Unemployment and its effects


Unemployment! The emotional effect is not just felt by the unemployed person, it also has an effect on the entire family. I was laid off over six months ago and have not been able to secure a new position yet. The effect of the financial position we are now in is having a major effect on my relationship with my wife. We have had our ups and downs over the years, but never like this as she has become increasingly very nasty towards me. I know she is feeling the stress of being the only breadwinner but it’s not like I’m sitting around doing nothing to try to find work

I have tried to speak to her regarding the current situation we find ourselves in but it only serves to makes her madder. Right now she hardly acknowledges the fact that I am even here. I know things are difficult, but stonewalling is not really helpful. We are virtually living as room-mates at the moment.he stress from the whole situation is at times overwhelming especially as there is no real end in sight!!

I pray daily that I will be able to secure a new job really soon and that the situation will pass and things will get back to normal soon.

Any suggestions on how I can talk to my wife in this situation. I know she will never agree to go to a counselor with me as she has turned that option down before.


Thank GOD your wife has a job. I was laid off over a year ago, DH has been a SAHD for years. He cannot find work. I will pray for you.


*Oh gosh, that is tough–I’m so sorry. I agree with kage, it’s a blessing that at least your wife can help right now.

Have you tried temping, or maybe a parttime job somewhere, that could lead to fulltime? How about reinventing yourself? I think that tough times call for different strategies…if it’s been 6 months, then maybe you need to change things up a bit. I think that is often what is happening out there–men and women having to reinvent themselves, and change gears a bit. Have you tried anything like that?

As far as your wife goes, I’m sorry that it’s been tough there, too. I will keep you both in my prayers.*


Yes it is very true! I’m sure your wife is feeling the stress of going from what might have been a ‘complementary’ job to being the main breadwinner. I will be out of work in 2 weeks if I don’t find another job within my company. I have been applying and working connections, but dh and I are also making plans for what we will do if this doesn’t work.

For you, consider part-time work as Whatever Girl suggested, or even volunteering as a way to strengthen part of your resume and get new connections. If bringing in money is the main object right now (I assume you are running out of any severance you might have received), even consider off-shift work.

For your wife, she has to be stressed and worried. try your best to pick up on any clues she’s dropping or things you know are worrying her. Do what you can to improve one thing to make a crack in her stone wall. Make sure you are pulling your weight in household chores, and limiting your own luxuries and not necessarily hers (for example, forgo your little treat at the grocery, but get her a bt of chocolate).

I have also set up a schedule for myself for my search and I’ll let dh know how things are going in an upbeat way. Try to keep her appraised of what steps you’ve taken rather than how many regections you’ve received.

I’m sure it is hard to feel you have to do so much for her when you need support also, but your marriage is important and deserves the effort.


I think you’ve received great advice already… just another few ideas that are popping into my head…

Ask for HER prayers and pray for HER often… thank God every day that she has a good job, and pray that she does well every day at her job.

Ask for her opinion and her thoughts on how to proceed - if she seems overwhelmed in any way (household chores, helping with the children, etc), take on those burdens without being asked.

Get out of the house during the day - volunteer and/or look for co-op positions - anything that can help with your resume.

Attend each and every job fair you can - share every detail with your wife, and then ask for her prayers that something will come around.

I’m sorry you are struggling… you will be in my prayers…


Thoughts that are popping into my head:

Could the problem be partly that she used to feel loved by knowing that you were providing for her and the family, and now isn’t getting that from you (through no fault of your own)? Maybe you could look for some other way to show her your love to “fill in the hole”, so to speak. The book “The Five Love Languages” could help you figure out what gestures she will interpret as being loving, if this seems likely to be a component.

Are you able to give her a chance to talk about her worries and fears? You might not be able to either because you may struggle with your own feelings and tend to be defensive (you are human, right?), or because she won’t allow you to. Being a breadwinner unexpectedly could be scary, and maybe there is some fear she’s trying not to think about that is driving some of this behavior. If you can’t be that outlet, for whatever reason, maybe encourage her to go out and talk with a girlfriend. If you are offering to let her talk and she’s avoiding, try to offer her comfortable chances to talk to you without pressuring her. Maybe cook a special dinner or dessert to be served after the kids go to bed.

