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Spouses find strength in the face of hardship


A good day at Donna Pedonti's house is when her husband receives a rejection letter from an employer.

"At least someone read his letter," said Mrs. Pedonti, co-founder of an unemployment support group for wives of unemployed men. "It's so bad out there now, that most times you get no response to resumes."

Shoulder-to-Shoulder meets twice a month in Madison, a well-to-do community along Connecticut's southern shore, so women can offer one another advice on how to cope with their stress and techniques for lifting the spirits of their husbands.

"It's like walking on eggshells," said Mary Ann Grimaldi, also a co-founder of the group. "You don't know whether to ask him, 'How'dit go today?' Or you see letters in the mail box, but you don't dare open them.

"But you know they are rejections because they're so thin."

Many of the women say that unemployment has actually strengthened their marriages.

"When things are good and there is money coming in, you don't know each other very well because you are developing your own interests and you are traveling a lot," said Mrs. Grimaldi, a high school teacher. "But when there's no money, you sit at the table, and there's nothing between you, sometimes not even any food.

"So all you have is conversation, and you really get to know each other."

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