Financial Therapy: Struggling To Trust Again
ANNA SALE: Previously on Financial Therapy, from Death, Sex & Money…
GARRETT: In March of 2020, I started to get into online gambling.
CORA: I have a more conservative viewpoint on how we should spend our money.
G: At a certain point I'd lost, um, like $10,000 in like a week.
C: The whole situation was so shocking.
G: We had to have a series of really hard conversations initially where I was just like, hey - I understand if you want to leave.
AMANDA CLAYMAN: How has your trust in Garrett been affected by what has been happening with his health and with money and your financial lives?
C: I guess I have been struggling with that a lot. I, I don't even know how I feel about it still. I feel like I can't really say.
I’m Anna Sale, and today we are continuing our Financial Therapy series, sitting in on sessions between Amanda Clayman, a licensed clinical social worker, and a couple we’re calling Cora and Garrett.
If you missed the first episode in this series, go back and listen to that, before you listen to this one. There you’ll hear about the snowballing crises the couple faced last year. Both Cora and Garrett lost work, and Garrett got into online gambling. Then, he lost lots of money, and spiraled into despair...and eventually tried to kill himself. And I just want to pause here to say—if you’re struggling with your mental health right now, we’ve got resources in our show notes including where to call if you’re having thoughts of suicide yourself.
After Garrett’s suicide attempt, his wife Cora completely took over handling their money. Something she wasn’t very involved in before.
C: Now, I'm dealing with all the money stuff. And I feel like there’s this awareness of this thing that’s always there.
G: I've made it pretty clear that I'm not the most responsible person, or at least I wasn't the most responsible person when it comes to these financial matters. So, like, that aspect of our relationship as of right now is not really in my court.
In this episode, Amanda talks with Cora and Garrett about the ways they see money differently and about how they can find trust again. Here’s Amanda.
A: At the end of my first session with Cora and Garrett, I gave them some homework. To think about…and talk together about…their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to dealing with money.
So I wanted to start there. But as soon as we got on our Zoom together, me from my closet in California, Cora and Garrett side by side on their living room couch near Detroit, I got a little distracted by the other presence in the room with them.
C: (shows dog) Sorry. She's, here I'll show you. She's a lab mix.
A: Oh, she's so cute.
C: Lily say hello.
A: It's nice that she's hanging out today.
C: Yeah, definitely.
A: Well shall we jump in? I want to be mindful of time since I know it’s later where you are.
A: Um - tell me about what the homework experience was for each of you, and together.
C: I didn't think it would be that hard at first. Like I just thought, all right, I'm talking about my strengths and weaknesses. And I'm giving an example of each, like, that's kind of how it felt to me. And I literally sat down to do it, and then Garrett got home from work and the mail came and he brought it in and opened up a letter from our old insurance company that said that we owed them a bunch of money for claims they paid out that we hadn't filed to them. We'd filed it to our new insurance. And they were like, you owe us this exorbitant amount of money in 30 days or we're sending it to collections. And I was just like, oh my God. It just really freaked me out. And, and I like said, oh, I'm freaking out about this right now. I need a minute.
And then Garrett - like, I perceived him to get really angry with me. And I got really angry with him for getting mad at me for freaking out, because I just needed to freak out.
A: Cora, let me just pause you for a second. 'Cause I just want to backtrack and loop Garrett in. Garrett, what did it mean to you when Cora reacted the way that she did?
G: Um, my reaction was more of a thing of what I am willing at this point in my life to allow to make me upset. So when Cora was that upset about this thing that seemed to be, to me, like a little bit innocuous and kind of something out of our control, which it was. And, and I think she realized that and felt the way she did. I just felt like, well, you know what? This is just gonna, like, if we continue down this road, this trajectory with this conversation it’s just going to ruin the night. I mean, whether or not it's necessarily the right response, I've just decided at this stage of my, uh, after all of this stuff has happened, um, over the last six months, I kind of just decided that I just don't want that to bother me anymore.
A: So it's really, it's a matter of survival for you to have a personal kind of boundary in how much you, you let yourself take on emotionally around money and financial stuff.
