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Surviving a spouse's layoff

        Today, in my Miami Herald column, I wrote about the stress on a relationship when one partner is laid off. It seems clear that more couples will grapple with this issue after today's news from Challenger Gray & Christmas that more than 181,000 people were victims of job cuts in November and more than 1 million people were laid off this year.

     I heard some pretty strong sentiments from men and women about the tension that arises when couples differ on how a job search should be done, how much time is enough to mourn a lost job and how money should be handled during the period of unemployment. The key to survival, marriage counselor Wendy Joffe told me, is ratchet up communication.

     Here are some issues that were brought up.

       Money: Lourdes Harrison told me it was difficult to rely on one income and ask her husband after being laid off. Bruce Moore told me he feels guilty denying his girlfriend a night out as he watches every cent he spends.

       Support: Ben Tishler worried that his girlfriend would dump him when she learned he was out of work.

      Direction: Lilliana Eastman wishes she could go into her husband's business. But he can't afford to pay her salary. Though he's supportive, she's struggling with finding a new career path, which will require patience on her husband's end.

      A close friend of mine was laid off last night. She's devastated, shocked, and can barely speak today. Yet overall, it seems like men have a more difficult time with layoffs and tension in relationships escalates more if the male loses his job. Do you agree with my assessment? Besides ratcheting up communication, have you found others ways to survive a spouse's layoff?