Don Draper Taught My Husband How to Leave Our Marriage

The charming and handsome womanizer as a teacher?

Photo courtesy of Antonio Guillem via

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

“What do you want to watch?” This question used to be a nightly ritual between my husband and me every time we finished binge watching one show and needed another in the queue.

Little did I know that when I replied, “How about Mad Men?” it would end up being the perfect program to teach my husband how to leave our marriage.

“But we’ve already seen that,” he whined as he scrolled through other options.

I persisted, “Now that we know what happens, we can look for the things we missed before like wardrobe cues, lighting, framing, and incredible dialogue.” I know he enjoys when I point out certain things in a movie I learned from attending my one film class in college.

The truly remarkable thing about the suggestion I made is that I usually don’t watch anything more than once. I don’t have the patience nor the desire to revisit shows I’ve already seen. Of course there are exceptions but the exceptions are usually movies and not television shows with multiple seasons.

Some kind of divine intervention perhaps?

Somehow I won the argument and the binge watching began. If you’ve never experienced Mad Men, I suggest you stop what you’re doing and sit on the couch this very moment with NetFlix. It’s probably raining where you are, anyway; a great rainy day binge is always on the menu when it’s too wet to do anything outside.

The writing, the costumes, the acting, the sets, are all superbly done. I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t college paper after college paper written about Mad Men. There are so many different angles to pursue.

My husband and I sailed through seven seasons fairly rapidly, watching about two episodes per evening when we were home. We saved the series finale for the night before we had to take our youngest daughter out of state for a college visit this past February. He insisted we finish it despite how tired I was after spending the day getting the house ready for a pet-sitter and packing for our trip. I wanted to go to bed to get as much sleep as I could before the 3:30 a.m. wake-up call, but he wanted to watch Mad Men.

I found some energy somewhere and watched the truly memorable and perfect ending to the series.

Watching two episodes per night, I had the rare opportunity to think deeply and digest what I had seen on the small screen. What I took away from this second viewing of Mad Men was no matter how poorly Don Draper treated the women he was with, he was always Mr. Responsible when it came time to pay up or give some kind of hand-out to former girlfriends.

He didn’t shrug off his financial responsibilities to his former wives, nor did he place blame on them for the difficulties during marriage. He told them, “Whatever you want,” and he meant it.

Don didn’t drag his feet when it came time to divorce even though in both instances, the divorce was instigated by his wife. He also didn’t waste anyone’s time by continually taking his ex-wives to court trying to pay less alimony or child support to his ex-wives. Perhaps the writers felt that story line wouldn’t have rung true to the 1960’s but perhaps they were trying to convey that money didn’t mean much to Don.

Don took care of the wife in California he accidentally inherited — he never hesitated to share his wealth with many of the women in his life.

As a man whose life was wrong from conception, he tried his best to make it right for as many women as he could.

My marriage was never perfect. I think I can count on one hand the number of excellent years we had together, and have a few fingers left over, and the rest were less than ideal. Some years were more fun than others but for the most part, my husband and I had very little in common. And we both knew it.

We created three beautiful children, though, and I vowed not to subject my kids to a broken home/two Thanksgivings/two Christmasses, etc. I was determined to stay no matter what, or at least until everyone was safe and secure in college.

That was my plan, anyway.

What’s the saying about making plans and the universe? She laughs and laughs and then shows you how it’s really going to happen.

Mad Men and Don Draper in particular, taught my husband how to leave our marriage in the quietest and calmest way possible. He lacked a role model so he used the only one he had right in front of him, albeit a fictional personae, but he got the message.

There was no yelling, no blaming, no throwing things, no threats, no disgusted faces, no swearing — it was just a conversation between two people. Anyone witnessing our talk would not have known what was going on. We could have been talking about the weather, sports, or the grocery shopping list.

Don Draper became an example to my husband of how to treat a woman at the mutual ending of a relationship, and I am forever thankful.

Far more interesting internally than externally. I write to quiet the voices. Deleted Facebook & Twitter thereby immediately quieting 1000’s of voices.

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