G: Yeah. With, with those, because, because I don't currently have that much control over our financial life in the same way that - as I did before and I find it to be very nice, to be honest in a lot of ways. [Laughs] So -
A: Cora, your face. [Laughs]
G: I trust Cora. I trust -
C: I felt that way too when I didn’t have to do anything with money.
G: I trust Cora, and I kind of don't really want our life to be completely dictated by, um, every little thing that could and will maybe go wrong. I kind of want to, I, I feel inclined to take things on a case by case basis. In this particular case, I was like, wow, I wish I had just left that in the mailbox. Like it would have changed the whole dynamic of the night.
C: Well, I just feel like if you had just let me have my moment that I asked for that we would have moved on from it in 10 minutes. But instead you were like, "Your freaking out about this is upsetting me because this means that we're going to miss out on this." And then I'm just like, "Ahhh!" You know, I was like, just leave me alone for five minutes, and then we'll move on. You know? Like, people need to talk about their feelings, even if they're ugly.
A: Do you guys have any sort of regular money talks with each other?
C: No, we've tried, but it's never worked. Like, we've always just like, um, not done it or like - I think it was suggested to us that we like schedule something regularly, that we like check in. And then we like did it for like three weeks and then it stopped happening. [Laughs] We - I think we, one of us or both of us were avoiding it and we just kind of stopped doing it. Is my remembrance.
G: Yeah, I recall that as well.
C: Again, because we've just found money to be a source of conflict for us in a pretty big way, including the conversation that we had for homework. And it's just been something that has been easier to avoid. Which inevitably resulted in conflict anyway, because then like things would come up that one of us didn't know about, or one of us was surprised about. And then we would argue about it anyway, so.
A: What were the kinds of conflicts that were coming up when you would try to talk about it before?
C: Like, I remember we - like one fight we had that was really horrible, it was like when we went to the vet with Lily, just like a normal vet checkup, but we were going to have to buy like Heartgard and all that stuff, you know? And I always just get six months of the things when we go. And it was like just after Garrett's first layoff during the pandemic. Um, and I was still looking for work. And we went together cause it was like on a Saturday and like, I just asked them for that and they brought it out and paid for it. And then we got in a huge argument about it because Garrett felt like I had made that decision without really asking him. And he wasn't comfortable with—and you might remember this differently—but like wasn't comfortable with spending that amount of money when things were sort of uncertain. But I was like, well, our dog is going to be here in six months, God willing, and it's going to cost more if we have to buy this again next month. You know, so I'm like thinking about those things in the long term. He was thinking like, well, right now things are uncertain and you just spent a lot of our money.
A: Yeah. It sounds like that made you feel super anxious, Garrett.
G: I, yeah, I felt anxious at that time about money in general. It was, I hadn't experienced like a layoff or anything like that. There was no real kind of idea of what the future was going to hold, so at the time I was in more of like a famine mentality of maybe our whole lives would be completely different in six months or, you know, what if something horrible were to happen. So that's kinda, that's kind of where my head was at.
A: It's such a good example because I, I think that that's one of those like gray areas where it's very clear that our decision-making is affected by how we're feeling in those circumstances. So like when, when there's been a layoff, which makes us feel out of control, um, when we're in a pandemic and it seems like the world has gone crazy, and it's very natural to just sort of want to tighten up and control everything that we can control with money.
And it actually takes a certain amount of processing, and work, to be able to step back from that and say, okay, how does this decision make sense if I think about it more, long-term? Like, if I'm thinking about it over the six month period. Um, how much of my life do I want to say, okay, we're just going to operate that as normal, like these are sort of committed types of expenses, versus these are the ones that are discretionary that we might want to scale back. It's not like those things just naturally sort themselves in our heads. It's only, oftentimes, when we get into a situation where like Cora, you would make the decision one way, Garrett, you would make the decision in another way. And it's only through kind of talking it out, i.e. conflict, that we can get to a place of like, okay, now I feel like I, I have a better sense of sort of what, what I want my preferred decision to be in this kind of a situation. But unfortunately I think for most of us, the way that we experience that is it looks like a fight. And pretty much none of us enjoy a fight. Um, so oftentimes we, we don't get to even have that experience of being able to process it and make a decision together because in order to avoid a fight, we either make that decision independently. Or, or we say like, this is what I'm going to do. You're, you're wrong. You're incorrect. Does that make sense?
