With the unemployment rate hovering near 10 percent since the outbreak of Covid-19, some couples are starting to feel the strain on their relationship. For other couples, unemployment has brought them closer and strengthened their bond.
Theia P. is a 23-year-old from Nashville, Tennessee who lost her job as a telecommunications sales specialist in May. Her partner Jay is still employed at an athletic wear company, and she says that while her unemployment has been a source of frustration in their relationship, Jay has been supportive of her decision to start her own business.
Theia said, “Being in the house has made me very frustrated. Some days I miss interacting with people while [Jay] doesn’t really enjoy having to interact with people on a daily basis. I can tell that my boyfriend is a little frustrated with what my source of income will be once unemployment has lifted. But we are definitely communicating a lot more, and now I have time to focus on being an entrepreneur. He has been very supportive, and after work and on the weekends he helps me complete certain tasks for my business.”
Twenty five year old Whitney E. and her partner both lost their jobs because of Covid-19 layoffs. Whitney worked in the T.V. and film industry while her partner worked as a draft beer tap specialist. They were dating long distance, but after losing her job, Whitney relocated to the east coast.
Whitney said, “Both of us not being able to work means we get to spend WAY more time together. We usually do long distance, him in New York and me in California, so we struggle to find time to be together physically. Being able to have all these months together has only made our relationship stronger. This is the longest period of time we’ve ever spent together physically and we’ve only improved on our communication. Having done long distance, we had to have pretty solid communication to begin with, but this experience has only made us better together and more intimate than ever before.”
Efa A. and Leo Y. are a Los Angeles based couple in their late 20s who have also found that employment has given them more quality time together. Efa lost her job as a production coordinator in early June while Leo is still working full time from home in the tech industry. While the couple didn’t live together before the pandemic, they have been spending most of their time at Leo’s apartment. Efa was honest when expressing her feelings about being unemployed.
She said, “I felt some resentment because Leo’s job has never really been in jeopardy. Once the quarantine started, my hours just slowly dwindled until I was let go. It was a stressful couple of months. Now, my pride can’t stand the fact that we are both job hunting, but for very different reasons and with very different results. His industry is doing fine, so he’s planning to leave his “safe job” for something better, and is already going on interviews. My industry is basically on pause, so jobs are scarce and competitive.”
The couple says that the situation has forced them to become better communicators. They openly discuss their frustrations, which has helped them grow and work through resentment issues. One of the side effects of job loss for Efa and Leo has been a focus on the future.
Leo said, “The job loss has made us talk about the future more. Not just our future together, but our goals and what we want for ourselves as individuals.”
Efa echoched her partner’s sentiments. She said, “The conversations that we’ve had made both of us want to pursue our own things more. It feels more urgent for us now than it did pre-COVID. We’re investing time in our mental and physical health, and building the businesses that we started this year. We’re really ambitious people, so we’ve been bonding over our personal growth and learning how to support one another to grow even more.”
For some people, losing a job also means being able to start over or letting go of a job that was causing a lot of stress. If a couple has a financial safety net, a job loss can serve as a reset button for a new career or moving to a new city.
Theia said, “My job was a very stressful and toxic environment. Now that I am home more, we have improved our credit, started looking for homes, and we’ll soon be first time home buyers.”
For couples finding themselves in the same situation, Whitney recommends adding variety to your daily routine. She said that being in quarantine and doing the same thing together everyday can take a toll on your mental health.
“The best coping strategy for us is not doing the same things every day. We found that we would argue more when we did the same routine, but once we started getting creative with our daily activities, we were a lot happier,” Whitney said.
The common theme that these three couples expressed is healthy communication with your partner. If a relationship has a healthy foundation, challenging times can bring out the best in each other.
Efa said, “Talking through your issues is always better, even when you can barely look at each other and struggle to get the words out without getting emotional. Be patient with each other. We also set aside time specifically to just ‘be’ together every day. That may mean watching a show, cooking, or just eating dinner with screens off – little reminders that we’re in this together.”