Trial Balloon

Trial Balloon: February 11, 2009 Archive

Reality Defeats Comedy

Posted at 5:01 AM on February 11, 2009 by Dale Connelly (32 Comments)

Yesterday I had a little fun with B. Marty Barry counseling lovers whose rocky romance mirrored the ruined financial landscape.

I thought it was an amusing scenario because it created an exaggerated, unlikely reality. I should know better. A few hours later I found evidence that my imagination simply can't compete with reality. Every day, real counselors are working with wealthy people whose complicated emotional relationship with money mirrors their freshly ruined love lives.

In a New York Times article from February 6th, Paul Sullivan quotes Thomas Ruskin, a retired NYC detective who runs a personal security firm. Mr. Ruskin said divorce investigations have increased with the economic decline.

"In the last 90 days, we've seen a tidal wave. It's mostly for infidelity that has been going on for years and that spouses were willing to accept in better times."

This sounds like a fundamental cash / love equation, so basic you could write it as a couplet.

While the money flows, hanky-panky grows.
When the payday tapers, serve the papers.

The article quoted Manhattan psychoanalyst Eric Dammann on the feelings of very wealthy clients who have lost half their net worth, but still have tens of millions in the bank.

"It feels like everything is imploding at the same time as well as this sense that there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
As their net worth shrinks, their self-worth shrinks."

Here's another gem from Mr. Sullivan's article, attributed to a financial psychologist in Hawaii named Brad Klontz. He was talking about the need for rich people to grieve for their lost wealth. One source of pain is thought to be a loss of self esteem that comes from no longer being able to keep up with (or stay ahead of) the Joneses.
Mr. Klontz's comforting words?

"I've been telling people that you're just as rich now, because everyone has lost 30 percent,"

The world is in flames, but thank God I'm still richer than my neighbor.
Another basic tenet, worthy of rhyme.

I'm poorer now than I was before.
But compared to you, I've still got more.
I'm drinking less expensive gin,
But you can't eat, so I still win.

That makes everything better, don't you agree?

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