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Stability and change of family identity in financial crisis Eckert, Ron 1992

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STABILITY AND CHANGE OF FAMILY IDENTITY IN FINANCIAL CRISIS  by  Ron Eckert  B.A., University of British Columbia, 1974  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES COUNSELLING PSYCHOLOGY  We accept this Thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA March 1992 ©  Ron Eckert, 1992  In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  (Signature)  Department of  COVV11  (Ain  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  Date  DE-6 (2/88)  ^(  t^ici(32,  ciA41,057  ii  Abstract  This study is based on data obtained in interviews from three couples who experienced severe financial loss in the recession of 1982. This data was organized into narratives that were validated by the participants and an independent reviewer. These narratives were analyzed for changes in underlying belief structures, a major component of family identity. The theory of constructivism and specific theorists such as Reiss (1981), Steinglass, Bennett, Wolin and Reiss (1987) were used to classify the changes. The conclusion summarizes the reciprocal influences of the external stressor, financial loss, and family identity, an internal construct. Recommendations, based on the experiences of these three couples, are offered to those who have experienced a similar loss and those who are counselling such couples and families.  iii  Stability and Change of Family Identity in Financial Crisis Table of Contents  Abstract^ Table of Contents^ Acknowledgements^  ii iii iv  Ch. I Introduction^ ^ Constructivism ^ Crisis and Change ^ Family ^ Identity Rituals ^ Purpose of Study ^ Research Questions ^ Ch. II Methodology  1  Ch. III Participant's Stories ^ ^ Duke's Story ^ Wendy's Story ^ Sara's Story ^ Walter's Story ^ Robert's Story ^ Ann's Story Comments by researcher, participants ^ and reviewer Ch. IV Analysis of Changes in Belief ^ Structures ^ Wendy and Duke's Stories ^ Walter and Sara's Stories^ Ann and Robert's Stories Ch. V Analysis of Similarities and ^ Differences Between Couples ^ Ch. VI Conclusions ^ The Influence of Identity ^ The Influence of the Crisis ^ Recommendations ^ Bibliography  10 30 60 73 96 102 104 123 124 146 173 200 228 258 295 302 303 331 371 416 460 461 471 479 493  Appendix ^ A. General Procedures ^ B. Letter of Information ^ C. Consent Form  498 499 501  iv  Acknowledgements  I would like to thank the participants in this study for sharing their stories with me. I admire their courage in dealing with an experience that has torn many families apart. Their struggles to give meaning to their lives after losing everything for which they had worked so hard are truly acts of heroism. I found their stories inspiring and their lives could serve as models to anyone who has suffered severe financial loss. I appreciate their honesty and willingness to share an experience that is still painful ten years later. I would also like to thank my wife, Virginia, and my children, Jonah, Jesse and Christiana, for their patience and understanding for the many nights and weekends when I was unavailable during the two year period that I worked on this study.  1  CHAPTER I  Introduction to the Problem  Financial loss is inevitable for most if not all people at some time in the course of their lives. Severe financial loss, including the experience of bankruptcy, has become associated with regular cyclical downturns of the economy and would appear to be becoming more of a fact of life than most would like to admit. Entrepreneurs are particularly vulnerable to this type of loss because they take risks to develop and market their services and products. As the economy of British Columbia becomes increasingly diversified and connected to global markets, the health of the province as a whole will become enhanced by individuals, couples, families and organizations that can survive the losses that often accompany the process of innovation. Crisis occurs when the stress level becomes so great that one's existing orientation to the world can no longer provide the stability required to make sense of experience. Severe financial loss or bankruptcy can be an extremely destabilizing experience for marital couples and can result in separation, divorce, long term impaired functioning and an identity of failure. It can, however, also result in stronger marital relationships, a renewed sense of purpose and an identity of sucess. This study is interested in how couples who have  2  remained intact have construed the experience of loss and recovery.  What we think and believe has increasingly become viewed as an important, if not the most important factor, in bringing about change when individuals and groups are unable to recover from or adapt to both normal and unexpected alterations in life conditions. This is not a new idea. Epictetus, in the first century B.C., suggested that it is not the things themselves which trouble us, but the opinions that we have about those things. Bugental (1987) refers to Franz Kafka's description of the difference between an object and a person: "To understand why a stone rolls down a hill, we must look to see what force loosened it from its place at the top. But to see why a person climbs the hill, we must discover what that person seeks at the top. It is the contrast between causation and intention that distinguishes the subjective or experiential realm" (p. x). Intentions are based on beliefs about the meaning of one's actions in the context of the world. The relationship between behavior and beliefs, action and meaning, is one of reciprocal causation. The chapters on constructivism, crisis and change and family identity are included to support the argument that beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions are extremely important in the understanding of how interactional patterns are established and maintained. The chapter on rituals is included to support the concept of  3  reciprocal influence between beliefs, story and interaction. Developing a deeper and clearer understanding of what it is like for someone to experience something, a major goal of this study, should help reveal the underlying psychological structure, the relationship between meaning and action. Valuable information can be gained about a phenomenon without establishing a linear causal relationship.  "Behaviors dangle from premises like participles from a clause" (Hoffman, 1985, p.383). Bateson (1972) and others such as Boscolo (1986), Penn (1985), Hoffman (1985) and Bogdan (1984) refer to premises and presuppositions that shape behavior. Von Foerster (1984), Von Glaserfeld (1984), Maturana (1980) and Varela (1984) claim that knowledge and experience are the result of the assimilating consciousness' attempts to create structure. This internally generated knowledge and experience, rather than the external environment, is said to determine human action. To not be aware of the power and pervasiveness of this internally generated knowledge and experience can, in times of difficulty, blind one to other, more useful constructions of the problematic situation.  Reiss (1981) and Steinglass, Bennett, Wolin and Reiss (1987) speak of family paradigm and family identity as systems of shared beliefs and assumptions that function as deep regulatory structures which determine family interaction.  4  Drawing a connection between identity and narrative, Polkinghorne (1988) speaks of identities as evolving narrative constructions. Identity is associated with the narrative's temporal ordering of human existence (p. 152). Identity changes as the same events are placed in new configurations by alternative narratives. White (1990), Polkinghorne (1988), and Mishler (1986) speak of the centrality of the linguistic forms of story and narrative as meaning systems that generate human actions: "stories or narratives that persons live through determine their interaction and organization" (White, 1990, p.12). This study will adopt the view that, "narrative is the discourse structure in which human action receives its form and through which it is meaningful" (Polkinghorne, 1988, p. 135).  Family paradigm, in Reiss' Family Construction of Reality (1981), is described as a set of fundamental and enduring assumptions about the world in which the family lives. Similar to the concept of transference, Reiss' model of shared constructs and family paradigm is directed at explaining and predicting action: "a shared construct specifies that this family behaves in this way because, collectively, it is convinced that its social environment is (without a doubt) just this kind of a world" (p. 302). Although Reiss makes it clear that his concept of family paradigm is different from the family's perception of itself  5  (family identity), this study will use the term family identity as used by Steinglass et al (1987) to include both the family's perception of itself and its social world. Of particular importance to this study is Reiss' theory of the function of crisis in the creation of fundamental and enduring beliefs and assumptions.  Reiss (1981), drawing on the work of Kuhn (1970), suggests that when a family comes up against an experience that it cannot fit into its existing system of meaning, it will go through a process of disorganization. In the reorganization that follows, it is the construction of the crisis experience that becomes generalized over time to become the new paradigm or shared belief system which, in turn, generates new behaviors. Without crisis, in Reiss' theory, there would be no fundamental change in the family's underlying assumptions. This theory is outlined in some detail in the chapter on crisis and change.  This view of crisis as necessary for change is supported by other writers in the field of family therapy such as Pittman (1987). Some families require a fundamental change in the underlying shared belief system if there is to be healthy adaptation to the changing conditions of life. Crisis, according to Bollnow (1987), is inextricably a part of human life and has a necessary function to fulfill in it. Crisis can be an opportunity to reclaim a life that has slipped  6  away from one's own control and begin anew. When this opportunity is taken, the experience can be transforming. Herman Hesse (1963) speaks of this in his poem Steps: "And within every beginning there dwells a magic, which shelters us, and helps us to live" (p.201). In a similar fashion, Kegan (1982) suggests, from the perspective of individual development, that "crises are not sufficiently understood merely as 'illness', but better understood as a move towards growth" (p. 267).  Crisis and fundamental change, however, do not always result in the construction of beliefs that facilitate productive ways of living. Depending on how the crisis is construed by the family, it may become more adaptive and effective or, conversely, more rigid and ineffective. How a family's narrative changes during crisis will be one of the major research questions of this study.  Cultures have evolved some very effective ways of helping families deal with crisis. Funerals, for example, have the potential to transform what is initially experienced as a terrible loss into a life-giving celebration. Other losses, unfortunately, have little or no socially accepted means of transforming the meaning of the event into something life affirming. This subject will be developed further in the chapter on rituals. Families experiencing crisis around the kind of loss that has no social supports may be at greater  7  risk of construing the crisis in a way that would lead to a new family identity or narrative that is not conducive to cohesion, cooperation and effective decision making. Meaning systems have a powerful effect on thoughts, feelings and behavior. Rituals and routines, in turn, have a significant influence on story and belief systems. It would be important that those experiencing this kind of crisis for which there are few cultural supports as well as those who work with them to gain a greater understanding of the effect of these kind of crises on narrative configurations, the structures that produce meaning.  This study will focus on one particular type of loss that has few cultural supports: bankruptcy or severe financial loss. The focus of this study will be on financial loss experienced in the recession of 1981-82 because stories of money and lost fortunes are part of the heritage of many families and influence how the family sees itself and the world. We live in a world that values success and risk taking, especially in the world of work. There is, however, little common knowledge about what to do when this risk taking results in the opposite of what one expected. Bankcruptcy is a powerful word that, for many, suggests total failure, humiliation, and even degradation. Some families live out their lives in bitterness after severe financial loss. Other families pick themselves up and actually become stronger as a result of the experience.  8  Wamboldt and Reiss (1989) suggest that "the task of developing a clear, therapeutically heuristic understanding of the mechanisms whereby some marriages succeed while others fail commands extremely high priority" (p. 318).  Narrative is an important way of gaining access to how humans have constructed their experiences. Narrative meaning is a cognitive process that organizes human experiences into temporally meaningful episodes. Polkinghorne (1988) asks, "if one accepts the significance of narrative in the construction of human experience, how does one approach the study of human beings?" (p.161). This study will adopt the approach that the study of narrative as revealed in the experience of the participants is the most appropriate methodology for understanding stability and change in meaning systems as a result of severe financial crisis.  A number of theoretical perspectives will be used as background to the data analysis. Reiss (1981) uses nine dimensions to describe the different ways in which a family construes a crisis and how it generalizes this construction to problem solving behavior in everyday life. These dimensions are described in the chapter on family paradigm. Steinglass et al (1987) have proposed the concepts of systemic maturation and developmental coherence to describe stages of identity formation and how the family has balanced  9  the tasks of meeting both individual and group needs. These are explained more fully in the chapter on family identity. These theories will be used to heighten the sensitivity of the study to participant needs, doubts and aspirations.  Bennett and Wolin (1988) and others suggest that rituals and celebrations are accurate indicators of the nature of family identity. By examining changes in family celebrations before, during and after the crisis period, valuable information should be obtained about the nature of underlying presuppositions and attitudes. This subject will be explored in the chapter on rituals.  10  Constructivism or What Color was that God's Hat?  This chapter will draw on the writings of the so-called "radical constructivists" such as Von Glaserfeld (1984) and Von Forrester (1984) who insist that reality is entirely a construction of the assimilating consciousness. The author of this study does not entirely agree with their position but finds it useful in its emphasis on the power of cognitive processes such as narrative structuring in the determination of what is important and meaningful in life. In addition to the constructivists, this chapter will also address the power of larger perceptual frameworks such as religion and mythology to shape assumptions and behavior.  A British minister of the Anglican Church who grew up in China once told a story of his imprisonment in a Japanese prisoner of war camp (personal communication, April 24, 1989). During the second world war, he had been captured by the Japanese and sent to a barbed wire enclosed compound with 500 other prisoners. This became his home for five years. In 1945, life had become fairly quiet in the summer and the guards who used to supervise the work of the prisoners very closely seemed to be spending more time off in the distance. The prisoners did not pay too much attention to this and continued on as before. Everyone had been in this camp for a long time and the routines had been  11  well established. The prisoners had leaders of their own in their midst that had long since taken on the role of taskmasters since it was better to keep a distance from their captors. Only later when they thought back to this time did they realize that their guards had actually disappeared without their awareness. One bright sunny day in September, 1945, an airplane flew overhead and dropped a small number of paratroopers. There was a tremendous excitement in the camp because the airplane was not Japanese. Perhaps this was an attack by the Allied Forces! They waited to hear the sound of more aircraft that would drop the main attack force. The whole camp was gripped with an powerful silence in anticipation of a great battle between their liberators and their captors. But nothing happened. Then, from off in the distance, came a faint wisp of a voice that, for some mysterious reason, brought back memories of hearing one's father or mother at dusk calling the children in for dinner.  They couldn't believe their eyes when a teen-aged American soldier strolled into the camp with his rifle over his shoulder and a bag full of cigarettes and chocolate bars. The war had been over for a number of weeks and the Japanese had surrendered. No wonder there had been no guards. They realized later that they might have gone on with their prisoner routines for months, maybe even years before they would have realized that they no longer had to be prisoners.  12  They had become so accustomed to believing that they were powerless that it only made sense to keep on doing what they always had done.  This story is a poignant example of the constructivist position that "any continuity in the existence of an independant object [in this case the perception that the Japanese captors were preventing escape] is under all circumstances the result of operations carried out by the cognizing subject and can never be explained as a given fact of objective reality" (Von Glaserfeld, 1984, p. 34). In other words, "if reality appears to be stable, it is a characteristic of the observer rather than the observerindependant reality" (Von Glaserfeld, p. 36).  In the above story, it was not the Japanese that imprisoned them for the final two weeks but their image of reality. As in Wittgenstein's words, "A picture held us captive. And we could not get outside of it" (cited in Watzlawick, 1984 p. 325). Research with families with chronically ill members (Gonzalez & Steinglass, 1989) describes many examples of families that develop coping strategies during the crisis phase of the illness that continue to be applied for many years after the crisis is over. These strategies, useful in the crisis, become rigid and counter productive in the chronic phase. That these strategies continue even in the face of a changing world, says something about the  13  ability of the mind to construct and maintain regularities and order. In Piaget's theory, resistance to change is described by the process of assimilation. Through this process, we incorporate perceptions of new experiences into our existing cognitive framework. If necessary, we resist change even to the extent that our perceptions may be distorted to fit the existing framework. This process is a necessary part of equilibrium, the balance between stability and change. Only when assimilation is dominant does it become a problem (Labinowicz, 1980). As we shall see, it is during crisis that the hegemony of an existing cognitive strategy can be seriously challenged. A predominance of the assimilating consciousness may have been what Blake called the "mind forged manacles" (Wilbur, 1960).  Von Glaserfeld (1984, p.20) expresses some frustration that, in spite of the 300 year old writings of Kant, Hume and Vico, most scientists still consider themselves "discoverers" who unveil nature's secrets and build up the body of knowledge about an objective reality. Von Glaserfeld's interpretation of Kant's Critique of Pure  Reason is that our mind does not derive laws from nature, but imposes them on it. Wanting to demonstrate that constructivism has a long history, he discusses how, in 1710, Vico and Hume put forth the similar thesis that experience as well as objects of experience are under all circumstances the result of our ways and means of  14  experiencing (p.29). Blake, the eighteenth century poet, asserted that mental things alone are real. According to Blake, "whether the sun appears to be a round globe of fire or an innumerable company of the heavenly host depends on who is looking, not on what is objectively there. Reality is something that we make in perceiving it and we can't understand what we haven't made" (Todd, 1960, p.16). Frye (1982), suggests that we build Jerusalem by recreating the devine forms of the imagination. In our century, Bateson (1979), drawing on experiments that demonstrated how the senses can be fooled, was convinced of the impossibility of objectivity. Piaget (Labinowicz, 1980) speaks of how it is the operating of the cognitive entity which organizes its experiential world by organizing itself. Von Foerster (1984) puts forth what he calls the "postulate of cognitive homeostasis: the nervous system organizes itself so that it computes a stable reality" (p.58).  The construction of social reality is, according to Reiss (1981), not a degradation of reality but a consecration of the group. Many families, when confronted with pain and suffering beyond their ability to cope, try to create safety and make sense of their situation by constructing a view of their lives and the world that is often completely out of touch with what others around them perceive. The power of the constructed explanatory system to provide meaning and control to the family cannot be underestimated. Many an  15  experienced clinician has been unable to penetrate the creative energy and discipline bound up in these constructions.  The family, like art, is an act of the imagination. It is because the reality of the family is invented that therapy can be helpful. Bateson (1972) notes that were it not for the fact that behavior is dependent upon the meaning of events rather than upon the events themselves, there could be no psychotherapy.^Unlike literature, however, where "fiction" is a deliberate and acknowledged construction, the individual and social construction of reality tends to operate outside awareness. "We seem to feel more comfortable with the role of Columbus than that of Prometheus" (Berger, 1964). In other words, we seem to be psychologically more predisposed towards the idea that we discover reality "out there" rather than the idea that we create reality. Like the poet, which in Greek means "maker", "inventor" or "creator", we create the world we live in. The distinctions we draw are our punctuations: good/bad, acceptable/unacceptable and so on.  Frankl's experiences of life in Nazi concentration camps (1959) is probably one of the most powerful examples of how, in a positive way, what is experienced is determined by how we came to know it. In what must have one of the most difficult and tragic situations in modern western history,  16  Frankl concluded that it was possible to survive almost any experience if one were able to create meaning in the concentration camp. It is clear that even though Frankl uses the phrase "search for meaning", he appears to be talking about meaning that is created by the cognizing subject and not something that is a quality of a subjectindependant reality. Although living in the same reality, many of his fellow prisoners appeared to have made a decision that living didn't make sense any longer and died soon after. In many other difficult predicaments less extreme than Frankl's experience, some people are able to show a remarkable resiliency. What one person finds intolerable another person may see as a challenge.^This phenomenon is related to the subject of epistemology which is defined by Von Glaserfeld (1984) as, "the study of how intelligence operates, of the ways and means it employs to construct a relatively regular world out of the flow of its experience" (p.32). These "ways and means" are determined by one's system of beliefs and assumptions about the nature of one's self and the world. Nietzsche, for example, speaks of "Amor fati", love of your fate. From this point of view, if one says "no" to a single factor in life, he will have ignored the call to the hero within us all: "Live as though the day were here" (Campbell, 1988, p.391).^"The greater life's pain, the greater life's reply" (Campbell, p.161). If one were to live out a belief system such as this, the response  17  to adversity would just not be the same as it would for someone who expects a life of comfort and predictability.  The idea that what we know depends on how we came to know it is supported by a number of experiments cited by Von Foerster (1984, p.45) where, on the one hand, it is shown that humans see and hear what is not "there" and, on the other hand, do not see or hear what is "there". The well known "blind spot", the localized blindness due to the absence of photo receptors at a certain point on the retina, is a good example of how blindness is not perceived at all, neither as something present nor as something absent. An experimental repetition of a single word on audiotape 150 times to 200 subjects resulted in 758 alternate words "heard" by the subjects. These findings sound reminiscent of the teachings of Hinduism that speak of maya and illusion. From this point of view, all life is believed to be a dream. Not knowing that we are partially blind and deaf may lead us to be over confident in the accuracy of our perceptions.  Citing the "principle of undifferentiated encoding" Von Foerster (1984), claims that, "the response of a nerve cell does not encode the physical nature of the agents that caused its response. Encoded is only 'how much' at this point on my body, but not 'what'" (p. 45).^His theory, drawing on neurophysiological research, suggests that most  18  of what we call "reality" is a creation of the chemical compostion of the transmitter substances filling the synaptic gap between neurons. Since there are only 100 million sensory receptors and about 10,000 billion synapses, he concludes that we are 100 thousand times more receptive to changes in our internal than in our external envirnment. It was during a discussion of this idea with a group of grade 9 students that one of them commented that "what's outside depends on what's inside".  Von Foerster (1984) rejects the position that there is an objective reality because it cannot explain the "problem of cognition" - all the evidence that we see and hear what is not "there" and do not see and hear what is "there". In his definition of cognition, reality appears only implicit as the operation of recursive descriptions: (p.48)  cognition ^, computations of  Knowledge from the constructivist point of view is not the result of accumulating data about "the" reality out there. Knowledge is, rather, something that the organism builds up in the attempt to order the stream of experience by identifying reoccuring experiences and relatively  19  predictable relations between them - the temporal ordering of events by the narrative. My experience of finding a wet towel on the floor left by my children will be determined by whether or not I perceive this to be the same as or different from previous or future experiences. If I experience this "event" as an independant object in the flow of experience I will react to it differently than if I perceive it to be yet another manifestation of an underlying object such as the laziness of my children or the untrustworthiness of people in general.  Connections are created in the flow of experience by what Riedl (1984, p.77) calls the "particularly troublesome" habit of attributing causality - especially where one attributes unhappiness to a particular event or experience. In a discussion of the "natural history of causal expectations" (p.73), Riedl talks about how our hereditary modes of perception of space and time were selected long ago for our animal ancestors, their environment, and the problems facing them. For their purposes a simple form of perception was sufficent. Einstein, however, has shown that our perception of space and time is greatly oversimplified. Reidl suggests, "This world, as Einstein taught us, contains a space-time continuum, also known as a four-dimensional space, curved back onto itself. Although physics unquestionably proved it to exist, it can never be conceived of by the human mind" (p. 78). Reidl warns that this and  20  other examples should alert us to the limitations of our modes of perception which can only be rough approximations of the structure of this world.  The perception of causes makes it more difficult for us to see our part in the determination of what is deemed to be, for example, unpleasant, unnecessary, immoral or otherwise less than perfect. Reliance on this linear simplistic view of the relationship between people and events masks the more complex view of interactions possible in a circular perceptual framework. This latter orientation includes the awareness of our particpation in the construction of what we experience. Reidl, discussing our perception of causes, says, "not only is it responsible for a currently unbridgeable split in our image of the world, but it has also brought us a sociological and environmental malaise from which we clearly have not been able to extricate ourselves" (p. 80). My understanding of this "unbridgeable split in our image of the world" is the dualistic separation of good/bad, us/them, right/wrong, success/failure and so on that has profound implications for our personal, social, community and global relationships.  A recent example of this split for me was the annual awards ceremony at a junior high school where I was a counsellor. While 400 students were in the gymnasium receiving their academic awards and listening to their proud teachers  21  extolling their virtues and intelligence, another 200 were outside starting fights while they waited to be let in and get their report cards after the ceremony was over. They knew that there was no reason to attend a ceremony where they would receive nothing. Another 100 never even bothered to come to school that day because they knew that their report card would have nothing positive to say. A number of teachers who had to deal with the angry students outside were upset because these students were perceived as ruining the day that should have been the positive ending of the school year. What seemed clear to me was that the ceremony inside for the "successes" could not have happened if it were not for the "failures" out in the parking lot. I wanted to thank them for making those kids inside look good. "This unbridgeable split in our image of the world" had inadvertantly created a huge number of kids who have no vested interest in trying to be the best that they can be. These "failures" were being blamed in a simplistic way for a problem that is a part of a complex system of interrelationships where each depends on the other to help define their identity.  The inability to extricate ourselves from this dualistic view of the world is related to our lack of awareness that we build our world. As quoted in the chapter on "Purpose", Von Glaserfeld (1984) claims that, "Radical constructivism maintains - not unlike Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason -  22  that the operations by which we assemble our experiential world can be explored and that an awareness of this operating can help us do it differently and, perhaps, better" (p.18). This lack of awareness has something to do with the power of our beliefs about the objectivity of the world we perceive and, unknowingly, have created. If, as in the minister's story of the Japanese prisoner of war camp, we are unaware that we have created our own prison bars and believe them to be real apart from our creation, we are not likely to get up and walk through them. Perceiving is creating and, "if I don't see that I am blind, I am blind; but if I see that I am blind, I see" (Von Foerster, 1984, p.43).  Joseph Campbell comes from a different tradition than the constructivists but there are many similarities between his thinking and theirs. Campbell (1988) says: Shakespeare said that art is a mirror held up to nature... that nature is your nature, and all of these wonderful poetic images of mythology are referring to something in you. When your mind is simply trapped by the image out there so that you never make the reference to yourself, you have missed the image.... The inner world is the world of your requirements and your energies and your structure and your possibilities that meets the  23  outer world. And the outer world is the field of your incarnation (p. 57).  I take this to mean that stories and myths, although talking about things out there in the world, are actually symbolic representations of the operations of our collective cognitive entities. Myths, then, are not only communications about what traditions believe people should do and think but also a statement about how the story teller, myth maker and people of a culture have constructed reality.  Consider the following story about the Nigerian trickster god, Edshu. This god walks down a road separating two fields wearing a hat that is colored red on one side and blue on the other side. He then turns his hat around and walks back so that the same farmers see the same color. When the farmers in the field go into the village in the evening, they say, "Did you see that god with the blue hat?" The others say, "No, no, he had a red hat on." They then get into a fight. When they are brought before the king for judgment, this trickster god appears and says "Its my fault, I did it, and I meant to do it. Spreading strife is my greatest joy "(Campbell, 1988, p. 219).  This is a wonderful example of a story where different people look at the same thing and see something different.  24  The different perceptions are attributed in this story to the trickster god who deliberately fools the observers. The overt moral of the story suggests that if you find yourself in conflict over differing perceptions of the same event it is probably Edshu or some other trickster god that has set you up. If, as Cambell says, the story is actually a mirror held to the operations of our cognitive entities, the message I receive here is similar to that put forward by Anderson and Goolishian (1989) about the difficulties of reaching and maintaining agreement. In a group or in my family, I perceive events differently than others. The inability to reach consensus about the color of the hat is externalized and attributed to a god. The trickster god is a symbol for that part of ourselves that, for some reason, needs strife or is unable or unwilling to find agreement in our collective construction of reality. It describes a group where the members are unable to share their experiential worlds and find solutions that they can all agree on and believe in.  