Two months after our second anniversary, my husband, Mark, decided to quit his job as a plumber in order to pursue real estate investing.
"Are you sure this is what you want?" I asked.
"I've always wanted my own business. I know I can make this work," Mark assured me.
I worried about the risks: What if it doesn't work? What if I have to support the two of us forever? But I was equally excited—if things panned out the way Mark hoped, we'd never worry about money again.
With my blessing, Mark quit his job, and we invested nearly all our savings into setting up his real estate business. We took real estate investing classes, hired a lawyer to create an LLC, and had business cards and stationary printed. We relied on my income as a high school teacher to pay the bills, and implemented a strict budget that cut our grocery allowance in half and eliminated date nights, eating out, and movies. We even waited to turn on our air conditioner until the heat was unbearable.
Not long after we started our business, the real estate market tanked. For eight months Mark struggled to make the business work, but after a while he became discouraged.
"I'm not good at anything," he said.
He began to withdraw. Things we once enjoyed doing together, such as cooking and grocery shopping, I now did alone. I even ate my meals alone. Mark would eat quickly and excuse himself or not come to the table at all, saying he wasn't hungry. I felt rejected and lonely as my once hardworking, visionary husband was reduced to sitting on the couch, shades drawn, playing video games in the dark for hours. Sometimes he wouldn't even get dressed or shave. And he stopped working out—the hobby he was most passionate about.1