I must understand what is happening around me. I need advice on how to act (if I should act).
My husband has been out of work since May of 2008. He has been receiving unemployment benefits since then. He went back to college and in December, he will have his Associates degree. He is planning to go to school for another 2 years to get his BA.
In the meanwhile, I had been going to school since September of 2007 (to get my BA). I graduated this past May. While I was in school, I cleaned houses, and ever since I graduated, I have not been able to find a job in my field, so I am still cleaning houses.
We have a five-year-old son who has just started kindergarten.
We leave in an apartment at my mother-in-law’s house. We do not pay rent. We pay for our own utilities.
When I was in school, I never took less than 15 credits/semester. I took winter and summer classes; I cleaned houses in between classes, and worked weekends if there were jobs for me to do.
My husband’s unemployment benefits will end in the end of this month. We have one car, which we are still making payments on. In addition, all the other bills, credit cards that we have used to manage with so little money for so long.
I do not see a move from my husband to look for a job. I have asked him about his plans and he is extremely vague about it. Right now, Wednesday at 1:30pm he is laying in bed saying that he does not know why he is feeling so tired. I am ready to explode. I cannot take it. The thought of all the difficulties that we have been through… the idea of all the hardships we are going to endure if he does not find a job soon are driving me nearly insane.
When I am more positive, saying that he must get a job, it always needs up in a huge argument. I need serious advice. I am so nervous about this mess.
In my opinion, men need a way to win. When men get trapped in a cycle of losing (or when they "lose hope" or something similar) they have a physiological, as well as psychological, reaction: their testosterone level actually declines. This has been studied repeatedly using men in sports - winners' T levels surge, losers' levels decline.
It is possible that your husband is depressed and trapped in a cycle of declining performance, increasing despair, decreasing action, and thus declining performance leading to increasing despair etc. When you ask him what the hell he's going to do to start contributing to the health of the family - a totally legitimate question, by the way - he sees no way to win, his defenses rise immediately, and he blows up.
It's also possible that he is naturally a deadbeat. If this is the case, just pack your stuff, take your kid, and go start a new life. It is very difficult to set sail when the anchor is still stuck in the ground, you know?
But if you think he's not a deadbeat, then you need to change your approach to talking to him. Find a way to structure your conversations with him such that he can "win" in each one by achieving something tangible. Reassure him that you love him and you know he is great and you know he can show you that he is a capable provider.
Don't make suggestions to him, such as "why don't you ask so-and-so if you can work at his shop," or whatever. Doing this triggers the defense mechanism because men feel like you are telling them they are incapable of solving the problem. Instead, ask him about his plan, and ask him how you can support him in taking the very next action to move that plan forward.
I hope that helps a little. I think it is really important to grasp that in order to get moving again, men in your husband's situation need to win / achieve by having the experience of solving their own problem. Find a way to help him win.
Can't see any justification for any non-disabled man to be without work for over 2 years. Has he been to see the Army recruiter? A man does what he has to do to support his family. If I couldn't find work in my area in just a few months, I would go where they were hiring, establish myself, and send for my family.
- You are living with Mom and pay nothing but your own utilities. That does not sound like a lot. You also pay child care, I imagine. Or does Dad/ MIL do that? That can be a lot. Get a copy of Total Money Makeover at the library. If you have been living on cc debt while he has been getting benefits, it is about to get worse!
- Have you been pounding the pavement in your field continually? If not, continue to do so. If yes, add pounding the pavement to look for another **** job that pays more money.
- Take a solid think on your expectations of your husband. Are you really SEEING his situation? For instance, as michzz says, is his school load really hard? Is he sick? Closely examine what you think his PoV is. Maybe do some research on non violent communication (strange term but good info). Sit him down and talk to him. Bear in mind as you do that he probably does not know WHAT to do and is avoiding these conversations. Use "I" phrases. I feel very worried about our money situation. I feel without more income (easier to swallow than your getting a job). I am concerned that when your benefits run out, we won't be able to make payments on our cc debt and the car. I have been ... whatever steps you have taken, reading Total Money Makeover.... I think we should do a budget like this and this. But that is not enough. What other plans can we make to solve this financial issue.
THEN SOLVE THE FINANCIAL ISSUE. Don't let yourself get sucked into whether or not he gets a job. If he suggests taking over child care for instance, considerably lessening your outflows, if the solution works ROLL WITH IT. If this gets into a battle of who is right, or whether or not things are "fair" you are ALL gonna lose. No one ever sees fair the same way.
You seem to be willing to lead the charge on how to change the dynamic. Somehow he has to be free to talk to you without feeling attacked. You BOTH got here. He is not Mr Fixit and does not need to bear the sole burden of this situation. If you dump "Get a Job" on his lap, that is likely how he will feel.