I’ve been unemployed for the entire duration of my marriage. If that sounds harsh, it’s even harsher to write it down. These past six months have been long, longer than I care to remember. Some days my spirits were up, while other days they’d seemed to have disappeared completely. But no matter how ashamed I’ve felt, how hopeless or frustrated, there hasn’t been a time that I’ve let it get in the way of my marriage.
My wife makes all the money. When we grab dinner, she pays. When we’re in Walmart, she stands by the cash register while I load the groceries. She insists that it’s not her money, but that it’s our money.
She’s as good about it as she can be, but it’s still not as easy as it sounds. It doesn’t feel like it’s our money. I’d never take her money to buy something for myself. Nor is that the source of my frustration. All I really want to do is pay for her bowl of pho when we eat out.
While these moments can be frustrating, I’ve learned something important. My unemployment doesn’t define who I am. Neither does my unemployment define my marriage.
My wife knows that if I had a job, I’d get her whatever she wanted. But if I think about it, I don’t need a job to do that. The foundation of a marriage isn’t economical. The problem is never the money. The problem is feelings of insecurity. If I’m constantly worried about what I don’t have, money or a job, I can’t be a good partner. If I’m constantly worried about myself, how can I be there for her?
That’s why I focus on what I do have. An amazing wife. And I take care of her in many ways that are infinitely more important than financially. I know I’m there for her when she needs me. When she gets back from her job, I take my time to listen to her. Those moments are sacred in a marriage. Those moments when you’re all ears and nothing exists but your partner’s words. When you’re not sure whether you feel appreciated, make sure you let your partner know you appreciate them. If you make sure gratitude is the fundament of your marriage, your partner will reciprocate.
So as far as my wife, I give her all the love and support I can. And if I focus on that, it’s impossible to feel insecure. Instead, it makes me feel fulfilled. I also like to do things for her. Cooking is one of my biggest passions. So I surprise her with an elaborate dinner whenever I can. Everyone has something they like doing. If it’s possible, why not get your partner involved! I don’t cook for my wife because I feel it’s my obligation. I don’t see cooking as a temporary replacement for work. I see it as an opportunity to show her that I’m grateful she’s in my life. And that simple act makes me feel worthy to myself. Because in the end, that’s the most important.
This attitude didn’t just fall in my lap. I’ve had to work hard for it. And as always, communication is the key. If I feel down because I don’t have a job, I tell her that. She’ll know why I act distant and she’ll understand it. Unemployment can be tough, but it doesn’t have to take over your life. It doesn’t have to define you. Because I know that talking to my wife about her day and actually listening, is so much more important than buying her a bowl of pho, when we eat out. Even though soon, I hope I’ll be able to do that too.
Koray Comert is a writer and YouTuber. Every week he releases a video where he talks about art, history or politics.” Check out his “Space Babies” YouTube channel.