Unemployment

Unemployment is a Reality for Many Foreign Spouses
Unemployment or low-paying, difficult employment is a reality for lots of foreigners in this country and all countries. BUT many people manage to do what it takes to earn a good living. For us, it was a long road. For some of our foreign friends, it was much, much shorter!

Personal Experiences

  1. My husband had excellent credentials when he came to this country–job experience at well-known companies abroad, master’s degree, and so on.
  2. STILL, it took 5 YEARS for him to get a full-time job with benefits (but he had contracts and part-time jobs during that delay).
  3. The good news is that he’s doubled his salary in 2 years–so in this way, he has certainly made up for lost time. He’s earning more than any of my friends or relatives our age.
  4. A big part of the problem was his English. It STILL isn’t anything to write home about (but it’s okay).
  5. Another huge part of the problem was his resistance to change. He didn’t want to accept that he’d have to do things the American way–like wear a suit to an interview, answer dumb interview questions a certain way, and son on.

Rejection after rejection, and it didn’t sink in! He kept thinking if he bettered his skills, he’d get a job–this was partially true. He did better his skills, and it was eventually noticed. But by that time, he had also learned to dress for interviews and learned a lot of English.

Some Spouses Go With the Flow
Hopefully your spouse will be a little more open to change than mine was. Most Americans know the basics to finding a job–speak English well, wear a suit to an interview, ask questions, be prepared with answers, and so on. My husband REFUSED to do any of it. He insisted on wearing casual clothes, felt certain that his English made no difference (though he knew almost NONE), and almost said nothing during his interviews–well, how could he? He didn’t know English:)

We have a lot of foreign friends who found good jobs MUCH more quickly than my husband and who learned English a lot more quickly. They got jobs and never really had a terrible time of unemployment or anything like that. I am still not sure why my husband refused to change and listen to everyone around him for so long. It wasn’t like people were telling him to forget his native language–goodness, just wear a freaking tie! But eventually he figured it all out. Thank goodness. I hope your spouse does too. But remember it is a very scary process for some of them. Even for some Americans.

Light at the End of the Tunnel
After four years, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. How we made it that long without my husband having a job and still managed to pay our bills on my measly dinky little salary, I will never know. But I’m glad I did because for the past four years, life has been really grand!! We are so happy now, and staying with my husband through that time of resistance and unemployment–totally worth it.

One Response to “Unemployment”

  1. It sounds like your marriage is working out, but your story illustrates some big caveats for people thinking of marrying a foreigner.

    People can be extremely stubborn about certain things, thinking that the way it is done in their country is THE right way. For example I’m amazed that the husband didn’t learn from getting several very expensive tickets and watching the insurance rates go sky-high.

    Personally I would be very hesitant to marry someone unless they already speak excellent fluent English and at university level, or (unless I speak their language fluently). But of course if we’re going to live in the US, then they are going to have to speak perfect English. If I marry them before they have learned English properly then I have to take it on faith they will be able to learn. Some people can’t. A friend of mine married a woman from Thailand who could speak only baby-English. After about ten years her English is a lot better but still pretty basic.

    Another friend of mine who married a foreign woman lamented many years later that he liked to play with the language and she didn’t get any of this humor because her level of English just wasn’t good enough.

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