Thursday, July 31, 2008
I have a male client who's married to a stay-at-home wife. To fund her big-spending ways, he's had to take a job that few people would describe as inordinately rewarding, especially in today's market: He sells real estate. Not surprisingly, he's having a tough time making a living at it, a cause of great stress: His wife is hounding him to make more money lest they lose their suburban mini-mansion. He tries ever harder because "What do you expect? I have to support my family."
His wife had a child from a previous marriage who has "issues:" This 24-year-old sits in an apartment smoking pot all day. waiting for her boyfriend to come home. My client spends large amounts of time trying to help his stepchild. He's a kind, patient man, and his drugged-out stepkid yells at him for "not giving me space, and coming down on me." He continues to try to help. He says, "What do you expect? It's my family."
Now, it appears his sister, who has been a lifelong professional student and hoarder/pack rat has decided to move near my client. He says, "I'll do the best I can for her." I ask him, "Do you really need to do that?" He says, "It's family."
Yesterday, he thought he was having a heart attack. It turned out to be a false alarm, but I'm betting he's at-risk.
What is his wife doing to help reduce his stress? Is she getting a job to help share the financial burden? No: After his heart attack scare, her response was, "I think you should take out more life insurance." Is that what a family member should say?
This client is one of the more extreme examples, but I have found many men who give it all to family, including paying the ultimate price, and derived far too little in exchange. Especially for many, although certainly not all men, I believe family is overrated.