Unemployment, Employment, and Mexico

I was in Mexico last week.

I know.

Let me back up, because it’s a long story.

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about David’s law school graduation. I said:

We both, in our own ways, worked our asses off for Friday. And in the past three (or really four) years, we both learned a lot, both about ourselves and about the world. And when the words, “I now confer on you a JD, with all the rights and privileges therein” were said on Friday, I cried. When we walked from party to party in North Beach on Friday, looking at the moon on the bay and Coit Tower by night, the air crackled with possibility – not just the possibilities of the future, but with the possibilities achieved.

It’s been a long year. David and his classmates graduated into the worst law market in a generation, and even for those with killer resumes, there were no jobs. David’s focus is criminal law and litigation, areas that have been severely impacted by state and federal budget crisis. It was so bad, that there would be months when only two or three jobs would open up in the state of California that he was qualified for. In the sate of California. How crazy is that? And of course, with the job market in such a horrific state, each of those job openings would have hundreds, or thousands, of applicants.

It was rough. It was hard on our marriage, it was hard on our psyches. For a while I was supporting both of us, doing a corporate job that I didn’t love, while working on APW on the side. I felt like I was having to defer my dreams, to martyr myself, to keep us both afloat. Let’s just say martyrdom is not my best look. Then, in January, after a lot of planning, I made the leap to working for myself full time, and writing a book, and supporting two people. Things looked better, but we still felt like we were slogging through, emotionally.

Through all this, David kept busy. He took the California bar. Because he’s married to an overachieving mad-woman who believes in the power of being busy, he then took the New York Bar (he passed both, for the record. Go David.) He had a fellowship, and he volunteered his time as an attorney. This spring, he hung out his shingle, and started doing piecemeal work on a variety of cases. But we both really wanted his legal career to really get started. Even though we pool all our money, we wanted him to feel like he was financially contributing to the household (though dear-God-in-heaven, the man cooks and cleans, and handles tons of domestic stuff that I’m terrible at, so he was contributing to the household in huge ways the whole time.)

Then, this spring, we hit what felt like rock bottom. We realized that we were looking down the gun of a year of un/marginal employment, coming out of three years of David working hard and doing phenomenally well in law school. It was awful. I’ll only speak for myself, but there was a day in early April where I sobbed all morning long. Rather hilariously, because I was on book deadline, I sobbed while typing dutifully away on my book. (That’s the story of my life, by the way. I may be sobbing, but I’m still efficient, goddammit.)

And then I just surrendered, to all of it. I totally stopped fighting—I didn’t have it in me to fight anymore. I decided I had no control over the outcome, and I was just going to let things play out. And, because isn’t that always the way, David started getting interviews. And I surrendered some more. There were interviews in various places around the state (urban centers, because I do know my limits), and I decided I was fine with moving. I just wanted him to get a job. People would ask me did I prefer this location to that location, and I’d say, “I honestly don’t care. I can get excited about whatever I need to get excited about. But he needs a job.”

And then it happened. He got a job in the Bay Area, and he starts tomorrow. Almost exactly a year from his law school graduation.

Better than that, after all the tough work situations we’ve been through in the last four years, with me stuck working really long hours because we didn’t have options… after all that, he got a job where we’ll have good quality of life. How amazing is that?

So, when we found out two weeks ago, we decided to do something crazy. When we made a list, as part of our pre-marital preparation, of goals we had for our life together, one of the dreams that made both lists was, “take a last minute trip somewhere.” So we did that. On one week’s notice, we booked a trip to the Yucatan, where we’d never been. (Which, by the way? Was crazy affordable. We stayed part of a trip in a luxury boutique hotel for half price.) We spent a lot of time in hammocks, napping. We kicked some dirt. We swam in the Caribbean. We climbed to the top of Mayan ruins. And in the middle of all of that, I edited the second half of my book by a pool, overlooking the ocean.

We closed the door on a hard era this week. One that started with us moving to San Francisco for David’s law school, where I toughed out a hard job, where the economy collapsed around us, where we got married in the middle of it all. We toasted survival, and the way our relationship held steady. We toasted a return to doing work that we love. We toasted growing a little older together.

I’m sharing all this today, because, well, I finally can. And because I know that so many of you are going through, or have gone through, similar really rough patches. The economy is shitty. Unemployment is painful. Supporting a partner doing work you don’t love is hard. Keeping faith through all of it sometimes seems impossible. And I know I’m not the only person who’s spent hours sobbing and sobbing and sobbing over all of this.

I don’t have a grand message here, other than if you’re going through the madness that is un/marginal employment, you’re not alone. And there is, always, light at the end of the tunnel, even when it seems so dim as to be a mirage. And the shared history, and entwined support that is marriage? Well. That’s what got me through.

So here is to David. May you continue to love the law, over many, many happy years. I’ll be here, cheering you on.

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  • Mary Jo

    As a teacher who’s just been “displaced” (read: fired) by a district trimming the budget, I needed to read this today! Thanks and congratulations to David!

  • Irene

    Marginal employment – a phrase I hadn’t heard before but captures my situation pretty neatly. Thanks for the inspiring words – I needed a story of something working out. Delighted that the hard work paid off for David and that you’re getting to live your dream alongside his. Love makes things easier – that’s for sure.

  • Yay David!!! Yay Marriage!! You made it through! There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for reminding us Meg!

  • Fellow sobber-for-hours-on-end here… when I couldn’t get employed (with a nursing degree, of all things!) after moving across the country so my brand-spanking-new husband could start working on his PhD, it was one of the lowest times of my life. SO. DAMN. HARD. And you’re right, in the end it was his support that got me through it. And still gets me through the rough patches, whatever they may be.

    ps. That first picture rocks. And this trips sounds spectacular– good for you guys!! :) And congrats, to you both, on the new direction your lives are heading.

    • Marina

      My husband’s a nurse, and it took him 9 months of applying to at least 3 or 4 jobs a week to find his current job. You’re not alone!

  • lor

    Thank you Meg, I really needed that today. After a trip home that lasted a week,(having not been home in almost a year) coming back to a job I don’t *love*, in a town I sort of like, I have to remember there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Stephasaurus

    Despite working his ass of every day, both at his old job and in his unemployment, my fiance has been out of a job for ten months now. We try every day to not let this put a damper on planning our wedding. But this story gives me hope — MORE hope, I should say, since I never once stopped having faith that something will come along for him. I needed this story too. Congrats to you both!

  • I loved this post! Very well said, Meg. Congrats on all of your accomplishments in the last couple of years (and David’s, too), especially for hanging in there and keeping faith when the going got tough. So happy you’re finding yourselves on the other side of a rough patch! Can’t wait until your book comes out!

  • Thanks Meg! And congrats to David! We moved for my masters program to France, and then Germany. My husband has finally found a job after 1 year of unemployment and stress and worries. We felt like we were barely treading water, and it was so hard–no longer sure if we were following a dream or just drowning. This was the perfect post–it helps me realize how many other people in this community are going through similar difficult things (and in our first year of marriage!). Thanks for helping keep me sane in the last year!

  • Don’t know what to say here – but thank you. We’re in a tough space due to employment, unemployment, and marginal employment, and its good to hear that a) this is tough, this is something that other people struggle with too, and b) there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    I am one of the *lucky* law grads – graduated from law school in 2009, into the height of the recession. Through an amazing turn of fate, I got an amazing, incredible, life-changing clerkship, and then an amazing, incredible, life-affirming job. I have never been happier at work, and my decision to be a lawyer has been affirmed every day. Good stuff.

