My Marriage Survived Unemployment- Marriage Unwrapped

Young couple  in bed, toned black and white effect, vignette.

Jen was one of the first people I met when I moved here 6 years ago and we started blogging around the same time. I am so honored she was willing to share her and her husband’s story. She is one of the most intentional wives and moms I know so I hope you will soak up her wisdom.

The odds were stacked against my husband and I, right from the start.

His parents are divorced. My mother died when I was 16. Neither of our families would win any awards in the “Fully Functional” category.

I come from an upper middle class background with a mild disdain for faith and religion. He comes from a working class background with strong dislike of faith and religion. At least we kind of had that in common…

I was working on my Master’s Degree. He barely made it through high school. I organized everything, down to the spices in the cupboard. He has ADHD.

I didn’t listen to my family. I married him anyway. Why? Because God told me to. I am not one of those fortunate people who gets a foggy look for a moment, then re-emerges and proclaims that God has just told me to have the Everything Bagel rather than the Poppyseed.

No, God has spoken to me in that way only three times in my life. I figured I had better listen.

Shortly after we got married, my husband was laid off. I mean, very shortly. Like, the day after we got back from our honeymoon. I had left my own job a few months before we got married in October to finish up my Master’s Degree. The plan was that I would graduate in January and go back to work.

Despite my family’s irreverence for religion and emphasis on education, I am a pretty good Catholic Girl and a bad student. We did not have sex before we were married, but apparently I didn’t take good notes during our Natural Family Planning class.

The plan was not that I would get pregnant six weeks after we got married.  So much for plans…

We learned that a clerical error had been made by my husband’s former employer, and I was never added to his insurance policy so I was not eligible for COBRA. My baby’s birth, the prenatal visits, the well baby check ups: none of it would be covered.

I went to the Department of Social Services and filled out stacks of paperwork. I waited for two and a half hours next to another pregnant woman who kept going outside for smoke breaks. I got Medicaid so I could go to the doctor, none of whom want to take it. I had to call in favors from friends just to get an appointment.

I cried. And cried. And cried.

I wasn’t even used to being married yet. I wasn’t used to not working yet. I went from successful single woman to married, pregnant woman on Medicaid with an unemployed husband in twelve weeks.

My new husband made very few attempts to find a new job. I didn’t understand it at the time, but his self worth was shattered. New wife, baby on the way – and all of his fears and insecurities were staring him in the face.

I looked for a job. Pregnancy was not kind to my body and I started showing fairly early. One look at the baby bump and my resume went right into the trash.

My identity was shot. I was dependent on someone who was not providing for me. I was angry with him, and angry with God for leading me to this place. I was disgusted with my husband, and I let him know it every chance I got. I was trapped. I wanted out. I wanted to support myself again. I wanted to be anywhere but where I was.

I wish this story had a tidy conclusion that ends with us giggling about how silly we were back then, but it doesn’t. We struggled for years. My husband eventually got another job. We had another baby. He was laid off again when she was five months old, but this time was different.

Rather than badgering him about how many resumes he had sent out today, I prayed for him. I left it up to him and God. I consciously and deliberately ended friendships with women who husband-bashed as a hobby. I would let NO ONE, including my family, speak negatively about my husband or give me such sage advice as withholding sex until I got him to do what I wanted, giving him ultimatums, or manipulating him into acting how he ‘should’ act.

The economy in 2006 was much worse than it was in 2003, but he got a job in less than six weeks. He still works there. I thank him for providing for our family every chance I get. I work very hard to make the best of his income, even though it is smaller than most of our friends’. My husband, who used to think that a college degree was ‘useless’, has two years left until he graduates. He balances work, school, and being a wonderful father and husband. I couldn’t do it. I don’t have to. I married the right guy.

Because God told me to.

You can find all the Marriage, Unwrapped posts here


  1. Jen – great post. I’ve known you all these years and had no idea that you’ve been through all of this. You’ve got a great husband and the joy you two share shines through!

  2. as a wife of a barely employed husband… i needed this. thanks.

    • It’s so hard to step back and let God work, especially when it appears that He isn’t paying attention. I will pray for you Lana.
      Jen @ BigBinder recently posted…Recipe RoundtableMy Profile

  3. Rolanda says:

    Love this story!

  4. What a great, thought provoking post. I got married at 18 and got pregnant that very same month. We had also waited to have sex until we were married. He hasn’t ever been laid off but he really, really dislikes his job. I don’t always have the best attitude but I know I need to implement the same attitude you have now, so that I always encourage him instead of bringing him down.
    Miranda recently posted…Top Ten Inspirational QuotesMy Profile

  5. Such a transparent post. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Jen,
    Your story should inspire many – even those NOT in tough situations – to stop the husband-bashing-as-a-pastime hobby.

    I’m not sure I’d be strong enough to come through such a crazy, challenging change in such a short time, but I’m proud to know someone who is, and who can share their heart this way. Well done, friend! Your children are definitely the ones who benefit from your faithful perseverance!!

    :) Katie
    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship recently posted…What’s Really in Children’s Medications?My Profile

  7. Thanks for sharing your story. Many, many couples would have given up. It says a lot about you and your husband that you worked through it, when many people would have said either one of you had sufficient reason to walk away. Keep sharing your story–it gives hope!
    nicole recently posted…First Day of School 2011My Profile

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