I was at the gym yesterday (don’t know why I bother to go since I seem to gain two pounds per day I swear to the birds) and I was thinking about the Madoffs as I peddled on the stationery bicycle. I was thinking, specifically, of the post we did comparing Bernie Madoff and Marc Dreier (the lawyer who is under house arrest for some type of fraud) as dads http://www.divorcesaloon.com/madoff-v-dreier-who-was-the-better-dad. I wondered if I left myself too open with one particular comment in the post:
Madoff also honored the boys’ mother Ruth. He never divorced her. Not to say that a man who divorces his children’s mother “dishonors” her, necessarily. But cut me some slack. I’m an old fashioned woman in this semi-youthful body. I’m really from another generation in my thinking, and to me, a man honors a woman, makes a “decent” and “honorable” woman of her by marrying her. Correspondingly, he dishonors her with divorce.
Sometimes, I realize that people could wonder “which planet is she living on?” with some of the things that I say; I am too honest sometimes and that can be big problem. Because, while there is “truth” there about how I think about certain matters, I don’t think I thought that one all the way through. Because, in a real big way, what Bernard Madoff has done, the public ridicule he has brought on himself, his wife and his entire extended family, is a much bigger dishonor than divorce ever could have done.
In particular, I am thinking about Ruth’s bid for the penthouse and a few million dollars, which, had the whole ponzi thing not happened, she would have been entitled to in a divorce scenario (and then some!) and I realize, wow, this man really socked it to his wife worse than any divorce could have done. After all, had they divorced, she would be coming out of these 30 years (or how ever long) of marriage that she gave to him with something: alimony, maintenance, property settlement, a way to provide for herself into the last decades of her life. That is a significant chunk of her life that was given to this marriage, to this man. Right out of high school she hooked up with him. That was a lot of time, effort, money, services, living – went on in 30 years. EVERYTHING that she is, that she knows, went into that marriage, that family, that man.
And what is her reward? The greatest dishonor. Disgrace. Ridicule. And possibly pennilessness. He would have been a lot kinder if he had just divorced her, instead of subject her to this, I would think. I mean, if I can be honest and say, I still think that divorce is a form of dishonor in a kind of way that is hard to explain to someone who views marriage and family through a different lens than I do. But there are much worse things than divorce. Much worse. And what Bernie did to Ruth is a prime example.
And you know what is so sad about this whole thing? At the end of the day, I feel sorry for Bernie Madoff. When I look at him I know I should feel rage like everyone else. But it just isn’t the emotion that comes out. He has done a lot. To a lot of people–especially his own family and his own wife. And that must weigh heavily on his conscience. Yes, I know I am not supposed to have sympathy for a person like that. But I was just never able to pin Bernie to the cross. I don’t know why.
Yes. But Ruth? She would have been a lot better off if he had committed adultery on her and asked for a divorce. That is much less dishonor than this nightmare he put them all into.