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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 CRISISbyRon EckertB.A., University of British Columbia, 1974A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THEREQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTSTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESCOUNSELLING PSYCHOLOGYWe accept this Thesis as conforming to the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAMarch 1992©  Ron Eckert, 1992In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of COVV11 (Ain ciA41,057The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate ^( t^ici(32, DE-6 (2/88)AbstractThis study is based on data obtained in interviews fromthree couples who experienced severe financial loss in therecession of 1982. This data was organized into narrativesthat were validated by the participants and an independentreviewer. These narratives were analyzed for changes inunderlying belief structures, a major component of familyidentity. The theory of constructivism and specifictheorists such as Reiss (1981), Steinglass, Bennett, Wolinand Reiss (1987) were used to classify the changes. Theconclusion summarizes the reciprocal influences of theexternal stressor, financial loss, and family identity, aninternal construct. Recommendations, based on theexperiences of these three couples, are offered to those whohave experienced a similar loss and those who arecounselling such couples and families.iiiiiStability and Change of Family Identity in Financial CrisisTable of Contents Abstract^ iiTable of Contents^ iiiAcknowledgements ivCh. I Introduction 1Constructivism^ 10Crisis and Change 30Family Identity 60Rituals^ 73Purpose of Study^ 96Research Questions 102Ch. II Methodology 104Ch. III Participant's Stories^ 123Duke's Story^ 124Wendy's Story 146Sara's Story 173Walter's Story 200Robert's Story^ 228Ann's Story 258Comments by researcher, participantsand reviewer 295Ch. IV Analysis of Changes in BeliefStructures^ 302Wendy and Duke's Stories^ 303Walter and Sara's Stories 331Ann and Robert's Stories 371Ch. V Analysis of Similarities andDifferences Between Couples^ 416Ch. VI Conclusions^ 460The Influence of Identity^ 461The Influence of the Crisis 471Recommendations^ 479Bibliography^ 493AppendixA. General Procedures^ 498B. Letter of Information 499C. Consent Form^ 501AcknowledgementsI would like to thank the participants in this study forsharing their stories with me. I admire their courage indealing with an experience that has torn many familiesapart. Their struggles to give meaning to their lives afterlosing everything for which they had worked so hard aretruly acts of heroism. I found their stories inspiring andtheir lives could serve as models to anyone who has sufferedsevere financial loss. I appreciate their honesty andwillingness to share an experience that is still painful tenyears later.I would also like to thank my wife, Virginia, and mychildren, Jonah, Jesse and Christiana, for their patienceand understanding for the many nights and weekends when Iwas unavailable during the two year period that I worked onthis study.ivCHAPTER IIntroduction to the ProblemFinancial loss is inevitable for most if not all people atsome time in the course of their lives. Severe financialloss, including the experience of bankruptcy, has becomeassociated with regular cyclical downturns of the economyand would appear to be becoming more of a fact of life thanmost would like to admit. Entrepreneurs are particularlyvulnerable to this type of loss because they take risks todevelop and market their services and products. As theeconomy of British Columbia becomes increasingly diversifiedand connected to global markets, the health of the provinceas a whole will become enhanced by individuals, couples,families and organizations that can survive the losses thatoften accompany the process of innovation. Crisis occurswhen the stress level becomes so great that one's existingorientation to the world can no longer provide the stabilityrequired to make sense of experience. Severe financial lossor bankruptcy can be an extremely destabilizing experiencefor marital couples and can result in separation, divorce,long term impaired functioning and an identity of failure.It can, however, also result in stronger maritalrelationships, a renewed sense of purpose and an identity ofsucess. This study is interested in how couples who have1remained intact have construed the experience of loss andrecovery.What we think and believe has increasingly become viewed asan important, if not the most important factor, in bringingabout change when individuals and groups are unable torecover from or adapt to both normal and unexpectedalterations in life conditions. This is not a new idea.Epictetus, in the first century B.C., suggested that it isnot the things themselves which trouble us, but the opinionsthat we have about those things. Bugental (1987) refers toFranz Kafka's description of the difference between anobject and a person: "To understand why a stone rolls downa hill, we must look to see what force loosened it from itsplace at the top. But to see why a person climbs the hill,we must discover what that person seeks at the top. It isthe contrast between causation and intention thatdistinguishes the subjective or experiential realm" (p. x).Intentions are based on beliefs about the meaning of one'sactions in the context of the world. The relationshipbetween behavior and beliefs, action and meaning, is one ofreciprocal causation. The chapters on constructivism,crisis and change and family identity are included tosupport the argument that beliefs, attitudes, andassumptions are extremely important in the understanding ofhow interactional patterns are established and maintained.The chapter on rituals is included to support the concept of2reciprocal influence between beliefs, story and interaction.Developing a deeper and clearer understanding of what it islike for someone to experience something, a major goal ofthis study, should help reveal the underlying psychologicalstructure, the relationship between meaning and action.Valuable information can be gained about a phenomenonwithout establishing a linear causal relationship."Behaviors dangle from premises like participles from aclause" (Hoffman, 1985, p.383). Bateson (1972) and otherssuch as Boscolo (1986), Penn (1985), Hoffman (1985) andBogdan (1984) refer to premises and presuppositions thatshape behavior. Von Foerster (1984), Von Glaserfeld (1984),Maturana (1980) and Varela (1984) claim that knowledge andexperience are the result of the assimilating consciousness'attempts to create structure. This internally generatedknowledge and experience, rather than the externalenvironment, is said to determine human action. To not beaware of the power and pervasiveness of this internallygenerated knowledge and experience can, in times ofdifficulty, blind one to other, more useful constructions ofthe problematic situation.Reiss (1981) and Steinglass, Bennett, Wolin and Reiss (1987)speak of family paradigm and family identity as systems ofshared beliefs and assumptions that function as deepregulatory structures which determine family interaction.3Drawing a connection between identity and narrative,Polkinghorne (1988) speaks of identities as evolvingnarrative constructions. Identity is associated with thenarrative's temporal ordering of human existence (p. 152).Identity changes as the same events are placed in newconfigurations by alternative narratives. White (1990),Polkinghorne (1988), and Mishler (1986) speak of thecentrality of the linguistic forms of story and narrative asmeaning systems that generate human actions: "stories ornarratives that persons live through determine theirinteraction and organization" (White, 1990, p.12). Thisstudy will adopt the view that, "narrative is the discoursestructure in which human action receives its form andthrough 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 enduringassumptions about the world in which the family lives.Similar to the concept of transference, Reiss' model ofshared constructs and family paradigm is directed atexplaining and predicting action: "a shared constructspecifies 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 familyparadigm is different from the family's perception of itself4(family identity), this study will use the term familyidentity as used by Steinglass et al (1987) to include boththe family's perception of itself and its social world. Ofparticular importance to this study is Reiss' theory of thefunction of crisis in the creation of fundamental andenduring beliefs and assumptions.Reiss (1981), drawing on the work of Kuhn (1970), suggeststhat when a family comes up against an experience that itcannot fit into its existing system of meaning, it will gothrough a process of disorganization. In the reorganizationthat follows, it is the construction of the crisisexperience that becomes generalized over time to become thenew 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'sunderlying assumptions. This theory is outlined in somedetail in the chapter on crisis and change.This view of crisis as necessary for change is supported byother writers in the field of family therapy such as Pittman(1987). Some families require a fundamental change in theunderlying shared belief system if there is to be healthyadaptation to the changing conditions of life. Crisis,according to Bollnow (1987), is inextricably a part of humanlife and has a necessary function to fulfill in it. Crisiscan be an opportunity to reclaim a life that has slipped5away from one's own control and begin anew. When thisopportunity is taken, the experience can be transforming.Herman Hesse (1963) speaks of this in his poem Steps: "Andwithin every beginning there dwells a magic, which sheltersus, and helps us to live" (p.201). In a similar fashion,Kegan (1982) suggests, from the perspective of individualdevelopment, that "crises are not sufficiently understoodmerely as 'illness', but better understood as a move towardsgrowth" (p. 267).Crisis and fundamental change, however, do not always resultin the construction of beliefs that facilitate productiveways of living. Depending on how the crisis is construed bythe family, it may become more adaptive and effective or,conversely, more rigid and ineffective. How a family'snarrative changes during crisis will be one of the majorresearch questions of this study.Cultures have evolved some very effective ways of helpingfamilies deal with crisis. Funerals, for example, have thepotential to transform what is initially experienced as aterrible loss into a life-giving celebration. Other losses,unfortunately, have little or no socially accepted means oftransforming the meaning of the event into something lifeaffirming. This subject will be developed further in thechapter on rituals. Families experiencing crisis around thekind of loss that has no social supports may be at greater6risk of construing the crisis in a way that would lead to anew family identity or narrative that is not conducive tocohesion, cooperation and effective decision making.Meaning systems have a powerful effect on thoughts, feelingsand behavior. Rituals and routines, in turn, have asignificant influence on story and belief systems. It wouldbe important that those experiencing this kind of crisis forwhich there are few cultural supports as well as those whowork with them to gain a greater understanding of the effectof these kind of crises on narrative configurations, thestructures that produce meaning.This study will focus on one particular type of loss thathas few cultural supports: bankruptcy or severe financialloss. The focus of this study will be on financial lossexperienced in the recession of 1981-82 because stories ofmoney and lost fortunes are part of the heritage of manyfamilies and influence how the family sees itself and theworld. We live in a world that values success and risktaking, especially in the world of work. There is, however,little common knowledge about what to do when this risktaking results in the opposite of what one expected.Bankcruptcy is a powerful word that, for many, suggeststotal failure, humiliation, and even degradation. Somefamilies live out their lives in bitterness after severefinancial loss. Other families pick themselves up andactually become stronger as a result of the experience.7Wamboldt and Reiss (1989) suggest that "the task ofdeveloping a clear, therapeutically heuristic understandingof the mechanisms whereby some marriages succeed whileothers fail commands extremely high priority" (p. 318).Narrative is an important way of gaining access to howhumans have constructed their experiences. Narrativemeaning is a cognitive process that organizes humanexperiences into temporally meaningful episodes.Polkinghorne (1988) asks, "if one accepts the significanceof narrative in the construction of human experience, howdoes one approach the study of human beings?" (p.161). Thisstudy will adopt the approach that the study of narrative asrevealed in the experience of the participants is the mostappropriate methodology for understanding stability andchange in meaning systems as a result of severe financialcrisis.A number of theoretical perspectives will be used asbackground to the data analysis. Reiss (1981) uses ninedimensions to describe the different ways in which a familyconstrues a crisis and how it generalizes this constructionto problem solving behavior in everyday life. Thesedimensions are described in the chapter on family paradigm.Steinglass et al (1987) have proposed the concepts ofsystemic maturation and developmental coherence to describestages of identity formation and how the family has balanced8the tasks of meeting both individual and group needs. Theseare explained more fully in the chapter on family identity.These theories will be used to heighten the sensitivity ofthe study to participant needs, doubts and aspirations.Bennett and Wolin (1988) and others suggest that rituals andcelebrations are accurate indicators of the nature of familyidentity. By examining changes in family celebrationsbefore, during and after the crisis period, valuableinformation should be obtained about the nature ofunderlying presuppositions and attitudes. This subject willbe explored in the chapter on rituals.9Constructivism 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) andVon Forrester (1984) who insist that reality is entirely aconstruction of the assimilating consciousness. The authorof this study does not entirely agree with their positionbut finds it useful in its emphasis on the power ofcognitive processes such as narrative structuring in thedetermination of what is important and meaningful in life.In addition to the constructivists, this chapter will alsoaddress the power of larger perceptual frameworks such asreligion and mythology to shape assumptions and behavior.A British minister of the Anglican Church who grew up inChina once told a story of his imprisonment in a Japaneseprisoner of war camp (personal communication, April 24,1989). During the second world war, he had been captured bythe Japanese and sent to a barbed wire enclosed compoundwith 500 other prisoners. This became his home for fiveyears. In 1945, life had become fairly quiet in the summerand the guards who used to supervise the work of theprisoners very closely seemed to be spending more time offin the distance. The prisoners did not pay too muchattention to this and continued on as before. Everyone hadbeen in this camp for a long time and the routines had been10well established. The prisoners had leaders of their own intheir midst that had long since taken on the role oftaskmasters since it was better to keep a distance fromtheir captors. Only later when they thought back to thistime did they realize that their guards had actuallydisappeared without their awareness. One bright sunny dayin September, 1945, an airplane flew overhead and dropped asmall number of paratroopers. There was a tremendousexcitement in the camp because the airplane was notJapanese. Perhaps this was an attack by the Allied Forces!They waited to hear the sound of more aircraft that woulddrop the main attack force. The whole camp was gripped withan powerful silence in anticipation of a great battlebetween their liberators and their captors. But nothinghappened. Then, from off in the distance, came a faint wispof a voice that, for some mysterious reason, brought backmemories of hearing one's father or mother at dusk callingthe children in for dinner.They couldn't believe their eyes when a teen-aged Americansoldier strolled into the camp with his rifle over hisshoulder and a bag full of cigarettes and chocolate bars.The war had been over for a number of weeks and the Japanesehad surrendered. No wonder there had been no guards. Theyrealized later that they might have gone on with theirprisoner routines for months, maybe even years before theywould have realized that they no longer had to be prisoners.11They had become so accustomed to believing that they werepowerless that it only made sense to keep on doing what theyalways had done.This story is a poignant example of the constructivistposition that "any continuity in the existence of anindependant object [in this case the perception that theJapanese captors were preventing escape] is under allcircumstances the result of operations carried out by thecognizing subject and can never be explained as a given factof objective reality" (Von Glaserfeld, 1984, p. 34). Inother words, "if reality appears to be stable, it is acharacteristic of the observer rather than the observer-independant reality" (Von Glaserfeld, p. 36).In the above story, it was not the Japanese that imprisonedthem for the final two weeks but their image of reality. Asin Wittgenstein's words, "A picture held us captive. Andwe could not get outside of it" (cited in Watzlawick, 1984p. 325). Research with families with chronically illmembers (Gonzalez & Steinglass, 1989) describes manyexamples of families that develop coping strategies duringthe crisis phase of the illness that continue to be appliedfor many years after the crisis is over. These strategies,useful in the crisis, become rigid and counter productive inthe chronic phase. That these strategies continue even inthe face of a changing world, says something about the12ability of the mind to construct and maintain regularitiesand order. In Piaget's theory, resistance to change isdescribed by the process of assimilation. Through thisprocess, we incorporate perceptions of new experiences intoour existing cognitive framework. If necessary, we resistchange even to the extent that our perceptions may bedistorted to fit the existing framework. This process is anecessary part of equilibrium, the balance between stabilityand change. Only when assimilation is dominant does itbecome a problem (Labinowicz, 1980). As we shall see, it isduring crisis that the hegemony of an existing cognitivestrategy can be seriously challenged. A predominance of theassimilating consciousness may have been what Blake calledthe "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 andVico, most scientists still consider themselves"discoverers" who unveil nature's secrets and build up thebody of knowledge about an objective reality. VonGlaserfeld'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 thatconstructivism has a long history, he discusses how, in1710, Vico and Hume put forth the similar thesis thatexperience as well as objects of experience are under allcircumstances the result of our ways and means of13experiencing (p.29). Blake, the eighteenth century poet,asserted that mental things alone are real. According toBlake, "whether the sun appears to be a round globe of fireor an innumerable company of the heavenly host depends onwho is looking, not on what is objectively there. Realityis something that we make in perceiving it and we can'tunderstand what we haven't made" (Todd, 1960, p.16). Frye(1982), suggests that we build Jerusalem by recreating thedevine forms of the imagination. In our century, Bateson(1979), drawing on experiments that demonstrated how thesenses can be fooled, was convinced of the impossibility ofobjectivity. Piaget (Labinowicz, 1980) speaks of how it isthe operating of the cognitive entity which organizes itsexperiential world by organizing itself. Von Foerster(1984) puts forth what he calls the "postulate of cognitivehomeostasis: the nervous system organizes itself so that itcomputes a stable reality" (p.58).The construction of social reality is, according to Reiss(1981), not a degradation of reality but a consecration ofthe group. Many families, when confronted with pain andsuffering beyond their ability to cope, try to create safetyand make sense of their situation by constructing a view oftheir lives and the world that is often completely out oftouch with what others around them perceive. The power ofthe constructed explanatory system to provide meaning andcontrol to the family cannot be underestimated. Many an14experienced clinician has been unable to penetrate thecreative energy and discipline bound up in theseconstructions.The family, like art, is an act of the imagination. It isbecause the reality of the family is invented that therapycan be helpful. Bateson (1972) notes that were it not forthe fact that behavior is dependent upon the meaning ofevents rather than upon the events themselves, there couldbe no psychotherapy.^Unlike literature, however, where"fiction" is a deliberate and acknowledged construction, theindividual and social construction of reality tends tooperate outside awareness. "We seem to feel morecomfortable with the role of Columbus than that ofPrometheus" (Berger, 1964). In other words, we seem to bepsychologically more predisposed towards the idea that wediscover reality "out there" rather than the idea that wecreate reality. Like the poet, which in Greek means"maker", "inventor" or "creator", we create the world welive 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 howwe came to know it. In what must have one of the mostdifficult and tragic situations in modern western history,15Frankl concluded that it was possible to survive almost anyexperience if one were able to create meaning in theconcentration camp. It is clear that even though Frankluses the phrase "search for meaning", he appears to betalking about meaning that is created by the cognizingsubject and not something that is a quality of a subject-independant reality. Although living in the same reality,many of his fellow prisoners appeared to have made adecision that living didn't make sense any longer and diedsoon after.In many other difficult predicaments less extreme thanFrankl's experience, some people are able to show aremarkable resiliency. What one person finds intolerableanother person may see as a challenge.^This phenomenon isrelated to the subject of epistemology which is defined byVon Glaserfeld (1984) as, "the study of how intelligenceoperates, of the ways and means it employs to construct arelatively regular world out of the flow of its experience"(p.32). These "ways and means" are determined by one'ssystem of beliefs and assumptions about the nature of one'sself and the world. Nietzsche, for example, speaks of "Amorfati", love of your fate. From this point of view, if onesays "no" to a single factor in life, he will have ignoredthe call to the hero within us all: "Live as though the daywere here" (Campbell, 1988, p.391).^"The greater life'spain, the greater life's reply" (Campbell, p.161). If onewere to live out a belief system such as this, the response16to adversity would just not be the same as it would forsomeone who expects a life of comfort and predictability.The idea that what we know depends on how we came to know itis supported by a number of experiments cited by VonFoerster (1984, p.45) where, on the one hand, it is shownthat humans see and hear what is not "there" and, on theother hand, do not see or hear what is "there". The wellknown "blind spot", the localized blindness due to theabsence 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. Anexperimental repetition of a single word on audiotape 150times to 200 subjects resulted in 758 alternate words"heard" by the subjects. These findings sound reminiscentof the teachings of Hinduism that speak of maya andillusion. From this point of view, all life is believed tobe a dream. Not knowing that we are partially blind anddeaf may lead us to be over confident in the accuracy of ourperceptions.Citing the "principle of undifferentiated encoding" VonFoerster (1984), claims that, "the response of a nerve celldoes not encode the physical nature of the agents thatcaused its response. Encoded is only 'how much' at thispoint on my body, but not 'what'" (p. 45).^His theory,drawing on neurophysiological research, suggests that most17of what we call "reality" is a creation of the chemicalcompostion of the transmitter substances filling thesynaptic gap between neurons. Since there are only 100million sensory receptors and about 10,000 billion synapses,he concludes that we are 100 thousand times more receptiveto changes in our internal than in our external envirnment.It was during a discussion of this idea with a group ofgrade 9 students that one of them commented that "what'soutside depends on what's inside".Von Foerster (1984) rejects the position that there is anobjective reality because it cannot explain the "problem ofcognition" - all the evidence that we see and hear what isnot "there" and do not see and hear what is "there". In hisdefinition of cognition, reality appears only implicit asthe operation of recursive descriptions: (p.48)cognition ^, computations ofKnowledge from the constructivist point of view is not theresult of accumulating data about "the" reality out there.Knowledge is, rather, something that the organism builds upin the attempt to order the stream of experience byidentifying reoccuring experiences and relatively18predictable relations between them - the temporal orderingof events by the narrative. My experience of finding a wettowel on the floor left by my children will be determined bywhether or not I perceive this to be the same as ordifferent from previous or future experiences. If Iexperience this "event" as an independant object in the flowof experience I will react to it differently than if Iperceive it to be yet another manifestation of an underlyingobject such as the laziness of my children or theuntrustworthiness of people in general.Connections are created in the flow of experience by whatRiedl (1984, p.77) calls the "particularly troublesome"habit of attributing causality - especially where oneattributes unhappiness to a particular event or experience.In a discussion of the "natural history of causalexpectations" (p.73), Riedl talks about how our hereditarymodes of perception of space and time were selected long agofor our animal ancestors, their environment, and theproblems facing them. For their purposes a simple form ofperception was sufficent. Einstein, however, has shown thatour perception of space and time is greatly oversimplified.Reidl suggests, "This world, as Einstein taught us, containsa space-time continuum, also known as a four-dimensionalspace, curved back onto itself. Although physicsunquestionably proved it to exist, it can never be conceivedof by the human mind" (p. 78). Reidl warns that this and19other examples should alert us to the limitations of ourmodes of perception which can only be rough approximationsof the structure of this world.The perception of causes makes it more difficult for us tosee our part in the determination of what is deemed to be,for example, unpleasant, unnecessary, immoral or otherwiseless than perfect. Reliance on this linear simplistic viewof the relationship between people and events masks the morecomplex view of interactions possible in a circularperceptual framework. This latter orientation includes theawareness of our particpation in the construction of what weexperience. Reidl, discussing our perception of causes,says, "not only is it responsible for a currentlyunbridgeable split in our image of the world, but it hasalso brought us a sociological and environmental malaisefrom which we clearly have not been able to extricateourselves" (p. 80). My understanding of this "unbridgeablesplit in our image of the world" is the dualistic separationof good/bad, us/them, right/wrong, success/failure and so onthat has profound implications for our personal, social,community and global relationships.A recent example of this split for me was the annual awardsceremony at a junior high school where I was a counsellor.While 400 students were in the gymnasium receiving theiracademic awards and listening to their proud teachers20extolling their virtues and intelligence, another 200 wereoutside starting fights while they waited to be let in andget their report cards after the ceremony was over. Theyknew that there was no reason to attend a ceremony wherethey would receive nothing. Another 100 never even botheredto come to school that day because they knew that theirreport card would have nothing positive to say. A number ofteachers who had to deal with the angry students outsidewere upset because these students were perceived as ruiningthe day that should have been the positive ending of theschool year. What seemed clear to me was that the ceremonyinside for the "successes" could not have happened if itwere not for the "failures" out in the parking lot. Iwanted to thank them for making those kids inside look good."This unbridgeable split in our image of the world" hadinadvertantly created a huge number of kids who have novested interest in trying to be the best that they can be.These "failures" were being blamed in a simplistic way for aproblem that is a part of a complex system ofinterrelationships where each depends on the other to helpdefine their identity.The inability to extricate ourselves from this dualisticview of the world is related to our lack of awareness thatwe build our world. As quoted in the chapter on "Purpose",Von Glaserfeld (1984) claims that, "Radical constructivismmaintains - not unlike Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason -21that the operations by which we assemble our experientialworld can be explored and that an awareness of thisoperating can help us do it differently and, perhaps,better" (p.18). This lack of awareness has something to dowith the power of our beliefs about the objectivity of theworld we perceive and, unknowingly, have created. If, as inthe minister's story of the Japanese prisoner of war camp,we are unaware that we have created our own prison bars andbelieve them to be real apart from our creation, we are notlikely to get up and walk through them. Perceiving iscreating 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 theconstructivists but there are many similarities between histhinking and theirs. Campbell (1988) says:Shakespeare said that art is a mirror held up tonature... that nature is your nature, and all ofthese wonderful poetic images of mythology arereferring to something in you. When your mind issimply trapped by the image out there so that younever make the reference to yourself, you havemissed the image.... The inner world is the worldof your requirements and your energies and yourstructure and your possibilities that meets the22outer world. And the outer world is the field ofyour incarnation (p. 57).I take this to mean that stories and myths, although talkingabout things out there in the world, are actually symbolicrepresentations of the operations of our collectivecognitive entities. Myths, then, are not onlycommunications about what traditions believe people shoulddo and think but also a statement about how the storyteller, myth maker and people of a culture have constructedreality.Consider the following story about the Nigerian trickstergod, Edshu. This god walks down a road separating twofields wearing a hat that is colored red on one side andblue on the other side. He then turns his hat around andwalks back so that the same farmers see the same color.When the farmers in the field go into the village in theevening, they say, "Did you see that god with the blue hat?"The others say, "No, no, he had a red hat on." They then getinto a fight. When they are brought before the king forjudgment, this trickster god appears and says "Its my fault,I did it, and I meant to do it. Spreading strife is mygreatest joy "(Campbell, 1988, p. 219).This is a wonderful example of a story where differentpeople look at the same thing and see something different.23The different perceptions are attributed in this story tothe trickster god who deliberately fools the observers. Theovert moral of the story suggests that if you find yourselfin conflict over differing perceptions of the same event itis probably Edshu or some other trickster god that has setyou up. If, as Cambell says, the story is actually a mirrorheld to the operations of our cognitive entities, themessage I receive here is similar to that put forward byAnderson and Goolishian (1989) about the difficulties ofreaching and maintaining agreement. In a group or in myfamily, I perceive events differently than others. Theinability to reach consensus about the color of the hat isexternalized and attributed to a god. The trickster god isa symbol for that part of ourselves that, for some reason,needs strife or is unable or unwilling to find agreement inour collective construction of reality. It describes agroup where the members are unable to share theirexperiential worlds and find solutions that they can allagree on and believe in.Von Foerster (1984), in his discussions of the "principle ofundifferentiated encoding" mentioned earlier, draws onneurophysiological research to show that all sensoryreceptors, our "bridge" to the outside world, are "blind" asto the quality of their stimulation, responsive only as totheir quantity:24"Out there" there is no light and no color, thereare only electromagnetic waves; "out there" thereis no sound and no music, there are only periodicvariations of the air pressure; "out there" thereis no heat and no cold, there are only movingmolecules 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, Ihave a little difficulty with the suggestion that there isno pain. It does make sense to me, however, when Iconsider that there is a range of options when it comes togiving meaning to the pain. Kegan (1982), who associateshimself with the constructive-developmental tradition ofDewey, Mead and Piaget, speaks of this issue from a slightlydifferent perspective. The existence of pain isacknowledged but its meaning is perceived as constructed:Pain - psychological pain, surely, but perhapseven physical pain as well - is about theresistance to the motion of life. Our attempt todeny what has happened and is happening causes uspain. Our refusal to accept deviation from ourplans or anticipation causes us pain.... Anymovement which sets us against the movement oflife of which we are a part, in which we are25ultimately implicated, to which we are finallyobligated, will cause us pain (p. 266).Bollnow (1987) suggests that crisis and the accompanyingpain and loss are part of being human. From his point ofview, the pain is the price we pay to recapture ouressential lives. Bollnow and Kegan's messages sound verysimilar to the that put forward by the great religioustraditions. Themes that pervade many of them are what maybe called eternal truths: that wisdom comes from privationand suffering, from pain and death comes life and fromsacrifice, bliss. Much of what may be wrong with moderncivilization is the attempt to deny our mortality and theimperfections of life. A constructed reality that includesthe expectation of perfection, presupposes the eradicationof everything imperfect. A world thus created divideseverything into what is acceptable and what is not. Thecategorization of experience into good/bad, heaven/earth,health/illness, intelligent/stupid, ugly/beautiful,cooperative/resistant has, ironically, helped to create aworld of suffering. The reality thus constructed isdominated by violent conflict between these opposedpunctuations of the flow of experience.The Tao Te Ching teaches that to exist everything needs itsopposite. Paradoxically, there is something in the natureof attempted perfection that leads to imperfection. The26great religious traditions recognize this. Buddhism isbased on the belief that all life is suffering and that thissuffering must be embraced if life is to be fully lived.Nirvana, a psychological state described in the tradition ofHinduism in which one is released from desire and fear, ischaracterized by acceptance of death and suffering, therecognition of the radiance of one eternity through allthings. Christ said that he who loses his life, gains hislife. Only by accepting death can one be truly alive. Itis Christ's woundedness, his "imperfection" that becomes hisgreatest strength and inspiration to those that follow histeachings. A shaman (cited in Campbell, 1988) of a CaribouInuit tribe named Igjugarjuk said that "only true wisdomlives far from mankind, out in the great loneliness, and canbe reached only through suffering. Privation and sufferingalone open the mind to all that is hidden to others"(Campbell, p. 1). Varela (1984), in a discussion ofparadox, talks about learning as leaping out of one'sfixation at one level of experience or another to a largerdomaine where one can consider one's beliefs and assumptionswith detachment. Helping to get us unstuck from, forexample, the idea that being wounded is weak or suffering isbad is the gift of the above teachers who "can convey theunity or circularity, the tangledness of the situation sovividly that the student is forced to leap out of it"(p.314).27One of the purposes of this study will be to increase theawareness for both the reader and the participant of theoperations by which the experiential world of a familysystem is constructed in crisis. As such, it will be astudy of the epistemology of a family system, a study of theways and means it employs to construct a relatively regularpattern out of the flow of its experience. This study willfocus on the story of decisions, agreements and sharedbeliefs have been arrived at about the "similarities,differences, repetitions, invariances, regularities,categories and patterns that punctuate the flow ofexperience into existing unitary objects and therelationships between them" (Von Glaserfeld, 1984, p.38).Polkinghorne (1988), in a discussion of the importance ofnarrative in understanding human experience sounds similarto Von Glaserfeld: "Experience is an integratedconstruction produced by the realm of meaning whichinterpretively links recollections, perceptions andexpectations" (p. 16). By examining the narratives of theparticipants, this study will examine the ecology of ideas(Bogdan, 1984) or how events have been arranged to create ameaningful configuration.Keeping in mind the point of view presented by the religioustraditions, one of the results of the study may be to createthe context for a greater acceptance of life. A greaterawareness of the constructed nature of the perceived world28and the choices one really does have when it comes tointerpreting the meaning of events may make more possiblesome perspectives that had previously seemed unattainable ornot considered at all. An example of a belief system thatthis author has always admired is to be found in adescription of the Inuit people in a book called Beyond the High Hills (1961):To endure and succeed in such a life, a huntermust be resourceful and hardy, he must have faithin himself, a lot of optimism, a certain fatalism,and the ability to live each day and enjoy thegood it brings and not spoil it with worry aboutthe morrow (p.24)The Inuit people have known much about death, hunger andcold and have learned to endure a life where many would findno meaning:And yet, there is onlyOne great thing,The only thing:To live;To see in huts and on journeysThe great day that dawns,The light that fills the world.29Crisis and Change This chapter and the next, which deals with family identity,are included in this study for several reasons. The firstis that family identity, the family's view of itself, andfamily paradigm, the family's view of its social world, aretwo interrelated aspects of the group level construction ofreality. The second is that the theories of Reiss (1981),outlined in this chapter, and the theories of Steinglass etal (1987), outlined in the next chapter, will be used toprovide a background conceptual framework for the analysisof the narratives obtained from the participants about theirexperience of crisis.Reiss in his book, The Family Construction of Reality (1981), attempts to develop a model of family change thatexplores how the family's belief systems are developed andhow they are related to the way the family members interactwith each other and their social environment. He says:The central idea around which our model is builtis that the family, through the course of its owndevelopment, fashions fundamental and enduringassumptions about the world in which it lives.The assumptions are shared by all family members,despite the disagreements, conflicts, anddifferences that exist in the family. Indeed, the30core of an individual's membership in his ownfamily is his acceptance of, belief in, andcreative elaboration of these abiding assumptions.When a member distances himself from theseassumptions, when he can see no furtherpossibilitiy for creatively elaborating them, heis diluting his own membership and begins aprocess of alieniation from his family.