Russ fell in love with Sharlene in 1976. She was hesitant to get involved with anyone because of her past. Russ maintained he didn't care when Sharlene insisted there was something he had to know before they could marry. After they married, Sharlene's malicious brother Willis told Russ that Sharlene had rather sluttily slept with a lot of men. Russ left her, and she tried to kill herself.
But they loved each other and attempted several reconciliations. They bought a house and tried to have a baby, but damage to Sharlene's Fallopian tubes made that imposible (though the problem was surgically correctible). Russ was tortured with the knowledge that there was a part of Sharlene's story she couldn't bring herself to tell him. He had to get drunk to make love to her, and Sharlene was disgusted at the degrading way he treated her.
When therapy failed, Sharlene realized their marriage was over as she could never bring herself to tell him all of her past, and he could never accept knowing or not knowing. She left town, and they divorced several months later. It was revealed years later that she had left pregnant with his baby.