On His Mind Diary of an Unemployed Husband

The first few months of our marriage were great. I would cook for my wife, help her around the house, and do all the things I never saw my dad do. I had always insisted on being the modern Black man. However, there was one small problem: I didn’t have a job.

 I had recently graduated from college with a degree in architecture and was convinced I would get a job in no time. My wife had let me know in no uncertain terms that she didn’t have a problem being the breadwinner.

 Marriage, she said, meant oneness—what was hers was mine and what was mine was hers. Besides, we were both sure my circumstances would soon change. During the day she would phone me from work to ask how the job hunting was going.

 “Have you gotten any responses yet?” “Nothing positive,” I would reply. Occasionally she would phone and say, “I’ve just seen a great job in the paper. Take this number down!”

 It was nice to feel her support and to know we were in this together. But as the months passed, there was a noticeable difference in my wife’s attitude. Her calls from work began to resemble an interrogation: “So what have you been up to?” “How many application forms have you filled out?” I found myself having to give a daily account of my activities. This continued for a few days until things came to a head and we had a showdown. It was obvious that my lack of employment was affecting our relationship. The oneness she had once expressed soon changed to frustration and distrust. In her mind there were certain questions that just wouldn’t go away: Is he looking hard enough? Is he getting comfortable with being supported by a woman? Is he taking advantage of me?

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