June 30, 2009

Sometimes you just need to write

Posted in The musings of Erin at 9:43 pm by Erin

We had a great trip to Costa Rica and I will share more about that soon, but I just need a safe place to write now.  J has been out of work since early March.  He closed his law firm after about 4 months of slowly shutting down, not taking new clients, etc.  It was deliberate.  We were both OK with it.  He planned to take a break for a bit and then get a new job pretty soon, figuring that it wouldn't be too tough as a lawyer with 6 years of experience and as a small-business owner.

The job situation in Atlanta isn't any better than it is anywhere else in the country.  The job situation for lawyers in Atlanta doesn't seem to be any better than the job situation for any other job in Atlanta.  It's now been almost 4 months and J has had a grand total of 4 interviews.  The first three were all in March and early April, then he didn't have another until last week.  He clearly didn't get the first three jobs.  We're still waiting to hear about the fourth.

J is not handling unemployment well.  At first when it was by choice, he was fine with it.  He was relaxed more than I've seen him in years.  He had time to spend with the family and took advantage of it, eating both breakfast and dinner with us all and doing a lot with the kids.  He started swimming pretty intensely to get the exercise that he hasn't had time to get in several years.  Our relationship got better because we weren't fighting* and we got to spend some wonderful time together.

It started becoming a problem in early May, when he realized that it had been two months since he closed the firm, one month since his last interview, and was only a few weeks before both kids and I were also home full time over the summer.  He wasn't joking in early May when he said "So I have about 18 days to find a job, huh?"  Being home with the kids full-time can be daunting but I have three years of past experience at this point of being home over the summer.  J had only the thoughts I went through at the same time a couple of years ago.  It took me a while to get through those doubts and worries to the point where I could really enjoy it.  Why I expected that it would be different for him, I'm not sure.  My own fault, really.

But back to my point.  J started getting stressed out that he's not working.  He started getting depressed about it, though he won't admit it often**.  Most of J's social life came from work friends.  He doesn't do much that would help him make friends.  He doesn't go to church–he went through a kind of spiritual questioning a few years ago and hasn't really found a church home since then.  He doesn't play sports.  He doesn't seem interested in doing much with my friends' husbands and vice versa***.  So he's not really doing anything with other people; when he's out of the house, he's by himself.  And when he's home, having all of us around seems to remind him that he's not working.  His best friends live very far away, though even if they lived here, I can't imagine him talking about how he feels about any of this.  It's a horrible recipe for depression.

He's been taking it out on us by sniping at us.  Mostly on me, but sometimes on the kids.  I will put off making plans with friends in the thought that maybe he'd like to do something as a family, then he snipes at me for trying to involve him when he has work to do (he does have some things that he's finishing, and he is looking for a job).  Other times when I've made plans for the kids and I without informing him, he snipes that he was planning to take the kids to the pool.  His initial reaction has been negative and/or insulting to almost everything, whether it's a question about what he'd like to do for the day or telling him what's for dinner.

It doesn't help that our financial situation isn't as good as I thought it was before we took all of our trips.  J doesn't like to talk about work things at home–since many of them are confidential things he can't discuss, he's just gotten out of the habit of talking about much work-related material at all.  He also doesn't like to worry me.  I've asked him repeatedly to give me information as he learns it rather than waiting until he absolutely has to tell me, but he persists in waiting to discuss things.  I think he doesn't like to discuss bad business news because it makes him feel like a failure.  So when he laid the news on me after our trip to Disney and after I'd booked our trip to Costa Rica, I kind of lost it.  We spent a LOT of money between those two trips.  Had I known the full extent of things…well, let's just say that we don't have the financial freedom that I thought we had.  We've been sniping at each other about that.  I went off on J for eating lunch out 5 times in a week.  He got upset with me for buying little presents for the kids for the time that we were gone. 

We had a LONG discussion about it the night before my ILs came.  I'd been trying to be patient and understanding about his attitude, knowing full well that he was depressed about the job situation and that was the reason for it…but I was done with that.  I told him that I was tired of being picked on, that we don't deserve to be treated that way.  He said that he's just upset all the time and can't always pretend to be happy but would try harder.  I told him that wasn't OK with me, that I don't want him pretending, that I want him to go talk to someone and do what he needs so that he can be enjoyable to be around and can enjoy us again.  I said I understand that he's upset about his job but that he needs to find a way to allow himself to be happy with other things also. 

I hate to think of him spending all day unhappy.  It breaks my heart.

We didn't really resolve things that night, though it helped tremendously to talk together.  He didn't seem against the idea of going to a counselor but also didn't seem enthusiastic about it.  We had a great trip to Costa Rica together–it was truly the second honeymoon that I envisioned.  He's been mostly OK since we got back but I know very well that he's just trying harder to hide how he's feeling. 

I just don't know what to do about it.

*I'm not trying to blame all of our fighting on J's work but there was a lot of stress associated with his job.

**He will admit it from time to time, so he's not fully in denial about it. 

***Which I regret since I'd always envisioned being able to do things with other couples on the rare night that we go on dates.  When we do things with the families of my friends, he always seems to manage to say the wrong thing.  I'm amazed at how he's one way with our family and can be a complete jerk when we're with others.  Frankly, I wouldn't like him much then either.



  1. Krista said,

    Oh Erin, I hope it gets better soon. When you told me he closed down his office I was really worried the economy wouldn’t be good for looking for more work. As a lawyer with 7 years experience, and now two years out of the work force, I know I wouldn’t want to be looking for a job right now.
    And lawyers don’t always look realistically about their own circumstances. I’m not surprised that J didn’t “predict” difficulty in finding work.
    Here’s hoping things pick up soon.

  2. JessPond said,

    I’m sorry, Erin. Suck. I hope that he’ll go see someone and maybe that will help. And perhaps he’ll luck out with a job sooner rather than later.

  3. Eva said,

    That’s difficult. I hope things turn around soon.

  4. DD said,

    This is why it’ll be a great idea for you both to pick up a hobby (a different one for each) that you can do when you retire. Yes, it’s eons away, but if he’s making you and himself nuts in just three months, imagine YEARS of that shit going on.
    For now, I hope he finds something. Tell him the new trend is working for “free”. While that may not help you financially, it can get him out of the house and a foot into a potential employer’s door.

  5. Clover said,

    Ugh- I’m sorry, that’s very stressful. We have a fair amount of that going on here, but for different reasons. My mother (who lives with us) is clinically depressed and nothing much I do or say makes a difference and my husband is very irritated much of the time (by a job he’s not thrilled with, stress of 3 kids, yada yada yada). I feel for you and I can very much relate.

  6. Jennifer said,

    It sucks when you feel like you have to tiptoe and try to make it all better, when you know that it really lies with the other person. I have a husband that has a strong tendancy to piss people off-part of it is personality and part of it is just a lack of social skills. It just makes it hard all around.
    I’m sorry hon-just remember that you still need to take care of you!

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