C: Yeah, that does make sense. I think before Garrett was laid off and before I was unemployed for that summer, we, I guess have been able to successfully kind of avoid each other in certain situations like that. Like yeah. So then when we were suddenly like both like pretty much unemployed and doing everything together, it was like, oh my God, this is how you make that decision? [Laughs]
AS: More of Cora and Garrett’s second financial therapy session, after the break.
This is Financial Therapy from Death, Sex & Money. I’m Amanda Clayman.
A: So let's get back to them, the strengths and weaknesses part. So you were sitting down, Cora, to do the homework when all of this stuff happened, um, with the bill. Were you able to sit down and think about your strengths and weaknesses?
C: Yeah. So, I, let’s see [turns pages], I feel like I can be strategic and think in the long-term pretty well, and I'm good at saving money. It's like, I'm not easily sort of like tempted by stuff. Um, but I also use it in meaningful ways and like ways that do bring me joy, like buying earrings from an artist friend who, you know, I really care about or, um, you know, like little things like that, that I don't do very often, but when I do it makes me happy and I feel like it makes someone else happy. And then in terms of weaknesses—Lily's having a dream, a very intense dream—uh, in terms of weaknesses, I feel like I can maybe be like too frugal and it could bother people. [Laughs]
A: Are you looking at Garrett as somebody who could be bothered by that?
C: I'm looking for a reaction and he's not giving me one, so.
G: Oh, I'm sorry. I'm just listening to you. Just listening to what you're saying.
C: Okay. So like, I, I went on a trip to Amsterdam with my friend a few years ago and he, like, we found really cheap plane tickets to get there. And then I like, didn't go to the Van Gogh museum because it was like 25 Euro or something. I thought that was exorbitantly expensive. And I thought that was ridiculous. And now in retrospect, I'm like, why didn't I just go to the Van Gogh museum? Like that's so stupid. Like I -- now, looking back, I'm like, that feels silly. So that was, that was like an example that came up for me.
A: Hm. There are a bunch of things that I kind of want to like, um, touch upon, but, but before we do that, let's, let's go to Garrett and hear about your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to money.
G: Yeah, I feel a little bit, um, weird about answering this because of the things I know too, or I believe to be true about the way the Cora feels about my ability to handle money. So let's say I'm going to answer this like somebody has absolutely no idea about my background with gambling.
G: Because prior to, uh, getting into gambling a lot, I was very, uh, like on top of things. Uh, and I, I think about my relationship with our finances a lot of times from that lens and not from the reality of like my behavior over the middle of the prior six months. Um, I would say that I'm a good money manager, that that's one of my strengths. I'm good at knowing where things go. I mean, some people find it to be really overwhelming. Um, I'm actually pretty savvy when it comes to how to, how to get, uh, personal loans for things, how to get financing, how to get things that you want using the system that we have. Which has been, uh, to my detriment and to our detriment as a couple.
A: You’re a strong operator.
G: Yeah, I can totally be, um, maybe not a financial advisor, but a financial manager for somebody, if I knew that their money was, you know, that I, I didn't have actual control of their money. [Laughs] Um, but I, I know that one of my, one of my weaknesses is that I'm a little bit more - I'm in a more frivolous category. So if there's something that I feel inclined to purchase, historically, especially, um, I wouldn't feel that much pull not to make a decision, uh, you know that kind of made me feel satisfied in the moment. And then, I'm pretty generous. And I have been pretty generous with my friends and with - in the past. And, uh, I always tip really well. And some parts of my job are very similar to like the underdog kind of feeling of like, well, nobody's going to really appreciate you. So I used to go, when I was very - like a younger kid - and I would be the least suspected person to tip really well. I would go and I would just tip like a ton of money. Because I was like, ha ha, you wouldn't have suspected me to be the person that would come in and make your, you know, your life easier.
A: Anything that you're hearing that's surprising as you each listen to each other?
