By Mariam Williams
I recently pondered what my life would be like now if I had married the man I had been steadily dating a few years before I began living life laid off.
This man has always been very good at making money. He is a self-described elitist, with an affinity for life’s finer things. He’s attracted to ambitious, goal-oriented, career women, but has always been determined to make so much money that his wife’s career is a choice.
At first I thought about how wealthy I would be right now, how lucky I would feel to not have to accept unemployment compensation from the government, to not have to jump through all the hoops that go along with keeping it, to not have to look for a job each day or to not feel discouraged by the number and quality of the job openings. My husband would have health insurance from his job, and he would attach me to his benefits. I would have a better quality of life.
But then I remembered: my ex-boyfriend lost more than six figures when Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008. He laid off the entire workforce of his small company, and his cash ran short. So had we gotten married, instead of feeling the security I had first pictured, I would quite possibly have more worries and more responsibility because I would have more to lose than I do now. Instead of making rent on a two-bedroom apartment, I would be concerned about the bank foreclosing on a 4,000-sqare foot house, because that’s the kind of lifestyle we would have lived. I would be taking our children out of private school, or asking my mother, mother-in-law, or grandmothers to reignite their babysitting senses to keep from having to pay for daycare. I would be dealing with a husband who was feeling like a failure because he couldn’t keep up the lifestyle we were used to, even though all that we would still be able to do would be more than what most people even dream about. But his stress would be causing a strain on our marriage, and we might be headed toward divorce.
Or, we might be going for broke, inebriated with the power that comes from having nothing to lose. I might be telling him some of my wilder business ideas and hearing him say, “Let’s do this thing!” He would be saying, “Let’s,” because he would want to be a partner, advisor and investor. He would tweak some of the less creative ideas to make them more viable, or he would be inspired to reinvent himself as I reinvented myself. It’s possible that we both would have come up with something brilliant that would take us off of the employment hiatus and reinforce the bond of marriage.
The thoughts remind me of a line from “The Necklace,” a short story by Guy de Maupassant. There are many translations of the story and the line, but the one I remember is this: “How fickle life is! How little it takes to make or break you!”
© Mariam Williams, aka The Pink-Slipped Girl, and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mariam Williams and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off or http://livinglifelaidoff.com, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any use and/or duplication of any photo contained within this blog without express and written permission from Mariam Williams is strictly prohibited.