How do i get my partner to get a job?
October 17, 2006 11:38 PM   Subscribe

How do i get my partner to get a job?

I'm in full time work, shes a masters student. Over the last year or so i've really struggled to make ends meet, late bills, final reminders, all capped off with actual debt collectors turning up at my door demanding payment. I've worked out our outgoings and its alot more than our income.

I've previously brought up the idea of my partner getting a job between her studies, which has either been met by her saying she is looking or shouting at me mentioning she doesn't have the time to get a job.

Shes worked in the last 3 years, while a student, but has never been willing to keep on going, shes always resigned or walked out for one reason or another always less than a month of starting there, she then lies to her parents about her current work status.

How can I actively encourage my partner to work again and help out with the bills, would an ultimatum be too much? "You have to get a job as we can't afford this house otherwise"

Help me mefi!
posted by Nik_Doof to Human Relations (9 answers total)
You have a simple problem (to express, not to solve): you need to reduce your expenses, increase your income, or ideally both.

I don't mean to be a downer, but if this is something that you can't discuss rationally with your partner and secure her participation in solving, what you've got there is not a "partner," but a "dependent."
posted by enrevanche at 11:54 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

I think the sentence you have quoted in your question would be a useful one.

As a person who has done the advanced-degree-while-working thing, let me also say that I get more done when some of my time is accounted for. That is, if I have unlimited free time, I get less academic work done. If I have a part-time job (whether teaching or totally outside the university), I am forced to be more careful about my time, so I get more academic work done. This is true of a lot of academics I know.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:03 AM on October 18, 2006

'My other piece of advice, Copperfield,' said Mr. Micawber, 'you know. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and - and in short you are for ever floored. As I am!'

Either you (i.e., the two of you) find a way to reduce expenses or you find a way to increase income. There is no third option. If she can't work and study at the same time, then she may have to put her studies aside until she can afford the luxury.
posted by timeistight at 12:37 AM on October 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: How do i get my partner to get a job?

You don't. It's her choice whether or not she gets a job. You can encourage her, influence her, intreat her, ask her, offer to help her, but ultimately, she's the one controlling her body, and there's nothing you can do that's going to make her get out there and work.

That said, you can certainly make decisions about what your life is going to be, and what you will and will not accept from a partner. It's okay to have dealbreakers, and only you can decide what your dealbreakers are. If joblessness is one of them, then a simple statement like: "I will not be in a relationship with someone who will not work," is not an ultimatum. It's a boundary you've drawn for yourself.

If it's not really a dealbreaker for you, then you are, in fact, willing to live with someone who chooses not to work, and all you can do is accept that your partner has made that choice, and you have chosen to be with your partner. You can still encourage her and offer to help her, but you can't hold it against her if she never does get a job, because you're the one who is choosing to stay with her.

You can, however, point out that your current standard of living is not sustainable on the income you're bringing in, and discuss together what you're going to do about it. Saying "Our debts exceed our income, and we can't continue like this indefinitely," is not an ultimatum, it's just a statement of fact. The ultimatum version would be "You need to get a job, or else we can't keep living in this apartment." The focus of an ultimatum is always on changing someone else's behavior, and usually includes an "or else" statement. (A boundary is different. It's a simple statement of your own limits, and the focus is on the self - the only person you can ever really control.)
posted by eleyna at 12:41 AM on October 18, 2006

when i was in college, i felt really busy with 6 classes a term and a part time job.

now i'm in grad school and look back on my undergrad years as halcyon days of plentiful free time when i could actually go to the gym, do stuff on the weekends, work part time, have a life etc.

many grad students barely have time to sleep, let alone work another gig. i suppose this depends largely on what sort of program it is, what field, her dedication to school, etc. i don't know if your SO is as busy as me, but if she's a typical grad student, consider her studies a full-time (and then some) job.

if so, reconsider what it is you're asking her to do, and whether or not it's unreasonable for you to get a second job. if that sounds impossible to you, you just have to cut back on some stuff, like other people have said.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 4:10 AM on October 18, 2006

I agree wholeheartedly with sergeant sandwich. I'm in grad school and I barely have time for anything other than my schoolwork. I was working part time, and even though it was a fantastic job with benefits for part time workers I quit. I pretty much am only able to do one fun thing per week (let's say, going out Saturday night) and the rest of the week is for school commitments. To destress, I go on the internet, but often that bit of fun comes at the expense of sleep.

I wouldn't be quite so hard on your girlfriend as far as expecting her to have a job outside of grad school. It sounds like the issue is that she isn't paying her share of the living expenses. In that case, she can get student loans, which can be applied to rent and the like. That way she can contribute to the household (assuming you live together) and retain her sanity.
posted by mintchip at 6:40 AM on October 18, 2006

How involved is your partner in actually paying the bills, handling the household finances, etc?

I ask because it could be, assuming that you are the one who handles the finances for the two of you, that she truly doesn't understand the depth of your financial situation and just perceives your requests for her to get a job as nagging.

If she can actually get a picture in her head of how much money is coming in every month vs. what is going out in bills and expenses, there is at least the chance she will understand that her getting a job isn't a convenience, it's an absolute necessity.

I've been in your situation before to the degree that money is an issue that has come between my wife and I in the past. Like you (I'm assuming), I was the one who handled all of the bill paying, so to me it always seemed like my wife was being blatantly disrespectful when she didn't seem to grasp why I was telling her we really needed to curtail spending for such and such amount of time or gently hinted that it may be time for her to re-enter the work force. What I didn't realize was my wife, not being involved in paying the household bills, honestly didn't understand how much money we had vs. how much was spoken for in owed bills. She came up with the great idea of taking over some of the bill paying responsibility, which keeps her more on top of what our checking account balance is, how much of that balance is owed, how much is available, etc. If you can involve your partner in handling the household expenses, chances are her understanding your situation ("If I don't get a job we're out on the street") will increase.
posted by The Gooch at 9:58 AM on October 18, 2006

True story, scroll down a bit if you don't care. When I was in grad school at Hoity Toity Church Run School (you'd recognize the name but this isn't about where I went to school), I happened to be walking through the student union only to be approached by someone trying to hire part time workers. He said "HEY! Are you interested in a job?" I politely said "No, thank you," and continued to walk. This man began to shout at me about how I was some spoiled little rich girl who was too good to take an honest job at an honest wage. I turned and in my best where the hell is your homework voice told him "I already have 3 jobs!" Needless to say he apologized on the spot.

Now how the heck was I able to hold down 3 jobs, and what were they? First, I had a teaching fellowhip right on campus. Second, I had a church job that took about 4 hours of my time weekly, Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. Third, I worked all day Saturday and afternoons Sunday as a leasing agent on an apartment complex. This did not make me wealthy, but it kept our student loan debts down.

So after all that, it seems to me you have 3 problems: making her understand that there is not enough money coming in to cover expenses; getting her to help you solve this problem (eg, get a job); helping her find a job that she can reasonably do without interfering with school (weekend leaser, evening barrista, helping professor, etc). If you can't have this conversation with her without her shouting at you, take advantage of the fact that as a student she has access to student mental health services. The fact that you say she has never held a job for more than a month -- and don't get me wrong, most jobs suck but we keep doing them anyway -- says she has issues that need to be worked out before she actually graduates and has to start a "career." What is her major, btw?
posted by ilsa at 2:55 PM on October 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Why can't you explain to her that you're really struggling and that either she get her parents' to subsidize her rent and half of the bills or you guys start living in different places.
posted by onepapertiger at 6:33 PM on October 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

« Older How can I get my white sheets white again?   |   Health Insurance for $200? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.