By anonymous (name withheld upon request)
He’s a good man, my husband. Good to me, good to the kids, helpful in the community, good to his family and mine, he goes to shiurim, davens with a minyan 3 times a day, learns his Chitas, Rambam, and other things from the Dvar Malchus. He’s a good person. He’s a real mench.
But… he really doesn’t seem to be able to keep a decent paying job. And so we never have enough money to do anything beyond the store-brand basics, and low end clothing or hand-me-downs for the kids. And it’s making me very anxious; I’m probably bordering on depressed.
For some background: We got married a long time ago. We have several children at this point, with the older ones in shidduchim stage. We live in a small apartment in Crown Heights, with no cleaning help. The kids are older and so their chinuch expenses are larger. And weddings are coming up. We have a car so I can commute to work (we leased the car because having a used car cost us way too much in repairs and aggravation.) We have no savings, and our debt is adding up.
The kids are B”H healthy, mostly well-adjusted, doing well in school and socially – and we are very grateful for that.
When we got married, it was almost unheard of for a bochur or a girl to take courses, go to school, etc. In the first year of marriage, we did the requisite kollel year; I worked from 9-6, and he did whatever it is the average kollel guy does there.
By the time the year was over, we had our beautiful first born. And so with the expenses of a child already and childcare (because I was working), he took whatever dumb job came his way. A job where he did not really learn any skills, did not really make any contacts – the job just paid the bills, and we couldn’t spend on anything beyond the basics. And then he quit that one, got another dumb job, again without skills and contacts. And so our life progressed through the years. B”H more children, other dumb jobs, never being able to spend on anything extra. He never went to school or took courses because he was always so overworked from his job and helping at home with the kids.
All through the years, I was working long hours and raising our family. B”H, we were able to keep off of Food Stamps and Medicaid (the 2 worst offenders of keeping people underemployed) as we were trying to climb past that max income allowed by Public Assistance.
He’s a good man. He is willing to work. But he doesn’t seem to be able to get decent paying jobs. He doesn’t really seem to have the know-how (or the resources) to start a business on his own. I don’t know if it is that he doesn’t present well at job interviews. Or he doesn’t have skills that the decent paying jobs require. Or he doesn’t have the initiative or ambition to really pull off a decent salary. Or he doesn’t look in the right places. Or he doesn’t network with the right people. Bottom line is he doesn’t bring in enough money for even our simple lifestyle.
And so now recently, he lost his job again. And we are trying to live from my check and his unemployment check. And with this economy, and his lack of marketable skills, our high expenses, and at this point, his low confidence in himself, he isn’t finding anything.
I’ve cut back in every way. It’s pasta for dinner, no snacks, and even cutting back on fruits and vegetables since they are so expensive. I get our family invited out for Shabbos to spare ourselves those expenses. The kids know that they will not be getting any new clothing in the near future. We haven’t had cleaning help in forever. But there are still bills.
I know that we have so much to be grateful for, and we really are grateful. There are so many worse problems in this world. But right now, in my life, this is a real stress. I know that we should have Emunah, that this is what Hashem wants for us – at this point. But I am anxious, a physical feeling of anxiety and it is creating a stressful atmosphere in the home, and I feel that I am probably not doing as well at work too. And my anxiety stresses my husband – in a downward cycle.
So why do I share this with you? For several reasons. This story is not only my story. There are many families in Crown Heights and beyond experiencing similar circumstances. We need all the advice and direct help we can get to make it through these stressful times. We don’t want your pity, we ask for help – for a permanent solution, not temporary handouts.
* I hope someone who reads this has a job offering for my husband, and all other unemployed and underemployed people.
* I hope to bring the challenges of unemployment and underemployment to the fore to those who can help those in these situations.
* I hope someone can suggest ideas of how we can deal with the anxiety. Suggest therapists, and perhaps even psychiatrists who can prescribe anti-anxiety medication. (And keep in mind that we don’t have money for therapy, and our insurance doesn’t cover it.)
* I hope for advice on how to make ends meet during (hopefully temporary) financial challenges.
* I hope for advice to help support our spouses during this challenge of unemployment and job seeking.
* Perhaps most importantly, I hope that ideas are generated and initiatives started to avoid any other family getting into similar situations.
I’ll end with sharing the words of my mashpia:
* Tracht gut, vet zein gut; think good, because it affects your attitude and then your actions.
* Do something everyday to help yourself climb out of the financial pressures and climb out of the anxiety.
* Start off each day focusing on one part of Tefillah, and recognize how Hashem is in your life, what He does for you.
* Seek support from others, and offer support to others in areas in which you can help them.
PS: If you want to reach me you can leave your contact information as a comment or email [email protected] (which they will forward to me).