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Don't Get Lost in Transition

How to Handle Big Life Changes as a Couple

Page: 3 of 10
  • One of you loses your job.

    The shock of losing a job can be immediate and disrupting. "Your equilibrium is punctured," says James Córdova, Ph.D., of the Center for Couples and Family Research at Clark University, and author of The Marriage Checkup. "Your predictability and stability is now missing." The unemployed spouse may feel a blow to his ego and worry about his ability to support the family.

    Meanwhile, says Córdova, "the other spouse, while trying to be supportive, may have a hard time expressing feelings of fear and worry." The result can be both partners hiding their true feelings and withdrawing from each other. Here, Córdova stresses the importance of keeping the lines of communication open. "Couples who fare best are those who emphasize the 'we-ness' of their relationship." But, he adds, try to avoid giving job-search advice unless the unemployed partner is asking for it—emotional support is much more helpful than practical advice, which can come across as badgering. When you talk about your changed circumstances, recommends Litzinger, discuss expectations and work out a new household budget together. Sharing your thoughts as well as addressing the reality of the situation is what will get you through.

    ON WOMAN'S DAY: Getting Past the Same Old Fights

Don't Get Lost in Transition
How to Handle Big Life Changes as a Couple
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