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Elie’s Vacation Memo: On Marriage

As I approach the completion of my third full year at Above the Law, you’d think I wouldn’t feel the need to write a memo every time I take a week off so people don’t start partying like I’ve been fired. Yet… well, let’s just say that Dan Savage came to me in a dream and said, “It gets better — except for you, Elie.”

I jest. As regular readers know, this is the time I take off to celebrate my wedding anniversary. I leave you in the always capable hands of managing editor David Lat and ATL’s newest staff writer, Staci Zaretsky. Please send all tips and story ideas to them at

Marriage has been on my mind a lot this summer. I attended the wonderful wedding of an old friend last weekend. But mainly I’ve been thinking about marriage and family in the context of the many strong reactions to my debt posts.

Some of the most surprising reactions were from people who contended that I was essentially being a bad husband by quitting my Biglaw job while still saddled with serious debts. According to these people, including some women, a better husband would have stuck it out in Biglaw for however long it took until my wife and I could be debt-free.

Are these people insane?

Never has a Biglaw job been accused of being conducive to a “happy marriage.” The best you can hope for with such a job is that it doesn’t destroy your marriage, one night and weekend at a time. I’m married to my “original” wife, who (as far as I know) neither hates me nor is dead inside. We don’t need secretaries to remember each other’s birthdays. We don’t just get to have dinner together; we’ve even been able to have lunch together. You want to bet on my chances of living that life if I had kept my Biglaw job?

My current vacation is not at the discretion of some client or judge or partner. My nights and weekends are not routinely flummoxed by the poor planning of a partner who really couldn’t give a crap what I promised a woman he’s never met. When I’m out, I keep my phone on in case my wife needs me, not my job.

Isn’t it better to be married to a broke man than a comfortable indentured servant?

Of course, there are women out there who would say, “D’uh — I’ll take comfortable indentured servant for $1,000, Alex.” Which is great for them. Enjoy! Don’t get old though, because the ride can get a little bumpy on the way down.

We don’t have a perfect marriage. In fact, most of the people I know, including all of my single friends (male and female), would probably rather drill into their brains with a corkscrew than live our life for a day. Many times, I’ve searched the net for various homicide solutions, only to stop upon determining that I’m not going to let her off that easy.

But my wife and I have been married for seven years. We’re about to face another broke-ass week — I think our staycation highlight might be checking out the new Fairway — but we’re going to be facing it together.

I made one promise in my life that truly matters. That was on my wedding day. All my other obligations will have to get in line behind that one.

Earlier: Elie’s Vacation Memo: Time To Turn Over a New Leaf (And Try Not To Smoke It)
Elie’s Semiannual Vacation Memo

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