This week, we had an anonymous member of the Mamamia community pose a question to the hosts of the Mamamia Out Loud podcast.
The question read as follows:
“I’ve been married for six years, and throughout that time my husband and I have always worked. But eight months ago, he was made redundant and hasn’t found a new job since. Nor has he been actively looking. I want to be supportive, but I can’t help feeling like I’m being ripped off. I support us, but it’s wearing very thin right now. What should I do?”
Anonymous is stuck between a rock and a hard place. And she’s not alone.
“My husband was the first guy I dated who had a job,” Mia Freedman said in response to Anonymous.
“The ones before him just had bongs… I know a lot of women whose husbands, in their 40s, have been made redundant.”
While holding a partner’s hand through later-in-life unemployment can help them emotionally, Freedman believes it would be hard not to lose a little bit of respect if it goes on too long.
“You want to be supportive of a partner, I think, but you can also start to lose some respect for someone who’s just at home all day. Even if you don’t want to lose respect.”
Jessie Stephens, Mamamia content producer and millennial, has a lot of sympathy for Anonymous, and the awkward position she finds herself in: "So much of your self-esteem is indexed on feeling like you're contributing to the world in a meaningful way... but I think the fact that he's not trying would be really hard."
"I think that's such a common [dynamic] in relationships - I have this with my twin sister - that I just want to shake her and tell her what to do. Like, 'this is what you need to do right now'. But you can't really do that to people... you have to wait for them to come to the realisation themselves."
Author and Mamamia Head of Content, Holly Wainwright, thinks Stephens' millennial naivety is foolish.
"The option is to sit down and say, 'Babe, I love you, but I'm sick of paying all the bills. You need to start contributing'."
"I've seen men lose jobs. I've seen some sit on the couch and feel sorry for themselves, and then I've seen others go and get a job that's way beneath them - but at least they have something to do every day, and at least they have some money coming in... Get off your bum."
Listen to Holly, Mia and Jessie discussing the listener question on Mamamia Out Loud. POST CONTINUES AFTER...
"If my partner lost his job tomorrow, and couldn't get another job in publishing - which is what he does - he'd get a job in the pub."
"Caveats here are: if there's depression involved; if there are any mental illness issues; if there's disability. All those things that actually stop you from getting a job."
"It's not a male/female thing," Wainwright says. "I would feel the same way."
The jury's decision is fairly resounding here.
"I've got friends whose husbands have driven Ubers because they can't get back in [to the workforce] at an executive level," Freedman says. "It's part of self-respect, and it's part of mutual respect in a relationship."
So. Anonymous, and any other women or men in a similar position. We hope this helps.
For the full discussion, and the rest of this week's episode of Mamamia Out Loud, listen below.
Do you have any advice for Anonymous, and any other members of our community who might be in a similar position? Please, please share, in the comments section below.
Have a question you want answered by Mia, Holly and Jessie on Mamamia Out Loud? Email [email protected] and feel free to remain anonymous.