^Theseshared assumptions of family life are rarelyexplicity or conscious in the experience of anyfamily. Only rarely can we, as observers, know ofthese assumptions directly. They are manifest,more typically, in a mixture of fleetingexperiences of the family and in its enduringpatterns of action - action within its ownboundaries, and between the family and the outsideworld (p.1).Said in other words, family paradigm describes an aspect ofthe family's interpersonal construction of reality or familynarrative. Although similar to the concept of familyidentity, which is related to a family's sense of itself,family paradigm is meant to be similar to the concept oftransference in individual psychotherapy. The concept oftransference is more appropriate for individuals in adoctor-patient context but Reiss (1981) finds its emphasison the past and irrationality useful. Shared constructs and31family paradigm involve the same kind of transfer offeelings about persons and situations from the past onto thepresent. Like transference, Reiss' model of sharedconstructs and family paradigm is directed at explaining andpredicting action: "a shared construct specifies that thisfamily behaves in this way because, collectively, it isconvinced that its social environment is (without a doubt)just this kind of a world" (p. 382). Reiss, as well asSteinglass et al (1987) put forward the theory that thefamily's shared conception of the world plays a centralregulatory role in family life.Family paradigm, in constructivist terms, is the product ofthe group's assimilating consciousness which constructs astable world out of the flow of experience. The paradigm isthe result of the family's epistemological search forpatterns, connections and similarites in its experiences ofits social world. It is this narrative configuration thatmakes sense of all that they have been, who they are andwill be. Reiss (1981) uses the terms shared constructs orshared images to describe the family's fantasies or beliefsabout the nature of particular situations. Family paradigmis like a meta rule and is meant to describe a set ofgeneral framing assumptions about the fundamental propertiesof the perceptual world that underly the family's sharedconstructs. Reiss' conception of family paradigm is similarto Polkinghorne's (1988) description of narrative as the32essential structure of experience. These assumptions, Reissand Polkinghorne suggest, are usually not at the level ofconscious awareness in that they are not often available tothe family members for discussion or analysis. In spite ofor perhaps because of being out of awareness, there exists aconsensus about the underlying character of the experiencedworld. The term consensus in this context does not,however, refer to surface agreements on specific issues butto a more pervasive underlying consensus on the possibilitesfor agreement and disagreement. This corresponds to thepoint of view expressed in the literature on narrative whichsuggests that the story which unifies experience is oftenout of the participant's awareness.Reiss' theory (1981) of the coordinated construction ofreality and the development of family paradigm draws onKuhn's (1970) emphasis on the role of changes in the group'sshared explanatory model in returning a group from a stateof crisis to a state of productive routine. According tothis theory, groups appear to be more open to new influencesduring crises. Fundamental shifts in their construction ofreality tend to occur at these times and, if the response tocrisis and the accompanying explanations are successful inkeeping the group intact, these shifts become a stable partof the underlying belief system of the group. Reiss' theoryalso draws on the tradition of Berger and Luckman (1966)33which emphasizes the subjective nature of socialconstructions.Families differ tremendously in their long term responses towhat appear to be very similar stresses. Some become, overtime, more confident, effective and loving while othersbecome progressively more locked into rigid unhappy lives.The fundamental process by which a family recovers fromcrisis is the collaborative construction of reality. Thisprocess is described by Reiss (1981) as having three phases.The first is the formation of the crisis construct inresponse to family disorganization. The second phase is thesocial abstraction of the the crisis construct to become thefamily's set of general framing assumptions. This is thefamily paradigm. The third phase is the extrapolation ofthe general principles of the family's belief system tospecific situations. This is called the ordinary constructand is roughly equated with the family's problem solvingstyle in a particular situation. Reiss developed his theoryin experimental situations to explain the observeddifferences in the information processing behaviors offamilies of "normals" compared to families withschizophrenics and families with character disorders. Inthis research, special attention was paid to differences inthe form of the responses rather than the content. Whilethe family's solution to the experimental puzzle (theproduct) was of interest, it was the process, the strategies34and styles that each family used to develop their finalproduct that Reiss found most useful in explaining the broaddifferences in their underlying systems of explanation (p.191). According to Reiss,the familes of normals were successful in allthree phases of information processing: gathering,interpretation, and exchange. The familyprocesses supporting this competence were asharing of ideas during hypothesis testing, awillingness to take risks, a modest level ofacknowledgment of each other's remarks, flexiblespeech styles and the use of effectiveinformation-exchange strategies" (p.55).In contrast, families of schizophrenics (consensussensitive) and character disorders (interpersonally distancesensitive) were much less competent in these processes.Significantly, Reiss (1981) suggests that his measurementsof a family's paradigm cannot be explored solely as acomposite of the intellectual, perceptual and personalitycharacteristics of individual family members. They appearto be measurements of a family level phenomenon. Thischapter will explore Reiss' theory of how differentunderlying belief systems shape interactional behavior sothat some families become effective problem solvers and someturn out with many fewer skills.35Family Stress and Disorganization According to Reiss (1981), the process by which paradigms ornarrative configurations become established in family life,the way in which the family collaborates in and adheres toits construction of reality is tied to the concepts offamily stress, disorganization and crisis. Stress isdefined as an event external to the family and crisis is aninternal phenomenon sometimes in reaction to externalstress. It is during severe family disorganization thatconditions are created which favor the creation of new andvery general conceptions of itself and the environment.During crisis, previous modes of construing the environmentfail and new constructs, new attempts to explain the worldemerge as the family's active response to extreme stress.Explanations that restore the integrity of the family in thewake of disorganization will continue to be employed becausethey are perceived to have held the family ship together.Stress, from the constructivist point of view, cannot bedefined by an examination of the stressor events alone. Itis the meaning given to the story told about these eventsthat identifies them as stressors. According to Pittman(1987), a stress is a force that tends to distort. Stressesare, however, "somewhat specific to the system in question;that is, what is stressful for one family may not be foranother...It depends enormously upon the values andexpectation of the family and the nature of the36relationships" (p.4). If the socially constructed meaningof an event suggests that it will produce a substantialchange or alteration in the life patterns of the family,then it will be experienced as stressful. Important forthis study is the observation that an external eventconstrued by some families to be stressful is not by others.The decision is often not in awareness but it is, from aconstructivist perspective, a decision, nonetheless.Severe family disorganization, as opposed to simpleconflict, is characterized by the loosening of fundamentalsharing of the definition of reality, the narrative orderingof events. Prior to crisis, the family is characterized byimplicit agreement about the rules and roles of daily life -who does what and when and what kinds of things arepermissible or not. The power of the underlying agreementsto implicitly regulate interactional process is due, to alarge extent, to their unquestioned acceptance as part ofthe objective world - the way things are, always have beenand always will. Drawing on Kantor and Lehr (1975), Reiss(1981) describes how, in disorganization, family interactionpatterns lose their capacity to implicitly shape experienceand provide meaning. Unable to rely on implicit agreementto control interaction, family members resort to explicitrules and more rigid systems of control. FollowingMaturana's thinking (1980), the implicit family isstructurally coupled - that is to say, each member shapes37the other. The explicit family relies on instructiveinteraction, an attempt to influence or control directly,which doesn't work. The implicit family works because thereis an overlapping of boundaries so that the normally closedinformation systems are fused. This shift to explicitnessis distinguished from simple conflict which often can occurwithout disturbing the underlying shared agreements. Anexample of a surface conflict that does not disturb anunderlying implicit belief system would be an argumentbetween a husband and wife about what kind of expectationsto put on their children with regard to academic marks.Even though they may disagree quite vigorously, perhaps evenviolently, about whether their children should be doing onehalf hour or one hour of homework every night, there maystill be an implicit belief that academic performance isimportant, that parents have a right to impose expectationson their children and, further, that marital relationshipscan never be very satisfying. As long as these underlyingbeliefs are undisturbed, the fundamental sharing remainsintact. If any one of these implicit beliefs were to beseriously questioned, the marital relationship would be incrisis and either open to fundamental change ordisintegration.It is the implicit nature of social processes that givesocial constructions of reality their objectivity. Largelyoutside of awareness, this frame determines what we see and38what we do not. As will be discussed in the section titled"rituals", interactional behavior has the ability toobjectify the family's beliefs about itself and the world.Rituals and daily routines implicitly shape and are shapedby the underlying beliefs. When interactional continuity isdisrupted and loses its capacity to provide meaning, thefamily must often resort to explicit, more coercive forms ofrelationships. When this happens, the objectivity of thefamily's construction of reality, the "way things havealways been" is called into question and no longer has thepower to implicitly guide behavior. Resistance and powerstruggles result from basic changes in, for example, thebalance of power in who defines the day-to-day situations offamily life as well as the less frequent but importantceremonials.As attention shifts away from objectified conceptions ofsocial reality, the family is unable to focus on managingidentifiable tasks and instead dissipates its energy oninfighting. Tasks that had previously been carried out as amatter of course now become a source of conflict. Factorsthat influence that family's construction of the crisis areits interactional complexity at the time of stress and thequality of its ties with the environment. At an advancedstage of disorganization, the family or someone in it is nowperceived as a tyrant or source of enduring difficulty for39most members. Information processing and problem solvingbecome ineffective. The family is in crisis.Crisis Construct The collaborative construction of reality begins with whatReiss (1981) calls the crisis construct. This constructserves to coordinate each members's description andcomprehension of the crisis itself, the family's response tothe crisis, the action that is required to surmount it, andthe resources on which such action can depend. This newshared belief system that explains the structure of thesocial world will replace the belief system that failedduring the crisis.Reiss (1981) suggests that the crisis construct is differentfrom other shared constructs because it focuses on thefamily itself as opposed to the social world which is thefocus of the family paradigm. Shared constructs in Reiss'theory are, as has already been discussed, focused on someaspect of life outside the family. The crisis construct iscloser to what will be called family identity in this study.As such, it consists of the family's growing conception ofits own crisis and the possibilities, if any, for its futurerecovery. Because the previous shared belief system haslost its explanatory power, the crisis construct is formedduring a time when the family is relatively cut off from itspast meaning system. If the past is excluded over a long40period of time, however, this can lead to serious problemsfor the family. Reiss uses the term "degradation" todescribe those parts of family ceremonials which concealfrom the family aspects of its past - particularly painfulaspects associated with crisis (p.250). He views familieswith a very limited sense of their own origins anddevelopment as being limited to being responders andincapable of seeing themselves as originators. Being cutoff from the past makes the family more vulnerable to thestressor events but also makes it possible for a newconstruction of reality to replace the one that is no longeruseful. This very vulnerability becomes a window ofopportunity to break through the cognitive homeostasis, theregularities constructed by the cognitive entity. Pittman(1987) has a similar view of crisis as an opportunity forchange:A crisis results when a stress comes to bear upona system and requires change outside the system'susual repertoire... The boundaries areloosened.... Rules and roles become confused....Both expectations and prohibitions are relaxed....Goals and values lose importance and may even belost altogether. Unresolved conflicts are revivedand become the focus of much attention.... Crisisis, [however] according to Webster, "a state ofthings in which a decisive change one way or theother is impending". Crisis is the turning point41at which things will either get better or getworse. It is a concept central to theunderstanding of change....In Chinese the word"crisis" is made up of the characters for "danger"and "opportunity"....It is not really possible tohave change without crisis (p.7).Keith and Whitaker (1988), in their discussion of thesymbolic structure of families, speak of the crises of birthand death as the "paradigmatic wheels of change":Birth is a prototype for the developmentalpsychosis, the experience of being out of ourheads. The experience is a nonpathological,culturally invisible, multiperson, familypsychosis... In this birth experience, we changeor are changed because we lose our conscious gripon ourselves. The experience takes the familyover. The quantum-jump qualtity that a birthstimulates is a paradigm for other quantum-jumpexperiences symbolically related to birthexperiences. Thus profound personal experiencesare seen as "rebirths" (p. 438).This view of crisis as an opportunity for rebirth andrejuvenation is similar to Bollnow's (1987) view that crisisis an essential and necessary part of being human. Crisis42becomes the means by which we recapture a life that hasslipped away from our control.Returning to Reiss' (1981) theory, another aspect of thecrisis construct is the involvement of outsiders or outsideaspects of individual members. It is as if theoperationally closed information system described byMaturana and Varela (1980) becomes temporarily open tooutside influence. Often these outsiders would have noplace and no influence at another time. The involvement ofoutside aspects of individual members refers to those skillsand attitudes and individual perceptions of the family myth(Wamboldt & Wolin, 1988, p. 149) that have not been broughtinto play in the implicit phase of family functioning.Anderson and Goolishian's (1988) concept of the "story asyet unsaid" (p. 381) refers to the potential constructionsof reality that are available to family members but unuseduntil the opportunity is right for these potentials to berealized. From this point of view, crisis would open up thepossibilities for new themes, narratives and the creation ofnew histories.Reiss (1981) describes reorganization after crisis as beingshaped by activity in three dimensions: First, an evolving,unspoken and implicit template or set of standards calledrecognition versus revelation. Second, the enactment ofreorganization is called collective versus personal action.43Third, the resources of reorganization is termed environmentversus family.The Template for Reorganization: Recognition Versus Revelation.The first and most important underlying dimension for thecollaborative construction of the crisis describes acognitive process and ranges from recognition and growththrough experience to revelation and discovery throughmeaning. A family that begins the process of reorganizationthrough discovery will tend to be able to clearly identifythe disorganizing stress itself, separate from theinteractional processes of ordinary life. (Pittman [1987],as well, suggests that the stress must be identified inorder for effective recovery to take place.) Informationwill be gathered from the environment and evidence will bepieced together with the belief that it will all make senseeventually. The families described by Reiss (1981) asexamples of the recognition type were able to learn from theexperience and coping responses of others. They were alsobetter able to acknowledge their own feelings of loss andrecover emotionally from the crisis. Recognition familiestend to construe the crisis in such a way that they willeventually gain more confidence in their competence athandling difficult experiences. As it may already beapparent, it would appear that Reiss does not go so far asVon Glaserfeld (1984)and Von Foerster (1984) in their44insistance that reality is entirely a construction of thecognitive entity. Reiss suggests that the environment, anexternal reality, can be "discovered" with careful analysis.At the other end of this dimension, families collaborate inthe construction of reality employing revelation anddiscovery through meaning. This approach to construingmeaning appears to have less to do with learning from theenvironment than it does with unresolved issues from thepast. Reidl (1984) refers to this characteristic when herefers to those for whom the certainty of knowledge has beenreplaced by the certainty of faith. The stressor eventswhich are external to family interaction are not clearlyidentified. Meaning is not construed in relation to anaccurate assessment of information from the environment.The significance of the experience tends to have an intensesymbolic meaning which is arrived at by connecting thisevent with some other significant event in the past. Inconstructivist terms, the family is constructing anunderlying object of which the most recent crisis event andand the one from the past are two manisfestations. Becausethe family is less aware of the nuances of similarity anddifference in the environment there is a tendency to equatea,b,c with a,b,c,x, - x being the factor which would requirefor detection, paying more accurate attention to theinformation available in the context. This type of familymay be more deserving than others of Whitaker's phrase,45"drawing on the past, the only future they knew" (Keith &Whitaker, 1988, p. 435). Relatively closed off from theenvironment, they have only their experience to draw on.Grief and loss tend not to be dealt with because the crisiswas believed to be somehow fore-ordained - a pattern lookingfor a time and place to re-emerge. Because the definitionof the crisis to be solved is not based on sufficientinformation from the environment, issues will continue to beunresolved as they have been in the past. This will providefuel for future difficulties in learning from theenvironment. Because of early closure, the construction ofthe crisis is not complex enough to provide guidance to theproblem solving process. The narrative is not comprehensiveenough to include more than a narrow range of the possiblefactors. The family story is at risk of developing asuperficial plot with shallow, black and whitecharacterizations.As opposed to the recognition family which learns fromdirect experience that the social environment can beunderstood, the reaction of revelation families does notinvolve as much direct contact with the social world. Thedependance on an inner symbolic meaning for the constructionof reality is associated with a sense of being out ofcontrol of events. Without the benefit of information aboutdifferences in the present context, a family cannot be metato its past or present. Nor can a future that is different46be imagined. Clearly, the recognition template forreorganization after crisis has advantages over therevelation template. The recognition type family has manysimilarities to what Reiss calls the "environment sensitivefamily" that:experiences the problem "out there". The soughtafter solution will be a product of logicalconnections perceived in an existential spaceoutside the family; there is no necessity toexperience them as continuous with the family'sown previous solutions, in the recent or remotepast. There is a prime valuation on evidencerather than explanation, and so a maximum exposureto ambiguity and uncertainty is sought in order tostrengthen and generalize any tentatively heldhypotheses (p.76).This kind of family would appear to have a much betterchance to become more loving, confident and effective in thereorganization after crisis.The revelation type family appears to closely resemble whatReiss calls the "consensus-sensitive" family. He describesthese types of families as those:who experience and utilize explanation andsolution itself as major mechanisms formaintaining family coherence. Thus, they strive47to sustain unbroken continuity in theirexplanation of events; closure is early and oftenpremature, even when they are confronted with themost unusual problems (p.70).Collective Versus Personal Action.As the family reorganizes its construction of reality, therecognition and revelation approaches become furtherdifferentiated on a behavioral dimension which describeswhether interaction tends to be collective or personal.Recognition families working collectively are able tomaximize their effectiveness as a group. The group problem-solving effectiveness, like any well functionning team,would tend to exceed the effectiveness of the individualsworking independantly. Recognition families working atreconstructing reality as individuals will lack the primarysharing process in both formulating solutions and believingin them. Using the narrative metaphor, they will be unableto create the single unifying story that can bring coherenceto the raw undifferentiated mass of experience. Individualswill still be united by their shared emphasis on gatheringevidence for their beliefs but because of the lack ofcontinuous sharing characteristic of families workingcollectively, their separate experiences will not bereconciled. The underlying agreement is, Reiss (1981)suggests, that they never can be.48Revelation families can also reorganize the construction ofcrisis collectively or individually. The revelation familythat reconstructs the world collectively would be much likethe consensus-sensitive family described earlier. Therevelation family that reconstructs the world individuallywould still be characterized by symbolic meanings attachedto the crisis events. These meanings would be, however,deeply personal and private. This type of family sharessome of the characteristics of what Reiss calls the"interpersonally distance-sensitive" family - one in whichthe family members do not live in the same experientialworld. Isolated from each other, they do not share a commonset of goals or a common image of who they are. Both typesof revelation families will, however, tend to experiencethemselves in a field of incomprehensible forces andmeanings. The members of a family that feels connected willtend to view each other as protectors against a hostileworld although one of Reiss' studies (1981, p.42) suggeststhat consensus-sensitive family members have much moredifficulty with each other than they are willing to admit toeach other openly. The members of a revelation family thatis disconnected would have to look elsewhere for support intimes of difficulty.Family Versus Environment.A third differentiation in the way that families construethe crisis they have experienced is how they come to49understand the sources of energy or strength for their ownrecovery - the family or the environment. Ideally, thefamily would discover its own strength and also find thesocial environment supportive. Reiss suggests that therecognizing family will tend to discover its own innerresources based on experience in the the present world. Therevelation family will find inner strength by becomingsymbolically tied to its past. The past is chosen as aresource presumably because the present is not fullyexperienced and, therefore, not fully understood. If arevelation family construes reality in such a way that theenvironment is the main resource for reorganization, Reisshas found that one person or event tends to be singled outand invested with unusual knowledge, power or significance.The recognition family, more in touch with the social worldand able to handle ambiguity, tends to find significance ina greater range of people and events or takes longer toattribute significance to people or events.Abstraction of the Family ParadigmThe pattern and texture of the return to implicitfunctioning, to full reorganization, Reiss (1981) suggests,is organized by the mode of crisis resolution itself. Theprocess of resolving the crisis becomes paradigmatic, amodel for guiding the elaboration of shared beliefs whenthe family is confronted by stress in specific futuresituations. The crisis construct, as described by the three50dimensions just discussed, becomes a pattern for organizingperception and experience by processes of socialabstraction. In these processes, essential aspects ofexperience are selected, highlighted, transformed anddeleted. Reiss uses the terms interpolation andexterpolation to describe the means by which the familystory's inner coherence is increased and the narrativeextended.Reconstruction, then, begins with a system of explanationsand experiences which form the family's conception of thecrisis and its own response. The end stage of socialabstraction yields a set of framing assumptions of muchgreater generality about the perceptual world. This familyparadigm, discussed previously, can be described as thefamily's understanding of itself and its world and thefamily's shared conception of the relationships among bothsimple and complex events in its life and the world. Reissdescribes the abstracting process using three dimensions:coherence, integration and reference.Coherence: Stable Versus Intrinsic Movement.This dimension describes families that range from stable tointrinsic movement. Families high on the stable end of thiscontinuum have an underlying belief that there is aknowable, structural coherence underlying and explaining theexperienced world. Families of this kind are similar to the51recognizing families described in the discussion of thecrisis construct in the way that adding new experience isnot perceived to change the essential nature of priorexperience. Families on the stable end of this continuum,in constructivist terms perceive separate experiences asdifferent manifestations of the same underlying object.Unlike the revelation families, however, this constructionof reality is one that leads to a greater sense of mastery."Old and new experience may be added together to gain aclearer picture of an underlying reality. The underlyingreality only becomes clearer and closer as it is approached.Its stability and emerging clarity provide the primemotivation for continuing to add new experience to what hasalready been understood" (Reiss, 1981, p. 209). The plotstructure of the family story has a continuity that isunderstood, often implicitly, by all. Because previousexploration of the external world has resulted in anincreased sense of competence and mastery, it would onlymake sense to continue this strategy.The other pole of the coherence dimension is calledintrinsic movement. This describes families who experiencean underlying reality that changes. In constructivistterms, the "stability" constructed by the assimilatingconsciousness is one that is not stable but, rather, alwayschanging. Experiences are not perceived as having acoherent pattern. Families who construct realities in this52way are similar to those described as revelation familieswho tend to have less direct contact with the world. Afamily at the intrinsic movement end of the coherencedimension will not systematically gather information in theexperiential world because of the belief that experiencecannot be added together in a meaningful way. There is noplace in the family story for gathering information. Theresulting conception of the perceptual world or plot willtend to be simple and lack complexity. A family at thestable end of the coherence dimension will seek experiencesthat can be connected because of the assumption of a stableunderlying reality. With a greater range of information amore complex description of the world will tend to emerge.This more complex description will be more useful inproviding direction to the family.Integration: Universal Versus Particular.The second dimension of the abstracting process is calledintegration: universal versus particular. If an individualhas the capacity to identify at least one element in theexperience of other family members that correspond to his orher own, this will assure potential access to the entireexperiential world of the others. If there is a quality ofempathic reciprocality among family members, it can be saidthat their perceptual world is unitary. The collectiveresponse to the crisis becomes, through the process ofsocial abstraction, transformed into a shared conception53that the experience of all members is univeral andintegrated. If the abstracting process of the crisisconstruct is individually based, it will enhance eachmembers's sense that his own world is separate from theothers and that a comparable isolation exists for allmembers of the family. It is important, however, to"emphasize that the segregated family is united by itsshared conception of the world as particularistic andsegregated" (Reiss, 1981, p.215).Reference: Solipsistic Versus Empiricist.In the social abstraction process, the family tends to seeeither itself or the environment as the source of its energyand strength. At one extreme families will generalize thisconceptual framework in such a way that they "regardthemselves as the framework for all movement in theperceptual world and as the center of all coordinates of theexperienced space in which they live" (Reiss, 1981, p.217).These families, called solopsistic, have an awareness thatreality is constructed but, at the extreme end of thedimension, there is a tendency to disregard the externalenvironment as a source of important information."Empiricist families, by contrast, regard themselves as theobjects moving in a perceptual world whose coordinates aredefined by others" (p.218).54The internal or solipsistic perspective has advantages anddisadvantages. Responding to the crisis by seeing itself asthe primary resource, the family will tend to perceive itsoptions as being defined only by its own search forinformation. Goals tend to be more clearly defined and nottied to the success or failure of a particular means ofachieving them. This allows the family-as-resource approachto survive reversals that would discourage familiesconstruing the environment as the primary resource. Thedisadvantage of the internal perspective is that usefulinformation in the social environment may be disregarded ifit does not closely