Ask Zeta: "My partner lost their job during COVID and feels like a failure. How can I show them I appreciate them?"

Aditi Shekar
November 10th, 2020 | 4 min
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"My partner lost their job during COVID and feels like a failure. How can I show them I appreciate them?"

You're not alone and I’m so glad you have each other to lean on during this crazy time!

As is true of any partnership, you’re going to have ups and downs that you'll need to weather together. And in this case, your partner is the one who needs propping up.

To start, it’s important to understand how you feel about your partner losing their job. If you have unresolved or misunderstood feelings (which may completely be justified!), you might be sending them vibes without even realizing it. Ask yourself how you feel about the situation–is it adding pressure on you? Are you feeling resentful that the job loss stops you from achieving a goal or heaping more home responsibility onto your shoulders? Whatever you're thinking, try addressing those feelings head-on in a productive way with your partner. And if you haven't broached the topic or haven’t seemed upset, say, in an effort to reduce their anxiety, they may be feeling self-inflicted guilt.

Start the conversation with a supportive nudge and a willingness to help: "You know I'm here for you and excited to help you in whatever way feels right. Is there something I can do to help here?"

Secondly, help your partner reframe the situation. Annoyingly, so much of our self-worth can be tied to our financial contributions so the job loss can make your partner feel like one isn't pulling their weight. Help your partner understand that money isn't the only thing one can give in a relationship. With the added free time, can your partner take on other chores? Can they help in ways they always wanted to but previously didn't have the time to tackle? Or is there a project you've both been holding off on that you can now kick off? Expanding each of your definitions of how one can contribute in a household is a great way to reset any feelings of guilt or resentment.

Lastly, create a timeline. When my husband took time off between his jobs, I found my anxiety building until he set a timeline. I truly wanted him to have the time off (he deserved it, he's incredible) but I was nervous about us being on a single income for an unforeseeable amount of time. After talking about the anxiety together, we agreed on a timeline that gave him the room to recharge while giving me a semblance of a plan. Try coming up with a timeline that you're both comfortable with, so you're not stressing each day or each expense.

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