Ruth Madoff Had To Choose Between Her Husband & Her Son

By  | 

We all agree that Bernie Madoff was a pretty terrible person who stole billions of dollars and knowingly cheated thousands of people out of their retirement savings. I don’t think anyone has a whole lot of sympathy for this man. However, the plight of Madoff’s family is a little more nuanced. Some people claim that they had to know what was going on in that high-flying company, especially since most of the family all worked in the financial business. They may not have done the crime themselves, but they definitely reaped the benefits, right? This was a popular opinion when the story was first breaking.

I’m not sure life has gotten much easier for Ruth Madoff. Her son committed suicide two years after his father was arrested. And her children delivered an ultimatum at the beginning of this mess that she could stay in contact with her husband or she could be a part of her children’s live. Not both. Apparently, Ruth has had a hard time making what has to be an agonizing decision. Through the tragedy and her husband’s beating in jail, she’s wavered back and forth between her husband of 50 years and her children. Finally, Ruth Madoff has sworn off Bernie in an effort to reconnect with her surviving son.

It’s easy to judge and say, “Of course she should never talk to her husband again! He’s a crook and a liar and a horrible human being!” And he may be all of those things. But Ruth and Bernie Madoff started dating when she was 13 years old. She got married at the age of 18. She’s spent over 80 percent of her life in love with this man. And while he did terrible things professionally, she knew him privately, away from all the scandal and crookedness. Saying goodbye to that person forever cannot be an easy task.

I’m not saying that her sons were wrong to ask for such a sacrifice. Their father’s actions ruined their lives, to the point of ending one. They have every right to strip him from their lives as thoroughly as possible. But I wouldn’t blame any of them for having a hard time doing it. Family, for all of its faults and weaknesses, is a hard concept to turn your back on.

I don’t know if Ruth Madoff had an idea of her husband’s criminal actions. Since it doesn’t look like she’ll ever be convicted in a court of law, I’m not sure that it matters. But I do know that choosing between your children and your husband, no matter what either of them have done, has to be absolutely agonizing. And I wouldn’t trade her experience for however many millions she got to keep.

(Photo: LA Times)