Von Foerster (1984), in his discussions of the "principle of undifferentiated encoding" mentioned earlier, draws on neurophysiological research to show that all sensory receptors, our "bridge" to the outside world, are "blind" as to the quality of their stimulation, responsive only as to their quantity:  25  "Out there" there is no light and no color, there are only electromagnetic waves; "out there" there is no sound and no music, there are only periodic variations of the air pressure; "out there" there is no heat and no cold, there are only moving molecules with more or less mean kinetic energy. Finally, for sure, "out there", there is no pain (p.46).  When someone kicks me in the shins during a soccer game, I have a little difficulty with the suggestion that there is no pain. It does make sense to me, however, when I consider that there is a range of options when it comes to giving meaning to the pain. Kegan (1982), who associates himself with the constructive-developmental tradition of Dewey, Mead and Piaget, speaks of this issue from a slightly different perspective. The existence of pain is acknowledged but its meaning is perceived as constructed: Pain - psychological pain, surely, but perhaps even physical pain as well - is about the resistance to the motion of life. Our attempt to deny what has happened and is happening causes us pain. Our refusal to accept deviation from our plans or anticipation causes us pain.... Any movement which sets us against the movement of life of which we are a part, in which we are  26  ultimately implicated, to which we are finally obligated, will cause us pain (p. 266).  Bollnow (1987) suggests that crisis and the accompanying pain and loss are part of being human. From his point of view, the pain is the price we pay to recapture our essential lives. Bollnow and Kegan's messages sound very similar to the that put forward by the great religious traditions. Themes that pervade many of them are what may be called eternal truths: that wisdom comes from privation and suffering, from pain and death comes life and from sacrifice, bliss. Much of what may be wrong with modern civilization is the attempt to deny our mortality and the imperfections of life. A constructed reality that includes the expectation of perfection, presupposes the eradication of everything imperfect. A world thus created divides everything into what is acceptable and what is not. The categorization of experience into good/bad, heaven/earth, health/illness, intelligent/stupid, ugly/beautiful, cooperative/resistant has, ironically, helped to create a world of suffering. The reality thus constructed is dominated by violent conflict between these opposed punctuations of the flow of experience.  The Tao Te Ching teaches that to exist everything needs its opposite. Paradoxically, there is something in the nature of attempted perfection that leads to imperfection. The  27  great religious traditions recognize this. Buddhism is based on the belief that all life is suffering and that this suffering must be embraced if life is to be fully lived. Nirvana, a psychological state described in the tradition of Hinduism in which one is released from desire and fear, is characterized by acceptance of death and suffering, the recognition of the radiance of one eternity through all things. Christ said that he who loses his life, gains his life. Only by accepting death can one be truly alive. It is Christ's woundedness, his "imperfection" that becomes his greatest strength and inspiration to those that follow his teachings. A shaman (cited in Campbell, 1988) of a Caribou Inuit tribe named Igjugarjuk said that "only true wisdom lives far from mankind, out in the great loneliness, and can be reached only through suffering. Privation and suffering alone open the mind to all that is hidden to others" (Campbell, p. 1). Varela (1984), in a discussion of paradox, talks about learning as leaping out of one's fixation at one level of experience or another to a larger domaine where one can consider one's beliefs and assumptions with detachment. Helping to get us unstuck from, for example, the idea that being wounded is weak or suffering is bad is the gift of the above teachers who "can convey the unity or circularity, the tangledness of the situation so vividly that the student is forced to leap out of it" (p.314).  28  One of the purposes of this study will be to increase the awareness for both the reader and the participant of the operations by which the experiential world of a family system is constructed in crisis. As such, it will be a study of the epistemology of a family system, a study of the ways and means it employs to construct a relatively regular pattern out of the flow of its experience. This study will focus on the story of decisions, agreements and shared beliefs have been arrived at about the "similarities, differences, repetitions, invariances, regularities, categories and patterns that punctuate the flow of experience into existing unitary objects and the relationships between them" (Von Glaserfeld, 1984, p.38). Polkinghorne (1988), in a discussion of the importance of narrative in understanding human experience sounds similar to Von Glaserfeld: "Experience is an integrated construction produced by the realm of meaning which interpretively links recollections, perceptions and expectations" (p. 16). By examining the narratives of the participants, this study will examine the ecology of ideas (Bogdan, 1984) or how events have been arranged to create a meaningful configuration.  Keeping in mind the point of view presented by the religious traditions, one of the results of the study may be to create the context for a greater acceptance of life. A greater awareness of the constructed nature of the perceived world  29  and the choices one really does have when it comes to interpreting the meaning of events may make more possible some perspectives that had previously seemed unattainable or not considered at all. An example of a belief system that this author has always admired is to be found in a description of the Inuit people in a book called Beyond the  High Hills (1961): To endure and succeed in such a life, a hunter must be resourceful and hardy, he must have faith in himself, a lot of optimism, a certain fatalism, and the ability to live each day and enjoy the good it brings and not spoil it with worry about the morrow (p.24)  The Inuit people have known much about death, hunger and cold and have learned to endure a life where many would find no meaning: And yet, there is only One great thing, The only thing: To live; To see in huts and on journeys The great day that dawns, The light that fills the world.  30  Crisis and Change  This chapter and the next, which deals with family identity, are included in this study for several reasons. The first is that family identity, the family's view of itself, and family paradigm, the family's view of its social world, are two interrelated aspects of the group level construction of reality. The second is that the theories of Reiss (1981), outlined in this chapter, and the theories of Steinglass et al (1987), outlined in the next chapter, will be used to provide a background conceptual framework for the analysis of the narratives obtained from the participants about their experience of crisis.  Reiss in his book, The Family Construction of Reality (1981), attempts to develop a model of family change that explores how the family's belief systems are developed and how they are related to the way the family members interact with each other and their social environment. He says: The central idea around which our model is built is that the family, through the course of its own development, fashions fundamental and enduring assumptions about the world in which it lives. The assumptions are shared by all family members, despite the disagreements, conflicts, and differences that exist in the family. Indeed, the  31  core of an individual's membership in his own family is his acceptance of, belief in, and creative elaboration of these abiding assumptions. When a member distances himself from these assumptions, when he can see no further possibilitiy for creatively elaborating them, he is diluting his own membership and begins a process of alieniation from his family. ^These shared assumptions of family life are rarely explicity or conscious in the experience of any family. Only rarely can we, as observers, know of these assumptions directly. They are manifest, more typically, in a mixture of fleeting experiences of the family and in its enduring patterns of action - action within its own boundaries, and between the family and the outside world (p.1). Said in other words, family paradigm describes an aspect of the family's interpersonal construction of reality or family narrative. Although similar to the concept of family identity, which is related to a family's sense of itself, family paradigm is meant to be similar to the concept of transference in individual psychotherapy. The concept of transference is more appropriate for individuals in a doctor-patient context but Reiss (1981) finds its emphasis on the past and irrationality useful. Shared constructs and  32  family paradigm involve the same kind of transfer of feelings about persons and situations from the past onto the present. Like transference, Reiss' model of shared constructs and family paradigm is directed at explaining and predicting action: "a shared construct specifies that this family behaves in this way because, collectively, it is convinced that its social environment is (without a doubt) just this kind of a world" (p. 382). Reiss, as well as Steinglass et al (1987) put forward the theory that the family's shared conception of the world plays a central regulatory role in family life.  Family paradigm, in constructivist terms, is the product of the group's assimilating consciousness which constructs a stable world out of the flow of experience. The paradigm is the result of the family's epistemological search for patterns, connections and similarites in its experiences of its social world. It is this narrative configuration that makes sense of all that they have been, who they are and will be. Reiss (1981) uses the terms shared constructs or shared images to describe the family's fantasies or beliefs about the nature of particular situations. Family paradigm is like a meta rule and is meant to describe a set of general framing assumptions about the fundamental properties of the perceptual world that underly the family's shared constructs. Reiss' conception of family paradigm is similar to Polkinghorne's (1988) description of narrative as the  33  essential structure of experience. These assumptions, Reiss and Polkinghorne suggest, are usually not at the level of conscious awareness in that they are not often available to the family members for discussion or analysis. In spite of or perhaps because of being out of awareness, there exists a consensus about the underlying character of the experienced world. The term consensus in this context does not, however, refer to surface agreements on specific issues but to a more pervasive underlying consensus on the possibilites for agreement and disagreement. This corresponds to the point of view expressed in the literature on narrative which suggests that the story which unifies experience is often out of the participant's awareness.  Reiss' theory (1981) of the coordinated construction of reality and the development of family paradigm draws on Kuhn's (1970) emphasis on the role of changes in the group's shared explanatory model in returning a group from a state of crisis to a state of productive routine. According to this theory, groups appear to be more open to new influences during crises. Fundamental shifts in their construction of reality tend to occur at these times and, if the response to crisis and the accompanying explanations are successful in keeping the group intact, these shifts become a stable part of the underlying belief system of the group. Reiss' theory also draws on the tradition of Berger and Luckman (1966)  34  which emphasizes the subjective nature of social constructions.  Families differ tremendously in their long term responses to what appear to be very similar stresses. Some become, over time, more confident, effective and loving while others become progressively more locked into rigid unhappy lives. The fundamental process by which a family recovers from crisis is the collaborative construction of reality. This process is described by Reiss (1981) as having three phases. The first is the formation of the crisis construct in response to family disorganization. The second phase is the social abstraction of the the crisis construct to become the family's set of general framing assumptions. This is the family paradigm. The third phase is the extrapolation of the general principles of the family's belief system to specific situations. This is called the ordinary construct and is roughly equated with the family's problem solving style in a particular situation. Reiss developed his theory in experimental situations to explain the observed differences in the information processing behaviors of families of "normals" compared to families with schizophrenics and families with character disorders. In this research, special attention was paid to differences in the form of the responses rather than the content. While the family's solution to the experimental puzzle (the product) was of interest, it was the process, the strategies  35  and styles that each family used to develop their final product that Reiss found most useful in explaining the broad differences in their underlying systems of explanation (p. 191). According to Reiss, the familes of normals were successful in all three phases of information processing: gathering, interpretation, and exchange. The family processes supporting this competence were a sharing of ideas during hypothesis testing, a willingness to take risks, a modest level of acknowledgment of each other's remarks, flexible speech styles and the use of effective information-exchange strategies" (p.55).  In contrast, families of schizophrenics (consensus sensitive) and character disorders (interpersonally distance sensitive) were much less competent in these processes. Significantly, Reiss (1981) suggests that his measurements of a family's paradigm cannot be explored solely as a composite of the intellectual, perceptual and personality characteristics of individual family members. They appear to be measurements of a family level phenomenon. This chapter will explore Reiss' theory of how different underlying belief systems shape interactional behavior so that some families become effective problem solvers and some turn out with many fewer skills.  36  Family Stress and Disorganization According to Reiss (1981), the process by which paradigms or narrative configurations become established in family life, the way in which the family collaborates in and adheres to its construction of reality is tied to the concepts of family stress, disorganization and crisis. Stress is defined as an event external to the family and crisis is an internal phenomenon sometimes in reaction to external stress. It is during severe family disorganization that conditions are created which favor the creation of new and very general conceptions of itself and the environment. During crisis, previous modes of construing the environment fail and new constructs, new attempts to explain the world emerge as the family's active response to extreme stress. Explanations that restore the integrity of the family in the wake of disorganization will continue to be employed because they are perceived to have held the family ship together.  Stress, from the constructivist point of view, cannot be defined by an examination of the stressor events alone. It is the meaning given to the story told about these events that identifies them as stressors. According to Pittman (1987), a stress is a force that tends to distort. Stresses are, however, "somewhat specific to the system in question; that is, what is stressful for one family may not be for another...It depends enormously upon the values and expectation of the family and the nature of the  37  relationships" (p.4). If the socially constructed meaning of an event suggests that it will produce a substantial change or alteration in the life patterns of the family, then it will be experienced as stressful. Important for this study is the observation that an external event construed by some families to be stressful is not by others. The decision is often not in awareness but it is, from a constructivist perspective, a decision, nonetheless.  Severe family disorganization, as opposed to simple conflict, is characterized by the loosening of fundamental sharing of the definition of reality, the narrative ordering of events. Prior to crisis, the family is characterized by implicit agreement about the rules and roles of daily life who does what and when and what kinds of things are permissible or not. The power of the underlying agreements to implicitly regulate interactional process is due, to a large extent, to their unquestioned acceptance as part of the objective world - the way things are, always have been and always will. Drawing on Kantor and Lehr (1975), Reiss (1981) describes how, in disorganization, family interaction patterns lose their capacity to implicitly shape experience and provide meaning. Unable to rely on implicit agreement to control interaction, family members resort to explicit rules and more rigid systems of control. Following Maturana's thinking (1980), the implicit family is structurally coupled - that is to say, each member shapes  38  the other. The explicit family relies on instructive interaction, an attempt to influence or control directly, which doesn't work. The implicit family works because there is an overlapping of boundaries so that the normally closed information systems are fused. This shift to explicitness is distinguished from simple conflict which often can occur without disturbing the underlying shared agreements. An example of a surface conflict that does not disturb an underlying implicit belief system would be an argument between a husband and wife about what kind of expectations to put on their children with regard to academic marks. Even though they may disagree quite vigorously, perhaps even violently, about whether their children should be doing one half hour or one hour of homework every night, there may still be an implicit belief that academic performance is important, that parents have a right to impose expectations on their children and, further, that marital relationships can never be very satisfying. As long as these underlying beliefs are undisturbed, the fundamental sharing remains intact. If any one of these implicit beliefs were to be seriously questioned, the marital relationship would be in crisis and either open to fundamental change or disintegration.  It is the implicit nature of social processes that give social constructions of reality their objectivity. Largely outside of awareness, this frame determines what we see and  39  what we do not. As will be discussed in the section titled "rituals", interactional behavior has the ability to objectify the family's beliefs about itself and the world. Rituals and daily routines implicitly shape and are shaped by the underlying beliefs. When interactional continuity is disrupted and loses its capacity to provide meaning, the family must often resort to explicit, more coercive forms of relationships. When this happens, the objectivity of the family's construction of reality, the "way things have always been" is called into question and no longer has the power to implicitly guide behavior. Resistance and power struggles result from basic changes in, for example, the balance of power in who defines the day-to-day situations of family life as well as the less frequent but important ceremonials.  As attention shifts away from objectified conceptions of social reality, the family is unable to focus on managing identifiable tasks and instead dissipates its energy on infighting. Tasks that had previously been carried out as a matter of course now become a source of conflict. Factors that influence that family's construction of the crisis are its interactional complexity at the time of stress and the quality of its ties with the environment. At an advanced stage of disorganization, the family or someone in it is now perceived as a tyrant or source of enduring difficulty for  40  most members. Information processing and problem solving become ineffective. The family is in crisis.  Crisis Construct The collaborative construction of reality begins with what Reiss (1981) calls the crisis construct. This construct serves to coordinate each members's description and comprehension of the crisis itself, the family's response to the crisis, the action that is required to surmount it, and the resources on which such action can depend. This new shared belief system that explains the structure of the social world will replace the belief system that failed during the crisis.  Reiss (1981) suggests that the crisis construct is different from other shared constructs because it focuses on the family itself as opposed to the social world which is the focus of the family paradigm. Shared constructs in Reiss' theory are, as has already been discussed, focused on some aspect of life outside the family. The crisis construct is closer to what will be called family identity in this study. As such, it consists of the family's growing conception of its own crisis and the possibilities, if any, for its future recovery. Because the previous shared belief system has lost its explanatory power, the crisis construct is formed during a time when the family is relatively cut off from its past meaning system. If the past is excluded over a long  41  period of time, however, this can lead to serious problems for the family. Reiss uses the term "degradation" to describe those parts of family ceremonials which conceal from the family aspects of its past - particularly painful aspects associated with crisis (p.250). He views families with a very limited sense of their own origins and development as being limited to being responders and incapable of seeing themselves as originators. Being cut off from the past makes the family more vulnerable to the stressor events but also makes it possible for a new construction of reality to replace the one that is no longer useful. This very vulnerability becomes a window of opportunity to break through the cognitive homeostasis, the regularities constructed by the cognitive entity. Pittman (1987) has a similar view of crisis as an opportunity for change: A crisis results when a stress comes to bear upon a system and requires change outside the system's usual repertoire... The boundaries are loosened.... Rules and roles become confused.... Both expectations and prohibitions are relaxed.... Goals and values lose importance and may even be lost altogether. Unresolved conflicts are revived and become the focus of much attention.... Crisis is, [however] according to Webster, "a state of things in which a decisive change one way or the other is impending". Crisis is the turning point  42  at which things will either get better or get worse. It is a concept central to the understanding of change....In Chinese the word "crisis" is made up of the characters for "danger" and "opportunity"....It is not really possible to have change without crisis (p.7).  Keith and Whitaker (1988), in their discussion of the symbolic structure of families, speak of the crises of birth and death as the "paradigmatic wheels of change": Birth is a prototype for the developmental psychosis, the experience of being out of our heads. The experience is a nonpathological, culturally invisible, multiperson, family psychosis... In this birth experience, we change or are changed because we lose our conscious grip on ourselves. The experience takes the family over. The quantum-jump qualtity that a birth stimulates is a paradigm for other quantum-jump experiences symbolically related to birth experiences. Thus profound personal experiences are seen as "rebirths" (p. 438).  This view of crisis as an opportunity for rebirth and rejuvenation is similar to Bollnow's (1987) view that crisis is an essential and necessary part of being human. Crisis  43  becomes the means by which we recapture a life that has slipped away from our control.  Returning to Reiss' (1981) theory, another aspect of the crisis construct is the involvement of outsiders or outside aspects of individual members. It is as if the operationally closed information system described by Maturana and Varela (1980) becomes temporarily open to outside influence. Often these outsiders would have no place and no influence at another time. The involvement of outside aspects of individual members refers to those skills and attitudes and individual perceptions of the family myth (Wamboldt & Wolin, 1988, p. 149) that have not been brought into play in the implicit phase of family functioning. Anderson and Goolishian's (1988) concept of the "story as yet unsaid" (p. 381) refers to the potential constructions of reality that are available to family members but unused until the opportunity is right for these potentials to be realized. From this point of view, crisis would open up the possibilities for new themes, narratives and the creation of new histories.  Reiss (1981) describes reorganization after crisis as being shaped by activity in three dimensions: First, an evolving, unspoken and implicit template or set of standards called recognition versus revelation. Second, the enactment of reorganization is called collective versus personal action.  44  Third, the resources of reorganization is termed environment versus family.  The Template for Reorganization: Recognition Versus Revelation. The first and most important underlying dimension for the collaborative construction of the crisis describes a cognitive process and ranges from recognition and growth through experience to revelation and discovery through meaning. A family that begins the process of reorganization through discovery will tend to be able to clearly identify the disorganizing stress itself, separate from the interactional processes of ordinary life. (Pittman [1987], as well, suggests that the stress must be identified in order for effective recovery to take place.) Information will be gathered from the environment and evidence will be pieced together with the belief that it will all make sense eventually. The families described by Reiss (1981) as examples of the recognition type were able to learn from the experience and coping responses of others. They were also better able to acknowledge their own feelings of loss and recover emotionally from the crisis. Recognition families tend to construe the crisis in such a way that they will eventually gain more confidence in their competence at handling difficult experiences. As it may already be apparent, it would appear that Reiss does not go so far as Von Glaserfeld (1984)and Von Foerster (1984) in their  45  insistance that reality is entirely a construction of the cognitive entity. Reiss suggests that the environment, an external reality, can be "discovered" with careful analysis.  At the other end of this dimension, families collaborate in the construction of reality employing revelation and discovery through meaning. This approach to construing meaning appears to have less to do with learning from the environment than it does with unresolved issues from the past. Reidl (1984) refers to this characteristic when he refers to those for whom the certainty of knowledge has been replaced by the certainty of faith. The stressor events which are external to family interaction are not clearly identified. Meaning is not construed in relation to an accurate assessment of information from the environment. The significance of the experience tends to have an intense symbolic meaning which is arrived at by connecting this event with some other significant event in the past. In constructivist terms, the family is constructing an underlying object of which the most recent crisis event and and the one from the past are two manisfestations. Because the family is less aware of the nuances of similarity and difference in the environment there is a tendency to equate a,b,c with a,b,c,x, - x being the factor which would require for detection, paying more accurate attention to the information available in the context. This type of family may be more deserving than others of Whitaker's phrase,  46  "drawing on the past, the only future they knew" (Keith & Whitaker, 1988, p. 435). Relatively closed off from the environment, they have only their experience to draw on. Grief and loss tend not to be dealt with because the crisis was believed to be somehow fore-ordained - a pattern looking for a time and place to re-emerge. Because the definition of the crisis to be solved is not based on sufficient information from the environment, issues will continue to be unresolved as they have been in the past. This will provide fuel for future difficulties in learning from the environment. Because of early closure, the construction of the crisis is not complex enough to provide guidance to the problem solving process. The narrative is not comprehensive enough to include more than a narrow range of the possible factors. The family story is at risk of developing a superficial plot with shallow, black and white characterizations.  As opposed to the recognition family which learns from direct experience that the social environment can be understood, the reaction of revelation families does not involve as much direct contact with the social world. The dependance on an inner symbolic meaning for the construction of reality is associated with a sense of being out of control of events. Without the benefit of information about differences in the present context, a family cannot be meta to its past or present. Nor can a future that is different  47  be imagined. Clearly, the recognition template for reorganization after crisis has advantages over the revelation template. The recognition type family has many similarities to what Reiss calls the "environment sensitive family" that: experiences the problem "out there". The sought after solution will be a product of logical connections perceived in an existential space outside the family; there is no necessity to experience them as continuous with the family's own previous solutions, in the recent or remote past. There is a prime valuation on evidence rather than explanation, and so a maximum exposure to ambiguity and uncertainty is sought in order to strengthen and generalize any tentatively held hypotheses (p.76).  This kind of family would appear to have a much better chance to become more loving, confident and effective in the reorganization after crisis.  The revelation type family appears to closely resemble what Reiss calls the "consensus-sensitive" family. He describes these types of families as those: who experience and utilize explanation and solution itself as major mechanisms for maintaining family coherence. Thus, they strive  48  to sustain unbroken continuity in their explanation of events; closure is early and often premature, even when they are confronted with the most unusual problems (p.70).  Collective Versus Personal Action.  As the family reorganizes its construction of reality, the recognition and revelation approaches become further differentiated on a behavioral dimension which describes whether interaction tends to be collective or personal. Recognition families working collectively are able to maximize their effectiveness as a group. The group problemsolving effectiveness, like any well functionning team, would tend to exceed the effectiveness of the individuals working independantly. Recognition families working at reconstructing reality as individuals will lack the primary sharing process in both formulating solutions and believing in them. Using the narrative metaphor, they will be unable to create the single unifying story that can bring coherence to the raw undifferentiated mass of experience. Individuals will still be united by their shared emphasis on gathering evidence for their beliefs but because of the lack of continuous sharing characteristic of families working collectively, their separate experiences will not be reconciled. The underlying agreement is, Reiss (1981) suggests, that they never can be.  49  Revelation families can also reorganize the construction of crisis collectively or individually. The revelation family that reconstructs the world collectively would be much like the consensus-sensitive family described earlier. The revelation family that reconstructs the world individually would still be characterized by symbolic meanings attached to the crisis events. These meanings would be, however, deeply personal and private. This type of family shares some of the characteristics of what Reiss calls the "interpersonally distance-sensitive" family - one in which the family members do not live in the same experiential world. Isolated from each other, they do not share a common set of goals or a common image of who they are. Both types of revelation families will, however, tend to experience themselves in a field of incomprehensible forces and meanings. The members of a family that feels connected will tend to view each other as protectors against a hostile world although one of Reiss' studies (1981, p.42) suggests that consensus-sensitive family members have much more difficulty with each other than they are willing to admit to each other openly. The members of a revelation family that is disconnected would have to look elsewhere for support in times of difficulty.  Family Versus Environment. A third differentiation in the way that families construe the crisis they have experienced is how they come to  50  understand the sources of energy or strength for their own recovery - the family or the environment. Ideally, the family would discover its own strength and also find the social environment supportive. Reiss suggests that the recognizing family will tend to discover its own inner resources based on experience in the the present world. The revelation family will find inner strength by becoming symbolically tied to its past. The past is chosen as a resource presumably because the present is not fully experienced and, therefore, not fully understood. If a revelation family construes reality in such a way that the environment is the main resource for reorganization, Reiss has found that one person or event tends to be singled out and invested with unusual knowledge, power or significance. The recognition family, more in touch with the social world and able to handle ambiguity, tends to find significance in a greater range of people and events or takes longer to attribute significance to people or events.  Abstraction of the Family Paradigm The pattern and texture of the return to implicit functioning, to full reorganization, Reiss (1981) suggests, is organized by the mode of crisis resolution itself. The process of resolving the crisis becomes paradigmatic, a model for guiding the elaboration of shared beliefs when the family is confronted by stress in specific future situations. The crisis construct, as described by the three  51  dimensions just discussed, becomes a pattern for organizing perception and experience by processes of social abstraction. In these processes, essential aspects of experience are selected, highlighted, transformed and deleted. Reiss uses the terms interpolation and exterpolation to describe the means by which the family story's inner coherence is increased and the narrative extended.  