    But my better half – the guy who keeps me sane, happy and fulfilled – had to leave an amazing, incredible job in D.C. (where I went to school) to follow me after graduation. He stayed in DC for about a year after graduation, hoping to find a job in our new state before moving, but it didn’t happen. So we took a leap of faith and he moved, without a job. It’s been about 13 months now, of marginal employment, freelance, a temp-job that was promising but ended in tears. It’s been so tough. Money’s not the problem (my job is an incredible blessing), but we both need him to be fulfilled. And he needs to feel like he’s contributing more than by doing just household chores, taking care of our sweet puppy, and keeping me afloat. It’s been a learning process for me – suddenly, I can’t make everything perfect. I’m slowly learning to be nicer to myself.

    We’re taking another leap of faith – he’s starting school again on Monday. We both know that its not a magic pill, and there are still tough times ahead. Tough times, and hopefully good times – our wedding, in the middle of all of this, is in August.

    Congrats to David – I am proud to share the profession with someone with so much determination and grit :) May the law bring him many happy and fulfilling years.

  • Mollie

    Congrats to David! Congrats to Meg!

  • Amanda

    Dear Meg, first of all congratulations to David (yay) and to you for this new beginning. As a mexican living in Holland (hubby is dutch, got married last September), we are going through this and it is incredibly hard. I have not one but 2 degrees (Biology and Veterinary medicine) and am fluent in 3 languages and still after 1 year and a half of trying like crazy I am not able to find a job. I have applied to all kinds of things within the biological area, I am currently doing research at a university in a volunteer basis, and well there has been a lot of crying. Your timing as always is perfect as I was not feeling so well today again.In the meantime I have done internships, and worked at a call center. I feel like a snob for wanting a job that matters, and I hate it that I am not contributing economically to our marriage.
    I really want to believe there is light at the end of the tunnel. So thanks for ths post.

    • This made me tear up… I’m right there with you, except not living it out in a foreign country – if it feels this hard to me, I can’t imagine how much stress living in a different country would add to the mix. And you speak 3 lanuages, wow!

      “I feel like a snob for wanting a job that matters”

      Yes, this is what I was crying over last night… lots of self-doubt, guilt. I keep hanging onto the idea of using at least one of my degrees, or of being in a field I care about, or at least working somewhere I don’t hate… but I can’t seem to find that, and then I wonder if my standards are too high. :-P Sucky, sucky time.

    • Hypothetical Sarah

      We approached the problem of wanting a job that matters (which totally doesn’t make you a snob!) from the opposite side. When I switched countries for grad school, the boy was really worried about finding a fulfilling job by me. So when he fell into an amazing job on another continent, I knew I had to let him go. The distance, while painful, has always been temporary — once I finish my PhD, we’ll both move back together. We had more faith in our ability to survive apart than with him unhappy and unfulfilled here. We’ve gone from long-distance relationship to long-distance engagement to long-distance marriage and, umm, we’re still wedding planning because visas are complicated like that.

      Now that I have about a year left in my PhD, I can see the cliff approaching… the one where we both have to jump and pray we land with jobs together in the same place. I’m not looking forward to that (the jumping and praying, not the part where we finally get to live together)!

      • Amanda

        Margaret and Sarah,
        Thanks for your comments. I am sending you all my support, let’s just keep on hoping and hang in there for a while.
        And Sarah, you can do it, we also were long distance for a while, but it is worth it and it is for the best.

        • Kim

          Dear Amanda,
          you might probably already know this, but there’s a great job agency for higher educated expats in the Netherlands called the undutchables who might be able to help you out. And I understand your pain: I moved a year and half from the Netherlands to Greece with my fiance and still no job in sight either… We might have to move countries once more, but I’m not yet willing to give up hope!

  • Congratulations David & Meg, and well deserved!

  • What a beautiful post. I graduated from my Master’s program in December 2009 and went through my own year of marginal employment. It was a year filled with panic attacks, anxiety about the future, and yes sobbing. But it was also during that year that I got engaged and realized for the first time, how much easier it is to carry life burdens when you have a wonderful partner.

    Congrats, David and congrats, Meg. May you both continue to be fulfilled and happy in your work over many, many years.

  • Cat

    Supporting a partner doing work you don’t love is hard.

    Oh man. I cried at my desk today because this is my life right now (whilst also being at grad school and not sleeping even nearly enough). Talk about timing… bring on the end of that tunnel!

  • First: hooray and congratulations to both of you!

    Second: THIS: “…so he was contributing to the household in huge ways the whole time.” YES. Wife & I both tried really hard to remind each other during our respective periods of un- or underemployment that we were doing this and that it IS so important… but it’s so good to hear it from someone who isn’t one of us, who we can’t write off by saying, “You’re just saying that.”

    Third: This reminded me that we should be recognizing those things louder and more often, even when we are both employed. Thanks for today’s post, Meg! Good luck with your new job, David!

    • Oh, man, recognizing the daily domestic tasks is HARD. Especially if one or both of us isn’t doing them that well and therefore the other is holding a grudge. Not that I’d know about any of that or anything. (Sigh.) But it’s so important. Running a household takes time and energy, and appreciating that makes it all so much better.

  • Oh Meg! Thank you so much for this post today and your always honest approach. My husband and I were married in September and he was laid off in January. Financially, we are okay, but much like you, I am working a job that I am not in love with. You didn’t speak to this exactly, but for me the hardest part is seeing my partner, the man I love, be so down on himself. Its damn hard. But you have given me so much hope today. Because bad economy or not, this will not and cannot last forever.

    Yay for y’all! Congratulations on everything!

  • Ted

    Met is stinks that we didn’t get to meet up out there. But… by chance did you stay in or near La Luna Playa Media in Isla Mujeres?

    • meg

      Yeah. In the hotel next door….

  • Oh man, this post totally made me tear up. When Eric moved out to Long Island for me, he was making a 5 hour driving commute to CT everyday for work (an abusive work enviroment, at that). We knew he had to switch jobs because the commute was literally wearing down his soul, all too fast. It was a trying time, for sure. We looked for jobs, I would get excited, and then upset when it didn’t pan out. However, I remember one morning, driving to work, seeing the moon, and just having that sense that something was going to work out. I got to work that morning with an email from Eric about a job interview–he eventually not only got the job, but rocked at it that, now after a year there, he’s turned it into his dream job.

    But, man was that a hard time. We felt like we couldn’t start living, or dreaming, or seeing the future together until he could get a job closer to our home. A job isn’t just about the job, money, or career path–it’s about the ability to be proud, live, and forsee a future. Thank god we can now, and YAY for David, but, there’s no denying watching your loved one get down about jobs (and I don’t mean in the dancing way) is one of the hardest scenes to endure.

    Here’s to walking toward the sunshine.

  • Another Thea

    Congratulations to both of you! Doing the marginal unemployment thing right now, and it can be soul-destroying when it feels as if there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Good for you for working to make sure the both of you and your marriage stayed strong during such a difficult time!

  • Saretta

    Yay! Congratulations David and Meg, for all your hard work and sticking together to finally pay off!

  • This could not have come at a better time. Thank you.

  • Kara

    I’m one of the very lucky to graduate from law school, take the February 2011 bar exam, & get a job in my chosen field just weeks before the results were announced. Unfortunately my soon-to-be fiance graduated from law school, passed the bar in November 2010, and hasn’t had much aside from temp work. Now he’s moving 100 miles to be with me & looking for a job here. It’s been difficult and definitely not the experience we expected upon entering law school, but it’s going alright. Congrats to you & David!

  • Erin

    OH I am so happy for you guys. That period of life, right after you finally bounce off the bottom, is so, so sweet. Breathing, living — it all feels so fresh, so warm. Congratulations!

  • What awesome news! I am so happy for you both. Big congratulations to David! Hooray!

  • Abby C.

    Oh, Meg, thanks for this! My fiance and I have spent the first part of our relationship being very thankful that we both had steady jobs with benefits that we at least didn’t hate in this crazy economy. Right as wedding planning started in earnest for us, my job situation became alot less stable due to some restructuring (though I haven’t been let go yet, and might not be) and he had a major realization that he hates the city where we live and it’s making both of us miserable. We need to relocate, and I may need to find a new job before that.