correspond to the reality constructed bythe family.The external or empiricist modality also has advantages anddisadvantages. A family on the stable end of the coherencedimension, and on the empiricist end of the referencedimension, will feel it is adding experience together inorder to approach a reality residing in an external world.The disadvantage of the external perpective is thatinformation from the environment may be accepteduncritically, leaving the family at the mercy of whoeverappears to have more power or authority. This type offamily appears to be more dependant on the existance ofexternally created opportunities. In the referencedimension, a position somwhere between the extremes of the55internal and external perspectives would appear to be mostconducive to effective reorganization.Assuming that the family is still intact after the crisis,when the process of social abstraction is completed and thefamily has returned to a state of implicit functioning, thefamily paradigm is in place. Choosing a path along thedimensions of coherence, integration and reference, thefamily will have left behind the state of uncertainty andintense feelings brought about by the crisis andreestablished a stable world where underlying shared beliefsonce again shape behavior without the necessity of explicitrules. This does not mean that the family is free fromconflict. On the contrary, there may be conflict over anumber 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 parentalrequest. Should there be a loosening of this implicitagreement, there would be less chance that the family wouldsuccessfully recover from the crisis.Ordinary Construct Reiss (1981) uses the term "ordinary construct" to describethe family's problem solving strategies in specificsituations. (Up until now we have been discussingunderlying cognitive strategies. Ordinary construct, asdescribed by Reiss, is as much concerned with actual56behavior as beliefs and assumptions). Through a process ofextrapolation and interpolation, whereby certain crucialelements of the family's explanatory system are abstractedto particular contexts, the family paradigm shapes behaviorin everyday life. Three dimensions are used to describe thefamily's problem solving behaviors: configuration,coordination and closure. The particular strategies that afamily uses to respond to the world grow out of the crisisconstruct and family paradigm. These dimensions show howthe family's shared conception of the world plays a centralregulatory role in family life.Configuration: Complex Versus Simple.The first dimension is called configuration. It refers tothe different experiences that families have when confrontedwith the same situation. Some families are able to graspsubtle and complex nuances in their environment and makeconnections between previous and present events in such away that the world seems predictable. This kind of familyis characterized by optimism and a sense of mastery. At theother end of the dimension, families experience the world aschaotic and unpatterned. Typically, this latter kind offamily is not able to pick up on the complex relationshipsin the environment and tends to see the world in simplisticterms: black and white, either-or, and right and wrong.57The high configuration family would tend to have thecognitive, perceptual and interpersonal skills to adequatelygather, interpret and exchange information about the socialworld. This kind of family could be described as "subtle,detailed, and highly structured" (Reiss, 1981, p.74). Thefamily that is low on the configuration dimension would notbe effective as a group even though the individuals may bevery competent on their own. This type of family could bedescribed as "coarse, simple and chaotic" (p.74). In thisdimension, family problem solving effectiveness is measuredby the additional contribution the family group makes towhatever the individuals could achieve by acting separately.Clearly, in order for this to happen, there has to be a highlevel of cohesion and trust (Johnson and Johnson, 1987).It is obvious that this dimension shares characteristicswith other dimensions of the crisis construct and familyparadigm. Families at the complex end of the configurationdimension will have construed the crisis as a recognitionfamily and will have abstracted the crisis construct on thestable end of the coherence dimension. Families at thesimple end of the configuration dimension will have tendedto use revelation as a means of constructing the crisis andwill have abstracted the crisis construct on the intrinsicmovement end of the coherence dimension. Environment-sensitive families would tend to score high on this58dimension while consensus-sensitive and interpersonaldistance-sensitive families would score low.Coordination: Coordinate Versus Isolated.This dimension refers to family members' ability andwillingness to develop problem solutions similar to eachother's and the extent to which members are able toreconcile separate images of the world - for example, theirimages of their families of origin. It refers to apervasive experience by all members that they are, for themoment, in the same experiential universe (Reiss, 1981,p.74) and living within a single unifying story. Reissmakes it clear that this concept involves more than simpleagreement. To score high on this dimension, there must beevidence of a basic sharing process in which family membersnot only develop solutions together but also believe inthem. Families high on this dimension will have tended toconstrue the crisis collectively and abstracted the crisisconstruct on the universal end of the integration dimension.This group will include both the environment-sensitive andthe consensus-sensitive families. Environment-sensitiveswill develop solutions that are in agreement with each otherbecause of their effective information sharing processes.Consensus-sensitives, on the other hand, will develop ashared view of their social world not because of effectivecommunication but, rather, because of a need to develop aunited front against what is perceived as a hostile world.59Family IdentityFamilies with a strong and clear positive sense of identityappear to have a much better chance of successfullynegotiating stress and crisis (Bennett and Wolin, 1988).This chapter will explore some of the issues important tofamily identity formation. Families that have successfullycreated a positive identity are much less at risk ofbecoming developmentally stuck during crisis, are more ableto view extended family as a resource rather than a burden,are more effective in focusing their energy, and are moreable to pass on this ability to the next generation.Another factor in the successful negotiation of crisis isthe degree to which both individual and group needs can bemet in the family.' Stress and crisis will be moreadequately dealt with if the family members perceive thatboth levels of need are being met.Family identity and family paradigm are two closely relatedcognitive constructs of the family's interpersonallyconstructed reality or narrative. Steinglass et al, in TheAlcoholic Family (1988), define family identity as:The family's subjective sense of its owncontinuity over time, its present situation, andits character. As such, family identity is anunderlying cognitive structure, a set of60fundamental beliefs, attitudes, and attributionsthe family shares about itself. It is the gestaltof qualities and attributes that make it aparticular family and differentiate it from otherfamilies.^Family identity is also characterizedby subjectivity. However, our notion of familyidentity goes beyond the supposition that familyis one determinant - albeit powerful - ofindividual identity. It is, instead, a grouppsychological phenomenon that has as itsfoundation a shared system of beliefs. Sharedbelief systems are the implicit assumptions aboutroles, relationships, and values that govern(regulate) interaction in families and othergroups (p.58).Steinglass et al (1988) differentiate between the explicitand implicit family identity. They suggest, like Reiss(1981), that the families shared belief system is bothlargely out of awareness and has an important role inshaping a family's problem solving style:Although family identity is a cognitive construct- the product of a shared belief system - it isnot always in the conscious awareness of allfamily members. Most of the time, one has only adiffuse sense of connectedness, a feeling ofmembership, not a clearly defined and explicable61version of the shared belief systems that make upthe unique identity of a particular family. Infact, family identity would cease to function asan effective regulatory structure if it were asurface phenomenon, clearly understood and in fullview of the family. Regulatory structures, to beeffective, 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 inawareness all the time. These tend to be superficial andless important in shaping family interaction. There aretimes, however, when family identity is more explicit. AsReiss (1981) suggests, a family's awareness of itselfincreases during crisis. Steinglass et al (1987) suggestthat this also happens during different developmental phasessuch as when children leave home or when the grandparentsfind themselves close to the end of their lives and start tobe concerned about their legacy.Morphostasis and Morphogenesis Steinglass et al (1987) use the construct of family identityin their discussion of two of the core concepts of systemstheory: morphostasis or internal regulation andmorphogenesis or controlled growth. Family identity, acognitive construct like a narrative configuration, is part62of morphostatic processes or regulatory mechanisms thatmaintain stability, order and control of system functioning.In other words a family's construction of itself becomes aforce that maintains continuity over time. In addition tobeing a deep regulatory structure, family identity alsoplays a morphogenetic role at times of developmentaltransitions. How, for example, the newly married coupleconstructs their identity will either bind them to oldfamily identities (morphostatic) or establish a new identityquite different from the families of origin (morphogenetic).A "healthy" family, from this point of view, is one wherethere is a balance between morphostasis and morphogenesis,between regulation and development. Family identity is feltto be an accurate indicator of the nature of this balance.Interactional behavior, especially rituals, have thepotential to combine both continuity and change in ways thatthis balance can be achieved.Systemic Maturation Family identity is a part of two further developmentalconstructs associated with morphogenesis: systemicmaturation and developmental coherence. "Systemicmaturation is a process that takes its shape from theevolving and changing nature of interpersonal relationshipswithin the family" (Steinglass et al, 1987 p. 83). Unlikedevelopmental models such as the family life cycle put forthby McGolderick (1988) and others, this construct addresses63the developmental properties of the family as a system, andwhat the authors claim are the universal sequence of tasksassociated with systemic properties of the family. Thesetasks are grouped into three phases and could, in fact, becalled phases of family identity development. These phasesare described not only in the biological terms of aging butalso in terms of cognition, the ways in which reality isconstructed.Boundary Definition.First, is the task of defining external and internalboundaries and identity formation. How, and to what degreethe newly married couple constructs the boundary betweenthemselves and their families of origin will determine theextent to which an independant, freestanding system iscreated and the extent to which their identity is similar toor different from the two families of origin. Drawing fromBennett and Wolin (1988), family identity issues associatedwith this phase are levels of ethnicity, religiosity andemphasis placed on family history. Another aspect of theconstruction of reality during this phase is the social andemotional connectedness felt towards the familes of origin.Also important is the level of awareness, intentionality andexplicit agreement about what kind of identity the couplewants to create. Much of this decision making process takesplace out of awareness but creates the foundation upon whichthe rest of the couple's collective life is built. Although64Steinglass et al (1987) describe this task as primarily anissue of newly wed couples, it is not uncommon for couplesto never reach agreement on this boundary. This canseverely inhibit the ability to reach agreement on laterfamily tasks. If the couple's story cannot integrate thestories from their families of origin, the resultingdiscontinuity will make future identity formation moredifficult.A study which has relevance to this issue is one conductedby Wamboldt and Wolin (1988) in which they distinguishethree differing postures of married couples vis-a-vis theirfamily of origin myths. These three postures are called"accept and continue, process and struggle, and disengageand repudiate" (p.151). These postures describe therelationship between an individual's family myth and thecouple's family reality. The term family myth is used todescribe 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'sreality because individuals can and do experience the worldoutside their family... A family myth is a characteristic ofindividuals, their story of their family" (p.145). Familyreality, on the other hand, is defined as "an objectivegroup-level construction that organizes a family'sexperience and coordinates their actions" (p.145).65The posture of acceptance and continue reflects a deep,personal incorporation of the family's reality with theindividual's family myth. The posture of process andstruggle describes those individuals who are in a moreintermediate postion of disengagement from their originfamily's reality. Their family myth is often complex andambivalently held. The attitude of disengage and repudiate,as the name suggests, reflects a sharp division between theindividual's family myth and the family reality of his orher origin family. Wamboldt and Wolin (1988) suggest thatthe potential for developing consensus on a new sharedreality is not equal for all three postures. Not only dothe three postures have different usefulness in serving asmodels for the new reality being constructed, differentcouple combinations of the three postures will manifestdifferent levels of success in subsequent maritaldevelopment (p.157).The authors suggest that a combination of individuals whoare both accepting and continuing their families' realitieshave the best chance of creating a positive new reality.The next best prognosis is for couples who are bothprocessing and struggling. The critical factor here iswhether or not the couple is willing to take a systemic viewof difficulties and share the blame. The second leastpromising combination is that of a repudiator paired with a"rescuer" (an individual who is either accepting and66continuing or processing and struggling). This arrangementtends to have problems associated with a power imbalance.Repudiating or "new beginning" couples suffer from the lackof a model for their relationship success and typically havea difficult time stating how they want things to be. Ahesitancy to build significant relational investmentsresults in a lack of a family focus and an inability tocreate the shared reality required to negotiate difficulttimes.The above is a good example of the close relationshipbetween family identity and family paradigm. The ability ofa couple to construe their families of origin myths in apositive way has a direct relationship to their ability tojointly construct their own family identity in a positiveway and develop the necessary interactional patterns thatwould facilitate the successful negotiation of crisis.Selection of Themes.The second stage of systemic maturation is that all familiesmust choose or construct a limited number of majordevelopmental themes. This middle phase of familydevelopment only occurs once a family has come to agreementon a finite set of options. Decisions about centralorganizational themes such as the importance of work,children, leisure activities, allocation of space, time,money, extended family, friends, community, religion and so67on, become, in the middle phase, organizers for behavior ina period that tends to be dominated by regulatory ratherthan growth forces. Underlying agreement leads tocommittment to a set of stable and consistent rulesregarding role behavior in the family. In spite of theability of individuals, failure to develop a unified storyor come to shared consensus about themes - either explicitor implicit - means that the family has not yet progressedbeyond the early phase of development. Writers like Bennettand Wolin (1988) claim that the achievement of a distinctfamily identity is a critical goal in family development.Without a certain level of agreement, the family is at riskof not being able to take control of their lives and carryout the plans they may or may not have declared in the earlystages of the relationship.This middle phase is characterized by the emergence of a setof repetitive and highly structured behavioral programs.Some are based on the deliberate agreements and plansreferred to above, many are the result of decisions andagreements that are made out of awareness. These behavioralpatterns, discussed more fully in the section on rituals,are shaped by interpersonally constructed beliefs. Thesebehaviors, in turn, provide structure and coherence tofamily life by reinforcing and conserving the agreements andrules from which they grew.68Heritage.In the third or late phase, to successfully transmit theirlegacy to the next generation, families must eventuallydevelop a set of shared values about themselves (identity)and about the world in which they live (paradigm). Thisrequires a distillation and clarification of core values anda transmission of these values. Family identity in thethird phase is defined differently by Steinglass et al(1988) in the third phase because the focus is no longer onhow 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 thisstage is the preservation of its identity. To do this, thefamily must distill and clarify the essence of its sharedconstruction of reality and then transmit this condensedpackage of beliefs and values or unified story to the nextgeneration. This, of course, is highly dependant on atleast some agreement between the family members as to whatthe family stands for. What was implicit must now becomeexplicit if the legacy is to be passed on. Inability to doso will probably result in failure to transmit anydeliberately fashioned set of beliefs. Failure to findconsensus will seriously impair the family's ability toachieve any of the three tasks of systemic maturation.69Developmental Coherence The second developmental construct associated withmorphogenesis put forth by Steinglass et al (1987), isdevelopmental coherence. Although systemic maturation isconsidered to be the most fundamental developmental processin families, developmental pressures emanating fromindividual family members also influence the family lifecycle. In this model, individual developmental issues aredescribed as primarily biological and associated with aging.Systemic maturation is described as primarily cognitive."Healthy" family development or developmental coherence isconstrued as the ability of the family to integrateindividual member needs with the more dominant systemicmaturational factors. This is similar to the concept of"psychological contract" used in organizational developmentliterature (Lippitt, 1981, p. 242). Developmentaldistortion, then, occurs when individual family member needsare incompatible with the tasks required by the family as asystem. For family growth and development to take on acoherent and responsible direction, individual and systemicneeds must be effectively integrated.Systemic needs of the family require, using Reiss' terms(1981), high levels of configuration, coordination, and theability to avoid premature decisions. Only if the family asa group understands that health is a complex balancing offamily and individual needs rather than a simple my-way-or-70else type of thinking, will the family be able to achievedevelopmental coherence. A family will require a sense ofconfidence and mastery to pursue this delicate balanceduring difficult transitions. Only if the family memberscan coordinate their experiential universes will they beable to understand the need for different approaches atdifferent times. Only if there is a relatively hightolerance for ambiguity will family members listen to eachother long enough to develop solutions that meet both systemand individual needs.Collaboration will be more of a challenge for couples withsignificantly different cultural, ethnic and religiousidentities. Developmental coherence requires the successfulintegration of sometimes very different constructions ofreality. Speaking on a similar topic, Berger and Kellner(1964) suggest that:The re-construction of the world in marriageoccurs principally in the course ofconversation.... The implicit problem of thisconversation is how to match two individualdefinitions of reality. By the very logic of therelationship, a common overall definition must bearrived at (p.226).Clearly, couples and families that have the ability to reachconsensus will have a greater chance of achieving71developmental coherence. Bennett and Wolin (1988) suggestthat couples who do not successfully establish a sense ofshared family identity early in their marriage may encounterserious developmental setbacks in later phases of theircareer.72Rituals As it has been defined earlier, a family paradigm is a deep-seated and persistent attitude or set of assumptions andshared beliefs about itself and its social and physicalworld. Interaction patterns play an extremely importantrole in relation to family paradigm that goes far beyondmerely 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 ofexpressing 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, ratherthan 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 ifrituals have been disrupted. As stated in the introduction,severe financial loss is one of the type of losses for whichthere are no mourning rituals developed by the broaderculture. This means that the family must be all the moreable to initiate on its own some means for its members toacknowledge, mourn, regain their sense of direction and movebeyond the experience. This chapter will review therelevance of a knowledge of rituals to a study of crisis andchange. Included in this chapter will be a review of the73functions of rituals in family life and a typology based onthe degree of family ritualization.Rituals are interactional surface markers for the constructsof family identity and family paradigm or family story.Roberts (1988) defines ritual as:coevolved symbolic acts that include not only theceremonial aspects of the actual presentation ofthe ritual, but the process of preparing for it aswell. It may or may not include words, but doeshave both open and closed parts which are "held"together by a guiding metaphor. Repetition can bea part of rituals through either the content, theform, or the occasion. There should be enoughspace ... for the incorporation of multiplemeanings by various family members... as well as avariety of levels of participation (p.8).According to Bennett and Wolin (1988), rituals can tapdeeply into a family's shared sense of identity and affectthe behavior of all family members. Rituals could be said toenact the family identity or family story by combining doingwith believing. They are condensed, symbolic forms ofcommunication about family life as a whole, repeated overtime. They have the capacity to provide the balance betweenmorphostasis and morphogenesis by providing opportunitiesfor both continuity and change. The performance of rituals74clarifies roles, delineates boundaries and defines ruleseither in the way that they always have been or in a new waythat reflects changed circumstances and developmental needs.From a therapeutic perspective, exploration of a family'sritual life can clarify developmental, existential andinteractional issues (Imber-Black, 1988, p. 114). Drawingon both social anthropology's emphasis on structure andritual and cultural anthropology's focus on meaning inritual and how people construct maps of their reality,Roberts (1988) claims that:Ritual works as both a maintainer and creator ofsocial structure for individuals, families andsocial communities, as well as a maintainer andcreator of world view. It can mediate between thetwo areas of structure and meaning so that eachdefines, reflects and elucidates the other (p.15).An example of this would be a birthday celebration thatcreates boundaries between those who are present and thosewho are not (structure) and provides connections with thepast present and future (meaning).The relationship between ritual and family identity is aclose one. Wolin and Bennett (1984) define ritual as:a symbolic form of communication that, owing tothe satisfaction that family members experiencethrough its repetition, is acted out in a75systematic fashion over time. Through theirspecial meaning and their repetitive nature,rituals contribute significantly to theestablishment and preservation of a family'scollective sense of itself, which we have termedthe "family identity" (p.401).Ritual is the way we play out who we are. It is how welearn to be who we are and how we learn whether we shallstay the same or be something else. Laird (1988) suggeststhat:ritual is probably the most potent socializationmechanism available to kin and other groupings forpreparing individual members to understand thegroup meanings, carry on its traditions, andperform those social roles considered essential toits continuation. Through ritual, as males andfemales, we learn who we are to be, what words wemay speak to whom and on what occasions, what wecan and will do and how we shall do it, with whomwe are to be, to what we can aspire. Ouridentities are not only reflected in the ritualswe perform, but also reinforced, changed in someway, and created anew in each action. Ritualimplies action and performance (p. 333).76In the field of anthropology, it is well known thatmultidimensional perspectives are required to understandceremonies that, on the surface, look fairly simple andstraightforward. Laird (1988, p. 333) talks about howrituals from even the least complex societies require anexploration of the economic, sexual, psychological,sociological and religious factors that form the richcontext of the symbolic systems surrounding ceremonies. Vander Hart (1983) suggests that symbols and symbolic actionsare the building blocks of rituals. He says that: "it isimportant to note that symbols are meant to include eitherthe objects or words which represent the possibility ofaltering beliefs, relationships, or the meaning of events"(p.85). Symbols provide access to unconscious processesthat are often not touched by rational methods.Keith and Whitaker (1988) talk about the symbolic structureof families, unconscious patterns that are passed on fromgeneration to generation that dominate family life. Similarto van der Hart, Keith and Whitaker describe rituals as "thehot spots for the process of changing and staying thesame"(p.433). Similar to Reiss, Keith and Whitaker talkabout how the response to certain crises becomes thetemplate for other responses to other situations. Theparadigms are the processes that surround birth and deathand their symbolic equivalents: "the quantum-jump qualitythat a birth stimulates is a paradigm for other quantum-jump77experiences symbolically related to birth experiences"(p.438). Death is described as the other "paradigmaticwheel of change" (p.438). The experiences considered inthis study will be explored as symbolic equivalents to birthand death in order to more fully understand the symbolicstructure of the family and create the context for thefamily to integrate its evolving image of itself. Keith andWhitaker warn that understanding or acknowledging thesymbolic understructure of a family does not automaticallychange anything but, where a family is having difficulty,"if the story can be told with enough anxiety...the symbolicdomination can be diminished" (p. 436).Ritual Themes Given the apparent relationship between ritual continuityand family health, one of the research questions of thisstudy will be to what extent has the crisis of financialloss disrupted the ritual life of the participants. Thefollowing themes describe the functions that ritual can playin the life of a family.Membership.According to Imber-Black (1988), there are five ritualthemes: (1) membership; (2) healing; (3) identity; (4)belief expression and negotiation; and (5) celebration(p.50). The membership theme is characteristic of all humansystems. Issues such as who is in and who is out, how one78gains or loses membership and who defines membership are notusually articulated in a conscious way but family ritualsmake the boundaries clear nevertheless. Seatingarrangements, allowable topics and allowable affectmetaphorically define the family's construction of itself.Who organizes extended family events, who attends and forhow long and in what what role, how different individualsare greeted at arrival and departure, all these definemembership and degrees of membership. Internal nuclearfamily membership issues are defined by daily routines suchas dinner time rituals and daily parting and re-entrypatterns. A wedding is a prime example of how membership isdefined by a publicly proclaimed boundary around the couple.Who is invited and who is not and who makes this decisionwill either continue or change long established patterns.Healing.Healing rituals can be found, for example, in everyculture's funeral rites. These rituals simultaneously markthe loss of the family member, facilitate the expression ofgrief, and point to a direction for ongoing life. There ischange in the relationship with the lost family member andcontinuity with ongoing relationships in the extended familyand 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 sameopportunities in our culture for confirmation of the loss79with the wider community. Often in such cases, the familyhas put rigid boundaries around the event and lacks ways tomark and share the loss in the larger community. This willeventually result in what Reiss (1981) calls "desecration":those parts of ceremonials where the past is denied, usuallybecause of some painful unresolved issues associated withcrisis (p.251). The narrative structure or construction ofreality, similar to the example of the prisoners of war inthe Japanese camp, could be quite different if a way couldbe found to break through the limitations of existingpresuppositions - the as yet unsaid. Reconciliation ofrelationships where resentments have built up over time ismade more possible with a ritual of some kind. Examples ofthis, in addition to those mentioned above, are extendedparent-child conflict and extra-marital affaires. With nocontext for mourning and the expression of pain and sadness,healing is more difficult.Pittman (1987) observes that overt crises are usually dealtwith more successfully that those that are covert becausethere are socially accepted rituals to help the familyresolve the confusion and pain. Family members with strongemotions need a time and place to experience them safely.Ritual can allow this to happen while at the same timeinterpersonal connections can be made. Unresolved loss dueto the absence of healing rituals is destructive because itfrequently functions in ways that keep people anchored in80the past and prevents a sense of present and futuredevelopment. When a family with unresolved loss is soembroiled in past difficulties, little hope is felt for thefuture. Likewise, the family is so engrossed in the day today tribulations that family history cannot be valued.Reiss (1981), in his discussion of the template forreconstruction (crisis construct), suggests that familieswith unresoved loss issues tend to use the revelationorientation to the world which, as has been discussed, tendsto result in less accurate information about the environmentand, consequently, a lowered sense of mastery.According to Keith and Whitaker (1988), the purpose of thethree generation family interview is to deal with thisinability to stay in the here and now by collapsing the pastand future into the present. Because of the importance ofhealing rituals, it is extemely important that familiesachieve enough agreement in their shared beliefs andnarratives to be able to construct ways to do this. Failureto construct fundamental agreement, implicit or explicit, onfamily identity issues such as ethnicity, religiosity andthe value of money and financial security makes itparticularly difficult to find a healing ritual that willmeet everyone's needs.An important aspect of ritual and family identity is thecharacteristic emotional coping response of the family as a81unit. Healing rituals, if done well, will allow the familyto experience mourning and move beyond the loss. Walsh(1987) outlines four family tasks that must be achieved ifthe family is to successfully reorganize after thedisruption of a loss:1. Shared acknowledgement of the reality of theloss. Attempts to protect family members from theloss tend to lead to dysfunction.2. Shared experience of the pain of grief. Thefamily's emotional coping style can either assistor block this important process. In order to moveto a place of balance or harmony with the past,the family needs to understand and accept theexpression of complicated and ambiguous feelings.Explicit and implicit family rules, roles andloyalties can severely limit the effectiveness ofthis experience or even prevent it altogether.3. Reorganization of the family system. Therealignment of relationships after a loss requiresa clear family identity to maintain and recreatethe many roles necessary to keep the family avital organization and avoid disintegration.4. Reinvestment in other relationships and lifepursuits. If the other tasks have been achieved,family members should be able to form newattachments and make other committments. Failureto accomplish the above tasks can result in82withdrawal or formation of superficialrelationships out of fear of being hurt again (p.314).Failure to do the above will result in what Kieth andWhitaker (1988) call the symbolic domination of recurringpatterns (p. 436). This is the same dynamic found in Reiss'(1981) revelation family. The ability to adapt to lossrequires, like so many other family challenges, a generalflexibility of the system and a relatively high level ofdifferentiation of the family members. Following theprogress of rituals over time is a way of assessing thefamily's pattern of adaptation to loss because each newholiday and anniversary will reevoke previous losses. Longterm unresolved losses have a tendency to intensify theexperience of emotion within the family while, at the sametime, constraining the expression of feelings (Gonzalez &Steinglass, 1989, p. 80). This is why family rituals areoften associated with so much anxiety. Well designedrituals that involve the participants emotionally are animportant building block of family health.Identity.Rituals also define identities and narratives. They canstabilize and reinforce a current identity or facilitateshifts in identities for both individuals and families.With individuals, for example, depending on the role taken83in designing and carrying out the events, identity is eitherchanged or reinforced. Birthdays, mother and father's days,confirmations and bar mitzvahs have the potential for bothmorphastasis and morphogenesis. In addition to the identityof the nuclear family, religious and ethnic celebrations candefine an individual and family's identity as part of alarger cultural group. Quite apart from the content ofcelebratory events, the way that a family allows itself toexpress emotions in family gatherings will shape familyidentity. Identity is influenced adversely by the perceivedinability to carry out rituals that people feel are normal.The perception of being underritualized can itself lend to asense of loss and emptiness. Inability or unwillingness torecognize culturally expected celebrations may leave somemembers or the entire family with a sense of failure. As wehave seen, identity and membership issues are closelyrelated to the tasks of systemic maturation (Steinglass etal, 1987). Identity is strongly influenced by which familyof origin, if any, is chosen as the model for ritualstructure. Those families with strong clear identities -like Reiss' concept of "generative and autonomous families"(1981, p. 170) - appear to be those with a well developedritual life. Rituals provide one of the importantopportunities for family members to coordinate theirconstructions of social realities.84Belief expression and negotiation.The fourth theme in ritual is belief expression andnegotiation. Shared beliefs are the core of familyidentity. 