Case Study for December 2008
Not happy no matter what the gift
Nick and Laura have been together for ten years now. For Nick it was his first real commitment while Laura bought
along Georgina and Jack to make an instant family. It was easier than Nick had expected to cope with two little
dynamos. Nick has always been easy going and because he grew up in a family of three boys he was immune to loud
noises and chaos. In fact it was Laura who struggled with the strain of caring for the children while holding
down a job as an insurance underwriter. When she fell pregnant with twins life became particularly challenging.
Nick was proving himself in a new job in funds management and was away from home till late many nights. Nick is
still not sure how they survived that time but they did, and when his bonus came in they were able to afford a
housekeeper and for Laura to cut back her hours at work.
Life went on and as the family income improved so too did their lifestyle. Private schools, exotic holidays,
designer clothes, a bigger house and mortgage just seemed so logical. Financial markets went up and down with
enough unpredictability to keep Nick’s job challenging and rewarding. All this changed in 2008 when the stock
market melted and previously robust funds began to lose money. Nick began to fear for the comfortable life that
he had so far provided for his family .He was short tempered and distracted at home, unable to sleep, reluctant
to socialise with friends.
Laura understood that the stock market was going through a bad patch but did not realise the extent of it. Nick
kept his work at work and tried not to burden Laura with work issues as she was a worrier and it was difficult
to alleviate her anxiety even when things had worked out for the better. So Nick kept his worries to himself
and kept sane by going for long runs. By this stage Laura was convinced that Nick was seeing another woman.
She embarked on a bout of retail therapy and expensive spa treatments in an attempt to make herself back into
the lithe 30 year old who captured Nick’s heart 10 yrs ago. This led to arguments over money and soon Nick
and Laura had become two very lonely and angry people.
Georgie chose this time to wage war on the world. She demanded to be allowed to have her navel pieced, wear
designer grunge, hang out with the cool kids at their alcohol fuelled parties and stay away from school
whenever she choose. Laura was left in tears after many altercations and Nick believed that he would lose
what was left of his rational brain. Even on Georgie’s birthday , when Laura and Nick presented her with
the Blackberry that she had been demanding , her response was to wander off and stay in her room for hours.
The Problem: Nothing material will make Georgie happy for long as she is so miserable. The people she has
depended on have become angry and afraid and Georgie is angry and afraid without knowing why. Conversations
at school are a jumble of rehashing television dramas full of emotional and physical violence and her friends
are unforgiving of anyone who does not live up to their ever changing opinions on dress and language. There is
no safe place to go.
Nick consults his family doctor about a tight feeling in his chest. All the tests are clear but their doctor
notices a marked change in Nick’s usual laid back mood. They talk for a while and the doctor suggests to Nick
that he should talk things through with Laura and consider seeing a psychologist. So Nick takes the family to
their beach house for he weekend. He and Laura stand watching the twins paddle and splash in the too cold water.
Nick explains that his chest pain was put down to stress and that he has been losing his mind worrying over their
future. Laura is almost relieved. She would rather lose the beach house, holidays and all those designer clothes
than lose her Nick. They spend the weekend tossing up ideas and making decisions together.
The next weekend Nick and Laura tell the children that they will be selling the beach house and taking holidays
closer to home. They reassure the children that Christmas might be lean but it would not be mean this year.
Everyone makes a Wish list at Todayiwish. Nick and Laura look at Georgie’s wish list with trepidation.
They agree that she is much too young for a tattoo, let alone a nose stud. But there is so much more to
Georgie. She wants to help Medcin Sans Frontiers to save the World’s dispossessed and lists "playing
football with my brother" as something that money cannot buy. It’s part of Georgie that even Georgie
has lost touch with lately. Laura leans her head against Nick’s shoulder. He turns to kiss her hair.
Times are tough and may get a lot worse, but for now Nick and Laura are feeling very lucky.
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