. There is also no mental support and person to talk to at home.
“Unemployment can bring a whole new sense of loneliness when the work community disappears, as well. It would be extremely important to have another social network: friends, parents or siblings as support”, Nuikki says, also reminding us of scheduling our everyday life.
“It can be much more challenging if you don’t have a partner or children. However, it would be good to create some things that attach you to everyday life and create a daily rhythm.”