A Marriage of Convenience
Steve was 41 when he met Ellen. She was a twice divorced 34-year-old mother of an
11-year-old boy. Steve had been married once before. Ellen had filed bankruptcy in her
last marriage but told Steve she was beginning what was sure to be a lucrative career in
He fell in love with her and after a few months they started living together.
Ellen's sales career was not as easily launched as she had suggested it would be, but
Steve willingly supported her and her son financially. After all, he told himself, he had
a good job and a reasonable income, and as her close emotional companion saw no reason to
withhold his support in any area of their lives.
He was committed to her, convinced they were building a loving relationship that would
last for many years, possibly for their entire lives. Two years later he and Ellen were
Before their marriage Ellen had dabbled in amateur drama productions and soon began to
express an even greater interest in the theater.
She devoted more and more of her time to drama classes, explaining to Steve that acting
was simply something she loved to do - nothing more than a hobby.
Although he told Ellen of his concern about the time and money she put into her acting,
Steve remained supportive, always believing that such support was one expression of their
His financial help enabled Ellen to pay for her classes and in the four years following
their marriage she spent $40,000 on professional drama training. Eventually she became
sufficiently accomplished as an actress to support herself, but it proved to be an
investment in time, money and emotional commitment which paid off only for Ellen.
Thinking he had a near-perfect marriage, Steve never suspected that his wife's real
ambitions - for herself and their relationship - were very different from his own; that
she had a hidden agenda, established when they first met, which was to pursue an acting
career and to do whatever was necessary to achieve that goal.
The disintegration of their relationship, when the period of revelation began, was quick
A few weeks after the couple celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary, Steve had to be
admitted to the hospital for minor surgery and unexpected complications resulted in an
unplanned overnight stay. Even so, full recovery would require only about a week and Steve
looked forward to returning home the next day.
However, when he got home to his wife and stepson he encountered a chilling, rather than
That same afternoon, instead of helping with Steve's recuperation, Ellen went to the
theater and then to a girlfriend's house until the early evening. On her return she told
him she would be going to a theater picnic the next day, leaving him alone again. Hardly
able to walk, even using crutches, Steve was obviously not expected to join the party.
When he questioned Ellen's priorities she announced that she was bored with their
The conversations which followed elicited a series of revelations about her true
motivation and ambition, revelations of deceit throughout their relationship which left
Steve in a state of shocked disbelief.
Finally it became obvious to him that she wanted their marriage to last one more year, so
her son could graduate from a prestigious high school in their district.
For Steve, with their relationship exposed as anything but the honest and loving
partnership he had imagined it to be, the prospect of a continuing "marriage of
convenience" was intolerable.
He made this clear and within two weeks of his surgery he and Ellen agreed to separate.
The marriage was over and almost immediately all Steve's love turned to rage.
He was confused, depressed and, while he had no tangible evidence at the time that he had
been "used," the feeling was so real it made him vomit. He lost twenty pounds in
thirty days and was on the verge of suicide.