A new marriage paradigm

A former Washoe County Commissioner explores life after marriage

‘Til Death Do Us Part … gives readers a 10-year glimpse into the life of former Washoe County Commissioner and network marketer Rene Reid Yarnell. Though the book often digresses into stories about her experiences as a commissioner, the underlying theme looks at the shifting paradigms of marriage.

“My intent in writing it is to raise consciousness that a new paradigm is needed as couples embrace marriage today,” Yarnell writes. “Challenges in relationships are inevitable. Given this, I propose that our objective be to emerge from our marital crises more ready than ever to make sound choices—either to renew and enhance our existing unions or to move on, transforming feelings of devastation into uplifting new beginnings without the usual sense of blame and failure.”

Yarnell, 57, explained in a telephone interview that she hoped writing about her life experiences would reinforce the idea that divorce doesn’t necessarily mean failure. She said she also hopes to dispel the negative feelings from both her Roman Catholic religion and society in general surrounding the end of marriage.

“I start to ask, ‘Where is marriage going in our society?’ “ she said, adding that the ellipses in her book’s title symbolizes that there are other roads one can take in life.

On a more personal level, Yarnell also explores her own codependency in marital life. She discovers that her prime subconscious fear is that of abandonment and the prospect of starting life over in her mid-50s—a fear she says many women of her generation can relate to.

“Whenever I face the prospect of being abandoned in my life, I become as a little child,” she writes. “I come from five generations of abandonment, where the men left the women, and the women remained to raise and support the children.”

The book opens about the time she is elected to the County Commission, and followers of local politics should enjoy her insider view. As a political neophyte, Yarnell beat an incumbent and was immediately at odds with her fellow commissioners—most notably over the privatization of Washoe Medical Center.

Yarnell questioned former Commissioner Dianne Cornwall’s ethics in voting on the privatization of Washoe Med, because Cornwall was a part-time employee of the hospital earning a $60,000 annual salary. Also, at the time of the vote, commissioners Jim Lillard and Gene McDowell were serving on the hospital’s board of directors.

Yarnell challenged then-Deputy District Attorney Ed Dannan’s legal assertion that the commissioners could vote on the matter despite their ties to the hospital, but the measure passed anyway.

“The three-in-favor, two-opposed vote was no surprise, and millions of dollars in taxpayer money were transferred to Washoe Med as a result,” she writes. “Setting aside the issue whether the transference was the right or wrong thing to do, the process bothered me. This issue would haunt me throughout my term in office.”

During the same time, in what she describes as a storybook romance, fellow network marketer Mark Yarnell showers her with poetry and the prospect of a fairytale marriage and successful business partnership. What she would endure over the next decade is a roller coaster of dealing with her husband’s ongoing addictions while struggling to keep their business together. The book concludes with Yarnell coming to terms with the ending of her second marriage and starting out on her own in business.

Yarnell’s life experiences prior to the time she wrote ’Til Death Do Us Part … are worthy of another book—she’s a former nun who left the convent to marry a former priest. But for now, she said, she is concentrating on the present.