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 orunderlying beliefs which are in conflict. The surfaceconflict may be based on a deeper shared belief such as, forexample, in divorced families it is not possible to agree onhow to celebrate Christmas together.In recent years there has been an increase in the promotionof what might be called communication rituals. These arethe popular therapeutic exercises designed to reduceconflict and build relationships with communication skillssuch as active listening, paraphrasing, accurate empathy andso on. Setting aside special times and places for theseactivites makes them ritual-like. These types of ritualswould be especially needed where marital partners come fromdifferent traditions where what person experiences asproviding solace, the other experiences as threatening. Ifsuch opportunities do not exist, people often become lockedinto seeing only their own beliefs as correct and otherbeliefs as wrong or blameful. A good indicator for thisrigidity is the lack of humor in ritual interaction.85Celebration.The celebration aspect of rituals is often the most visibleand dramatic indicator of the nature of individual, familyand community continuity and change. Celebrations areassociated with affirmation, respect and commemoration.Their existence or lack of existence have an importantinfluence on the previous four themes: membership, healing,identity and belief expression. The ability to celebratetogether is based on much groundwork surrounding the eventwhere agreements have to be made in order to support eachother in the person, event or concept chosen for distinctionfrom the rest of life. Losses that have not been resolvedor losses that have been resolved by some family members andnot by others may inadvertantly sabotage celebrations. Thisis doubly unfortunate because conflicting needs may prevent,for example, both effective mourning of the losses and theopportunity to experience the support and connections toothers available in celebrations. Family members withwidely divergent values on the value of money and risktaking face particular challenges during celebration. Whatone experiences as supportive and sustaining may beexperienced by the other as exclusionary or eveninsensitive. For these families, a key developmental taskis being able to affirm their differences. Because what onespouse values in a celebration may be quite different fromthe values of the other, new celebration rituals may have tobe created that are symbolic of their unique family system.86Family Perceptions Of Ritual Use In the assessment of families, it is important to understandhow 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 familyor the individual members see themselves with regard totheir level of ritualization. The following six categoriesare not meant to suggest that there is a correct level. Useof circular questions can assist the family to be observersof their own ritual behavior and be meta to theirconstruction of reality or narrative structure. Withoutsaying how a family should live its life, attention can bedrawn to possible connections between ritual activity andtheir shared values and beliefs. What is the connectionbetween doing and believing? What are the differences? Howwell do they feel that their behavior reflects what theyhold dear?Underritualized.This category describes a family where at least some membersfeel that not enough attention or affect is given to markingevents such as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas and soon. For some reasons, perhaps not always fully understoodby the family, there is little celebration, not much supportfor transitions and a general sense of low group cohesion.From the perspective of Reiss's theory (1981), this wouldtend to be a family at the low end of the configuration and87coordination dimensions. Generally this would describe afamily that has difficulty maximizing its effectiveness as agroup and individual members would not tend to be aware ofthe experiential world of the others. Families at thehigher end of the above two dimensions would be aware of themembers who felt underritualized and make some effort tohelp them meet their needs. An underritualized family wouldhave 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 asunderritualized suggests either a certain level ofdisagreement about which family of origin should be followedor that the family has perhaps established too strong aboundary with the families of origin and feels cut off.Rigidly Ritualized.This describes a family where some or all family membersfeel that there is not enough flexibility in the structureor content of family gatherings. Little change would beperceived over time even though family and individualdevelopmental changes have occured. This criticism may notbe expressed overtly. It may take the form of non-attendance in family events or symptomatic behavior such asrebellion, emotional cut-offs, and even some of the moreextreme dysfunctions such as eating disorders or mutism(Roberts, 1988, p. 28). Except for extremely rigidfamilies, a certain amount of inflexibility in ritual88practices can be quite helpful as has been described in thediscussion of the importance of continuity in families. Inresponse to stress, the rigidly ritualized family may reactby becoming even more rigid. In more extreme cases,outside intervention may be required to help the familydiscover ways of changing their behavior patterns andbeliefs to better suit their developmental needs. Giventhat this description is based on the perspective of atleast some of the members, this type of family wouldprobably fall on the low end of Reiss' (1981) dimensions ofconfiguration and coordination. Like the underritualizedfamily, a rigidly ritualized family would probably not befunctioning as a group as effectively as it could be. Interms of the tasks of systemic maturation, a rigidlyritualized family may be fused with one or both families oforigin or, on the other hand, may have established toostrong a boundary in an attempt to avoid problems associatedwith one or both families of origin. A rigidly ritualizedfamily would tend not to have problems selecting themes toemphasize in the middle phase and distilling explicitbeliefs in the heritage phase. Because the rigidity is aself evaluation, however, there might be family members whowould either have to cut themselves off or be ejected inorder for the family to maintain the unambiguous sense ofidentity.89Skewed Ritualization.This description refers to a family where the members feelthat one side of the family has been emphasized and that theother has been devalued. Often this is the case where thefamilies of origin represent different ethnic or religioustraditions. Rituals may present particularly difficultchallenges to these families. The perceived imbalance inthe emphasis given to the different sides of the familysuggests a family low in both configuration andcoordination. The family members have not been able to findagreement on shared solutions to their perceived problems.In terms of systemic maturation, a family with skewedritualization would probably not have been able to establishboundaries with both families of origin to both maritalpartner's satisfaction. Identifying themes to emphasize inthe middle phase and agreeing on an explicit shared identityto pass on to the next generation would also be difficult.Couples have to find ways to balance and honor bothtraditions if they are to avoid celebrations that cause joyfor one partner and suffering for the other. Wamboldt andWolin (1988) speak of the importance of emphasizing that twoequal family myths still exist and that both are equallyvalid (p.162). It is tragic when an event that is supposedto be a celebration becomes a source of conflict infamilies. A time that could be a source of strength,connection and positive meaning becomes an experience whereenergy is drained, losses go unacknowledged, support is90perceived as further diminished and connections areexperienced as burdensome. Why get involved in somethingwhere the past must be avoided and the future looks like itwill be even worse?Hollow Ritual as Event, not Process.This describes those families that participate in familyevents out of a sense of obligation rather than a sense ofmeaning. It is usually associated with some kind ofunresolved issues or a rule that it is not permissable orworthwhile to try to bring about change in the planning orperformance of family events. Often the responsibility forplanning falls on one person or a small number of peoplewhile others are passively involved and sometimes reluctantor resistant to be involved in any way other than verysuperficially. There is an illusion of ritual without thedeep, nurturing symbolic experiences that are characteristicof family activities where members are actively involved inthe planning and carrying out of patterned routines andcelebrations. This kind of family would definitely fall onthe low end of the coordination and configurationdimensions. In terms of systemic maturation, this type offamily would probably not have achieved a high level ofagreement in setting boundaries or selecting life themes.Unfortunately, this type of family may be common.91Ritual process interrupted or unable to be openly experienced.There are times when unexpected changes or crises interruptthe family's ritual continuity. These stressors includeillness, parental job change or loss, divorce, death of afamily member, bankruptcy, alcoholism and migration.Whatever the stressor, the families in this category haveconstructed the situation in such a way that they are nolonger able or willing to put forth the effort andcoordinated planning required to stage some or all ritualevents. As Walsh (1987) suggests, this type of family hasprobably not been able to reorganize after the structuralmodification of a loss experience (p. 313). The interruptedevents might be primarily nuclear family rituals, those withthe larger extended family, the larger community or all ofthe above. An important aspect of the research on familieswith alcoholic members (Steinglass, 1987), is the concept ofsubsumption (p.235). They use this term to describefamilies who have adapted ritual practice to incorporateintoxication by the alcoholic parent, or, in more severesituations, allowed intoxicated behavior to disrupt ritualpractices. The researchers believe that they have developedan accurate and useful assessment process that is based onobserving changes in ritual life that are linked toincreases in the frequency and severity of the alcoholicparent's drinking. The degree to which families are able toresist the intrusion of alcoholic behavior by maintaining92ritual continuity is a measure of their strength and apredictor of their future success in avoiding the problemsassociated with alcoholism.Families who have allowed ritual processes to be interruptedby loss or symptomatic behavior would tend to fall low onthe dimensions of configuration and coordination. Thiswould not always be the case, of course, as some stressorsare so severe that few families could maintain continuity.Kohen (1988, p. 363), however, relates how rebuilding familyrituals in situations of extreme political repression willrequire the willingness to work together to break throughentrenched cognitive patterns developed during periods ofemprisonment and torture. In terms of systemic maturation,families with interrupted ritual processes might tend tofall on the extremes of either not being able to establishany boundaries with families of origin or setting upboundaries that are are too rigid. As has been discussed,rituals can both establish boundaries and maintainconnections between generations. Without this opportunityto integrate the need for separation and connection, thefamily may be at risk of falling into one extreme or theother. Without rituals, life themes probably cannot beselected and consciously passed on to future generations.93Continuity and Change.An important question for families to consider is whetherthey feel rituals have been altered to meet their changingneeds. This may be a common issue for family members whofeel that their ritual life is not what they want it to be.What is appropriate and useful for an eight year old may notbe experienced as useful by a twenty five year old. Groupcohesion is built on the experience that most participants'needs are being met most of the time. The adult children ofa divorced couple may not be able to depend on the parentsto organize extended family gatherings in the same way asthey could when the parents were married. To keep ritualsalive, the roles and rules of interpersonal relationshipsmust adapt to the changing world. To construct a worldwhere things must be done the way they once were willprobably result in disappointment and a sense of failure.To adapt the rules and roles of interpersonal relationshipsover time, rituals must change. And yet they cannot changetoo much without losing the anchor-like qualtity thatseparates families from the many other institutions in oursociety that, important as they are, seem to come and go inpeoples lives.Kegan (1982) suggests that much of present-day stress andpsychological disruption is developmental, in the sense thatit is related to the processes of growth, change andtransition both of individuals and groups. He stresses theimportance of communities of considerable duration which can94enhance the human coherence of our lives. Successful growthfrom 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; theyacknowledge and grieve the losses, acknowledge andcelebrate the gains, and help the person [orfamily] to acknowledge them himself [itself] (p.261).95Ritual does this.Purpose of the StudyThe purpose of this study will be to provide information onthe different ways that families have construed theexperience of financial loss. Wamboldt and Reiss (1989)argue that "the task of developing a clear, therapeuticallyheuristic understanding of the mechanisms whereby somemarriages succeed while others fail commands extremely highpriority" (p.318). A greater understanding how some coupleshave survived severe financial loss will be of use to thegeneral public who experience this phenomenon in evergreater numbers. Following Polkinghorne (1988), this studywill adopt the perspective that "the study of humans needsto focus on the realm of meaning in general, and onnarrative meaning in particular" (p. 11). The goal ofresearch into the production of meaning from this point ofview is to produce clear and accurate descriptions of thestructures and forms of the various meaning systems thatcharacterize individuals and groups. A deeper and clearerunderstanding of what it is like for someone to experiencesevere financial loss should be of value to those that havehad this experience and feel that it has continued to affecttheir life adversely. This information could be equallyuseful for those who plan to engage in risky businessenterprises where the chances of experiencing this loss arehigh. For those in the helping professions that deal with96this issue, a deeper understanding should help them to bemore sensitive in their work. Even if such a loss has notbeen experienced recently, stories of fortunes lost arecommonly found in family histories and have a powerfuleffect on general life decisions as well as those specificto economic ventures. A second purpose fc: this study isthat the information could be of use to curriculum plannersin the education field who are placing increasing value onthe development of entrepreneurial skills to help youngadults survive in an increasingly competitive world.Individuals and families who have risked and failed and whofind themselves unable or unwilling to risk again areprobably limiting both themselves and the community as awhole. If young people went into business with a fullerknowledge of how people regroup after a severe loss, theymight be able to avoid some of the negative consequences offinancial loss and recover more quickly.Addressing the topic of the function of research in thebroader context of society, Mishler (1986) claims that thestandard survey interview disrupts the respondant's attemptsto make sense of himself and the world. He emphasizesstrongly the need to "shift the emphasis of research awayfrom the researcher's 'problems' such as technical issueslike reliability and validity to respondant's problems,specifically their efforts to construct coherent andreasonable worlds of meaning and to make use of their97experiences" (p.118). Mishler raises the general questionof who benefits from the traditional method of researchwhere the investigator controls the structure of theinterview, the analysis of the data and the dissemination ofthe results. He makes it clear that the study of meaningsystems must be conducted in a way that facilitates therespondant's efforts to make sense of what is happening tothem and around them.Following Mishler (1986), in addition to identifyinginformation about the topic of this study for otherresearchers and practitioners, a purpose of this study willbe to assist respondants to make their experiencesmeaningful. While this study will not attempt to providetherapy for the participants, it may, by introducinginformation into their system, assist them to take a metaposition to their construction of reality. Polkinghorne(1988) suggests that this kind of research provides theknowledge that individuals and groups can use to increasepower and control over their actions (p.10). Von Glaserfeld(1984) asserts that we build this world unawares simplybecause we do not know how we do it: "Radical constructivismmaintains - not unlike Kant in his Critique - that theoperations by means of which we assemble our experientalworld can be explored, and that an awareness of thisoperating...can help us to do it differently and, perhaps,better" (p.18). Life presents itself as a raw indication98that needs to be finished by interpretation (Polkinghorne,1988, p. 30). A research study that seeks to helprespondants make sense of their life will provide anopportunity for increased interpretation.Using an approach to interviewing which is collaborative andnon-hierarchical should increase the possibility thatcouples will bring into greater awareness the operations bywhich they assemble their experiential world. Penn (1985),in a discussion of the use of positive connotation, suggeststhat "the family too, can achieve a view of theirexperiences as context bound - for standing outside one'scontext alters its meanings" (p.301). White's (1990)concept of restorying as a key to healthy change is similarto Goolishian and Anderson's (1987) emphasis on "expandingand saying the 'unsaid' - the development, through dialogue,of new themes and narratives and, actually, the creation ofnew histories" (p.381). The above authors use concepts oftherapy that sound very similar to Mishler's (1986) model ofresearch. Mishler proposes a conversation or discourse inwhich there is little or no hierarchy, little or no attemptto control the direction of the outcomes. When dealing withrespondants that have experienced a significant loss, theinterviewing process can, in addition to gathering data forresearch, create the context for new narrative structuresand the expansion of "the limiting beliefs, premises andinteractional patterns that 'hold' problems in place across99multiple time frames and contexts" (Chasin, 1985, p.121).By taking a meta position to their change process, familiescan avoid the reactive stance characterized by helplessnessand a sense of drifting. Reiss (1981) refers to this whenhe speaks of the family as an "active originator: ahistorian of its past, an interpreter of its present, and adesigner of its future" (p.171).With regard to the creation of meaning, Cohler (1982) refersto personal narratives as "the most internally consistentinterpretation of presently understood past, experiencedpresent, and anticipated future" (p. 207). Mishler (1986),Polkinghorne (1988), and others recommend the narrativeapproach to the study of meaning and identity because itparallels the approach actually used by humans to constructregularities out of the flow of experience. By tellingstories and writing history, we provide a public shape forwhat ordinarily remains "chaotic, obscure and mute"(Polkinghorne, 1988, p. 134). Polkinghorn speaks of "therealization of self as a narrative in process serves togather together what one has been, in order to imagine whatone will be, and to judge whether this is what one wants tobecome" (p. 154). A full experience of existence asnarrative may bring one closer to Heidegger's (1962) stateof temporality where one can say that one is all that onehas done, is doing and will do and each moment is part ofthe whole that one is.100The purpose of descriptive narrative research is "to renderthe narrative accounts already in place which are used byindividuals or groups as their means for ordering and makingtemporal events meaningful" (Polkinghorne, 1988, p.161). Itis anticipated that clarifying and giving voice to thesenarratives may contribute to the formation of a single,overriding story that gives a unity and wholeness to theexperience of the couple. This is similar to the tasks ofsystemic maturation, the family development model proposedby Steinglass et al (1987). As discussed in the chapter onfamily identity, unless there is a selection of a limitednumber of themes, the family will never achieve an identitythat, using the narrative metaphor, will integrate the past,present and future.101Research Questions As discussed earlier and in the chapter on crisis andchange, Reiss (1981) claims that family identity or familyparadigm is formed or significantly altered during crisis.Family identity, a set of shared assumptions, underlyingcognitive structures or deep regulatory structures can alsobe 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 viewthat the narrative process is intrinsic to the way in whichmeaning is constructed, this study will ask two types ofquestions. First, this study will ask the general questionof how couples "perceive, organize, give meaning to, andexpress their understandings of themselves, theirexperiences and their worlds" (Polkinghorne, 1988, p. 11).What is the general group psychological structure underlyingtheir life story in the wake of financial crisis? What isthe paradigm or primary story behind the fragmentedinformation? How are these crises located in relationshipto the larger narrative that includes other events that havepreceded them and come after them? How has the crisisinfluenced their underlying belief systems, their story ofwho they are in the world? What are the similarities in howthe financial crisis has influenced the stories of thecouples studied?102Drawing on the ideas of the constructivists such as VonFoerster (1984), Von Glaserfeld (1984) and White (1990),another research question will be how have the basicassumptions influenced the different couples to construe thecrisis differently? Given that the couples chosen for thisstudy have experienced a roughly equal loss in financialterms at approximately the same time, how do they end upseeing it differently? What premises tend to be associatedwith an attitude that the crisis can be handled? Whatpresuppositions tend to be associated with the view that thecrisis is a disaster that has ruined one's life?A further question would be what information would be usefulto others who have experienced financial loss? And finally,what attitudes and actions taken by the participants of thisstudy would they recommend to others who find themselves ina similar situation?103CHAPTER IIMethodologyBorgen (1984) stresses the importance of identifyingresearch methods which answer important questions ratherthan finding questions which fit certain methods: "we donot have the methods to address adequately this new thinkingabout systems, contexts, and dyadic processes. Traditionalinput-output designs, even when enhanced with partials,multivariates and three-way interactions, fail to captureexpanding concepts of causation and change" (p.597).According to Greenberg (1986), a basic problem with most ofthe change process research is its lack of attention tocontext and neglect of patterns.Methods, according to Hammersley (1983), must be selectedaccording to purposes (p. 3). The questions that have beenposed by this study regarding the experience of crisisaround financial loss require an approach that can gainaccess to, and provide an understanding of the meaningsconstructed before, during and after the crisis. Theconstruction of reality or structuring of consciousness canbe described as a story or conversation, implying arecursive, co-evolving nomic process (Berger & Kellner,1964). Laird (1988), in a discussion of the importance of104ritual, suggests that "to search for the ways that familiesbuild and make sense of their worlds and hand down theirvalues and traditions, we must pay attention to language andmetaphor, world view, folklore and myth, belief andspirituality, religion and ritual" (p.332). These aspectsof peoples' lives would be revealed most directly by anapproach that begins with their own experience of theirworld.The methodology of this study will consist of two parts.The first part will allow the participants to tell theirstory in a way that avoids interrupting their naturalconfiguration of events. In the second part, this data willbe analyzed using theory to identify themes in theindividual stories, shared themes within the couples'stories and common themes between their stories.An important aspect of social research is it's reflexivecharacter, that is to say, the inter-relationship betweenthe activities of the researcher and those of theresearched. According to Hammersley and Atkinson (1983),"there is no way in which we can escape the social world inorder to study it" (p. 15). Following Mischler (1986), theinterview will be viewed as a discourse and thus the datagathered will be viewed as co-constructed by both theinterviewer and the person being interviewed. Given thatthe effect of the researcher on the data cannot be105eliminated, it is important that the reader understand theperspective of the researcher. The methodology will beginwith a brief outline of my personal experience with thesubject of the study, severe financial loss.Personal Perspective The subject of this study is of interest to me because mywife and I lost a lot of money in the 1981-82 recession. Byworking hard and being careful about our spending, we hadalmost managed to pay off the mortgage on our house by 1981.We then remortgaged our house to the full inflated value of1981, invested all of it with a number of family members inseveral business ventures and, over the course of the nextyear, lost all of our investment. Not only did we lose themoney we had put into the projects, due to legalcomplications the people from whom we had bought thebusinesses came after one of our business partners for moremoney than had been put into the project. We lived in fearof having our wages taken and losing our house for twoyears. During this time both my wife and I were alsodeclared "redundant" in our jobs because of the B.C.provincial restraint program in the early eighties. In 1984the uncertainty was over and we were able to keep our housebecause the mortgage exceeded its value. We both got jobsright away in new fields but felt impoverished for anotherfive years because of what felt like a crippling debt.106The loss had a major impact on my family and me. We havethree children and one was born just before the loss andanother born right in the middle of the uncertainty. Ibelieve that the stress we experienced had a very negativeeffect on all of us. The anxiety that I experienced at thattime was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Forabout a year I had difficulty sleeping and felt like I wasgoing to have a heart attack. I felt enormously guilty thatI had been the one to bring on this misfortune on the familyand angry that I felt blamed. One of the few times that Ifelt comfortable was when I would go for a run which Istarted to do at two oclock in the morning because Icouldn't sleep. The only other time I could relax was whenI was in church. I poured myself into work and projects asa way of forgetting what was happening.The level of conflict between my wife and I got to the pointwhere we had to plan weekly meetings to iron out all theanger and misunderstanding between us. It never got to thepoint of considering divorce but we knew a number of coupleswho had gone through a similar financial loss and separatedwithin two years after the difficulties began.It wasn't until the summer of 1989 that I felt something hadchanged. That summer, for the first time since the loss,the whole family took a holiday together and visited mywife's family in the eastern U.S. Significantly, I also107quit an administrative job that summer with an organizationthat I had originally planned to leave seven years earlieraround the time of the loss but, because of a need forfinancial security, I had chosen to keep much longer than Ihad wanted to.Up until 1989, I was dominated by a feeling of failure eventhough I knew that I was only one of many that had lostfinancially in 1982. This was also in spite of having hadmany interesting and relatively well-paying jobs. I feltthat I had held myself back from taking the risks that Ifelt I would be taking if I trusted myself more.Preparing for and carrying out this study has, to someextent been therapeutic for me. My objective has not beento study other people but to learn from others withoutimposing my interpretations. To discover and describe theas-yet-unsaid has been as true for me and my story as it hasbeen for the participants. I have felt empowered by theirstories, I believe that they have too.My wife and I have been talking about celebrating the end ofour loss. For me, it doesn't seem quite over yet but Ithink the completion of this study in the spring of 1992might well be time. Perhaps we will go bury the loss in alittle box somewhere in the mountains when the snow melts.108Design The general design of this study falls within field researchmethodology, specifically utilizing the ethnographic or in-depth interview technique to gain information which is re-written as an analytical description of the experience offinancial loss. The primary source of information will bethe participants. Theory will be used only to heighten thesensitivity of the researcher in the data gathering stage.Participants will be selected by an informal method ofseeking out couples who have remained together afterfinancial loss. The information gathered from the coupleswill be analyzed for changes in underlying beliefs in theindividuals within the couples and between the couples.Information from one spouse will be compared to informationfrom the other spouse. Data from all sources will becompared to theory.Procedures The flexibility of ethnographic methodology is useful forthe topic of this study because it is ideal for the study ofthe lived experience of human beings. Ethnography involvesfive stages of research, but, each stage requires constantfeedback from the others. The following five stages notedby Spradley (1979, p.93) all go on simultaneously. 1.Selection of a problem follows the general question "Whatare the cultural meanings people are using to organize theirbehavior and interpret their experience?" (p.93). In this109study the original general question was "What meanings aregiven to the experience of financial loss and how do thesechange over time?" 2. Collecting cultural data. Thisinvolved the process of interviews to be described in moredetail later. 3. Analyzing cultural data takes place asthe information is gathered. Second and third interviewswere influenced by having transcribed and examined previousinterviews. 4. Formulating ethnographic hypotheses takesplace as the interviewing proceeds and takes the form ofproposing relationships between observations and posing newquestions to test these relationships. 5. Writing thenarratives of the participants and, once these narrativeswere approved by the participants, the further process ofidentifying changes of beliefs in the couples from theperspective of theory could be described as a "refinedprocess of analysis" (Spradley, p. 94). Theoreticalclassifications were used to analyze specific aspects ofchanges in the shared cognitive structures of the individualcouples, their level of family development and ritualbehavior. Theory was again used to analyze the similaritiesand differences between the couples. The summary ofsignificant similarities and differences is found in thefinal chapter on conclusions.The general procedures for this investigation are listed inappendix B. Sixteen steps were involved in findingparticipants, gathering data, and analyzing that data.110These procedures took place during the fourteen months ofJanuary, 1991 to February, 1992. After a participant agreedto participate in the study, we met in an initial interviewin which he described his or her experience. I transcribedthe audio-tape of that interview and prepared a list ofissues reflecting my understanding of his experience forclarification in the second interview. After the secondinterview and, in five of the six cases, a third interview,the interview was again transcribed and a draft narrativewas prepared for the participant's validation. A third orfourth interview was held in person or by phone to obtainthe comments of the participants in order to revise thenarrative if necessary. No revisions were required andvalidating comments are included at the end of the chaptercontaining the individual narratives.Description of participants The selection of participants was determined by such generalfactors as relevant experience, approachability,availability, and willingness to participate in the study.To a large extent, participants were sampledopportunistically, depending on my ability to gain access tothem. Access was obtained through contacts in the realestate industry and my work contacts. Selection of theparticular individuals was determined by my own judgement.This strategy, according to Hammersley and Atkinson (1983),is acceptable for this study because, "in the early stages111of generating theory, which cases are chosen forinvestigation may not matter greatly." I chose threecouples that had experienced their financial loss in therecession of 1981-82 because, when I began the datagathering in 1991, this recession had been described as thedeepest economic downturn since the great depression of the1930's and caught many people unprepared. I chose threecouples for whom the loss had happened ten years ago becauseI wanted to look at the long term effects of the loss andthe 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 majordimensions for sampling within cases, specific decisionsabout who to talk to and what to ask, as well as about whatto record and how, were determined largely by the nature ofthe information that emerged as the study progressed. Therewere no observations outside of the interview so time wasnot a consideration. As to the dimension of people or whowas interviewed, I chose to limit myself to the marriedcouple in the family and chose not to interview the childrenor members of the extended family. This was purely an issueof time. In order to get enough data to be able to comparebetween couples, I had to limit the number of peopleinterviewed. I think that another larger study would findmuch useful information by broadening the source of datawithin the families. From the point of view of the112dimension of context, I interviewed the spouses separatelyand left it up to them as to whether or not they sharedinformation about their interviews. I felt that it wouldmake the analysis too complicated to try and interview thecouples together. This allowed them to tell theirindividual stories uninterrupted. They were, of course,free to share their story with their spouse when I returnedthe narrative to them for validation.The role of the participants in this study was to providedescriptions of their experience in financial loss. Becausethe ethnographic interview regards the participant as anauthority on his own experience, he has the responsibilityto produce both relevant data and valid interpretation ofthat data. Following Spradley (1979), participants wereasked to be both analytical and non-analytical in theirdescriptions of the experiences. Spradley suggests thatparticipants can be very helpful in analyzing their ownexperience and culture "provided it is always from theperspective of the insider" (p.53). Hammersley and Atkinson(1983) warn that:the more "sophisticated" the interviewee, thegreater the tendency for him or her to move awayfrom description into analysis.... If theinterviewee provides heavily theorized accounts ofthe events or experiences he or she is describing,113however interesting or fruitful the theoreticalideas are, the data base has been eroded (p.189).Two participants in one of the couples who are trainedcounsellors and therapists sometimes stepped out of theirexperience but, on the whole, maintained their perspectiveas insiders.Following Mischler (1986) who emphasizes the importance ofincluding the participants as equal partners in the researchprocess, I invited the respondants to reflect on theirexperience and the narrative that I produced for theirvalidation. Given that the experience of loss was stillassociated with painful memories for some of theparticipants, it was important that I establish anatmosphere of trust and confidentiality. I shared with themthat I had experienced a similar loss and knew much aboutwhat happened to a family when such a loss has occured. Asdescribed in the chapter on "purpose", I accepted theresponsibility to make the experience of participating inthis study as empowering as possible without jeopardizingthe validity of the research.The Interviews This study used the format of three unstructured, audio-taped interviews to gather data from the participants. Theextent and duration of these interviews depended on the114amount of time the participant had available, thewillingness and level of comfort shown by the respondant andthe number of issues I felt still needed clarification.Using Mischler's (1986) emphasis on the empowerment ofrespondants as a guide, I did what I could to make therespondant feel comfortable and assure him or her thateverything we discussed was confidential. All of theparticipants elected to keep their identity confidential dueto sensitive nature of the experience. I tried to make itclear that anything that they had to offer about theirperceived failures and successes would be potentially usefulto others who had also experienced severe financial loss. Iinformed them that they were, of course, free to share thenarratives with their spouses but that was a choice thatthey could make. The input that they would have in thecontent of the narrative was emphasized as a recognition oftheir importance in the research process. The intendedaudience for this study was described as those who wereconfused, depressed, angry and feeling isolated for monthsand years after losing everything they owned.The first interview involved the establishment of therelationship and asking general questions about the loss. Idescribed my experience with financial loss and, whilediscussing the letter of information and consent form,further elaborated the purpose of the study and thepotential benefits for themselves and others.115Participants were invited to enter a discourse about theirexperiences in three general chronological phases of theinquiry: life before the crisis, the crisis, the recoveryand time since the crisis. The invitation was extended inwords similar to the following:I am conducting a research study that hopes toincrease the understanding of what happens topeople when they experience severe financial loss.I am particularly interested in what things youfound most difficult and what you felt helped youthe most. To understand the context of the lossit would be useful to get a sense of what life waslike for you before the loss, during the lossitself and after the loss.Questions in the beginning interview were largely open-ended, although some were inspired by comments that neededfurther exploration. Other questions arose because ofissues arising out of other participant's interviews.Examples of general questions that were asked in allinterviews were: 1. When did you first become aware of thatfeeling, thought, attitude? 