Alice met her first husband in June 2006, when meeting someone on-line was still weird. She was on the site because when she turned 30, Alice’s friends told her it was time to date outside her “type”- who were genuine losers. I’m talking professional conspiracy theorists and BC ferry cafeteria workers. To break free of this cycle, she decided to cast her net wide, with just one dating rule –to say Yes to everyone who asked her out.
When she showed me this one email thread, it was clear that the man who would be her husband was different. His emails were brief, to the point, without a hint of flirtation.
On the day they were supposed to meet, Alice, couldn’t stand sitting through a forced conversation with some square, so she didn’t show up.
He called 15 minutes later.
“Are you so weak and disrespectful that you can’t even call and cancel like a decent person? Or do you just lack integrity?
Nothing turns Alice on like being called out on her shit, so they arranged to meet for a drink that night.
The conversation was stilted until she asked her killer first date question: “What are your post-apocalyptic skills?”
By his answer, it was clear this was a man who could find and defend their water and food. This was a man who would fight off zombies… and win. She was smitten.
They moved in together soon after and she entered a foreign world. He didn’t have roommates. None of his furniture came from thrift stores. And he had not one, but two complete sets of bedsheets.
He’d also graduated top of his high school class, which assured him a spot in the country’s best university. He chose his major solely based on earning potential. Got a full scholarship to a grad school in Paris. Then immediately landed a high paying job. By the time she met him, he was mortgage-free.
While Alice, on the other hand, had quit her union job to hitchhike across Canada with a guy who’d almost come fifth place in Abbotsford’s annual Elvis impersonation competition.
I’d always admired how Alice had relished in her free-spiritedness, but now she wanted what he had: security, competence, economic success. So she found a decent paying job, which required her to wear pantyhose and work in an airless cubicle.
But this was the beginning of their relationship, so her work day was peppered with cute little calls, just to check in.
His calls went something like this:
I just got a promotion and a huge pay raise. Let’s book a trip somewhere.
Alice’s went like this:
You’ll never believe it! Someone from WestJet called, and I just won a holiday for two at a resort in Cancun! All I had to do was give the guy my credit card number and some banking information…
Her boyfriend would then spend the rest of the afternoon, canceling those cards and convincing the bank to reverse charges.
The first time Alice lost her phone, it was somewhere in a field, during a terrible rain storm. Her boyfriend had a find my phone app, but he wouldn’t let her touch his phone, so he went out looking. After an hour, Alice found her phone in a pocket, at the bottom of her purse.
After a few years of trying, and failing to succeed in the 9 to 5 world, Alice was in the throes of a full-blown mid-life crisis. We could all see that she had to obey the signs or risk a nervous breakdown. But she was terrified that her soon-to-be husband would finally lose all confidence in her, so I helped her create a spreadsheet, which clearly outlined how it was more cost effective to prevent her from going crazy than to actually let her go crazy. He reviewed the numbers and agreed that she should quit her job.
Then a funny thing happened. After watching Alice land a few freelance contracts, which paid some bills, and also allowed her to go for midweek hikes and afternoon coffees with friends, he began to question his own career choices.
He wanted something new.
So Alice encouraged him to look deep for something he’d always wanted to do, but was too afraid to try.
“What if it doesn’t work out?”
“We’ll be fine. Imagine your life if you were doing something that thrilled you.”
So he settled on day trading. Which is basically socially condoned gambling. He read books and followed blogs. He researched and tested systems. At night Alice said they would lie together and he would explain details of his new hobby, and she would pretend to understand what he was talking about.
Then out of the blue, Alice said he stopped talking. He slammed doors, and when they went to bed, he’d just roll over and go to sleep. Finally after two weeks of this.
“What’s going on with you?”
He didn’t talk for a while and couldn’t even look at her.
“I bet on some options and lost it all.”
“What do you mean. All?”
“Like everything. All of our savings. Everything.”
Alice told me later that she couldn’t speak.
Because inside something was welling up. Something that felt like lightness, buoyancy. Giddiness.
Do you know what this means?
“I’m no longer the screw up in this relationship. Nothing I’ve ever done or will ever do could ever be as bad as what you’ve just done.”
Now she was the rock building up a crushed ego after a devastating fall. This was Alice’s domain. For a change, he had to lean on her.
Everything changed after this…her relationship was defined now by mutual respect and admiration — which is way hotter than being called out on shit.
Then once again, she lost the iPhone she’d just bought to replace the one she’d lost the month before. Her husband started freaking:”Do you know how much those things cost…”
“More than a few hundred thousand dollars?
Then shut the hell up.”