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Todd Sawyer

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He Stayed for Three Reasons, Would You?

Posted: 05/21/2012 7:00 pm

Interviewing people for the podcast, "My Picker Is Broken" (mypickerisbroken.com and iTunes), I hear a lot of tales of woe, but Fred's story made me grateful for my own little ol' tale of woe.

Fred is fifty-two years old and was "married" for twenty-two of those years. I put married in quotes because the last thirteen of those years he slept in his home office on the couch. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I think being married should involve the same bed, even if one of you is a snorer. It should also include occasional sex (even if it's boring married sex, though in theory, I'm against that, too).

See if you can guess why Fred slept on the couch for thirteen years.

A) Because he couldn't stand being in the same space as the woman he married.
B) Because he had a son that he felt he couldn't quit on, so he stayed in not only a loveless, adversarial marriage.
C) Because the couch was very comfortable.
D) Because like all of us, he's a little fucked up.

If you guessed C; you are wrong. The couch was made from pleather.
Leather is not comfortable for sleeping. It's sticky and slippery all at the same time. But pleather, fake leather, its horrible! It doesn't breath. Who would think you would ever spend your time daydreaming about a futon?

If you guessed A or D you are kinda right, but B is the most right answer.

A) Because he couldn't stand being in the same space as the woman he married.
Fred and Kathy met in 1978, when a disco was still a place to meet somebody. In '78, I was participating in after school dances and all-skates at the roller rink. But I can appreciate a little Donna Summers-inspired love. You could still smoke indoors, buy a drink for less than a car payment and you could get herpes if you looked at someone too long. It was a good time.

Less than a year later they're married. What they didn't realize was drinking was all they really had in common. A social lubricant used to grease the wheel of your private life rarely works well. They drank until the baby came. Kathy slowed down and Fred sped up. Cocaine. Few stories end well when you get eight-balls involved.

Fred would go on a three day spree, leaving Kathy and the baby at home. Trust was soon gone. Fred finally gets some help and cleans up. Starts putting his life back together, but Kathy isn't interested. She was hurt and not letting it go.

He's being punished for his past and doesn't have a time machine to change history. Kathy's not stopping the finger-pointing, so to the couch he goes.

They try counseling. No help. It's a stand-off.

Fred is not going to leave his son or house and Kathy is busy trying to goad Fred into leaving and asking for a divorce. Who wants to sleep next to that? Years and years like this.

B) Because he had a son that he felt he couldn't quit on, so he stayed in not only a loveless, adversarial marriage.

Their son is six years old and the apple of Fred's now clear eyes. He's enjoying being a Dad way more than being married.

Fred comes from a big family -- a successful on the outside, crazy on the inside family. His Dad was constantly working, ignoring his children and the business always more important than the kids. Fred is not going to be that kind of father, no matter what. His son becomes his life. Basketball practice, school functions, all of it. He's there.

Kathy and Fred fight a bit for the child's love and respect and the boy watches how his parents live and deal with each other. Here's a great quote from Dr. Phil, "It's better to be from a broken home, than in a broken home." So you can imagine the scars on the boy -- seeing the separate lives, the detachment and the dislike his parents had for each other. But nobody is leaving. Get used to it, son.

D) Because like all of us, he is a little fucked up.

I can't tell you how many stupid things I've done in my life, but I can guarantee that most of them involve a woman and my feelings. Love or lack of it makes me, and I think most of us, crazy.

Fred was no different. He loved Kathy, but as he began to change his life, she was too hurt to move forward with him, so he moved on -- without leaving their house.

So, why would Kathy stay? I don't know. I interviewed Fred.

How he makes it another twelve years is amazing to me. Fred slept on that horrible couch all the way through his son's college education. Wow!

Kathy finally serves Fred the divorce papers. He discovers she was squirreling money away for years and he is not entitled to any of it, even though he has been paying for everything; the mortgage, the car insurance, the college tuition.

Divorce is ugly with or without money, but that sounds extra painful to me.

The divorce took over two years, cost Fred almost $70,000 in lawyer fees, and he lost more than half his net worth. The good news: Fred is sleeping in his own bed.

When I hear these stories, some make me sad, some make me laugh, this one made me grateful. My ex left the moment she knew she wasn't in love with me and it hurt a lot! But it has to be better than Fred's story and not just because she left me the futon.

 
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