Even before the recession hit, economists say middle-class men and women had too little savings and too much debt. Now, Robert says America's confidence is shaken by downward mobility.

"A lot of Americans who were in the middle class never thought they would suddenly lose their middle-class status and be poor," he says. "It's an eye-opener, and it is a shock."

Robert reminds Wendy and Martin that there are millions of other couples in their situation and this is a temporary setback for many.

"I hope that whatever you felt about your own failure or your own inadequacy, you understand it's not you. You did not do anything wrong," he says. "The economy is doing it to an awful lot of people."


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