Reconstruction, then, begins with a system of explanations and experiences which form the family's conception of the crisis and its own response. The end stage of social abstraction yields a set of framing assumptions of much greater generality about the perceptual world. This family paradigm, discussed previously, can be described as the family's understanding of itself and its world and the family's shared conception of the relationships among both simple and complex events in its life and the world. Reiss describes the abstracting process using three dimensions: coherence, integration and reference.  Coherence: Stable Versus Intrinsic Movement. This dimension describes families that range from stable to intrinsic movement. Families high on the stable end of this continuum have an underlying belief that there is a knowable, structural coherence underlying and explaining the experienced world. Families of this kind are similar to the  52  recognizing families described in the discussion of the crisis construct in the way that adding new experience is not perceived to change the essential nature of prior experience. Families on the stable end of this continuum, in constructivist terms perceive separate experiences as different manifestations of the same underlying object. Unlike the revelation families, however, this construction of reality is one that leads to a greater sense of mastery. "Old and new experience may be added together to gain a clearer picture of an underlying reality. The underlying reality only becomes clearer and closer as it is approached. Its stability and emerging clarity provide the prime motivation for continuing to add new experience to what has already been understood" (Reiss, 1981, p. 209). The plot structure of the family story has a continuity that is understood, often implicitly, by all. Because previous exploration of the external world has resulted in an increased sense of competence and mastery, it would only make sense to continue this strategy.  The other pole of the coherence dimension is called intrinsic movement. This describes families who experience an underlying reality that changes. In constructivist terms, the "stability" constructed by the assimilating consciousness is one that is not stable but, rather, always changing. Experiences are not perceived as having a coherent pattern. Families who construct realities in this  53  way are similar to those described as revelation families who tend to have less direct contact with the world. A family at the intrinsic movement end of the coherence dimension will not systematically gather information in the experiential world because of the belief that experience cannot be added together in a meaningful way. There is no place in the family story for gathering information. The resulting conception of the perceptual world or plot will tend to be simple and lack complexity. A family at the stable end of the coherence dimension will seek experiences that can be connected because of the assumption of a stable underlying reality. With a greater range of information a more complex description of the world will tend to emerge. This more complex description will be more useful in providing direction to the family.  Integration: Universal Versus Particular. The second dimension of the abstracting process is called integration: universal versus particular. If an individual has the capacity to identify at least one element in the experience of other family members that correspond to his or her own, this will assure potential access to the entire experiential world of the others. If there is a quality of empathic reciprocality among family members, it can be said that their perceptual world is unitary. The collective response to the crisis becomes, through the process of social abstraction, transformed into a shared conception  54  that the experience of all members is univeral and integrated. If the abstracting process of the crisis construct is individually based, it will enhance each members's sense that his own world is separate from the others and that a comparable isolation exists for all members of the family. It is important, however, to "emphasize that the segregated family is united by its shared conception of the world as particularistic and segregated" (Reiss, 1981, p.215).  Reference: Solipsistic Versus Empiricist. In the social abstraction process, the family tends to see either itself or the environment as the source of its energy and strength. At one extreme families will generalize this conceptual framework in such a way that they "regard themselves as the framework for all movement in the perceptual world and as the center of all coordinates of the experienced space in which they live" (Reiss, 1981, p.217). These families, called solopsistic, have an awareness that reality is constructed but, at the extreme end of the dimension, there is a tendency to disregard the external environment as a source of important information. "Empiricist families, by contrast, regard themselves as the objects moving in a perceptual world whose coordinates are defined by others" (p.218).  55  The internal or solipsistic perspective has advantages and disadvantages. Responding to the crisis by seeing itself as the primary resource, the family will tend to perceive its options as being defined only by its own search for information. Goals tend to be more clearly defined and not tied to the success or failure of a particular means of achieving them. This allows the family-as-resource approach to survive reversals that would discourage families construing the environment as the primary resource. The disadvantage of the internal perspective is that useful information in the social environment may be disregarded if it does not closely correspond to the reality constructed by the family.  The external or empiricist modality also has advantages and disadvantages. A family on the stable end of the coherence dimension, and on the empiricist end of the reference dimension, will feel it is adding experience together in order to approach a reality residing in an external world. The disadvantage of the external perpective is that information from the environment may be accepted uncritically, leaving the family at the mercy of whoever appears to have more power or authority. This type of family appears to be more dependant on the existance of externally created opportunities. In the reference dimension, a position somwhere between the extremes of the  56  internal and external perspectives would appear to be most conducive to effective reorganization.  Assuming that the family is still intact after the crisis, when the process of social abstraction is completed and the family has returned to a state of implicit functioning, the family paradigm is in place. Choosing a path along the dimensions of coherence, integration and reference, the family will have left behind the state of uncertainty and intense feelings brought about by the crisis and reestablished a stable world where underlying shared beliefs once again shape behavior without the necessity of explicit rules. This does not mean that the family is free from conflict. On the contrary, there may be conflict over a number of issues. Underneath conflict over, for example, how long a husband's parents can stay in a family's house, there may be agreement that adults cannot refuse a parental request. Should there be a loosening of this implicit agreement, there would be less chance that the family would successfully recover from the crisis.  Ordinary Construct Reiss (1981) uses the term "ordinary construct" to describe the family's problem solving strategies in specific situations. (Up until now we have been discussing underlying cognitive strategies. Ordinary construct, as described by Reiss, is as much concerned with actual  57  behavior as beliefs and assumptions). Through a process of extrapolation and interpolation, whereby certain crucial elements of the family's explanatory system are abstracted to particular contexts, the family paradigm shapes behavior in everyday life. Three dimensions are used to describe the family's problem solving behaviors: configuration, coordination and closure. The particular strategies that a family uses to respond to the world grow out of the crisis construct and family paradigm. These dimensions show how the family's shared conception of the world plays a central regulatory role in family life.  Configuration: Complex Versus Simple.  The first dimension is called configuration. It refers to the different experiences that families have when confronted with the same situation. Some families are able to grasp subtle and complex nuances in their environment and make connections between previous and present events in such a way that the world seems predictable. This kind of family is characterized by optimism and a sense of mastery. At the other end of the dimension, families experience the world as chaotic and unpatterned. Typically, this latter kind of family is not able to pick up on the complex relationships in the environment and tends to see the world in simplistic terms: black and white, either-or, and right and wrong.  58  The high configuration family would tend to have the cognitive, perceptual and interpersonal skills to adequately gather, interpret and exchange information about the social world. This kind of family could be described as "subtle, detailed, and highly structured" (Reiss, 1981, p.74). The family that is low on the configuration dimension would not be effective as a group even though the individuals may be very competent on their own. This type of family could be described as "coarse, simple and chaotic" (p.74). In this dimension, family problem solving effectiveness is measured by the additional contribution the family group makes to whatever the individuals could achieve by acting separately. Clearly, in order for this to happen, there has to be a high level of cohesion and trust (Johnson and Johnson, 1987).  It is obvious that this dimension shares characteristics with other dimensions of the crisis construct and family paradigm. Families at the complex end of the configuration dimension will have construed the crisis as a recognition family and will have abstracted the crisis construct on the stable end of the coherence dimension. Families at the simple end of the configuration dimension will have tended to use revelation as a means of constructing the crisis and will have abstracted the crisis construct on the intrinsic movement end of the coherence dimension. Environmentsensitive families would tend to score high on this  59  dimension while consensus-sensitive and interpersonal distance-sensitive families would score low.  Coordination: Coordinate Versus Isolated. This dimension refers to family members' ability and willingness to develop problem solutions similar to each other's and the extent to which members are able to reconcile separate images of the world - for example, their images of their families of origin. It refers to a pervasive experience by all members that they are, for the moment, in the same experiential universe (Reiss, 1981, p.74) and living within a single unifying story. Reiss makes it clear that this concept involves more than simple agreement. To score high on this dimension, there must be evidence of a basic sharing process in which family members not only develop solutions together but also believe in them. Families high on this dimension will have tended to construe the crisis collectively and abstracted the crisis construct on the universal end of the integration dimension. This group will include both the environment-sensitive and the consensus-sensitive families. Environment-sensitives will develop solutions that are in agreement with each other because of their effective information sharing processes. Consensus-sensitives, on the other hand, will develop a shared view of their social world not because of effective communication but, rather, because of a need to develop a united front against what is perceived as a hostile world.  60  Family Identity  Families with a strong and clear positive sense of identity appear to have a much better chance of successfully negotiating stress and crisis (Bennett and Wolin, 1988). This chapter will explore some of the issues important to family identity formation. Families that have successfully created a positive identity are much less at risk of becoming developmentally stuck during crisis, are more able to view extended family as a resource rather than a burden, are more effective in focusing their energy, and are more able to pass on this ability to the next generation. Another factor in the successful negotiation of crisis is the degree to which both individual and group needs can be met in the family.' Stress and crisis will be more adequately dealt with if the family members perceive that both levels of need are being met.  Family identity and family paradigm are two closely related cognitive constructs of the family's interpersonally constructed reality or narrative. Steinglass et al, in The Alcoholic Family (1988), define family identity as: The family's subjective sense of its own continuity over time, its present situation, and its character. As such, family identity is an underlying cognitive structure, a set of  61  fundamental beliefs, attitudes, and attributions the family shares about itself. It is the gestalt of qualities and attributes that make it a particular family and differentiate it from other families.^Family identity is also characterized by subjectivity. However, our notion of family identity goes beyond the supposition that family is one determinant - albeit powerful - of individual identity. It is, instead, a group psychological phenomenon that has as its foundation a shared system of beliefs. Shared belief systems are the implicit assumptions about roles, relationships, and values that govern (regulate) interaction in families and other groups (p.58).  Steinglass et al (1988) differentiate between the explicit and implicit family identity. They suggest, like Reiss (1981), that the families shared belief system is both largely out of awareness and has an important role in shaping a family's problem solving style: Although family identity is a cognitive construct - the product of a shared belief system - it is not always in the conscious awareness of all family members. Most of the time, one has only a diffuse sense of connectedness, a feeling of membership, not a clearly defined and explicable  62  version of the shared belief systems that make up the unique identity of a particular family. In fact, family identity would cease to function as an effective regulatory structure if it were a surface phenomenon, clearly understood and in full view of the family. Regulatory structures, to be effective, must serve as guidelines for behavior, not as the driving forces for specific behaviors (p.60).  Some aspects of family identity are more or less in awareness all the time. These tend to be superficial and less important in shaping family interaction. There are times, however, when family identity is more explicit. As Reiss (1981) suggests, a family's awareness of itself increases during crisis. Steinglass et al (1987) suggest that this also happens during different developmental phases such as when children leave home or when the grandparents find themselves close to the end of their lives and start to be concerned about their legacy.  Morphostasis and Morphogenesis Steinglass et al (1987) use the construct of family identity in their discussion of two of the core concepts of systems theory: morphostasis or internal regulation and morphogenesis or controlled growth. Family identity, a cognitive construct like a narrative configuration, is part  63  of morphostatic processes or regulatory mechanisms that maintain stability, order and control of system functioning. In other words a family's construction of itself becomes a force that maintains continuity over time. In addition to being a deep regulatory structure, family identity also plays a morphogenetic role at times of developmental transitions. How, for example, the newly married couple constructs their identity will either bind them to old family identities (morphostatic) or establish a new identity quite different from the families of origin (morphogenetic). A "healthy" family, from this point of view, is one where there is a balance between morphostasis and morphogenesis, between regulation and development. Family identity is felt to be an accurate indicator of the nature of this balance. Interactional behavior, especially rituals, have the potential to combine both continuity and change in ways that this balance can be achieved.  Systemic Maturation Family identity is a part of two further developmental constructs associated with morphogenesis: systemic maturation and developmental coherence. "Systemic maturation is a process that takes its shape from the evolving and changing nature of interpersonal relationships within the family" (Steinglass et al, 1987 p. 83). Unlike developmental models such as the family life cycle put forth by McGolderick (1988) and others, this construct addresses  64  the developmental properties of the family as a system, and what the authors claim are the universal sequence of tasks associated with systemic properties of the family. These tasks are grouped into three phases and could, in fact, be called phases of family identity development. These phases are described not only in the biological terms of aging but also in terms of cognition, the ways in which reality is constructed.  Boundary Definition. First, is the task of defining external and internal boundaries and identity formation. How, and to what degree the newly married couple constructs the boundary between themselves and their families of origin will determine the extent to which an independant, freestanding system is created and the extent to which their identity is similar to or different from the two families of origin. Drawing from Bennett and Wolin (1988), family identity issues associated with this phase are levels of ethnicity, religiosity and emphasis placed on family history. Another aspect of the construction of reality during this phase is the social and emotional connectedness felt towards the familes of origin. Also important is the level of awareness, intentionality and explicit agreement about what kind of identity the couple wants to create. Much of this decision making process takes place out of awareness but creates the foundation upon which the rest of the couple's collective life is built. Although  65  Steinglass et al (1987) describe this task as primarily an issue of newly wed couples, it is not uncommon for couples to never reach agreement on this boundary. This can severely inhibit the ability to reach agreement on later family tasks. If the couple's story cannot integrate the stories from their families of origin, the resulting discontinuity will make future identity formation more difficult.  A study which has relevance to this issue is one conducted by Wamboldt and Wolin (1988) in which they distinguishe three differing postures of married couples vis-a-vis their family of origin myths. These three postures are called "accept and continue, process and struggle, and disengage and repudiate" (p.151). These postures describe the relationship between an individual's family myth and the couple's family reality. The term family myth is used to describe the "map or template of the family-level reality, which presently resides within the individual family member, and which may be more or less different from the family's reality because individuals can and do experience the world outside their family... A family myth is a characteristic of individuals, their story of their family" (p.145). Family reality, on the other hand, is defined as "an objective group-level construction that organizes a family's experience and coordinates their actions" (p.145).  66  The posture of acceptance and continue reflects a deep, personal incorporation of the family's reality with the individual's family myth. The posture of process and struggle describes those individuals who are in a more intermediate postion of disengagement from their origin family's reality. Their family myth is often complex and ambivalently held. The attitude of disengage and repudiate, as the name suggests, reflects a sharp division between the individual's family myth and the family reality of his or her origin family. Wamboldt and Wolin (1988) suggest that the potential for developing consensus on a new shared reality is not equal for all three postures. Not only do the three postures have different usefulness in serving as models for the new reality being constructed, different couple combinations of the three postures will manifest different levels of success in subsequent marital development (p.157).  The authors suggest that a combination of individuals who are both accepting and continuing their families' realities have the best chance of creating a positive new reality. The next best prognosis is for couples who are both processing and struggling. The critical factor here is whether or not the couple is willing to take a systemic view of difficulties and share the blame. The second least promising combination is that of a repudiator paired with a "rescuer" (an individual who is either accepting and  67  continuing or processing and struggling). This arrangement tends to have problems associated with a power imbalance. Repudiating or "new beginning" couples suffer from the lack of a model for their relationship success and typically have a difficult time stating how they want things to be. A hesitancy to build significant relational investments results in a lack of a family focus and an inability to create the shared reality required to negotiate difficult times.  The above is a good example of the close relationship between family identity and family paradigm. The ability of a couple to construe their families of origin myths in a positive way has a direct relationship to their ability to jointly construct their own family identity in a positive way and develop the necessary interactional patterns that would facilitate the successful negotiation of crisis.  Selection of Themes. The second stage of systemic maturation is that all families must choose or construct a limited number of major developmental themes. This middle phase of family development only occurs once a family has come to agreement on a finite set of options. Decisions about central organizational themes such as the importance of work, children, leisure activities, allocation of space, time, money, extended family, friends, community, religion and so  68  on, become, in the middle phase, organizers for behavior in a period that tends to be dominated by regulatory rather than growth forces. Underlying agreement leads to committment to a set of stable and consistent rules regarding role behavior in the family. In spite of the ability of individuals, failure to develop a unified story or come to shared consensus about themes - either explicit or implicit - means that the family has not yet progressed beyond the early phase of development. Writers like Bennett and Wolin (1988) claim that the achievement of a distinct family identity is a critical goal in family development. Without a certain level of agreement, the family is at risk of not being able to take control of their lives and carry out the plans they may or may not have declared in the early stages of the relationship.  This middle phase is characterized by the emergence of a set of repetitive and highly structured behavioral programs. Some are based on the deliberate agreements and plans referred to above, many are the result of decisions and agreements that are made out of awareness. These behavioral patterns, discussed more fully in the section on rituals, are shaped by interpersonally constructed beliefs. These behaviors, in turn, provide structure and coherence to family life by reinforcing and conserving the agreements and rules from which they grew.  69  Heritage. In the third or late phase, to successfully transmit their legacy to the next generation, families must eventually develop a set of shared values about themselves (identity) and about the world in which they live (paradigm). This requires a distillation and clarification of core values and a transmission of these values. Family identity in the third phase is defined differently by Steinglass et al (1988) in the third phase because the focus is no longer on how the new family is different from the families of origin. Now the central issue is commonality rather than uniqueness.  The central developmental issue facing the family at this stage is the preservation of its identity. To do this, the family must distill and clarify the essence of its shared construction of reality and then transmit this condensed package of beliefs and values or unified story to the next generation. This, of course, is highly dependant on at least some agreement between the family members as to what the family stands for. What was implicit must now become explicit if the legacy is to be passed on. Inability to do so will probably result in failure to transmit any deliberately fashioned set of beliefs. Failure to find consensus will seriously impair the family's ability to achieve any of the three tasks of systemic maturation.  Developmental Coherence  70  The second developmental construct associated with morphogenesis put forth by Steinglass et al (1987), is developmental coherence. Although systemic maturation is considered to be the most fundamental developmental process in families, developmental pressures emanating from individual family members also influence the family life cycle. In this model, individual developmental issues are described as primarily biological and associated with aging. Systemic maturation is described as primarily cognitive.  "Healthy" family development or developmental coherence is construed as the ability of the family to integrate individual member needs with the more dominant systemic maturational factors. This is similar to the concept of "psychological contract" used in organizational development literature (Lippitt, 1981, p. 242). Developmental distortion, then, occurs when individual family member needs are incompatible with the tasks required by the family as a system. For family growth and development to take on a coherent and responsible direction, individual and systemic needs must be effectively integrated.  Systemic needs of the family require, using Reiss' terms (1981), high levels of configuration, coordination, and the ability to avoid premature decisions. Only if the family as a group understands that health is a complex balancing of family and individual needs rather than a simple my-way-or-  71  else type of thinking, will the family be able to achieve developmental coherence. A family will require a sense of confidence and mastery to pursue this delicate balance during difficult transitions. Only if the family members can coordinate their experiential universes will they be able to understand the need for different approaches at different times. Only if there is a relatively high tolerance for ambiguity will family members listen to each other long enough to develop solutions that meet both system and individual needs.  Collaboration will be more of a challenge for couples with significantly different cultural, ethnic and religious identities. Developmental coherence requires the successful integration of sometimes very different constructions of reality. Speaking on a similar topic, Berger and Kellner (1964) suggest that: The re-construction of the world in marriage occurs principally in the course of conversation.... The implicit problem of this conversation is how to match two individual definitions of reality. By the very logic of the relationship, a common overall definition must be arrived at (p.226).  Clearly, couples and families that have the ability to reach consensus will have a greater chance of achieving  72  developmental coherence. Bennett and Wolin (1988) suggest that couples who do not successfully establish a sense of shared family identity early in their marriage may encounter serious developmental setbacks in later phases of their career.  73  Rituals  As it has been defined earlier, a family paradigm is a deepseated and persistent attitude or set of assumptions and shared beliefs about itself and its social and physical world. Interaction patterns play an extremely important role in relation to family paradigm that goes far beyond merely expressing underlying belief systems. Reiss (1981) suggests that "the behavior itself is the locus, the medium, the storage place of the paradigm as well as a means of expressing it and carrying out the plans it shapes" (p. 226). Reiss and others such as Steinglass et al (1987) suggest that family interaction patterns themselves, rather than memory, are the repository of the family paradigm.  Family mental health is associated with ritual continuity (Steinglass et al, 1987). Crises are not handled well if rituals have been disrupted. As stated in the introduction, severe financial loss is one of the type of losses for which there are no mourning rituals developed by the broader culture. This means that the family must be all the more able to initiate on its own some means for its members to acknowledge, mourn, regain their sense of direction and move beyond the experience. This chapter will review the relevance of a knowledge of rituals to a study of crisis and change. Included in this chapter will be a review of the  74  functions of rituals in family life and a typology based on the degree of family ritualization.  Rituals are interactional surface markers for the constructs of family identity and family paradigm or family story. Roberts (1988) defines ritual as: coevolved symbolic acts that include not only the ceremonial aspects of the actual presentation of the ritual, but the process of preparing for it as well. It may or may not include words, but does have both open and closed parts which are "held" together by a guiding metaphor. Repetition can be a part of rituals through either the content, the form, or the occasion. There should be enough space ... for the incorporation of multiple meanings by various family members... as well as a variety of levels of participation (p.8).  According to Bennett and Wolin (1988), rituals can tap deeply into a family's shared sense of identity and affect the behavior of all family members. Rituals could be said to enact the family identity or family story by combining doing with believing. They are condensed, symbolic forms of communication about family life as a whole, repeated over time. They have the capacity to provide the balance between morphostasis and morphogenesis by providing opportunities for both continuity and change. The performance of rituals  75  clarifies roles, delineates boundaries and defines rules either in the way that they always have been or in a new way that reflects changed circumstances and developmental needs. From a therapeutic perspective, exploration of a family's ritual life can clarify developmental, existential and interactional issues (Imber-Black, 1988, p. 114). Drawing on both social anthropology's emphasis on structure and ritual and cultural anthropology's focus on meaning in ritual and how people construct maps of their reality, Roberts (1988) claims that: Ritual works as both a maintainer and creator of social structure for individuals, families and social communities, as well as a maintainer and creator of world view. It can mediate between the two areas of structure and meaning so that each defines, reflects and elucidates the other (p.15).  An example of this would be a birthday celebration that creates boundaries between those who are present and those who are not (structure) and provides connections with the past present and future (meaning).  The relationship between ritual and family identity is a close one. Wolin and Bennett (1984) define ritual as: a symbolic form of communication that, owing to the satisfaction that family members experience through its repetition, is acted out in a  76  systematic fashion over time. Through their special meaning and their repetitive nature, rituals contribute significantly to the establishment and preservation of a family's collective sense of itself, which we have termed the "family identity" (p.401).  Ritual is the way we play out who we are. It is how we learn to be who we are and how we learn whether we shall stay the same or be something else. Laird (1988) suggests that: ritual is probably the most potent socialization mechanism available to kin and other groupings for preparing individual members to understand the group meanings, carry on its traditions, and perform those social roles considered essential to its continuation. Through ritual, as males and females, we learn who we are to be, what words we may speak to whom and on what occasions, what we can and will do and how we shall do it, with whom we are to be, to what we can aspire. Our identities are not only reflected in the rituals we perform, but also reinforced, changed in some way, and created anew in each action. Ritual implies action and performance (p. 333).  77  In the field of anthropology, it is well known that multidimensional perspectives are required to understand ceremonies that, on the surface, look fairly simple and straightforward. Laird (1988, p. 333) talks about how rituals from even the least complex societies require an exploration of the economic, sexual, psychological, sociological and religious factors that form the rich context of the symbolic systems surrounding ceremonies. Van der Hart (1983) suggests that symbols and symbolic actions are the building blocks of rituals. He says that: "it is important to note that symbols are meant to include either the objects or words which represent the possibility of altering beliefs, relationships, or the meaning of events" (p.85). Symbols provide access to unconscious processes that are often not touched by rational methods.  Keith and Whitaker (1988) talk about the symbolic structure of families, unconscious patterns that are passed on from generation to generation that dominate family life. Similar to van der Hart, Keith and Whitaker describe rituals as "the hot spots for the process of changing and staying the same"(p.433). Similar to Reiss, Keith and Whitaker talk about how the response to certain crises becomes the template for other responses to other situations. The paradigms are the processes that surround birth and death and their symbolic equivalents: "the quantum-jump quality that a birth stimulates is a paradigm for other quantum-jump  78  experiences symbolically related to birth experiences" (p.438). Death is described as the other "paradigmatic wheel of change" (p.438). The experiences considered in this study will be explored as symbolic equivalents to birth and death in order to more fully understand the symbolic structure of the family and create the context for the family to integrate its evolving image of itself. Keith and Whitaker warn that understanding or acknowledging the symbolic understructure of a family does not automatically change anything but, where a family is having difficulty, "if the story can be told with enough anxiety...the symbolic domination can be diminished" (p. 436).  