    It’s tough, but we’ll make it through. Thanks for sharing how hard your own journey has been – so glad things are finally looking up!

  • carrie

    What awesome news – congrats, David! And congrats, Meg! I was unemployed last year and my fiance kept me afloat emotionally. I am thankful for him everyday, but he really came through for me even when it was tough on him and on us, but it was always wonderful to know that in all the crap we were drudging through, we were happy to have each other.

  • Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes. I just started the first related-to-my-major job that I’ve had since I graduated from college two years ago. So exciting! Congrats and I am so jealous of your last-minute trip!

  • Liz

    Congratulations! My husband-to-be is graduating from grad school next week and we just found out he got a job (not only a job- the only job he really applied for and really wanted!) This post came at a great time, we are also seeing the end of the tunnel. Also, I guess the economy is picking up!

  • Liz

    What FANTASTIC news! Congratulations, Meg, and congrats to your lovely husband! So glad to hear this.

  • Ash

    Meg! I needed a happy ending this morning. I’ve got happy tears for you.

  • Huge congratulations to David, that is wonderful news! We have experienced two long periods of unemployment, both following very sudden redundancy, and they were hard, horribly hard. I haven’t even tried to explain it to people who haven’t been through it. The second time was nine months. I was in work and would come home tired to someone who had been desperately unhappy all day. There were tears (from me) and eventually from him (which broke my heart – at that point we had been together for almost 12 years and I had never seen him cry), there were evenings when we had run out of ways to talk about this thing that was so all consuming, there was the realisation that sometimes all you can do is make dinner, pour a large glass of wine and watch something completely mindless on TV as a distraction. Even thinking about that time is making my stomach tie up in knots and my eyes tear up. Anyway, all that to say yes, so pleased for you both and so pleased that you took yourselves off for a much deserved break. I hope David’s first day goes well!

    • “there were evenings when we had run out of ways to talk about this thing that was so all consuming, there was the realisation that sometimes all you can do is make dinner, pour a large glass of wine and watch something completely mindless on TV as a distraction.”

      Oh, man, that’s the truth. I feel like we’ve talked and analyzed and cried over this issue for 5 months, never really getting anywhere. I surely sound like a broken record. Sometimes I have to remind myself that obsessing over the problem will NOT necessarily lead to a job, especially not at 11:30pm at night; however, it will make me miserable and unable to sleep. :P

  • Amber

    First of all, congrats to you and David! My own Fiance graduated law school in the Bay Area in 2010, and rough it was. We ended up moving 3000 to DC for his job. It hasn’t been too traumatizing for us, but I feel your shock at graduating from a great school with a degree that is supposed to set you up for life… with no prospects. It is devastating. We know people who technically were made job offers…. for January 2012. (Again, they graduated in May 2010!!) So yeah, ROUGH.

    Secondly, congrats for knowing how to celebrate! I am so inspired. We’ve been trying to scout a sunny, affordable destination, and I am looking into Yucatan!

  • clampers

    Awesome! I’ve heard the bar in Calif. and N.Y. are both really difficult, so David MUST have his shiz together! Congratulations.

  • Hell Yes! For all of it the job, the trip, the wonderful marriage and the JOY!

  • Rose in SA

    Yay for you! Yay for David!!

  • Vmed

    Congratulations to you guys! On accomplishing so much, and rewarding yourselves, too!

    These are important things: the goals, the celebrations, and someone to share it with.

    So thank you for the inspiration.

  • Marginally employed class of 2010 law graduate here, and I loved this post! Congrats, David!

  • Yay for David, and thank you for sharing this! As a 2010 law school graduate, I know exactly how it felt to graduate in this economy. Kudos to both of you for leaning on each other through it all!

  • Brenda H

    Thanks Meg – it was really good to hear that this morning. With over a year of unemployment under his belt my fiance and I are planning a wedding anyways and seeing where things take us. Congrats to David! :)

  • I absolutely teared up at the end of this, Meg. I’m toughing out a job that I SWEAR is draining the life from me little by little every day. He’s working, but we both have to work right now. And it is HARD. And we’ve battled job uncertainty and life uncertainty and all sorts of mess. And he keeps saying – “we’re going to be ok. we’ve got each other, so it’s going to be ok!”

    It’s hard to remember. He works nights. Before that he worked weekends. Our schedules are never the same. He works ALL. THE. TIME. trying to get us to a place where we can both live out our dreams. I fight the urge to say “I quit” at least once a week. (I guess it’s working? I did get a nice raise. That was God taking care of us right there)

    And never did his words ring truer until I read this and realized what we have waiting for us at the end. This post is so full of hope. Thank you for the reminder.


    • Oh Melissa . . . I had to do more than ‘exactly’ what you said, because it resonates with me. The first two paragraphs are almost as if I wrote them myself (well, except for the part about the raise!). Keep hanging in there.

      • You, too!!! We started looking into Dave Ramsey’s program to help us get to a point where there isn’t so much misery. We were able to pay cash for our wedding, so that’s awesome. Now we just have a mountain of existing bills, student loans, a mortgage, cars, etcetcetcetc that plagues our generation. We weren’t exempt. It’s just sometimes a ridiculous struggle to remember that it won’t stay this way forever.

        It’s always nice to see someone first hand step out of the cycle and into the happiness we all strive for. That it’s worth it

        • Dave Ramsey should totally be our next book club reading.

          “I’m toughing out a job that I SWEAR is draining the life from me little by little every day.”

          I’ve been there and cried over the soul killing (first two paragraphs sound very familiar). Found a different job through a co-worker. Then moved to a different city (Baltimore, which I’ve also cried tears over ) and only working part-time now through a temp agency. It’s very frustrating.
          However, on the up side we’ll be moving to California at the end of August, Mr. EG has a better post-doc lined up, and I’m considering starting my own photo business. Not to mention I’ve met a great group of women here in Bmore through the book club (hung out with some of them just last night). They’re so awesome we’re starting to work on helping each other to make our dreams come true.

          Keep with it and things will get better. Hugs.

  • So happy for you and David, Meg! We are seriously struggling financially, too, and R still has school left. It’s really tough and so, so scary for me to think about the possibility of all that school turning up a year of unemployment or more, plus the student loans, especially because my job doesn’t have benefits. I keep trying to tell myself that so many others are going through the same thing, and that we’ll get through this! It really helped to read your post, so thank you for sharing.

  • Congratulations!!! Yay for finding new (better) jobs!!

    I’m on the train heading to the job I don’t like, so that my fiancé can do the job he loves. There’s nothing worse than a man in a job he despises. I saw it in my father. I do not want to see it in my future husband. So if this means working a completely unfulfilling job while taking graduate classes at night, I can do this. It’s not forever.

  • Lori

    and here I thought I was the only one planning a wedding on 1 paycheck. THANK YOU!

    • meg

      Oh lord, my dear, no. We’ve NEVER had two paychecks. Well, we did back in New York, but we didn’t live together and those paychecks were so small they added up to less than one of our current non-extravagant paychecks, so that doesn’t help. We’ve done the last four years on one paycheck, wedding and all. And I know we’re not alone on that! You’re in good company.

      • Mmm hmmm! *raises hand* We paid for our wedding ourselves (keeping enough in savings to pay for it all again and then some, huzzah!), and during our engagement I was unemployed for the better part of a year, then he lost his job. I think we had two paychecks for about five minutes. :)

        We’re actually closing in on a full year of unemployment for him, which means the end of unemployment benefits. My salary is enough to pay our bills (and save next to nothing), so, ya know, no pressure… but on the other hand, what I *really* freak out about is the prospect of him getting a job and then us finding that with neither of us at home, our house falls apart, we stop eating well, etc (orrr, we have to choose between maintaining our household and sleeping).

