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Q: I am writing you because I am a nervous wreck. My partner of 20 years lost her job recently, about six months ago. We weren’t worried because we had a good savings and thought she could land a job in a couple of months. She has a great education, a good work history and lots of contacts in her field. When she first lost her job she decided not to look right away because she wanted some time off. We both thought this was a good idea. After about a month or so, she started sending out resumes and calling some people to see what was out there in the way of jobs in her field. At first she was active in her search, but now she is discouraged and she is not doing much of anything when it comes to looking for a job. She mostly sits home and plays games on the computer and says she has done all she can do, and she just needs to wait. I don’t work outside the home. We have two kids between us, both in their early teens. It has been our agreement that she would work outside the home and I would stay home and run the household.
The problem is that now I am starting to get really nervous because our money is dwindling down, and I don’t see that she is any closer to getting a job than the day she lost her job. I have always just trusted her to handle the money stuff.
When I talk to her about not looking hard enough and being scared, she just tells me to get off her back and that she will take care of it.
I would like to back off and not worry about it, but I can’t because I don’t see her doing anything. I want to try to get a job myself, but I know it will only make her mad and feel inadequate. But if I don’t, I am afraid we will lose our house and everything else we have accumulated over the years. I know I wouldn’t make as much as she does but it seems that every little bit would help.
What do you think Jody, would you just wait for her to get a job or go and start looking yourself?
A: I know from having worked with folks that are unemployed, job hunting can be extremely frustrating and can cause a person to become depressed. In this financial climate, getting a job is very hard. I’m sure that your partner has become depressed from having lost a job and not being able to find another one. Her playing computer games all day and not really looking for a job anymore is her way of not having to deal with her reality.
If I were you, I would sit down and talk to her about your fears, not only financial but what you fear for her, and the behaviors you see that make you fearful, i.e. playing computer games all day and not looking for jobs. Do this in a non-blaming manner. Encourage her to talk about what is going on with her and how she is feeling. After you have both explored your feelings, see if there is anything you can do to help her with the job hunt. Maybe you could look online for jobs she might be interested in or send out resumes when she finds something. Make job hunting something the two of you are doing together, not just her responsibility. That will help her feel that the burden is shared.
Talk to her about your wanting to start looking for a job, even if it turns out to just be a temporary position. Let her know that it would make you feel better if you are financially helping out at this time. It is important that you both makes some moves toward financial security before you run out of money and can’t pay your bills.
One organization in the state that might be of help in finding employment is Michigan Works http://michiganworks.org. They have a talent bank as well as various individuals to help with resumes, job hunting, etc. It doesn’t cost anything to get help there. Good luck!