Supporting Your Partner Through A Career Transition

Our jobs take up the majority of our day. We spend hours in the office, classroom, cubicle or other work environment, and unfortunately it may not always be engaging. At a certain point, we may decide that we want a change, and begin the search for new employment. While the decision may be a positive one, as we are embarking on a new and hopefully much more rewarding journey, the transition comes with its own stress.

The search itself can be daunting; and creating time to find and secure a job, while still balancing the demands of your current vocation, is a challenge. During this time, we need a great deal of love and support from our partner, so that we can tackle our responsibilities head on.

So how exactly does a relationship influence a career transition? While research on the connection between job satisfaction and marital satisfaction is mixed, relationships are linked to well-being. In a study by Feeney and Collins (2015), the researchers found that the ways in which close relationships help us thrive is through enabling us to cope with adversity and by supporting us as we pursue life’s opportunities.

So what if you are the partner of someone who wants to embark on a new path? How can you best support your significant other through a career transition? Below are some personal tips that I would like to share:

Be an active listener

Deciding whether or not to stay or leave a job is difficult. It requires a person to list the pros and cons of each potential career opportunity, as well as figure out how each may impact your lives going forward. Being an active and engaged listener would really benefit your partner as he or she prepares for the career transition.

Question and engage

Sometimes when we are tired of a job, we may look for any other opportunity so we can pack up and leave. This can be problematic, because a person may make a rash decision and wind up in a worse situation. After you listen to your partner, discuss why he/she feels the need to leave his/her current job, make sure you pose the difficult questions that your partner needs to confront. These may include asking why he/she feels the new job will be better, what will happen if he/she doesn’t get the new job or winds up hating it down the road, how he/she will handle any potential cuts in pay or benefits and what will happen if quitting burns a bridge with the previous employer. It is important that your partner isn’t blinded by his/her need for a career transition and answers these difficult questions before making a move.

Help your partner in practical and tangible ways

In addition to being a source of support, you can also help your partner in more tangible and practical ways. Offer to read and proof his/her cover letter and CV. Assist in searching for new jobs and opportunities. Reach out to your friends in the field to help your partner network. These gestures will make a big difference.

Help your partner focus on him/herself and your relationship

While the job hunt can be time consuming and exhausting, it is important that your partner focuses on life outside of work. Take some time to pull your partner away from the stress and do something for each other. Plan a stress relieving date or a weekend away. In fact, stepping away from the chaos may help bring clarity to the job search process.

A job transition doesn’t only affect the person switching careers; it can also affect the relationship that he or she has with you. No matter how you choose to help, make sure
that you are a source of support, as you are your partner’s best cheerleader.

Marisa T. Cohen, PhD, is a psychology professor, relationship researcher and relationship coach. Learn more about Marisa at

Marisa T Cohen
Marisa T. Cohen, PhD, is a psychology professor, relationship researcher and relationship coach. Learn more about Marisa at

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