A Mysterious Character

For years, more people than I can count, people close to us, friends and family, have told me my husband Al is a workaholic. That’s how they view him, but I never thought they were right. I didn’t reply to these remarks, maybe a short laugh or a shrug, but I never wanted to argue the point. I was certain I knew my husband better than anyone, and we were just fine, thanks.

In my current novel, Jane is a recent widow who is not mourning her loss. She’s not evil. She didn’t kill him. She just hadn’t loved him in a long time. Jane is one of those wives who stay “for the children.” I’ve always been curious about those women. How could they do it? I know I couldn’t.

What kind of marriage did they have? I thought I’d sorted these smallish pieces of character very early on. I knew everything about the dead husband that Jane knew. He was still one part mystery, even dead. In fact, his death meant she’d never know one crucial thing about him. And not knowing that affected everything about her behavior.

The NEVER KNOWING part really bothered me. I had to give her some justification for staying with this man who suddenly without explanation, cut off all marital relations when they were still quite a young couple. This behavior is not unheard of, but just uncommon enough, I thought, to be fresh.

Then I read Three Women by Lisa Taddeo and one of the women has just such a husband. He claims he doesn’t need or even much like sex. Three Women is reportage; it’s non-fiction. It’s also very, very good. I wasn’t going to lift that reason, which still makes me ask the question WHY anyway. Why doesn’t he like sex? Why does he refuse to kiss his wife? How can this marriage be saved?

You’ll have to read Lisa Taddeo for those answers because I am not going to use that reason. Still, I really wanted to do a version of “they stayed together for the children” because I am interested in people who are able to do that. I sure couldn’t. Curiosity about people who are unlike me fuels my fiction. I want to know what drives them, so I write to learn answers.

The problem I came up against quite quickly after discarding the Taddeo solution is Jane needing a new reason not to mourn. I thought a few minutes until the idea of a workaholic husband presented itself. I didn’t know much about workaholics except they worked all the time. I took a day for research yesterday and after ten pages of juicy notes, I knew everything there is to know about workaholics. I also knew that my dear Al is one of them.

The facts don’t lie. If it was just one Wikipedia article, or one of the “Top Workaholic Traits” I might have kept that open secret from myself a little longer. As it is, I have accepted that yes, I’m married to a workaholic. But he’s not the shade of workaholic I’m writing about. I found a treasure trove of disturbing workaholic behavior that will make Jane a merry widow, but my own worker bee is happily alive and wearying of his frantic pace. He’s ready to get out of the rat race and we have a date set in the very near future for unlocking those golden handcuffs.

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3 Comments

  1. I was married to a workaholic for 28 years. He owned a towing and recovery business, which required his availability 24/7. It was rough. Luckily, it didn’t work out. And now I’m married to a wonderful man who sold his towing and recovery business 5 years ago! Same man, but in many ways not. He has regrets about the time he put into his business that often took him away from his family. However, his working so much allowed me to be either a work-from-home mom or part-time worker while my daughters were growing up. It all worked out. But I’m sure glad he saw the light and sold his business in 2014. He now works for the company that bought it. We have so much less money (were never rich by any stretch of the imagination), but we have so much more time together. We enjoy hiking, gardening, drinking coffee, working puzzles, and eating together. He’s still trying to regain his health from a frenzied work schedule and little sleeping for years. I hope your hubby is soon out of the rat race, too! Because, really, who wants to be a rat?
    I love the research and work you put into your books!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheryl thank you so much for sharing that story 😁❤️ I am SO grateful. My marriage has most always been strong but there were times I got lonely. Like you, I saw many personal benefits due to Al’s work ethic. It’s allowed me to focus on .org, too. I had time and $$$ to get two degrees, teach as many or few classes as I chose, pursue writing … all my dreams. Except the one where we begin to slow down and smell the sweet life, enjoy all our hard work and become happy companions in the next phase. But it is coming. Very soon. After I did my research yesterday, I got a text from Al that he was working overtime 😁 Yes on a Sunday. I fired back “You’re a workaholic” and he replied “Double time” to which I retorted “First sign of a workaholic is preoccupation with money” and he wrote STOP ✋ when he got home only a half hour late (usually a half hour means 2-3 hours) I complimented him and then told him about my research. I showed him all the pages and highlighted some dangers. We both recognized it so quickly. And I admitted I’d enabled his behavior because of the perks and time it afforded me. We’re so ready to turn the page. Meanwhile I need to finish this book before he gives notice at work! Our mutual deadline is December!

      Liked by 1 person

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