Ritual Themes Given the apparent relationship between ritual continuity and family health, one of the research questions of this study will be to what extent has the crisis of financial loss disrupted the ritual life of the participants. The following themes describe the functions that ritual can play in the life of a family.  Membership. According to Imber-Black (1988), there are five ritual themes: (1) membership; (2) healing; (3) identity; (4) belief expression and negotiation; and (5) celebration (p.50). The membership theme is characteristic of all human systems. Issues such as who is in and who is out, how one  79  gains or loses membership and who defines membership are not usually articulated in a conscious way but family rituals make the boundaries clear nevertheless. Seating arrangements, allowable topics and allowable affect metaphorically define the family's construction of itself. Who organizes extended family events, who attends and for how long and in what what role, how different individuals are greeted at arrival and departure, all these define membership and degrees of membership. Internal nuclear family membership issues are defined by daily routines such as dinner time rituals and daily parting and re-entry patterns. A wedding is a prime example of how membership is defined by a publicly proclaimed boundary around the couple. Who is invited and who is not and who makes this decision will either continue or change long established patterns.  Healing. Healing rituals can be found, for example, in every culture's funeral rites. These rituals simultaneously mark the loss of the family member, facilitate the expression of grief, and point to a direction for ongoing life. There is change in the relationship with the lost family member and continuity with ongoing relationships in the extended family and larger community. Other losses such as pregnancy loss, birth of a handicapped child (loss of a dream), suicide, divorce, bankruptcy, and migration do not offer the same opportunities in our culture for confirmation of the loss  80  with the wider community. Often in such cases, the family has put rigid boundaries around the event and lacks ways to mark and share the loss in the larger community. This will eventually result in what Reiss (1981) calls "desecration": those parts of ceremonials where the past is denied, usually because of some painful unresolved issues associated with crisis (p.251). The narrative structure or construction of reality, similar to the example of the prisoners of war in the Japanese camp, could be quite different if a way could be found to break through the limitations of existing presuppositions - the as yet unsaid. Reconciliation of relationships where resentments have built up over time is made more possible with a ritual of some kind. Examples of this, in addition to those mentioned above, are extended parent-child conflict and extra-marital affaires. With no context for mourning and the expression of pain and sadness, healing is more difficult.  Pittman (1987) observes that overt crises are usually dealt with more successfully that those that are covert because there are socially accepted rituals to help the family resolve the confusion and pain. Family members with strong emotions need a time and place to experience them safely. Ritual can allow this to happen while at the same time interpersonal connections can be made. Unresolved loss due to the absence of healing rituals is destructive because it frequently functions in ways that keep people anchored in  81  the past and prevents a sense of present and future development. When a family with unresolved loss is so embroiled in past difficulties, little hope is felt for the future. Likewise, the family is so engrossed in the day to day tribulations that family history cannot be valued. Reiss (1981), in his discussion of the template for reconstruction (crisis construct), suggests that families with unresoved loss issues tend to use the revelation orientation to the world which, as has been discussed, tends to result in less accurate information about the environment and, consequently, a lowered sense of mastery.  According to Keith and Whitaker (1988), the purpose of the three generation family interview is to deal with this inability to stay in the here and now by collapsing the past and future into the present. Because of the importance of healing rituals, it is extemely important that families achieve enough agreement in their shared beliefs and narratives to be able to construct ways to do this. Failure to construct fundamental agreement, implicit or explicit, on family identity issues such as ethnicity, religiosity and the value of money and financial security makes it particularly difficult to find a healing ritual that will meet everyone's needs.  An important aspect of ritual and family identity is the characteristic emotional coping response of the family as a  82  unit. Healing rituals, if done well, will allow the family to experience mourning and move beyond the loss. Walsh (1987) outlines four family tasks that must be achieved if the family is to successfully reorganize after the disruption of a loss: 1.  Shared acknowledgement of the reality of the  loss. Attempts to protect family members from the loss tend to lead to dysfunction. 2.  Shared experience of the pain of grief. The  family's emotional coping style can either assist or block this important process. In order to move to a place of balance or harmony with the past, the family needs to understand and accept the expression of complicated and ambiguous feelings. Explicit and implicit family rules, roles and loyalties can severely limit the effectiveness of this experience or even prevent it altogether. 3.  Reorganization of the family system. The  realignment of relationships after a loss requires a clear family identity to maintain and recreate the many roles necessary to keep the family a vital organization and avoid disintegration. 4.  Reinvestment in other relationships and life  pursuits. If the other tasks have been achieved, family members should be able to form new attachments and make other committments. Failure to accomplish the above tasks can result in  83  withdrawal or formation of superficial relationships out of fear of being hurt again (p. 314).  Failure to do the above will result in what Kieth and Whitaker (1988) call the symbolic domination of recurring patterns (p. 436). This is the same dynamic found in Reiss' (1981) revelation family. The ability to adapt to loss requires, like so many other family challenges, a general flexibility of the system and a relatively high level of differentiation of the family members. Following the progress of rituals over time is a way of assessing the family's pattern of adaptation to loss because each new holiday and anniversary will reevoke previous losses. Long term unresolved losses have a tendency to intensify the experience of emotion within the family while, at the same time, constraining the expression of feelings (Gonzalez & Steinglass, 1989, p. 80). This is why family rituals are often associated with so much anxiety. Well designed rituals that involve the participants emotionally are an important building block of family health.  Identity. Rituals also define identities and narratives. They can stabilize and reinforce a current identity or facilitate shifts in identities for both individuals and families. With individuals, for example, depending on the role taken  84  in designing and carrying out the events, identity is either changed or reinforced. Birthdays, mother and father's days, confirmations and bar mitzvahs have the potential for both morphastasis and morphogenesis. In addition to the identity of the nuclear family, religious and ethnic celebrations can define an individual and family's identity as part of a larger cultural group. Quite apart from the content of celebratory events, the way that a family allows itself to express emotions in family gatherings will shape family identity. Identity is influenced adversely by the perceived inability to carry out rituals that people feel are normal. The perception of being underritualized can itself lend to a sense of loss and emptiness. Inability or unwillingness to recognize culturally expected celebrations may leave some members or the entire family with a sense of failure. As we have seen, identity and membership issues are closely related to the tasks of systemic maturation (Steinglass et al, 1987). Identity is strongly influenced by which family of origin, if any, is chosen as the model for ritual structure. Those families with strong clear identities like Reiss' concept of "generative and autonomous families" (1981, p. 170) - appear to be those with a well developed ritual life. Rituals provide one of the important opportunities for family members to coordinate their constructions of social realities.  Belief expression and negotiation.  85  The fourth theme in ritual is belief expression and negotiation. Shared beliefs are the core of family identity. Religious and cultural rituals, in particular, allow for the expression of a group's explicit beliefs. Rituals or their lack can also be indicators of implicit or underlying beliefs which are in conflict. The surface conflict may be based on a deeper shared belief such as, for example, in divorced families it is not possible to agree on how to celebrate Christmas together.  In recent years there has been an increase in the promotion of what might be called communication rituals. These are the popular therapeutic exercises designed to reduce conflict and build relationships with communication skills such as active listening, paraphrasing, accurate empathy and so on. Setting aside special times and places for these activites makes them ritual-like. These types of rituals would be especially needed where marital partners come from different traditions where what person experiences as providing solace, the other experiences as threatening. If such opportunities do not exist, people often become locked into seeing only their own beliefs as correct and other beliefs as wrong or blameful. A good indicator for this rigidity is the lack of humor in ritual interaction.  Celebration.  86  The celebration aspect of rituals is often the most visible and dramatic indicator of the nature of individual, family and community continuity and change. Celebrations are associated with affirmation, respect and commemoration. Their existence or lack of existence have an important influence on the previous four themes: membership, healing, identity and belief expression. The ability to celebrate together is based on much groundwork surrounding the event where agreements have to be made in order to support each other in the person, event or concept chosen for distinction from the rest of life. Losses that have not been resolved or losses that have been resolved by some family members and not by others may inadvertantly sabotage celebrations. This is doubly unfortunate because conflicting needs may prevent, for example, both effective mourning of the losses and the opportunity to experience the support and connections to others available in celebrations. Family members with widely divergent values on the value of money and risk taking face particular challenges during celebration. What one experiences as supportive and sustaining may be experienced by the other as exclusionary or even insensitive. For these families, a key developmental task is being able to affirm their differences. Because what one spouse values in a celebration may be quite different from the values of the other, new celebration rituals may have to be created that are symbolic of their unique family system.  87  Family Perceptions Of Ritual Use In the assessment of families, it is important to understand how ritual is used to meet their needs. Roberts (1988, p.25), drawing on the work of Wolin and Bennett (1984), presents a typology of ritual use to clarify how the family or the individual members see themselves with regard to their level of ritualization. The following six categories are not meant to suggest that there is a correct level. Use of circular questions can assist the family to be observers of their own ritual behavior and be meta to their construction of reality or narrative structure. Without saying how a family should live its life, attention can be drawn to possible connections between ritual activity and their shared values and beliefs. What is the connection between doing and believing? What are the differences? How well do they feel that their behavior reflects what they hold dear?  Underritualized. This category describes a family where at least some members feel that not enough attention or affect is given to marking events such as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas and so on. For some reasons, perhaps not always fully understood by the family, there is little celebration, not much support for transitions and a general sense of low group cohesion. From the perspective of Reiss's theory (1981), this would tend to be a family at the low end of the configuration and  88  coordination dimensions. Generally this would describe a family that has difficulty maximizing its effectiveness as a group and individual members would not tend to be aware of the experiential world of the others. Families at the higher end of the above two dimensions would be aware of the members who felt underritualized and make some effort to help them meet their needs. An underritualized family would have some similarity to Reiss' distance sensitive family. From the perspective of the concept of systemic maturation (Steinglass et al, 1987), a family that perceived itself as underritualized suggests either a certain level of disagreement about which family of origin should be followed or that the family has perhaps established too strong a boundary with the families of origin and feels cut off.  Rigidly Ritualized. This describes a family where some or all family members feel that there is not enough flexibility in the structure or content of family gatherings. Little change would be perceived over time even though family and individual developmental changes have occured. This criticism may not be expressed overtly. It may take the form of nonattendance in family events or symptomatic behavior such as rebellion, emotional cut-offs, and even some of the more extreme dysfunctions such as eating disorders or mutism (Roberts, 1988, p. 28). Except for extremely rigid families, a certain amount of inflexibility in ritual  89  practices can be quite helpful as has been described in the discussion of the importance of continuity in families. In response to stress, the rigidly ritualized family may react by becoming even more rigid. In more extreme cases, outside intervention may be required to help the family discover ways of changing their behavior patterns and beliefs to better suit their developmental needs. Given that this description is based on the perspective of at least some of the members, this type of family would probably fall on the low end of Reiss' (1981) dimensions of configuration and coordination. Like the underritualized family, a rigidly ritualized family would probably not be functioning as a group as effectively as it could be. In terms of the tasks of systemic maturation, a rigidly ritualized family may be fused with one or both families of origin or, on the other hand, may have established too strong a boundary in an attempt to avoid problems associated with one or both families of origin. A rigidly ritualized family would tend not to have problems selecting themes to emphasize in the middle phase and distilling explicit beliefs in the heritage phase. Because the rigidity is a self evaluation, however, there might be family members who would either have to cut themselves off or be ejected in order for the family to maintain the unambiguous sense of identity.  Skewed Ritualization.  90  This description refers to a family where the members feel that one side of the family has been emphasized and that the other has been devalued. Often this is the case where the families of origin represent different ethnic or religious traditions. Rituals may present particularly difficult challenges to these families. The perceived imbalance in the emphasis given to the different sides of the family suggests a family low in both configuration and coordination. The family members have not been able to find agreement on shared solutions to their perceived problems. In terms of systemic maturation, a family with skewed ritualization would probably not have been able to establish boundaries with both families of origin to both marital partner's satisfaction. Identifying themes to emphasize in the middle phase and agreeing on an explicit shared identity to pass on to the next generation would also be difficult.  Couples have to find ways to balance and honor both traditions if they are to avoid celebrations that cause joy for one partner and suffering for the other. Wamboldt and Wolin (1988) speak of the importance of emphasizing that two equal family myths still exist and that both are equally valid (p.162). It is tragic when an event that is supposed to be a celebration becomes a source of conflict in families. A time that could be a source of strength, connection and positive meaning becomes an experience where energy is drained, losses go unacknowledged, support is  91  perceived as further diminished and connections are experienced as burdensome. Why get involved in something where the past must be avoided and the future looks like it will be even worse?  Hollow Ritual as Event, not Process. This describes those families that participate in family events out of a sense of obligation rather than a sense of meaning. It is usually associated with some kind of unresolved issues or a rule that it is not permissable or worthwhile to try to bring about change in the planning or performance of family events. Often the responsibility for planning falls on one person or a small number of people while others are passively involved and sometimes reluctant or resistant to be involved in any way other than very superficially. There is an illusion of ritual without the deep, nurturing symbolic experiences that are characteristic of family activities where members are actively involved in the planning and carrying out of patterned routines and celebrations. This kind of family would definitely fall on the low end of the coordination and configuration dimensions. In terms of systemic maturation, this type of family would probably not have achieved a high level of agreement in setting boundaries or selecting life themes. Unfortunately, this type of family may be common.  92  Ritual process interrupted or unable to be openly experienced. There are times when unexpected changes or crises interrupt the family's ritual continuity. These stressors include illness, parental job change or loss, divorce, death of a family member, bankruptcy, alcoholism and migration. Whatever the stressor, the families in this category have constructed the situation in such a way that they are no longer able or willing to put forth the effort and coordinated planning required to stage some or all ritual events. As Walsh (1987) suggests, this type of family has probably not been able to reorganize after the structural modification of a loss experience (p. 313). The interrupted events might be primarily nuclear family rituals, those with the larger extended family, the larger community or all of the above. An important aspect of the research on families with alcoholic members (Steinglass, 1987), is the concept of subsumption (p.235). They use this term to describe families who have adapted ritual practice to incorporate intoxication by the alcoholic parent, or, in more severe situations, allowed intoxicated behavior to disrupt ritual practices. The researchers believe that they have developed an accurate and useful assessment process that is based on observing changes in ritual life that are linked to increases in the frequency and severity of the alcoholic parent's drinking. The degree to which families are able to resist the intrusion of alcoholic behavior by maintaining  93  ritual continuity is a measure of their strength and a predictor of their future success in avoiding the problems associated with alcoholism.  Families who have allowed ritual processes to be interrupted by loss or symptomatic behavior would tend to fall low on the dimensions of configuration and coordination. This would not always be the case, of course, as some stressors are so severe that few families could maintain continuity. Kohen (1988, p. 363), however, relates how rebuilding family rituals in situations of extreme political repression will require the willingness to work together to break through entrenched cognitive patterns developed during periods of emprisonment and torture. In terms of systemic maturation, families with interrupted ritual processes might tend to fall on the extremes of either not being able to establish any boundaries with families of origin or setting up boundaries that are are too rigid. As has been discussed, rituals can both establish boundaries and maintain connections between generations. Without this opportunity to integrate the need for separation and connection, the family may be at risk of falling into one extreme or the other. Without rituals, life themes probably cannot be selected and consciously passed on to future generations.  Continuity and Change.  94  An important question for families to consider is whether they feel rituals have been altered to meet their changing needs. This may be a common issue for family members who feel that their ritual life is not what they want it to be. What is appropriate and useful for an eight year old may not be experienced as useful by a twenty five year old. Group cohesion is built on the experience that most participants' needs are being met most of the time. The adult children of a divorced couple may not be able to depend on the parents to organize extended family gatherings in the same way as they could when the parents were married. To keep rituals alive, the roles and rules of interpersonal relationships must adapt to the changing world. To construct a world where things must be done the way they once were will probably result in disappointment and a sense of failure. To adapt the rules and roles of interpersonal relationships over time, rituals must change. And yet they cannot change too much without losing the anchor-like qualtity that separates families from the many other institutions in our society that, important as they are, seem to come and go in peoples lives.  Kegan (1982) suggests that much of present-day stress and psychological disruption is developmental, in the sense that it is related to the processes of growth, change and transition both of individuals and groups. He stresses the importance of communities of considerable duration which can  95  enhance the human coherence of our lives. Successful growth from Kegan's point of view: requires supports which have a longitudinal basis - that is, they know and hold persons before, during, and after their transitions; they acknowledge and grieve the losses, acknowledge and celebrate the gains, and help the person [or family] to acknowledge them himself [itself] (p. 261).  Ritual does this.  96  Purpose of the Study  The purpose of this study will be to provide information on the different ways that families have construed the experience of financial loss. Wamboldt and Reiss (1989) argue that "the task of developing a clear, therapeutically heuristic understanding of the mechanisms whereby some marriages succeed while others fail commands extremely high priority" (p.318). A greater understanding how some couples have survived severe financial loss will be of use to the general public who experience this phenomenon in ever greater numbers. Following Polkinghorne (1988), this study will adopt the perspective that "the study of humans needs to focus on the realm of meaning in general, and on narrative meaning in particular" (p. 11). The goal of research into the production of meaning from this point of view is to produce clear and accurate descriptions of the structures and forms of the various meaning systems that characterize individuals and groups. A deeper and clearer understanding of what it is like for someone to experience severe financial loss should be of value to those that have had this experience and feel that it has continued to affect their life adversely. This information could be equally useful for those who plan to engage in risky business enterprises where the chances of experiencing this loss are high. For those in the helping professions that deal with  97  this issue, a deeper understanding should help them to be more sensitive in their work. Even if such a loss has not been experienced recently, stories of fortunes lost are commonly found in family histories and have a powerful effect on general life decisions as well as those specific to economic ventures. A second purpose fc: this study is that the information could be of use to curriculum planners in the education field who are placing increasing value on the development of entrepreneurial skills to help young adults survive in an increasingly competitive world. Individuals and families who have risked and failed and who find themselves unable or unwilling to risk again are probably limiting both themselves and the community as a whole. If young people went into business with a fuller knowledge of how people regroup after a severe loss, they might be able to avoid some of the negative consequences of financial loss and recover more quickly.  Addressing the topic of the function of research in the broader context of society, Mishler (1986) claims that the standard survey interview disrupts the respondant's attempts to make sense of himself and the world. He emphasizes strongly the need to "shift the emphasis of research away from the researcher's 'problems' such as technical issues like reliability and validity to respondant's problems, specifically their efforts to construct coherent and reasonable worlds of meaning and to make use of their  98  experiences" (p.118). Mishler raises the general question of who benefits from the traditional method of research where the investigator controls the structure of the interview, the analysis of the data and the dissemination of the results. He makes it clear that the study of meaning systems must be conducted in a way that facilitates the respondant's efforts to make sense of what is happening to them and around them.  Following Mishler (1986), in addition to identifying information about the topic of this study for other researchers and practitioners, a purpose of this study will be to assist respondants to make their experiences meaningful. While this study will not attempt to provide therapy for the participants, it may, by introducing information into their system, assist them to take a meta position to their construction of reality. Polkinghorne (1988) suggests that this kind of research provides the knowledge that individuals and groups can use to increase power and control over their actions (p.10). Von Glaserfeld (1984) asserts that we build this world unawares simply because we do not know how we do it: "Radical constructivism maintains - not unlike Kant in his Critique - that the operations by means of which we assemble our experiental world can be explored, and that an awareness of this operating...can help us to do it differently and, perhaps, better" (p.18). Life presents itself as a raw indication  99  that needs to be finished by interpretation (Polkinghorne, 1988, p. 30). A research study that seeks to help respondants make sense of their life will provide an opportunity for increased interpretation.  Using an approach to interviewing which is collaborative and non-hierarchical should increase the possibility that couples will bring into greater awareness the operations by which they assemble their experiential world. Penn (1985), in a discussion of the use of positive connotation, suggests that "the family too, can achieve a view of their experiences as context bound - for standing outside one's context alters its meanings" (p.301). White's (1990) concept of restorying as a key to healthy change is similar to Goolishian and Anderson's (1987) emphasis on "expanding and saying the 'unsaid' - the development, through dialogue, of new themes and narratives and, actually, the creation of new histories" (p.381). The above authors use concepts of therapy that sound very similar to Mishler's (1986) model of research. Mishler proposes a conversation or discourse in which there is little or no hierarchy, little or no attempt to control the direction of the outcomes. When dealing with respondants that have experienced a significant loss, the interviewing process can, in addition to gathering data for research, create the context for new narrative structures and the expansion of "the limiting beliefs, premises and interactional patterns that 'hold' problems in place across  100  multiple time frames and contexts" (Chasin, 1985, p.121). By taking a meta position to their change process, families can avoid the reactive stance characterized by helplessness and a sense of drifting. Reiss (1981) refers to this when he speaks of the family as an "active originator: a historian of its past, an interpreter of its present, and a designer of its future" (p.171).  With regard to the creation of meaning, Cohler (1982) refers to personal narratives as "the most internally consistent interpretation of presently understood past, experienced present, and anticipated future" (p. 207). Mishler (1986), Polkinghorne (1988), and others recommend the narrative approach to the study of meaning and identity because it parallels the approach actually used by humans to construct regularities out of the flow of experience. By telling stories and writing history, we provide a public shape for what ordinarily remains "chaotic, obscure and mute" (Polkinghorne, 1988, p. 134). Polkinghorn speaks of "the realization of self as a narrative in process serves to gather together what one has been, in order to imagine what one will be, and to judge whether this is what one wants to become" (p. 154). A full experience of existence as narrative may bring one closer to Heidegger's (1962) state of temporality where one can say that one is all that one has done, is doing and will do and each moment is part of the whole that one is.  101  The purpose of descriptive narrative research is "to render the narrative accounts already in place which are used by individuals or groups as their means for ordering and making temporal events meaningful" (Polkinghorne, 1988, p.161). It is anticipated that clarifying and giving voice to these narratives may contribute to the formation of a single, overriding story that gives a unity and wholeness to the experience of the couple. This is similar to the tasks of systemic maturation, the family development model proposed by Steinglass et al (1987). As discussed in the chapter on family identity, unless there is a selection of a limited number of themes, the family will never achieve an identity that, using the narrative metaphor, will integrate the past, present and future.  102  Research Questions  As discussed earlier and in the chapter on crisis and change, Reiss (1981) claims that family identity or family paradigm is formed or significantly altered during crisis. Family identity, a set of shared assumptions, underlying cognitive structures or deep regulatory structures can also be described as the narrative process of the family. Combining the theories of Reiss (1981), Steinglass et al (1988), Imber-Black (1988) and Roberts (1988), and the view that the narrative process is intrinsic to the way in which meaning is constructed, this study will ask two types of questions. First, this study will ask the general question of how couples "perceive, organize, give meaning to, and express their understandings of themselves, their experiences and their worlds" (Polkinghorne, 1988, p. 11). What is the general group psychological structure underlying their life story in the wake of financial crisis? What is the paradigm or primary story behind the fragmented information? How are these crises located in relationship to the larger narrative that includes other events that have preceded them and come after them? How has the crisis influenced their underlying belief systems, their story of who they are in the world? What are the similarities in how the financial crisis has influenced the stories of the couples studied?  103  Drawing on the ideas of the constructivists such as Von Foerster (1984), Von Glaserfeld (1984) and White (1990), another research question will be how have the basic assumptions influenced the different couples to construe the crisis differently? Given that the couples chosen for this study have experienced a roughly equal loss in financial terms at approximately the same time, how do they end up seeing it differently? What premises tend to be associated with an attitude that the crisis can be handled? What presuppositions tend to be associated with the view that the crisis is a disaster that has ruined one's life?  A further question would be what information would be useful to others who have experienced financial loss? And finally, what attitudes and actions taken by the participants of this study would they recommend to others who find themselves in a similar situation?  104  CHAPTER II  Methodology  Borgen (1984) stresses the importance of identifying research methods which answer important questions rather than finding questions which fit certain methods: "we do not have the methods to address adequately this new thinking about systems, contexts, and dyadic processes. Traditional input-output designs, even when enhanced with partials, multivariates and three-way interactions, fail to capture expanding concepts of causation and change" (p.597). According to Greenberg (1986), a basic problem with most of the change process research is its lack of attention to context and neglect of patterns.  Methods, according to Hammersley (1983), must be selected according to purposes (p. 3). The questions that have been posed by this study regarding the experience of crisis around financial loss require an approach that can gain access to, and provide an understanding of the meanings constructed before, during and after the crisis. The construction of reality or structuring of consciousness can be described as a story or conversation, implying a recursive, co-evolving nomic process (Berger & Kellner, 1964). Laird (1988), in a discussion of the importance of  105  ritual, suggests that "to search for the ways that families build and make sense of their worlds and hand down their values and traditions, we must pay attention to language and metaphor, world view, folklore and myth, belief and spirituality, religion and ritual" (p.332). These aspects of peoples' lives would be revealed most directly by an approach that begins with their own experience of their world.  The methodology of this study will consist of two parts. The first part will allow the participants to tell their story in a way that avoids interrupting their natural configuration of events. In the second part, this data will be analyzed using theory to identify themes in the individual stories, shared themes within the couples' stories and common themes between their stories.  