Without a job, I just don’t feel like a man

A reader explains how his unemployment is causing issues, but his wife doesn’t understand, in this week’s Family Forum. 


I’m a married man in his late 40s. I was made redundant 18 months ago. My wife loves her full-time job of over 20 years.

I hate being unemployed. I have applied for thousands of jobs, vacancy or not. It’s who you know, not what you know in Adelaide.

I’ve done two Tafe courses. No jobs at the end of it. No government organisations will help.

I’ve sat down with my wife and discussed the situation. I said it would be better if we moved out of this State. Our kids have successful jobs in Broome and Darwin. My wife doesn’t want to leave her job.

I know this sounds selfish but I just don’t feel like a real man/breadwinner.

My wife doesn’t understand. I’m actually thinking about leaving her, just so I can move to a state or territory with an abundance of employment. What do I do? Help!


Many unemployed men feel as you do. The traditional perception of the man being the breadwinner can be a challenge to the male ego.

Your frustration is understandable. However, regardless of the publicity, employment opportunities are not much better interstate.

Consider volunteering. You may be able to find voluntary work using your existing experience. This would get you back into the feeling of being part of the “working world”. It could also lead to full-time work.

Don’t Overlook Mature Expertise (DOME) is an organisation set up specifically to assist people in your situation, visit www.dome.org.au or phone 8410 4344.

Review your work-seeking tactics. Always stress your skills and how beneficial you will be to their organisation. Never send identical emails to everyone. People recognise this. Sell yourself, make the offer sound attractive. Research the work they do and show knowledge. Follow up contact with phone calls. Be friendly to receptionists. They are an important link in the chain. Always sound confident and positive, even when you don’t feel it.

Watch out for depression, talk to your GP. It is not possible to put energy and motivation into a task if depressed.

Moving for an agreed length of time could be an option. You may feel better if you have a look around. If successful you will then have to reconsider your options.

Counselling could help you put the problem into perspective. Support and guidance would benefit both you and your wife.

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