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My Husband Has Been Out of Work for a Year

April 16th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

My husband was laid off 12 months ago. He has been searching diligently as well as studying fervently in order to get a new job. He recently had an interview for a company that would be the top of the top for his field. 

He did extremely well on the interview, but was told a few days later they would not continue on.  My husband is flabbergasted and devastated. He keeps running over and over the interview trying to find out what he did wrong. I told him maybe God closed the door with this company. He said God doesn’t close doors. My question is two-fold:

  1. How long should he obsess over trying to figure out what he did wrong to not get the job – what would be the better thing for him to do in order to get the most from this?
  2. Does God open and close doors?

I would love to know what ancient Jewish wisdom has to say on this.

Thank you,

∼ Paula

Answer:

Dear Paula,

Ouch. Being out of work for a year is a horribly painful experience for a man. Being married to someone who is out of work for a year is painful as well. We can only imagine your husband’s devastation when it seemed as if there was finally a breakthrough and then he faced disappointment.

We cannot answer your questions directly. We can only, with awareness of your vulnerability as well, make a suggestion. A wife is often the least suitable person with whom a man should discuss something like this. A mentor, career counselor or even a wise friend would be preferable. Is it possible that your husband could improve his interview skills or turn his focus elsewhere? Perhaps – but you aren’t the person who can help him see that. Is it possible that there were numerous applicants and that while he did everything he could to get the job, someone else had an inside connection, an extra skill or some other feature that made him or her the first choice? Certainly, it is.

Your husband needs outside support. Please encourage him to find it. You would also benefit from the same. You are both in an extremely difficult situation. As to God opening and closing doors, we don’t think that what is needed here is a theological discussion. Faith definitely helps us get through tough times, but the faith has to be emotionally and internally driven, not academically delivered.

Nonetheless, we must of course recognize that there are times God closes doors.  God closed the door on Moses entering the Promised Land.  He certainly closed some doors on Job.  However, it is equally true that He often closes doors for His very good reasons and that nearly always means other doors open.

If your husband was consulting me, I would tell him to be much more focused on serving than getting.  Much more focused on finding out how he can specifically contribute to the company with whom he interviews.  But this is not for you to tell him.  Please remember your marriage is more important than your husband’s career, as important as it is.  Right now, he is hurting in a uniquely deep way that a man can feel pain.  You can help him in only one way and that is not with career advice. That must come from his friends and spiritual/career advisors.

We pray that you see salvation soon,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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