An important aspect of social research is it's reflexive character, that is to say, the inter-relationship between the activities of the researcher and those of the researched. According to Hammersley and Atkinson (1983), "there is no way in which we can escape the social world in order to study it" (p. 15). Following Mischler (1986), the interview will be viewed as a discourse and thus the data gathered will be viewed as co-constructed by both the interviewer and the person being interviewed. Given that the effect of the researcher on the data cannot be  106  eliminated, it is important that the reader understand the perspective of the researcher. The methodology will begin with a brief outline of my personal experience with the subject of the study, severe financial loss.  Personal Perspective The subject of this study is of interest to me because my wife and I lost a lot of money in the 1981-82 recession. By working hard and being careful about our spending, we had almost managed to pay off the mortgage on our house by 1981. We then remortgaged our house to the full inflated value of 1981, invested all of it with a number of family members in several business ventures and, over the course of the next year, lost all of our investment. Not only did we lose the money we had put into the projects, due to legal complications the people from whom we had bought the businesses came after one of our business partners for more money than had been put into the project. We lived in fear of having our wages taken and losing our house for two years. During this time both my wife and I were also declared "redundant" in our jobs because of the B.C. provincial restraint program in the early eighties. In 1984 the uncertainty was over and we were able to keep our house because the mortgage exceeded its value. We both got jobs right away in new fields but felt impoverished for another five years because of what felt like a crippling debt.  107  The loss had a major impact on my family and me. We have three children and one was born just before the loss and another born right in the middle of the uncertainty. I believe that the stress we experienced had a very negative effect on all of us. The anxiety that I experienced at that time was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. For about a year I had difficulty sleeping and felt like I was going to have a heart attack. I felt enormously guilty that I had been the one to bring on this misfortune on the family and angry that I felt blamed. One of the few times that I felt comfortable was when I would go for a run which I started to do at two oclock in the morning because I couldn't sleep. The only other time I could relax was when I was in church. I poured myself into work and projects as a way of forgetting what was happening.  The level of conflict between my wife and I got to the point where we had to plan weekly meetings to iron out all the anger and misunderstanding between us. It never got to the point of considering divorce but we knew a number of couples who had gone through a similar financial loss and separated within two years after the difficulties began.  It wasn't until the summer of 1989 that I felt something had changed. That summer, for the first time since the loss, the whole family took a holiday together and visited my wife's family in the eastern U.S. Significantly, I also  108  quit an administrative job that summer with an organization that I had originally planned to leave seven years earlier around the time of the loss but, because of a need for financial security, I had chosen to keep much longer than I had wanted to.  Up until 1989, I was dominated by a feeling of failure even though I knew that I was only one of many that had lost financially in 1982. This was also in spite of having had many interesting and relatively well-paying jobs. I felt that I had held myself back from taking the risks that I felt I would be taking if I trusted myself more.  Preparing for and carrying out this study has, to some extent been therapeutic for me. My objective has not been to study other people but to learn from others without imposing my interpretations. To discover and describe the as-yet-unsaid has been as true for me and my story as it has been for the participants. I have felt empowered by their stories, I believe that they have too.  My wife and I have been talking about celebrating the end of our loss. For me, it doesn't seem quite over yet but I think the completion of this study in the spring of 1992 might well be time. Perhaps we will go bury the loss in a little box somewhere in the mountains when the snow melts.  109  Design The general design of this study falls within field research methodology, specifically utilizing the ethnographic or indepth interview technique to gain information which is rewritten as an analytical description of the experience of financial loss. The primary source of information will be the participants. Theory will be used only to heighten the sensitivity of the researcher in the data gathering stage. Participants will be selected by an informal method of seeking out couples who have remained together after financial loss. The information gathered from the couples will be analyzed for changes in underlying beliefs in the individuals within the couples and between the couples. Information from one spouse will be compared to information from the other spouse. Data from all sources will be compared to theory.  Procedures The flexibility of ethnographic methodology is useful for the topic of this study because it is ideal for the study of the lived experience of human beings. Ethnography involves five stages of research, but, each stage requires constant feedback from the others. The following five stages noted by Spradley (1979, p.93) all go on simultaneously. 1. Selection of a problem follows the general question "What are the cultural meanings people are using to organize their behavior and interpret their experience?" (p.93). In this  110  study the original general question was "What meanings are given to the experience of financial loss and how do these change over time?" 2. Collecting cultural data. This involved the process of interviews to be described in more detail later. 3. Analyzing cultural data takes place as the information is gathered. Second and third interviews were influenced by having transcribed and examined previous interviews. 4. Formulating ethnographic hypotheses takes place as the interviewing proceeds and takes the form of proposing relationships between observations and posing new questions to test these relationships. 5. Writing the narratives of the participants and, once these narratives were approved by the participants, the further process of identifying changes of beliefs in the couples from the perspective of theory could be described as a "refined process of analysis" (Spradley, p. 94). Theoretical classifications were used to analyze specific aspects of changes in the shared cognitive structures of the individual couples, their level of family development and ritual behavior. Theory was again used to analyze the similarities and differences between the couples. The summary of significant similarities and differences is found in the final chapter on conclusions.  The general procedures for this investigation are listed in appendix B. Sixteen steps were involved in finding participants, gathering data, and analyzing that data.  111  These procedures took place during the fourteen months of January, 1991 to February, 1992. After a participant agreed to participate in the study, we met in an initial interview in which he described his or her experience. I transcribed the audio-tape of that interview and prepared a list of issues reflecting my understanding of his experience for clarification in the second interview. After the second interview and, in five of the six cases, a third interview, the interview was again transcribed and a draft narrative was prepared for the participant's validation. A third or fourth interview was held in person or by phone to obtain the comments of the participants in order to revise the narrative if necessary. No revisions were required and validating comments are included at the end of the chapter containing the individual narratives.  Description of participants The selection of participants was determined by such general factors as relevant experience, approachability, availability, and willingness to participate in the study. To a large extent, participants were sampled opportunistically, depending on my ability to gain access to them. Access was obtained through contacts in the real estate industry and my work contacts. Selection of the particular individuals was determined by my own judgement. This strategy, according to Hammersley and Atkinson (1983), is acceptable for this study because, "in the early stages  112  of generating theory, which cases are chosen for investigation may not matter greatly." I chose three couples that had experienced their financial loss in the recession of 1981-82 because, when I began the data gathering in 1991, this recession had been described as the deepest economic downturn since the great depression of the 1930's and caught many people unprepared. I chose three couples for whom the loss had happened ten years ago because I wanted to look at the long term effects of the loss and the extent of the recovery as well as the crisis itself.  Taking into consideration Hammersley and Atkinson's (1983) suggestions of time, people and context as the major dimensions for sampling within cases, specific decisions about who to talk to and what to ask, as well as about what to record and how, were determined largely by the nature of the information that emerged as the study progressed. There were no observations outside of the interview so time was not a consideration. As to the dimension of people or who was interviewed, I chose to limit myself to the married couple in the family and chose not to interview the children or members of the extended family. This was purely an issue of time. In order to get enough data to be able to compare between couples, I had to limit the number of people interviewed. I think that another larger study would find much useful information by broadening the source of data within the families. From the point of view of the  113  dimension of context, I interviewed the spouses separately and left it up to them as to whether or not they shared information about their interviews. I felt that it would make the analysis too complicated to try and interview the couples together. This allowed them to tell their individual stories uninterrupted. They were, of course, free to share their story with their spouse when I returned the narrative to them for validation.  The role of the participants in this study was to provide descriptions of their experience in financial loss. Because the ethnographic interview regards the participant as an authority on his own experience, he has the responsibility to produce both relevant data and valid interpretation of that data. Following Spradley (1979), participants were asked to be both analytical and non-analytical in their descriptions of the experiences. Spradley suggests that participants can be very helpful in analyzing their own experience and culture "provided it is always from the perspective of the insider" (p.53). Hammersley and Atkinson (1983) warn that: the more "sophisticated" the interviewee, the greater the tendency for him or her to move away from description into analysis.... If the interviewee provides heavily theorized accounts of the events or experiences he or she is describing,  114  however interesting or fruitful the theoretical ideas are, the data base has been eroded (p.189).  Two participants in one of the couples who are trained counsellors and therapists sometimes stepped out of their experience but, on the whole, maintained their perspective as insiders.  Following Mischler (1986) who emphasizes the importance of including the participants as equal partners in the research process, I invited the respondants to reflect on their experience and the narrative that I produced for their validation. Given that the experience of loss was still associated with painful memories for some of the participants, it was important that I establish an atmosphere of trust and confidentiality. I shared with them that I had experienced a similar loss and knew much about what happened to a family when such a loss has occured. As described in the chapter on "purpose", I accepted the responsibility to make the experience of participating in this study as empowering as possible without jeopardizing the validity of the research.  The Interviews This study used the format of three unstructured, audiotaped interviews to gather data from the participants. The extent and duration of these interviews depended on the  115  amount of time the participant had available, the willingness and level of comfort shown by the respondant and the number of issues I felt still needed clarification. Using Mischler's (1986) emphasis on the empowerment of respondants as a guide, I did what I could to make the respondant feel comfortable and assure him or her that everything we discussed was confidential. All of the participants elected to keep their identity confidential due to sensitive nature of the experience. I tried to make it clear that anything that they had to offer about their perceived failures and successes would be potentially useful to others who had also experienced severe financial loss. I informed them that they were, of course, free to share the narratives with their spouses but that was a choice that they could make. The input that they would have in the content of the narrative was emphasized as a recognition of their importance in the research process. The intended audience for this study was described as those who were confused, depressed, angry and feeling isolated for months and years after losing everything they owned.  The first interview involved the establishment of the relationship and asking general questions about the loss. I described my experience with financial loss and, while discussing the letter of information and consent form, further elaborated the purpose of the study and the potential benefits for themselves and others.  116  Participants were invited to enter a discourse about their experiences in three general chronological phases of the inquiry: life before the crisis, the crisis, the recovery and time since the crisis. The invitation was extended in words similar to the following: I am conducting a research study that hopes to increase the understanding of what happens to people when they experience severe financial loss. I am particularly interested in what things you found most difficult and what you felt helped you the most. To understand the context of the loss it would be useful to get a sense of what life was like for you before the loss, during the loss itself and after the loss.  Questions in the beginning interview were largely openended, although some were inspired by comments that needed further exploration. Other questions arose because of issues arising out of other participant's interviews. Examples of general questions that were asked in all interviews were: 1. When did you first become aware of that feeling, thought, attitude? 2. How did you perceive others, yourself? Were the perceptions of others of any concern to you? 3. How was this feeling, thought, behavior different or the same from before? 4. Who was agreeable to that, disagreeable? 5. Who did what and when and how did  117  others respond to that? 6. What is your understanding of this? 7. Did the closeness between people change over the course of events? 8. What has been most helpful for you. 9. Are there things that you would have done differently to help yourself?  The second and, in five of the six cases, third interview were used to clarify issues that emerged in the previous interviews. The draft narrative was presented to the participant in the third or fourth inteview for validation that it was an adequate account of his or her experience. My wife, a student in the Department of Counselling Psychology, reviewed the transcripts and the the narratives for the purpose of ascertaining whether I had interfered or contaminated the participant's story. Her comments are included in the section at the end of chapter three. I was happy to have her participation since she also has had experience with the topic of this study and, as well, offers the perspective of a woman in the review of the narratives.  Analysis and Description Analysis, in ethnography, is a continuous process throughout the research and is guided by the principle of reflexivity or interrelationship between analysis, data collection and research design. Using a process of triangulation, whereby data from a variety of sources are compared, the study was able to build construct validity, to be discussed later.  118  The sources included theory, my own perspective, the transcripts of the participants, the descriptions of the participant's spouse and the participants themselves in the process of validation.  After the participants validated the narratives that I put together after the interviews, I summarized the themes emerging from their stories. The major feature of the analysis was to identify those actions or statements that suggested either changes or continuity in the underlying assumptions. This involved a comparison of the changes of both spouses in the marital couple. The next stage involved "theoretical triangulation" (Hammersely & Atkinson, 1983, p. 181) which means approaching the data from multiple theoretical perspectives. The stories of both spouses in the three couples were examined from the persectives of the theory of crisis and change (Reiss, 1981), the developmental stages of family identity (Steinglass et al, 1987) and theory from the field of ritual ( Bennett and Wolin, 1988).  The next stage of analysis was to examine all six stories together from the point of view of common themes and from the perspective of the different theories. The final chapter consists of a summary of the salient themes between the couples. This chapter concludes with a brief summary of recommendations of what has been helpful and what has  119  hindered recovery. This is intended for those who might find themselves in financial crisis.  Issues The major criteria for judging the quality of research designs are validity and reliability. Internal validity is, according to Yin (1984, p.38), a logic that is inapplicable to descriptive or exploratory studies. External validity, the problem of knowing whether a study's findings are generalizable beyond the immediate subject sampled for the study, is a criterion but in a way that is different from quantitative research. Case studies rely on analytical generalization which is the attempt to generalize a particular set of results to some broader theory. Each case is an analogue, providing a test for other accounts and leading toward a more adequate conceptualization, a deeper understanding of the experience.  The test of construct validity, the validity of the lines of inference running between data and concepts, determines the soundness or the adequacy of a description through the establishment of correct operational measures for the concepts being studied. Yin (1984 p. 36) has identified three case study tactics for construct validity. The first is the use of multiple sources of evidence. In this study this was addressed by the process of triangulation. The second tactic is the involvement of participants which this  120  study has done in the validation of the narratives. The third tactic is the establishment of a chain of evidence which was done by writing the narratives using, as much as possible, the words of the participants, involving an independant review of the transcripts and narratives and the process of validation by the participants themselves.  Mischler (1986) suggests that interviews are jointly produced discourses in which the the interviewer is always implicated in the construction of the phoenomenon analyzed. Hammerseley and Atkinson (1983) propose that the first requirement of social research is fidelity to the subject under study. Given that we cannot remove ourselves from the world in order to study it, we need to recognize that we are part of the social world we study. Hammersley and Atkinson point out that: rather than engaging in futile attempts to eliminate the effects of the researcher, we should set about understanding them.... [the researcher] is the research instrument par excellence. The fact that behaviour and attitudes are often not stable across contexts and that the researcher may play an important part in shaping the context becomes central to the analysis.... Data are not taken face value, but treated as a field of inferences in which hypothetical patterns can be identified and their validity tested out (p. 64).  121  Thus, this research reflects my own experience as well as the informants. To help the reader understand how I was involved in the co-construction of the data, I have described my perceptions in working with the participants in each individual narrative.  The fourth criterion for judging the quality of the research design is reliability. Because replicability is not really possible in this kind of research, reliability for this study assumes the meaning of trustworthiness, the reflection of experience in an honest and accurate manner. This requires the researcher to explicitly acknowledge his assumptions, biases, and perspective. Giorgi (1975) proposes that: By means of this procedure he is able to communicate to other researchers the attitude that he assumes with respect to his descriptions. The point here is not so much that other attitudes cannot be assumed, they can. Rather, the claim is that if any other researcher assumes the attitude described by the researcher, then he should be able to perceive and understand the same meanings. One does not necessarily have to agree, but one must understand what he is disagreeing about (p.78).  122  My own experiences with severe financial loss have been included earlier in this chapter and, in each case narrative, I have described my understanding of the relationships I have had with the informants. The perspective that I have tried to bring to this study is, similar to that outlined by Mischler (1986), "to understand what respondants mean by what they say in response to our queries and thereby to arrive at a description of respondents' worlds of meaning that is adequate to the tasks of systematic analysis and theoretical interpretation" (p. 7) .  I trust that the readers of this study will be persuaded that the procedures I have followed in this study have resulted in a rigorous study that has adequately captured the worlds of meaning described by the participants and analyzed them in a way that has helped to clarify the experience both for the respondants and the readers.  123  CHAPTER III  Participant's Stories  This Chapter contains the six narratives of couple A, Wendy and Duke, Couple B, Sara and Walter and Couple C, Robert and Ann. The narratives will be followed by a section containing comments by the participants on the accuracy of the narrative, comments by the researcher and the reviewer.  124  Duke's Story  The Beginning Duke, Wendy's husband, has been together with Wendy since the early 1970's. Wendy and Duke lost everything they owned in 1982 but the crisis that had most influence on their relationship was their separation in 1976, a divorce in 1977 and a gradual reconciliation which resulted in their joining together as a couple again in 1979. The loss of all their assets in 1982, although it caused a lot of difficulties, served to consolidate changes that had just taken place in their relationship during the reconciliation. To understand the changes that Duke experienced during the time 1976 to 1982, his story will begin with his early life.  Duke grew up in Germany during the thirties and forties. He says that he learned from his mother how to be positive and a love of working hard, "I work pretty hard.... It goes back to my mother." In addition, he says that from her he learned from her a habit of being "fussy", where "everything had to be in its place" and "you do everything right". This attitude, he feels was often quite strongly enforced and, he says, "you always felt like you're doing something wrong." Something else that he learned from his mother was a tendency to have a hot temper. Although his mother was very supportive of him, she also was very powerful and demanding  125  and sometimes he felt like it was his duty to "just sit there and take it". Although Duke is proud of his mother's ability to work hard, in later years he was concerned that she became "all crippled up" from her years of hard work. Duke saw his father as being less supportive and somewhat disapproving of him. His father did not approve of his wife's encouragement of Duke's involvement in military training in the 1930's. Duke felt that his mother "knew which way the wind blew" and would go along with things that would benefit their family. Duke felt that his father may have wished, although he never said so directly, that Duke would refuse to take part in these activities. He describes his father's involvement with him as, "he was never that interested in me really that way.... He never asked me what I was doing." Although his father was somewhat distant all through his childhood, Duke had an experience in 1950 that led him to believe that his father cared for him a lot more than he ever let on. His father cried at the train station when Duke left for Canada. Since he felt that his father couldn't pretend to cry, Duke concluded that there must have been some positive feelings there after all.  As a young adolescent, Duke served in the German armed forces during the second world war. He was 17 when the war ended and spent time in a prisoner of war camp. Unlike his childhood, where he was well provided for, the end of the  war was a time of starvation and deprivation. He tells a  126  story of retreating from the the Italian front without food and shelter and having to walk a thousand kilometers with nothing to eat except what little they could find along the way. In northern Italy, for example,they were locked in a building by the allied forces for three days without food or water before they managed to escape.  Duke came to Canada in 1950 at the age of 23. He settled in the interior of British Columbia, married a woman of aboriginal origins and they had a number of children. He had trouble trusting his first wife because he felt that she often spent their family money without a lot of thought on things other than food and shelter. Duke says that if he had met Wendy when he met his first wife, he could have retired twenty years ago because he made a lot of money during the fifties and sixties. He did not feel that his first wife made it possible to save any of these earnings. Work during these years consisted of operating his own lumber mill, a planer mill, buying and selling lumber and operating heavy machinery in large construction projects in the oil industry. Duke was gone from home for several months at a time, worked long hours and made a lot of money. He saw his role as providing the money and his wife's role was to run the household. He would "help out if someone was ill" but he says "I wouldn't take time off work [to help around the house], I thought something else was more important. Work, make a buck or whatever." Duke's children  127  were often descriminated against by other children because they were part aboriginal. He says that he always had to "fight somebody" to insure that they were being treated fairly by the school and community. In his work, Duke describes himself at that time as a "hot head" who was very rough with his employees. Looking back at it, he regrets being so rough but, at the time, he would use "any means to get the job done," including hitting people.  During these years, Duke had the experience of losing all of his successful businesses due to, he says, unforseen changes in government regulations and monopolistic practices by the large lumber corporations. Unlike later years, he says that he got very upset and "hollered and screamed my head off about [the losses)" because he had worked so hard to build up these enterprises to lose them that way.  In 1970, after his first wife died, Duke was hired by Wendy who had just recently acquired a hotel in his small home town, After a short time, they were operating the hotel as a couple, each with their well defined roles. Wendy specialized in the finances and Duke specialized in the renovations and maintenance. This role differentiation has continued through the years and Duke believes that having one person handle the finances is better "because the decision is made by only one person. Because I am agreeable with whatever she does." Duke felt that it was a little  128  difficult for him to trust others at this time given his experience in his marriage, the community and in work. Right from the beginning, however, he had a great respect for Wendy whom he found to be very trustworthy and considerate of others. Duke says that he started to change when he met her. He learned a new way of relating to others that he felt was more effective than his "hot-headed" style. He didn't initially agree with some of her business practices which were based on an unwillingness to take advantage of opportunities at the expense of others but eventually he began to agree with her and says, "that's another thing you learn from a person like this.... Where would you find a [honest] person like this?"  After three or four years of working sixteen hours a day, seven days a week, they sold the hotel which was still in Wendy's name, and went to Europe for two years. Part of this time was spent visiting Duke's parents in Germany. Duke's father died while he was there and Duke stayed in Germany for a time after Wendy returned to Canada so that he could look after his mother. When he returned to B.C., he and Wendy got married and they went back to the interior hotel to operate and resell it after the first sale had broken down. They found a new purchaser and took three properties in the fraser valley as a trade. They operated a hotel in Whistler for a year and decided that it wasn't economically feasible.  129  The Relationship and Financial Crisis, 1976-82 After leaving Whistler, they stayed in one of their three houses together with two of Wendy's sons and their families. This period was very difficult for Duke. Each of the three properties that they had taken on had mortgages and monthly payments. Wendy was trying to make money in real estate to cover these costs but Duke felt that she would not be able to earn anywhere near enough to make these payments. He believed that he would have to make a lot of money to make ends meet. He thought that the only way that this could be done was to go up north where he knew that he could make a lot of money. Wendy's expectation was, he felt, that he find some kind of job, any kind of job in the Vancouver area. He didn't share this idea with her because "I thought that maybe she won't like me to go up there." He didn't like the idea of just taking any job where he would only make one quarter of what he thought he could make up north. Furthermore, he believed that whatever he made from a job in the lower mainland wouldn't actually be enough to cover the costs of the mortgages. He felt caught in a dilemma. If he got a job in Vancouver, it would satisfy Wendy's needs but he thought that not only would he not make enough money to cover the monthly payments, he would also not like whatever job he found. If he went up north, he thought that he would satisfy his needs for a job that he liked and make enough money to pay for the properties but he felt that Wendy  130  probably wouldn't like the idea. He didn't want her to interpret his idea as a lack of confidence in her ability to make money, "I didn't want to tell her 'well, I don't think you can do it without me.'" The result was that Duke didn't share this idea with Wendy, "I didn't really let her know, she thought I just didn't want to work." He knew, based on his experience over many years, that it would work out if he went up north but he didn't think that Wendy would believe that he could do it. He felt that her trust of him was not as high as it could have been because he was getting into drinking and he thought that she would be worried that he couldn't take care of himself.  In addition to this issue with Wendy, Duke was feeling uncomfortable about how the others in the house might be seeing him. As a person who had always worked hard and made a lot of money, he felt guilty about being the only one that was not bringing in an income in the household. Although he liked everyone in the house, he felt that they were all thinking, "what is he doing here, I wonder if he should be eating or not?" Duke says that he would have been happy if he were the only one working and they were all depending on him, the provider role that he had always been used to, but in this situation, he says, "I felt like an intruder." He says that he did not share his frustration with Wendy because he wasn't very good at saying things in a way that would make it easy for the other person to listen. He  131  withdrew into drinking "in the wine cellar" and says of himself, "I was a loner." Unlike in later years, where he describes himself as a person who "says what I want to say," talking at this time was not a way that he was able to deal with the situation. As things got more and more tense, the solution of going up north seemed like the only way that Duke could bring in the kind of money to save the investments. The situation changed dramatically when he and Wendy had a big argument and Duke says, "I jumped in my truck and headed north." Duke says that he was still drinking as he was driving north but stopped the moment he arrived in Ft. St. John. He got a job that he liked right away as he knew he would, and because making as much money as possible was his goal, he was soon making fifteen to twenty thousand dollars a month at three different jobs. Working every waking hour was, he thinks, "a way of staying out of trouble" by which he meant getting into drinking. Although working this hard was to have, he believes, some serious consequences for his health in later years, at the time he says that he really enjoyed what he was doing and it was great to be making money again.  Although he and Wendy were not in contact for a while, as Duke re-established himself as a successful businessman, he regained his confidence that their marriage was going to be able to overcome this difficulty. Looking back on this time he says, "I guess I had to prove myself." Using the many  132  hours of solitude operating machines, he describes his use of time as "you analyze yourself, 'well, I shouldn't have done this, I shouldn't have done that.'" Duke felt that the crisis was largely his responsibility, "I knew that it was my fault really when it all happened." He decided early to take on the responsibility to do what had to be done to build up the relationship again.  