Thursday, March 19, 2009

Life Skill No. 3, Employment Stability

I'm sure you know them too, friends, relatives, or associates with a dismal history at trying to stay employed. They may find a good job situation that pays well and offers good hours--maybe even some helpful benefits! It may appear they've finally settled into a steady rhythm that's meaningful and stable, then out of the blue something seems to happen that ushers them back onto the street. All too familiar for them are the activities associated with a new job search and its associated tasks.

What's going on for these well-meaning people? Everyone who has an employment history that looks like or that may sound like this description has a different story. There are as many different reasons for this "serial unemployment" as there are people whose job histories are punctuated by it. Whatever the facts of the situations may be, the financial and emotionally frustrating outcomes can look and feel pretty much the same.

So what? If you really love someone who has this kind of employment history, what's the big deal? That's probably a good question. If you personally have a sterling employment history and little problem selling and engaging your employable skills for the long-term, then you may be the team member best positioned to carry the larger financial burdens for your relationship over time. That's particularly OK if you know that "going in," and you've made a conscious choice (and maybe even come to a mutual agreement) to designate yourself as the relationship's "financial custodian." But if you didn't know this is a role you'd be required to accept--f you really couldn't see the kinds of challenges your teammate routinely experiences staying employed, and if you didn't realize what that might mean for your relationship long-term--then this "default" role may become a financial burden and a source of great emotional and relational frustration for you both.

Yes, this is another one of those life skills: Maintaining personally meaningful and gainful employment.

Here are a few questions that may help prevent your being blind-sided in the dating or courting process. If your present courting relationship appears to have some long-term promise...
  • What kinds of things are you doing together that give you a factual and realistic appraisal of your partner's employment history?
  • Do you know what factors contributed to any "burps" in his or her employment history and why?
  • If your partner does have "burps" in his or her employment history, do you recognize any curious and/or repetitious themes? What are they?
  • How freely self-disclosing has your partner been about "burps" in his or her employment history?
  • If your partner is comfortable in his or her job situation, what do you know about it? For example...
  1. How long has he or she been employed in the present job?
  2. How does he or she talk about the job? Do you see it as a good fit? Why or why not?
  3. Is your partner's employer happy with his or her work?
  4. What are your partner's long-term goals and how does the present job/role fit in that longer-term plan?
  • What do you think and feel about your partner's job/employment situation and plan? Are you comfortable with his or her employment and goals and can you see yourself being happy with that employment if he or she is happy with it?
Finally, here is another question that's completely unrelated to our life-skills discussion. It may prove beneficial for you to be thinking about:

What do YOU believe are the key factors a person must consider when it comes to preparing oneself for a durable and satisfying marriage relationship?

More next time

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