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Is “Bring Home the Bacon” Too Much in Your Relationship?
By Jennine E. Estes   View more articles by this author
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November 02

In this article I offer tips on working through the resentments of working with an unemployed partner.

You may know the feeling of hitting the snooze button just a few more times before you have to face your work day.  You look at your partner lying comfortably in the bed as you crawl out of bed.  The day races and you face the ups-and-downs of your job. At the end of the day, you arrive home to your partner who spent a few hours searching for a job and the rest enjoying the day, and you notice frustration increases inside. Your eyes scan the house and notice the household chores that haven’t been done. Does this sound familiar?

Due to the recession, many couples face the struggle to adjust to a single household income; one person working full-time and the other unemployed.  The challenges these couples face can be consuming and overwhelming. 

The working partner can feel the pressure and obligations to “bring home the bacon,” fear the loss of their job, and can build resentment towards their partner.  The emotional struggles of going to work daily stress the working partner and watching their partner go through the emotional rollercoaster of unemployment can be a strain. 

Here are a few tips for the Working Partner to get through the tough times:

  1. Express Yourself: Share with your partner your experience as the only one working.  Tell your partner of your stress, your fears, your resentments, and your desires.  Get your partner to understand and be conscious of the pressures you face.
  2. Release Your Stress: Find ways to release your stress and dump it in a positive place.  Don’t bring it home and throw it on your partner.  Instead, put it onto paper and write about it, exercise, and talk about it with others. 
  3. Share Your Expectations: Talk with your partner about both of your expectations during this time of the unemployment.  Discuss the expectations as a team and create a game plan on how you two will be handling the issue. 
  4. Ask for Help: When you are feeling overwhelmed or upset, ask your partner for help.  You don’t have to carry your work responsibility AND household responsibilities on your own.  Take off some of the load. 
  5. Recognize Your Partner’s work:  Simply because your unemployed partner isn’t working at a job, doesn’t mean that they aren’t working throughout the day.  Ask about and notice the time they spent researching for jobs, filling out applications, sending resumes, etc.  Notice the things that are done at the house, and try to avoid looking at what isn’t done. 


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