"His Business Crashed -- And So Did Our Marriage"
The Counselor's TurnFinancial Difficulties
"A financial crisis can rip the bottom out of the best marriage. Though Carrie and Ryan had a strong relationship before they lost the catering business, they were truly struggling now.
"Their reaction was common for many couples facing money problems. On some level, even women with good jobs often like to know their husbands can support them, and feel abandoned when they can't; in turn, many men feel inadequate if they're not bringing in a paycheck.
"During each session, I reminded Ryan and Carrie of their strengths -- a history of good communication, a once-lusty sex life, mutual support during their infertility crisis -- so they wouldn't give up hope on themselves or their marriage.
"The breaking point for Carrie and Ryan had come right after their sons were born. Parenting twins was hard enough; doing it after a job loss was ten times as stressful. Pouring every ounce of patience and energy into supporting his family, Ryan squeezed out what was necessary for his children, but that left little or nothing for his wife. He was deeply upset to learn that Carrie viewed him as unloving.
"Carrie's reaction to their situation wasn't unusual, considering her childhood. Literally abandoned by a mother who chose her stepfather and brothers over her, she felt unimportant and unworthy of love -- feelings that deepened after her sons were born and Ryan seemed to be giving all his attention to them. Feeling betrayed by her husband and panicked at their money woes, she lashed out and held on to her bitterness.
"I told her: 'Your resentment is a way of gaining some power over your situation. Letting go of that grudge may make you feel more vulnerable, but it's the only way to bridge the distance between you and Ryan.' I suggested that she think about what she was most afraid of, and then pick a quiet time to talk to Ryan about it.
"I also made Carrie allot a specific amount of time -- say, 30 minutes once a week -- for worrying about anything she liked. Once the time was up, she had to stop until the next 'worry break.' Gradually Carrie became able to break the cycle of resentment and fear. As she did so, it was also easier for her to stop herself before rushing to criticize her husband.
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