3. The Money-Making Machine

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Geoff is a successful and hard-working hotelier. His face is creased with worry lines and his posture has the resigned look of those who have gradually become used to chronic stress. He complains to the provocative therapist that despite his best efforts, his wife and family do not appreciate him or what he does for them. Geoff has become convinced that his only function in the family is to earn money.


Provocative Therapist: Okay, what are we going to fix today?


Geoff: I guess I have to say that I’m unhappily married.


Provocative Therapist: Oh, my heart goes out to you. It must be horrific to be unhappily married; I’m happily married and it’s terrible!


Geoff: (laughs and then speaks in a resigned tone of voice) My family treats me like a Money-Making Machine. They…


Provocative Therapist: (interrupting enthusiastically) Wow! What a compliment that is! A Money-Making Machine! I love it!


Geoff: What do you mean?


Provocative Therapist: I mean you must be a very talented individual. Have you any idea how many people aspire to be Money-Making Machines?


Patient: No.


Provocative Therapist: Millions! Everyone wants more money. And those that don’t make a lot of money envy the Money-Making Machines like yourself. You are the object of envy, do you understand?


Geoff: But it doesn’t bring me any happiness.


Provocative Therapist: Well that’s because you use your money altruistically to make others happy. It is better to give than receive…


Geoff: But what about me?


Provocative Therapist: You? You are to be congratulated on keeping the whole family show on the road. Without you all your freeloading family would be in the gutter. They depend on you.


Geoff: Yes, but…


Provocative Therapist: Sorry, there are no ‘buts’. Your family depend on your handouts, don’t they? Just say ‘yes’!


Geoff: Okay, yes.


Provocative Therapist: Good! Now let’s be clear about this. You are not just a Money-Making Machine. You are also a Cash Dispenser! Some Money-Making Machines selfishly spend their money on gambling, drink, mistresses. But not you! You support your needy family. You pay for your kids’ schools, your wife’s designer clothes, family holidays…


Geoff: (laughing) Okay, enough!


Provocative Therapist: A new BMW for the wife every 2 years, health insurance, pensions, private schools for the kids, house improvement?


Geoff: Enough!


Provocative Therapist: Okay, but don’t you ever underestimate the vital role you play in the lives of all those who depend on you.


Geoff: Mmm...


Provocative Therapist: One more thing: Never underestimate the spiritual quality of being a giver. As it says in Corinthians: 'Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.' Let that be your motto: 'God loveth a cheerful giver!' And don't spoil lit with any grudging!


Geoff: (laughs loudly)


FOLLOW UP

Geoff became much more reluctant to allow himself to be taken for granted by his family and learned to value his own needs more highly. As soon as he realised that it was not his family that was the problem, but his own willingness to be cast in the role of provider but without the commensurate respect, his life started to change for the better. Over the years he occasionally slipped back into his old pattern of behaviour and after a few months of feeling resentful again he consulted the provocative therapist.


Provocative Therapist: Well, why did you come so soon? Why not give your family a break from the ‘new you’ for a while? It takes time to adjust to a real husband and father rather than a Money-Making Machine?


Geoff: (flinching slightly at the label and then laughing) Okay, okay I get the message!