Post # 1
My fiance has been unemployed for 13 weeks. Every day gets more stressful. I have a job and am able to support us. But his self-esteem gets lower and his frustration grows with each passing day. It has definately put a strain on our relationship.
He feels like he’s not a real man because he can’t support me or take care of me. He feels like a failure to my parents because he’s marrying me but can’t provide for me. But here’s the deal. I’m fine. It doesn’t both me. I am an attorney; he is a journalist. I never expected him to be the breadwinner! But his confidence is shot and so the tension grows.
I want to help, but don’t know what to say. Everytime I offer a suggestion, it is taken the wrong way. And now he is even talking about joining the military! This is SO not good. I am an attorney – I can’t just up and move whenever the military says jump. Not to mention I would be a terrible military wife. I am just entirely too independent.
Anyone else dealing with the frustration of trying to help an unemployed fiance but not knowing how?
Post # 3
Ugh, after we graduated college my Fi was unemployed for almost 3 months. It was really hard because he felt depressed and useless, and I couldn’t convince him to do anything besides mope around the house. Eventually, we sat down and came up with a daily schedule. I told him he was my "house husband" and that I was counting on him to take care of the house and the dogs so that I could concentrate on just work. He was weirded out by it at first, but we came up with a daily schedule of cleaning, cooking, paying bills, taking the dogs for walks, running errands, and looking for a job. By the time he got a job and we started packing to move, he was really into the routine. We’re thinking that after we have kids, he might take a couple years off to be a house husband/stay at home dad again.
I think the important thing is that he gets up to do something. When we moved, I was out of work for about a month, and sitting around the house all day made me even more depressed. It’s hard to motivate yourself to do anything if you don’t think your work is valuable, but if you place value on the work he can do (i.e. around the house, for the wedding, or by looking for a job) he might eventually adopt that same attitude. Even though you’ll want to, don’t do everything for him. The more stuff you do, the more useless he’ll feel and the more depressed he’ll get. It’s a tough situation, but I’m sure you’ll both get through this; good luck!
Post # 4
I’m currently unemployed (by choice) and I completely rely on my hubby to support our household. Even though I’ve chosen to be a housewife, there are still times when I feel like I could or should be doing more to support our "family". But my hubby always ensures me that the things I do at home such as cleaning the house or cooking meals or taking care of our "kids" (we have two crazy dogs that act just like little kids) are a job just as much as working a 9 to 5 gig. And that encourages me so much. You can encourage your FI in the same way. Let him know that even the little things that he does matter to you and your relationship. Is he there for you when you get home from work? Does he help out around the house? Cook meals? Offer a listening ear when you get frustrated? And is he actively seeking work? Any effort he shows in those areas are great means of supporting your household. He may not be providing for you financially at the moment, but if he is providing for you emotionally and physically doing things around the house and in trying to find work, then he is still being a man and he is still taking care of you and supporting you. The financial support will come when a door is opened for him. But let him know that right now all the other support he is providing means just as much to you. There are guys out there that support their homes financially and that’s it. To me, that’s not really being a man. That’s just being a bank.
I don’t know if that offers you any help or encouragement at all. But I hope it helps you see that there are other ways that your FI can see himself as being a contributor to your household and your relationship. Just my thoughts :/
Post # 5
I agree with Mrs Spring. When my FI was unemployed for 3-4 months, what helped a lot was he DID stuff all the time. He went cross country skiing, took lots of pictures, kept everything clean around the house, started volunteering somewhere, etc. Encourage it as much as you can, because it’ll hopefully make a huge difference in his attitude.
I don’t know what I’d do about the "I need to provide for you" complex he has though… that’s a tough one. It’s such an outdated notion, and seriously, you’re an attorney! Was he really thinking he was goign to be a breadwinner ever as a journalist? The odds of him ever making more than you are pretty low… I hope you guys find a way to get his mindset past that otherwise it might be something that bothers him even when he does find work again.
