There comes a point in every marriage where one partner tells the other: “I want to take a break from you and our child and the life we’ve built together to be a prostitute in Las Vegas—see you soon.” Granted, my wife and I haven’t reached this point yet (give us time, people). Nor have any of our friends. Nor has… well, anyone else I’ve ever met or heard of, besides the husband of former Olympian/call girl Suzy Favor Hamilton. For decades, he offered his spouse a love equal parts heartbreaking devotion and spectacularly questionable judgment.
Suzy Favor Hamilton was a champion runner in high school and college who qualified for three Olympics. She also battled severe mental illness. (It appears to be hereditary, as her brother committed suicide – more about him later.) Once her career as a runner ended, something needed to fill the void that competition once occupied and, after finding matrimony, parenthood, and selling real estate failed to do the trick, she eventually went to her husband and said she had the cure for her occasionally suicidal thoughts: a threeway in Vegas for their 20th anniversary.
Then they went to Vegas and had a threeway with an escort and she did indeed have a great time and seemed much happier and generally more herself.
To recap: beloved wife of many years is miserable, requests bringing another woman into the boudoir to cheer herself up, it actually works.
This is when the universe decided to punish the husband savagely for that unexpected moment of awesome. Soon Favor Hamilton said she’d like an encore of the experience, only this time the escort would be a man and her husband would be somewhere else. (He’s since said of this: “I’m not going to lie. She had to sell it.”)
He agreed and soon enough everything returned to normal, except she announced she actually hadn’t been excited by being with a Vegas escort: she was excited by the prospect of being a Vegas escort. Vegas escorts sleep with other men, no husbands invited. So she proposed a new arrangement for her spouse of 20 years:
Occasionally she would leave their home (they lived in Wisconsin) and their business (they sold real estate together) and their daughter (yes, they still have a child) to fly to Vegas to have sex with other men under an assumed name for roughly $500 an hour which she’d spend at least partly on personal luxury goods while he took care of everything back home… and in return for this, she’d be happier.
And he said, “You seem to be engaging in behavior that is erratic and escalating and potentially risky, which I find particularly troubling with the history of suicide in your family.”
I kid: in fact, he said, “Let’s give it a shot.” (Looking back, he acknowledged, “It bothers me.”)
(At this point, I should note that I am in no way judging Favor Hamilton for being a prostitute: for some women and men it can be a career like any other and I favor legalizing prostitution while heavily regulating it to protect those who participate. I also think if someone announces they’re going to make the dark thoughts go away by having sex with strangers for money, good luck with that.)
Long story short: Her true identity as a former Olympian was revealed and things became so bleak that her husband once had to slam on the brakes to stop her from throwing herself from a moving car. A profile of the couple on ABC notes that after this:
Yes, this was the point they decided, “Maybe we should get a doctor involved.” It turned out the antidepressant she was taking was the wrong medication for her because she had undiagnosed bipolar disorder, a shocking diagnosis no one could have foreseen unless they noted that her brother was bipolar or they paid any attention to her behavior over the years.
Finally properly medicated, Favor Hamilton seems to be rebuilding her life and marriage as she promotes her book (Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running From Madness) about how she destroyed her life and marriage.
I’m not certain how I feel about them trying to stick it out for more decades to come. These problems were triggered by an undiagnosed sickness, one that at last is receiving treatment. And as his wife tried to find happiness Mark showed an impressive level of, shall we say, understanding. (If a lesser amount of common sense: everything’s obvious in hindsight, yet at some point I still think someone — looking in your direction, doctor who put her on the antidepressant in the first place — should have gone, “Bipolar!”?)
And with all the suffering they’ve both experienced together/often caused one another, is there a point it’s healthier to say, “One of us doesn’t have to fly to Vegas, but probably should go somewhere… else.”
As a novice husband, there seem two definite lessons to be learned:
1. “Who left the umbrella at the airport?” and equivalent points of contention are quite trivial.
2. If your wife suggests a threesome, be absolutely terrified.
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