C: Well, I, this doesn't really answer that question, but I, when Garrett talks about the, um, like the generosity thing, that's something that I have observed in him and have always observed and, um, and agree with. And I think that that has rubbed off on me in a good way. But um, I've always seen you as more frivolous and that's not because - that's not like a thing where I think like, like that I don't respect you or that - but I just, compared to the way that I manage money or spend money or whatever, I've always looked at the way you use the money, and I felt like, oh my gosh, he's like spending a lot of money on, you know, this sort of thing that I wouldn't spend money on. And I feel like you think that that, that is an unkind view of me to have of you maybe.
G: I used to compartmentalize finances, like, uh, as long as everything was kind of like in check that, you know, X, Y, Z thing were paid or like a certain percentage of everything is going in here, then everything that was left over that wasn't going into savings, or it wasn't going into, you know, it's like kind of fair game. That's like, kind of the way I approached it.
C: Yeah. And like, I think, wow, this is so great. Like, that means that we have this extra amount that goes into savings, or that goes to pay off this debt faster.
C: Like I pay off extra on things most months, if I can.
G: I pretty much have never done that.
C: Yeah. You think that I am like, incredibly - I'm just saying what you've said to me. Like you think that that is like irresponsible sometimes to do that.
G: I don't, I actually don't feel that it's irresponsible. What I do feel is that whatever is leftover is not going into savings because you're paying extra -
A: Hey guys.
A: I, I, I don't think that you are - you're each sort of re-explaining the, the value system that drives the kinds of decisions that you're making as -- presenting it as correct. Like, no, no, no. If you just understand this thing about the way that I make this decision, then you will agree that my way is correct.
A: I'm going to offer that neither way is inherently correct. It, it really is a reflection of, of how, how you see money as a means to an end in your life. Like, what is the value of money? What is money doing for me or doing for us? And, and the two of you are expressing very balanced points of view when taken together. So if, if we can sort of pull out the pieces in here that can be helpful to identify in, in what we wanted to co-create moving forward. Like I can see how well it worked in certain circumstances, Cora, the way that you maintain a sense of safety around money and that you control your, your anxiety about money that you may feel by sort of just having a default "no." Like the frugality is something that's sort of like, you know, that within the zone of frugality that you - that mostly things are going to be okay. But I'm also thinking about how super delightful it must've been when you got together with Garrett and all of a sudden here's somebody who doesn't have that same sort of natural frugality around money, who can, who can bring you into the world of being more generous and open and free flowing about money in a way that doesn't trigger your anxiety.
And similarly I'm thinking Garrett, there was a lot that must've felt really great for you to have a person who would so appreciate all of those things and be so affirming in some ways when you could be the person who's like treating and giving. And so under certain circumstances, this is a pair bond that works really well -- under limited circumstances. And then when the circumstances really changed, then you discovered that that the same things that were strengths in certain circumstances, became weaknesses. Or when the two of you would try to coordinate would become a source of conflict.
C: Mmhm. Yeah, totally. I think it was really nice for me when you, Garrett, were like, "Let's go out for drinks!" And like, you were like, "We can buy two!" And I was like, oh my God, we could buy two drinks? Like, you know what I mean? Like it's like, cause that, honestly, that was not what I was raised around.
G: Yeah. I'm sure, I'm sure this probably is pretty common that a lot of these, um, that kind of spending and kind of approach is really awesome when you're not in a partnership where your money and my money becomes our money.
C: Well, yeah, like now it's not as exciting, I guess, when you buy me something, because I feel like you just spent our money to be honest, like that's the zone I entered when we got married. But even when we started living together it like stopped being as fun.
A: It's so true that the things that attract us to our partner, it - those attractive qualities initially that get us to bond are often not the things that sustain the bond long-term. Um, it can often feel like you meet with somebody who knows the same dance that you do or knows the other, the corresponding steps in the dance. So like, it just seems like you're moving around the floor of life without having to really coordinate too much, because you both intuitively know the steps, you know, what your partner is going to do.
And then we get into a situation where that dance doesn't work and it doesn't work because we want something different in our lives long-term, um, it doesn't work because we run into individual difficulties or circumstances change. So now suddenly instead of things feeling really intuitive, it feels like we have to really look at our process and we have to say that things that we want, which can feel very, you know, can bring up all kinds of stuff around that. Um, where we have to take real responsibility for saying, this is what I want. Even in the face of a partner who might be, well, hey, I want something really different. So I would say that the, the work of financial intimacy is in many ways, the opposite of financial romance, where if the romantic piece is that we don't have to say anything at all, the intimacy piece means we really are safe enough to say the most vulnerable things that we can even imagine.