2. How did you perceiveothers, yourself? Were the perceptions of others of anyconcern to you? 3. How was this feeling, thought, behaviordifferent or the same from before? 4. Who was agreeable tothat, disagreeable? 5. Who did what and when and how did116others respond to that? 6. What is your understanding ofthis? 7. Did the closeness between people change over thecourse of events? 8. What has been most helpful for you.9. Are there things that you would have done differently tohelp yourself?The second and, in five of the six cases, third interviewwere used to clarify issues that emerged in the previousinterviews. The draft narrative was presented to theparticipant in the third or fourth inteview for validationthat it was an adequate account of his or her experience.My wife, a student in the Department of CounsellingPsychology, reviewed the transcripts and the the narrativesfor the purpose of ascertaining whether I had interfered orcontaminated the participant's story. Her comments areincluded in the section at the end of chapter three. I washappy to have her participation since she also has hadexperience with the topic of this study and, as well, offersthe perspective of a woman in the review of the narratives.Analysis and Description Analysis, in ethnography, is a continuous process throughoutthe research and is guided by the principle of reflexivityor interrelationship between analysis, data collection andresearch design. Using a process of triangulation, wherebydata from a variety of sources are compared, the study wasable to build construct validity, to be discussed later.117The sources included theory, my own perspective, thetranscripts of the participants, the descriptions of theparticipant's spouse and the participants themselves in theprocess of validation.After the participants validated the narratives that I puttogether after the interviews, I summarized the themesemerging from their stories. The major feature of theanalysis was to identify those actions or statements thatsuggested either changes or continuity in the underlyingassumptions. This involved a comparison of the changes ofboth spouses in the marital couple. The next stage involved"theoretical triangulation" (Hammersely & Atkinson, 1983, p.181) which means approaching the data from multipletheoretical perspectives. The stories of both spouses inthe three couples were examined from the persectives of thetheory of crisis and change (Reiss, 1981), the developmentalstages of family identity (Steinglass et al, 1987) andtheory from the field of ritual ( Bennett and Wolin, 1988).The next stage of analysis was to examine all six storiestogether from the point of view of common themes and fromthe perspective of the different theories. The finalchapter consists of a summary of the salient themes betweenthe couples. This chapter concludes with a brief summary ofrecommendations of what has been helpful and what has118hindered recovery. This is intended for those who mightfind themselves in financial crisis.Issues The major criteria for judging the quality of researchdesigns are validity and reliability. Internal validity is,according to Yin (1984, p.38), a logic that is inapplicableto descriptive or exploratory studies. External validity,the problem of knowing whether a study's findings aregeneralizable beyond the immediate subject sampled for thestudy, is a criterion but in a way that is different fromquantitative research. Case studies rely on analyticalgeneralization which is the attempt to generalize aparticular set of results to some broader theory. Each caseis an analogue, providing a test for other accounts andleading toward a more adequate conceptualization, a deeperunderstanding of the experience.The test of construct validity, the validity of the lines ofinference running between data and concepts, determines thesoundness or the adequacy of a description through theestablishment of correct operational measures for theconcepts being studied. Yin (1984 p. 36) has identifiedthree case study tactics for construct validity. The firstis the use of multiple sources of evidence. In this studythis was addressed by the process of triangulation. Thesecond tactic is the involvement of participants which this119study has done in the validation of the narratives. Thethird tactic is the establishment of a chain of evidencewhich was done by writing the narratives using, as much aspossible, the words of the participants, involving anindependant review of the transcripts and narratives and theprocess of validation by the participants themselves.Mischler (1986) suggests that interviews are jointlyproduced discourses in which the the interviewer is alwaysimplicated in the construction of the phoenomenon analyzed.Hammerseley and Atkinson (1983) propose that the firstrequirement of social research is fidelity to the subjectunder study. Given that we cannot remove ourselves from theworld in order to study it, we need to recognize that we arepart of the social world we study. Hammersley and Atkinsonpoint out that:rather than engaging in futile attempts toeliminate the effects of the researcher, we shouldset about understanding them.... [the researcher]is the research instrument par excellence. Thefact that behaviour and attitudes are often notstable across contexts and that the researcher mayplay an important part in shaping the contextbecomes central to the analysis.... Data are nottaken face value, but treated as a field ofinferences in which hypothetical patterns can beidentified and their validity tested out (p. 64).120Thus, this research reflects my own experience as well asthe informants. To help the reader understand how I wasinvolved in the co-construction of the data, I havedescribed my perceptions in working with the participants ineach individual narrative.The fourth criterion for judging the quality of the researchdesign is reliability. Because replicability is not reallypossible in this kind of research, reliability for thisstudy assumes the meaning of trustworthiness, the reflectionof experience in an honest and accurate manner. Thisrequires the researcher to explicitly acknowledge hisassumptions, biases, and perspective. Giorgi (1975)proposes that:By means of this procedure he is able tocommunicate to other researchers the attitude thathe assumes with respect to his descriptions. Thepoint here is not so much that other attitudescannot be assumed, they can. Rather, the claim isthat if any other researcher assumes the attitudedescribed by the researcher, then he should beable to perceive and understand the same meanings.One does not necessarily have to agree, but onemust understand what he is disagreeing about(p.78).121My own experiences with severe financial loss have beenincluded earlier in this chapter and, in each casenarrative, I have described my understanding of therelationships I have had with the informants. Theperspective that I have tried to bring to this study is,similar to that outlined by Mischler (1986), "to understandwhat respondants mean by what they say in response to ourqueries and thereby to arrive at a description ofrespondents' worlds of meaning that is adequate to the tasksof systematic analysis and theoretical interpretation" (p.7) .I trust that the readers of this study will be persuadedthat the procedures I have followed in this study haveresulted in a rigorous study that has adequately capturedthe worlds of meaning described by the participants andanalyzed them in a way that has helped to clarify theexperience both for the respondants and the readers.122CHAPTER IIIParticipant's Stories This Chapter contains the six narratives of couple A, Wendyand Duke, Couple B, Sara and Walter and Couple C, Robert andAnn. The narratives will be followed by a sectioncontaining comments by the participants on the accuracy ofthe narrative, comments by the researcher and the reviewer.123Duke's StoryThe Beginning Duke, Wendy's husband, has been together with Wendy sincethe early 1970's. Wendy and Duke lost everything they ownedin 1982 but the crisis that had most influence on theirrelationship was their separation in 1976, a divorce in 1977and a gradual reconciliation which resulted in their joiningtogether as a couple again in 1979. The loss of all theirassets in 1982, although it caused a lot of difficulties,served to consolidate changes that had just taken place intheir relationship during the reconciliation. To understandthe changes that Duke experienced during the time 1976 to1982, his story will begin with his early life.Duke grew up in Germany during the thirties and forties. Hesays that he learned from his mother how to be positive anda love of working hard, "I work pretty hard.... It goes backto my mother." In addition, he says that from her helearned from her a habit of being "fussy", where "everythinghad to be in its place" and "you do everything right". Thisattitude, he feels was often quite strongly enforced and, hesays, "you always felt like you're doing something wrong."Something else that he learned from his mother was atendency to have a hot temper. Although his mother was verysupportive of him, she also was very powerful and demanding124and sometimes he felt like it was his duty to "just sitthere and take it". Although Duke is proud of his mother'sability to work hard, in later years he was concerned thatshe became "all crippled up" from her years of hard work.Duke saw his father as being less supportive and somewhatdisapproving of him. His father did not approve of hiswife's encouragement of Duke's involvement in militarytraining in the 1930's. Duke felt that his mother "knewwhich way the wind blew" and would go along with things thatwould benefit their family. Duke felt that his father mayhave wished, although he never said so directly, that Dukewould refuse to take part in these activities. He describeshis father's involvement with him as, "he was never thatinterested in me really that way.... He never asked me whatI was doing." Although his father was somewhat distant allthrough his childhood, Duke had an experience in 1950 thatled him to believe that his father cared for him a lot morethan he ever let on. His father cried at the train stationwhen Duke left for Canada. Since he felt that his fathercouldn't pretend to cry, Duke concluded that there must havebeen some positive feelings there after all.As a young adolescent, Duke served in the German armedforces during the second world war. He was 17 when the warended and spent time in a prisoner of war camp. Unlike hischildhood, where he was well provided for, the end of thewar was a time of starvation and deprivation. He tells a125story of retreating from the the Italian front without foodand shelter and having to walk a thousand kilometers withnothing to eat except what little they could find along theway. In northern Italy, for example,they were locked in abuilding by the allied forces for three days without food orwater before they managed to escape.Duke came to Canada in 1950 at the age of 23. He settled inthe interior of British Columbia, married a woman ofaboriginal origins and they had a number of children. Hehad trouble trusting his first wife because he felt that sheoften spent their family money without a lot of thought onthings other than food and shelter. Duke says that if hehad met Wendy when he met his first wife, he could haveretired twenty years ago because he made a lot of moneyduring the fifties and sixties. He did not feel that hisfirst wife made it possible to save any of these earnings.Work during these years consisted of operating his ownlumber mill, a planer mill, buying and selling lumber andoperating heavy machinery in large construction projects inthe oil industry. Duke was gone from home for severalmonths at a time, worked long hours and made a lot of money.He saw his role as providing the money and his wife's rolewas to run the household. He would "help out if someone wasill" but he says "I wouldn't take time off work [to helparound the house], I thought something else was moreimportant. Work, make a buck or whatever." Duke's children126were often descriminated against by other children becausethey were part aboriginal. He says that he always had to"fight somebody" to insure that they were being treatedfairly by the school and community. In his work, Dukedescribes himself at that time as a "hot head" who was veryrough with his employees. Looking back at it, he regretsbeing so rough but, at the time, he would use "any means toget the job done," including hitting people.During these years, Duke had the experience of losing all ofhis successful businesses due to, he says, unforseenchanges in government regulations and monopolistic practicesby the large lumber corporations. Unlike later years, hesays that he got very upset and "hollered and screamed myhead off about [the losses)" because he had worked so hardto build up these enterprises to lose them that way.In 1970, after his first wife died, Duke was hired by Wendywho had just recently acquired a hotel in his small hometown, After a short time, they were operating the hotel asa couple, each with their well defined roles. Wendyspecialized in the finances and Duke specialized in therenovations and maintenance. This role differentiation hascontinued through the years and Duke believes that havingone person handle the finances is better "because thedecision is made by only one person. Because I am agreeablewith whatever she does." Duke felt that it was a little127difficult for him to trust others at this time given hisexperience in his marriage, the community and in work.Right from the beginning, however, he had a great respectfor Wendy whom he found to be very trustworthy andconsiderate of others. Duke says that he started to changewhen he met her. He learned a new way of relating to othersthat he felt was more effective than his "hot-headed" style.He didn't initially agree with some of her businesspractices which were based on an unwillingness to takeadvantage of opportunities at the expense of others buteventually he began to agree with her and says, "that'sanother thing you learn from a person like this.... Wherewould 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 inWendy's name, and went to Europe for two years. Part ofthis time was spent visiting Duke's parents in Germany.Duke's father died while he was there and Duke stayed inGermany for a time after Wendy returned to Canada so that hecould look after his mother. When he returned to B.C., heand Wendy got married and they went back to the interiorhotel to operate and resell it after the first sale hadbroken down. They found a new purchaser and took threeproperties in the fraser valley as a trade. They operated ahotel in Whistler for a year and decided that it wasn'teconomically feasible.128The Relationship and Financial Crisis, 1976-82 After leaving Whistler, they stayed in one of their threehouses together with two of Wendy's sons and their families.This period was very difficult for Duke. Each of the threeproperties that they had taken on had mortgages and monthlypayments. Wendy was trying to make money in real estate tocover these costs but Duke felt that she would not be ableto earn anywhere near enough to make these payments. Hebelieved that he would have to make a lot of money to makeends meet. He thought that the only way that this could bedone was to go up north where he knew that he could make alot of money. Wendy's expectation was, he felt, that hefind some kind of job, any kind of job in the Vancouverarea. He didn't share this idea with her because "I thoughtthat maybe she won't like me to go up there." He didn'tlike the idea of just taking any job where he would onlymake one quarter of what he thought he could make up north.Furthermore, he believed that whatever he made from a job inthe lower mainland wouldn't actually be enough to cover thecosts of the mortgages. He felt caught in a dilemma. If hegot a job in Vancouver, it would satisfy Wendy's needs buthe thought that not only would he not make enough money tocover the monthly payments, he would also not like whateverjob he found. If he went up north, he thought that he wouldsatisfy his needs for a job that he liked and make enoughmoney to pay for the properties but he felt that Wendy129probably wouldn't like the idea. He didn't want her tointerpret his idea as a lack of confidence in her ability tomake money, "I didn't want to tell her 'well, I don't thinkyou can do it without me.'" The result was that Duke didn'tshare this idea with Wendy, "I didn't really let her know,she thought I just didn't want to work." He knew, based onhis experience over many years, that it would work out if hewent up north but he didn't think that Wendy would believethat he could do it. He felt that her trust of him was notas high as it could have been because he was getting intodrinking and he thought that she would be worried that hecouldn't take care of himself.In addition to this issue with Wendy, Duke was feelinguncomfortable about how the others in the house might beseeing him. As a person who had always worked hard and madea lot of money, he felt guilty about being the only one thatwas not bringing in an income in the household. Although heliked everyone in the house, he felt that they were allthinking, "what is he doing here, I wonder if he should beeating or not?" Duke says that he would have been happy ifhe were the only one working and they were all depending onhim, the provider role that he had always been used to, butin this situation, he says, "I felt like an intruder." Hesays that he did not share his frustration with Wendybecause he wasn't very good at saying things in a way thatwould make it easy for the other person to listen. He130withdrew into drinking "in the wine cellar" and says ofhimself, "I was a loner." Unlike in later years, where hedescribes himself as a person who "says what I want to say,"talking at this time was not a way that he was able to dealwith the situation. As things got more and more tense, thesolution of going up north seemed like the only way thatDuke could bring in the kind of money to save theinvestments. The situation changed dramatically when he andWendy had a big argument and Duke says, "I jumped in mytruck and headed north." Duke says that he was stilldrinking as he was driving north but stopped the moment hearrived in Ft. St. John. He got a job that he liked rightaway as he knew he would, and because making as much moneyas possible was his goal, he was soon making fifteen totwenty thousand dollars a month at three different jobs.Working every waking hour was, he thinks, "a way of stayingout of trouble" by which he meant getting into drinking.Although working this hard was to have, he believes, someserious consequences for his health in later years, at thetime he says that he really enjoyed what he was doing and itwas great to be making money again.Although he and Wendy were not in contact for a while, asDuke re-established himself as a successful businessman, heregained his confidence that their marriage was going to beable to overcome this difficulty. Looking back on this timehe says, "I guess I had to prove myself." Using the many131hours of solitude operating machines, he describes his useof time as "you analyze yourself, 'well, I shouldn't havedone this, I shouldn't have done that.'" Duke felt that thecrisis was largely his responsibility, "I knew that it wasmy fault really when it all happened." He decided early totake on the responsibility to do what had to be done tobuild up the relationship again.When Wendy filed for divorce in 1977, Duke did not hinderthe process even though he did not agree with it. He stillfelt that they could make it as a couple. Duke never askedwhy she wanted the divorce and didn't feel critical abouther decision to do it, "I don't know what she thought at thetime, I never asked her." He was the one that reinitiatedthe contact with Wendy, saying, "she didn't phone me." Hewanted to let her know that he was taking care of himselfand doing well. He also wanted to stay in contact becausehe was was worried about her, knowing that she was alone.It was important to him that she knew that he "stuck tohimself" and was "staying out of trouble." By 1978, Dukefelt that "she saw that I could do it." By this time, hesays that, "I just smartened up." He had learned how to saythings differently, a skill that he feels he has maintainedever since:I am not a hot head any more like I used to be. Ijust blurted out something which didn't make senseanyway. Now I probably think more and come up132with the right, what I want to say in the firstplace. It used to, it didn't come out right. Iwas thinking it the right way but it didn't comeout right so that made a difference.He thinks that he had learned to use his ideas less andlisten more. Having learned that he couldn't force hisideas onto Wendy, he says, "you don't direct a person likethat." 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 increasedto the point where she wanted to come up to Ft. St. John andstay with him for a while. Duke didn't know what she woulddo with her time, since he was only home to sleep, "I had notime for her," but he was very glad to have her come up.This situation, he says, was quite different from 1976 whereWendy was the one that was working long hours and Duke wasstaying at home.After a few months Wendy returned to Vancouver. Dukebelieves that, since this time, they have been operating asa team. They agreed that they could be both together andhave Duke stay up north for a few more years since the moneywas so good. Being able to trust each other, geographicaldistance was not a problem. Duke felt good being able toprovide for Wendy as her real estate business was doing all133right but not providing a lot of money. With his salary hesays that they were able to "live like kings." He feltcomfortable in the role of provider and leaving theresponsibility of what to do with the money to Wendy. Theirlevel of trust of each other was such that they invested ina number properties together, "we trust each other, we throwour money together." A respect that has persisted since1979 is described by Duke as "I am agreeable with whatevershe does... I think, like, if she says to me today 'tomorrowwe 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 isthe money or haven't you got no money?' I wouldn't ask thequestion because she wouldn't have any - otherwise I wouldget something better to eat. I don't ask these questions."In retrospect, Duke feels that Wendy, too, was able torespect his reasons for going north even though she mightnot have agreed with it. In this way, he says that theywere able to achieve agreement on something that would nothave been possible two or three years earlier. Since 1979and even earlier, even though there were many difficulttimes to follow, Duke says that "we have never had anyarguments, not one bad word since."In 1981, Wendy came up with the idea that they would buy anumber of properties in Courtney on Vancouver Island134including an old mansion that needed extensive renovations.Duke describes the ambitious plans they had for this place:We were planning on really making something andstay there. The plans we had you know. We put alot of money in it.... We remodelled the house....Then we had plans for an addition to it. We weregoing to put a health spa in there. We were incontact with one lady who was going to have plansdrawn up for that, swimming pool and the wholething.... The house was finished and we had a taxiservice going. I still had a back hoe machine, abrand new one. We had a real estate office inthere. We thought we had it made.For a period of almost two years, Wendy put all of herenergy into the renovations and Duke concentrated on makingas much money as possible to pay for it all. Because hewasn't in Courtenay, Duke had to trust Wendy's judgementabout what renovations were required and he believed thatshe would do what was best. About a year after the start ofthis project, the economy started to slow down dramaticallyin Ft. St. John and, at about the same time, Wendy shatteredher ankle during the renovations. Duke quit his jobs,transported his new backhoe down by train and joined Wendyto see if he could find work in the Courtney area. Becauseof the economy, Duke says that:135everything went to hell.... I put ads in the paperfor somebody to contract it out. I'd give themthe machine, as long as I got the payments out ofit. But I couldn't even do that.... I couldn'tsell it, nobody would have bought it. I couldn'teven find a job. I went from place to place tolook for work on the island.... I gave my back hoeback to Finning Tractor. I just gave it back. Ijust told them, well, you know, I lost about$50,000 on it alone.Unlike 1976, however, Duke says that not being able to findwork did not cause any problems between them. He dideverything he could, "I tried everything and she knew it".About this time, making the situation more complicated, theyfound out that the house was insulated with ureaformaldehyde and no lending institution would loan them the$80,000 they needed to pay out the original owners. Unableto obtain a loan, they were faced with the possiblitity oflosing everything. In an attempt to save the situation,Duke took on a big renovation contract in the Vancouver areathat, with a lot of hard work, was supposed to have nettedhim $50,000. Unfortunately, the owner failed to keep hisagreement and never paid Duke for the six months of backbreaking work. To make matters worse, Duke was seriouslyinjured on the job, "I got hurt there and he just didn't payme what I had coming... I put a lien on the place and it was136getting 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 hegave me was a thousand dollars to take the lien off. But Ineeded that thousand bucks so bad that I took it." About ayear or two later, Duke was to be injured again when arefrigerator fell on his leg. These two injuries plus along term illness that Duke attributes to the years of hardwork in Ft. St. John, were almost to incapacitate him forthree years following the financial loss.Not getting the money meant that they were much closer tolosing their $250,000 equity in the house and properties.Duke thought that they still didn't have to lose it becausehe believed that Wendy had the kind of know how to forstallthose kinds of things. Duke would have continued to try andsave the project, "[It] was never in my head at all to giveup. Never. I don't think that way." But in the end hesays that she decided not to put themselves into a positionof dependancy with the banks and wanted to let theproperties go:We didn't actually need to lose it because wecould have dragged it out... because it was herhome, she didn't want to go to this bank here andthis guy there, pleading for her. If she wouldhave to plead for you or for strangers she will doit. But she won't do it for herself. And I feltthe same way about it.... There would have been a137lot of worry... a lot financing this week,financing that, where does, is it going to workout and all this, so we talked it over and, just,everything, just let it go. Let it go. We werehappier than heck, actually. Who cares, we don'tcare.After the Crisis Duke has mixed feelings about the loss of everything. Onthe one hand, he says that even though they lost all theequity they had worked so long and hard for, this loss wasno big problem for them. Even though, ten years later, theyare still paying off a loan associated with the house theylost, it was no problem, he says, "once we decided what todo with the whole thing." On the other hand, his one regretwas that they got perhaps too enthusiastic about theproject: "I guess we got a little bit too positive, I guesswe got too big, we shouldn't have bought all this stuff, andthe owing some on it yet and all this. This is what getsyou down."Over the three years following the loss, Duke describeshimself as being extremely tired from having worked so hardfirst up north and then on the construction project he tookon in the desperate attempt to save the properties inCourtenay:138And we have been working hard since [the loss].All the time. I got sick for a while there, youknow, I couldn't hardly do anything but, I reallywas. I was burned out. That's what I was.... Youknow there were days, I slept on the floor. I wasso tired. Anywhere, I could lay down anywhere.For about two or three years, I could lay anywhereand sleep. On the highway, anywhere, I was justtired. Then I came back again.In retrospect, even though the six years in Ft. St. John wasthe time when he regained his confidence in himself and hismarriage, he says it had a price, "Ft. St. John was a killerfor me."Up until the last few years, they moved often from one placeto another. Many of these residences in the beginning wererent free in return for some service that they couldprovide. In spite of their changed circumstances, Duke says"we had rough times but we made it easy." Because of hisillness and injuries, he was unable to work the long hoursand provide an income the way he had in the past but he didnot feel like an "intruder" or feel a need to prove himselfbecause "finances were nothing, because we were together....We stuck together better than ever, we were very closethen."^There was a climate of each helping the other whennecessary. There became more time for talking and139listening. Luke claims that "talking was the biggest partof being able to handle stress" during this time. He saysthat the loss of 1982 was handled better because of what hehad learned during their separation. Without what helearned he thinks that "I wouldn't have listened carefullyenough, I would have used my own ideas more and maybe itwouldn't have worked. And then it would have put her understress because she probably wouldn't want to say anything,it probably would have got worse."Duke's trust of Wendy continued throughout the whole lossand he maintains that "she always does the right thing."There was no blaming between them and Duke feels that theloss in 1982 was because "it just didn't work out." Hefeels that they didn't blame each other because they bothknew that they both had done everything possible in thesituation.In the last few years, 1989-91, they have owned their home.Duke studied for and received his real estate license duringthis time. For the last year he has been working in a largeindustrial plant on a regular basis. Although he could workovertime everyday if he wanted to, he has restricted himselfto only working eight hours a day. This, he admits, is "aheck of a big change" from earlier years although he stillsays that "I work too much and that bothers me." Duke stillfinds that he tends to take on more than his share of work140in the plant. His collegues are very appreciative but hestill says, "I don't know why I do it." Duke says thatWendy doesn't want him to work overtime because "if we don'ttalk one and a half hours a day, we miss it." Working toomuch would cause trouble because, as Duke says, "If I don'tlisten for an hour, she gets upset... Wendy has got to havesomeone who tells her what is going on... and I feel that Ishould take it easy because, you know, you have got apartner and you don't want to, all of a sudden, lay down anddo nothing. I guess if you were by yourself you wouldn'tfeel that way." He says that talking is important to him aswell because, "you must involve your wife in your life tosolve problems." He chooses not to work as much as he couldbecause "I just don't want to work all the time, I like tobe at home." Following the pattern that they hadestablished since 1978-79, he says that "we talk abouteverything and whatever we do, we always agree." "Thebiggest thing," he says, "is not to hurt each other."Duke willingly does much of the work around the house. Hesays "when she is home she cleans up and when I am home, Iclean up." For a number of years he has enjoyed doing theironing because "she is such a busy girl." Unlike the yearswhen he worked so hard at his job that he didn't have timefor daily chores, he says "now I do it just because I feelit is my role. She is over there at work and I am glad I doit. I do the washing, she does the washing."141Duke's way of dealing with the past and the loss ofCourtenay is to be positive, "I am a very positive guy.... Inever think negative. And she is amazed by that because Ijust don't think negative. I don't even allow it in my mindto think about something negative."