  • First, congratulations to David and to you!
    Second, this is so very appropriate for so many of us and it’s good to know that I’m not the only one feeling awful about the economy. Thank you.

  • Such a good post! Isn’t that just the way the universe works at times? It’s a learning lesson for sure, and sometimes you just have to hit rock bottom (or close to it) before things change. My husband has gone through several bouts of lengthy employment, and we struggled, but somehow always got by. Sure, creditors might have been calling and sure, we had to share a small house with roommates that was bad all around, but we got through it. Sure, we have a ton of debt we’re trying to pay off, and because he’s a contract worker unemployment can hit a few times a year, but we know in time it won’t be a worry.

    It was nice to read your post and see things working out for you both. This economy is rough on so many, so it’s always nice to see when people make it. Hooray for happy tales!

  • Yay and congrats to you both! Such a relief! I really relate to this post. My husband just finished his masters in art education (after being laid off from an industry he no longer wanted to be a part of 2 years ago). There are very few job prospects available and we are looking at a year at least of substitute teaching and picking up odd jobs and possibly moving.

    As I have played the role of sole bread winner in my “don’t love it but need health insurance job”, we have postponed major vacations (and honeymoons) through his schooling. The day he finished school, I said let’s just go for it. We can afford some alone time and vacation. We finally took a trip to Mexico last week! We were at Chichen Itza on May 11th. It looks like you were there too! Such a small world.

    Thanks for helping to keep things in perspective. I feel guilty when I’m sad about our financial future and employment prospects. Its good to know that other (well balanced, stable, happy, successful) people go through this and in the end, its all going to be ok! Oh Meg, I swear you are my personal therapy sometimes :)

    • meg

      Ha! We were there May 9!

  • Anonymous

    Yahoo!! David’s now another example of people I know (or know of) who looked for a job for a year or more, but finally, finally found one as the economy begins to turn back around. And these are all massively qualified, smart, driven people. Good for you both for staying positive and working hard! It’s the only way, and that attitude will just continue to pay dividends, employed or not! (As a fellow freelancer, and an opera singer, no less, I know this SO WELL.)

  • AKP

    Ohmygoodness!!! Congratulations to you both!!! I just graduated from Boalt on Friday, and I felt like my husband had graduated right along with me – just like you said, we both worked our asses off to get here. I feel indescribably lucky to have found a job I love while in the tail end of this awful recession, but this post makes me feel so much luckier that I have someone to lean on, who will work just as hard as I will, and who will do whatever needs to be done to make sure we get through the inevitable hard times.

    P.S. I LOVE that you went to Mexico last minute. Perfect way to celebrate!

  • There is nothing quite like the phone call/email that your partner got a job after months of unemployment. Yay for David!

  • Congrats to you both, lady.

    Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like when Meg and David are winning, I’m winning too?

  • Erica

    Here’s to David, and to Meg, indeed! And here’s hoping for a lucky break for all the others struggling with unemployment, underemployment, or underpayment. I’ve been (am) there, it can be rough.

  • LPC

    Congratulations again. May your life be full of infinity pools, on an as-needed basis.

    • Zan

      Now THAT is the kind of wish I can get behind — on a regular basis.

  • SQUEEE! this is all so awesome. so inspired by and proud of you for sticking through it all TOGETHER, and now all the rough stuff will start to pay off in magnificent ways. congrats, congrats, congrats–to both of you! hooray!

  • Mattingly

    THIS. this right here is why i’m still reading this blog almost a year after my wedding. thank you for an uplifting post meg, and for encouragement to those of us who are ‘david’s’ at the moment working basically not at all and trying to feel like a meaningful and supportive part of a partnership.

    congratulations to you both, and may God continue to bless you richly!

  • KA


    Mexico is the BEST place to go last minute when you are dying to get away. This is exactly what we did in 2009, and thus where we got engaged!

    I really, really admire how devoted you and David have been , and how one paycheck or no, you’ve both been working towards your goals every single minute. (Even the minutes at the corporate job as APW grew on the side.) My husband to be and I have been lucky enough to have both been employed for the better part of the last few years—knockonwood—working, less towards career goals, and more towards financial goals: paying off debt, renovating our house, paying for a wedding, etc. But post-wedding, it is getting to be the time to switch the focus to doing jobs that don’t make us want to stab our eyes out. After several years of making a reasonable, though not great, living this is f*cking terrifying.

    But you’re giving me hope. And showing me the way. I need to let go A LOT more. Not easy for us control-lovin types who want to DO something (anything!) to make it better. :)

  • Lynn

    Congratulations! I too needed to hear this today. I’m in the process of moving home to be with my fiance, and I’m leaving a good job to do it. If I can find a job, I’ll take a significant (1/4-1/3) pay cut. And if I can’t find a job…I don’t want to think about that.

    The PA tells me not worry, that it will be OK because I’ll be where I’m supposed to be, with him. I am a worrier by nature ,and he keeps telling me it will be OK. Because that’s what he does for me. Reassures me that it will be OK and we’ll be OK. He’s done it for the last three years that we’ve been apart; he’s done it through my doctoral program. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I think I believe him (he’s always right…it is ALWAYS OK), but I still worry to the point of making myself sick.

    “Surrender” is the right word exactly.

  • Manya

    Cheers to both of you! What an inspiration you guys are. The dynamic of having one spouse working and the other not can really wear on everybody.

    As feminist as I believe I am, I think somehow it seems even more difficult when the Mrs. is footing the bills–I certainly found myself feeling deeply resentful (yet guilty about it) at times when I was in that situation.

    You guys were smart to get David throwing himself into stuff to keep him engaged in his field, growing, and keeping up his self-esteem.

    So GO YOU! So glad you zipped down to Mexico to celebrate the end of an era. Well done!

  • Big congrats to David!! And you – finding a healthy way out of martyr-mode, but still being able to support your family – that’s pretty awesome.

    I hope his new job is everything he’s been hoping for. Here’s to doing work we love! (even if sometimes, as you mentioned, it seems so far off as to be a mirage).

    Also, the trip looks like a blast! As a fellow penny-pincher (okay, tightwad), I know how tough it can be to remember to treat yourself – but at times it’s so very necessary.

  • Hugs and congratulations to you both — and sending warm thoughts from 3000 miles away for David’s first day tomorrow.

    (And what a fantastic reason to take a trip, p.s. . . . )

  • Fiorentina

    So, so, so happy for you and David.

    Your story seems like a freaky parallel to our own (though, scientists, not lawyers/writers)….and f*ck, it is so hard. It makes me so incredibly happy to see you come out the other side with grace and exactly what you had hoped for. I’m rubbing all up against this post in hopes that some of this luck (though let’s be honest, it’s hard work too) rubs off for us. Because I am so tired of sobbing through my manuscripts, and try as I might, I haven’t yet been able to “let it go”.

    Thanks for writing this – I really needed to read exactly this today.

    • meg

      I don’t know if it was exactly what we hoped for…. but who knows, it might end up being better for us than what we’d planned for ourselves.

      • Fiorentina

        Sometimes the universe surprises you. It’s better if it’s giving you something better than you had hoped for (rather than worse)…I guess I’ve been in this rut for long enough that I’ve adjusted my hopes and expectations to “something workable that makes us both happy” rather than something specific. I’m so glad that you have that now, and that you’ve come out of this difficult time with a perspective that gives you strength, even if it wasn’t exactly what you wished for initially, and may it bring you even more than you thought you could hope for in the future. It gives me a lot of hope to see other people getting through this kind of stuff.

  • Cristina

    Congratulations, Meg and David! You’ve earned this success.

    On a side note, we just got back from the Yucatan and isn’t it amazing? Perfect weather every day and calm, blue water.