When Wendy filed for divorce in 1977, Duke did not hinder the process even though he did not agree with it. He still felt that they could make it as a couple. Duke never asked why she wanted the divorce and didn't feel critical about her decision to do it, "I don't know what she thought at the time, I never asked her." He was the one that reinitiated the contact with Wendy, saying, "she didn't phone me." He wanted to let her know that he was taking care of himself and doing well. He also wanted to stay in contact because he was was worried about her, knowing that she was alone. It was important to him that she knew that he "stuck to himself" and was "staying out of trouble." By 1978, Duke felt that "she saw that I could do it." By this time, he says that, "I just smartened up." He had learned how to say things differently, a skill that he feels he has maintained ever since: I am not a hot head any more like I used to be. I just blurted out something which didn't make sense anyway. Now I probably think more and come up  133  with the right, what I want to say in the first place. It used to, it didn't come out right. I was thinking it the right way but it didn't come out right so that made a difference.  He thinks that he had learned to use his ideas less and listen more. Having learned that he couldn't force his ideas onto Wendy, he says, "you don't direct a person like that." With an increased concern for how she was feeling, he suggests that, "I couldn't do anything to upset her."  By 1979, Duke says that Wendy's trust for him had increased to the point where she wanted to come up to Ft. St. John and stay with him for a while. Duke didn't know what she would do with her time, since he was only home to sleep, "I had no time for her," but he was very glad to have her come up. This situation, he says, was quite different from 1976 where Wendy was the one that was working long hours and Duke was staying at home.  After a few months Wendy returned to Vancouver. Duke believes that, since this time, they have been operating as a team. They agreed that they could be both together and have Duke stay up north for a few more years since the money was so good. Being able to trust each other, geographical distance was not a problem. Duke felt good being able to provide for Wendy as her real estate business was doing all  134  right but not providing a lot of money. With his salary he says that they were able to "live like kings." He felt comfortable in the role of provider and leaving the responsibility of what to do with the money to Wendy. Their level of trust of each other was such that they invested in a number properties together, "we trust each other, we throw our money together." A respect that has persisted since 1979 is described by Duke as "I am agreeable with whatever she does... I think, like, if she says to me today 'tomorrow we have nothing but a piece of bread,' that would be o.k.. I wouldn't say a word. I wouldn't ask her, 'well, where is the money or haven't you got no money?' I wouldn't ask the question because she wouldn't have any - otherwise I would get something better to eat. I don't ask these questions."  In retrospect, Duke feels that Wendy, too, was able to respect his reasons for going north even though she might not have agreed with it. In this way, he says that they were able to achieve agreement on something that would not have been possible two or three years earlier. Since 1979 and even earlier, even though there were many difficult times to follow, Duke says that "we have never had any arguments, not one bad word since."  In 1981, Wendy came up with the idea that they would buy a number of properties in Courtney on Vancouver Island  135  including an old mansion that needed extensive renovations. Duke describes the ambitious plans they had for this place: We were planning on really making something and stay there. The plans we had you know. We put a lot of money in it.... We remodelled the house.... Then we had plans for an addition to it. We were going to put a health spa in there. We were in contact with one lady who was going to have plans drawn up for that, swimming pool and the whole thing.... The house was finished and we had a taxi service going. I still had a back hoe machine, a brand new one. We had a real estate office in there. We thought we had it made.  For a period of almost two years, Wendy put all of her energy into the renovations and Duke concentrated on making as much money as possible to pay for it all. Because he wasn't in Courtenay, Duke had to trust Wendy's judgement about what renovations were required and he believed that she would do what was best. About a year after the start of this project, the economy started to slow down dramatically in Ft. St. John and, at about the same time, Wendy shattered her ankle during the renovations. Duke quit his jobs, transported his new backhoe down by train and joined Wendy to see if he could find work in the Courtney area. Because of the economy, Duke says that:  136  everything went to hell.... I put ads in the paper for somebody to contract it out. I'd give them the machine, as long as I got the payments out of it. But I couldn't even do that.... I couldn't sell it, nobody would have bought it. I couldn't even find a job. I went from place to place to look for work on the island.... I gave my back hoe back to Finning Tractor. I just gave it back. I just told them, well, you know, I lost about $50,000 on it alone.  Unlike 1976, however, Duke says that not being able to find work did not cause any problems between them. He did everything he could, "I tried everything and she knew it". About this time, making the situation more complicated, they found out that the house was insulated with urea formaldehyde and no lending institution would loan them the $80,000 they needed to pay out the original owners. Unable to obtain a loan, they were faced with the possiblitity of losing everything. In an attempt to save the situation, Duke took on a big renovation contract in the Vancouver area that, with a lot of hard work, was supposed to have netted him $50,000. Unfortunately, the owner failed to keep his agreement and never paid Duke for the six months of back breaking work. To make matters worse, Duke was seriously injured on the job, "I got hurt there and he just didn't pay me what I had coming... I put a lien on the place and it was  137  getting so bad that I went to him one day and I said, well, even give me half, eh, but he didn't give me half, all he gave me was a thousand dollars to take the lien off. But I needed that thousand bucks so bad that I took it." About a year or two later, Duke was to be injured again when a refrigerator fell on his leg. These two injuries plus a long term illness that Duke attributes to the years of hard work in Ft. St. John, were almost to incapacitate him for three years following the financial loss.  Not getting the money meant that they were much closer to losing their $250,000 equity in the house and properties. Duke thought that they still didn't have to lose it because he believed that Wendy had the kind of know how to forstall those kinds of things. Duke would have continued to try and save the project, "[It] was never in my head at all to give up. Never. I don't think that way." But in the end he says that she decided not to put themselves into a position of dependancy with the banks and wanted to let the properties go: We didn't actually need to lose it because we could have dragged it out... because it was her home, she didn't want to go to this bank here and this guy there, pleading for her. If she would have to plead for you or for strangers she will do it. But she won't do it for herself. And I felt the same way about it.... There would have been a  138  lot of worry... a lot financing this week, financing that, where does, is it going to work out and all this, so we talked it over and, just, everything, just let it go. Let it go. We were happier than heck, actually. Who cares, we don't care.  After the Crisis Duke has mixed feelings about the loss of everything. On the one hand, he says that even though they lost all the equity they had worked so long and hard for, this loss was no big problem for them. Even though, ten years later, they are still paying off a loan associated with the house they lost, it was no problem, he says, "once we decided what to do with the whole thing." On the other hand, his one regret was that they got perhaps too enthusiastic about the project: "I guess we got a little bit too positive, I guess we got too big, we shouldn't have bought all this stuff, and the owing some on it yet and all this. This is what gets you down."  Over the three years following the loss, Duke describes himself as being extremely tired from having worked so hard first up north and then on the construction project he took on in the desperate attempt to save the properties in Courtenay:  139  And we have been working hard since [the loss]. All the time. I got sick for a while there, you know, I couldn't hardly do anything but, I really was. I was burned out. That's what I was.... You know there were days, I slept on the floor. I was so tired. Anywhere, I could lay down anywhere. For about two or three years, I could lay anywhere and sleep. On the highway, anywhere, I was just tired. Then I came back again.  In retrospect, even though the six years in Ft. St. John was the time when he regained his confidence in himself and his marriage, he says it had a price, "Ft. St. John was a killer for me."  Up until the last few years, they moved often from one place to another. Many of these residences in the beginning were rent free in return for some service that they could provide. In spite of their changed circumstances, Duke says "we had rough times but we made it easy." Because of his illness and injuries, he was unable to work the long hours and provide an income the way he had in the past but he did not feel like an "intruder" or feel a need to prove himself because "finances were nothing, because we were together.... We stuck together better than ever, we were very close then."^There was a climate of each helping the other when necessary. There became more time for talking and  140  listening. Luke claims that "talking was the biggest part of being able to handle stress" during this time. He says that the loss of 1982 was handled better because of what he had learned during their separation. Without what he learned he thinks that "I wouldn't have listened carefully enough, I would have used my own ideas more and maybe it wouldn't have worked. And then it would have put her under stress because she probably wouldn't want to say anything, it probably would have got worse."  Duke's trust of Wendy continued throughout the whole loss and he maintains that "she always does the right thing." There was no blaming between them and Duke feels that the loss in 1982 was because "it just didn't work out." He feels that they didn't blame each other because they both knew that they both had done everything possible in the situation.  In the last few years, 1989-91, they have owned their home. Duke studied for and received his real estate license during this time. For the last year he has been working in a large industrial plant on a regular basis. Although he could work overtime everyday if he wanted to, he has restricted himself to only working eight hours a day. This, he admits, is "a heck of a big change" from earlier years although he still says that "I work too much and that bothers me." Duke still finds that he tends to take on more than his share of work  141  in the plant. His collegues are very appreciative but he still says, "I don't know why I do it." Duke says that Wendy doesn't want him to work overtime because "if we don't talk one and a half hours a day, we miss it." Working too much would cause trouble because, as Duke says, "If I don't listen for an hour, she gets upset... Wendy has got to have someone who tells her what is going on... and I feel that I should take it easy because, you know, you have got a partner and you don't want to, all of a sudden, lay down and do nothing. I guess if you were by yourself you wouldn't feel that way." He says that talking is important to him as well because, "you must involve your wife in your life to solve problems." He chooses not to work as much as he could because "I just don't want to work all the time, I like to be at home." Following the pattern that they had established since 1978-79, he says that "we talk about everything and whatever we do, we always agree." "The biggest thing," he says, "is not to hurt each other."  Duke willingly does much of the work around the house. He says "when she is home she cleans up and when I am home, I clean up." For a number of years he has enjoyed doing the ironing because "she is such a busy girl." Unlike the years when he worked so hard at his job that he didn't have time for daily chores, he says "now I do it just because I feel it is my role. She is over there at work and I am glad I do it. I do the washing, she does the washing."  142  Duke's way of dealing with the past and the loss of Courtenay is to be positive, "I am a very positive guy.... I never think negative. And she is amazed by that because I just don't think negative. I don't even allow it in my mind to think about something negative." ^He laughs when he talks about how Wendy calls him a "dreamer". He has put the whole experience out of his mind, "I made it a point not to think of it," he says. Duke believes that both he and Wendy have found this approach useful. Even though, he says, "everything went down the drain, we took it as it was. We never said much to each other about it." Part of the reason for this approach is Duke's respect for Wendy, "she's just a little different person. Like you don't argue about something which has gone down the drain anyway with a person like this because you can't do that because you respect her too much." Duke thinks that part of the reason this works is she feels the same way about him, "I think she respects me as much as I respect her, most likely." Neither of them have resorted to complaining about how things have not worked out as well as they could have. Like when Wendy shattered her ankle, he has great respect for how she just continued on, "she still hobbles, she still can't walk right. But, I mean, that is the way she is. Tough customer, that one." He feels that Wendy has understood, without him having to say so, how difficult it has been for him, "she knew I was tired, I didn't have to tell her that.  143  We just never, we just keep going. We don't talk about it. Often I think about her, she keeps going."  In terms of their economic future, Duke has ambivalent thoughts. On the one hand, so much of what he has worked at has been undermined by economic forces beyond his control that he says, "nothing ever lasts any more. All of a sudden, the government comes along and you're out. It happens all along." On the other hand, he says that there is nothing you can do to prevent many types of economic loss, "the government is involved and the economy is involved and you are involved, there are three different practices going on, there is nothing you can do about it." Duke feels that he doesn't "holler and scream" his head off as he did when he as younger. "Now it doesn't bother me at all." He remains optimistic even though he feels that it is more difficult now to be successful in making money: I always think tomorrow I'm going to make it again. I'll never make it by the look of it, but that's the way I look at it. I never give up. Always something gotta, something gotta happen again. It's not getting any better finding these days but I still won't give up on it.... Right now everything is o.k., we are not dead yet. There is a lot of scheming going on here.  144  He and Wendy still have plans to invest and "we will try to get things going in the meantime which will probably work out I'm quite sure". He plans to be very careful and "instead of making $100,000, just make $20,000 at a time. Probably work out fine."  In terms of their relationship, Duke is very optimistic. He says that "everything is getting better all the time." Talking and working things out has become a regular part of their relationship: Some people don't talk to each other. That happens, for a day, we never do that. That wouldn't work with us. I think it is really cruelty to do that. To not talk to somebody. You better tell her what bothers you. At least you know what bothers you. And if you don't tell them, at least talk to them. I think that it is really bad when somebody doesn't talk. I think that is what is wrong with people. The silent treatment, they call it.  He feels that he knows how to be aware of the feelings of others and communicate "way better than I used to.... You don't say things which, some people are hurt pretty easily. It don't have to be just somebody you love, even people around you, friends, some people take it serious what other people say."  145  Looking back on the difficult times in 1976, Duke describes how he found it difficult to talk about issues that were problematic. He tried to deal with his anxiety by drinking at first but came to realize that "I don't think you can deal with stress if you are drinking. You're ok for that one evening because you talk yourself right into it but when you get sober it is a different story altogether." Referring to issues that were contentious, where their needs were different, Duke says, "that is the one thing we didn't talk about too much. Later, I did and that is when it all changed around." Compared to his approach of earlier years, Duke observes that "I have been saying what I want to say for a long, long time."  Duke believes that, in addition to keeping the lines of communication open, an essential ingredient in keeping their marriage together is his positive outlook: "Every day is a new day. She knows that. She can't understand why I feel, she figures I'm a dreamer. I say 'I'm not dreaming, I mean it.' And then you laugh about it. It's just a good life with her, you know, that way. Just no, no, arguments. Isn't that beautiful? And that helps, boy that helps."  146  Wendy's Story  Before the Crisis Wendy and Duke have been together since the early seventies. After selling a hotel which they had operated together for four years, they travelled in Europe managing a country and western band for two years. Back in Canada, they married in 1975, separated in in 1976, divorced in 1977 and had a reconciliation in 1979. In 1980, they purchased a large heritage house in a small community on Vancouver Island which they hoped would be a center for their extended families and provide them an income as a bed and breakfast establishment. In 1982, after having put all their life savings into renovating this mansion and purchasing other properties close by, everything was lost in the recession. They walked away from this experience with little more than the clothes on their backs. Since 1982, they have never fully recovered financially from the loss and are still paying off a loan taken out at that time. The loss in 1982 dollars Wendy estimates at about 250,000. In the period following this loss, Duke was ill for a number of years but, since 1990, has been working full time as a maintenance engineer in a large industrial plant. Wendy bought a small real estate company which she has managed since 1985. She says that this company, while not providing a high income, has been modestly successful.  147  Although the financial loss of 1982 has certainly had a devastating effect on their financial security, the more significant crisis in terms of the effect on their marital relationship was the period surrounding the separation and divorce of 1976-77. Their ability to support each other and work together as a team was highly developed enough after their reconciliation in 1979 that they were able to weather the subsequent financial crisis intact. To understand how these two crises interacted to change their lives, Wendy's story begins with her own mother.  Wendy's mother came to Canada from Scotland at age 18 around the turn of the century.^She came essentially as an orphan as her parents, sister and guardians had all died. Other more distant relatives had, Wendy believes, conspired to push her from her inheritance, the family inn. There was no one there to look after her and Wendy has great admiration for how her mother had the courage to leave behind this hopeless situation and strike out on her own.  Growing up in a remote area of B.C. as a child, Wendy felt that her immediate family was an extremely important source of support. She did not have any aunts or uncles so she felt it was necessary for them to be close knit and together. Wendy learned to value understanding others and believes that she "may have a little bit more understanding"  148  because she had been exposed to so many different kinds of people when she was young in a small frontier town: "the more broader experiences you are getting in life, circumstances, other people, the more you understand".  Wendy's first marriage was, to some extent, motivated by an attempt to help her husband who did not have a close supportive family as a child. Unfortunately, she feels that her first husband was totally dominated by the requirements of work and did not value the marital relationship or family. Wendy has never been reluctant to work hard but promised herself after the break up of the first marriage that she would never again allow herself to be put in a position where she didn't have the power to insure that her values, especially those regarding family, were being given equal priority to those of others. She felt that she had no power and says "I had to do what I was told". In this marriage, Wendy felt helpless as she had to tailor her life to fit someone else's agenda. She felt that she had to give her youngest children less nurturance than she felt they needed because she had to commute and work long hours to support her husband's business which she never believed would be successful. He was obsessed, Wendy thinks, with the goal of "becoming a millionaire". Wendy says that Lloyd, her first husband "never allowed me to share his feelings, it was all surface and he didn't include me in his thoughts". She felt "alone, always alone" and this really  149  bothered her having come from a childhood where people were so close and supportive. Wendy's ideal, "all the things I was working towards, establishing a home", was not realized in this marriage because her first husband "didn't take any interest in the home". In contrast to working, Wendy tells of a brief period where she really enjoying building a home when her oldest children were young and of moving in before the doors and windows were in: "that was a fun year for me, I enjoyed that little house".  Just before Wendy's first marriage ended, her first husband's business suffered a severe financial loss. This really made all the years that she had put into his business seem even more futile. She felt betrayed by the emphasis put on business at the expense of her family life, her lack of power to determine the direction of their lives and the emotional distance in their marital relationship. She felt that she had put in "all those years" in the business with little to show for it.  Wendy went into real estate in the sixties and did well at it. By 1970 she had enough equity to purchase a small hotel on a lake in the interior with her brother. When her brother had to pull out his funds several months after they took possession, she was able to borrow money to buy him out and take on the project on her own. Early on in this project, Wendy hired Duke to help her run the hotel which  150  she could not do on her own.^Duke's first wife had died several years earlier and, soon after he started, Wendy and Duke were operating the hotel as a couple. It was a demanding business which often took sixteen hours a day, seven days a week to operate. Wendy's two younger children lived with her in the hotel some of the time and, the rest of the time, they spent with their father who lived three hundred miles away. Some of Duke's children lived in the community and others were living elsewhere going to school. Wendy describes this time with Duke as one where they worked very well together. She handled the money end of things and Duke handled the renovations and maintenance jobs. Each felt very comfortable in their clearly defined roles, enjoyed the work that they were doing, and they soon came to trust each other a lot. Both of them were "doers", believed in hard work and had come from entrepreneurial backgrounds where they had to look after themselves. There was so much work to be done that they never had to worry about what to do. They both shared the goal of making the business a success and so had few questions about the value of working hard even though they knew it was a pace that they couldn't keep up forever.  Compared to the life they were to have after the sale of the hotel, the busy schedule of running this hotel was well suited to their desire to be equal contributing members of a partnership. This project met their need for independance  151  by offering many different opportunities to express their intitiative and creativity. These contributions could be done separately or together but always in the context of a working team. There was no fear of dependancy because, especially in the beginning, it was primarily a business relationship where their expectations of each other were, she says, "not high." Work provided an opportunity to be close but not too close. As Wendy says, "it was work, work, work, work." Although she was to change her mind later she thought that their relationship might have been so work related that "there was no personal rapport at the hotel." Duke had lived in the community in which the hotel was located for many years and had, with twenty years of success behind him in logging and construction, chose to work with Wendy. Wendy owned the hotel but she felt that his expertise was a very essential part of the operation. Each could feel independant, appreciated and equal. With the focus always on the business, trust was easily developed and maintained because Wendy felt that, unlike their previous relationships, they really could count on each other. Both believing so strongly in working hard, doing one's share and sharing the goal of making the business a success made, she says, trusting easy.  Positiveness was an important ingredient in their success with each other and in dealing with customers in the hotel. Wendy stresses the importance of public relations in  152  attracting new customers and building up the business. Although they had a number of problems in the operation of the hotel, being positive and working hard always seemed to solve the difficulty eventually. There was no need to pay much attention to personal problems because, in addition to the fact that there were few if any, there was a shared assumption that the business was the priority and their individual needs would be best met by staying positive and making the business a success. "Team work was everything" in the business. Until the hotel was sold, neither of them had any money because every extra penny was put back into the business to make it more effective. This, according to Wendy, contributed to a sense of equal partnership.  In the mid seventies, Wendy and Duke travelled in Europe managing the country and western group that had been the house band at their hotel. One of the players was Wendy's third son. Her youngest son lived with his father. Wendy describes this trip as the "vacation of a life time" and a reward for all the hard work in the hotel. Much of the time in Europe was spent in southern Germany where Dukes' parents still lived. His father died while they were there. Luke, according to Wendy, felt betrayed by his sister who wanted all the inheritance for herself. She says that Duke "did not fight" his sister because he was not interested in the money but his feelings about this perceived betrayal were,  153  from Wendy's view, connected to difficulties they experienced later on.  In terms of their relationship, Wendy felt that in their time in Europe, they were "always surrounded by people." This made it more difficult for them to feel like a couple. Wendy returned home leaving Duke to look after his mother. Duke was to have stayed longer, but he returned to B.C. eight months after Wendy. They got married in 1975. Unfortunately, the sale of the interior hotel had collapsed and they had to take possession again and try to resell it while they were negotiating to take over another hotel in Whistler, B.C. They got the interior hotel sold again but had to take three houses in the Fraser Valley as equity. After running the Whistler hotel for a year they returned in 1976 to live in one of the three houses. At about this time, two of her sons and their families moved in with Wendy and Duke to help pay for the mortgages.  The Relationship Crisis and Reconciliation Wendy found the time after they moved into this house very difficult. Unlike the time spent in the interior hotel, they did not have, she feels, clear shared goals at this time. They had three properties to be concerned about and, because there was no physical work involved, Wendy felt that the responsibility for managing these properties was all on her shoulders. She had started selling real estate again  154  which she had not done since before the purchase of the interior hotel. She felt lost and "didn't know where to turn to" in her attempts to keep up the payments on these properties. Duke had never lived in an urban area and couldn't find a job. He became critical of what she was doing. Wendy knew what the lifestyle involved in real estate was all about but he had never experienced it before. She felt that all her decisions were being questioned. This was so unlike their time in the interior hotel where she felt that she had had the "freedom to do what she wanted." In order to make money to pay the mortgages, Wendy felt justified in working long hours away from home but Duke did not like this. Wendy couldn't understand why, given the circumstances, he wanted her to say home with him.  Wendy's descriptioh of why their relationship became so strained at this time falls into two main areas: Duke's unresolved issues from his past that she felt he had to work out and his lack of work which made it impossible for them to continue the partnership that had worked so well for them in the past. Wendy felt that Duke still hadn't recovered from the experience of having been betrayed by his sister. "He didn't fight" for his inheritance because "he didn't think that money was important." She felt that he had a "personality problem" because of his "hang-ups from before". She says that he never discussed what these problems were but, when the situation became intolerable, he decided that  155  the only solution was for him to go away on his own and work things out on his own. She did not entirely agree with this solution but she was prepared to walk away from the relationship because she had lost hope that it was going to work.  The second reason suggested for the breakdown of the relationship was that Duke was like a "fish out of water" in an urban area far away from his traditional sources of work and contacts. She asks, "where did he fit in?" Historically, Duke had been the family provider and, in his experience with Wendy, had been a needed and valued team mate in their work in the hotels. In this situation, Wendy felt that the comfortable role was no longer available to him as he "sort of had to meld into my way of life." About all he could contribute was to look after some cows and chickens that they had bought for their home which sat on several acres. Wendy was preoccupied and feeling overwhelmed with her real estate endeavors and holding together the assets that came from the sale of the hotel. Wendy had always known that it was important to be working at something that you enjoy but she was so involved looking after the business end of things that she "didn't know that he would have problems if not involved." She thinks that he was so upset with himself and the situation because "I think that it was because he felt that he should be doing it [work], not me." Wendy recognizes that he may not have felt  156  that others understood his experience because "maybe he felt that he wasn't appreciated." In later years she says that she became more aware of how important it was for him to understand what she was trying to do. Wendy thinks that he was being critical because "he didn't understand." She says that when he understood what she was trying to do in real estate in later years he became extremely supportive. Comparing the relationship crisis of 1976 to the financial crisis of 1982, Wendy feels that the 1976 loss was more severe in its impact on them. The loss of work over a relatively short period of time was associated with much more difficulty than the massive loss of assets.  In their previous work experience, they had been able to balance the need for independance and the need for relationship easily. Now, however, Wendy was feeling "smothered" by his criticism, the questioning of her decisions and what felt like demands for her to stay home more. Wendy describes Duke as needing more of her attention and feeling left out of her business life which he had previously shared so closely with her. Wendy wanted her decisions to be accepted without questioning. She felt that she needed the freedom to go, for example, on business trips if she thought it was necessary. She also wanted more understanding of the difficulties she was having. She felt she was doing the best she possibly could under the circumstances. Wendy "expected him to cope with whatever he  157  had to deal with... and not dump on me" so that she could get on with the work that she felt needed to be done if they were to save their properties. There was not time to deal with everything, so "it was kind of pushed to the side, the relationship because of the necessity of coping with all the things."  Unlike the emphasis given to understanding, friendship and talking things out described in the work partnership of 1970-74 and the close intimate relationship from 1979 to the present, Wendy describes 1976 as a time where neither person could get their needs met. Duke was not able to understand how overwhelmed Wendy was, how much she needed him to be positive and how difficult it was to take all his negativity. Although Wendy had always thought that it was important to share feelings, she felt that this situation was so difficult that "there was no time to worry about somebody being moody or the feelings of somebody, or troubles that didn't mean anything." Even though Wendy felt that she had always been able to understand people and accept a lot of what people do, this experience was just too much for her and she says "I just couldn't cope with the emotional stress when things got unpleasant." During later years Wendy believes that their ability to adapt to so many changes was based on their ability to understand each other. "It is all understanding," she says. But in 1976 she felt that this was not working.  158  Wendy got so discouraged that she got to the point where she believed that the relationship wasn't worth saving, "it was best just to end it," she concluded. Her old fear that "there was no one there" for her came back. She didn't feel that she could handle the business and look after a critical husband too. Wendy's belief that "teamwork was everything" came up against a situation that didn't fit. She had worked hard and done her best but still the relationship was falling apart. On the one hand, Wendy felt that her choices were limited to one option: "it was best just to end it... it was a necessary thing, it had to happen." They were both fed up: "we were both prepared to walk away from it because we couldn't put with it anymore."  