How to Emotionally Support Your Partner After They Lose Their Job
Nobody ever thinks it will happen to them, and yet, it does. Your S.O. gets called into a meeting with their boss and all of a sudden, they’ve been let go. After a job loss, your partner might go through what seems like an endless emotional roller coaster: depression, anger, a loss of self-esteem, and so on. It’s easy for you to feel like you’re helplessly sitting on the sidelines, but don’t fret — there are steps you can take to help your loved one out of their low place. Below, NYC-based licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert Dr. Rachel Sussman shares her tips for what to do (and not do) to emotionally support your S.O. during this challenging time.
1. Recognize it affects both of you. While it might be your S.O. who’s lost their source of income, both of you must register that this change will impact two lives, and not just one. “This is a stressful time for both of you… whenever there’s change in a relationship, it’s actually difficult for both people,” Sussman says. “And what I might try to do with each person is get them to understand and have some empathy for what their partner is going through.”
2. Be their cheerleader. In this vulnerable time, what your beloved most needs to hear is words of support. “You want to tell them that you think they’re terrific, that they’re valuable, and that you really, truly believe that they will get another job,” Sussman says.
3. But also empathize. While there’s a time and place for words of encouragement, sometimes commiserating is just as important. “It’s kind of a dance,” Sussman explains. “You want to on one hand be a cheerleader, but on the other hand, validate, like [saying], ‘I know this must be really hard for you. You seem really down. I feel for you.'”
4. Ask them what they want and need. If you’re really at a loss, sometimes the most obvious route is actually the best one. Don’t know? Ask! “People don’t always do that,” Sussman tells us. “The number one thing is to say to your partner, ‘Clearly you’ve been through something traumatic and I feel for you. I really want to be helpful. Can you please tell me what would be helpful and what wouldn’t be helpful?'” If they don’t have an immediate answer, tell them to spend some time reflecting and get back to you.
6. Give them time. After an unexpected round of layoffs or a firing, give them a moment to collect themselves. “Everyone’s allowed to take some time,” Sussman says. “Actually, I get worried about the people that say, ‘I’m going to look for a new job tomorrow.’ I say, ‘What’s the rush? You need to be with this for a minute, you need to process this.'”
7. Help them reexamine their goals. Sometimes life’s misfortunes can become opportunities for positive change. “I know people who have really turned their lives around after they lost their job and decided they wanted to actually do something different,” Sussman says. “This is an opportunity to say, ‘Is this really what you wanted to do? Were you happy?’… It’s really important for you to ask yourself, ‘Why did I lose this job? Is there anything I need to work on? Is my industry changing? Or was it just dumb luck and I was the last one in, first one out?’ You really need to examine all of that, and sometimes a partner can be a really good person to [bounce] that around with.”
8. Don’t become their boss. Bills and mortgage payments wait for no one, so it might be pressing for your partner to get back into the workforce. Your role in your S.O.’s new job hunt isn’t to manage it, though. “Don’t act like you’re the boss and your unemployed partner has to report to you,” Sussman warns. “That’s going to be difficult in the balance in power. What I often see is the person who does have a job saying, ‘So what did you do today? Who did you call today? Did you uncover any leads?’ That’s your own anxiety, and you should work through that without including your partner.” Instead, there’s a kinder, more diplomatic route you can take. “If you want to be included in the job search, sit down once a week or [every] two weeks and debrief each other,” she says.
9. Don’t delegate all household tasks to your partner. This is mostly applicable to couples who are cohabitating or married, but don’t let all housework suddenly fall on the stay-at-home person’s shoulders. Aside from the emotional turmoil your partner is going through, they’re likely sending out resumes, writing cover letters, and making cold calls, so you should still be helping out around the house. However, with the time they have freed up, you can have a kind and thoughtful conversation to ask them to take on a few more chores. “If you come home and the house is a mess or there are kids involved, what you can say to your partner is, ‘Please don’t take this the wrong way, and I know you’re looking for a job and you’re trying so hard, but can you help me pick up some of the slack that I have now since I have to work a double shift? Can you pick the kids up? Can we let go of the dog walker and can you walk the dog?'” Sussman suggests. “And oftentimes, the unemployed person wants to feel helpful and wants to help out. You just have to ask them in a respectful way. You don’t want anyone to lose their self-respect.”
10. Both of you have to practice self-care. If you drop from a double-income to single-income household, being the sole breadwinner can be very stressful. As the employed half of the partnership, you might find yourself taking on extra shifts or working overtime. But it’s important to prioritize self-care. To ensure that you have time for yourself or to save money, you may need to pare down your calendar. “You might have to give up your social life, unless you’re the type of person who recharges by socializing,” Sussman says. But whatever you do, don’t be too hard on yourself. “Have compassion for yourself and compassion for the other person,” she advises.