ANNA: Coming up, Amanda talks more with Cora and Garrett about opening up, and when they have gotten vulnerable with each other… including when they both had COVID.
C: Because we were so sick, we like had to hang out and like not do anything physically because we couldn't. It was like this weird blessing in disguise. In really unpleasant disguise.
AS: This is Financial Therapy from Death, Sex & Money. I’m Anna Sale.
A: And I’m Amanda Clayman. Before this year, Cora and Garrett used to have separate bank accounts, and they’d divvy up expenses based on the amount of money they were making. But after Cora found out about Garrett’s gambling debt, she got the passwords to all their bank accounts, opened a joint account, and took charge of Garrett’s paychecks when he started work again earlier this year.
G: So it is definitely, definitely kind of weird because I'm just kind of like, okay, well I just, I send my money to Cora every week and then it's, then it becomes our money at that point. And then it's just like, okay. I keep like a certain amount of money, and then - it's really just like a small amount. And it's like, that system works really well for like us keeping our money for sure. Yeah. But it is a little bit like, uh, to me it feels a little cold. It doesn't feel like there's any like, kind of like overall reward system. Like, I used to have personal goals monetarily and I don't feel like I have any because I don't feel like I have that control. And part of the reason I stay motivated for doing the kind of work I do, which is extraordinarily dirty and really hard and grueling and like totally not something most people would want to do -- part of the reason that I do it instead of working, doing something else, is because of the financial reward of doing it.
A: Mmhm. Yeah, I think we should be clear that the system right now is a temporary transitional system. And the benefit of this temporary and transitional system is that it gives you enough stability. And let's appreciate Cora's contribution here, in that sense. That - that between the two of you, you have these strengths in your partnership of somebody who can come in and say, you know what, I'm going to jump in here. And I'm going to use all of my safety skills and all of my, my frugality and management skills to come up with a plan that makes sure that our safety needs are met and that we are back on track. And from that sort of, um, platform of safety, it becomes possible to experiment and move incrementally towards something that does feel more inclusive.
G: Yeah. You know, it’s, um, it's difficult to accept sometimes, accept the reality of your decision-making or, you know.
A: Mmhm. There's, there's something in your, in your wording there that I want to point out when you say, "It's difficult to accept." Um, and if we contrast that with, "I have difficulty accepting," you know, the "It's difficult to accept" sort of puts the feeling out here a little bit more.
G: Yeah. Yeah. I, I think I do have difficulty accepting, the, um, I have difficulty accepting the consequences of my actions, you know?
A: How do you think about how your gambling specifically has affected your relationship with your wife?
G: [Sighs] How do I think about how my gambling... um, I, I don't know that I think about it that way. I th - I don't know that I think of it specifically as the gambling necessarily. I do, because the reason I say that is because like, you know, Cora found me like covered in my own vomit and blood in the bathtub. That I almost feel more guilty about than -
A: Do you see them as separate?
G: They're not separate, uh, emotionally, they're not separate in my, in the, uh, emotional baggage that I have, but they're separate events almost, because, in the timeline of leading up to today. So they are, they're not any more or less significant. It's just, they're things that are, that - that stands out to me is more of a emotionally traumatic thing.
G: I mean, I might've been gambling way longer, but this event put me in the hospital and then Cora was dealing with all of that.
A: What strikes me is how alone you must have felt for things to have, have gotten to that point.
G: Yeah. And, um, I can, uh, really relate to, uh, to those feelings that I was having then, but I also it's like a new, it's like a weird thing, like where I don't, um, I understand how somebody could feel that way, but I almost feel separate or from like that kind of person. And now I cannot put myself back in the, in the, in the same head space.
