I was almost 23-years-old and married for about a year-and-half when the campy, yet amusing, movie Weekend at Bernie’s was released to theaters. While there was never any concern that it would be an Oscar contender, video sales have escalated the tale to a cult classic. If you haven’t had the pleasure, it’s basically about two hapless young fellas named Richard and Larry who discover funds are being embezzled from their insurance company. To earn favor with their boss, Bernie, they report this troubling fact to him.
As a reward to these young lads for discovering the embezzlement, Bernie invites the two of them to his luxurious beach house in the Hamptons for his infamous Labor Day bash. Except the invitation isn’t really to party. It is more like an invitation to swim with the fishes as they say. You see, Bernie is actually the embezzler as it turns out. To cover up his thieving ways, Bernie orders a hit on Richard and Larry but winds up getting whacked by his mob partner instead. Apparently Bernie never learned that one should never double-cross the mob!
When Richard and Larry discover Bernie’s dead body at his beach house, they learn simultaneously of their boss’s evil plot to have them killed. Naturally, they do what any sane person would do in this scenario. For the remainder of the weekend, they prop Bernie up so the mob hit men will believe he is still alive. Come on, isn’t that what everyone does when they discover a dead body? Believe it or not, it sort of makes sense when you watch the movie and some of the wacky moments that ensue from dragging Bernie’s corpse around are pretty hilarious.
What does this have to do with marriage, infidelity and divorce? I’m making a point, I promise.
For three years, following my ex’s infidelity, we attempted reconciliation. And by we, I mean me. I read all the books and implored him to do the same. I begged him to tell the other woman to stop contacting him. I made the marriage counseling appointments and dragged him along. Of course, during said appointments I enjoyed an hour of watching him nervously chew his fingernails and utter one-word answers all while looking constipated.
In the meantime, much like Richard and Larry, I propped our dead marriage up for the world to see. In the beginning of the venture, it was on life support. As time went on, and it became clear that he wasn’t interested in doing anything to make me feel safe in my decision to stay with him, the marriage rightfully died. Instead of burying it immediately; however, I continued to drag it around.
Why? Your guess is as good as mine.
It could’ve been for show, it could’ve been because I was afraid to be single after close to three decades of marriage. It could’ve been because I didn’t want to be a perceived failure or I didn’t want to start over in my 40s. The “why” really doesn’t matter but what I came to realize is very important:
Reconciling a marriage after infidelity with a cheater who is not remorseful and has no interest in helping you heal is a much more heart-wrenching version of Weekend at Bernie’s. You spend all of your energy dragging around the corpse and trying to make it look like it’s alive to the outside world but it’s a waste of time. Eventually, rigor mortis and decay of your self-esteem will set in and you become a shell of your former self.
Choosing to reconcile after infidelity is a very tough road to hoe. If you do take the chance and choose this route, you have to be cognizant of a few facts: If you’re doing all the work or if your cheating spouse isn’t truly remorseful or if he expects you to “win him back” you don’t have a marriage, you have a corpse.
And let’s face it, the only suitable thing to do with a corpse is to bury it. Go ahead and have a proper funeral; also known as divorce in some circles. Then mourn your loss and move on to the business of healing. If you don’t heed my warning, you will only wind up wasting more of your precious life on a person that doesn’t deserve even one more moment of your time.