    • meg

      It was rad. Though deep down, the Mediterranean spoke to my soul a little more somehow. But the Mediterranean and I had a mystical experience.

  • Steph & B

    Congratulations! And thank you so much for this. It was very very much needed.

    We are now staring down the barrel with both of us unemployed and an upcoming wedding to boot. I should be elated that I’ve finished my MA, but I am quite terrified. With the husband unemployed for a year and now starting on his masters and my upcoming student loans, I’m not sure how we are going to make ends meet (we eloped, our version of the last minute vacation. So we’ve had our marriage to each other but it’s so close to the wedding that we kind of have to have that too, making me even less enthusiastic about the whole thing) I’m starting that period of marginal unemployment and have started picking up odds and ends. Of course odds and ends don’t give you benefits or security.

    It’s not like I expected to come out making a bunch of money with a Masters degree in English. I am a practical girl after all. But now the high schools want someone with an MA in education (don’t even get me started), and the community colleges are now hiring only phDs (and why shouldn’t they with the market flooded as it is). And for some reason, I’m not qualified for a receptionist’s job? So that leaves me with food services (minimum wage at best), tutoring ungrateful student athletes and apathetic high school students (minimum wage), any odd editing or writing job that someone may have the grace to bestow upon on me (often not paid), and adjunct work at the university (below minimum wage).

    We have each other though. And we’ll make ends meet somehow. Everything will be okay, right? In the meantime, I’m going to go throw myself into some mind-numbing wedding details and DIY projects and practice the art of Denial.

    • meg

      Hugs. You do have each other, and sometimes a period of realizing that is really important. You will make ends meet, and it will get better. I swear it.

    • shanna

      Don’t let it get you down. I know it is easier said than done. But throw yourself into DIY and occasionally, as hard as it is, take some time for YOU. We can’t change the economy. I’m working on my faith in God, knowing he has it all worked out!

    • Edelweiss

      Oh yes – not being qualified for entry level positions. My intended is living this right now. My brilliant, hard-working, fantastic intended. It’s crushing his confidence. To a large degree I think it’s all luck right now – so lots and lots and lots of good luck to you!

    • It’s not just a river in Egypt. (Whaaaaaat?!?!? Someone had to say it.)

      • Steph & B

        Thanks everyone. It’s a rough process for sure. When we come out on the other side, I’ll be writing a bangin thank you letter to send Meg’s way, with hopefully a little insigh thrown in for good measure. It always is comforting to know that you aren’t all alone in the big bad wide world

        Now, off to go make a garden of origami flowers and stars.

  • First off, congrats to David and kudos for you being there and supportive throughout the process. If I’ve learned anything from my fiance’s law school experience it’s that law students need someone who doesn’t care about law school around.

    My fiance is graduating from law school this weekend (yaaaayyy) and taking the bar exam in July. He’s interested in criminal litigation/public defense and there are few openings. He’s like David–he has a fellowship lined up and is hopefully going to volunteer at a PD office. He loves the work and I know he wants to start the career sooner than later, but we’re both aware that uh, there might be some hiccups along the way. And in the mean time, I just graduated from Teachin’ School and am trying to find a job at a Public School, which has proven to be more difficult than anticipated. On top of that we’ve got a good $200,000 of student loan debt between us that uh, has to get paid sometime some how. I know things will work out. I know they will. And hopefully they’ll work out with both of us in the fields where we want to be. But right now it seems so scary.

    • meg

      That’s exactly what David did. He’s just finishing up a trial with the PD’s office now. And it took 9 months of a fellowship and volunteering there, but he did get a job (not at the PD’s office, in litigation). And girlfriend: unemployment loan deferrals. BAM.

  • Rachel

    1) Congrats to both of you!

    2) “Supporting a partner doing work you don’t love is hard”. Was what I needed to hear this morning, thanks….it helps.

  • LOMO

    Meg – Let me know if I am out of line here, but…
    Reading all of these comments really reminded me again (and in a more personal way than news statistics) how awful the state of un/marginal employment is all over. My first thought was “how can I help” these FANTASTIC families?

    Then I remembered, hey…I am a recruiter! I am MORE than happy to help anyone with crafting their resume or run through some common interview questions and tips from the “inside”. (of course for free) I have worked for multi-national banks, higher edu, and healthcare…so I kinda know what most employers are looking for.

    If you read this…pass it along to other who may need help too…feel free to email @ lynn.x.schell@gmail.com

    • meg

      Awwww. Y’all. Someone take her up on this!

    • peanut

      That is so generous and wonderful!

    • Ohhh I soo need to get my Fiance’ (I love typing that still weee) over to you. He is underemployed and I think needs some resume’ help.

      All of our bill luckily can be covered by my salary, but if it wasn’t for his tax refund we might have gone down hill last month cuz somehow some things didn’t get paid and so there were some double bills and then the quarterly bills were all due along with my car insurance for 6 months. Was on the verge of an emotional break down, and by on the verge completely came home crying and sobbing some days.

      I am also dealing with I feel I have a pretty damn well paying job for my area and its not difficult work I do, yet I’m still unhappy with it, but I just need to keep toughing it out as anywhere else I’d try to go I doubt I’d make this money there or have it as easy. Yet I still don’t know why I can’t be happy with it cuz I don’t get any fulfillment out of it.

      And Congrats Meg and David! And you might be inspiring me for a honeymoon spot.

  • I’m so happy you’ve reached the light at the end of the tunnel! It must be that much sweeter after all you’ve endured together. Congrats to both of you~

  • Oof, the Yucatan! I lived and studied in Merida for a semester, and I am well familiar with much of Yucatan and Quintana Roo. Hope you had a fabulous time! The Mayan ruins are just so awe-inspiring. (And, damn, did you try the salbutes?!)

  • Caroline

    Yay David and Meg!

    We’re so here right now. My partner was unemployed for 8 months. He had 10 hours of paid work in more than half a year, and I am underemployed. (I love my job, and work about 27 hours, but no benefits, and can’t afford things like private health insurance. Or the rent if I’m the only one paying it.)
    Supporting eachother while our savings were eaten by rent, having no extra money (like we paid for rent (halfway through. We started out housesitting), basic utilities, food, and Internet and 10 dollars or less a week for dancing to save our sanities, while we both bounced back and forth in and out of depression, while his self esteem got eaten away by not getting a call from starbucks even, while he passed milestones of unemployment (3 months, 6, 7, 8), while family, and strangers told him to “just get a job at starbucks/homedepot/etc”, and didn’t listen to us tell them that they weren’t hiring and he had applied anyways, while he almos got his dream job, and then lost it because he tried to tell them how excited he was by the job but that he’d like to know if he might hear back from them soon (it was three months later than they said he would know, and hey kept stringing him along) because he had to find some work to pay the bills and they heard that he didn’t want the job, shole I struggled with a bout of wanting to quit my job but not being able to because we needed my income to pay the bills and what if I didn’t get another right away, while I nearly suffered a mental breakdown over my work stress.
    In the past two weeks my partner got a job. A really good job. It is not a job I would have called a good job last fall, when a good job was in a field of interest, with benefits and spousal benefits, and making enough to pay all our bills, and would last for years. But heck, it’s full time! It is two blocks away! He makes more than minimum wage! He can pay our whole rent off one job! His employeers and coworkers are nice! Yes there is stress because it may or may not be seasonal. It isn’t all that interesting. But he has a job! Now, we’re just hoping it becomes not seasonal, so we don’t have to through this again soon.

  • Holy crap you posted this at the right time. This just made me feel a lot better about how things have been. Though I’m not supporting both my husband and I, without my job we would not be able to afford our house.. Or well, we would but would live very uncomfortably. That being said, I don’t like my job.

