By Brian Doebert
(c) April 21, 2010
Men like to fix things. When a problem arises, we take charge and start working on the solution.
While in a career transition, the focus naturally turns to finding a new job and bringing another salary back into the house.
While this task is important, it is probably more important to remember that your spouse is experiencing this situation with you, but in her own unique ways. While this presents something else for us to fix, we can’t fix what we don’t understand. Turnabout is fair play, so let’s see what we can learn from our favorite Desperate Workingwife as I interview her this week.
Part 2 – SHE SAID: Transition from Desperate Workingwife Diva Nikki’s perspective
Brian: What’s been the hardest thing about being in transition?
Desperate Workingwife: The hardest thing about being in transition, for me, is that there is so little I can do about it. I can control spending and be supportive. (We Desperate Workingwives…we’re “do-ers.”) But there is nothing I can truly physically do to help my husband find a job – that’s all on him.
B: What’s been the biggest blessing?
DWW: One of the biggest blessings I’ve seen during this transition time is all the support we receive from others. Even if it’s just a friend buying lunch or coffee, or giving Brian a contact name to talk to. It really makes you see the power and worth of a good friend network.
B: What has surprised you the most during this time of transition?
DWW: I think the length of time the transition is lasting is probably the biggest surprise to me. We’ve been through career transitions for Brian before – this is the third time since we’ve been married. But before it was usually only about six months between jobs. This time, it’s a year.
B: In what ways have you worked to sustain your marriage during this time of change?
DWW: I actively work to find ways to be supportive to my husband every day. I tell him I love him and I believe in him. Even more importantly, though, I never, ever put him down or make him feel like this is his fault. If I need a real venting session – even just about the cruddy situation – I call a girlfriend who understands. I don’t take it out on him.
We both make a conscious effort, too, to spend real time together talking or even just being goofy. Whether it’s iPod karaoke at the kitchen table or a Disney movie marathon, we find ways to spend time together even if there isn’t a huge budget.
B: Where have you found information or support?
DWW: Support I’ve found in spades from friends, co-workers and family. Information – that’s another story. I find it interesting that there are thousands of books, networking groups and resources for those who are unemployed. And not one single book out there for the spouse of the person who is supporting the person who is unemployed. That’s honestly what inspired me to write this column. I wanted to provide some helpful insights, at the very least, to others like me who are going through this.
B: What changes have you made in your household that you think have most helped you make it through the transition?
DWW: I think the biggest, and possibly the hardest, change we’ve made in our household is our budget. Before the economy tanked, we lived quite well. We were dual income, no kids, very reasonable cost of living area. We’re not “big spenders” – but we’d gotten used to being able afford things we wanted, when we wanted them. Now, it feels like there are so many things on hold. But it’s what keeps us afloat. We’re making house, utility and insurance payments. There’s no shortage of food on the table. There’s not even any credit card debt. So we’re definitely doing the right thing.
B: What’s the first thing you’ll do when the transition period is over?
DWW: First thing – eat some sushi. It’s the pact we have. My husband gets a new (permanent) job, we go out for sushi. It’s one of those little indulgences we’ve given up for now. Second thing (possibly in the same day) – I’m going for a spa day. I figure it’s only fair payment to bring on a little stress reduction after such a long transition.
From there out, I think we’ll assess our priorities a bit, look into doing some things around the house that have been on hold. I also think after being on a reduced budget for so long, we’ll be able to find ways to save even more than we always have to be prepared for any more transitions life might throw at us. Nothing like 12 months of unemployment to make you really understand the value of an emergency fund!