Welcome to my first blog series,
“Anatomy of a Disaster.”
This series will examine the horrors of the Divorce Industrial Complex as illustrated through one “perfect storm” case. I will be posting new series segments intermittently while continuing my advice blog and random musings.
Of course, we can’t talk about the Morris divorce until we talk about the Morris marriage.
These first blogs will serve as the emotional story background for later works that will delve into the mechanics of one of the worst divorces I’ve studied – and considering how many I’ve looked into that is really saying something.
Sarah Morris sits on my living room couch, tucks her feet under her, and sighs as I pour her a drink.
She’s earned this drink, so I give her a country club pour.
This has not been an easy time for Sarah and her family. Her divorce from her husband Samantha has been long, ugly, and heart-wrenching.
As the title says, this is no average divorce, which you probably gathered when you read, “her husband Samantha” above.
I pour a drink for myself, because of course I do, and light a fire. It’s dark, windy, and raining heavily. The scene could look romantic if you peered in from the outside.
Unfortunately, romance for Sarah is dead, as are her dreams of growing old with the man she chose to marry – a man who is no longer a man named Sam but now a woman named Samantha.
Archie the Drunken Chihuahua paws at Sarah’s hands incessantly, trying to score a hit from her tumbler. I shoo my little alcoholic rescue dog away and ask Sarah to tell me her story.
Sarah and Sam: A Love Story with a Twist
The couple met through friends on a ski trip in Sunriver, Oregon almost 20 years ago.
Sarah wasn’t like many of her friends who raced to the altar after college. At the age of 29 and with a good career, Sarah was waiting for the right guy to come along before she made the leap to marriage.
Sam was that guy.
Handsome and smart, confident and focused, Sam made a big impression on Sarah during that ski trip.
They began dating and married within a year. Sarah’s doctor warned her getting pregnant could take a long time yet she conceived their first child, a son they named Chris, on their honeymoon.
Less than three years later daughter Katie was born, and Sarah felt her life was pretty damn good.
Not perfect, but good. Sure, Sam had a tendency to brag about himself and a very real spending problem, but overall Sarah was happy and she settled into the family life.
In 2004, she quit working to focus full-time on her kids, her husband, and their home.
“Dumbass,” I interject, and quickly apologize.
“I’m sorry to be so blunt but that was not a good move. It pains me every time I see a woman in your situation because now you are financially dependent on a man and a divorce could ruin you. I also hate the concept of long-term alimony and I feel deeply sympathetic towards men who have to pay it to women who refuse to support themselves after a divorce.”
Sarah looks at me, exasperated.
“Aren’t you financially dependent on your husband right now?”
“This isn’t about me,” I quickly reply in a chiding and defensive tone.
“Let’s leave what looks like my hypocrisy aside for a moment and focus on why you abandoned your lucrative career. What the hell were you thinking?”
Sarah frowns and shakes her empty glass in my direction.
She hasn’t drained the cocktail, mind you. Archie made his move when she turned her head and now he is stumbling around the living room. He’s such an asshole, that dog.
“We moved a lot for Sam’s job,” she reminds me, “and he was never home. Somebody had to be there for the kids.”
Sam had a very successful long-term career with a multi-billion dollar manufacturing company. He rose through the ranks from auditor to become head of the Auditing Department.
“You must have had a sense of what was going on,” I pressed.
“Were there any signs before you finally found out for certain that Sam identified as a woman?”
“None,” she said, shaking her head in protest.
“None. Until I found that box of women’s clothing hidden in our home, I had no idea. In fact, I accused him of having an affair when I found that stuff.”
I wondered at why she would think he’d stash his lover’s clothes in the family home, and then realized that Sarah’s assumption there was another woman was highly preferable to admitting the unthinkable:
The other woman was her husband.
Coming up in the next installment of Anatomy of a Disaster:
The Box, the Lies, and the Unraveling
In case you missed it, click below for a description of the players in this series: