September 2, 2011 at 1:21 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
As you may know, in the 50-plus-year history of our Can This Marriage Be Saved? column, there have been just a handful of times the marriages we’ve covered haven’t made it through counseling (see one example here, of a husband and wife who probably should never have married in the first place). Inspired by our Facebook fan Heather Fraser’s question about these doomed unions, here’s another of the marriages that could not be saved.
In our February 1973 issue, with a ravishing Liz Taylor on the cover, is the story of Sandy and Guy, a young married couple who weren’t mature enough to understand that marriage is a serious commitment but tied the knot anyway. From our editor’s notes in the introduction, “Marriage is not a game for children, yet many people behave as if it were.”
Sandy’s turn Her husband has “a total lack of fiscal responsibility”, can’t hold down a job and spends all his time drinking. Sandy had been on a round-the-world cruise, financed by her family, and while away she decided to give the marriage another shot. Guy showed up when her ship docked completely drunk, didn’t say a word about missing her while she was gone and left her “tottering with fatigue” when she arrived home and had to clean the house and put the kids to bed. When she confronted him about his behavior, he told her to bug off (in slightly rougher language) and turned on the TV. Sandy decided then and there to get a divorce and had her father hire a lawyer. Guy objected but eventually moved out, though he still shows up unannounced all the time. Sandy’s first marriage was a disaster arranged by her in-laws, and they divorced because her husband turned out to be gay. She became disillusioned with all men except her father, and when she met Guy she found him spoiled and lazy. She only agreed to marry him after she got pregnant. Before they even wed, he quit his job and invested in a coke-bottling plant that quickly went belly-up. Now all he does is sit around the house all day, sleeping till noon and drinking, and pays the bills with handouts from his mother.
Guy’s turn He knows he drinks too much, but he’s terribly sorry and promises to stay “off the sauce” if Sandy will take him back. Her family is always interfering – in the last year she spent 10 weeks away from him and the kids on her father’s tab – and she won’t give him an ounce of sympathy or understanding for his troubles. He’s never going to make as much money as Sandy’s father, even though he’s tried – he quit his low-paying engineering job to invest with a friend who swindled him out of all his savings. He’s bitter that he had to badger Sandy into marrying him, and he invested with the fraudulent friend without thinking it through because he panicked at having a wife and children to support (Sandy had a daughter from her first marriage). And so what if he pays his bills with the help of his family? It’s no different than his wife taking free vacations and hiring nannies on her father’s dime. She’s not the maternal type so he takes care of the kids – she’s just as cold to them as she is to Guy. But he doesn’t want to get divorced – he’s finally gotten a good job with a real-estate company and quit drinking, so he deserves another chance.
The counselor’s turn They were doomed from the start. As the counselor said, “There is no magic here. Unless a husband and wife want to stay together and are willing to compromise, their relationship cannot be improved by professional aid.” Their biggest uniting factor was a strong physical attraction, which started to weaken before they were even married when Sandy got pregnant. She never wanted to marry Guy in the first place because she “doubted his strength of character,” and he only wanted to marry her because he was fascinated with her wealthy family and wanted be a success, too – without doing any work. They were both immature – she suspicious of all men besides her father and he dominated and spoiled by his mother – and opposed in every area of their personalities. She liked to work for work’s sake, he didn’t; she was a planner, he was a dreamer; she thought things through and he acted on impulse, and the list went on. They got divorced, and Guy continues to see his son every weekend. Sandy got a job as a medical technician and is, a year after their divorce, on the verge of her third marriage.
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