Is she carrying a disproportionate amount of household responsibilities? Don’t forget “invisible” housework, like organizing the social schedule, being the “face” for the family to family friends, reminding the kids or you to do chores, planning, and decision making. Note how much free time you get, and how much she gets. If you are getting more free time than her, try to level the free time out by taking on more chores and responsibilities. From what I recall of my housework-balancing research, there is evidence that spouses note inequality in free time more than inequality in responsibilities.

If things are really bad, try to open yourself up for attack, and don’t defend yourself. This is a very powerful tool in a relationship, in my experience, but very painful to implement since you have to make yourself very vulnerable. It goes like this: Ask your wife to give her opinion on your contribution to the family or whatever else you think she might be concerned about (open yourself up to attack) and let her say whatever she wants (don’t defend!). Try to control your emotions and sort through her words for the actual content, speaking only to ask for clarification and thank her for her response, and respond to the content with actions. So if she calls you lazy and says that you aren’t doing enough, ask if she has suggestions (ask for clarification), listen, and thank her for her anser - no matter how rude. Say as little as possible beyond this. Then take a week to follow any suggestions she may give, no matter how rudely they are stated, or to just try to do a bit more work that you think she might care about if she didn’t care to clarify. Then, after a week, ask for feedback (open to attack again), and repeat.

“The Love Dare” is a great book that may be of use, but be warned that the method is very intense and requires everything of you and nothing of your spouse (which makes it great for dealing with a stonewaller). The technique above is the kind of advice you can expect from “The Love Dare” (although it actually comes out of “The Five Love Languages”). I didn’t have the book when DH and I were going through our roughest times, but the advice it gave was very similar to what actually worked for DH and I. I wish I’d had the book at the time, instead of having to figure everything out for myself.

On counseling: Can you go on your own to a marriage counselor? Most people who start going on their own get benefits from the counseling, and often once they start attending their spouse becomes interested in attending as well. For me, just telling my husband that I was going on my own was enough to convince him to join me after all.

Also, consider finding a supportive friend and making a real effort to connect with that person on a regular basis. Your wife isn’t able to be supportive right now for whatever reason, but that doesn’t mean you need to stand alone. A real friend will understand if you can’t reciprocate for his support right now, and won’t care. He might even feel honored that he can help.

I’m very sorry to hear that your relationship is going through this. Unemployment is bad enough without divisive family stress when you most need your spouse’s support.

Disclaimer: These are just brainstormed ideas. I am not a marriage professional, just a breadwinning mom who’s had a few problems in her own marriage. Please ignore anything I say at will!


You have gotten great advice. I also will emphasize the chores thing. When things change in life, people tend to go on and do things as before. Are you still following the same level of housework/errands you did before you lost your job? Six months of working and doing the same amount of stuff at home may contribute to your wife’s bad mood.

But I will say I’m sure the issue isn’t about your job completely. Situations like this tend to force other issues to the surface that maybe didn’t emerge when things were financially better or you weren’t around the house all the time. I’m sure her anger is about more than your lack of work.

Agree about the reinventing yourself… or maybe just get a job - ANY job. You don’t know what even a part-time job will lead to if your foot is in another door and something opens up, or you meet someone and start talking and it turns out they could use someone with your resume.

Just be sure you don’t give the appearance of being on perpetual vacation at the house and when she gets home from work, she still has to make dinner, do the laundry, vacuum, get the kids ready for bed and write the checks and do the dishes. THAT would make anyone angry.


You have gotten good advice. Let me say, I know how it feels. First dh lost his job, then me. He did finally find some work, but its only part time. I have had to take a very humbling and low paying job. Our income has dropped about 60%, but the bills stay the same.

I want to say also, that where I’m at, even looking for low paying, part time and temp work proved to be very difficult. DH would get so angry at me for not having a job, which really didn’t help when you realize that walmart wouldn’t even hire you.

But… I think that my attitude had something to do with it. I was very easily upset. I started to feel worthless, like no one would ever hire me again. It showed, I stopped caring as much about housework and such. Took a rather “nothing matters anymore” attitude. I was in a bad space, and needed not to be.

Your wife needs you now to step up and help keep spirits up. If you are depressed and defeated, it just makes it harder on her. Try to keep a positive attitude, and take over doing the little things for her. I always suggest looking at yourself first. It’s possible that you are already doing all these things, but if not think about it. Are you there to greet her when she gets home? Do you inquire about her day? Do you show her your appreciation? Are you taking over the housework?

Pray, and I will pray for you too.


