Long unemployed spouse + financial problems = marital trouble


#1

I am just about at my wit's end and on the verge of sliding once again into despair.

My well-educated husband finished law school 2 years ago, right at the time the economy took a nose dive. He has had one job in that time, lasting about 4 months as a contractor, and other than working with me, nothing. About 2 months ago, he went to stay with his parents in a larger metro area about 1000 miles away with the hopes of improving his job search.

Since there, he sends out resumes, has registered with several temp agencies, but nothing. He has not been offered any interviews or even a longer-term temp job (in his field or otherwise). He gets rejections or no word at all. We are so sad at this state of affairs.

Before law school, he had trouble finding a job in his former field, and went to law school to change careers. I have been working full time for about 8 years, and am responsible for all of our bills (house, car, health insurance, student loans (his and mine), etc.). I feel like the entire burden is on me, and has been since 2002 (he has been unemployed for long stretches of time or in grad / law school).

He is not eligible for unemployment.

I asked him to stay on a stipend of about $750 in credit card expenses and $200 in cash each month. His parents feed and house him for free.

He is incapable of keeping to this budget. Instead, he buys collectibles and other non-necessary items, and the little money he makes in odd jobs he uses to buy these items.

Every month is a huge fight about the creeping upwards credit card bills -- I try to keep to a tight budget and am naturally frugal. It's been this way regardless of whether he is job searching here or in his parents' city, and has been a constant struggle and sore spot since 2008.

Today was another doozy, and it ended with him saying, "I wish I never married you."

I am the person who keeps the household going, including paying for his bar examinations in two states and his student loans. I feel very unappreciated and like he is taking advantage of me.

Sometimes I wonder if our marriage will survive or not. I want to try, but sometimes I am tired of doing so, particularly when he says things like he did today.

We have no children, and I despair that at the rate things are going, we never will. (I am self-employed, and without more income, cannot afford the family coverage we'd need for maternity benefits. Also, I don't know if I could handle trying to take care of children plus him.)

What should I do??? I am not looking forward, I am sad to say, to him coming back here for a visit or permanently. It's a very difficult situation.


#2

Can you call the credit card company, and ask that the card be strictly limited to the 750/month? As in, if he tries to use it after that amount, the card will decline? Sometimes people are just not capable of handlng money on their own. And it sounds as though he needs to get a job somewhere, anywhere, if only for a little while. I’m sorry I don’t have other advice to offer .


#3

I already did that, and restricted the use of the other credit card he had. Unfortunately, he ran up a little bill on the other card.

At some point, it is the principle of him spending money on items he doesn’t need. I just feel like he is not pulling his weight, and in some weird way, maybe this is his way of dealing with his own depression and resentment over this situation. However, he’s a guy, and I have to respect his ego (which is very fragile).

It is so heartbreaking to see my husband crushed and changed.

The economy is so bad out there, and many of his classmates are similarly unemployed, underemployed, or laid off.

We both feel lied to – work hard, and you will reap the rewards. We are feeling very disillusioned these days.


#4

You seem to gravitate towards the current shape of the economy, but then part of your post makes it sound as if he were under/un employed in his former career field too. If this has been going on 8 years, it’s NOT the economy.

How long have you been married? Was there a time when he was responsible with money, earning a good wage with stable employment, and engaged in the family finances/ spending within the budget?


#5

I agree with you I thought the same thing. He still seems to be a child in his habits and thinking. To heck with the limit on credit cards!! He shouldn’t have a credit card if he doesn’t have a job!! You both should watch the movie Cinderella-man and see what real men do when things are tough

I think he needs some psychological help, too. He has some issues. I know a very intelligent teacher who has a masters degree in education and he now works at a Circle-K convenient store. Is it as much as he made as a teacher? No. But he is man enough to not look for excuses and make some money. Sorry to be so blunt. Real men find a way to get and keep a job not look and find excuses. Does he have some delusion that he his supposed to make 200 thousand a year after graduation?

I hope I didn’t come off too strong but he needs to be responsible before he can find a good job and that will mean eating some humble pie, i.e. working in a dead end job till something better comes along, and taking orders from a high school drop out that is his boss. He is right these are tough times but we can’t give-up we need to find a way.


#6

[quote="chypmonk, post:5, topic:199584"]
he needs to be responsible before he can find a good job and that will mean eating some humble pie, i.e. working in a dead end job till something better comes along, and taking orders from a high school drop out that is his boss. He is right these are tough times but we can't give-up we need to find a way.

