This is a copy of an Instant Messenger chat between my wife and I yesterday:
Alicia: Kind of down...I get paid tomorrow, but my money is going to be depleted as soon as I get it. I need to pay on the cable and the electric bill, not to mention my car note.
Marc: I am sorry, Baby. I really am.
Alicia: No need for you to apologize.
Marc: I don't know what to say when you tell me things like that. Not that I am irritated, but I just wish I could tell you that everything will be OK. And it hurts that I can't tell you otherwise. So the only thing I can do is apologize.
Alicia: No need boo.
“I am sorry.” “I apologize.” “I am doing my best.” These are phrases that I often say to my wife, due to the stressful and unfortunate situation we are in. Being unemployed obviously has put a strain on me, and in an earlier blog entry I talked about how being unemployed affects me being a father.
But maybe most of all, I absolutely hate the stress this puts on my wife. I was raised in an “old-school” mindset that men work hard for their family. I look to my own father as an example. My mother, my sister and I were never concerned about anything…never in want of anything, because of his confidence and ability to take care of us. Men define their manhood by the ability to take care of their families. When that ability is suddenly taken away and obligations are not met after job-hunting for months, you sometimes question your manhood. I question myself daily.
Thank God for wives. I heard once at a wedding reception about the importance of “friendship” in a marriage, and how that is perhaps even more important than “love.” That love can be somewhat superficial and fickle. But if you have that friendship bond between you and your spouse, you will able to get through any and all situations. My wife is my best friend of five years and wife of two years, and regardless of this time in my life, she constantly reassures me through actions and words. But I worry how this situation affects her. She puts a lot on her back…working full-time and paying what bills she can pay, being the mother of a 6-month old, her own personal issues and of course…putting up with me. It’s not easy for her, and I recognize that, which makes this time even more painful. She doesn’t deserve it, but I am thankful she is beside me during this rough journey.
Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” This verse exemplifies how blessed I am to have a supporter and friend during this tough time. I just pray that others who are unemployed find that same level of support from their spouse. That understanding and compassion from your spouse is the key to sustaining hope and faith, when you don’t feel like having either.
Marc Johnson, a 36-year-old former Hill staffer from Ashburn, Va., has been unemployed for six months. Read more about him here. Read about the “Help Wanted” project here. Visit the project home page here.