Two weeks after our amazing surprise wedding, my husband lost his job. It was an utterly unexpected shock. In what should have been the happiest and most exciting time of newlywed bliss, the stress of being a one-income family weighed heavily on the two of us.
Today, as my husband embarks on a new job and a new
career, I am forced to reflect on what our three-month bout of unemployment has meant for our family, and ya’ll, I learned a lot.
For Better or Worse
I have forever been a selfish person. Raised as an only child thanks to a much older brother, I have had the luxury of not having to share, consider the feelings and situations of others, and have had the full attention of my parents for the first 18 years of my life. Couple this with a mama determined to raise me as a strong, independent woman, and it’s been a recipe for disaster in romantic relationships. In previous relationships I’ve done a great job at being bold, assertive, and not taking some dude’s shit just because. In my relationship with myself, I’ve made an extreme effort to put myself. I believe strongly in self-care, goal setting, and having a personal hustle. Once I narrow my sights in on something I want, I get it. No negotiation.
My relationship with my husband has been far more compromise than I’ve had with any other partner but in a way that has never once felt like a compromise, instead, it has been something so natural. Unemployment has highlighted this for me in my marriage.
Unemployment meant not taking a trip we had planned for Christmas. It meant not being able to finish some home projects we started. It meant not being able to save for a down payment on a new vehicle we so desperately need, or our honeymoon planned for June. And though financial instability is a huge point of anxiety for me, I also realized there’s no one else on Earth I would rather be unstable with than my husband. There were times I selfishly felt slighted by our lack of being able to do and plan for the things I wanted, but if my options are to do it alone right now, or to do it with him at a later date, I’ll always and forever choose to do it with him. Cliche as it may sound, it truly is for better or worse.
“We’ll Find a Way”
I’m risk averse. My husband is not. I’m a saver, a planner, and an over thinker. My husband is spontaneous, a spender, a leaper before looking. I love this about him. Side by side we’re the ultimate yin-yang. I loved this about him when we had two steady incomes though. It was adorable when he’d frivolously buy something cheap when we both got paid regularly. When one income was out of the picture, it stressed me the hell out.
But, you know what? We never once in three months wanted for anything. We were more cautious, we put off trips and bigger purchases, but we still made it a point to buy the new shower curtain I wanted to finish the bathroom remodel. We still found a way to have a lovely and very much “us” Christmas Day despite canceling our trip. We still found a way to go on date nights, to buy new outfits for him to start his new job, and most of all, to figure out how to deal with a super stressful situation.
Unemployment forced us to work together rather than alone. Our situation made us come together as a unit, as a married couple, rather than two individuals who share the same address. I learned that no matter what the situation, my husband and I can make it work. It will be okay. I can trust in him, rely on him, count on him.
Girl, You’re One Boss Ass Bitch
I’ve never had a man I could count on. In fact, I have very few people whom I feel I can count on to be there for me no matter what. This is a huge point of anxiety in my life. Realizing my husband can be that for me on a level I had not previously known has made our marriage even better. But, I’m a selfish girl. It can’t be all about him.
I’ve always been self-reliant. It was important to my mama that I can handle my own business. Though this can be a tragic flaw at times, it’s been an invaluable life trait. Surviving off of one income and doing it well has made me realize what a great job I’ve done at setting up my life for success. This isn’t something I always think about, and unfortunately, is something I often take for granted. As a risk-averse planner, I’m always planning ahead for when my engine malfunctions, the furnace breaks, or an unexpected bill arrives. I never want to be caught off guard.
Simultaneously, I’m always on my hustle. Always wanting to upgrade my house, my neighborhood, my social circle, my hobbies, my career. Not because I’m unhappy, but because I’m never satisfied with the status quo. I’m a hustler.
Some of this ambition took a backseat during this time. Having my proverbial front seat free from ambition though left me with the opportunity to truly realize how much of a self-made woman I am. My world is because I built it. My husband is an awesome teammate and I can count on him, but I don’t need him to survive. I truly choose him. And ya’ll, that’s freeing.
In the words of the great Salt N Pepa, “Good men are hard to find,” (Sure, I could’ve gone the Flannery O’Connor route with that, but that would’ve been too predictable). I knew from our first date that I had found an amazing guy, but everyday I am impressed with his greatness.
My husband spent his three months of unemployment hustling hard (push it real good). I have not for the last three months cleaned a single dish, folded a garment of clothing, or ran the vacuum once. He was determined to contribute to our family regardless of the manner of that contribution. I worked during the day and he worked during the day at the house. Through it all, we remained a team.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that upon hearing my husband lost his job I didn’t immediately regret getting married too quickly. It suddenly didn’t seem like the right time. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I worried a lot about the stress this life change would place upon our new marriage. Would our blissful newlywed days always carry the black spot of this less than perfect time?
Looking forward, I hope I will always think of these days as fondly as I do right now. Right now, this time has been a wonderful time to grow together and learn about what makes each other tick when under pressure in a way we might not have ever otherwise had the opportunity to. Sure, it’s not been all rainbows and kittens (I’m not that kind of girl), but it’s been the best learning curve for us. I am excited for this next chapter in our lives, but more importantly, I’m excited that I get to spend every moment of it with my best friend with the understanding that no matter what, we got this. When a Salt N Pepa-esque man and a boss ass bitch come together, only an empire can rise from that union.