On the other hand, Wendy felt that the separation didn't make sense. This made it particularly difficult for Wendy who had never wanted this to happen because she felt that they had "worked so well together". She says, "it was a difficult time for me because it was awful hard for me to accept. The fact that we did have a relationship there and there was no real reason that this dissolved. It seemed that we still had too much in common to let it go." In addition to this, even though she knew she had the strength and confidence to function individually, she had "never wanted to be alone".  159  Although she wanted the separation too, Wendy saw it as primarily duke's initiative to leave. In some ways she did not agree with what Duke had decided to do but she also felt that she understood that it was necessary, for his sake, for him to go: "the only way that he could solve it was to get away by himself and sort everything out and be almost isolated."  Compared to the trust between them that Wendy speaks of in later years, this time is described as one where trust was at its lowest ebb. Unlike the financial crisis six years later, Wendy describes a situation where two people felt that their needs could not be met in difficult times. Although Wendy felt that she had always been able to avoid worrying about financial insecurity, she says that 1976 was difficult because it was the relationship that became the problem, not money or assets.  After the separation in 1976, Wendy and Duke were divorced in 1977. Wendy continued to work in real estate and she says that she did reasonably well during this time. She missed having a friend to talk to and did not find anyone else that she felt close to. Duke worked in Ft. St. John managing apartment blocks and did construction and heavy equipment operation. Wendy says that he was making "big money" up there and, after a while, began to send her money for her to invest for him. Duke also continued to stay in  160  contact as a friend, sent gifts and wrote letters. Wendy describes their gradual reconciliation as a "joint effort".  In the period 1977 to 1979, Wendy says that Duke gradually regained his cooperative nature, became much more tolerant and easy to get along with. She regained her trust that he was still a kind and loving person after all. He appeared to have worked out his difficulties from the past and he was happy to be making money again. It became even more clear, from Wendy's point of view, that a large part of the reason why Duke was so anxious in 1976 was because "he felt inadequate because he wasn't making enough money, he didn't know where to turn." Seeing how well he was doing emotionally with a good job, she says "I also didn't realize that, in many ways, he was better off working in his own environment that he had come from than trying to fit into the city life... he didn't fit in... he wasn't in his place." Looking back, Wendy understood how hard it had been for him to trust anyone. Even though she always believed that their hard-won assets belonged to both of them, she became aware that he didn't trust that she would share: "and though he worked so hard, he equally shared in everything that happened there because of his participation but it was still always in the back of his mind that it was my project. I was the one that initiated it and I was the one that, you know, it didn't bother me but it bothered him." As the likeable person began to re-emerge, it became even more  161  clear that Duke flourished and had self respect in an environment where he felt useful and had some control over his life. Wendy observes that "it is very necessary for his type of personality to be contributing and independant too." The experience in Ft. St. John helped to make the reasons for the relationship breakdown in 1976 more understandable. Seeing Duke as his original self made it more apparent that the economic factors and changes in roles had affected his ability to be supportive.  In 1979, Wendy went to Ft. St. John to stay with Duke for several months. As she began to reexperience Duke's supportive and generous nature, Wendy began to regain her confidence and optimism. She began to reevaluate her feeling that there was no one there for her. Her own willingness to see others "as basically good people unless you find out otherwise" was reaffirmed. A spirit of forgiveness which Wendy had always believed in but which was shaken in the process of getting divorced, came back as she and Duke felt more secure in their friendship. She was able to apply a belief to the situation with Duke that she had always felt was important in her dealings with others: "you can't hold a grudge, you can't hold them accountable because you don't know why they are like that." Wendy generously admits that she had a part to play in the problem of 1976 too: "[the problem got worse] because I was reacting."  162  Although Wendy didn't particularly like small towns like Ft. St. John nor did she feel comfortable being dependant on someone else, she consented to spend several months with Duke in this small northern center in the cold season "with ice on the windows". This could have been stressful as the situation reduplicated some of the factors that made 1976 difficult. One person was working a lot and the other was at home, one person was making the money and the other was not and the non-working spouse had to structure his or her life around the schedule of the working spouse. Unlike 1976, however, they were able to overcome whatever discomfort they might have felt and used this time as an opportunity to consolidate the reconciliation. It was also a time for them to discover what their relationship could be like without a lot of people around which had sometimes made it difficult to be together in the past.  Wendy was concerned at this time about the effect the hard work was having on Duke but she was also proud and respectful of his ability to build up from nothing his own business in a few short years. After these four years of hard work and being alone, Wendy describes Duke as having undergone a transformation: "He was up there all alone and then he has been a completely, I shouldn't say completely different person, in some respects he has, in that he has got his self respect back. And then, like I mean, he is so easy to get along with, you wouldn't believe it. He is  163  always just supportive and really happy with himself." Wendy's view of their earlier relationship as one where "there wasn't really much of a personal rapport in those days before" was also transformed into a more positive view, "maybe there was more to the talking done than I realize because I certainly missed it when it wasn't there. When I didn't have anybody to share these ideas with."  In Ft. St. John, they decided to become a couple again and join their assets. Wendy returned to Vancouver and Duke stayed up north with the idea that he would stay for a while because the money was so good. In 1979, they bought a house in Vancouver with both of their money.  The Financial Crisis After returning to Vancouver in late 1979, Wendy began to feel that the city was becoming too hectic and she found herself getting tired of the real estate business. She heard about a potential hotel or bed and breakfast business in Courtney, a small city on Vancouver Island. She knew that it would be important when Duke left the north to have a place to live where they could both find work. This small city seemed like a good possibility given that it was more like the rural areas that Duke was accustomed to. Wendy telephoned Luke and asked him to come to Vancouver right away so that they could visit this place and make a decision about buying it.  164  By this time, Wendy says that she and Duke had come to an understanding that they would be "together for the rest of their lives". Creating a project like this "seemed worthwhile because we were setting it up like a retirement project". It would be a bed and breakfast business, but even more important, it would be a "home where all the kids could come and we would be all settled in... We didn't look at it as a business. The rooms would be rented when people [family] weren't there but, certainly, the whole idea behind it was to set it up like a home base out of the city."  They decided to sell their house in Vancouver and buy the old mansion the first day they saw it. The plan was that Duke would remain up north and send down all his money while Wendy organized the renovations. The house would require major renovations before it would be ready but, with six bedrooms upstairs, a winding oak staircase and chandeleers, they couldn't resist the challenge of restoring the original beauty of the place.  The first day that they saw the house, Wendy remembers well because the night before Mt. St. Helens had erupted and, in the town, all the cars were covered with ash. The first day she took possession, she also remembers vividly because she found a little boy in the basement preparing to set a match to a pile of oily rags next to several cans of gasoline.  165  She tried to help this little boy who came from a family that neglected him but they moved away soon after. She remembers this experience very clearly and says, "it was sad that this little fellow was starting out his life this way".  For the next year and a half, Wendy immersed herself in renovations with a crew of five helping her. She describes this period as a wonderful time where she had the freedom to make whatever renovations she wanted. She saw herself as being in charge of the project and Duke's contribution was to "pour money" in from his high paying job up north. During this time she also set up a taxi business and a real estate company, took on the job of running the local chamber of commerce and purchased several other houses and properties with the idea of using a city block to build a large hotel in the future. After a year and a half of hard work and 100,000 dollars, the original beauty of the mansion had just about been completely restored when Wendy shattered he ankle while waxing a floor. She supervised the completion of the renovations from a wheelchair, purchased bedding and furniture for all the rooms and enough dishes and food preparation supplies to deal with thirty guests.  At the time of the injury in 1982, a number of other significant events happened. The recession was having a devastating effect on the economy. Duke's business was slowing down up north and it was becoming less and less of  166  an advantage to stay up there while Wendy needed help down on the island. They decided that it would be better for him to close up his operations, ship down his new back hoe and see if he could find work on Vancouver Island. This meant that there was no longer a steady income coming in. At about the same time, in the process of applying for an $80,000 mortagage to pay out the original owners, the appraiser discovered that the house had been insulated with urea formaldehyde. This was particularly upsetting because they had been assured twice at the time of the purchase that there was no urea in the house. As a result of this, no bank would give them a mortgage. Without a mortgage they would lose all their properties in which they had about $250,000 dollars equity. Wendy tried desperately to find a mortgage. She paid a mortgage broker to try and find a contact. She was even willing to pay 15,000 extra to get a loan but nothing worked.  Duke, unfortunately, was not able to find any work. His backhoe which he had shipped down at great expense was sitting idle in the parking lot because the demand had dropped completely. Wendy felt completely helpless: "the hardest part was that six months when I was in that wheelchair and not being able to do anything... the frustration of not being able to hold everything together."  167  During this time, their relationship remained strong. Given their past experience when things got stressful, Wendy says that "we were surprised when we didn't have more problems after losing Courtney." The problems she clearly identified were the economy and the bad luck with the urea, "two problems that we had no control over." She feels that neither of them took it as a reflection of their ability. Speaking of herself, she says, "I experienced the loss but, you know, every other business I was in I was quite successful". In the relationship, Wendy feels that she was not blamed at all for what had happened even though she felt she could have been blamed for having got injured, not checking more thoroughly on the insulation in the home before the purchase and having spent as much money as she did on the renovations. She says that it didn't become an issue because the whole project had really been a shared decision: "We could handle it because we were both contributing to the whole scheme of things, ideas, work, money, the whole thing. We were in it together and we survived it together." Unlike 1976 where she felt criticized, during the six months in the wheelchair, she felt protected and supported at a time when she really felt vulnerable: "the caring that I got, the care and understanding, and 'not to worry, it's going to be fine'. I respected that." She says that "for the first time in my life", she had experienced as an adult what it was like to be taken care of by someone that she knew really loved her.  168  The care that she recieved at this time from Duke, as it became more clear that they were going to lose everything that they had worked for, deepened the feeling of wanting to be together for the rest of their lives. Wendy says that the trust that she experienced made it possible for her to face the prospect of having nothing. Having lost the relationship in 1976, she says that the friendship with Duke was clearly the most important asset she had and, knowing that she wasn't going to lose this, everything else was tolerable.  Duke, as in 1976, was without work again but this did not cause problems for him, according to Wendy. In a final attempt to save the hotel, he left Courtney to take on a contract to renovate a hotel in Vancouver. This would have given them enough money to save the project. Like 1976, Duke went off to work hard but, this time Wendy felt that it was an agreed-upon strategy, an action in pursuit of a shared goal.  Wendy felt that she understood why this crisis happened. Unlike 1976, where she felt the situation was caused by unresolved issues in Duke's past and his feelings of inadequacy because of his perception of unequal contributions and ownership in the relationship, the problems in 1982 were "no body's fault". They were, she believes, caused by the economy and the urea. Wendy feels  169  that they learned from this that they could handle difficult times together. The fact that they had both started this project together and contributed to it in different but equal ways, made it easier to accept the loss: "So, at least he felt better that we were starting all over again. Each of us at the same level... we walked away with absolutely nothing." By the time they made the decision to "walk away" from all their properties and give them back to the banks, the worst was over in many ways. Even though they have had many difficulties with illness, injuries, unemployment and the lack of a stable home up until just recently, the worst time was over when it was finally clear that nothing could be done and they decided to stop trying to make it work: "Once you have lost it, well, there is no sense worrying about it because you can't lose any more."  Since the Crisis Since the loss of the Courtenay project in 1982, Wendy and Duke have lived in about a dozen different places and Wendy describes this lifestyle as being like "gypsies". Although Wendy feels that they have been reasonably successful in business she says that they have not made very much money. Wendy bought a real estate company in 1985. It has provided a modest income and, perhaps most important of all, it has provided the opportunity to be her own boss. Up until just recently, Duke hasn't been quite so fortunate. He was injured in a large constuction project that he took on in  170  1983 in an attempt to save the Courtenay properties. This involved three years of negotiations with the Workman's Compensation Board. During this time, Duke became very ill with something that made him feel exhaused almost all the time. She says that he feels that the description of the Epstein Barr syndrome accurately explains what it was like for him for three or four years. Wendy says that he was dependant on her for most of this time. Unlike 1976, she says that she was surprized that he allowed her to look after him. Wendy thinks that, by the time they had experienced the intimacy during the time of her ankle injury, they both lost the fear of being dependant on each other. For the last year, Wendy has felt secure depending on Luke's regular pay cheque from his permanent position in a large plant. She says that this has been the first time that they have ever had a steady income. Their financial ambitions, Wendy feels, are more moderate than they used to be and she made a decision in 1982 to no longer own a credit card. They are content to live on whatever money they have and she feels that they are able to do quite well.  Wendy says that Duke has, over the years, become increasingly involved in her business ventures. Unlike 1976, Duke is now so supportive of her business ideas that he would even be willing to sell the condominium that they have owned for a year in order to get her cash to expand her company. Although they have not had a lot of money for the  171  last ten years, they have been able to talk things over and figure out a way of solving their problems together. They have, in spite of illness and injuries, been able to find a way for both of them to work at something they like. In the last year it has been especially good with Duke working at a job where his knowledge and efforts are appreciated and Wendy has been able to devote as much energy as she wants to her real estate business without having to worry about the bills being paid. Wendy describes a level of trust between them that has created a environment where it really doesn't matter, for example, who is working and who is not, who is bringing in a salary and who is not. Whatever money they make, Wendy says, is shared. Wendy believes that Duke really does understand her needs now and she understands his. Spending time apart as a way of solving problems has not been considered since 1979 although they both feel free to spend short periods of time apart to pursue their individual interests. Since that time, Wendy feels that Duke "has wanted to be with me wherever I was" and she is the same. Unlike the questioning of decisions that she experienced before they separated, she believes that "he always has confidence in me".  Wendy says that she and Duke would still like to create some kind of center for their extended families. They have talked about purchasing 80 acres somewhere out in the country for everyone to use. Her greatest disappointment  172  seems to be that, despite her great efforts, she has been unable to provide this "home" for the next generations: "I guess the only thing is that I would have liked to have been established so that, you know, established in a home where all the kids could come and we would be all settled in. That's what I hoped I would have had. And yet we like gypsies (laugh). So we are here, there and everywhere." She thinks that it may be difficult to do it but she still has the dream.  Looking back over the last 10 years, Wendy is still aware of the loss of their life savings but, all in all, feels good about how it has gone: "So we started getting things together again but never to the point where we have had any money. And somehow it didn't matter. It didn't really matter that much. You have to make the best of it and it actually hasn't been that bad. And as far as Duke and I, we have got along really good. We have never had any disputes. And we have pulled together through it all. And we have had lots of good times".  173  Sara's Story  Sara has been married to Walter for 20 years. As described in Walter's story, Walter and Sara went through bankruptcy proceedings between 1982 and 1984. The years from 1981 to 1985 were experienced as an extremely difficult time for both of them. To understand the impact of this crisis from Sara's view, it is necessary to begin with the late seventies. According to Sara, even though the seventies were not experienced as a difficult time, it is in comparison with the eighties that parts of the seventies do not look so attractive. Unlike the deep love and affection that Sara has experienced with Walter since the crisis of 1981-85, the seventies were characterized by much lower levels of trust, support and cooperation.  Before the Crisis Sara describes the early seventies as a time where her primary role was to parent Walter's two adolescent children from a previous marriage. Walter wanted Sara to be financially independant but she felt that if she hadn't taken on the parenting of these children, nobody would have. "Walter wasn't anywhere to be found for those times, he was working." She took care of all their day to day needs such as school meetings and paid for their expenses out of the salary from her part time job as a nurse. This placed Sara  174  in a financially dependant role but this division of responsibilty seemed necessary given that Walter was not in a position to do it because of the time that he put into work. Sara describes this time as one of the most difficult times of their marriage because of the difficulties of being the step mother to adolescent children that didn't see her as their parent but for whom she had primary responsibility. This role differentiation continued with the birth of their son in 1975. Sara stayed home for several years after his birth and worked part,time after that. Walter is described as someone who "always loved children but who had limited time" given that his job demanded that he be gone from home from early in the morning to late at night. Nevertheless, the early years of their son's life are described as "a close time", especially compared to the stressful time where she had to deal with Walter's children. Even though Walter was gone for most of the day and evening, one of the things that he did to maintain the closeness was to allow their son to sleep with him at night because "Walter can't stand it if he thinks that a kid is afraid or emotionally upset about anything. Whatever it takes to settle that kid down, he will do." Walter was always the one that heard their son cry at night and he insisted that the baby sleep with them in their room right from the very beginning. "Musical beds", as Sara called it, went on until their son was nine years old. Sara really valued Walter's close relationship with their son but sometimes felt that their own  175  relationship was not given as much value. She would say "I don't think this is good, the kid should be sleeping in his own bed". Walter would say, "he needs us right now, this is really important for him".  Sara describes her relationship with Walter as good but, because they had both been "emotionally starved" as children, their expectations of each other for support were not high. Sara did feel that she had more needs than Walter for emotional support and sometimes felt that "everybody else had all the important things". Sara tells the story of how Walter would always forget Valentines Day but once, after having been married for a number of years, she received some roses. She was so excited that she took them around to all the neighbours who couldn't understand what the fuss was all about.  Sara had a lot of respect for Walter's strength and positiveness. Positiveness meant that if you have a problem all you have to do is think of solutions, set goals and the problem will disappear. This meant, however, that he did not think that relating between two people was necessary: "he never thought that (relating) was important before. He really never did." He did not want to hear what he felt was unnecessary negativism. Although she admired this approach, Sara did not always find it easy to "pull herself up by her own bootstraps". Walter did not like to talk about negative  176  things or spend time with negative people. This included people who were ill. During the seventies, Sara had a number of hospital operations for cancer. At this time, Walter was unable or unwilling to talk about illness and Sara says that, "when I woke up from surgery he wasn't there" even though his son was.  The seventies were a very busy time with each of them "doing their own thing" and "both trying to prove how independant and strong they were". Sara got a lot of satisfaction by putting on large events for Walter's collegues and extended family that involved sixty people and more at a time and cost thousands of dollars. She saw herself as the wife behind the successful businessman. These parties that "people still talk about many years later" were very important to Sara: "that is my thing. That is what I feel my place, my role is." Walter appreciated these parties but Sara felt that he was never really sure about whether the guests came to them because of the food or because the genuinely liked him. It made her feel good to be able to do something that he and others appreciated.  In spite of the many positive things about her relationship with Walter in the seventies, Sara was not sure that he cared for her as much as he did in later years. "He felt that I respected him but he didn't look at me the same way." Looking back on it, marriage did not seem to be a place  177  where both felt that they could receive support, validation and understanding: "he could never understand me." This was a time where their financial future looked good but Sara felt that Walter would have to retire from his busy work schedule before they would experience the trust, love and sense of being comfortable that she associated with the film "On Golden Pond".  During this time, Sara didn't really feel needed or respected. Walter, the person who made the most money, was the one who had most respect. Sara's job was not seen as important although it paid for the clothes and food for the family including Walter's children. She felt that his attitude was, "well, if you want to spend money then you go out and have your little job". She had the sense that only if she made a good income would she be respected: "I always felt that if I was going to be valued, I would have to make as much money and Walter did." Sara thinks that, because of his past, Walter did not trust women generally and didn't want to be dependant on anyone. Her understanding is that he believed that if he shared too much about himself, that would make him vulnerable to others. Sara says that he shared little of his self with her beyond superficial things. He didn't like to talk about feelings nor did he indicate that he had any need for her support.  178  Something that was to change dramatically in later years, Sara never felt supported when it came to discussions about the needs of women. She felt that because her needs were not being met at home and she didn't feel listened to, she argued the case for women generally and got put down a lot by Walter and his friends: "he always used to say things like 'there's Sara getting up on her soapbox again'. And that was when I was on my woman's lib tirade and all that sort of thing." In these discussions she felt that she "never had a valid point.... Before, I used to actually feel that I was fighting for my point all the time, always fighting for my point and getting more resistance." Although she respected Walter generally, she did not respect him for the position he took in these situations. This made it difficult for Sara to trust him. During these years, Sara did not feel confident that she could be successful in her own right. She does not blame Walter for this but, as she says later in this account, having his support seems to have been an important factor in her present successful career. In later years, she describes him as a stronger person because he was able to get beyond his point of view and see hers.  Sara respected Walter's need for independance but it seemed that, no matter what she did, it was "never enough". He always wanted more although she felt that she was giving him lots of freedom. She thinks that he did not trust that she  179  wouldn't try to stop him from "doing his own thing". "Walter is not the kind of person that trusts easily." As she was to understand later when the level trust changed dramatically, "I don't think that he ever believed me when I said 'I don't intend to ever stop you from doing anything'". Sara found Walter to be "secretive". She tells the story of how, four weeks after their son was born, Walter announced that he was leaving the next day for a trip in his airplane to Las Vegas and Los Angeles. While Sara believes that "neither of us could trust" at the time, she thinks that Walter was having a particularly difficult time because he seemed to think that being open with her would result in a loss of freedom. There was a sense that he believed that one was either independant or trapped.  A factor that was related to the lack of trust was what Sara describes as an imbalance between work and family. Although Sara respected Walter's accomplishments in the world of business and his sense of adventure, she also felt that he was "unreasonable in his working hours". The only time that she ever felt that their marriage was in jeopardy was before their son was born when she felt left alone with what felt like the complete responsibility of parenting his children from a previous marriage. This division of responsibilities came about, she feels, largely because there was an understanding that his job was more important and that parenting and household chores were not his responsiblility.  180  Sara felt both supportive of Walter's business efforts and resentful that their family life seemed to center around what felt, at times, to be an excessive work schedule. A particularly troublesome aspect of the uneven balance between home and work was, according to Sara, Walter's habit of buying new homes with little or no consultation with her. Walter would always tell Sara that "home was where he hung his hat" and little more. Because work was given more emphasis, neighbourhood and continuity were not valued as much. Sara describes the situation as: he was torn in two directions. I think he would have liked to see the kids stay in one place but because of the business he is in and the way he felt about business, he had to move, he just had to try to get higher and higher. It was part of the game that he enjoyed playing. He felt that if he kept some closeness in the home with our son that perhaps moving wasn't going to be as hard on him.  Sara did not always agree with what Walter wanted to do and, at times, felt quite angry about how little her input was tolerated. With the issue of homes, she felt that she had little and, at times, no control over what was bought and sold and when: "I was trying so hard to put my foot down because I could see us going and going and going, moving and moving and moving." Their last home which they were  181  eventually to lose in the bankruptcy was a large expensive house in a prestigious area. Sara, however, did not like the house because it had been bought without consultation with her. She says "I never liked that house. It was never a home. I didn't even hang a whole lot of pictures up."  The seventies were not characterized by the spirit of cooperation that emerged during and after the receivership. Sara felt that Walter's attitude was "either you come my way or you don't come at all". She believed that "there was just no question that these were his goals and if I wanted to go with them that was fine and if I didn't he would do it on his own". Sara's position was, she feels, a combination of trust in his judgement and fear of asserting herself: "I always thought that I could go so far and no further." The relationship at this time was hierarchical. Walter was in the position of making most of the financial decisions and Sara was going along with them sometimes reluctantly and often without full knowledge of what was actually going on. Sara tells of how she often had to go in and sign legal documents and pretend that she understood what she was signing when "I didn't have a clue". The lawyers often sent her off to consult with another independant lawyer because they wanted to make sure that she understood what she was signing. Sara would still pretend that she understood just to get it over with. She felt powerless, that she had no choice because she was not interested in taking the time to  182  understand Walter's business and, besides, she felt that if she disagreed with what he was doing or questioned it in any way, he would be upset and see her as an obstacle to his business transactions. This left her in the uncomfortable situation of agreeing on paper and being held legally responsible for business transactions that she knew nothing about. At the time, she was assuming that these business decisions would not affect their family life and allowed herself to go along with this practice for a number of years.  Looking back on this time, Sara feels that it was a mistake not to have asserted herself more, "not to have let Walter know that she was there". The bankruptcy speeded up the process of gaining equality. Without the loss, she feels that, "it would have been a bigger struggle".  The Crisis As discussed in Walter's story, by the end of 1981, North America's worst recession since the thirties was beginning to take its toll. Every day Sara was getting phone calls from banks and creditors about another one of Walter's assets that was in trouble. It was becoming clear that they were going to lose their big house and everything else. "I was helpless in the situation .. I didn't really know what we were losing". All the documents that Sara had signed over the years without knowing what they meant were coming  183  back to haunt her. Walter was having a very difficult time. A fortune was being lost. He was having "severe blackouts" and was often disoriented and couldn't remember where he was going or where he had left things like his car. He thought for a time that he had a brain tumor and was much relieved when a medical examination ruled this out. Sara saw him as "emotionally unstable" and "desperate" for two years. It was hard for her to see someone who had always been so strong and positive be in so much pain. "I tried to protect him, I never wanted him to feel failure", she says. "For the first time, Walter showed his vulnerability." "He grew in my eyes as I saw him suffer. I felt needed for the first time."  