^He laughs when hetalks about how Wendy calls him a "dreamer". He has put thewhole experience out of his mind, "I made it a point not tothink of it," he says. Duke believes that both he and Wendyhave found this approach useful. Even though, he says,"everything went down the drain, we took it as it was. Wenever said much to each other about it." Part of the reasonfor this approach is Duke's respect for Wendy, "she's just alittle different person. Like you don't argue aboutsomething which has gone down the drain anyway with a personlike this because you can't do that because you respect hertoo much." Duke thinks that part of the reason this worksis she feels the same way about him, "I think she respectsme as much as I respect her, most likely." Neither of themhave resorted to complaining about how things have notworked out as well as they could have. Like when Wendyshattered her ankle, he has great respect for how she justcontinued on, "she still hobbles, she still can't walkright. But, I mean, that is the way she is. Toughcustomer, that one." He feels that Wendy has understood,without him having to say so, how difficult it has been forhim, "she knew I was tired, I didn't have to tell her that.142We 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 ambivalentthoughts. On the one hand, so much of what he has worked athas been undermined by economic forces beyond his controlthat he says, "nothing ever lasts any more. All of asudden, the government comes along and you're out. Ithappens all along." On the other hand, he says that thereis nothing you can do to prevent many types of economicloss, "the government is involved and the economy isinvolved and you are involved, there are three differentpractices going on, there is nothing you can do about it."Duke feels that he doesn't "holler and scream" his head offas he did when he as younger. "Now it doesn't bother me atall." He remains optimistic even though he feels that it ismore difficult now to be successful in making money:I always think tomorrow I'm going to make itagain. I'll never make it by the look of it, butthat's the way I look at it. I never give up.Always something gotta, something gotta happenagain. It's not getting any better finding thesedays but I still won't give up on it.... Right noweverything is o.k., we are not dead yet. There isa lot of scheming going on here.143He and Wendy still have plans to invest and "we will try toget things going in the meantime which will probably workout 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. Hesays that "everything is getting better all the time."Talking and working things out has become a regular part oftheir relationship:Some people don't talk to each other. Thathappens, for a day, we never do that. Thatwouldn't work with us. I think it is reallycruelty to do that. To not talk to somebody. Youbetter tell her what bothers you. At least youknow what bothers you. And if you don't tellthem, at least talk to them. I think that it isreally bad when somebody doesn't talk. I thinkthat is what is wrong with people. The silenttreatment, they call it.He feels that he knows how to be aware of the feelings ofothers and communicate "way better than I used to.... Youdon't say things which, some people are hurt pretty easily.It don't have to be just somebody you love, even peoplearound you, friends, some people take it serious what otherpeople say."144Looking back on the difficult times in 1976, Duke describeshow he found it difficult to talk about issues that wereproblematic. He tried to deal with his anxiety by drinkingat first but came to realize that "I don't think you candeal with stress if you are drinking. You're ok for thatone evening because you talk yourself right into it but whenyou get sober it is a different story altogether."Referring to issues that were contentious, where their needswere different, Duke says, "that is the one thing we didn'ttalk about too much. Later, I did and that is when it allchanged around." Compared to his approach of earlier years,Duke observes that "I have been saying what I want to sayfor a long, long time."Duke believes that, in addition to keeping the lines ofcommunication open, an essential ingredient in keeping theirmarriage together is his positive outlook: "Every day is anew day. She knows that. She can't understand why I feel,she figures I'm a dreamer. I say 'I'm not dreaming, I meanit.' And then you laugh about it. It's just a good lifewith her, you know, that way. Just no, no, arguments.Isn't that beautiful? And that helps, boy that helps."145Wendy's Story Before the Crisis Wendy and Duke have been together since the early seventies.After selling a hotel which they had operated together forfour years, they travelled in Europe managing a country andwestern band for two years. Back in Canada, they married in1975, separated in in 1976, divorced in 1977 and had areconciliation in 1979. In 1980, they purchased a largeheritage house in a small community on Vancouver Islandwhich they hoped would be a center for their extendedfamilies and provide them an income as a bed and breakfastestablishment. In 1982, after having put all their lifesavings into renovating this mansion and purchasing otherproperties close by, everything was lost in the recession.They walked away from this experience with little more thanthe clothes on their backs. Since 1982, they have neverfully recovered financially from the loss and are stillpaying off a loan taken out at that time. The loss in 1982dollars Wendy estimates at about 250,000. In the periodfollowing this loss, Duke was ill for a number of years but,since 1990, has been working full time as a maintenanceengineer in a large industrial plant. Wendy bought a smallreal estate company which she has managed since 1985. Shesays that this company, while not providing a high income,has been modestly successful.146Although the financial loss of 1982 has certainly had adevastating effect on their financial security, the moresignificant crisis in terms of the effect on their maritalrelationship was the period surrounding the separation anddivorce of 1976-77. Their ability to support each other andwork together as a team was highly developed enough aftertheir reconciliation in 1979 that they were able to weatherthe subsequent financial crisis intact. To understand howthese two crises interacted to change their lives, Wendy'sstory begins with her own mother.Wendy's mother came to Canada from Scotland at age 18 aroundthe turn of the century.^She came essentially as an orphanas her parents, sister and guardians had all died. Othermore distant relatives had, Wendy believes, conspired topush her from her inheritance, the family inn. There was noone there to look after her and Wendy has great admirationfor how her mother had the courage to leave behind thishopeless situation and strike out on her own.Growing up in a remote area of B.C. as a child, Wendy feltthat her immediate family was an extremely important sourceof support. She did not have any aunts or uncles so shefelt it was necessary for them to be close knit andtogether. Wendy learned to value understanding others andbelieves that she "may have a little bit more understanding"147because she had been exposed to so many different kinds ofpeople when she was young in a small frontier town: "themore broader experiences you are getting in life,circumstances, other people, the more you understand".Wendy's first marriage was, to some extent, motivated by anattempt to help her husband who did not have a closesupportive family as a child. Unfortunately, she feels thather first husband was totally dominated by the requirementsof work and did not value the marital relationship orfamily. Wendy has never been reluctant to work hard butpromised herself after the break up of the first marriagethat she would never again allow herself to be put in aposition where she didn't have the power to insure that hervalues, especially those regarding family, were being givenequal priority to those of others. She felt that she had nopower and says "I had to do what I was told". In thismarriage, Wendy felt helpless as she had to tailor her lifeto fit someone else's agenda. She felt that she had to giveher youngest children less nurturance than she felt theyneeded because she had to commute and work long hours tosupport her husband's business which she never believedwould be successful. He was obsessed, Wendy thinks, withthe goal of "becoming a millionaire". Wendy says thatLloyd, her first husband "never allowed me to share hisfeelings, it was all surface and he didn't include me in histhoughts". She felt "alone, always alone" and this really148bothered her having come from a childhood where people wereso close and supportive. Wendy's ideal, "all the things Iwas working towards, establishing a home", was not realizedin this marriage because her first husband "didn't take anyinterest in the home". In contrast to working, Wendy tellsof a brief period where she really enjoying building a homewhen her oldest children were young and of moving in beforethe 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 firsthusband's business suffered a severe financial loss. Thisreally made all the years that she had put into his businessseem even more futile. She felt betrayed by the emphasisput on business at the expense of her family life, her lackof power to determine the direction of their lives and theemotional distance in their marital relationship. She feltthat she had put in "all those years" in the business withlittle to show for it.Wendy went into real estate in the sixties and did well atit. By 1970 she had enough equity to purchase a small hotelon a lake in the interior with her brother. When herbrother had to pull out his funds several months after theytook possession, she was able to borrow money to buy him outand take on the project on her own. Early on in thisproject, Wendy hired Duke to help her run the hotel which149150she could not do on her own.^Duke's first wife had diedseveral years earlier and, soon after he started, Wendy andDuke were operating the hotel as a couple. It was ademanding business which often took sixteen hours a day,seven days a week to operate. Wendy's two younger childrenlived with her in the hotel some of the time and, the restof the time, they spent with their father who lived threehundred miles away. Some of Duke's children lived in thecommunity and others were living elsewhere going to school.Wendy describes this time with Duke as one where they workedvery well together. She handled the money end of things andDuke handled the renovations and maintenance jobs. Eachfelt very comfortable in their clearly defined roles,enjoyed the work that they were doing, and they soon came totrust each other a lot. Both of them were "doers", believedin hard work and had come from entrepreneurial backgroundswhere they had to look after themselves. There was so muchwork to be done that they never had to worry about what todo. They both shared the goal of making the business asuccess and so had few questions about the value of workinghard even though they knew it was a pace that they couldn'tkeep up forever.Compared to the life they were to have after the sale of thehotel, the busy schedule of running this hotel was wellsuited to their desire to be equal contributing members of apartnership. This project met their need for independanceby offering many different opportunities to express theirintitiative and creativity. These contributions could bedone separately or together but always in the context of aworking team. There was no fear of dependancy because,especially in the beginning, it was primarily a businessrelationship where their expectations of each other were,she says, "not high." Work provided an opportunity to beclose but not too close. As Wendy says, "it was work, work,work, work." Although she was to change her mind later shethought that their relationship might have been so workrelated that "there was no personal rapport at the hotel."Duke had lived in the community in which the hotel waslocated for many years and had, with twenty years of successbehind him in logging and construction, chose to work withWendy. Wendy owned the hotel but she felt that hisexpertise was a very essential part of the operation. Eachcould feel independant, appreciated and equal. With thefocus always on the business, trust was easily developed andmaintained because Wendy felt that, unlike their previousrelationships, they really could count on each other. Bothbelieving so strongly in working hard, doing one's share andsharing the goal of making the business a success made, shesays, trusting easy.Positiveness was an important ingredient in their successwith each other and in dealing with customers in the hotel.Wendy stresses the importance of public relations in151attracting new customers and building up the business.Although they had a number of problems in the operation ofthe hotel, being positive and working hard always seemed tosolve the difficulty eventually. There was no need to paymuch attention to personal problems because, in addition tothe fact that there were few if any, there was a sharedassumption that the business was the priority and theirindividual needs would be best met by staying positive andmaking the business a success. "Team work was everything"in the business. Until the hotel was sold, neither of themhad any money because every extra penny was put back intothe business to make it more effective. This, according toWendy, contributed to a sense of equal partnership.In the mid seventies, Wendy and Duke travelled in Europemanaging the country and western group that had been thehouse band at their hotel. One of the players was Wendy'sthird son. Her youngest son lived with his father. Wendydescribes this trip as the "vacation of a life time" and areward for all the hard work in the hotel. Much of the timein Europe was spent in southern Germany where Dukes' parentsstill lived. His father died while they were there. Luke,according to Wendy, felt betrayed by his sister who wantedall the inheritance for herself. She says that Duke "didnot fight" his sister because he was not interested in themoney but his feelings about this perceived betrayal were,152from Wendy's view, connected to difficulties theyexperienced later on.In terms of their relationship, Wendy felt that in theirtime 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 collapsedand they had to take possession again and try to resell itwhile they were negotiating to take over another hotel inWhistler, B.C. They got the interior hotel sold again buthad to take three houses in the Fraser Valley as equity.After running the Whistler hotel for a year they returned in1976 to live in one of the three houses. At about thistime, two of her sons and their families moved in with Wendyand Duke to help pay for the mortgages.The Relationship Crisis and Reconciliation Wendy found the time after they moved into this house verydifficult. Unlike the time spent in the interior hotel,they did not have, she feels, clear shared goals at thistime. They had three properties to be concerned about and,because there was no physical work involved, Wendy felt thatthe responsibility for managing these properties was all onher shoulders. She had started selling real estate again153which she had not done since before the purchase of theinterior hotel. She felt lost and "didn't know where toturn to" in her attempts to keep up the payments on theseproperties. Duke had never lived in an urban area andcouldn't find a job. He became critical of what she wasdoing. Wendy knew what the lifestyle involved in realestate was all about but he had never experienced it before.She felt that all her decisions were being questioned. Thiswas so unlike their time in the interior hotel where shefelt that she had had the "freedom to do what she wanted."In order to make money to pay the mortgages, Wendy feltjustified in working long hours away from home but Duke didnot like this. Wendy couldn't understand why, given thecircumstances, he wanted her to say home with him.Wendy's descriptioh of why their relationship became sostrained at this time falls into two main areas: Duke'sunresolved issues from his past that she felt he had to workout and his lack of work which made it impossible for themto continue the partnership that had worked so well for themin the past. Wendy felt that Duke still hadn't recoveredfrom the experience of having been betrayed by his sister."He didn't fight" for his inheritance because "he didn'tthink 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 werebut, when the situation became intolerable, he decided that154the only solution was for him to go away on his own and workthings out on his own. She did not entirely agree with thissolution but she was prepared to walk away from therelationship because she had lost hope that it was going towork.The second reason suggested for the breakdown of therelationship was that Duke was like a "fish out of water" inan urban area far away from his traditional sources of workand contacts. She asks, "where did he fit in?"Historically, Duke had been the family provider and, in hisexperience with Wendy, had been a needed and valued teammate in their work in the hotels. In this situation, Wendyfelt that the comfortable role was no longer available tohim as he "sort of had to meld into my way of life." Aboutall he could contribute was to look after some cows andchickens that they had bought for their home which sat onseveral acres. Wendy was preoccupied and feelingoverwhelmed with her real estate endeavors and holdingtogether the assets that came from the sale of the hotel.Wendy had always known that it was important to be workingat something that you enjoy but she was so involved lookingafter the business end of things that she "didn't know thathe would have problems if not involved." She thinks that hewas so upset with himself and the situation because "I thinkthat it was because he felt that he should be doing it[work], not me." Wendy recognizes that he may not have felt155that others understood his experience because "maybe he feltthat he wasn't appreciated." In later years she says thatshe became more aware of how important it was for him tounderstand what she was trying to do. Wendy thinks that hewas being critical because "he didn't understand." She saysthat when he understood what she was trying to do in realestate in later years he became extremely supportive.Comparing the relationship crisis of 1976 to the financialcrisis of 1982, Wendy feels that the 1976 loss was moresevere in its impact on them. The loss of work over arelatively short period of time was associated with muchmore difficulty than the massive loss of assets.In their previous work experience, they had been able tobalance the need for independance and the need forrelationship easily. Now, however, Wendy was feeling"smothered" by his criticism, the questioning of herdecisions and what felt like demands for her to stay homemore. Wendy describes Duke as needing more of her attentionand feeling left out of her business life which he hadpreviously shared so closely with her. Wendy wanted herdecisions to be accepted without questioning. She felt thatshe needed the freedom to go, for example, on business tripsif she thought it was necessary. She also wanted moreunderstanding of the difficulties she was having. She feltshe was doing the best she possibly could under thecircumstances. Wendy "expected him to cope with whatever he156had to deal with... and not dump on me" so that she couldget on with the work that she felt needed to be done if theywere to save their properties. There was not time to dealwith everything, so "it was kind of pushed to the side, therelationship because of the necessity of coping with all thethings."Unlike the emphasis given to understanding, friendship andtalking things out described in the work partnership of1970-74 and the close intimate relationship from 1979 to thepresent, Wendy describes 1976 as a time where neither personcould get their needs met. Duke was not able to understandhow overwhelmed Wendy was, how much she needed him to bepositive and how difficult it was to take all hisnegativity. Although Wendy had always thought that it wasimportant to share feelings, she felt that this situationwas so difficult that "there was no time to worry aboutsomebody being moody or the feelings of somebody, ortroubles that didn't mean anything." Even though Wendy feltthat she had always been able to understand people andaccept a lot of what people do, this experience was just toomuch for her and she says "I just couldn't cope with theemotional stress when things got unpleasant." During lateryears Wendy believes that their ability to adapt to so manychanges was based on their ability to understand each other."It is all understanding," she says. But in 1976 she feltthat this was not working.157Wendy got so discouraged that she got to the point where shebelieved that the relationship wasn't worth saving, "it wasbest just to end it," she concluded. Her old fear that"there was no one there" for her came back. She didn't feelthat she could handle the business and look after a criticalhusband too. Wendy's belief that "teamwork was everything"came up against a situation that didn't fit. She had workedhard and done her best but still the relationship wasfalling apart. On the one hand, Wendy felt that her choiceswere limited to one option: "it was best just to end it...it was a necessary thing, it had to happen." They were bothfed up: "we were both prepared to walk away from it becausewe couldn't put with it anymore."On the other hand, Wendy felt that the separation didn'tmake sense. This made it particularly difficult for Wendywho had never wanted this to happen because she felt thatthey had "worked so well together". She says, "it was adifficult time for me because it was awful hard for me toaccept. The fact that we did have a relationship there andthere was no real reason that this dissolved. It seemedthat we still had too much in common to let it go." Inaddition to this, even though she knew she had the strengthand confidence to function individually, she had "neverwanted to be alone".158Although she wanted the separation too, Wendy saw it asprimarily duke's initiative to leave. In some ways she didnot agree with what Duke had decided to do but she also feltthat she understood that it was necessary, for his sake, forhim to go: "the only way that he could solve it was to getaway by himself and sort everything out and be almostisolated."Compared to the trust between them that Wendy speaks of inlater years, this time is described as one where trust wasat its lowest ebb. Unlike the financial crisis six yearslater, Wendy describes a situation where two people feltthat their needs could not be met in difficult times.Although Wendy felt that she had always been able to avoidworrying about financial insecurity, she says that 1976 wasdifficult because it was the relationship that became theproblem, not money or assets.After the separation in 1976, Wendy and Duke were divorcedin 1977. Wendy continued to work in real estate and shesays that she did reasonably well during this time. Shemissed having a friend to talk to and did not find anyoneelse that she felt close to. Duke worked in Ft. St. Johnmanaging apartment blocks and did construction and heavyequipment operation. Wendy says that he was making "bigmoney" up there and, after a while, began to send her moneyfor her to invest for him. Duke also continued to stay in159contact as a friend, sent gifts and wrote letters. Wendydescribes their gradual reconciliation as a "joint effort".In the period 1977 to 1979, Wendy says that Duke graduallyregained his cooperative nature, became much more tolerantand easy to get along with. She regained her trust that hewas still a kind and loving person after all. He appearedto have worked out his difficulties from the past and he washappy to be making money again. It became even more clear,from Wendy's point of view, that a large part of the reasonwhy Duke was so anxious in 1976 was because "he feltinadequate because he wasn't making enough money, he didn'tknow where to turn." Seeing how well he was doingemotionally with a good job, she says "I also didn't realizethat, in many ways, he was better off working in his ownenvironment that he had come from than trying to fit intothe city life... he didn't fit in... he wasn't in hisplace." Looking back, Wendy understood how hard it had beenfor him to trust anyone. Even though she always believedthat their hard-won assets belonged to both of them, shebecame aware that he didn't trust that she would share: "andthough he worked so hard, he equally shared in everythingthat happened there because of his participation but it wasstill 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, youknow, it didn't bother me but it bothered him." As thelikeable person began to re-emerge, it became even more160clear that Duke flourished and had self respect in anenvironment where he felt useful and had some control overhis life. Wendy observes that "it is very necessary for histype of personality to be contributing and independant too."The experience in Ft. St. John helped to make the reasonsfor the relationship breakdown in 1976 more understandable.Seeing Duke as his original self made it more apparent thatthe economic factors and changes in roles had affected hisability to be supportive.In 1979, Wendy went to Ft. St. John to stay with Duke forseveral months. As she began to reexperience Duke'ssupportive and generous nature, Wendy began to regain herconfidence and optimism. She began to reevaluate herfeeling that there was no one there for her. Her ownwillingness to see others "as basically good people unlessyou find out otherwise" was reaffirmed. A spirit offorgiveness which Wendy had always believed in but which wasshaken in the process of getting divorced, came back as sheand Duke felt more secure in their friendship. She was ableto apply a belief to the situation with Duke that she hadalways felt was important in her dealings with others: "youcan't hold a grudge, you can't hold them accountable becauseyou don't know why they are like that." Wendy generouslyadmits that she had a part to play in the problem of 1976too: "[the problem got worse] because I was reacting."161Although Wendy didn't particularly like small towns like Ft.St. John nor did she feel comfortable being dependant onsomeone else, she consented to spend several months withDuke in this small northern center in the cold season "withice on the windows". This could have been stressful as thesituation reduplicated some of the factors that made 1976difficult. One person was working a lot and the other wasat home, one person was making the money and the other wasnot and the non-working spouse had to structure his or herlife around the schedule of the working spouse. Unlike1976, however, they were able to overcome whateverdiscomfort they might have felt and used this time as anopportunity to consolidate the reconciliation. It was alsoa time for them to discover what their relationship could belike without a lot of people around which had sometimes madeit difficult to be together in the past.Wendy was concerned at this time about the effect the hardwork was having on Duke but she was also proud andrespectful of his ability to build up from nothing his ownbusiness in a few short years. After these four years ofhard work and being alone, Wendy describes Duke as havingundergone a transformation: "He was up there all alone andthen he has been a completely, I shouldn't say completelydifferent person, in some respects he has, in that he hasgot his self respect back. And then, like I mean, he is soeasy to get along with, you wouldn't believe it. He is162always 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 thosedays before" was also transformed into a more positive view,"maybe there was more to the talking done than I realizebecause I certainly missed it when it wasn't there. When Ididn't have anybody to share these ideas with."In Ft. St. John, they decided to become a couple again andjoin their assets. Wendy returned to Vancouver and Dukestayed up north with the idea that he would stay for a whilebecause the money was so good. In 1979, they bought a housein Vancouver with both of their money.The Financial Crisis After returning to Vancouver in late 1979, Wendy began tofeel that the city was becoming too hectic and she foundherself getting tired of the real estate business. Sheheard about a potential hotel or bed and breakfast businessin Courtney, a small city on Vancouver Island. She knewthat it would be important when Duke left the north to havea place to live where they could both find work. This smallcity seemed like a good possibility given that it was morelike the rural areas that Duke was accustomed to. Wendytelephoned Luke and asked him to come to Vancouver rightaway so that they could visit this place and make a decisionabout buying it.163By this time, Wendy says that she and Duke had come to anunderstanding that they would be "together for the rest oftheir lives". Creating a project like this "seemedworthwhile because we were setting it up like a retirementproject". It would be a bed and breakfast business, buteven more important, it would be a "home where all the kidscould come and we would be all settled in... We didn't lookat it as a business. The rooms would be rented when people[family] weren't there but, certainly, the whole idea behindit was to set it up like a home base out of the city."They decided to sell their house in Vancouver and buy theold mansion the first day they saw it. The plan was thatDuke would remain up north and send down all his money whileWendy organized the renovations. The house would requiremajor renovations before it would be ready but, with sixbedrooms upstairs, a winding oak staircase and chandeleers,they couldn't resist the challenge of restoring the originalbeauty of the place.The first day that they saw the house, Wendy remembers wellbecause the night before Mt. St. Helens had erupted and, inthe town, all the cars were covered with ash. The first dayshe took possession, she also remembers vividly because shefound a little boy in the basement preparing to set a matchto a pile of oily rags next to several cans of gasoline.164She tried to help this little boy who came from a familythat neglected him but they moved away soon after. Sheremembers this experience very clearly and says, "it was sadthat this little fellow was starting out his life this way".For the next year and a half, Wendy immersed herself inrenovations with a crew of five helping her. She describesthis period as a wonderful time where she had the freedom tomake whatever renovations she wanted. She saw herself asbeing in charge of the project and Duke's contribution wasto "pour money" in from his high paying job up north.During this time she also set up a taxi business and a realestate company, took on the job of running the local chamberof commerce and purchased several other houses andproperties with the idea of using a city block to build alarge hotel in the future. After a year and a half of hardwork and 100,000 dollars, the original beauty of the mansionhad just about been completely restored when Wendy shatteredhe ankle while waxing a floor. She supervised thecompletion of the renovations from a wheelchair, purchasedbedding and furniture for all the rooms and enough dishesand food preparation supplies to deal with thirty guests.At the time of the injury in 1982, a number of othersignificant events happened. The recession was having adevastating effect on the economy. Duke's business wasslowing down up north and it was becoming less and less of165an advantage to stay up there while Wendy needed help downon the island. They decided that it would be better for himto close up his operations, ship down his new back hoe andsee if he could find work on Vancouver Island. This meantthat there was no longer a steady income coming in. Atabout the same time, in the process of applying for an$80,000 mortagage to pay out the original owners, theappraiser discovered that the house had been insulated withurea formaldehyde. This was particularly upsetting becausethey had been assured twice at the time of the purchase thatthere was no urea in the house. As a result of this, nobank would give them a mortgage. Without a mortgage theywould lose all their properties in which they had about$250,000 dollars equity. Wendy tried desperately to find amortgage. She paid a mortgage broker to try and find acontact. She was even willing to pay 15,000 extra to get aloan but nothing worked.Duke, unfortunately, was not able to find any work. Hisbackhoe which he had shipped down at great expense wassitting idle in the parking lot because the demand haddropped completely. Wendy felt completely helpless: "thehardest part was that six months when I was in thatwheelchair and not being able to do anything... thefrustration of not being able to hold everything together."166During this time, their relationship remained strong. Giventheir past experience when things got stressful, Wendy saysthat "we were surprised when we didn't have more problemsafter losing Courtney." The problems she clearly identifiedwere the economy and the bad luck with the urea, "twoproblems that we had no control over." She feels thatneither 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 quitesuccessful". In the relationship, Wendy feels that she wasnot blamed at all for what had happened even though she feltshe could have been blamed for having got injured, notchecking more thoroughly on the insulation in the homebefore the purchase and having spent as much money as shedid on the renovations. She says that it didn't become anissue because the whole project had really been a shareddecision: "We could handle it because we were bothcontributing to the whole scheme of things, ideas, work,money, the whole thing. We were in it together and wesurvived it together." Unlike 1976 where she feltcriticized, during the six months in the wheelchair, shefelt protected and supported at a time when she really feltvulnerable: "the caring that I got, the care andunderstanding, and 'not to worry, it's going to be fine'. Irespected that." She says that "for the first time in mylife", she had experienced as an adult what it was like tobe taken care of by someone that she knew really loved her.167The care that she recieved at this time from Duke, as itbecame more clear that they were going to lose everythingthat they had worked for, deepened the feeling of wanting tobe together for the rest of their lives. Wendy says thatthe trust that she experienced made it possible for her toface the prospect of having nothing. Having lost therelationship in 1976, she says that the friendship with Dukewas clearly the most important asset she had and, knowingthat she wasn't going to lose this, everything else wastolerable.Duke, as in 1976, was without work again but this did notcause problems for him, according to Wendy. In a finalattempt to save the hotel, he left Courtney to take on acontract to renovate a hotel in Vancouver. This would havegiven them enough money to save the project. Like 1976,Duke went off to work hard but, this time Wendy felt that itwas an agreed-upon strategy, an action in pursuit of ashared goal.Wendy felt that she understood why this crisis happened.Unlike 1976, where she felt the situation was caused byunresolved issues in Duke's past and his feelings ofinadequacy because of his perception of unequalcontributions and ownership in the relationship, theproblems in 1982 were "no body's fault". They were, shebelieves, caused by the economy and the urea. Wendy feels168that they learned from this that they could handle difficulttimes together. The fact that they had both started thisproject together and contributed to it in different butequal ways, made it easier to accept the loss: "So, at leasthe felt better that we were starting all over again. Eachof us at the same level... we walked away with absolutelynothing." 