Don't get married.
I have a subscription to a service that lets me see new lawsuits that are filed in my area. A few weeks ago, I saw a lawsuit that was filed by a professional in his late 60s against some other 60ish guy for "alienation of affection" -- i.e., stealing his wife. It was a tough read. The plaintiff and his wife had raised a couple of kids together and were planning on moving to a condo in the stylist part of the city, and the wife just decided she preferred the company of another guy. Basically, after having used the beta to create and provide for a family, and to get her everything that she wanted, she walked away. The husband was stunned, the kids were aghast, and it didn't matter - she needed to do her "journey" or whatever.
This isn't about that lawsuit. It's about this Pulitzer-prize winning photo titled Burst of Joy. It shows an Air Force colonel, Robert Stirm, being reunited with his family after 5 years as a POW in North Vietnam. Four beautiful kids and a beautiful wife. If you can see that photo knowing that background and not feel a little dust in the room, you're a better man than I.
Well, turns out the photo didn't tell the whole story. Here are a couple of articles that spell out more of the background. The shortened version:
- After his first year of being tortured by the Vietcong, his wife -- and mother of his four children -- was cheating on him, and actually using his POW allotments to finance vacations with her lovers.
- When he was shipped from Vietnam to the Philippines before being sent home, he was handed a "Dear John" letter written by his wife.
- They got divorced and despite evidence that she'd been unfaithful she got custody of 2/4 kids (with the attendant child support); the family home and car; and 42% of his pension. In addition, she didn't have to pay back the $136k (about 3/4 of a million in modern dollars) in his POW allotment that she'd already received, though the court did order repayment of $1,500 she'd spent traveling with other men.
I did some additional research; it turns out the good Colonel actually turned down a brigadier general appointment so he could spend more time with his family.
Anyways, the LA Times article allows Colonel Stirm to say it all:
Many people try to escape the past by willing themselves to forget, by allowing the years to dull the ache and make the memories recede. But for Stirm, there will always be the picture.
It is a tangible reminder that what kept him alive for those five years as a prisoner of war was, in part, an illusion.
"The momentum to stay alive for my family's sake was very strong, because I had four neat children and what I believed to be a neat wife that I wanted to get back to see," he said quietly.
So, these items should remind us all that:
- Yes, AWALT. So don't get married. If you do...
- It doesn't matter if you're sent away because of work or because you're a POW -- if you're away from your woman, she will cheat, and hamster it away.
- The money you earned -- through 60-80 workweeks, or from having bamboo shoved under your fingernails -- will be used by her to finance her "journey" or whatever with her new lover(s).
- Don't get married. Seriously, man, don't do it.