THE BLOG
09/28/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

10 "Bulletproof Your Relationship Tips" for the Unemployed

Are you unemployed, but your wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend, or other family members are not? Are your parents driving you crazy with the questions, and every night your mate comes home wondering what you were doing all day while they were carrying the load for the whole family?

Are these questions familiar?

How many resumes did you send out today? Did you call so and so? How about going back on the search engines? Why is the house such a mess if you are home all day? Did you at least pick up the dry cleaning?

I bet you feel demoralized, helpless, frustrated, embarrassed and just plain pissed. Of course you are depressed, but depressed is not an excuse. Depression is an appropriate emotion for hard times, and should not be a surprise. It's probably the only legitimate emotion you should be aware of. Being depressed means you're normal. Accept the depression, but move beyond it. In 2009, you have a plethora of ways to deal with the depression--psycho-pharmaceutical, yoga, talk therapy, group therapy and exercise. Whatever you have to do, lose the depression. It's like an anvil around your neck getting in the way of you getting a job.

Yet half of you know you are lucky, because in general, when someone's hounding you about your job hunt, it really means they love you. And let's face it, they are still financially supporting you, so you are more or less beholden to them. As your unemployment benefits come close to running out, the pressure is worse on both of you.

I have a friend who is unemployed, a man, whose wife is still working. He fits in that group who have it among the hardest, the over-55 white male. He has tried everything. He makes his wife breakfast in the morning, fetches the groceries, and is looking for work all day. Outwardly his mate is supportive, but subconsciously resentment grows. It's just human nature.

So I have created my "Top Ten Bulletproof Your Relationship Tips for the Unemployed" to keep your family, spouses and partners at bay until you find a job.

These tips are based on my HarperCollins bestseller, Bulletproof Your Job: 4 Simple Strategies to Ride Out the Hard Times and Come Out on Top at Work. (Had you bought the book already schmuck, you would have kept your job while everyone else around you dropped like flies. But never mind that.) These tips are a bit tongue-in-cheek, and a little smoke and mirrors, too, but they're for real and they do work.

Stephen Viscusi Top Ten Ways to Keep your Love One's Off Your Back, While Unemployed

1. Always get up, out of bed, and dressed before your partner. Never "sleep in" while they are getting ready for work. Instead, you get your butt out of bed and get to work making coffee and a tasty breakfast if you have to.

2. Do not put on gym clothes, sweat suits, or stay in your robe. "Look" like you are going to look for work "Looking the part" is part of the charade, I mean, technique.

3. Ask "What would you like for dinner?" It shows your willingness to contribute.

4. If you have IM, do not leave it on all day so that your partner can see you are on the computer all day. Beyond the fact that the texting is distracting you for your full-time job getting a job, it's a subconscious and annoying reminder to them that you are sitting on the computer all day doing what exactly?

5. If you have children, it is very important that they see you going on interviews and dressed like you are going on an interview. When they get home from school, let them see you in "work dress," as if you went on an interview, not in the workout clothes you wore to the gym. They don't need to know there isn't any Santa Claus and they don't need to know that you're not actually interviewing every day, either.

6. Perfect the art of "looking like you are looking for a job" at all times.

7. Do not tell your partner about any social activities you planned during the day while they are toiling at a job. Come on. They are barely holding on themselves in order to support you, and the family. They don't need to hear about a lunch you had with an old fired colleague, or a spinning class you took, or what was happening on Oprah that day.

8. Do not always be home when your mate gets home. Even if it means waiting in the nearby park or grocery store, so that there is the perception that you are not always home.

9. Tell and more importantly show them about every rejection letter and phone call you have received to elicit sympathy and show you are making an effort. Leave the rejection letters out on the dining table, and keep any messages of rejection on the answering machine so they can hear them, too.

10. Finally, my Stephen Viscusi # 1 way to shut up that loved one, family member, spouse or partner, who is making you feel so guilty about being out of work, (and this suggestion works best if you are over 35 years of age) is to apply for--and get--a job, at Starbuck's, Wendy's, Burger King, McDonald's, or Wal-Mart.

Nothing shuts up a nagging partner and says to them, "I love you" more quickly than a grown person taking a minimum wage job and wearing a uniform made from synthetic fibers.


You're always welcome to write me with your career dilemmas, and I'll answer you on this column. Follow me on Twitter @ Workplace Guru and add me on Facebook or email me at: stephen@viscusi.com. Disclaimer: The scenarios and events portrayed in this article are products of the author's imagination. Stephen Viscusi. All rights reserved. Article can be duplicated in part of full without author's permission.