Do you have any advice of your own? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)
Artist Dev Heyrana On How Bravery, Resilience and Sunshine Influence Her Work
Ever meet someone who you feel immediate kinship with on a deep almost spiritual level? That is legit every person's experience upon meeting Dev Heyrana, the star of this edition of Creative Crushin'. A fine artist, hip hop dance teacher and constant collaborator, Dev's particular brand of creativity is one-of-a-kind. She manages to be warm, welcoming and woke, with a focus on inclusivity, social justice and motherhood that comes through in every piece of art she creates.
Anjelika Temple here, co-founder of Brit + Co and one of many humans who has benefitted from Dev's boundless generosity and kindness. We first connected at a launch event, then I asked her if she and her family would like to model for a B+C shoot (they did!), then months later, I asked the IG universe if anyone would be down to co-parent with me for a day so I could speak at a conference. Dev said yes! And for those that know her, none of these serendipitous moments are surprising.
Now it's time to delve more into Dev's story, her creative inspiration, her thoughtful approach to parenting and what makes her more passionate than ever about bringing her point of view and artistic voice into the universe.
Anjelika Temple: First, foundations. Where did you grow up? What is your heritage? What did you study in school? Where do you live now?
Dev Heyrana: Born in The Philippines and immigrated to the U.S. when I was 9 years old. Me and my family are from the island of Cebu and I'm a proud Cebuana. My childhood in the Philippines felt like freedom. I had my swimsuit in my backpack for whenever we decided to swim and I biked everywhere.
Immigrating here at 9 yrs old was a transition, to say the least. My parents had big dreams but the move was heavy on them. It wasn't easy. I had to grow up fast. I took care of my sisters while my parents worked night shifts. By the age of 12 I would cook dinner and get my sisters ready for bed. Something I didn't realize was that kids my age didn't do those things until I got older. We would play these make-believe games to make, in hindsight, our hard situation brighter.
I think this is really when art played a big role in my life. It was something I could escape in and always felt healing.
I witnessed racism towards my family and didn't know how to make sense of it. These events left a mark. I was a quiet kid and observed everything and everyone around me. I think about my grandparents, Lolo Jose and Lola Rita, a lot as I walk through life. When I make decisions. As hard as it feels, you have two choices, do you let it take you down or take it one step at a time forward. I kept going and it really shaped me as to why I am the way I am today.
I studied Fine Arts at The Corcoran in DC. I owe that decision to my art teacher, Mr Giles, in High School. He was retiring and wore a Hawaiian shirt every day during my senior year. He was a curmudgeon and I felt incredibly special since out of everyone in the school he really believed in me. As grumpy as he seemed to the class, he would tell me things like "Go into the other studio and break some glass, then put it on a canvas." He's the reason why my abstract pieces have elements like clay and sand in them.
I've had incredible mentors and all were teachers. Mr. Giles in High School and Christine George in College. Christine was the one who told me to go either to New York or San Francisco because "D.C. is no place for an artist like you." She told me to not listen to anyone, how I can still paint, be a graphic designer, and, if I choose to, have a family. I've never had anyone tell me anything like that before.
I took a chance because of her. Moved and went to Design School in 2006 and I've stayed in the Bay Area ever since, raising two girls with the love of my life.
Anj: You are one of those magical human beings that has figured out how to be a full-time artist. What was your career path like before you were able to dive fully into your creative passions?
Dev: The most radical thing I could have done in my family, I did, I went to college for Fine Arts. A mix of being so young and having to do it on my own, I went with the school that gave me more scholarships. Even then I worked three jobs to be able to get through it. Hard work is ingrained in me.
With my sculpture background, I fell in love with Print and Packaging and why I came out here to San Francisco. I appreciated the security of having a career in Graphic Design. I also learned how to work with clients and the business side of things. Even then, I never stopped painting.
A few years ago I went through a pretty hard time with my health. I dealt with six surgeries in one year and I still have to do some follow-up ones. That experience almost broke me and what got me through was my family and painting in bed while I recovered.
When I finally got back on my feet, my heart just wasn't in Graphic Design anymore. So I made a two year plan. With a toddler and a mortgage, I wanted to make sure my steps were thought out. I put myself out there as an Artist while I still worked in Design. After a year I worked part time as a Graphic Designer and stepped down from my Creative Director position. I loved it, to be creative as an Artist and as a Designer. I looked at 2018 as my year to make the jump. If my work as an Artist balances out with my salary then I would quit in the Summer of 2019. And so here we are. I also am sharing a studio with my good friend, Naomi PQ, and I feel like my creative drive is just beginning.
Anj: What do you love about painting? How do you feel when you're in a creative flow state?
Dev: Like every part of me is free. Free to express myself through the stroke of my hand. How all of it leads back to my heart. These elements I use to paint have a mind of their own and how I need to respect the process.
It centers me and reminds me that the process is just like the life we lead. I know I still have so much more to learn but while I'm painting no matter how it's going, I'll embrace this moment.
