What did he hate the most about her? What did she hate most about him? What this question really addresses is not only the family dynamics, or the interpersonal dynamics between the husband and the wife in their marriage, but also just two individuals living under the same roof. What was Chris Watts like to live with? What was Shan’ann like – as a person?
What are the things that generally agitate people in a marriage, after a length of time together? What things would have specifically chafed at these two particular personalities?
To adequately answer these questions we have to know more about who Chris Watts is and was. Fortunately we get to have a little peek into that area thanks to Ashleigh Banfield’s recent interview with Richard Hodges, a former roommate and college classmate of Chris Watts.
Take a look.
On the surface, and bearing in mind Hodges last made contact with Watts in 2005, there’s an impression of a hard working kid who is also very hard on himself. He’s trying hard and working hard to elevate himself into some significance. He’s trying to become someone.
Skip to ten years later and Chris Watts is in Colorado in a picture-perfect house, with a picture-perfect wife and picture-perfect family. One has the impression this is what he always wanted – the picture-perfect side of things. This is significance. He’d spent a good fifteen years building himself up, and for that matter, so had Shan’ann. Both of them came from humble beginnings and both worked their asses off to build what they had by August 2018.
So if they had so much in common, what did Shan’ann do “wrong” in Chris Watts’ eyes?
Let’s examine that through 3 prisms. Firstly, the Scott Peterson case. Secondly, the particular circumstances of the Watts case. And thirdly, through my personal experience with someone involved in MLM.
A. What did
Chris Watts Scott Peterson HATE about Shan’ann Laci?
Like Shan’ann, Laci also saw Scott as a sort of trophy. She hero-worshiped him in public. She idolized him. Scott was part of her idea of a fairy tale. It’s not clear that that was the case so much behind closed doors.
If Scott murdered Laci, then clearly what was happening was the desire to believe in something that wasn’t true overpowering the reality. In other words, Laci was more in love with the idea of being in love, than with the actual person. The same was true with Shan’ann and Chris, wasn’t it?
And this idea is mirrored in the fantastic amount of fairy tale but ultimately fake happy snaps associated with the Watts case.
B. The circumstances of the Watts case
Chris was dedicated to what he was doing, so was Shan’ann. Chris was working hard. Shan’ann was working hard. So what was the thing wedging its way between them?
In my opinion it was primarily two things. Shan’ann was suffering from a serious auto-immune disease, and this made her into a particular kind of person with a particular psychology. Although it manifested in some ways positively [wanting to better herself, developing a fighting spirit], she may have overcompensated in the sense of becoming a perfectionist and a control freak. Managing her anxiety about her health ended up becoming managing her world, and everyone in it.
In the oft played clip where she tells Celeste in a singsong voice to say “hi” to the camera, when Celeste doesn’t, Shan’ann barks at her: “Say hi!”. How often was that merciless tone used behind closed doors, when the camera was off? Because it’s a tone that brooks no truck with dissent. It’s my way or the highway.
In Two Face I explore this aspect in a lot more detail, using another example from her social media to reinforce this impression of an always-on pushy, controlling, oppressive person.
There is definitely something more to this, because even her colleague, Nickole Atkinson, describes Shan’ann as OCD. Her scheduling alone describes a very anal attitude to time management, a key trait of the perfectionist, and OCD. Some folks on the Websleuths forum have also picked up on the same thing. Chris Watts may have put up with this throughout their six-year marriage, and all things being equal, he may have taken it on the chin, and on both cheeks. But all things weren’t equal, and they weren’t equal in a very key, and very crucial sense.
C. My personal experience with someone involved in MLM
We can’t prove – at this point – that Shan’ann wasn’t making the sort of money she claimed she was making. Until we have access to the forensic files and financial data, we have to resort to some extent to speculation. What we do know is that as recently as 2015 the couple were bankrupt. We also know that their money troubles were still with them in August 2018 – they had a date in court with the local homeowners association which proves this. So even without delving into the debits and credits, we know the Watts finances for reasons unknown were fucked.
What were those reasons? Was it because a third kid was on the way? The finances were already fucked before that happened. Was it because Chris Watts was spending the money, or not bringing the money in? We see that he was in a stable if relatively low paying job, but he was reliable and hard working, and doing double time for Shan’ann in her job.
It’s her job, see, that’s the unknown factor. One way to decipher this aspect is to personalize it. What does it feel like to live with someone who is a multi-level marketing [MLM] type? What are their finances really like?
Below, in italics, I’ve provided a brief anecdote of my experience. This isn’t to indulge you, or myself, but as a way to better understand what Chris Watts may have despised, even hated, about Shan’ann. Before you begin reading, just be aware that this isn’t about transference. Whatever my feelings about MLM or yours, all this is is my experience with a particular person. It may or may not provide insight into this case, and it may shed more light on the unknowns that went on behind closed doors.
Harriet – let’s call her Harriet – lived in a big, beautiful double-story house in a posh suburb. She was a young, single mom. Pretty. Blonde. Blue-eyed. The house wasn’t hers. It belonged to her wealthy parents. Harriet was involved in AMWAY and Herbalife. Sometimes packages would arrive, and if Harriet wasn’t around, I’d sign for them. It was invariably AMWAY shit, sent by courier. I often heard her telling people AMWAY’s “not a pyramid scheme”.
