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I’m friends with an older woman who by a wing and a prayer seems to singlehandedly carry the financial burden of her family on her back while her husband passively (and when I say passively, I’m being generous) looks for work. One might say that due to the tough economy there are many husbands who are out of work; however that isn’t the case in this particular situation seeing as her husband hasn’t been gainfully employed for the last 15+ years. I always look at the situation a bit confused and I have to occasionally ask her what is keeping her around. Her response is always “Someday, when you’re married you’ll understand.”

I get it. Marriage is a bridge that I haven’t had the privilege of crossing, yet. But, something about the thought of a man who refuses to assist in financially supporting his family leaves me somewhat perplexed. I realize that in most wedding vows the couple promises to stick together for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, but most brides would imagine that this is in reference to unforeseen and unfortunate events such as sickness, a lay-off, etc., not that her groom flat out makes the conscious decision to bail on his responsibility to financially support his family. As frustrating as this situation may seem from the outside looking in, I suppose she does have a valid point. Matrimonial vows don’t have built in employment clauses.

I am well aware of the serious weight that marriage holds in the sight of God. I hope to be married someday, but I feel a bit torn when it comes to this subject. It seems that the logical and biblically correct thing to do would be to stick around since unemployment doesn’t seem to be grounds for divorce, but something in me still wonders what women would actually do when put in this situation. How is this fair to the woman struggling to carry the financial load of her family on her own without the help of her perfectly capable partner, especially in this economy? I was certain that I wouldn’t be able to reach an unbiased conclusion on this matter for two reasons. One, I am not and have never been married and two, witnessing my friend carry such a heavy a burden may make me a little partial on the subject. So, I allowed a few ladies who are either married or have been married at some point to weigh in on this highly debatable topic. When asked if they would leave their mate if he refused to get a job, here is how they responded:

Absolutely. Positively. Affirmative.. Yes, yes, and yes. We would get divorced. He refuses to get a job? I refuse to be married to a man that won’t work.

Celeste M., New Jersey


Well, acccording to the word of God I would not have the right to divorce him because he does not get a job. The words “get a job” are not in the marriage vows; however we all agree that if he don’t work he won’t eat …LOL. But, that is not grounds for divorce.

Latisha M., New Jersey


A relationship is supposed to be 50/50. Where and what is his 50? That’s the real question! He has to bring something to the table or go!

Dameisha D., New York

It seems that there is no “right” answer to this question, as it is all contingent upon one’s own personal affirmations and beliefs. Although the thought of a husband who is fully capable of supporting his family choosing not is very troubling to me, I can’t say for sure that I’d be so quick to give to my husband the axe either. Since marriage should be based on an unconditional love, choosing to leave due to the husband’s unemployment may actually make it conditional after all.

What do you think? Would you leave your mate if he refused to work ? 

Jazmine Denise is a freelance writer living in New York. Follow her on Twitter @jazminedenise

All photos are courtesy of ShutterStock

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