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 hadmany difficulties with illness, injuries, unemployment andthe lack of a stable home up until just recently, the worsttime was over when it was finally clear that nothing couldbe done and they decided to stop trying to make it work:"Once you have lost it, well, there is no sense worryingabout it because you can't lose any more."Since the Crisis Since the loss of the Courtenay project in 1982, Wendy andDuke have lived in about a dozen different places and Wendydescribes this lifestyle as being like "gypsies". AlthoughWendy feels that they have been reasonably successful inbusiness she says that they have not made very much money.Wendy bought a real estate company in 1985. It has provideda modest income and, perhaps most important of all, it hasprovided the opportunity to be her own boss. Up until justrecently, Duke hasn't been quite so fortunate. He wasinjured in a large constuction project that he took on in1691983 in an attempt to save the Courtenay properties. Thisinvolved three years of negotiations with the Workman'sCompensation Board. During this time, Duke became very illwith something that made him feel exhaused almost all thetime. She says that he feels that the description of theEpstein Barr syndrome accurately explains what it was likefor him for three or four years. Wendy says that he wasdependant on her for most of this time. Unlike 1976, shesays that she was surprized that he allowed her to lookafter him. Wendy thinks that, by the time they hadexperienced the intimacy during the time of her ankleinjury, they both lost the fear of being dependant on eachother. For the last year, Wendy has felt secure dependingon Luke's regular pay cheque from his permanent position ina large plant. She says that this has been the first timethat they have ever had a steady income. Their financialambitions, Wendy feels, are more moderate than they used tobe and she made a decision in 1982 to no longer own a creditcard. They are content to live on whatever money they haveand she feels that they are able to do quite well.Wendy says that Duke has, over the years, becomeincreasingly involved in her business ventures. Unlike1976, Duke is now so supportive of her business ideas thathe would even be willing to sell the condominium that theyhave owned for a year in order to get her cash to expand hercompany. Although they have not had a lot of money for the170last ten years, they have been able to talk things over andfigure out a way of solving their problems together. Theyhave, in spite of illness and injuries, been able to find away for both of them to work at something they like. In thelast year it has been especially good with Duke working at ajob where his knowledge and efforts are appreciated andWendy has been able to devote as much energy as she wants toher real estate business without having to worry about thebills being paid. Wendy describes a level of trust betweenthem that has created a environment where it really doesn'tmatter, for example, who is working and who is not, who isbringing in a salary and who is not. Whatever money theymake, Wendy says, is shared. Wendy believes that Dukereally does understand her needs now and she understandshis. Spending time apart as a way of solving problems hasnot been considered since 1979 although they both feel freeto spend short periods of time apart to pursue theirindividual interests. Since that time, Wendy feels thatDuke "has wanted to be with me wherever I was" and she isthe same. Unlike the questioning of decisions that sheexperienced before they separated, she believes that "healways has confidence in me".Wendy says that she and Duke would still like to create somekind of center for their extended families. They havetalked about purchasing 80 acres somewhere out in thecountry for everyone to use. Her greatest disappointment171seems to be that, despite her great efforts, she has beenunable to provide this "home" for the next generations: "Iguess the only thing is that I would have liked to have beenestablished so that, you know, established in a home whereall the kids could come and we would be all settled in.That's what I hoped I would have had. And yet we likegypsies (laugh). So we are here, there and everywhere."She thinks that it may be difficult to do it but she stillhas the dream.Looking back over the last 10 years, Wendy is still aware ofthe loss of their life savings but, all in all, feels goodabout how it has gone: "So we started getting thingstogether again but never to the point where we have had anymoney. And somehow it didn't matter. It didn't reallymatter that much. You have to make the best of it and itactually hasn't been that bad. And as far as Duke and I, wehave got along really good. We have never had any disputes.And we have pulled together through it all. And we have hadlots of good times".172Sara's StorySara has been married to Walter for 20 years. As describedin Walter's story, Walter and Sara went through bankruptcyproceedings between 1982 and 1984. The years from 1981 to1985 were experienced as an extremely difficult time forboth of them. To understand the impact of this crisis fromSara's view, it is necessary to begin with the lateseventies. According to Sara, even though the seventieswere not experienced as a difficult time, it is incomparison with the eighties that parts of the seventies donot look so attractive. Unlike the deep love and affectionthat Sara has experienced with Walter since the crisis of1981-85, the seventies were characterized by much lowerlevels of trust, support and cooperation.Before the Crisis Sara describes the early seventies as a time where herprimary role was to parent Walter's two adolescent childrenfrom a previous marriage. Walter wanted Sara to befinancially independant but she felt that if she hadn'ttaken on the parenting of these children, nobody would have."Walter wasn't anywhere to be found for those times, he wasworking." She took care of all their day to day needs suchas school meetings and paid for their expenses out of thesalary from her part time job as a nurse. This placed Sara173in a financially dependant role but this division ofresponsibilty seemed necessary given that Walter was not ina position to do it because of the time that he put intowork. Sara describes this time as one of the most difficulttimes of their marriage because of the difficulties of beingthe step mother to adolescent children that didn't see heras their parent but for whom she had primary responsibility.This role differentiation continued with the birth of theirson in 1975. Sara stayed home for several years after hisbirth and worked part,time after that. Walter is describedas someone who "always loved children but who had limitedtime" given that his job demanded that he be gone from homefrom early in the morning to late at night. Nevertheless,the early years of their son's life are described as "aclose time", especially compared to the stressful time whereshe had to deal with Walter's children. Even though Walterwas gone for most of the day and evening, one of the thingsthat he did to maintain the closeness was to allow their sonto sleep with him at night because "Walter can't stand it ifhe thinks that a kid is afraid or emotionally upset aboutanything. Whatever it takes to settle that kid down, hewill do." Walter was always the one that heard their soncry at night and he insisted that the baby sleep with themin their room right from the very beginning. "Musicalbeds", as Sara called it, went on until their son was nineyears old. Sara really valued Walter's close relationshipwith their son but sometimes felt that their own174relationship was not given as much value. She would say "Idon't think this is good, the kid should be sleeping in hisown bed". Walter would say, "he needs us right now, this isreally important for him".Sara describes her relationship with Walter as good but,because they had both been "emotionally starved" aschildren, their expectations of each other for support werenot high. Sara did feel that she had more needs than Walterfor emotional support and sometimes felt that "everybodyelse had all the important things". Sara tells the story ofhow Walter would always forget Valentines Day but once,after having been married for a number of years, shereceived some roses. She was so excited that she took themaround to all the neighbours who couldn't understand whatthe fuss was all about.Sara had a lot of respect for Walter's strength andpositiveness. Positiveness meant that if you have a problemall you have to do is think of solutions, set goals and theproblem will disappear. This meant, however, that he didnot think that relating between two people was necessary:"he never thought that (relating) was important before. Hereally never did." He did not want to hear what he felt wasunnecessary negativism. Although she admired this approach,Sara did not always find it easy to "pull herself up by herown bootstraps". Walter did not like to talk about negative175things or spend time with negative people. This includedpeople who were ill. During the seventies, Sara had anumber of hospital operations for cancer. At this time,Walter was unable or unwilling to talk about illness andSara says that, "when I woke up from surgery he wasn'tthere" even though his son was.The seventies were a very busy time with each of them "doingtheir own thing" and "both trying to prove how independantand strong they were". Sara got a lot of satisfaction byputting on large events for Walter's collegues and extendedfamily that involved sixty people and more at a time andcost thousands of dollars. She saw herself as the wifebehind the successful businessman. These parties that"people still talk about many years later" were veryimportant to Sara: "that is my thing. That is what I feelmy place, my role is." Walter appreciated these parties butSara felt that he was never really sure about whether theguests came to them because of the food or because thegenuinely liked him. It made her feel good to be able to dosomething that he and others appreciated.In spite of the many positive things about her relationshipwith Walter in the seventies, Sara was not sure that hecared for her as much as he did in later years. "He feltthat I respected him but he didn't look at me the same way."Looking back on it, marriage did not seem to be a place176where both felt that they could receive support, validationand understanding: "he could never understand me." This wasa time where their financial future looked good but Sarafelt that Walter would have to retire from his busy workschedule before they would experience the trust, love andsense of being comfortable that she associated with the film"On Golden Pond".During this time, Sara didn't really feel needed orrespected. Walter, the person who made the most money, wasthe one who had most respect. Sara's job was not seen asimportant although it paid for the clothes and food for thefamily including Walter's children. She felt that hisattitude was, "well, if you want to spend money then you goout and have your little job". She had the sense that onlyif she made a good income would she be respected: "I alwaysfelt that if I was going to be valued, I would have to makeas much money and Walter did." Sara thinks that, because ofhis past, Walter did not trust women generally and didn'twant to be dependant on anyone. Her understanding is thathe believed that if he shared too much about himself, thatwould make him vulnerable to others. Sara says that heshared little of his self with her beyond superficialthings. He didn't like to talk about feelings nor did heindicate that he had any need for her support.177Something that was to change dramatically in later years,Sara never felt supported when it came to discussions aboutthe needs of women. She felt that because her needs werenot being met at home and she didn't feel listened to, sheargued the case for women generally and got put down a lotby Walter and his friends: "he always used to say thingslike 'there's Sara getting up on her soapbox again'. Andthat was when I was on my woman's lib tirade and all thatsort of thing." In these discussions she felt that she"never had a valid point.... Before, I used to actually feelthat I was fighting for my point all the time, alwaysfighting for my point and getting more resistance."Although she respected Walter generally, she did not respecthim for the position he took in these situations. This madeit difficult for Sara to trust him. During these years,Sara did not feel confident that she could be successful inher own right. She does not blame Walter for this but, asshe says later in this account, having his support seems tohave been an important factor in her present successfulcareer. In later years, she describes him as a strongerperson because he was able to get beyond his point of viewand see hers.Sara respected Walter's need for independance but it seemedthat, no matter what she did, it was "never enough". Healways wanted more although she felt that she was giving himlots of freedom. She thinks that he did not trust that she178wouldn't try to stop him from "doing his own thing"."Walter is not the kind of person that trusts easily." Asshe was to understand later when the level trust changeddramatically, "I don't think that he ever believed me when Isaid 'I don't intend to ever stop you from doing anything'".Sara found Walter to be "secretive". She tells the story ofhow, four weeks after their son was born, Walter announcedthat he was leaving the next day for a trip in his airplaneto Las Vegas and Los Angeles. While Sara believes that"neither of us could trust" at the time, she thinks thatWalter was having a particularly difficult time because heseemed to think that being open with her would result in aloss of freedom. There was a sense that he believed thatone was either independant or trapped.A factor that was related to the lack of trust was what Saradescribes as an imbalance between work and family. AlthoughSara respected Walter's accomplishments in the world ofbusiness and his sense of adventure, she also felt that hewas "unreasonable in his working hours". The only time thatshe ever felt that their marriage was in jeopardy was beforetheir son was born when she felt left alone with what feltlike the complete responsibility of parenting his childrenfrom a previous marriage. This division of responsibilitiescame about, she feels, largely because there was anunderstanding that his job was more important and thatparenting and household chores were not his responsiblility.179Sara felt both supportive of Walter's business efforts andresentful that their family life seemed to center aroundwhat felt, at times, to be an excessive work schedule. Aparticularly troublesome aspect of the uneven balancebetween home and work was, according to Sara, Walter's habitof buying new homes with little or no consultation with her.Walter would always tell Sara that "home was where he hunghis hat" and little more. Because work was given moreemphasis, neighbourhood and continuity were not valued asmuch. Sara describes the situation as:he was torn in two directions. I think he wouldhave liked to see the kids stay in one place butbecause of the business he is in and the way hefelt about business, he had to move, he just hadto try to get higher and higher. It was part ofthe game that he enjoyed playing. He felt that ifhe kept some closeness in the home with our sonthat perhaps moving wasn't going to be as hard onhim.Sara did not always agree with what Walter wanted to do and,at times, felt quite angry about how little her input wastolerated. With the issue of homes, she felt that she hadlittle and, at times, no control over what was bought andsold and when: "I was trying so hard to put my foot downbecause I could see us going and going and going, moving andmoving and moving." Their last home which they were180eventually to lose in the bankruptcy was a large expensivehouse in a prestigious area. Sara, however, did not likethe house because it had been bought without consultationwith her. She says "I never liked that house. It was nevera home. I didn't even hang a whole lot of pictures up."The seventies were not characterized by the spirit ofcooperation that emerged during and after the receivership.Sara felt that Walter's attitude was "either you come my wayor you don't come at all". She believed that "there wasjust no question that these were his goals and if I wantedto go with them that was fine and if I didn't he would do iton his own". Sara's position was, she feels, a combinationof trust in his judgement and fear of asserting herself: "Ialways thought that I could go so far and no further." Therelationship at this time was hierarchical. Walter was inthe position of making most of the financial decisions andSara was going along with them sometimes reluctantly andoften without full knowledge of what was actually going on.Sara tells of how she often had to go in and sign legaldocuments and pretend that she understood what she wassigning when "I didn't have a clue". The lawyers often senther off to consult with another independant lawyer becausethey wanted to make sure that she understood what she wassigning. Sara would still pretend that she understood justto get it over with. She felt powerless, that she had nochoice because she was not interested in taking the time to181understand Walter's business and, besides, she felt that ifshe disagreed with what he was doing or questioned it in anyway, he would be upset and see her as an obstacle to hisbusiness transactions. This left her in the uncomfortablesituation of agreeing on paper and being held legallyresponsible for business transactions that she knew nothingabout. At the time, she was assuming that these businessdecisions would not affect their family life and allowedherself to go along with this practice for a number ofyears.Looking back on this time, Sara feels that it was a mistakenot to have asserted herself more, "not to have let Walterknow that she was there". The bankruptcy speeded up theprocess of gaining equality. Without the loss, she feelsthat, "it would have been a bigger struggle".The Crisis As discussed in Walter's story, by the end of 1981, NorthAmerica's worst recession since the thirties was beginningto take its toll. Every day Sara was getting phone callsfrom banks and creditors about another one of Walter'sassets that was in trouble. It was becoming clear that theywere going to lose their big house and everything else. "Iwas helpless in the situation .. I didn't really know whatwe were losing". All the documents that Sara had signedover the years without knowing what they meant were coming182back 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 wasgoing or where he had left things like his car. He thoughtfor a time that he had a brain tumor and was much relievedwhen a medical examination ruled this out. Sara saw him as"emotionally unstable" and "desperate" for two years. Itwas hard for her to see someone who had always been sostrong and positive be in so much pain. "I tried to protecthim, I never wanted him to feel failure", she says. "Forthe first time, Walter showed his vulnerability." "He grewin my eyes as I saw him suffer. I felt needed for the firsttime."A conversation that they had about this time was a "turningpoint". Walter said that he was sorry for the difficultiesthat he thought he had caused the family. Sara didn't wanthim to feel that he was to blame for what had happened. Sheblamed herself for not having been more involved in thebusiness herself. She felt that if she had been moreinvolved, perhaps this terrible loss never would havehappened. Up until this point, Sara believes that Walterthought she was going to leave him because he was penniless,that Sara "was only there for the good time". She thinksthat he was afraid that she would blame him for what washappening and leave. He said "you might want to go see ifyou can do better somewhere else". This made her angry183because she had never thought of leaving him when he washaving such a difficult time. Because of his distrust, shefelt that "the relationship could have gone either way".The result of this discussion was that it became clear thatneither of them blamed the other for what had happened andthey were free to drop the burden of guilt.It was at this time that Sara decided to go out and work asa house cleaner. Rather than leave as she felt Walterfeared, she was prepared to roll up her sleeves and dowhatever work was necessary to keep the family afloat.Although she feels that she doesn't really know whatWalter's view of this time is, Sara thinks that he wassurprised that she didn't leave. "Everything seemed tochange" in their relationship at the time of the bankruptcy:Walter became more trusting of me, and there wasno reason for him to be secretive with me anylonger. He always wanted to do his own thing asfar as finances were concerned and I always justsigned pieces of paper and never questioned himabout anything. He never wanted to tell meanything about it. Once the bankruptcy occured,he was stripped of all that. It had to all comeout, I had to see where everything was and inorder to rebuild, it was necessary as well if wewere going to try to rebuild together. And theroles reversed, my income became important as it184is now. That has continued. What I could get outof cleaning houses at that particular time wascrucial.When they hit bottom, Walter changed because, as Sara says,"he knew that I was there". The relationship changedbecause Walter was dependant on Sara emotionally andfinancially. Now, "all the cards were on the table". "Hecouldn't keep secrets any longer." Walter had always foundit difficult to trust anyone and Sara believes that "hedidn't trust me until he had to". Walter, who had alwaysseemed to want to be doing things that were some place otherthan at home, couldn't wait, Sara says, to get home againwhen he had the opportunity to vacation in New Orleans: "Hewas to have gone for three weeks and he came back in twoweeks because he was missing home."While Sara says "I couldn't bear him taking all thatresponsibility", she also felt that he was making thingsmore difficult for himself and the family because "he had anunrealistic idea of putting it [the business] all together".She advocated strongly for a bankruptcy right from thebeginning because, as the information came in, she could seethat it was hopeless. Walter was not going to be able tohold on to the properties that he had worked many years todevelop. She did not see any sense in a continuation of theextreme stress caused by trying to regain what they hadlost.185Sara's own hopes for some kind of miracle disappeared as shestared at the floors she was scrubbing to make enough moneyto pay the rent and put food on the table. She says, "I wasbeginning to work through this 'I wish I could save thiswhole situation'... it's grim reality when you are on yourhands and knees scrubbing floors". She stopped buyinglottery tickets when she realized that it was part of adesperate 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 earnerin the home. This has continued for the 10 years since thebeginning of the bankruptcy. This had a major impact ontheir relationship. Suddenly, Sara was the one who had themoney and, traditionally, respect in this family had beengiven to the person making the most money. The relationshipalso changed because during the bankruptcy Sara went back toschool. (She had to get permission from the trustee to takeout a student loan.) The reason for going back to schoolwas so that she could get a better paying job and supportWalter more easily. She believed that his high earning dayswere over. As she began to develop knowledge at school thatWalter didn't have, she found that he was beginning torespect her much more and recognize her expertise. Sararemembers very clearly the first time that Walter ever said"you have a point". She says, "now I remember the first186time that he said that I almost fell off my chair". "All ofa sudden my opinion counted", she says. Now, any time afinancial decision was made, they discussed it together.Sara tells a story of how, for the first time, Walter stoodup for her in a discussion with some other people where shedisagreed with one of his friends. He said that she had apoint of view that should be listened to. This was sodifferent from anything that she had experienced before thatshe remembers it still.Sara attributes some dramatic changes in their relationshipto this time of crisis. "The trust and respect that hasgrown through this situation is almost miraculous to me."She believes that they moved quickly from a situation whereneither of them was sure where the relationship was going towhere "the trust is more than I have ever had in my entirelife". She says, "I don't know how Walter feels about it,we talk about our relationship every once in a while but notoften." 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 sincethe decision to go into bankruptcy and it has built sincethen." When she started going to school, Sara remembersthat "he would get up with me at four oclock in the morningto help me". Walter was "extremely supportive" and when shewas having a lot of difficulty and thought of quitting, hewould say "I know that you will get it, I know that you will187eventually get it". Sara looks back on this time as a "veryclose time, a really close time". Having cancer in additionto all the other difficulties made this "a high stresstime". She had two surgeries for cancer during this periodand he was there after the operations. There was such anabrupt change in the level of closeness and time spenttogether that Sara felt somewhat uncomfortable at first butit didn't take long to adjust and enjoy the greater sense offamily.Sara especially appreciates how Walter responded to theirsituation during the crisis. She feels that he was very"gracious" in accepting the dependant role. She believesthat many men would have not had the confidence to do this.In many ways, Walter had more stature with Sara when he waspenniless than when he was a millionaire.Sara suggests that some very major changes began in thistime of crisis. Changes that have had a tremendousinfluence on their lives ever since. She feels it was atthis time that she began to see herself as competent,important, and worthy of another's love. It was at thistime, she feels, that Walter began to be more open, moretrusting, more willing to be interdependant and put familyneeds on an equal basis with business.188Sara was surprised that Walter, who had always thought ofhome as a place to hang your hat, was really concerned thatthey would eventually have a place again where they couldput their furniture. He had always said that it didn'tmatter where his bed was. He didn't feel good, however,about the effect of having to leave their home on Sara andtheir son. He didn't like to think about where thefurniture would go but, according to Sara, "Walter feltthere was some hope that one day we would have the room toput the rest of the furniture in". During the three mostdifficult years, they lived in what their son's friendcalled a "cave", a small apartment below ground level. Sararemembers vividly the day they moved out of the "cave" andwent to reclaim their furniture that had been in storage forthree years:It was like Christmas when we went out to thatstorage. We had left it and never looked at itfor about three years and then went out to seewhat was there. This furniture was all undersheets and it was like Christmas looking at itall.Since the Crisis From Sara's point of view, the positive changes that beganduring the crisis have continued until the present. She hadalways known that change could only take place in theirrelationship when "Walter was going to be around more189often". Because of the bankruptcy, she claims that "I amreaping the benefits a whole lot earlier than I thought Iwas going to".In the last two years, Sara has been diagnosed as havingmultiple sclerosis which, for her, has been much more of acrisis than the bankruptcy. The M.S. is presently inremission but Sara is concerned that her health maydeteriorate at any time. She feels that they have doneremarkably well in handling the terrible stress of theuncertainty about the future. She believes that theirability to handle crisis is strong because of their pastexperience: "If we hadn't survived the early eighties,well, we wouldn't be surviving this." She and Walter havehad to deal with the possibility that she might be severelyhandicapped and he might have to look after her. Becausetheir ability to communicate is well developed, however,they can now talk about difficult issues like this: "I cantalk to Walter about it [the M.S.] whereas a few years back,Walter wouldn't have listened. Illness for Walter is anegative thing". But now, she says, "I can talk to himquite comfortably about it. And he listens to me." Theyhave been able to talk right from the heart about theirfears. Just after they received the diagnosis, Sara wasable to say "Walter, I don't ever want to be a burden" andhe was able to say in return, "Sara, you could never be aburden to me". She experienced his response as "so sincere190that I was just in tears, I couldn't handle that. That wasjust a little too close for me (laugh)."This tremendous support would not have been possible, Sarasuggests, if it had not been for the loss in the earlyeighties: "I don't think I would have had those kind ofassurances had we not survived then." This would not havebeen possible in the seventies when Walter had difficultywith another's suffering: "Walter didn't always recognizewhat I needed in terms of support.... You tried to getsomething and if you didn't get it you knew that what heexpected was 'get on with it, don't sit and mope about it.'"Sara perceives his ability to communicate when things arenot going well as a significant difference from before thecrisis of 1981-85:Now Walter will, Walter expresses more of his,when he is feeling negative. That was all throughWalter's life. He has never associated withnegative people and has tried to never havenegative feelings himself, even though sometimesit is necessary. But now if he is feeling down,or he doesn't always express it but he doesn'talso become defensive when I ask him if there issomething wrong. Now he will tell me what it isand he will tell me how he is feeling about it...He tells me a whole lot of things that he wouldhave never have told me before.191Sara tells a story of how she recently observed an oldercouple in their seventies on the ferry to Vancouver Island.She overheard the husband and wife say to someone that theyhad been married for fifty years. She noticed that thehusband "listened to everything that she said, he looked herin the eye, he laughed at the things she was saying". Onthe one hand, she thought that "there is absolutely no wayafter that many years that anyone could look at you withthat intensity." On the other hand, she says: "but that isthe kind of thing I feel from Walter... on the whole, when Ispeak, he is listening." This has made a big difference forher because she feels no need now to protest the injusticeof not being heard: "I used to speak a lot before... and Igot into all kinds of outrageous things... I used to find itnecessary to almost get up on a soap box before. I used tobe so involved in women's issues all because of what washappening at home."This change in the willingness to talk and listen hascreated a situation where it is not longer necessary to"fight for one's point and getting more resistance". Thishas, according to Sara, helped them to understand eachother's point of view. An indication of Walter's opennessto Sara's need to know where family members are is thechanged practice of leaving notes: "I always thought thatpeople should leave notes but nobody ever left notes." Now,192she says, "I often find little notes. Very seldom do I notknow where Walter is. And Walter the other day gave our sona blast because he said 'it is very unfair to your mothernot leave a note and let her know where you were because sheworries'. 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 apolitical arena. So I have grown and herecognizes that. My ability to see thingspolitically, I didn't always see things clearly, Imean who does. Now I recognize some of thepolitical things and politics are very importantto Walter. There are people in my union who don'tunderstand how I could be married to someone inSocial Credit. I can't understand why you can'tstill like somebody who happens to hold adifferent belief than you do. But in the union itis a part of your life. It is your whole life,your politics. But with Walter, he is, he hassome socialists bones in his body. He does havesome. He doesn't have a lot but he does havesome. And because I am in the political arena andbecause of the kind of job I have, because of thework that I do, he recognizes a certain expertisethat I have developed now.193Not only has her work given Sara more knowledge aboutpolitics and the world generally, it has also given her anunderstanding of the need sometimes to give work priority inyour life, something that she had criticized Walter for inthe past. This is, she thinks, due to the fact that herpresent job is very time consuming: "I have now recognizedthat, in order to do some types of work, some jobs you haveto spend extended hours, you have to be away from home. Youhave to do all those things. So there has been a growth onmy part in understanding what it takes."The increase in communication and support of each other hasbeen assisted by and contributed to a greater flexibility intheir roles in the family. Sara's jobs have tended to bethe more important source of income since the bankruptcy.This has had the effect of balancing the overall level ofrespect in the couple relationship. Just as important,however, is Walter's willingness to give Sara's jobprominance regardless of the salary involved: "It is not somuch a monetary thing as the kinds of jobs we now have.Where his was demanding before, now mine is demanding. Andlife does revolve around mine because I am in and out oftown." Walter's willingness to allow the roles to change,based on his respect for Sara, has in turn increased Sara'srespect for Walter.194Walter's strong support and encouragement for Sara in herwork has made it easier for her to put in the time andenergy to do her job well, gain even more confidence anddevelop more expertise. Again, this has created the basisfor more respect. In the four years Sara has worked for hercurrent 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 toaccomodate her new job: "Nobody was more excited, includingmyself when I got this job. Walter was so thrilled, he wasjust absolutely beside himself." Having received this kindof support from Walter, Sara is sure that she would be ableto encourage him if he wanted to return to the hectic workschedule similar to the one that he once had. She wouldwant to support him doing something that was meaningful tohim. She knows that it would not be the same, however: "Itwould be a little different in terms of, I know he would betelling me more about his day." In the last year or so Sarasays that Walter actually has begun again to work moreintensely. If he really got going, he would be, she feels,"telling me more about what he is involved in as he doesnow". She also thinks that he would balance his committmentto work and family in the future as, in the last year, "healso has limited himself in that he doesn't work as late ashe used to. He is home more often."195The increased support and flexibility in roles has resultedin much more equal parenting: "It has changed with our sonin that it is much more shared... When I leave [on abusiness trip] he will say 'don't worry, I'll look afterit'... With our son, we talk about what it is that we thinkshould happen and we do it together... I feel less alone andI talk to Walter about everything to do with our son, theschooling and everything." Walter has continued since theearly eighties to be a regular participant in his busy lifeof organized sports. In addition to parenting, Walter doesmore of the household chores such as shopping for groceries.The increase in communication and greater flexibility inroles seems to have, Sara believes, made it possible forthem to feel both independant and involved. She thinks thatboth of them feel safer depending on each other. They canspend time away from home without feeling guilty and getinvolved in family activities without feeling restricted.Having found a balance of work and family activities, theycan be supportive of each other's efforts. Compared to theseventies, Walter spends more time involved in familyactivities and Sara spends more time involved in work. Bothchanges, she states, were necessary to reach the balance.Sara still misses many of the things that they were able todo when they had more money. She particularly misses thecelebrations that she was once able to host for friends and196relatives. 