[/quote]

You are echoing what I think. However, we have not yet found a place where he can even get an entry level job (bank teller, etc.). Prospective employers see the law degree and say "he won't be here 6 months; why hire him?" This has happened many times in his job search. He was in graduate or law school most of the last 8 years, except during a year of unemployment between degrees. (He took a master's, then a law degree.) He came to a college town with few opportunities (lots of student spouses) so that I could get a higher degree and take advantage of a full scholarship. As a result, his career path suffered mightily; had we known, we probably would have had him stay where we were, and me go do the degree and then reunite at the end of my program. Live and learn. He does have a great deal of resentment because of how things have turned out.

I need help in discerning what to do. It seems like you guys are encouraging us to divorce or me to shed him like last year's clothes.

I want to help him through this period of our marital life.

Please, I would appreciate some measured responses, keeping in mind I want to be married to this man for the rest of my life.


#7

If you are earning enough to cover the expenses for keeping a roof over your head, why not have him move back into your home? Would he have to spend so much each month if he was just living with you? Perhaps you could work with him to put together a small business of doing routine legal work for people for a small fee or work as a substitue or teach at a community college or perhaps a class or two as a lecturer at a university. All of that seems preferable to what the two of you are going through now.

I’ll bet being sent to go live with his parents and having no job makes him feel like he is a kid. It does sound like he is really in need of some counseling. Men tend to associate their career with their own self-worth, and he is understandably in a downward spiral.


#8

He decided to go to his parents’ home; I was not in favor of him doing so.

He has been talking on and off to our pastor. He’s having a tough time spiritually, though. No surprise there.

He had been invited to lecture at a local college, but then budget cuts killed the program. We appreciate your advice, and I want to revisit the thought of his own business. I think you understand the source of a man’s ego and ideas of self-worth; that describes him very well. He is not lazy or a layabout, and very proud in the face of this situation.


#9

[quote="Wee_Flower, post:8, topic:199584"]
He decided to go to his parents' home; I was not in favor of him doing so.

He has been talking on and off to our pastor. He's having a tough time spiritually, though. No surprise there.

He had been invited to lecture at a local college, but then budget cuts killed the program. We appreciate your advice, and I want to revisit the thought of his own business. I think you understand the source of a man's ego and ideas of self-worth; that describes him very well. He is not lazy or a layabout, and very proud in the face of this situation.

We will have our 13th anniversary this year. He worked before he went back to grad / law school, and contributed to the household.

[/quote]


#10

Sorry for the tough talk. But why does he have to tell anyone he is a lawyer? He must have done something like helped at a church or something and just say he was a volunteer in those years of unemployment. He doesn’t have to mention his higher education, if it won’t help. That just seems like common sense.

Since you don’t have any kids it makes it easier to move to a place that may have better opportunity. North Dakota was going through a boon not long ago and is the only state in the black.

Canada has not been effected by the banking crisis as much as most western countries either.

If the only problem you both have is money and work I think you should absolutely should stay together. But still I think you both have to find a way without going into more debt. To start a business in this economy would probably mean you would have to take out a loan. Not wise-- especially if your husband is so bad at handling money.


#11

If he doesn’t put the JD on the resume, then there is a 4 year gap (3 years of law school + one year of taking 2 separate state bars and waiting on results).

We are not in debt; his spending sprees eat up a great deal of what we needed to set aside in savings in a particular month.

However, getting him to face facts about his spending (an outgrowth of depression) is very difficult and trying.

Sometimes I think continued separation would be best for the time being. I’m not sure.


#12

Having read all the responses and your posts, I'm going to be blunt, callous, and not the least comforting. I'm sorry if I seem obnoxious. I honestly don't care. I have had to do much that I didn't 'want' to do. So have many men. So what? There a few things one or both of you should do, and right now, if you're serious about staying married to this man, and he's serious about being an adult.

  1. Get back home with his family where he belongs. Now.
  2. Get himself to work doing something, anything. Now.
  3. Participate in managing the family budget, regardless of who earns it.
  4. Consider what your wife does without while you acquire 'collectibles'. Good God, man.
  5. Stop spending money on things that are not necessary. Selfishness is childishness.
  6. Grow up and stop feeling sorry for yourself, both of you.
  7. Stop compensating for his shortcomings and weaknesses and get them resolved.
  8. You may think, but don't really know where the the money he is spending is going.
  9. Man up. Start telling the truth, to your wife, and to yourself.
  10. Deal with what the truth reveals.
  11. Stop making excuses, both of you.

Finally, for him: I don't care about your pride, and you seem to care more about that than you do your wife. Cut wood, drive a cab, work in a Circle K, collect aluminum cans, do day labor. Stop being a victim of your circumstances, and stop embarrassing your family and yourself by forcing your wife to come here and expose your shameful behavior in public, even though you got away with no one knowing who you are here. Others closer to your wife DO know who you are. Get real, stop being a punk. Shop for what you need at Goodwill and other thrift stores. Spend not one thin dime on anything that does not improve the quality of your wife's life, or forwards your ability to earn a living. Not a dime. Sell every "collectible" you've acquired, you dope. What the heck were you thinking? Grow UP.

