The argument began in the usual form.
He gets in the way because he has nothing else to do. He putters around, looking for things to dismantle and reassemble so that he can say he's 'working around the house'.
So he gets in the way, lumbering to and fro, moving directly into my path.
With time on his hands, he surfs the web on our one computer, unaware that my home-based business requires the use of the computer. He is out of work. He keeps me from working.
The petulance, the self-pity were there in his voice but I'd heard it so often already that I cracked. There was silence for the rest of the afternoon, extending past dinner.
I didn't care. There was nothing to say. He's out of work. He gets in the way.
Let's get out of the house, he said in the morning. He's cooped up, with nothing to do. Let's get out of the house. I can't drop what I'm doing to walk around the hardware store, listening to his grand plans of home remodeling when I know we can't possibly afford to invest in a new kitchen.
He's out of work. He's looking for something to do but he's driving me out of my mind.
I smoke more these days. I run errands in the middle of the day to get a break from the constant togetherness that is forced on us by his unemployment.
If we can get through this, I think, but I know that our relationship has been strained beyond repair. We will carry on as a family, while the space between us will grow as I drift away in search of a quiet place where I can think and imagine and craft stories.
The unemployment insurance will see us through, until his boss calls him back when the weather improves. We'll get by while I deny every request to buy one thing and another, leading to more arguments that strain my patience beyond endurance.
There is no government subsidy that insures against the stress of so much time together. There are no unemployment benefits that can patch up what's broken.