Thera Larson, a 33-year-old from Bowie, is the fiancee of a union sheet metal worker who has been out of work for more than a year.

If you’ve ever loved someone who is unemployed, then you understand that unemployment rarely affects just one person. Unemployment is a family experience. Those who love you, who stand with you, understand the facets of being out of work. It’s no vacation, and it affects more than just your bottom line. Unemployment is a multisensory experience. It attacks you on all fronts — emotionally, psychologically and, eventually, physically. Over that past year or so, I have found this out firsthand.

My emotions about my fiance’s unemployment are nothing out of the ordinary. I’m frustrated and sad, hopeful and nervous. It’s all very natural, and I can accept the daily emotional roller coaster. What I find most surprising and have the hardest time dealing with, though, is my anger. I’ve never been an angry person, but lately I am So. Very. Angry.

My anxiety that one emergency could break us has given me the need to oversee everything. I feel a deep need to know what’s happening in our lives at all times; to know where every penny goes; to know when every bill is due; to obsessively check my bank statements. I feel the need to schedule everything so there aren’t monetary surprises. But how do I let go? How do I relax and let what will happen, happen?

If simply loving someone who is unemployed can affect me this way, I can only imagine what my fiance goes through on a daily basis.

We have plenty of love to go around, but as the saying goes, “love don’t pay the bills.”

Thera Larson

More than two years after the end of the recession, 14 million Americans remain out of work. The “Help Wanted” project follows six unemployed people from across the United States as they struggle to pay bills, preserve relationships and hold on to hope for the future. The project seeks to show the true impact of joblessness — through the eyes of the unemployed.

To read more from the front lines of America’s jobless ranks, go to