I also often heard her rationalising about how great MLM was because once you’ve done the initial work you don’t need to do anything any more, other people work for you. She didn’t seem to recognize that that’s what everyone else was planning on too. If people allow themselves to be recruited [for a fee], and all the recruits rely on the fact that other recruits will do their work for them, who actually works? Who actually makes money? The only real money comes from the way the cumulative memberships and profits from product sales are distributed from those at the bottom to those at the top of the pyramid.
Although Harriet called the AMWAY MLM “her business” or “the business” over the course of five years she very seldom worked. I don’t know how much money she made from AMWAY but I do know she never had any money, and that her parents were always giving her money, and buying her things. Often this money was given to her as part of an agreement or incentive to do something. She’d take the money but they never got her to execute on her end of the bargain. At one point when I was there they even bought her a brand new car as a gesture of faith. She took the car but later fell out of the arrangement they made.
Occasionally, when her parents grew desperate and threatened her, there were spurts of activity. She’d have a few meetings at home or she’d travel off to AMWAY’s motivational workshops. Each time she’d arrive back from these workshops inspired, pumped up and ready to get to work. Harriet was someone who often overstated things, often exaggerated.
Harriet had friends but they were weird. While she saw herself as upper class, none of her friends were. One long-term boyfriend was about 15 years younger than her, whom she asked me to keep secret from her parents. The next was about 15 years older, who worked in a junk yard. Many of her female friends were over-the-hill housewives, almost all overweight, uneducated and ragged in some way. Since I’d known Harriet through a prior circle of mutual friends, now it was clear that virtually all those solid middle class friendships had fallen away. Had she pushed the MLM stuff onto them until they shut the door? I know she tried several times to recruit me but instead of buying into it or rejecting it, I simply said “I’ll think about it” even though I’d made up my mind.
What started annoying me over time was how hard I was working and her constant and very apparent laziness. And her inclination to complain about small things. I wasn’t the only one aggravated by this. Her parents, who often loaned her money, increasingly demanded that she find a real job. All told, in the five years I lived there she worked less than a total of six months in real jobs, and for the rest, told people she had her own MLM business.
Harriet’s finances weren’t my concern as a lodger, but what got extremely irritating was because she didn’t work, she had to find something to do. Since she was home all day, she soon began to worry and complain endlessly about whether I was dirtying her furniture by sitting on them, or dirtying the carpets by walking on them. She was pedantic about cleanliness. Her kitchen and lounge had those gadgets that puffs out toilet spray every few seconds. The carpets were repeatedly dry-cleaned, the house repeatedly painted. Everything was constantly being washed and cleaned.
Sometimes she’d arrive home with bags of shit-smelling compost, which would make the entire house smell of guano. Landscape designers would arrive every so often to deal with her garden. The pets in the house began to gravitate towards me, because I paid attention to them.
In the end I placed sheets and towels over the furniture and carpets I used upstairs so that my filthiness wouldn’t disturb her. And so on and so forth. Harriet’s MLM didn’t bother me, but it didn’t endear her to me either. I simply thought of her as extremely high maintenance, a self-centered alien species that had lost her mind. I put up with her OCD, no matter how unreasonable it was, because while I lived there, I had to. So I did with minimum fuss.
I wasn’t married to her and I was never her boyfriend, but the OCD was a symptom of a larger malaise. Had I been involved with her, the MLM would have been the first to go.
All that is a very long way of saying something very simple. Someone with OCD is tolerable when they’re holding up the fort, and when there’s a fort that you also have a stake in. But it’s intolerable when they aren’t holding up the fort and you are, or when they’re ruining your stake in your own home.
There definitely is a certain point, an inflection point, when that happens. Everybody knows in a domestic situation that moment when they decide, irrevocably, they’re done. Some people tell those they share their living spaces about their change of heart, but that only makes everything worse. You’re wiser if you don’t, but then, for as long as you continue living there, you feel like you’re pulling on the short end of the straw.
I know I reached that point with Harriet and her junkyard boyfriend. A few months before I left, I felt I’d had enough of their bullshit. Obviously I didn’t tell her this, I simply started preparing myself and my affairs to move out. I spent less and less time at home and tried to manage things so that I never encountered either of them, even in passing. I was just trying to avoid communicating and thus confronting. So I was living with the enemy but eager not to be. I didn’t let on that I was pissed off about anything.
The exit, when it happened, wasn’t pretty. There were no dead bodies, and no one was strangled, but there was some anger, shouting and unhappiness. I won’t go into the details but it wasn’t pleasant.
I suspect that like Harriet, Shan’ann wasn’t actually pulling in 80K a year. Either the money wasn’t coming in, or it wasn’t coming in consistently. What happened to her mandatory Live videos in August? And if she was still bringing in the money, why didn’t they have any money? Why were they an ongoing foreclosure risk?
If it was Shan’ann’s fault that they were losing their home because she wasn’t holding up her end of the deal, because of the MLM hocus pocus bull crap, then Shan’ann’s OCD and cheery Facebook mindfuckery had to have become harder and harder to live with. Then, with the announcement in May of a third child on the way, Chris Watts had a serious sense of humor failure.
Two Face is available right now on Amazon.com