Anj: You reference your roots quite a bit in your work. Talk to me more about how your roots inspire your work.
Dev: One of my earliest memories is of my Lolo Jose teaching me how to water mango saplings. He converted to Buddhism when my mother was young, so he viewed the world with love and kindness. I didn't realize it then but watering those mango trees were life lessons. We need to take the time to nurture, practice patience, and respect all living things. I still imagine him walking beside me often, carrying his teachings as I find my way in this world.
Nature and the Sun drive my pieces. My abstract works are fragments of moments. Like the sunset I grew up with when I was seven years old in the Philippines, like how I saw the water in Cebu when I dove in as a young adult, and like when I saw the redwoods with my children for the first time.
I see earth in our skin and especially when I paint people. How our mango trees grew and blossomed because the dark earth was rich with nutrients. I imagine the Sun piercing through these women I depict. I paint their love and bravery because their resilience cannot be contained. I want to celebrate all of it.
This is the beauty of Art, I am able to paint exactly how I see it.
Anj: Motherhood and your daughters are also central themes in your work. How has motherhood changed your approach to creating artwork?
Dev: Everything. I was still deep in my Design Career and I would paint at home. One day Quinn, who was 3 years old at the time introduced me at the park to a mom. "This is my mom, she's an Artist." It struck me that my toddler knew who I was more than I knew myself. That's really when I really owned it. I am more fearless because of my girls.
I own my body, I thank people when they compliment me, and I am selective but fearless when I use my voice. I am more in tune how I speak about myself because of them. When I paint these women I want to celebrate them. I notice how I embrace myself is translated in my paintings.
Anj: What advice can you give to parents who are trying to tap into their kiddos' innate creativity?
Dev: I don't have a lot of guidelines set up. I'll say "Let's draw the biggest fish we can draw" or "how many silly lines can we make" and I let them lead me. They ask me questions, show me things, and I sit there with my coffee watching their eyes wide with excitement. Watching them in their creative process is pure joy for me. Those silly lines can turn into a dragon or waves and next thing we know, we're drawing a big beach scene. My advice would be that you can suggest something to start it off but be open to how they take it. It is such a beautiful window into their minds.
Anj: Shifting gears to HIP HOP DANCE! Talk to us about his component of your creative expression.
Dev: I loved the Hip Hop scene in DC and discovered how much fun the clubs were in college. My friends told me about this Hip Hop Crew I should try out for, I was so scared because I've never taken a dance class in my life. I got in and it was like having another family. We competed all over the East Coast, it was a blast!
I found hipline when I started my first Design Job and needed an outlet. It was exactly what I needed and one of the owners asked if I was interested to teach. I've been teaching there since 2009 and am still going strong. It's a wonderful community of women. Now we're virtual and reaching clients all over.
Anj: What does a typical [pandemic] day look like for you? How does it differ from your rhythm before COVID?
Dev: I've been practicing being kinder to myself lately. Both me and my husband work full time and so having the girls at home is a challenge. Some days we are amazed by how smooth it went and then there are others where if the girls are clean and bellies are full, it's a total win.
Now that we're on month 8 our rhythm before covid felt more chaotic to be honest. I felt like we were always rushing out the door while carrying so many bags. Now my husband and I try to have coffee together, if he has a break from his meeting, and we sit with Quinn before school to see what she has to do for the day. Rowan's preschool closed down but we were able to find a wonderful speech therapist for her and she has an Adventure Pod we go to two times a week.
The one thing we really try to do is go outside once a day. Have some magic in their childhood no matter how small. It could be just going up for a hike by our home and picking up leaves, riding our bikes, or watching the sunset from our window. Seeing how the girls' react to these adventures we have is pure magic.
Anj: When you get creatively blocked or burnt out, how do you reset? Do you have tips you can share?
Dev: I go outside. I go out for a hike or go to the beach. Even if it's 15 minutes, something about grounding yourself in Nature is really healing. I also do exercise where I doodle for two minutes because it feels doable. Judgment-free doodles, always opens the doorway to more.
Anj: I know firsthand that community-building is huge for you. Tell us more about what your support system and creative community looks like.
Dev: I feel a lot of love and strength when I think of my community. My relationship with my sister led the way what women supporting women looks like. It's listening, asking questions, remembering, cheering for all the wins, being there even if it's hard, and taking time to invest in them. The way me and my sister show up for each other is why I have these amazing women in my life. I can talk to them about my family, motherhood, and we're all trying to balance it all while sharing my most recent project. I feel really blessed especially looking back in my college years where I don't know where Art would take me.
Anj: When you need to give yourself a pep talk, what does it sound like?
Dev: I usually take a deep breath then say or think "One step forward". Most of the time, I'm scared (as shit) but the thought of not trying scares me more. That one step forward can be hard as hell and maybe even heartbreaking, but I have to try.