    I don’t like working in the financial industry (it’s really hard to work for people who treat you poorly because they think they’re God’s gift to this earth), and it’s in a position that I don’t even enjoy very much. I’m sticking with it because I have to, even though I’ve had many moments of crying in my office or near anxiety attacks. It often feels like I’m drowning and that there is no light at the end of the tunnel…

    But your post gave me hope. So thank you for sharing this and making me realize I just need to hang in there for a bit longer, and hopefully things will get better so we can live comfortably but not be totally miserable in what we do 8+ hours, Monday-Friday.

  • So happy for you both. So so so happy. We were lucky that Jason’s unemployment was shorter lived than a year, but I can still cheer from a place of deep relief and happiness for you both.

    • meg

      Ugh. It feels longer than a year, since I was supporting us for way longer. But oh yeah… it was just a year. Oh, law school. Effff.

  • Katie

    Meg, I adore this post. All the Reclaiming Wife posts, actually. I’ve never even commented, and I’m going to now–that’s how much mad love I’ve got for this whole thing.

    This post is just such a timely reminder for me to stop and think about (and be so very grateful for) everything that my fiance and I have achieved together, specifically in that big, bad working world. For a gal with an English degree that, in 2009, was desperately swiping at and trying to grasp any crappy office job I could come by, I am in a damn good place now. I had to stay in a really awful job for awhile because I was our primary breadwinner. I think the only reason I didn’t run off to the courthouse to marry my love for insurance purposes was because I spent everyday not knowing how much longer I could handle the job. This year I moved up and over to a more sane, more fun, more awesome in every way (and better paying!) department in my company.

    My fiance also finally (FINALLY!) went from part-time work to full-time, in a brand new department in his store focusing on his beloved video games. So, he can say he gets to make a living off of video games and I am so unbelievably proud of him for doing something that he loves so much. I think he’s nuts (I say that in the nicest way possible), but watching him grow professionally (no easy task with a part-time retail gig in a big box store) has made me feel so lucky to be an active part of supporting his life and knowing that I have that support coming right back at me whenever I need it.

    I’m a worrier and I’m always afraid of when things might get tough down the road, but it has been tough enough. We’ve seen a lot of the ugly side of life in our time together (a lot of it towards the beginning) and I’m sure a lot of couples have, too. That is why, when we hit one of these blessed and celebratory times in life, we just need to love the shit out of ourselves and our partners and the good choices we make and the good things that happen to us as a result. I tend to second-guess when positive changes happen, so I really have to take time to WOOHOO and hip-hip-hooray when the moment calls for it.

  • Oh, man. I’m in the middle of my own job search right now. On one hand, BFA in poetry? What was I thinking?! But on the other hand, I’ve never wanted an ordinary life, so here I am, struggling to find meaningful work.

    Anyway, thank you. This post literally got me out of bed this morning.

    • meg

      Sniff! Keep on getting out of bed (and exercising too). You will keep going and it will work out. Somehow or other.

  • Jamie

    I graduated from law school in May of 2010 as well, and I am still unemployed. This post makes me feel a little bit better. I mean, I still feel pretty hopeless (and useless) most days, but my boyfriend has a job and we are (barely) getting by and I keep telling myself that this has to end at some point. Like, I eventually will find a job. Surely, at some point, that will happen. Right? Yeah, I might still be trying to convince myself of that. But anyway, this post: I feel a little better now.

    • meg

      Right. We’re finally starting to see people pick up jobs, finally. And they are a CRAZY smart crew of people. So, it’s happening. Slowly, slowly.

  • shanna

    I’m not sure what your spiritual beliefs are but it seems like your surrender is similar to my increasing faith. I’m a 27 year orecent grad (go me) planning a wedding on practically no budget and working a fulltimejob as well as severe voluntarism. My fiance is a deputy (with a marginal salary). In the midst of this all preparing for law school.

    As I read this post, I couldn’t help but think “God what are you preparing me for!” Not questioning his plan. But preparing myself. My fiance just return from several months of training and. I finalized my course work. There are days when I have criedso much that my eyes are swallon and as I read another contributors post last night, I realized I need to surrender. Today, I decide to lay on the couch and regain my inner peace. Manage the things I can and wait on God to do the rest. Thanks, I really needed this.

  • I just cried and jumped for joy at the same time! Yay David! Yay you!!

  • Thank you. I needed this today. Thank you very much indeed.

  • Katie

    The economy is the reason we are in the “pre-engaged” column still. We finished grad school in spring of 2009. I got a not-terrible contract in my hometown; after he followed and tried to make ends meet with contract work (and golf course landscaping and overnights at a homeless shelter) he knew he had to go back East and get real work experience (which would also provide health insurance). My own contract ended and I have had to move even further away to a town I don’t like very much for a new contract.

    He has a Round 2 interview that would at least put him in the same time zone (albeit still two states away). Fingers crossed.

  • Danielle

    Mazel tov on the job!

    This economy is serious crap. I’ve had several months of unemployment this past year, a few months of underemployment, and now (finally), a full-time job with benefits. In a field I’m not super interested in, but at this point, I’m happy to be employed!

    This experience has taught me the importance of paring down, to focus on what matters, to be grateful for what I have… and to develop marketable skills. Just to be really clear-eyed and, yes, practical about what society needs and how I can provide that.

  • Oh dear. I just had to shut my office door so that I could cry a bit. I can’t really say a lot because..well, I can’t, but let’s just say that I feel like I’m on both sides of this post and connect to it so deeply. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  • YAY!! Congratulations to David! Roem and I have also been in this same place more than once and I can also attest that letting it go is the hardest thing to do, and the only thing to do. I’ve also work cried more times than I can count. So excited to hear about the new job.

    Last minute trips are the best. We spent some of our honeymoon in the Yucatán and I am still amazed at the ridiculous deals we were able to get last minute. Hope you came back restored and relaxed.

  • april

    AWWWWWWESOME!!!! Thrilled for you both. And would that boutique hotel and the sleek pool you’re standing in (looking ten shades of glamorous, I might add) – be: Hotel Secreto in Isla Mujeres??? Looks suuuuper familiar!

    Thank you for this post – for your updates, and for sharing your experience. Am currently stuck in hum-drum job and cannot quit until I find something else, because 50% of what I make goes to household expenses. So I slog on… and my Mr. is grateful. But it sucks because I HATE my job. As always the timing of your posts is just spot-on and totally what I needed to hear.

    So – thank you for reminding us all to chin up, show up, and do the work! XO

    • meg

      Uh huhhh. In my $8 dress from Ross.

  • Marguerite

    Congratulations to you both! Your vacation was richly deserved. I was also our household’s breadwinner and insurance provider for two years during my partner’s un/marginal-employment. He was just offered a great job on Friday. We hope to book our own well-deserved vacation soon.

  • kc

    As someone who’s been there, I’m so happy for you and David. We’ve been a one (steady) paycheck family for over 2 years now. The boy left a steady paying gig in early 09 to focus on getting his businesses off the ground. He works harder than anyone I know, but this economy sucks and it’s taken longer to see any kind of payback for his efforts. One of our biggest struggles was we bought a condo on two paychecks 4 years ago. Then my pay got cut. Then we made the decision to go down to 1 paycheck. And then we got engaged. We thought it would only be for a few months. To say it’s been hard would be an understatement, but I’m guessing you understand that. Have I mentioned I’m unhappy at my job? My extremely well paying with loads of benefits job that I feel terrible complaining about. This past March we sold our condo (for profit!) and all of my boy’s hard work is finally starting to pay off. We’re not out of the woods yet and I still have days when I want to sit on the floor and sob, but it’s getting better. Next month we go to Greece! (I will take notes for you!). Anyway, this was my long winded way of saying it helps to read that others have been down a similar path and gotten to the other side. High fives to you and David.

  • that’s fantastic! congrats to david – and to you! glad you did something big and spontaneous and went away to celebrate. often a very hard thing to talk your logical/rational side into… but oh so worth it. hooray!