A: And that could be because you still don't, it doesn't feel safe for you to be able to go back to that place. Um, that one of the ways you, you stay focused on the things that you can take care of and the kind of like, um, the, the parts of the external recovery and the financial, like recovering, um, where you guys are at financially is by keeping that piece sort of off to the side. Um, one of the unintended consequences of that can be that it makes it harder for the two of you to be able to, to talk about, um, what it would take to get you back to a place where it is safe, Garrett, for you to also be kind of reincorporated. Not just into your family's financial life and the financial choices and how you, you make decisions together, um, but also so that Cora can feel safe to know that you are not sort of drifting away, like in an unknown way, sort of drifting off and having this whole internal experience that she may not know is as serious as it was before your suicide attempt. Does that make sense?
A: Yeah. Yeah. Is that something that you guys would be okay to talk about a little bit?
A: I see Lily on the couch again, and I feel like she knows, I feel like she's like, "Deep feelings. I'm going to come right up over here."
C: Yeah, totally. I think my fear is like this, this fear of seeing you go out of control when it comes to money or spending or choosing to do things that spark a - like that pique an interest in the addict part of your brain. And like, then I like - and then I don't trust my own trust. And then that becomes distrust, I guess, because I'm like, I want to trust you, but then I'm like, maybe I should be really - maybe we should have like more guarded scenario or like more protection set up. And then I'm like, now this feels like distrust. And then I feel like it comes across that way. I don't know, it's really hard because I do trust Garrett in this really deep way emotionally and yet, like, this thing happened and I'm like really struggling with it still, but in different ways. But then sometimes it comes back up in ways that I thought were done, you know, like the, like, I didn't think I had like any kind of PTSD kind of response. And then like, I, I like, I do. Like, I had like panic attacks, horrible. Then I like will think that that's past me. And then like, it'll kind of start to come back up. And like, I guess it's in those moments of feeling that lack of emotional security or like he is drifting away and that's like, what I'm the most afraid of. And I find myself being insecure then and like feeling really like bad about myself that he tried to leave.
And then that's when I feel like, almost like rejected. Like it's my fault. I'm like, not even really answering the question I feel like. It's just like - it's all these really deep, intense, complicated things that have been really hard to actually deal with because life feels like an insane hamster wheel right now. And it has felt that way since this happened. Like it's been just like complete insanity, nonstop forever. Like, I'm so glad we got COVID, as crazy as that sounds. W were so sick and miserable and I'm like, so grateful that we were okay. But if we hadn't had that time together to just like, be, like, I don't know if we would have survived it, you know.
A: Yeah. You were really craving that, that closeness and a sense of no kind of, um, boundaries or impediments between you.
C: Yeah. 'Cause like, after this all happened, I felt very like distanced and like, I couldn't - like there was like a lack of trust or like a loss of trust or like, I just felt like I had to be in charge instead of just being like an equal or a partner.
G: Yeah. And that's a tough position to be in.
A: How did - I, can I, I just want to get Garrett's perspective too on like, what was it like for you to be sick with Cora?
G: Oh yeah, it was really, yeah, it was really nice.
A: You guys.
G: I don't think it was, uh, I think we can look back on it in retrospect and say that it was, it was helpful for our relationship. I don't think it was great while it was happening. It was nice to have time to spend together. It was always nice to have time to spend together. It’s always been something that I really enjoy.
A: But there are different ways that we spend time with each other. We can spend time sort of as coworkers, um, or as playmates. Um, there's a quality of, of being able to be connected in a state of vulnerability that is A) really central to intimacy, but certainly when there has been injury, um, when we are, are suffering and feeling hurt and overwhelmed, it, it's returning to that safe bond of connection that really helps even on a - I mean, we can look at it biologically, but it just like calms down our whole bodies to be in that state. And now I see you on the layer of like coworkers - that seems to be getting back on track and you're, you're functionally doing the things that kind of need to get taken care of. Um, so then there's this other layer of being able to, to be really present in your own individual vulnerabilities and to be able to be open-hearted and facing each other while in that state too. And sometimes that's the piece that's really, really tricky and really, really hard. How is the process of, of reconnecting happening for you right now?
C: I still feel like I don't get let in very much, like fully to your experience, Garrett. And I don't mean like that as a criticism or anything. Like, I just feel like I am still kept at arm's length a lot of the time and that's hard. And I know a lot of that is just like probably my own insecurities because of what happened, but I feel that way a lot.