A conversation that they had about this time was a "turning point". Walter said that he was sorry for the difficulties that he thought he had caused the family. Sara didn't want him to feel that he was to blame for what had happened. She blamed herself for not having been more involved in the business herself. She felt that if she had been more involved, perhaps this terrible loss never would have happened. Up until this point, Sara believes that Walter thought she was going to leave him because he was penniless, that Sara "was only there for the good time". She thinks that he was afraid that she would blame him for what was happening and leave. He said "you might want to go see if you can do better somewhere else". This made her angry  184  because she had never thought of leaving him when he was having such a difficult time. Because of his distrust, she felt that "the relationship could have gone either way". The result of this discussion was that it became clear that neither of them blamed the other for what had happened and they were free to drop the burden of guilt.  It was at this time that Sara decided to go out and work as a house cleaner. Rather than leave as she felt Walter feared, she was prepared to roll up her sleeves and do whatever work was necessary to keep the family afloat. Although she feels that she doesn't really know what Walter's view of this time is, Sara thinks that he was surprised that she didn't leave. "Everything seemed to change" in their relationship at the time of the bankruptcy: Walter became more trusting of me, and there was no reason for him to be secretive with me any longer. He always wanted to do his own thing as far as finances were concerned and I always just signed pieces of paper and never questioned him about anything. He never wanted to tell me anything about it. Once the bankruptcy occured, he was stripped of all that. It had to all come out, I had to see where everything was and in order to rebuild, it was necessary as well if we were going to try to rebuild together. And the roles reversed, my income became important as it  185  is now. That has continued. What I could get out of cleaning houses at that particular time was crucial. When they hit bottom, Walter changed because, as Sara says, "he knew that I was there". The relationship changed because Walter was dependant on Sara emotionally and financially. Now, "all the cards were on the table". "He couldn't keep secrets any longer." Walter had always found it difficult to trust anyone and Sara believes that "he didn't trust me until he had to". Walter, who had always seemed to want to be doing things that were some place other than at home, couldn't wait, Sara says, to get home again when he had the opportunity to vacation in New Orleans: "He was to have gone for three weeks and he came back in two weeks because he was missing home."  While Sara says "I couldn't bear him taking all that responsibility", she also felt that he was making things more difficult for himself and the family because "he had an unrealistic idea of putting it [the business] all together". She advocated strongly for a bankruptcy right from the beginning because, as the information came in, she could see that it was hopeless. Walter was not going to be able to hold on to the properties that he had worked many years to develop. She did not see any sense in a continuation of the extreme stress caused by trying to regain what they had lost.  186  Sara's own hopes for some kind of miracle disappeared as she stared at the floors she was scrubbing to make enough money to pay the rent and put food on the table. She says, "I was beginning to work through this 'I wish I could save this whole situation'... it's grim reality when you are on your hands and knees scrubbing floors". She stopped buying lottery tickets when she realized that it was part of a desperate attempt to bring back their former lifestyle.  Taking on the job cleaning houses was the beginning of a "role reversal" in terms of who was the major income earner in the home. This has continued for the 10 years since the beginning of the bankruptcy. This had a major impact on their relationship. Suddenly, Sara was the one who had the money and, traditionally, respect in this family had been given to the person making the most money. The relationship also changed because during the bankruptcy Sara went back to school. (She had to get permission from the trustee to take out a student loan.) The reason for going back to school was so that she could get a better paying job and support Walter more easily. She believed that his high earning days were over. As she began to develop knowledge at school that Walter didn't have, she found that he was beginning to respect her much more and recognize her expertise. Sara remembers very clearly the first time that Walter ever said "you have a point". She says, "now I remember the first  187  time that he said that I almost fell off my chair". "All of a sudden my opinion counted", she says. Now, any time a financial decision was made, they discussed it together. Sara tells a story of how, for the first time, Walter stood up for her in a discussion with some other people where she disagreed with one of his friends. He said that she had a point of view that should be listened to. This was so different from anything that she had experienced before that she remembers it still.  Sara attributes some dramatic changes in their relationship to this time of crisis. "The trust and respect that has grown through this situation is almost miraculous to me." She believes that they moved quickly from a situation where neither of them was sure where the relationship was going to where "the trust is more than I have ever had in my entire life". She says, "I don't know how Walter feels about it, we talk about our relationship every once in a while but not often." Nevertheless, Sara feels that the experience of "not having let each other down" gave them an opportunity to "prove ourselves to each other". "The closeness came since the decision to go into bankruptcy and it has built since then." When she started going to school, Sara remembers that "he would get up with me at four oclock in the morning to help me". Walter was "extremely supportive" and when she was having a lot of difficulty and thought of quitting, he would say "I know that you will get it, I know that you will  188  eventually get it". Sara looks back on this time as a "very close time, a really close time". Having cancer in addition to all the other difficulties made this "a high stress time". She had two surgeries for cancer during this period and he was there after the operations. There was such an abrupt change in the level of closeness and time spent together that Sara felt somewhat uncomfortable at first but it didn't take long to adjust and enjoy the greater sense of family.  Sara especially appreciates how Walter responded to their situation during the crisis. She feels that he was very "gracious" in accepting the dependant role. She believes that many men would have not had the confidence to do this. In many ways, Walter had more stature with Sara when he was penniless than when he was a millionaire.  Sara suggests that some very major changes began in this time of crisis. Changes that have had a tremendous influence on their lives ever since. She feels it was at this time that she began to see herself as competent, important, and worthy of another's love. It was at this time, she feels, that Walter began to be more open, more trusting, more willing to be interdependant and put family needs on an equal basis with business.  189  Sara was surprised that Walter, who had always thought of home as a place to hang your hat, was really concerned that they would eventually have a place again where they could put their furniture. He had always said that it didn't matter where his bed was. He didn't feel good, however, about the effect of having to leave their home on Sara and their son. He didn't like to think about where the furniture would go but, according to Sara, "Walter felt there was some hope that one day we would have the room to put the rest of the furniture in". During the three most difficult years, they lived in what their son's friend called a "cave", a small apartment below ground level. Sara remembers vividly the day they moved out of the "cave" and went to reclaim their furniture that had been in storage for three years: It was like Christmas when we went out to that storage. We had left it and never looked at it for about three years and then went out to see what was there. This furniture was all under sheets and it was like Christmas looking at it all.  Since the Crisis From Sara's point of view, the positive changes that began during the crisis have continued until the present. She had always known that change could only take place in their relationship when "Walter was going to be around more  190  often". Because of the bankruptcy, she claims that "I am reaping the benefits a whole lot earlier than I thought I was going to".  In the last two years, Sara has been diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis which, for her, has been much more of a crisis than the bankruptcy. The M.S. is presently in remission but Sara is concerned that her health may deteriorate at any time. She feels that they have done remarkably well in handling the terrible stress of the uncertainty about the future. She believes that their ability to handle crisis is strong because of their past experience: "If we hadn't survived the early eighties, well, we wouldn't be surviving this." She and Walter have had to deal with the possibility that she might be severely handicapped and he might have to look after her. Because their ability to communicate is well developed, however, they can now talk about difficult issues like this: "I can talk to Walter about it [the M.S.] whereas a few years back, Walter wouldn't have listened. Illness for Walter is a negative thing". But now, she says, "I can talk to him quite comfortably about it. And he listens to me." They have been able to talk right from the heart about their fears. Just after they received the diagnosis, Sara was able to say "Walter, I don't ever want to be a burden" and he was able to say in return, "Sara, you could never be a burden to me". She experienced his response as "so sincere  191  that I was just in tears, I couldn't handle that. That was just a little too close for me (laugh)."  This tremendous support would not have been possible, Sara suggests, if it had not been for the loss in the early eighties: "I don't think I would have had those kind of assurances had we not survived then." This would not have been possible in the seventies when Walter had difficulty with another's suffering: "Walter didn't always recognize what I needed in terms of support.... You tried to get something and if you didn't get it you knew that what he expected was 'get on with it, don't sit and mope about it.'" Sara perceives his ability to communicate when things are not going well as a significant difference from before the crisis of 1981-85: Now Walter will, Walter expresses more of his, when he is feeling negative. That was all through Walter's life. He has never associated with negative people and has tried to never have negative feelings himself, even though sometimes it is necessary. But now if he is feeling down, or he doesn't always express it but he doesn't also become defensive when I ask him if there is something wrong. Now he will tell me what it is and he will tell me how he is feeling about it... He tells me a whole lot of things that he would have never have told me before.  192  Sara tells a story of how she recently observed an older couple in their seventies on the ferry to Vancouver Island. She overheard the husband and wife say to someone that they had been married for fifty years. She noticed that the husband "listened to everything that she said, he looked her in the eye, he laughed at the things she was saying". On the one hand, she thought that "there is absolutely no way after that many years that anyone could look at you with that intensity." On the other hand, she says: "but that is the kind of thing I feel from Walter... on the whole, when I speak, he is listening." This has made a big difference for her because she feels no need now to protest the injustice of not being heard: "I used to speak a lot before... and I got into all kinds of outrageous things... I used to find it necessary to almost get up on a soap box before. I used to be so involved in women's issues all because of what was happening at home."  This change in the willingness to talk and listen has created a situation where it is not longer necessary to "fight for one's point and getting more resistance". This has, according to Sara, helped them to understand each other's point of view. An indication of Walter's openness to Sara's need to know where family members are is the changed practice of leaving notes: "I always thought that people should leave notes but nobody ever left notes." Now,  193  she says, "I often find little notes. Very seldom do I not know where Walter is. And Walter the other day gave our son a blast because he said 'it is very unfair to your mother not leave a note and let her know where you were because she worries'. So it has changed (laugh)."  Sara believes that she has changed a lot as well: He was more aware of political things than I was. I'm more aware politically now because I am in a political arena. So I have grown and he recognizes that. My ability to see things politically, I didn't always see things clearly, I mean who does. Now I recognize some of the political things and politics are very important to Walter. There are people in my union who don't understand how I could be married to someone in Social Credit. I can't understand why you can't still like somebody who happens to hold a different belief than you do. But in the union it is a part of your life. It is your whole life, your politics. But with Walter, he is, he has some socialists bones in his body. He does have some. He doesn't have a lot but he does have some. And because I am in the political arena and because of the kind of job I have, because of the work that I do, he recognizes a certain expertise that I have developed now.  194  Not only has her work given Sara more knowledge about politics and the world generally, it has also given her an understanding of the need sometimes to give work priority in your life, something that she had criticized Walter for in the past. This is, she thinks, due to the fact that her present job is very time consuming: "I have now recognized that, in order to do some types of work, some jobs you have to spend extended hours, you have to be away from home. You have to do all those things. So there has been a growth on my part in understanding what it takes."  The increase in communication and support of each other has been assisted by and contributed to a greater flexibility in their roles in the family. Sara's jobs have tended to be the more important source of income since the bankruptcy. This has had the effect of balancing the overall level of respect in the couple relationship. Just as important, however, is Walter's willingness to give Sara's job prominance regardless of the salary involved: "It is not so much a monetary thing as the kinds of jobs we now have. Where his was demanding before, now mine is demanding. And life does revolve around mine because I am in and out of town." Walter's willingness to allow the roles to change, based on his respect for Sara, has in turn increased Sara's respect for Walter.  195  Walter's strong support and encouragement for Sara in her work has made it easier for her to put in the time and energy to do her job well, gain even more confidence and develop more expertise. Again, this has created the basis for more respect. In the four years Sara has worked for her current employer, she has had several major promotions. Sara's present job involves much out of town travelling. Walter has been more than willing to adapt his life to accomodate her new job: "Nobody was more excited, including myself when I got this job. Walter was so thrilled, he was just absolutely beside himself." Having received this kind of support from Walter, Sara is sure that she would be able to encourage him if he wanted to return to the hectic work schedule similar to the one that he once had. She would want to support him doing something that was meaningful to him. She knows that it would not be the same, however: "It would be a little different in terms of, I know he would be telling me more about his day." In the last year or so Sara says that Walter actually has begun again to work more intensely. If he really got going, he would be, she feels, "telling me more about what he is involved in as he does now". She also thinks that he would balance his committment to work and family in the future as, in the last year, "he also has limited himself in that he doesn't work as late as he used to. He is home more often."  196  The increased support and flexibility in roles has resulted in much more equal parenting: "It has changed with our son in that it is much more shared... When I leave [on a business trip] he will say 'don't worry, I'll look after it'... With our son, we talk about what it is that we think should happen and we do it together... I feel less alone and I talk to Walter about everything to do with our son, the schooling and everything." Walter has continued since the early eighties to be a regular participant in his busy life of organized sports. In addition to parenting, Walter does more of the household chores such as shopping for groceries.  The increase in communication and greater flexibility in roles seems to have, Sara believes, made it possible for them to feel both independant and involved. She thinks that both of them feel safer depending on each other. They can spend time away from home without feeling guilty and get involved in family activities without feeling restricted. Having found a balance of work and family activities, they can be supportive of each other's efforts. Compared to the seventies, Walter spends more time involved in family activities and Sara spends more time involved in work. Both changes, she states, were necessary to reach the balance.  Sara still misses many of the things that they were able to do when they had more money. She particularly misses the celebrations that she was once able to host for friends and  197  relatives. Large gatherings with lots of food and music, she says, "have suffered and I feel that personally". Living in a small apartment, these celebrations, she says: they ended because of money and space. We no longer could have the baby grand piano, we can't fit as many people in here and it just all kind of petered out... We could never afford to do again what we once had been able to do. And that made a difference to our son. We also felt that, on family occasions, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, although I wanted to keep everything as it had always been, we didn't have the space to do it and that did, and those sort of rituals have sort of become less and less.  In terms of entertaining Walter's collegues from work, Sara also feels a sense of loss: "Walter left the company that he was involved with for many years and things changed. People still talk about the parties. Everytime I meet someone, they always say 'remember those parties?'" Their son may have felt the loss more than anyone in the family. Sara feels that he looks back to the time "when we had money and a neighborhood". Having grown up surrounded by friends from wealthy families, Sara believes that "he still feels that loss".  198  At the present time, the losses suffered in the 81-84 recession are becoming a distant memory for Sara but she feels that these experiences have had a profound effect on her life and the life of the family. The future still does not look as secure as it did twelve years ago. Financially, Sara does not think that they will be in a position to fill some basic needs: "I can't actually ever see us getting into a house or anything like that in the near future." In terms of their health, Walter is almost seventy years old and Sara's M.S. may become active again at any time. On top of this, they have a 15 year old son who is still dependant on them. In spite of all this, however, Sara feels that they now have something that they never had before: the emotional security to face whatever adversity life throws their way. When Sara was first going through the diagnosis for M.S., she says: I was actually crying in my sleep before I ever expressed my real fears about what my life was going to be like if this thing really took hold and started to get me down... And so it was a long time before I could actually say that those were the things that I feared was the loss of my dignity. Those things were important to me and I didn't want to be anybody's burden. I didn't want to be a burden to my son whose life could be virtually put on hold by something like this. And I didn't want to be a burden to Walter who is  199  beginning to age and that is a difficult thing. But when we talked about it and he said that I could never be a burden, then that's, that was enough for me.  Having gone through a major crisis ten years ago, Sara believes, prepared them to handle the fear of this disease. The traumatic loss gave them an opportunity to prove that they wouldn't let each other down. Sara thinks "that is why, with more adversity quite possibly coming, that's one of the reasons that, and now I feel much more comfortable".  Sara says that many of her dreams about the future have always had to do with that sense of "comfort" that she has associated with the film "On Golden Pond". It is not comfort as a form of somnambulence that she speaks of but, rather, a sense of grace that comes when one really feels safe and cared for, a sense that only comes after many years of building trust between two people. Sara thinks of the M.S. as another test of their trust with each other. When the disease was first suspected, she was "afraid to find out exactly what Walter was thinking about the whole thing... it was difficult for him to deal with". Having met this test, however, and having faced their fears together, Sara feels they are another step closer to that state of peace and serenity, the comfort of being with someone you love in spite of the pain and suffering life may bring.  200  Walter's Story  Before the Crisis Walter, a man in his late sixties, is married to Sara, a woman in her early fifties. They have been married for 20 years and have a fifteen year old son. Walter has been involved in business for many years and, during the 15 year period covered in this study, was working in real estate and land development. Walter went through bankruptcy proceedings from approximately 1982 to 1984 as a result of a decision by one of his banks to demand payment of a loan rather than allowing him more time to raise funds through the sale of properties that he had assembled.  For the purposes of this study, Walter's story begins in the mid seventies when he was conducting a successful career in land development. He found this work exciting and enjoyed building up his estate in a time when there was a lot of money to be made in this field.  Walter describes his major life focus at this time as work rather than the family: "prior to 1980, I worked long hours and I did anything I could regardless of what was happening in the family to accumulate assets." Compared to later years, there was much less emphasis on working together with his wife: "When you are just out working, kind of doing  201  your own thing, there is no real cooperation there in a joint effort." Although Walter feels that they always had a pretty good relationship, he is aware that, during this time, they might not have really known or understood each other as well as they came to in later years during and after the financial loss: "There is no doubt about it, in the seventies everyone was so damn busy that they didn't really have time for a relationship, I guess." Life was dominated by the needs of business. Other family and social activities were given lower priority: "I never ever took time out to go to a hockey game or I never even went to a party, for instance, without my pager and many and many and many a time I have left the party in the middle of the evening and gone to present an offer." ^Walter tended not to take time off from work to do things with family that he really enjoyed or spend time with people just for fun. On the contrary, unlike later on in the eighties, he was willing to spend time with people in work that he did not enjoy because he was committed to the widely accepted principle in sales that "you don't burn bridges". By this he meant that it was important to maintain contact with all kinds of people whether you liked them or not because "people you meet and people you talk to and the people you influence are eventually going to become your customers at some time in the future".  202  Walter doesn't feel alone in the experience of having got caught up in a lifestyle where work became more important than family. He sees it as having been somewhat typical: You know, I often think that my experience is a classic example of what happens or has happened in our society. You know, at one time people depended on one another. And if they couldn't depend on one another, they probably couldn't survive, they couldn't live. Now as people became more affluent, they didn't have to depend on one another. There wasn't a lack of cooperation, they weren't aware of cooperation because they didn't have to, they didn't require one another and they did their thing. And when they experienced a crisis they were separated or divorced or something like that because they didn't know how to cooperate.  Walter's life had been influenced by the affluence of the seventies but he feels that he was fortunate to have grown up in northern B.C. in the thirties where he saw first hand the value and absolute necessity for people to pull together when times were difficult. During the thirties this ability to cooperate sometimes meant the difference between life and death.  203  Although he thinks that he never lost this knowledge of the importance of cooperation, he thinks that he didn't apply it because of the requirements of competitive work: "Your doing something, you get tied up in it and you're wound up and you just keep going and going." The opportunities were there and it was almost hard not to make money: "the market was growing and expanding, the money was there and what do you do with it?" In retrospect, he wonders if maybe he didn't overdo it a bit, "I don't know if it is abnormal to be that competitive or not. I know that it is necessary if you are going to be in that type of job but I don't know whether it is normal." Although he has never thought of himself as a person that consciously went out to make money, he also acknowledges that sometimes that might have been one of the reasons for the hard work: "I don't really know what I was trying to do but I was trying to make a lot of money, more money that I ever would have really needed. It was there for the making." Another factor behind the 16 hour day - seven day a week schedule, was a question of ethics and loyalty to his collegues and clients. When somebody called at 11:00 on saturday night it was because, "somebody has gone out and done something for you, they have gone and written an offer on a product of yours and you have a moral responsibility to look after it right now. Not tomorrow but right now." At this time, this loyalty to clients often had a higher priority than spending time with family and friends.  204  Walter says that he has often thought about whether his later disinterest in working this hard represented a change in values or was just a factor of age. On the one hand, he feels that his basic values have remained the same over the years and his lack of desire to keep up the race of the seventies may just be due to a natural slowing down that comes with age. On the other hand he feels that only recently has he become aware of how his attitudes have changed about the relative importance of the competitive world of work and accumulating assets. Walter has often thought about how, even though his assets were worth several millions dollars in the seventies, he didn't live the affluent lifestyle that many of his peers did. He thinks that he and his wife lived a fairly simple life style considering the times. Material possessions were never that important to him and he put most of his money back into his investments. Working sixteen to eighteen hours a day just to attain an affluent lifestyle was never considered to be worthwhile but it did make sense to Walter if it was for the cause of building up investments. Having grown up in the thirties, Walter was used to a lifestyle where you saved every nickle you made and reinvested any surplus. Hard work was done not so much for the money as for the satisfaction of building an empire. He feels that he must have enjoyed it a lot to have gone back to the office night after night: "anytime that you come home and have dinner and then rush  205  back to the office and spend another three hours there, you have to want to do it pretty damn badly." More than anything else, the motivation for this marathon was competition: "I always enjoyed being on top of the blue sheets in sales..I have always been one of the top producers... Every month you would get a list of the top producers, the [real estate] board publishes it. You gotta be up there you know."  Even though in later years it became particularly important to Walter not to be concerned too much about what others think of you, he says that part of his motivation to do so well in the seventies was an awareness of how his colleques perceived him: I've always been one of the top producers and when you slack off and your name no longer appears in the blue sheets for top sales you can't help but be a little concerned about that... I don't really care what they think about me... but, at the same time, it's a status, it is purely and simply a status when you are the top producer in the industry or in the office. But that whole thing is, you are competing with your peers.  During this time, it was important not to let up on the pace and fall behind because, not only would it affect your income, it would also affect your sense of yourself: "When  206  you slack off, you, it affects your income and it affects your attitude too because if you are not doing well you tend to get a little despondant."  In his marital relationship, Walter knew from previous experience that making joint decisions with one's spouse was necessary when times got rough. There was, however, little discussion with Sara about his business life because there was no need. This was in spite of the fact that it took up most of his waking hours: During the seventies, Sara wasn't really involved. You see, I have always done things and just done them and I never talked much to Sara or anyone else and it didn't, that was it. And one of the reasons for that is that if you are doing something and your wife is afraid to take a chance and you have to make a decision, you have to take somebody else's opinion into consideration and usually you don't make the decision.  Walter therefore made the decisions himself about how his time and money were allocated. He feels that the decisions about money did not cause a problem because Sara claimed to be not interested except where it affected their family life directly. An example of where it did affect the family directly, however, was Walter's use of the family home as a business asset. Sara never agreed with leaving behind a  207  modest home and an established neighbourhood to move to larger more expensive homes because of an income tax advantage. As Walter put it: "these homes have been a bone of contention." He feels that even though Sara didn't agree with his decisions on homes she would defer to his judgement and go along with what he felt was best.  Use of time was a source of disagreement between them. Sara did not support Walter's decision to work long hours. Walter remembers her often saying that he had his priorities all wrong when he would leave a family or social function to respond to a client's request in the evening or one the weekend. She felt that he should tell the client to wait until the next day whereas Walter thought that he was ethically bound to respond right away.  Walter felt that this pattern of little discussion and involvement with Sara would not have changed if the prosperity had continued: "I think that it would be fairly true to say that it [increase in cooperation] would not have occured because there was no necessity." From Walters's point of view, "necessity forces cooperation" but when things are going well, people can get along "doing their own thing".  The Bankruptcy  208  As it did for many people, the depth and power of the 1981 recession caught Walter unprepared. Within a year, assets that were worth several millions of dollars became liabilities that he could not support. He felt that he could handle the loss of assets but what "hurt the most" was that the bank that he had dealt with for many years suddenly changed managers and refused to do business with him and would not give him time to pay off the last outstanding loan which amounted to $100,000. The bank's decision was made after he had already paid down other loans of $1,400,000. The bank's decision, in effect, put him out of business and made bankruptcy inevitable because he needed to raise large sums of money on a regular basis to carry out his ventures. Walter felt that he had a long history of being an ethical and dependable businessman and a person that had always honored his committments. He felt betrayed by the business community into which he had put some of the best years of his life.  Walter describes this time between 1982 and 1984 as a period of trauma and severe drain although he didn't realize that it had such a negative effect on him at the time. He only understood it later looking back on this experience. He doesn't believe that it was the loss of money and assets that created the crisis. Something that really did bother him was a sense that he had failed those with whom he had been conducting business. He felt terrible about the losses  209  that others had suffered in joint ventures with him. He knew that they had freely chosen to go into partnership with him but he felt guilty nonetheless. He felt that it was very important not to let the situation get him down and one of his ways of dealing with these feelings was just not to acknowledge them: "I wasn't going to let it hurt me, I wasn't going to allow it to get, I wasn't going to allow myself to give in to it." Walter thinks that both he and Sara were able to agree on the approach of just not letting the negativity get them down. Nevertheless, he felt that "underneath it always hurts a little bit". Although he didn't know it at the time, he knows now that he was depressed or negative for four years or more. He knows this now because of the things he did and did not do. He felt that he was afraid after the receivership to take the risks that are necessary in the investment business.  At the outset, although it didn't last very long, he had a lot of problems with his peers because "everyone can see that you are in financial trouble". This was in spite of the fact that he felt that it was important not to let what others think get you down. Being in a competitive career, however, how you were doing compared to others was constantly drawn to everyone's attention. Being one of the many people who were experiencing similar losses, however, made it somewhat easier to take. Still, it was a difficult time and he says: "I tried like everybody else desperately  210  to hold everything that I had... I tried and tried and