  • olive oyl

    Thanks for this post!

    Myself and several close girlfriends are employed semi-gainfully with boyfriends/fiances who are trying to establish themselves. It would be nice if there was more dialogue about the strain this puts on relationships.

    For example, how far does the employed partner go in “helping” before it is pushy or annoying? How do you discuss things without emasculating your male partner? What are they going through and what helps and what upsets the partner looking for new work? What do you do when there are differences in opinion of how he should pursue school/employment/networking etc? How can both parties address their fears with respect and love?

    It is difficult! I found it helpful to keep reminding yourself that they won’t be under/unemployed forever.

    It would be GREAT if there was more on this on this site!!


  • P.S. I haven’t read all the comments but incase no one has said it yet the pictures of you (& David) in this post are adorable. That first picture is particularly stunning. So much blue, my favorite color for mono-chromatic day.

    • meg

      No one has, MWAH. That last picture was supposed to be test shot, but for some reason David and I both love it. It’s this weird capturing of a normal moment for us.

  • After waking up to that morning, of crying and crying and crying, while managing to pack – I thank you so much for this post. It made the light shine a little brighter at the end of our tunnel. :)

  • Congratulations, and … for me… a well-timed post. My fiance and I are also facing under-employment in the upcoming year. Also in San Francisco, which isn’t exactly a cheap place to live. I really appreciate your willingness to share the ups and downs, since I’m riding that roller-coaster now… Thanks!

  • Congrats David!

    This calls for Margaritas.

  • candice

    Husband-to-be and I graduated with B.A. degrees in early ’09. One long, unemployed year later, we both decided to return to our alma mater for second degrees: B.S. programs so difficult we’ve both barely breathed in the past year.

    Some days are worse than others. Living life as student-loan saturated 24/25 year old undergraduates is, at best, tolerable. But we make it work and sometimes we even have a little fun. Planning our graduation, employment, living arrangements, pet ownership and subsequent wedding for next year is the one constant that keeps us going on a daily basis. It’s been a tough few years, but I’m happy to say that we are both much, much stronger for it.

  • Caitlin

    Thank you for this. And a huge congratulations to you both on the new job. You usually have a way of doing this, of writing something on a day when I (and I’m sure many others) just need it most. It happened so many times while I was engaged, and now it’s happening now that we’re married.

    “I honestly don’t care. I can get excited about whatever I need to get excited about. But he needs a job.” I have been saying this for months now, am sad to think of leaving our neighborhood or even our city, but I feel the same way. Mike has been in school full time for the past 2 years and was unemployed due to lay offs for nearly a year before that, while I have been trapped in my job which supports us. And now he is certified to teach in a market where disctricts are not passing budgets and Bloomberg is slated to cut thousands of teaching jobs (and NYC teaching jobs were always the backup plan. No more). So thank you for the reminder that it will get better, that he will find something, that we will continue to make it through.

  • Kayte

    We’re in a very similar spot. When Jim and I got married in Summer of 2009, he was just finishing up EMT school, and we were looking forward to him finding a full time job.

    He graduated top of his class, but there were NO EMT jobs. He applied to every posting within 100 miles, tried to volunteer, everything. Then he tried to get any job. Medical jobs, Office jobs, retail jobs even… nothing. Promising temp jobs went no where.

    Finally he started volunteering for a non-profit near our house, and they just offered him a full time job. After more than 3 years of unemployment, going back to school, and more unemployment, Jim’s first day was last Friday.

  • Erin

    My live-in boyfriend and I went through that this past year. He has a damn engineering degree, and has had so much trouble getting a real engineering job. At one point he was working part time as the night reception desk at a nursing home. I supported both of us on a first-year teacher’s salary. It was awful and trying, but I proposed to him anyway. If our relationship could handle that stress, it could handle a lot of what marriage could throw at us.

    I hadn’t found your blog before we got engaged, but it has been a source of sanity and common sense whenever I have felt like I’m doing this wedding thing wrong.

    My live-in FIANCÉ(!) has been employed full-time (during the day, too!) in an actual engineering position for three weeks now. It’s like we can both breathe freely again.

    This economy has been so hard on so many young adults, but it’s getting better. I’m so glad to hear about your husband’s success!

  • I just want to hug the entire entity that is APW. I love this place.

  • I read some of my bookmarks on my phone this morning, in bed, and when I got to this post, Meg, I let out a whoop and a celebratory fist pump (which my husband didn’t appreciate until I told him what it was about ;))

    SOOOOO happy for you both. Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations! And vacations with gainful employment on the horizon are the best. Jason got the offer for his current (awesome) job (after 8 months of underemployment) the week before we left for our belated honeymoon. Let me tell you, we lived it UP in Hawaii! :)

  • Wow this post really hits home.

    My bf and I have been together for 4 years and I had been looking for work for 3 years while he was going on his 6th year looking. Luckily we both had jobs in the meantime but we both were not making enough to live and pay student loans. What made it even worse was the fact that I owned a condo I couldn’t afford and every year there was a scare of layoffs. I finally decided enough is enough. I started applying throughout the state and out of state. I even applied out of the country. I figured this situation must be a sign I needed to move in order for something to happen in both my career and our relationship. I ended up interviewing with two companies that I dreamed of working both out of my area. I landed one one position and moved within a month to the Bay Area as well! Earlier that year I sold my condo (a big loss) but it gave me the opportunity to apply elsewhere. It was the hardest thing to do in my life to give up my condo and move out my hometown. When I told him I was moving he responded, “Do what you gotta do,” and I felt better. So now he plans to join me when he can find something but in the meantime he’s locking it down with a ring! He plans on proposing even though it was rushed and planned (because I wanted to pick out my ring :) ) but it will still be a surprise to me.

  • I read APW everyday and am amazed regularly by its appropriateness. Today was no exception. My fiance and I met when we were both teaching and spent a wonderful year with two paychecks. Then I left my job to pursue graduate school. Unfortunately, a number of things didn’t fall into place and we have spent the last year living in a town that we both hate, living on his paycheck and what I can bring in from substituting and working at our local grocery store. (I do a gut check everyday when I put on my uniform and realize that I’m 28, have a bachelors degree plus 30 miscellaneous graduate credits and I work at the g’d*mn grocery store!) M has continued teaching but was really unhappy to be in his school for a number of reasons until this February when he was informed that his contract would not be renewed. It’s one thing to hate your job; it’s a whole other thing to be fired from that job. In the end, he has also decided to go back to graduate school as well. And we got engaged. And we’re together and that’s what counts. It’s gonna be okay. Thanks for the reminder.

  • maura

    after my husband lost his lawyering job at the end of 2010, we took off to mexico for a week in january. we would have a third of the income that we did, but mexico is crazy affordable and we needed a break, before the tough conversations about money, sharing income, and budgets.

    the week he returned, he applied for an in house job. and he’ll be starting it next week.
    which means leaving nyc, the city we love so much, where we feel in love, for boston.

    so cheers to david! to letting go, spending the mornings sobbing over bagels, and new beginnings!

  • Jen

    Wow. I just graduated from law school, yesterday. Thank you for this post.

    I am taking the California Bar in July, we are getting married in October, I have no jobs lined up, and who knows if I’ll pass the Bar. He works in a corporate setting, which is okay, but it’s not really enough to cover everything. The only light right now is that we had to be apart for the last three years because of law school and now we finally get to be together and start our lives together- whatever that looks like. So thank you again, it’s nice not to feel so alone facing these challenges.

    • meg

      You’ll pass the bar. Probably now, but if not, it’s not the end of the world. One of our friends just found out she passed last week, after her second time around. And you know what? She’s JUST fine.

      But I bet you’ll pass it this time…. :)

  • Marchelle

    ALL the love in the world to you both.

