Learn from Your Past…

Move into Your Future

It’s normal to feel uncertain about what therapy is and how it can help.

You probably have questions and concerns.

And hope.Hope that things can be better for me (or for us).

To learn more about how therapy can work, join John and Meredith on their journey.

See which themes in the story feel familiar to you.

Starting Happy

John and Meredith both had family roots in the southeast. They first met at a college football game. She came from a prestigious family located in a small town, and he came from a big city and had a more urban upbringing. There was an instant attraction. They dated through the Fall and began to make plans for graduation and beyond. Meredith admired John’s ambition, as it reminded her of her beloved grandfather who had started their family business. She secretly hoped that John would go on to grow a successful business as her grandfather had. John had learned that money represented power in his family, and he wanted some of that for himself.

Dropping a Bit

Shortly after graduating college, John and Meredith moved back to Meredith’s home town; John was asked to join the family business. A few years into working with his grandfather-in-law and father-in-law, John began to see warning signs that there was trouble in his wife’s family that he had not seen previously.

On the other hand, John felt excited to be making more money than he ever thought possible at his age. His father-in-law also periodically alluded to John that he may one day run the business with his brother-in-law, Sam. Contrary to what John expected to feel, each time he heard this it left a sinking feeling in his stomach.

Seeking Self-Help

John would try and talk with Meredith about her family, but she would not listen to anything negative about her beloved family. John is bright and ambitious and decided to take matters into his own hands. He began to search Amazon for book recommendations about running family businesses and improving communications with his wife. After reading some books, he thought things were getting a bit better when communicating with Meredith, and he felt more competent in navigating the family business.

Doubt and Fear Creep Back In

It was not long before John’s anxiety crept back into his life. He would try to get family meeting organized to bring together the different family generations to discuss the family business. However, each attempt failed. His grandfather-in-law would completely dismiss the need to talk about the family and talk about the business operations.

John became less and less able to get out of bed for work in the mornings. On top of the demands of work, he and Meredith now had two children and all the expectations of participating in the activities of their affluent community. John could never quite understand why all of these “fancy” experiences were so important. Coming from a blue collar family upbringing, it just did not make sense to John.

John thought it was time to turn to their local church for guidance. He could not admit his full level of despair, but he knew they needed help. Meredith and John attended an eight-week Bible study entitled “Parenting God’s Way.” They took away some useful information, and they also saw that they were not the only ones struggling in their marriage and in their parenthood journey. At the same time, John’s inner struggles with his life were now becoming unmanageable. The class further exposed that there were problems brewing, but it did little to help John and Meredith achieve any resolution.


The breaking point came one afternoon when Meredith got on the family computer and saw John’s email inbox open. On one email, the subject line read, “Hey Johnny, last night was steamy hot, and I cannot wait for next week.” In an instant, Meredith’s world fell to pieces. She no longer knew which way was up. In a moment of crisis, she called a therapist for help. Then she sent John a message saying, “We need to talk, and I have scheduled an appointment to speak with a therapist on Thursday afternoon at 4 pm. You need to be there. M”

Discovering Secrets + Facing the Past

John and Meredith showed up Thursday afternoon at 4 pm to the therapist’s office. John’s face was anxious and sullen, while Meredith’s face was red from a few days of crying. Meredith revealed her secret: she had seen John’s email from a woman named Ashley about a “steamy hot night” and “next week’s meeting.”

Over the next few months, John and Meredith slowly began to address the built-up pain and resentment with each other. Some weeks were better than others, but they both knew in their souls that they were slowly becoming honest with themselves and each other.

Climbing Out of the Abyss

Over time, John came to see that his own father’s affair with another woman had left deep emotional pain that John was not able to acknowledge to himself previously. For the first time, Meredith learned about the long-lasting impact of John’s father’s affair.
In parallel, the damaging effects of alcoholism in Meredith’s wealthy family slowly became more apparent. Money could no longer hide the emotional distancing that had been happening as a result of the family business decline. There was a sense of shame the family felt about their failing business.

Meredith also had to confront the reality that she had been her grandfather’s favorite because he was able to look at her naked body well beyond what was appropriate. After each experience, he would take her shopping and tell her how beautiful she was. This cycle of abuse and rewards had existed for many years.

Healing and Growth

As counseling progressed, healing and growth occurred in John and Meredith’s relationship. They learned how to discuss what made them feel vulnerable and what was important to each other. John had been managing the family’s personal finances. However, he never directly addressed the reality that while they were connected to the family business and wealth, they did not have full access to Meredith’s family money. John had hidden the fact that he and Meredith had slipped into significant debt that would soon become unpayable based on John’s income.
John gained insight and realized he needed to exit Meredith’s family business. He could take what he learned in the family’s small business and turn it into his own consulting firm for similar companies. It took a few years for John to get the clients he needed, but Meredith was able to see how they needed to make their own life together; she was able to support John during the transition.

Every day was not easy. There were still times when John and Meredith would fight, BUT there was a new sense of security and peace in the relationship.

Perhaps you noticed some similarities between your story and that of John and Meredith.

Maybe it’s that opposites attract or that there is conflict with the in-laws. Perhaps it is something more significant like an addiction or infidelity. Many couples will readily recognize the money differences and arguments.

No matter what resonated with you, there is a very good chance that you are ready for change.

I can help.

Call 980-292-1538 to take the next steps in your own journey.


2522 Plantation Center Dr., Ste. B

Matthews, NC 28105

Phone: 980-292-1538

Contact Me

 ©  2018  Charlotte Couples Counseling. All rights reserved.