Sometimes I’m amazed by what people do to each other – and their children. What started off as a somewhat typical occurrence in American culture (sadly) resulted in the complete ruination of a family’s future due to poor choices and impulsive behavior. I bumped in to an old friend of mine the other day and he was telling me about an old friend we hadn’t seen in a while. The story goes like this:
Man and wife both work at a fairly large successful company. Neither of them have a college degree, but with their highschool backgrounds and hard work over the years, they’d both worked their way up to well-paying jobs within the company. These jobs were their meal ticket – to attain a similar position or salary at another company would be highly unlikely given similar competition with college degrees, etc. I’d venture they were each making mid-high 5 figures at said company and could make probably half that if starting over as a semi-skilled employee at a new firm if they were lucky enough to land a job in this economy.
It turns out (allegedly), one of the spouses was cheating on the other, then vice-versa, then one left the house and they continued to fight. This on and off fighting, reconciling and fighting went on for over a year. At one point, the fighting became so acrimonious that our old friend sent some profanity-laden emails and Facebook messages to his wife with threats and all kinds of other inappropriate messages. Apparently, some of this occurred using company computers as well.
She ends up reporting him to the company. Upon review of the details, he is summarily fired. Well, guess what? Then comes the nuclear option. He claims in retaliation that she is just as guilty of the same behavior and turns over similarly inappropriate and offensive materials – apparently sent from a company computer as well. She is summarily fired.
The Financial Impact:
They’re both out of work. He’s not even trying to find a new job apparently and I don’t know what she’s up to. They have 4 children. Who really got hurt here? If you step back a year, they were (possibly, I don’t know what their spending/savings habits were) in a position to be able to send their kids to college and provide for an upper-middle income lifestyle in comparison to much of the country. Now, their family life is a mess, their financial situation is a mess, and in my mind, it would be highly improbable that these kids will have a shot at college help from mom or dad in the future given the dim prospects of finding similar employment opportunities in the future.
This situation manifests itself everyday – you probably know someone who’s been through something very similar. Divorces can get so ugly that one side is willing to throw away as much money as is available at legal fees just to “punish” their spouse. But who suffers?
The intent of this story isn’t just to reflect on how good you may have it now and to appreciate some stability in your personal and financial life, but also, to provide some insight into how quickly things can go from bad to worse if you don’t step back and take a deep breath before acting impulsively. Just a few keystrokes, text messages or phone calls in anger can destroy the lives of the ones you love most – no matter how angry you are at someone else that hurt you.
Any similar stories come to mind?
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