Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Unemployment Diaries- More Traditional Than I Thought

I waited a very long time to get married. By the time I met the man I wanted to marry I was past the age of wild, crazy love and past the ‘this man will be the father of my children’. Instead, I was at the point where love and companionship were the main motivators. Or so I thought.

I was/am quite independent. So much so that J and I have never merged our finances. Initially, that was largely due to the fact that his ex was wildly vindictive and avaricious and my encounters with her made me determined that while she and the courts could squeeze my husband dry, my money would never come into play. As time passed that issue quieted but to this day we share only a mortgage, property taxes and insurance. For everything else we each have our own accounts and it’s worked just fine. Even with being unemployed for over a year I’m still paying my share of all our bills.

It’s what’s happening inside me that’s confusing. Apparently, at some primal, subconscious level I have had an expectation that one of the bonds of marriage included financial security. It’s not too surprising given my family background. My mother was a stay-at-home mom as are both of my sisters-in-law. End of story. It didn’t seem to matter much to me because I have always provided for myself but writing this blog and the reviews I do for various publications have shown me that my creative side is infinitely important to me. It’s also shown me writing doesn’t pay but another lesson I’ve learned is that I can get by on a fairly small income. So I’ve been contemplating a game change whereby I get a small simple job, something part-time- not a career and most likely not something in the corporate world. Something that, at the end of the day, will leave me with the energy to pursue my passions.

Here’s where the ugly tango begins inside my head. What I want will (most likely) not include healthcare and that’s not an option for me. I have to take certain drugs and they are not affordable without a healthcare plan. Without realizing it I have been counting on J to cover our healthcare needs when my Cobra runs out but that’s a very poor assumption right now. There is every likelihood that he won’t be able to despite his best efforts.

Suddenly, I’m June Cleaver and I, who have supported myself for my entire adult life, now feel that I shouldn’t have to. I want to pursue what I want, despite the fact that it doesn’t pay. I want to be the weak, protected one. Having these thoughts, much less putting them out there in a public forum, makes me cringe but they don’t go away. I’ve been strong and independent my whole life and just once I’d like to catch a break. If I have to go back to the corporate world, simply to get healthcare and fund a 401K, it will be with a very bad attitude. I. DON’T. WANT. TO. DO. IT. but where is it written that it’s my husband’s responsibility?

Nowhere but in the hearts and minds of any little girl who dreams of meeting her prince. Even if she is a modern woman with professional successes there is some tiny part of her that sighs and thinks, ‘Finally, someone will take care of me.’ Only guess what? Even with the best of intentions it doesn’t always work that way.

p.s. There is much more spring fashion to come, I promise. This had just been percolating and demanded to be written.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Let's hope J doesn't read this. What a slap in the face.

Catherine said...

Hhhmmm...not my intent at all and he is as aware of the situation as I am. This is about my perceptions not his. If you feel that strongly you probably ought to identify yourself.

tweedlibrarian said...

As a ferociously independent woman, I know this must be really hard for you to admit to yourself, much less to your friends and readers. I admire you for being so candid. And really, we are raised from a young age to expect to be taken care of. Even as a feminist. there is part of me that yearns to be taken care of by my husband.

I think women are brought up to believe men will take care of them - we hear stories like Cinderella, Snow White, The Princess and The Pea, ad nauseum. I think there is a biological aspect to it. And men learn from a young age that they are expected to take care of women, though I suspect their definition differs from ours.

I think the universe has something in store for you, but it's just not apparent yet. Hugs!

Claire Hennessy said...

I really admire your honesty and bravery in putting this out there. I can totally relate. Up until very recently, I had been completely reliant on my husband financially after a lifetime of earning (and spending) my own money. It was great and awful at the same time. I was able to write most of my book though. Now I'm working again and I LOVE having my own money but have almost no time to finish my book. It's a challenging dilemma. Good luck with yours.

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