Losing Your Home Without Losing Your Relationship
If you check on RealtyTrac.com, you can see how many houses are in pre-foreclosure in your neighborhood. I checked my own neighborhood recently, and was shocked to see that just in the area with my zip code, there are 1,120 houses in pre-foreclosure. It’s scary.
I understand the trauma that you experience when you lose your house. You have identified with being a homeowner, and when you lose your house, you feel like you lose part of yourself. You are suffering from a shocking loss that few seem to understand. There is little understanding from other people around you who are not in the same situation. Not only that, but perhaps after the first expression of compassion, people have a tendency to blame you for having taken up a mortgage you ‘should have known’ you could not afford. You ‘should’ have asked for wise advice, and not listened to the ruthless agents and brokers who are obviously only interested in pocketing their commission. Even when it is not spoken aloud, you can sense these judgments, and you may feel worse.
The truth is that real estate agents, mortgage brokers and banks have all contributed to this painful situation. Some of them lost money, too, but some of them have profited by collecting big commissions. Yes, you could analyze who is to blame, but it might be more useful to realize that life is not fair and learn the lesson.
Owning a house myself ,I know your house becomes an extension of our body, like a shell that is painful to detach from. After your health, and your loved ones, your home is the most primal relationship you have. It represents your sense of safety, your dreams and your roots. Losing a home is one of the most underestimated losses you can suffer. When you lose your home, the rug is literally pulled out from under you, and you feel unsafe and disoriented.
You feel devastated. And you start blaming yourself for not having made a better choice. There is shame and guilt complicating the painful financial loss. You might feel a sense of betrayal by bankers and mortgage brokers who made it so easy for you to extend yourself beyond your capability.
How can you as a loving couple help each other through this crisis instead of attacking each other? It is natural when we are hurt to want to lash out with statements like: ‘I told you I had a bad feeling about that agent. You did not listen to me. You are so stubborn…’ Do you recognize this and do you know where that might lead you? You know it will probably lead to added grief and separation. You might end up losing you home and your relationship.
It is natural for you to feel anguish, anger, and the whole gamut of feelings that kind of take turn controlling your psyche. But you are not alone – you have your wife or husband to share with you. You understand the anguish that your partner feels. A couple who loves each other can take this as an opportunity to re-kindle the passion and connection with each other. Both of you can be there for each other to fill the void that losing your home has left you with.
According to Elisabeth Kuebler Ross, Author of ‘On Grief and Grieving’, when there is a loss you go through stages of recovery. It is useful to keep in mind that we humans also go through these stages when we lose part of our identity, not just when we lose a loved one. Supporting each other while you are going through the stages of grief now will definitely deepen your relationship.
The first stage is usually disbelief: ‘this cannot happen to me…it can’t be possible… Then you go through different phases of anger: blaming yourself and/or someone else for what happened. After having lost a lot of energy with either repressing or acting out anger, you usually go into a depression: ‘I don’t care any more…everything I do turns out bad…’ And finally, if you have allowed yourself to feel all your feelings and you get the support from the people around you, you reach acceptance of what is.
In a couple, a loving woman and man support the other to feel feelings thoroughly, and without judgement. Whoever is stronger in the moment keeps his or her heart open to listen, while the other partner feels whatever is present to them. The listener listens both with the ears and with the heart, mirroring back complete understanding for the partner’s feelings, whatever they are. Interfering with statements (which can be hidden judgements), such as, ‘it’s not so bad, honey…’ can infuriate the other. When someone is in pain, you want to be a safe space for them to move through what they have to feel until they reach the other side.
You will go through times when one of you feels stronger, then the other, and you might take turns doing the supporting. If you are depressed together, hug each other and feel your connection, perhaps synchronizing your breathing, belly to belly. Some couples who do that tell me that after 10 minutes of this connection, they feel energized and their mind starts finding new ways of looking at the painful situation in a more hopeful way.
Touching is probably the most supportive of all the approaches because it starts the flow of hormones that create bonding happiness in your body. You start feeling that being alive is great in spite of all the challenges. You can see that the present conditions represent just a change in your life that may ultimately contribute more depth in your relationship and more creativity for both of you.
You may be losing your house, but you are not losing each other – you are actually deepening your relationship, and where you will end up living then becomes secondary.