MAKING IT WORK : Budgeting Time, Money Can Ease Unemployment Stress

The loss of a job places enormous stress on a marriage, especially if there are already unresolved conflicts between partners, notes Laguna Beach therapist Ruth Luban.

Luban, who conducts workshops for couples going through major transitions, says unemployment can be so traumatic that it leads to divorce for those in shaky relationships. However, she adds, she's seen many couples who have good communication emerge from uncertain economic times with a stronger relationship.

She offers the following suggestions to help those who are unemployed ease the stress on their marriage:

* Sit down with your partner and negotiate a new budget. Talk about your values to help clarify the best places to make whatever spending cutbacks are necessary.

* Manage your time so that your days are not entirely unstructured. And determine whether household chores need to be redistributed more equitably now that your normal routine has changed.

* Turn to the strengths in your life--particularly the support of family and friends--so you won't feel isolated.

* Set aside time regularly to talk openly--and in a non-judgmental way--with your partner about the feelings and stresses you are both experiencing as a result of unemployment.

* Take care of yourself. Establish a daily regimen of exercise and other relaxing activities to help relieve stress.

* Allow time to grieve, but don't just wallow in your pain. Look at your job loss as an opportunity to explore new directions in your career.

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