Sorry. I have no sympathy whatsoever for him. Neither should you, Wee Flower.


#13

BTW: Continued separation does nothing but allow him to avoid taking responsibility as a man and a husband. He needs to be where you are. Now. Everything he’s done to date has been an abrogation of responsibility and an outgrowth of immaturity and self pity. If he can’t pull himself back to reality, then get him some counseling to learn what being a man is all about. No more slack. None. No more Mommy and Daddy. Go home. Grow up.


#14

So what ? Be little creative. 3-4 year gap? I know a man who had a 7 year gap and he works at a call service. I don’t see any problem. If he is a lawyer he can’t be that stupid as to not think of a way to cover 4 measly years. These dead end jobs really don’t care all they want is someone who shows up and isn’t a criminal.


#15

I agree that separation is not a good thing. Not for the reasons you mentioned.


#16

Okay, the Catholic School at the parish I attend would allow him to be a substitute teacher (after the Virtus? training) and he would be able to be a substitute for as many openings they have on any given day. I’m not sure, but he may be able to do this at multiple catholic schools.

He would not make a killing, but it would be some positive cash flow. You should check if he is able to do this in the area he is in now.

Volunteering could be a wonderful assest to a potential employer. Sure beats telling them you were starting up a pricey collection during your job seeking time.


#17

Thanks very much for the stark but tough truth.

But where does that leave me and our marriage if he refuses to cooperate?


#18

Depends on what you are going to do.


#19

Losing a woman like you would be the stupidest thing he’s ever done, he would regret it for the rest of his life, and he has no right whatsoever to cause you, let alone himself, the grief, pain, and trouble of failing in his marriage to you. When a man gives his word, he keeps it.

You should both be planning and getting ready for the birth of your first child, not waiting for him to complete his own childhood, or for you to make enough to compensate for his failure to thrive, regardless of the circumstances of his job search. Especially given who you are.


#20

[quote="Wee_Flower, post:1, topic:199584"]
I am just about at my wit's end and on the verge of sliding once again into despair.

My well-educated husband finished law school 2 years ago, right at the time the economy took a nose dive. He has had one job in that time, lasting about 4 months as a contractor, and other than working with me, nothing. About 2 months ago, he went to stay with his parents in a larger metro area about 1000 miles away with the hopes of improving his job search.

Since there, he sends out resumes, has registered with several temp agencies, but nothing. He has not been offered any interviews or even a longer-term temp job (in his field or otherwise). He gets rejections or no word at all. We are so sad at this state of affairs.

Before law school, he had trouble finding a job in his former field, and went to law school to change careers. I have been working full time for about 8 years, and am responsible for all of our bills (house, car, health insurance, student loans (his and mine), etc.). I feel like the entire burden is on me, and has been since 2002 (he has been unemployed for long stretches of time or in grad / law school).

He is not eligible for unemployment.

I asked him to stay on a stipend of about $750 in credit card expenses and $200 in cash each month. His parents feed and house him for free.

He is incapable of keeping to this budget. Instead, he buys collectibles and other non-necessary items, and the little money he makes in odd jobs he uses to buy these items.

Every month is a huge fight about the creeping upwards credit card bills -- I try to keep to a tight budget and am naturally frugal. It's been this way regardless of whether he is job searching here or in his parents' city, and has been a constant struggle and sore spot since 2008.

Today was another doozy, and it ended with him saying, "I wish I never married you."

I am the person who keeps the household going, including paying for his bar examinations in two states and his student loans. I feel very unappreciated and like he is taking advantage of me.

Sometimes I wonder if our marriage will survive or not. I want to try, but sometimes I am tired of doing so, particularly when he says things like he did today.

We have no children, and I despair that at the rate things are going, we never will. (I am self-employed, and without more income, cannot afford the family coverage we'd need for maternity benefits. Also, I don't know if I could handle trying to take care of children plus him.)

What should I do??? I am not looking forward, I am sad to say, to him coming back here for a visit or permanently. It's a very difficult situation.

[/quote]

What a burden you are carrying...I will pray.

Lord, be near to the couple and bring Your touch of healing in so many ways. Provide for this couple materially, emotionally and spiritually. Turn what is hard and seems so bad into something good. Redeem this situation for Your Glory and may both of them come to know You more intimately and love each other more deeply. In the precious name of Jesus I pray, amen.
mlz:gopray2::highprayer:


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