A: Garrett, do you feel a sense of open-heartedness and connection with Cora?
G: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I don't feel that there's anything that I'm holding back from sharing with you. About how - the things that I’m experiencing.
A: Can you tell her, I mean, speak to that, that part of her that's really afraid and feeling scared here. Try to talk to that part of Cora directly.
G: Okay. I am to the best of my ability right now, sharing everything that I'm feeling and experiencing with you openly. And it might surprise you that there might not be that much going on outside of what you're already privy to. So I, I feel completely open and able to be vulnerable and honest with you about my emotions and about how I feel about things.
A: Do you think she should be worried or needs to be worried about you?
G: No, I don't think you need to be worried about me, but the thing is about saying that is that, um, that's probably what I would have said when I was suicidal too.
C: Yeah. That's the thing.
G: But right now, having a few more tools in my, in my, in my, uh, at my disposal for dealing with these kinds of things, you don't have to worry about me making drastic decisions that are going to alter our life.
A: Why does - what’s different?
G: I have a support system, like outside of our relationship a lot more than I did before. And, um, through, through the program and through, um, relationships that I've developed with people over the last six months.
A: This feels like a really important conversation for, for you guys to um, to have. As part of the process of, of reestablishing safety and trust as part of your intimacy is being able to, to be honest about what worries you, um, so Cora, I think your questions about like, almost like how did this happen on my watch? Like, here's the person that I am most connected to in the world. And he was going through something that I, I was shut out of. I wasn't a part of, and he was really struggling in a way that I might've been aware on some level that there was a struggle, but I didn't know that it was this bad. And in order for me to feel safe, moving forward, I need to know how I can know and trust and reconnect with the Garrett that I know and love, to make sure not only that you Garrett are safe, but also that you Cora are safe. It's not like to have that conversation, Garrett means that you're doing something wrong or that you are not actively demonstrating your commitment to your health and your recovery. Um, it really is just the opportunity to sort of like keep turning toward each other in those moments of vulnerability and shrinking the space of secrecy between you. Does that make sense?
C: Yeah, that feels nice to hear, you know. I guess I do still feel the wall. That's all.
ANNA: Next week on Financial Therapy…
C: I feel like when I’m like, "We paid off the credit cards!" I'm super excited and that Garrett maybe isn't as excited as I expect him to be.
G: I'm not that excited, because I know that this is just one stage.
C: We still have moments where it's hard to talk about certain things. But it's got like, it's overall gotten a lot better.
G: I mean, we're definitely petty arguers as well. But we've been able to laugh together a lot more.
A: Would you say that you're feeling closer to Cora?
G: Yeah, I feel closer to Cora. I mean, the fact that we're having a child together is pretty significant in that equation.
ANNA: If you are struggling to see eye to eye about money in a relationship… and you want to work on achieving that “financial intimacy” that Amanda talked about earlier in the session… we’ve got a list of five qualities that Amanda looks for when working with couples, that can help build healthier relationships when it comes to money. Text “financial therapy” to the number 70101, and we’ll send those to you. We’ll also send you a way to sign up for our weekly Death, Sex & Money newsletter.
And if you’d like some resources for dealing with debt in your life, go to deathsexmoney.org/financialtherapy. If you’re struggling with a gambling problem, call the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700. Or you can get peer support, by going to gam talk—that’s g-a-m-t-a-l-k dot org. Finally, if you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide, please tell someone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 1-800-273-8255.
AMANDA: This special series was produced by Yasmeen Khan and Katie Bishop, with the rest of the team at Death, Sex & Money: Anna Sale, Afi Yellow-Duke, Emily Botein, and Andrew Dunn, with additional editing by Anabel Bacon and Jenny Lawton.
Original music by Isaac Jones.
You can find me, Amanda Clayman, on Instagram @amandaclayman, and on Twitter: @mandaclay.
ANNA: You can check out all of our past financial therapy episodes with Amanda at death sex money dot org slash financial therapy. Look out for our next episode of Financial Therapy with Amanda Clayman... next week. I’m Anna Sale, and this is Death, Sex & Money from WNYC.