THE RELATIONSHIP YOU HAVE with a significant other, such as a spouse or a person you’re in a serious relationship with, has just changed. If you aren’t in such a relationship, the one you have with family and close friends has changed. Your entire world has changed because you’re in a job search and not working. But life seems normal for your spouse, partner, family, or friends. My experience, however, has taught me that it is now different for everyone involved, even if they don’t know it or express it.

Everyone has some expectation of what they “think” your journey will look like, how long your job search should take, what you should be doing, etc. We rarely talk about those expectations, but if they’re unrealistic, or what’s going on is different than what’s expected, conflict can happen. I once met someone on a job search who got up each day, dressed as if he were going to work and went to a local café for breakfast and to read the paper. Why? Because his spouse didn’t think he was doing anything to find a job if he didn’t get up as normal and get out of the house. Clearly, these two had not talked enough about the search, what was being done and how the process would happen.

Start early with a good conversation about expectations. You need to be honest and not tell each other what you “think” they need or want to hear. Share openly about what each of you thinks should happen. If you don’t know, then say you don’t know. Share your fears and anxieties. Come to a common understanding for getting started and accept that there may be changes as you move through the process.

Then, if you don’t already have a routine for doing so, make sure you take a weekly time out (away from the children if you have them at home) to enjoy each other and to relieve the stress of this journey. When you’re out, take time to talk and to listen, processing together the “ups” and “downs” of the week.

One final caution for you and those with whom you are in a relationship: Don’t focus too much on what other people tell you “should” happen; it’s not their life. Consider Mark 10:9: Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate. This is a vulnerable time and outside influences and comments from others can damage a relationship. The devil loves that and he knows that if your relationship is weak with those you love, it’ll be hard to have the relationship you need with God.

A strong, Christ-centered relationship will give you strength and perseverance. It’s what you need so that God can grow you together rather than apart. This is what God wants for you.

This week’s blog is an excerpt from How Long, O Lord, How Long? Devotions for the Unemployed and Those Who Love Them , By author Dale Kreienkamp.

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