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'Til Death Do Us Part...
One Woman's Story of Facing the Reality After Clinging to the Dream

CHAPTER 15
(Part 3 of 10)

CONVERSING AT LAST

"Well, easy for you to say. But I treasured the early stage of our love. While it was there, I didn't need any chemical dependency. And when it started fading, I found myself turning to pills again. I don't think you understand what a major part our newness of love played for me. And when it went away, it went far away. I mean, how can two people spend time in a place like Gstaad and not be happier and more in love than we were? It's sad but true. We just co-existed over there. And there were times when I really went all out and made the effort, but nothing changed. You are not the same person I married. I still am; you even said so. But you really aren't." How would you know, sweetheart? You haven't been around me in more than six weeks? Deep breath. Hold it in, Rene. This is not the time to point out the changes I see in him since the detox program just one year ago. "I still want you to go see a hormone therapist. Maybe it's chemical. But whatever...you've changed. What I want now is a wife who will respect my decisions in business and trust me to make those decisions. I don't have that in you, and I haven't for a long time. You made a laughingstock of yourself with Larry Brady and Harold. When they received that letter from you-the one you never told me you sent-they called me right away. You really lost credibility with them over that. Everyone comes to me and tells me what they think about some of your business dealings. They seem to be afraid to tell you. When I ask Valerie why she won't tell you, she says it is because you seem so vulnerable and she doesn't want to hurt you. But we all feel that you are out of your element in business. You've pissed off nearly everyone you've dealt with. And your thing about asking Larry and Harold and Graham to give up share of ownership since we put up more of the money was the final straw. That was really stupid. It shows how little you understand about business."

"We really do see that differently. What about what Randy has done, bringing in investors and reapportioning stock ownership? Hasn't he just carried out what I was trying to discuss with the partners?"

"Maybe so, but he had the ability to deliver the message and get a favorable response. You didn't. It's you. It's your delivery. You are inept when it comes to business and negotiations. In fact, I was mortified when I found out that you were checking references on Randy. All I could think of is that you would blow everything. I called my friend, Bill Puckett, and Randy Calvert and talked to them both about it. Apparently you didn't do any irreparable damage. Randy said you were welcome to check his references. That's why he gave them to Valerie and John. He didn't seem bothered but said he was glad he didn't give out the investors' names. That could have caused problems. The point is: I don't want to have to worry every time you open your mouth that you are going to say something that could undo all the work I've done to get things where they are."

"Do I hear you saying that you still don't agree with the formation of the new investment company and the way shares have been adjusted to be more proportionate to dollars invested?"

"No, I don't agree. I just went along with it because everyone else seemed to want it. To me, it was fine the way it was."

"So can we talk about that? That was the crushing blow that finally nearly destroyed us. If we are going to be real with each other, then let's try to learn from this. What if you had come to me and said, 'Rene, we're out of money and the partners can't come up with their share right now. I want to put more of our money into this company because I believe in it.'"

"That's exactly what I did say!" Mark was emphatic. I didn't argue.

"Okay, but what if I had come back and said, 'Mark, I'm willing to go to the mat with you with this company - win, lose, or draw - but if we are going to risk everything we have, I am uncomfortable doing that without a more solid business approach'?"

"That's pretty much what you said!"

"I know, but our actions didn't take each other's feelings into account. What if at that point you would have said: 'Well, why don't we get an outsider to look at this and advise us? If that will make you feel better, and you will go along with me on this, okay.' I mean, there were so many ways we could have tried to be sensitive to each other's fears and concerns. It was you and me risking everything-our life savings and our marriage-over this company. But no one else was going to question what we were doing. Why shouldn't they just sit back and let us take all the risk while you allow them to keep the same ownership? No one else was mortgaging their home for our company."

"There wasn't time. We were out of money, and we had to put it in that very moment."

"Or so we all thought. As it turns out, after Randy came on the scene, that wasn't the case. But the point is, in any partnership, and especially one where we are married as well and trying to prioritize each other's concerns and well-being, we needed to go one step further than we did. Mark, I was scared about the way we were pouring everything down this tube."

"'Pouring everything down a tube'. See, that says it all. I have never lost faith in this company. Those words just prove that you did. And that means you lost faith in me. And that's the problem."

I thought about what he was saying. There was truth to his words, at least partial truth. "I don't think I have ever lost faith in our company. I admit to facing the possibility that we could lose everything. I could live with going broke and starting over, but I can't live with that and losing you! 'Pouring it down the tube,' for me, meant it was unacceptable business practice to risk everything and not have any verbal or written agreement as to how that would be dealt with by our partners. I never lost faith in you, but I didn't feel we should be running this business the way we run our charitable foundation. Ownership of a company is generally based on the proportion of investment. Graham understood it. But I felt like the lone wolf when I would try to discuss that with you or ATG. And I'm still blown away at the reaction I received when I touched on that subject."

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'Til Death Do Us Part...
By Rene Reid Yarnell

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