A woman’s biggest need is SECURITY. Not romance. Not love notes. Not flowers. SECURITY.

Most women will do ANYTHING to guarantee security. My husband and I used to shelter women in crisis pregnancy. We don’t anymore. One of the young women glommed onto a seminarian (Protestant church) at our church and did a number on him that convinced him that they were in love, and they got married. It wasn’t love, it was her need for security for herself and her baby. She took the only course that she could see that would provide for her and her baby.

Many women will even enter prostitution rather than be without security. Or do other crimes.

When a woman loses her security blanket, it is absolutely devastating to her. Try to picture the worst thing that could happen to you. How would you feel? That’s the way your wife feels right now.

She pictures herself and her family homeless, wandering the streets, living in shelters, begging for handouts, eating out of garbage cans, and eventually getting raped and/or murdered. (There have been quite a few television specials on lately about average Americans who are going through this fall from prosperity to utter poverty, so perhaps your wife has been scared out of her wits by one of these.)

A man isn’t quite so worried about the open road and sleeping under the stars in a tent city and eating beans out of a tin can. But always remember, a man can pee standing up in the woods. A woman can’t. And a woman bleeds once a month and a man doesn’t. Even if a woman doesn’t voice these specific issues, they are there in her mind. Women are not very good at being hobos.

All of her hopes and dreams are crumbling. No piano lessons or soccer for her kids–they’ll be selling drugs. And no soft bathroom towels, planting a flower garden, doing laundry in her own home–all the comforts and pleasures of home seem to be slipping away from her. And no health insurance–if she finds a breast lump right now, she will probably just have to die, or go and plead with a “charity clinic” and hope they’ll take her.

I hope I’m expressing this well and giving you a clear picture of a woman’s fear about loss of security.

If you are aware of your wife’s overwhelming need for security, you will have more tools for knowing how to deal with your wife right now.

I agree with others that say take ANY KIND OF JOB, even something that is far beneath your education and status. Be a Wal Mart greeter. Work at McDonald’s. Take the very early shift at a restaurant. Work at night in a hospital on the housekeeping crew. Do ANYTHING to bring in some bucks and help your wife feel more secure.

A woman wants to believe that her husband is a knight who will protect her from the dragon, a Superman who can rescue her from a fate worse than death, a Batman who will never sleep in his quest to bring about justice. Sorry, buddy, but right now, you are disappointing her. Yes, it’s unrealistic because men aren’t really perfect, but it’s the way women are! They want and need security, and at the moment, you aren’t providing it.

If I were you, I would put in 18 hours days either actively searching for work, working at ANY job you can get, AND doing as much housework as you can before collapsing into bed. PROVE to your wife that you ARE that knight, that Superman, that Batman. This is not the time for prayer and contemplation (although it should be there). This is the time for ACTION!!!


I haven’t got any advice for you .As I am in the same boat no job .And no prospects for one ,I hope that this doesn’t end up the beginning of the great depression part 2.I keep hearing that the economy is getting better,only to look the next day it is in the dumps again.


Thank you all for the advice you have offered. It was most informative, constructive and gave me some new insight into how to address my circumstances.

However the situation is that my wife actually earned more than me; however the loss of my job has left us with more outgoings than incoming. We did have some issues even when I was working, and I believe the loss of my job has exacerbated the situation. I have always done housework and I always helped out with our infant children, more so now, so it’s not that I sat around all day not helping out.

When it comes to employment, we are in state with high employment and it according to the local paper today, the stimulus package has apparently not kicked in yet to create new jobs and layoffs are still the order of the day. It is difficult to find temp, part-time job as a degree holder with more that 20 years experience in my industry without lying on my resume. Most temps say too experienced for the job in question or no experience at all. I have/ am applying to jobs all over the country and am also studying for accreditations that hopefully boost my resume.

I will continue to pray that the situation will soon blow over and will continue to look for any form of employment I can qualify for. I shall also try to prove to my wife I am cognizant of her fears and that I still care for and love her even if I cannot at present provide financially at the moment.


I feel for your situation. I am in a similar predicament and have been long-term unemployed. We are facing having to sell out my house to release the equity left in it after having almost exhausting all our savings. By God’s grace, I would have found a job before that money runs out. The prospects in our state also are grim with unemployment in our area set to hit 10% very soon. The stress generated by the whole fiasco is unbelievable,


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