Feeling guilt and shame in relationships


Dear Coach,
I have a successful business that I created, launched and grew it into something potentially very lucrative. When I was growing my business, my husband was frustrated in a low-paying job and since his boss’s business was not growing or becoming successful (it was his job to grow that business) I let him help me with some important administrative tasks for my therapy business that I did not have time for. Since he has been helping me it has changed our relationship dynamic to where I am in the power position and he is working “for” me, which is difficult for men to tolerate. When we are out to dinner with friends he will sometimes drop comments that make people think people think that he is the “business mind” behind my success which is not true (my husband has failed trying to launch 3 businesses in his career). Sometimes my friends just assume that he is the one driving my success because he earned an MBA 20 years ago. (By the way, I have 3 graduate degrees in psychology, and one of those is in organization and business psychology. Currently I am completing my doctorate in clinical social work at an Ivy League university.) So it worries and upsets me that I have worked so hard and now the risk is that people will and do think HE is the reason for my business success!!! I’ll just add that if the situation was reversed and I was helping him with his business people would NOT assume I was the business brain; it makes me furious that the woman is always seen as a “helper” and men claim the credit for everything, I’m my opinion. So to finish the background. I have been stuck in this thinking that “I must make him happy and give him a reason not to be depressed,” so to entice him to quit his go-nowhere, depressing job, I led him to believe that I would create a subsidiary of my company and let him run it. At the time I thought this would work well, keeping him out of my hair and let him stay busy with a project. But last weekend I was lying in bed and couldn’t sleep. I had a lot of anxiety realizing that I had made a terrible mistake. I realized I do NOT want to mix a marriage with a business partnership of any kind because I will lose on both sides. We always end up arguing when he tries to change my decisions, or exert power over me. I prefer him in the role of empathic supporter and helper. So on Tuesday morning I told him we cannot move forward with the subsidiary idea and that I do not want to mix marriage with business, that I will support him in finding his own path or something else that he would enjoy professionally. BUT, he was furious and has not spoken to me for the past 2 days. I’m sick about it especially because I worry I did not express myself in the most compassionate way. The model I attempted was T: I am a bad person for not letting him do what he wants and F: guilt, shame. I’m have a ton of anxiety and panicky feelings and a LOT of shame and guilt. Could you help me find a more empowering thought and a way to resolve this so I can feel a bit less uncomfortable? The last time I didn’t voice my true opinion I reluctantly agreed to letting him invest our life savings in a doomed business and we ended up going bankrupt and losing our home. I don’t want to make that mistake again! Please help!