"His Business Crashed -- And So Did Our Marriage"
Her Turn"I Ditched My Dream"
"Our life is a complete disaster," said Carrie, 37, whose drawn face and despairing voice revealed her exhaustion. "Ryan and I scream at each other from morning till night -- in front of Charlie and James, our 12-month-old twins, no less. Our tenth anniversary is in two months, but I certainly don't feel like celebrating. We're broke, Ryan's out of work and I'm trying to hold everything together.
"Until two years ago, Ryan was the chef in the private dining room of a large investment bank. He left that job to start a company that did catering and special-events planning for smaller brokerages and dot-coms. Together with my salary as a bed-and-bath store manager, we were doing very well. Our relationship was great -- Ryan used to send me red roses on every anniversary -- and after I became pregnant, the future looked even brighter.
"Then the economy took a nosedive. As businesses folded or cut back on luxuries like catered meals, Ryan's bookings dried up. That's when we discovered that his business partner had secretly stolen their clients and suppliers and launched his own catering company. I'd told Ryan from the beginning that I didn't like this guy -- he'd always struck me as underhanded -- but he refused to listen. Now we're in bankruptcy, and I don't know how we're going to feed our family.
"In the middle of this crisis, I went into labor. It was a difficult birth, and I had to stay in the hospital for three days. Ryan was so caught up with the crisis at work that he came by to see me only briefly before rushing back to the office.
"I had everything planned out: I was going to stay home full-time and really enjoy my sons. But, of course, I had to ditch that dream once Ryan's business went under. After my maternity leave, I did cut back on my hours at the store. Fortunately, I was able to keep my health benefits, which is how we can afford marriage counseling now. But I'm still miserable. Ryan keeps talking about starting up his business again, but that's nuts. He has to face facts and get a stable job, or else we'll stay broke and I'll never have enough time to spend with my sons.
"To be honest, I'm jealous of Ryan. I know he didn't choose to be an at-home dad, and that it's hard to juggle calls and job interviews with fixing bottles. But he's still the one who has time to play with the boys, and he's the one they run to when they scrape a knee. He certainly pays more attention to them than to me.
"I'm better with paperwork and numbers than Ryan, so I'm in charge of our bookkeeping. When I get home from the store, I have barely enough time to kiss the boys before spending all night in our upstairs office, filing bankruptcy and legal papers and talking to our creditors.