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 nolonger could have the baby grand piano, we can'tfit as many people in here and it just all kind ofpetered out... We could never afford to do againwhat we once had been able to do. And that made adifference to our son. We also felt that, onfamily occasions, such as Christmas andThanksgiving, although I wanted to keep everythingas it had always been, we didn't have the space todo it and that did, and those sort of rituals havesort of become less and less.In terms of entertaining Walter's collegues from work, Saraalso feels a sense of loss: "Walter left the company thathe was involved with for many years and things changed.People still talk about the parties. Everytime I meetsomeone, they always say 'remember those parties?'" Theirson may have felt the loss more than anyone in the family.Sara feels that he looks back to the time "when we had moneyand a neighborhood". Having grown up surrounded by friendsfrom wealthy families, Sara believes that "he still feelsthat loss".197At the present time, the losses suffered in the 81-84recession are becoming a distant memory for Sara but shefeels that these experiences have had a profound effect onher life and the life of the family. The future still doesnot look as secure as it did twelve years ago. Financially,Sara does not think that they will be in a position to fillsome basic needs: "I can't actually ever see us gettinginto a house or anything like that in the near future." Interms of their health, Walter is almost seventy years oldand Sara's M.S. may become active again at any time. On topof this, they have a 15 year old son who is still dependanton them. In spite of all this, however, Sara feels thatthey now have something that they never had before: theemotional security to face whatever adversity life throwstheir way. When Sara was first going through the diagnosisfor M.S., she says:I was actually crying in my sleep before I everexpressed my real fears about what my life wasgoing to be like if this thing really took holdand started to get me down... And so it was a longtime before I could actually say that those werethe things that I feared was the loss of mydignity. Those things were important to me and Ididn't want to be anybody's burden. I didn't wantto be a burden to my son whose life could bevirtually put on hold by something like this. AndI didn't want to be a burden to Walter who is198beginning to age and that is a difficult thing.But when we talked about it and he said that Icould never be a burden, then that's, that wasenough for me.Having gone through a major crisis ten years ago, Sarabelieves, prepared them to handle the fear of this disease.The traumatic loss gave them an opportunity to prove thatthey wouldn't let each other down. Sara thinks "that iswhy, with more adversity quite possibly coming, that's oneof the reasons that, and now I feel much more comfortable".Sara says that many of her dreams about the future havealways had to do with that sense of "comfort" that she hasassociated with the film "On Golden Pond". It is notcomfort as a form of somnambulence that she speaks of but,rather, a sense of grace that comes when one really feelssafe and cared for, a sense that only comes after many yearsof building trust between two people. Sara thinks of theM.S. as another test of their trust with each other. Whenthe disease was first suspected, she was "afraid to find outexactly what Walter was thinking about the whole thing... itwas difficult for him to deal with". Having met this test,however, and having faced their fears together, Sara feelsthey are another step closer to that state of peace andserenity, the comfort of being with someone you love inspite of the pain and suffering life may bring.199Walter's Story Before the Crisis Walter, a man in his late sixties, is married to Sara, awoman in her early fifties. They have been married for 20years and have a fifteen year old son. Walter has beeninvolved in business for many years and, during the 15 yearperiod covered in this study, was working in real estate andland development. Walter went through bankruptcyproceedings from approximately 1982 to 1984 as a result of adecision by one of his banks to demand payment of a loanrather than allowing him more time to raise funds throughthe sale of properties that he had assembled.For the purposes of this study, Walter's story begins in themid seventies when he was conducting a successful career inland development. He found this work exciting and enjoyedbuilding up his estate in a time when there was a lot ofmoney to be made in this field.Walter describes his major life focus at this time as workrather than the family: "prior to 1980, I worked long hoursand I did anything I could regardless of what was happeningin the family to accumulate assets." Compared to lateryears, there was much less emphasis on working together withhis wife: "When you are just out working, kind of doing200your own thing, there is no real cooperation there in ajoint effort." Although Walter feels that they always had apretty good relationship, he is aware that, during thistime, they might not have really known or understood eachother as well as they came to in later years during andafter the financial loss: "There is no doubt about it, inthe seventies everyone was so damn busy that they didn'treally have time for a relationship, I guess." Life wasdominated by the needs of business. Other family and socialactivities were given lower priority: "I never ever tooktime out to go to a hockey game or I never even went to aparty, for instance, without my pager and many and many andmany a time I have left the party in the middle of theevening and gone to present an offer."^Walter tended notto take time off from work to do things with family that hereally enjoyed or spend time with people just for fun. Onthe contrary, unlike later on in the eighties, he waswilling to spend time with people in work that he did notenjoy because he was committed to the widely acceptedprinciple in sales that "you don't burn bridges". By thishe meant that it was important to maintain contact with allkinds of people whether you liked them or not because"people you meet and people you talk to and the people youinfluence are eventually going to become your customers atsome time in the future".201Walter doesn't feel alone in the experience of having gotcaught up in a lifestyle where work became more importantthan family. He sees it as having been somewhat typical:You know, I often think that my experience is aclassic example of what happens or has happened inour society. You know, at one time peopledepended on one another. And if they couldn'tdepend on one another, they probably couldn'tsurvive, they couldn't live. Now as people becamemore affluent, they didn't have to depend on oneanother. There wasn't a lack of cooperation, theyweren't aware of cooperation because they didn'thave to, they didn't require one another and theydid their thing. And when they experienced acrisis they were separated or divorced orsomething like that because they didn't know howto cooperate.Walter's life had been influenced by the affluence of theseventies but he feels that he was fortunate to have grownup in northern B.C. in the thirties where he saw first handthe value and absolute necessity for people to pull togetherwhen times were difficult. During the thirties this abilityto cooperate sometimes meant the difference between life anddeath.202Although he thinks that he never lost this knowledge of theimportance of cooperation, he thinks that he didn't apply itbecause of the requirements of competitive work: "Yourdoing something, you get tied up in it and you're wound upand you just keep going and going." The opportunities werethere and it was almost hard not to make money: "the marketwas growing and expanding, the money was there and what doyou do with it?" In retrospect, he wonders if maybe hedidn't overdo it a bit, "I don't know if it is abnormal tobe that competitive or not. I know that it is necessary ifyou are going to be in that type of job but I don't knowwhether it is normal." Although he has never thought ofhimself as a person that consciously went out to make money,he also acknowledges that sometimes that might have been oneof the reasons for the hard work: "I don't really know whatI was trying to do but I was trying to make a lot of money,more money that I ever would have really needed. It wasthere for the making." Another factor behind the 16 hourday - seven day a week schedule, was a question of ethicsand loyalty to his collegues and clients. When somebodycalled at 11:00 on saturday night it was because, "somebodyhas gone out and done something for you, they have gone andwritten an offer on a product of yours and you have a moralresponsibility to look after it right now. Not tomorrow butright now." At this time, this loyalty to clients often hada higher priority than spending time with family andfriends.203Walter says that he has often thought about whether hislater disinterest in working this hard represented a changein values or was just a factor of age. On the one hand, hefeels that his basic values have remained the same over theyears and his lack of desire to keep up the race of theseventies may just be due to a natural slowing down thatcomes with age. On the other hand he feels that onlyrecently has he become aware of how his attitudes havechanged about the relative importance of the competitiveworld of work and accumulating assets. Walter has oftenthought about how, even though his assets were worth severalmillions dollars in the seventies, he didn't live theaffluent lifestyle that many of his peers did. He thinksthat he and his wife lived a fairly simple life styleconsidering the times. Material possessions were never thatimportant to him and he put most of his money back into hisinvestments. Working sixteen to eighteen hours a day justto attain an affluent lifestyle was never considered to beworthwhile but it did make sense to Walter if it was for thecause of building up investments. Having grown up in thethirties, Walter was used to a lifestyle where you savedevery nickle you made and reinvested any surplus. Hard workwas done not so much for the money as for the satisfactionof building an empire. He feels that he must have enjoyedit a lot to have gone back to the office night after night:"anytime that you come home and have dinner and then rush204back to the office and spend another three hours there, youhave to want to do it pretty damn badly." More thananything else, the motivation for this marathon wascompetition: "I always enjoyed being on top of the bluesheets in sales..I have always been one of the topproducers... Every month you would get a list of the topproducers, the [real estate] board publishes it. You gottabe up there you know."Even though in later years it became particularly importantto Walter not to be concerned too much about what othersthink of you, he says that part of his motivation to do sowell in the seventies was an awareness of how his collequesperceived him:I've always been one of the top producers and whenyou slack off and your name no longer appears inthe blue sheets for top sales you can't help butbe a little concerned about that... I don't reallycare what they think about me... but, at the sametime, it's a status, it is purely and simply astatus when you are the top producer in theindustry or in the office. But that whole thingis, you are competing with your peers.During this time, it was important not to let up on the paceand fall behind because, not only would it affect yourincome, it would also affect your sense of yourself: "When205you slack off, you, it affects your income and it affectsyour attitude too because if you are not doing well you tendto get a little despondant."In his marital relationship, Walter knew from previousexperience that making joint decisions with one's spouse wasnecessary when times got rough. There was, however, littlediscussion with Sara about his business life because therewas no need. This was in spite of the fact that it took upmost of his waking hours:During the seventies, Sara wasn't really involved.You see, I have always done things and just donethem and I never talked much to Sara or anyoneelse and it didn't, that was it. And one of thereasons for that is that if you are doingsomething and your wife is afraid to take a chanceand you have to make a decision, you have to takesomebody else's opinion into consideration andusually you don't make the decision.Walter therefore made the decisions himself about how histime and money were allocated. He feels that the decisionsabout money did not cause a problem because Sara claimed tobe not interested except where it affected their family lifedirectly. An example of where it did affect the familydirectly, however, was Walter's use of the family home as abusiness asset. Sara never agreed with leaving behind a206modest home and an established neighbourhood to move tolarger more expensive homes because of an income taxadvantage. As Walter put it: "these homes have been a boneof contention." He feels that even though Sara didn't agreewith his decisions on homes she would defer to his judgementand go along with what he felt was best.Use of time was a source of disagreement between them. Saradid not support Walter's decision to work long hours.Walter remembers her often saying that he had his prioritiesall wrong when he would leave a family or social function torespond to a client's request in the evening or one theweekend. She felt that he should tell the client to waituntil the next day whereas Walter thought that he wasethically bound to respond right away.Walter felt that this pattern of little discussion andinvolvement with Sara would not have changed if theprosperity had continued: "I think that it would be fairlytrue to say that it [increase in cooperation] would not haveoccured because there was no necessity." From Walters'spoint of view, "necessity forces cooperation" but whenthings are going well, people can get along "doing their ownthing".207The Bankruptcy As it did for many people, the depth and power of the 1981recession caught Walter unprepared. Within a year, assetsthat were worth several millions of dollars becameliabilities that he could not support. He felt that hecould handle the loss of assets but what "hurt the most" wasthat the bank that he had dealt with for many years suddenlychanged managers and refused to do business with him andwould not give him time to pay off the last outstanding loanwhich amounted to $100,000. The bank's decision was madeafter he had already paid down other loans of $1,400,000.The bank's decision, in effect, put him out of business andmade bankruptcy inevitable because he needed to raise largesums of money on a regular basis to carry out his ventures.Walter felt that he had a long history of being an ethicaland dependable businessman and a person that had alwayshonored his committments. He felt betrayed by the businesscommunity into which he had put some of the best years ofhis life.Walter describes this time between 1982 and 1984 as aperiod of trauma and severe drain although he didn't realizethat it had such a negative effect on him at the time. Heonly understood it later looking back on this experience.He doesn't believe that it was the loss of money and assetsthat created the crisis. Something that really did botherhim was a sense that he had failed those with whom he hadbeen conducting business. He felt terrible about the losses208that others had suffered in joint ventures with him. Heknew that they had freely chosen to go into partnership withhim but he felt guilty nonetheless. He felt that it wasvery important not to let the situation get him down and oneof his ways of dealing with these feelings was just not toacknowledge them: "I wasn't going to let it hurt me, Iwasn't going to allow it to get, I wasn't going to allowmyself to give in to it." Walter thinks that both he andSara were able to agree on the approach of just not lettingthe negativity get them down. Nevertheless, he felt that"underneath it always hurts a little bit". Although hedidn't know it at the time, he knows now that he wasdepressed or negative for four years or more. He knows thisnow because of the things he did and did not do. He feltthat he was afraid after the receivership to take the risksthat are necessary in the investment business.At the outset, although it didn't last very long, he had alot of problems with his peers because "everyone can seethat you are in financial trouble". This was in spite ofthe fact that he felt that it was important not to let whatothers think get you down. Being in a competitive career,however, how you were doing compared to others wasconstantly drawn to everyone's attention. Being one of themany people who were experiencing similar losses, however,made it somewhat easier to take. Still, it was a difficulttime and he says: "I tried like everybody else desperately209to hold everything that I had... I tried and tried and itdidn't work." It finally became clear that, after manyyears of financial success, he could no longer do the thingsthat had worked for him in the past: "you just can't carryon under those circumstances and do the same things that wewere doing before." In retrospect, he feels that if he hadthought about the situation more carefully, he would havejust accepted that the properties couldn't be saved and letmany of them go. Trying to hold on to these assets createda tremendous amount of stress.His most important concern was for the effects that thisexperience may have had on his family: "The problem withgetting into a financial bind like that is that it effectsyour whole family." He knew from previous experiences ofloss that it would be important to make some decisions abouthow they were going to respond to this crisis. Walter feltthat it was a common tendency for people to "sit on it andlet things build up". He knew that "you have maritalproblems unless you make some hard decisions". Here, too,as in financial matters, they couldn't "do the same thingsthat we were doing before". He took the initiative, withoutreally planning to, to have a discussion with Sara in whichthese hard decisions could be made. The intent of thisdiscussion was to make plans to avoid the kind of problemscaused by financial of stress on a marriage. He had thoughta lot about how to avoid letting the situation affect them210negatively and, just after it became clear that they weregoing to lose their house, they had a discussion that seemsto have made a real difference to their lives.Walter describes this discussion as one of establishingpriorities and setting goals rather than one where a lot offeelings were shared. Talking about feelings had never beensomething he had found useful. It was clear to him at thattime that his marriage with Sara was more important than theassets that they were losing and he wanted to make sure thathe didn't lose this relationship as well. He was worriedabout the effect that this loss was having on Sara and theirson because he knew that, at a time like this, everyone issearching for an explanation for why this happened and thereis a tendency for couples to blame their partner or expectthe other to do something to get them out of the situation.Walter doesn't remember the details of this particulardiscussion but he does remember that it provided a lot ofrelief and it laid to rest many concerns that he had.Perhaps most important of all, was that they establishedthat there was really no one to blame for what had happened.They decided that it was going to take a certain amount oftime to recover from this loss but, together, they would doit. This agreement on the problem allowed them to focustheir energies on the tasks at hand rather than dissipate211them, as Walter felt many couples did, on unproductiveblaming.One of the goals they set was to do whatever was necessaryto make enough money to put food on the table. Walter'sincome had dropped from $200,000+ a year to zero. Sara, whohad not worked full time for five or six years, decided toclean houses because there was always work available and itpaid cash. Although Walter felt that there must be anotherway to make money, they agreed that this would solve theirimmediate problem of not having any cash flow. They alsoagreed that they would move into a small apartment when theforeclosure on their house was complete.Walter was deeply appreciative of Sara's willingness to rollup her sleeves and do what she did in this difficult time.He credits their ability to forget everything else and dowhat must be done as a critical factor in their survival.The toughest part of adjusting your lifestyle, he feels, is"the ability to explain yourself to others". Sara, fromWalter's point of view, displayed no hesitation and made nocomplaints about going out to scrub floors. A person withless will power might have found this experience humiliatinggiven that many of their peers were still living in thewealthy neighbourhoods where she cleaned houses. Knowingthat Sara could handle this situation set Walter's mind at212ease and allowed him to concentrate on the tasks he had todo.Explaining himself to people or being concerned about whatthey might think was difficult or easy, depending on whothey were. The thought that he might have let some peopledown in business was deeply disturbing to him: "I don'tremember it [what people thought] being part of my traumabut I know it was." Letting people down went against astrong sense of ethics and responsibility in the conduct ofbusiness. Somewhat less disturbing were the opinions ofcollegues he knew and respected but who had not lost assetsin association with him. Walter tells the story of a realestate company manager confronting him in public with thequestion, "What is this about your receivership?" Waltersays, "it kind of made me cringe". After having spent manyyears in competition with these peers, it was a littledifficult to not let their opinion affect him somewhat. Inaddition to the loss of assets in the bankruptcy, Walter hadto deal with how others might see him because his earningsdropped as well. He felt a little guilty when he started torelax his high expectations of himself and no longer foundhimself on the monthly list of top producers:Maybe I didn't hit the million dollar club orsomething like that but it doesn't bother me anymore. When I got off that list I, for a couple ofyears I noticed it, I just missed being invited213out the the board party. All the top producerswere out given dinner, plaques, rings and youknow. And they didn't invite me (laugh).Because Sara supported the change away from high productionand valued him for who he was rather than how much heproduced, it was easier for Walter to accept not being heldin such high esteem by his peers.Perhaps the easiest group to "explain themselves to" werethose acquaintances who might just be somewhat curious orjudgemental about someone else's misfortune. For thesepeople, neither he nor Sara had much concern. This ability,he feels, was largely the result of their ability to agreeto not let the situation get them down, adjust theirlifestyle, set some goals and follow through on them."That", in Walter''s words, "was the thing that saved us. Wejust didn't have any trouble adjusting our lifestyle."The word "saved" is used again to describe the effect of thedischarge from bankruptcy. Although there was a fair amountof anger at the bank's decision to, in effect, destroy hiscareer, Walter also describes a great sense of relief whenthe bankruptcy actually happened. As suggested earlier, thegreatest part of the trauma associated with the loss was theguilt about having let others down. He felt that hecouldn't give up until he had done everything in his powerto honor his commitments. Much of the desperation and214eighteen hour work days in the worst part of the crisis wasputting in the effort to pay down one and a half milliondollars in loans. He felt that these efforts to honor hisobligations were not recognized by the bank. He feels thatthe bank managers deliberately set out to put him intoreceivership because they thought they would gain somethingfrom doing this. Looking back on it, he says, "In one way,it was better that they pushed it. It took it off ourminds. I was then able to back to work and, with a clearmind, go back to work and earn some money." The bank hadremoved his ability to pay off the remainder of the loan andhe no longer had to blame himself for not having done allthat he could: "That is the thing that saved me because Ijust didn't feel guilty anymore."By the time of the discharge from the bankruptcy in 1984,not only was the trauma associated with the financial losssubsiding, two things had happened which were to influenceWalter's life until the present: a distancing from theworld of super-competitive work and an increased closenessto his wife, son and friends outside work. Regarding theworld of work, Walter thinks that his change of values wasboth accidental and deliberate. On the one hand, hisincreasing resentment of the demands of work and growinginterest in doing other things just seemed to happen: "Ithink the fact is that, at that time, my priorities changedwithout realizing it.... I don't remember making a decision215but I wanted to do these things more than I wanted to work."On the other hand, this change in priorities is described aspart of a conscious choice to do less work and enjoy therest of life more:I needed this [non-work life] more than I neededthe income. I just went ahead and did it [sloweddown] and making that decision because it has tobe a decision. I don't let the production dropand do nothing about it unless I have made adecision that this is what I want to do... therewere other things that I wanted to to other thanstaying on top of the board.With family and friends, significant changes had also takenplace. Some changes were planned and some just seemed tohave happened. Walter joined an afternoon curling clubaround this time which put this sport in direct conflictwith work commitments. In order to make this work, Walterhad to deliberately reduce his workload:At first I had to struggle to arrange my dayaround those afternoons. Then it became less andless difficult, it became, you don't makeappointments for those days, if somebody wants todo something you find other ways, you refer themto someone else (laugh).216This was difficult for someone who had always consideredhimself ethically bound to respond immediately when clientsor collegues requested his assistance.In his marriage, Walter discovered that something hadchanged between 1982 and 1984:I think it [awareness of increased cooperation]was probably by the time we were, we got our finaldischarge and were beginning to recover from theloss. You realize that things have changedconsiderably and you probably realize you wouldn'thave been able to do it if you hadn't beencooperating.Walter sees this time as a process of gradual changeresulting from the decisions they made together and the factthat they became a little more dependant on each other. Bythis time, he had already become aware that somethingpositive had come out of this crisis: "I think that as thechange evolved in our financial condition, we saw a changein our relationship and a negative change in our financialsituation created a positive change in our relationship."Life Since the Discharge from Bankruptcy From 1984 when the bankruptcy proceedings ended and Walterand Sara had to start all over again with little more thanthe clothes on their backs, they have continued to live asimple life style in a small apartment. Walter's use of217time has continued to be very different from the way it wasallocated prior to the receivership. Except for the lastyear where he has started to work in the evenings again, heworked only "25-30%" of his former level of activity.Walter has mixed feelings about the changes that havehappened.One description that emerges particularly from the beginninginterviews is characterized by a sense of failure and lostopportunities. He talks about how he has just recently comeout of a depression that lasted much of the last 10 years.Walter says that he didn't know it at the time but he knowsnow that he was depressed because of what he did and did notdo during those years. From the perspective of work, he"lost his nerve" and became afraid and overcautious when itcame to taking advantage of investment opportunities. Themid-eighties were, in Walter's opinion, an excellent time toinvest but he felt that he "backed off" from hard work andthe challenge of taking risks with money. He felt that heshould have been able to keep up the pace of the seventies:"I always felt guilty about not looking after, you know,looking for business." He thinks that part of the reasonfor not buying a house was related to a fear of not beingable to handle mortgage payments. From this perspective,the eighties are experienced as a time of defeat from whichWalter is only recently recovering. Judged by therequirements of the competitive work world, his achievements218in the world of family and friends are merely pleasantdiversions that took place because Walter was afraid to tryto keep up with the front runners in the race to the top.Another description of the eighties that exists along sidethe story of failure is characterized by a number of morepostive elements: a sense of pride in having survived anordeal that many could not, the ability to take risks to trynew things that have never been done before, living closerto certain long-held beliefs, making a rational decision notto make a lot of money, choosing what is wanted rather thanwhat one should and where bankruptcy is viewed not as an endbut, rather, as a beginning.In this description of the eighties, there is a certainpride in just having survived this experience with an intactmarriage: "I think that we have a very stable relationship... I don't think that it was ever, there was ever a seriouseffect... Although there was a lot of trauma, I think at thesame time we weren't blaming one another... Sara and I havenever blamed one another." This ability to avoid blaming isvery important to Walter because he feels that blaming iscentral to marital failure in crisis: "If you examine thefailure of relationships, it is because, not because youhave lost something but because you can't agree on whosefault it is." Walter feels that their ability to resist219this temptation to blame has been a real accomplishment, asuccess in spite of business losses.The beginnings of this story of success go back to theaffluent times when Walter felt that the easy money wasn't"real", that it would never last and that he didn't reallycare that much for the money or the affluent way of life. Inthe seventies, he had always thought a lot about how, inspite of his financial success, he had never ever tried tomake money.^From this perspective, the bankruptcy providedan opportunity for Walter to do some of the things that hehad always wanted to do but never allowed himself to. Hestarted doing these things almost by accident and discoveredthat he really enjoyed them: "I always felt guilty aboutnot looking after, you know, looking for business. But Islid into the habit of going to a hockey game instead ofgoing back to the office and I didn't have any trouble(laugh)." Walter talks about "falling into" otherrecreation pursuits like curling in the evening and "findinghimself" staying home. Without really intending to, theseother interests began to take on a priority that they didn'thave before: "I guess I had spent enough time doing otherthings that I began to enjoy them.... Once I began to enjoythese things then I began to resent the time that I had toto spend doing other things [work]."220Doing different things and enjoying them led to an awarenessthat his values had changed: "It's a funny thing but I'venever realized until these last few years how your mentalattitudes change." With this awareness, it became clearthat the change towards doing what he wanted rather thanworking 16 hours a day was a decision. This decisionbecomes apparent in his comparison of his patterns in theseventies to those of the eighties:I never ever took time out to go to a hockey gameor I never ever went to a party, for instance,without my pager and many and many and many a timeI have left the party in the middle of the eveningand gone to present an offer. And I'll tell you,I wouldn't do that in the eighties.From this positive perspective, the bankruptcy provided anopportunity for Walter to spend more time with his family.He found himself staying home in the evenings - somethingthat he had never done before in his whole life. This wassomewhat risky given that he had always had such a strongvalue about hard work. Being at home started to becomesomething that he enjoyed: "I must say that I had a more,prior to [the bankruptcy], I left the house at seven oclockin the morning and got home at ten or eleven oclock atnight. Then I started spending more time doing the things Iwanted to and enjoyed doing." Unlike the seventies where hewas caught up in the race of building empires and spending221most of his time at work, he made a decision to do what hewanted but had never allowed himself to do. Not only wasthis something that he wanted, he felt it may also have beensomething that he needed. Walter suggests that his healthmight have suffered particularly at the time of thebankruptcy if he didn't make some changes: "Normally I workhard. And for some reason or other, I just kind of backedoff and did something else. And probably that's something Ineeded, otherwise maybe I would have wound up with an ulceror something."In retrospect, Walter thinks that the economic reversal hadthe positive effect of bringing him closer to his familygenerally and, specifically, it had the effect of helpinghim and his wife to cooperate more fully: "I think that theexperience that Sara and I had in dealing with this hasstrengthened our relationship. We have a betterunderstanding of one another. It was a strengthening factorin our relationship." Unlike the seventies where he didn'tfeel it was necessary to work cooperatively, it is clearthat the marriage relationship has been the first prioritysince the financial crisis. Whatever fear there was aboutinvolving Sara in business decisions because it might slowdown the process too much has changed: "During that time Idiscovered that with Sara you could, I could talk to herabout it and she would say 'go ahead' or, you know, at leastshe would have some input and it wasn't negative input." He222thinks now that he always could have talked to her aboutthese things but it wasn't until the worst part of thecrisis that he took the risk and found out something new:"I guess it [Sara's supportiveness] was always there but Ididn't discover it until I started talking to her aboutthings (laugh)." When they started making most decisionstogether he found that "a lot of the hard feelings that arethe result of financial loss aren't that important because,what the hell, money isn't everything". He feels that theirfamily life has become more purposeful and goal directedcompared to the seventies when their lives were dominated bythe competitive work world: "Before you just kind of wenton and never thought about it. But when you stop and thinkabout it and plan around it, it makes a lot of difference inyour life".The eighties became associated with spending time withpeople because he wanted to rather than as part of work.The relationships with friends became the priority. Walterfinds himself increasingly impatient with those parts of thejob that require him to be with people that he doesn't wantto be with: "If I am dealing with people, I get, people bugme, bug the hell out of me. I find myself getting up tightwith people because they seem so goddamed, they won't make adecision."^This is a change from the time when he wouldmake himself available to many people even if they werewasting his time. This change has made agreement with Sara223much more possible as she has supported his decision tospend less time with clients and more time with family andfriends.Walter and Sara can agree on how time is used even thoughtheir situation is changing again. They have just recentlyset an educational goal with their son which will requirethat both of them work hard and save money. Walter hasstarted in the last year to work in the evenings more oftenagain. He says, "I am recovering some of my enthusiasm forgambling (in investments)". In the positive description ofthe eighties, Walter views himself as a person making adecision, with the support of his wife, to work more nowjust as he made a decision earlier, also with the agreementof his wife, to work less. From this point of view, thechange of pace was not so much a "slowing down" as aconscious decision to switch from one lifestyle to another.Both these new lifestyles, working less and working moreagain, differ from the seventies in that they are both beingdone with the agreement of both partners.Walter's recommendations for what others should do if theyfind themselves in a financial reversal are based not onwhat he has learned from failure but, rather, on what he haslearned from his achievements and successes in the eighties:1) "Remember that money is not the most important thing inlife. Relationships are more valuable than assets." 2)224"Don't get caught up in blaming someone else for what hashappened." 3) "Sit down and discuss the situationrationally." 4) "Find agreement, set goals, make decisionsand follow through on them. Forget everything else and youwill recover."From the perspective that views the eighties as a positivetime, there is a sense that bankruptcy, in addition to thepain and humiliation associated with it, was also a newbeginning. All things taken into consideration, Walter saysthat the eighties were a good time. With a laugh, he says,"my only objection is that I haven't made any money.... Therest of the time, aside from the fact that we had gonethrough a receivership, it was quite good."The Future To some extent, Walter sees personal beliefs as a creationof the times we are in. When there were wealthy, theyoperated fairly independantly and Walter made most if notall of the financial decisions on his own. When they had nomoney, they were forced to cooperate and decisions were madetogether. Thinking of the future, he says that if theeconomic situation were to improve dramatically again, this"would tend to get you back off this close cooperation andonto another lifestyle". He doesn't think that hispreference for cooperation, however, would disappearaltogether: "I don't think that once you have ever225experienced that [cooperation], you would ever lose it... itis kind of a support system... this type of thing is all apart of a need."Walter doesn't think that he would ever get back into thehighly competitive work schedule again that Sara disagreedwith. Part of the reason for this, he feels, is his age.Another part of the reason is, as he says:I have an entirely different perspective ofsuccess, I guess. I don't have, I don't know whythis has changed, I don't value my peer's opinionas much any more. Now that is part of the reasonI ran... I don't have a need for the money... itdoesn't have too much meaning to me.More and more Walter sees himself doing "that part of realestate that I enjoy", picking and choosing what meets hisneeds rather than responding immediately to the demands ofthe competitive world. When it comes to deciding whichresponsibility has priority, his family versus hisinvestments, Walter is clear that his family w