Good luck and I hope your FI finds a new job soon!
Post # 6
You are in a really tough position here, and I am really sorry. Unfortunately, your fiancee is facing a very dire employment situation. The tremendous decline in the entire media industry means that your fiancee is likely facing an extraodinary long term difficulties obtaining another position in journalism. If he was passionate about journalism, he will need time to mourn the (likely) end of his dream. And then the two of you will need to sit down to plan out a new career path that he should consider. Career counseling might be warrented, and sometimes it can help to temp in different industries to see what field he might like to pursue.
Post # 7
A friend of mine was in the same situation prior to her wedding. I think the most stressful part is, your man does not want to be unemployed on your wedding day! That I think eats at the male self esteem more than anything. My friend’s husband ended up getting a job (nothing exciting, but a job) just before their wedding.
Maybe you can encourage him to write for a blog or something, find some freelance gigs. Just so he can feel like he has something to call his own, and to talk about at the wedding, when people as "what do you do?". I’m sure you already know all the job hunting options, but check out sologig or mediabistro for freelance copywriting jobs.
Hang in there!
Post # 8
Sorry. (Hugs) that can be hard stuff for guys. It seems to be tied into their manhood. For as far as women have come, it can really show how traditional the fellas are (not that they have an issue with women working etc.)
I think joining the military would be a bummer, in that it’s not something you are prepared for. It’s one thing to deal with that going in to the relationship, but as a complete change of career?? The only thing with this is, what if he got another "regular" job, but that was in another state? You indicated that you make more money (even if he was employed), and your career doesn’t relocate that easily. So does that mean his career would always have to defer to yours? If you agreed to that, OK. But have you discussed that? (I can see if you both had careers in your city, not really considering that before.) It might be one thing for him to know that you make more money. But if he doesn’t like feeling like his career has to take a back burner to yours, you might need to iron some things out.
Good luck getting it all worked out. I hope he finds work soon.
Post # 9
ooooh, good idea, yogigal! Or try Craigslist, too. There are a lot of freelance writing/editing/publishing gigs listed there, too.
Post # 10
My husband was unemployed for four months, and had all the same issues and concerns your FI does. Unlike beyond a housewife by choice – and therefore agreeing that one person is responsible for money and the other for chores etc – this is a really hard emotional time because he doesn’t WANT to be at home. Men have SO much of their self worth wrapped up in their career, this is a huge blow.
Here is my suggestion – Don’t ask him questions (what did you do today? have you called X?), it just makes him more anxious. Do be as supportive as possible. Make him feel like a million bucks – be excited to see him when you get home after work. He need you to make him feel like he is worth something as your FI, since his work life makes him feel worthless. Some days he is going to be super productive and some days he is going to sit around watching movies in a messy apartment/house. If you feel like he is being lazy, don’t say anything to him – it only makes him feel worse. Call a friend or relative and vent. He needs your love more than ever right now.
Be there to talk to him and offer guidance if he feels open to it. Help him think things through. If he wants to go on a trip or pick up an activity, encourage him.
Post # 11
I wouldn’t address the situation in a job hunting manner. More importantly I would press the opportunity to hone his skills, like frelancing, blogging, continuing education classes. In the end these will all make him more marketable especially when it comes time for an interview. He may even consider becoming more invovled in a hobby which could lead to a near career path.
Post # 12
Not to offend you but army wives a very independent, I would dare to say more independent than civilians, because our men tend to not be home as often as civilian men also the military doesn’t pay that much. He can be in the reserves, FH went from active duty to reservs for my career since I am a CPA and to be able to work as civilian to make more money. Still being in the reserves means my soldier is away being away and me being left to deal alone with a lot of stuff.
Post # 13
@Carmen2009: I completely understand what you are saying. Perhaps instead of saying "independent", I should have said I am "selfish". I don’t want the military taking my man away for long periods of time. I want him here with me. I don’t want the military saying where I live – I want to decide! I have the UTMOST respect for military wives – seriously, military wives just amaze me. I just don’t think I have what it takes to be one!
