First Person: The collateral damage of a job loss

We know the cascading troubles job loss creates, how this recession has hit men especially hard in Minnesota and how that’s changing family dynamics. But it took a source in our Public Insight Network for us to understand the depth of that struggle.

She told us her husband lost much of his graphic design work in the recession and she’s now the family breadwinner. They’re recently married with six children between them, “including young adults who themselves are struggling to find careers/jobs.”

She wanted us to know:

Unemployment affects so many relationships in my family…my marriage, my relationship with my step children, my daughter who had to choose a different college because I no longer could afford the higher tuition because I am covering all the household expenses … my husband feeling so low having to ask his family for money… my boss worried about me because I’m looking for a second job nights and weekends …

There is not enough money to take care of everyone. Since I am the one earning the money, I’ve made decisions about what to pay … our extended families see it but it is all hush hush and not talked about but everyone knows — I’m earning the money so I get to decide things. The power dynamics in our marriage are so off balance.

Even in this bad economy, the unemployed person is looked down upon but I don’t think anyone would ever really admit this. I get so confused … am I mad at him or at our economy or at the housing market … or at my parenting, or at his family and my family … or all of it at the same time.

She says she fears the stress is putting her marriage in jeopardy.

There’s no doubt marriages are hit with enormous strain in recessions, especially when a spouse loses a job. Time Magazine asked aloud last fall, “Will the market kill your marriage?”

The Minnesota Department of Health says every 17 minutes a couple is married in Minnesota on average. About every 35 minutes a couple is divorced. That’s data from before the recession.

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