    And thanks for this. It’s been my fuel today. :)

  • Congrats David!!! I got my first law job after 9 months of volunteering so I (and my partner) know so very much how that feels like….and, until I read this, I was never able to truly explain that time in our lives. I’m so thankful we got through that time because it made possibilities into reality and really made us realize what our relationship could weather.

  • Emily

    Sigh. I’m so happy and relieved for you guys. It’s good to have someone to look up to, in all kinds of ways.

    • meg


  • Congrats to both of you. :)

  • Emily P


    And I can’t thank you enough for this post. My husband and I got married on March 26th and he’s been unemployed (well, technically marginally employed) for 14 months now, as long as we’ve been living together. It SUCKS. I liked my job at first but it’s been steadily going downhill since just before our wedding. I’m so grateful that we’ve been able to make it through all this, but I cannot WAIT until he gets a job and I don’t have to stop myself from feeling like a martyr all the time. This post gives me hope that one day it will work out.

  • olive oyl

    Is there a support group for this? Sounds necessary!

  • Sarahkay

    Congratulations on surviving that tough time and getting to the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s hard times out here for a lot of us, and seeing other people survive & thrive is what gives me hope.

  • Class of 1980

    MEG WROTE: “It’s been a long year. David and his classmates graduated into the worst law market in a generation, and even for those with killer resumes, there were no jobs.”

    I’m so busy these days and commenting less, so I’m late to this party.

    But one thing must be said … David and his classmates graduated into the worst law market IN GENERATIONS. Not just “a generation”.

    I worked in a couple of law firms in my twenties in the early 1980s and there has never been anything like this employment climate in my lifetime. Not even close. Even prior to my twenties, a law degree was always a slam dunk.

    I hope the law grads aren’t taking it personally.

    • Danielle

      I hope NO ONE is taking un/der-employment personally.

      This economy totally, totally sucks. Hardcore.

      • Class of 1980

        As far as I’m concerned, you are coming of age in something more like a Depression. I have never seen anything called a “recession” take such a toll on so many people at one time.

        I know more people without jobs than I have ever known in my life. It’s been a couple of years in some cases.

        The responses in the comments tell the tale. Here you have an audience of highly educated people and the under/unemployment is nearly universal among the commenters.

    • meg

      Yeah, it’s been BRUTAL. I mean, David was the top of his class at one of the top law schools in the *country.* I actually can’t think of that very much, or it gives me a sense of despair for the whole picture. If these kids were unemployable, what does that say?

      That said, it’s given us a solid sense of values: we don’t need a huge apartment, we don’ t need a lot of stuff. Meaningful work comes in a lot of forms. David’s working on a trial (for free) this week, and THAT is important work, money or not.

      So. Yes. Small blessings.

      • Danielle

        My original comment was going to include something about being scared for my generation (those in our 20s-30s) because I don’t feel we’re prepared for the ways the economy is changing, and the demands our society is going to make of us. I deleted it b/c I thought it was too negative.

        Maybe there ARE opportunities in this crisis. Like to appreciate what we have, and to value relationships over stuff.

        Yes, small blessings.

        • meg

          Agreed. Both with the negative stuff and with the small blessings.

        • Class of 1980

          I know it’s not the function of this blog, but I suggest reading anything Gerald Celente has to say on our future. He’s hired by major corporations that want to know where things are going. You can subscribe to his newsletter. His track record is incredible.

          It’s going to be rough and a lot of things will change permanently, but there will be opportunities out there. Alternative energy breakthroughs are going to be huge and will lead to an American renaissance … later. But we will be a different kind of country in the future.

          I’d rather know how hard it might be so I can plan ahead more effectively.

          • Danielle

            Thanks, I’m gonna check him out!

  • So very happy for you both! Congratulations!

  • Pippa

    So true.

    I had to leave my job as I was unable to work. 3 months later I started looking for new employment. 1 year TO THE DAY that I last worked, I started my first day in my new job.
    I never expected to be unemployed for a whole year. (This is in Australia where we’ve been out of recession for a long time, sorry to the US gals.) It was financially and emotionally stressful. I was surprised at the massive toll that unemployment takes on your self-esteem. But there was my wonderful partner, who emotionally and financially carried me through it. It wasn’t easy for him either, and the financial and career troubles continue, but we got through it together. Yay for love!

  • I’ve been unemployed for over a year now. And I’ve actually only been employed 7 of the last 36 months since I graduated from college.

    I’m living with my parents and feeling like a loser.

    Ryan’s working a job he hates for $300 a month (he’s in India). And now he’s taking a big leap. He’s quitting his job to free himself for something better.

    And we’re hoping to start a life together? With international moving and a wedding? With neither one of us owning a car?

    Faith. That’s all I can say.

    I am so happy your husband found a job Meg. Tell him congratulations from me and I’m sure us all (or maybe, Meg’s husband, you’re reading this now!)

  • Emma

    Congratulations to David – that’s fabulous news about his job. I hope it brings both of you a lot of happiness.

    Just wondered if you had any accommodation (or other) tips for the Yucatan? We’re heading there ourselves later in the year and your hotel looks pretty special…

  • Congratulations to David! And thanks so much for posting this, Meg. My fiance and I are both writers (unpaid, of course) and cobbling together other jobs to make ends meet. I know it’s stressful for him right now, since he’s not totally in love with any of his jobs and would probably like to move somewhere with the potential for more opportunities. I think we’re going to have to face a lot over the next year and a half as we try to figure out our next steps and how we want to get started on our life together. And as you said, we’re definitely not alone in this. Knowing that tons of other APWers are dealing with similiar issues and making things work as best they can is so helpful.

  • This is such a great conversation starter. My partner is a storyboard artist and I’m a photographer– and both people being freelancers can be REALLY trying, especially at first, when my career was taking off and his was stuttering. It’s so hard to keep a check on your own ego when you’re supporting another person/being supported. I’m neurotic both when he’s paying rent and when I’m paying rent. Grass is always greener I guess…

  • Thank you for sharing this. It’s an inspiration at a time when I need to surrender the outcomes – because they are far beyond my control. Just what I needed this morning.

  • Go David! And go Meg! One paycheck is hard. One paycheck and added stress just plain sucks. Cheers to you for finally being in a semi-comfortable spot with a bright outlook. Salut!

  • I have been so, so lucky that the crappy economy didn’t really affect me other than my husband having to take a small pay cut, but I feel awful for all the people still struggling to make it through. A big sigh of relief for you and David, and congratulations to him on what sounds like an amazing job catch!

    Count me in with the people who love that you took such a big trip last minute!

  • Hooray! Congratulations to you both and best wishes as this new phase of life begins!

  • secret reader

    oy, well this post is very timely, as I sit in my living room weeping over the fact that I don’t have health insurance because I left my (emotionally abusive, low paying, “pays the rent”) job. I’m starting a grad program in the fall — the kind that pays a salary! — but need a physical exam to complete my enrollment papers. calling around to health clinics and private practices asking about rates for physical exams without insurance is a surefire way to feel like a pariah for being uninsured. and we’re not married, so I can’t use my partner’s bennies.

    so, all in all, good reminder that there is light at the end of the pariah tunnel. it makes me so angry to hear politicians talk about things like unemployment, because you get the feeling few of them have wept in their living room over the (internet) phone book.

  • Mt Laurel

    Thank you for this post. I am currently supporting my under-employed husband and self with a job I don’t love, and have been for two years. Panic and fear abound. And, it’s not just the money. It is horrible to watch his self-esteem and confidence sink lower and lower as this drags on and on. It’s awful to feel resentful of the free time he has, when you know it’s not by choice, but you can’t help but be jealous. I married him in the midst of this economy. I never dreamed we would still be in this spot two years later…
    Thanks for inspiring a little hope today. Congratulations to your husband.

  • Libby

    Congrats to both of you!

  • Jo