I appreciate all the comments and suggestions! To answer the question about freelancing, he is writing for a couple papers on a correspondent basis. Like tonight – he is covering a high school softball game for one of the biggest sports sections in the country. And those are always the days he feels the best – because he is still doing what he loves! Unfortunately, it is just not consistent enough.
Please keep the suggestions/encouragements/admonishments coming. 🙂 I want to be a supportive fiance during this time – I can use all the help I can get!
Post # 14
I listen to talk radio everyday on the way home from work. One well-known show focused on this, and it seems the best way to overcome this is to surprise him and create a "home office". In this place is his computer, all things work or job related, and he "goes to work" in the morning getting a job!~ When you’re totally focused on this, it can help stave off some of the depression that goes along with the time on the hands thing.
You have to work the getting a job thing just LIKE a job! When I had to change jobs after a cardiac practice split a few years ago, I did just that in a very competitive job specialty field..I "worked my search" as a job and found the one I have now in 3 weeks flat.
Post # 15
Wow, I know exactly what you are going through! My fiance is unemployed too and has been since mid february. I’m also an attorney. We decided to move to a different state from where I went to law school. I moved first. The plan was for him to move once he found a new job in our new state. However, the economy worsened and his emploeyr knew he was moving, so he just laid him off. Unfortunately, I’m a new attorney and while I make a reasonable salary, I have TONS of loans. Therefore, its very difficult for me to take care of my fiance & I. He is also talking about joining the military! I do.not.want.him.to!! Yes, I’m selfish. It is more than that too. As attorneys, we can not travel around with our fiances/husbands. It is not a mobile career. It takes a long time and it is very very expensive to practice in another state. It would be one thing if the fiance/husband got deployed, but if he is just living on a base in the U.S. I could not imaigne not being near him b/c I can’t practice in that state! Futher, a military salary wouldn’t be able to pay for our living and my loans!
I understand not trying to lower fiances self esteem more, such as asking "what did you do today". However, how do you get them to be motivated?? I’m not creative, so I can’t think of any other way to say "you are being lazy" to him. I agree, that I shouldn’t say that. But how do you motivate someone who is miserable? (he has said that himself) He has essentially given up and stopped applying for jobs. It sucks. I know what he is going through in a way too, because I was unemployed for about 4 months after I took the bar exam. I didn’t get my attorney job until this January. How do we motivate them when they are depressed and being lazy!??!
One person did tell me to treat looking for a job like a job too. You shoudl wake up at normal time and try to create a little office. Sit there until lunch time and apply apply apply. Then take nights and weekends off. However, I did that for several months last fall. I had many breakdowns…
Post # 16
Miss sea spray: I feel like we are kindred spirits! it’s nice to know someone else out there is going through the same thing as me. You are totally right about the lack of mobility of a legal career. I want to support my man, but I also want to be able to do what I want! My fiance and I talked about the military thing this weekend and may have reached a compromise. I told him I might be okay with him being in the Reserves. That way we don’t move, but he still gets to do his thing. We’ll see what ends up happening.
The whole motivation thing is something I struggle with a lot. I think our men need to feel appreciated and worthy. That will help boost their self confidence. When I make the effort to tell my man how much I appreciate him, how much I need him, etc., his whole demeanor changes. This is especially true for guys married to (or dating) women lawyers. We are successful, strong women. This can sometimes intimidate our guys, even if they won’t admit it. They need to know that we need them. My dad gave me the suggestion of letting my man know how I feel safe around him, and ask him to do things I can’t do myself, you know, manly type jobs. It seemed so corny to me, but WOW what a difference! My dad was so right. My man just lights up when I do these things. He likes that I am a strong woman, but he also likes knowing he can take care of me.
Sorry for being so long winded 🙂 But know you’re not alone!