Mistress Dispelling: The New Way To Save Your Marriage

Do you have kids? Are you concerned about their future? Are you worried about how much college is going to cost? Are you worried you’re going to pay an arm and a leg and your sweet kid is going to be saddled with loans forever, all to get a degree that maybe won’t even mean anything? Are you afraid by the time your precious Johnny or Sally gets a degree, the job market will be so awful that they’ll move back in with you, and will be asking for “hundos” for their “randos” until you die?

Well do not fear! A new lucrative career path has opened up and as long as the Orange Menace doesn’t get us all nuked before the end of 2017, your kids might just have a future in mistress dispelling. Oh yes, that’s a thing. The Times recently reported on the growing fad of “mistress dispellers” in China. Turns out some entrepreneurs have found a new way to capitalize on crumbling marriages. They fix them! While that kind of business will cut into my kind of business, I salute their innovation and would probably opt in if they were on Shark Tank and I was a judge on Shark Tank. What is a mistress dispeller you ask?

Well, see if your spouse is cheating on you and you want to repair your marriage without, you know, confronting the cheating and working it out like adults, you can hire a mistress dispeller who will take a two pronged approach at fixing your marriage. First she will makeover the cheated-on spouse, in mind, body and actions to make her a better mate. Concurrently, she will ingratiate herself into the paramour’s life and convince her to hit the road. How so? The mistress dispeller does recon on the mistress’s life, categorizes her motives, then skillfully disassembles the affair from the inside. Pretty nuts right? Shockingly, this isn’t the plot of a Kate Hudson romantic comedy. It sure sounds like a movie, but I googled and googled and came up short, so if this exists, please let me know. And if it turns out there isn’t a movie like this already, call me Scott Rudin, I’ve got some ideas on casting.

What’s the price point for a person who is half life coach and half evil genius? Priceless! Or actually around $45,000 for about three months of work. It’s certainly not cheap, but the services carry an alleged 90% success rate, so $45k is a pittance if you get everlasting love, right? I wonder what the makeovers are like and what exactly the coaching entails, but I am much more intrigued by the mistress part. So much deception and sneaking around is involved. It sounds like the best job. It’s like being a spy except instead of stealing confidential documents, you’re trying to lure a person into friendship over lattes. Then you play puppet master for awhile. I’ve got some ideas for how to handle certain mistress stereotypes, so let's take a crack at it...

The Work Colleague

Research the past ten years of the company’s holiday party. Have they used the same caterers for the past three years? You bet. Apply and get hired by the catering company. Show up the night of the party ready to work. Nonchalantly find your target and offer Work Mistress one of many hors d’oeuvres options. Keep circling back. Make an offhanded comment on hating the gig but loving the shrimp puffs, opening the door for her to complain about her own job. You can always count on a person to hate their job, and love anything encased in puff pastry, that is the American way. Keep chatting. Explain how you’re just working these gigs to save up for a big trip for a couple of months to find yourself. Talk about how you always dreamed of seeing the world as a kid and you’re just sick of promising yourself a life you never follow through on. Wait to see if this piques her interest. It does.

She explains she, too, always wanted to travel but there was just no opportunity. Butt in and say, oh yeah, I know how it goes, settling down, buying a house, getting married, I get it. She explains she’s not really doing any of those things actually. Wait a beat. Then say, then what’s stopping you? She explains she can’t quit her job, she’s got tons of school loans, and she’s sort of seeing this guy but it’s a mess. You empathize and say oh man if only you could only find a more challenging job somewhere else and start over. Her eyes light up.

Shanghai, she exclaims! Shanghai! Ah yes, they’re opening a new branch of the office in good old Shanghai, but you already knew that because you are a very good mistress dispeller. The two of you talk some more and by the end of the night you are fired from the catering gig (seriously, you’re supposed to circulate with those trays, that’s your main job duty), and Work Mistress is dead set on moving, taking on a more challenging managerial role to open up the Shanghai office, and even already brought it up to her boss so she wouldn’t chicken out in the morning. Tzai jien, Work Mistress! Best of luck on all your future endeavors!

The Babysitter

Deep dive into her online presence. She’s an aspiring writer! Check out her Instagram geotags and look for patterns. Does she seem to get coffee at one place a lot? Start frequenting. Knock over her iced coffee at the pick up bar and offer to buy her another. Compliment her shoes. Bump into her the next morning and wave. After a few days of smiling acknowledgments just introduce yourself. Start chatting about the neighborhood and casually drop that you work in publishing (you obviously don’t, you’re a high powered mistress dispeller, but you do have a BA in English Lit). Because this world is all about connections, Babysitter explains she’s working on a novel but she’s stuck with writer’s block. Say you know it sounds crazy, but you wouldn’t mind giving her work a gander. She agrees!

You spend two months working tirelessly on this quite crappy novel, but it starts to take shape. You explain to Babysitter Mistress that the old adage “write what you know” is totally true, and that ordinary stories become excellent stories if you inject your own history into them. The novel’s big climax is a total bust because there’s no real emotion there. You tell her to tap into any romantic pain she’s been through and she says there’s not much there. You ask her about her current dating situation and she says it’s actually pretty interesting. She’s dating an old married guy. Oh really, you don’t say! You somehow over the course of a few days convince her to dump the married guy, because she needs to feel real pain to make her book better. This book is her baby and it deserves all her attention. The world cannot live without this book! Blah blah, she buys it all, hook, line and sinker. Tell a self-absorbed writer the world needs her story and she’ll basically do anything you say after that. She dumps the married guy, stops babysitting for the family, is wracked with feelings of regret over the decision, and she falls into a deep depression for about six months. She finally crawls out of it, finishes the book and sends it your way to pass along to editors at your publishing house. You don’t work in publishing, so you ghost her and move to a different city. Two years later, you see her book at an airport Hudson News. Guess it all worked out!

PS - I am assuming The Babysitter goes to college or grad school or is a freelance writer with a lot of time to spare, and is not a high school student. Because if she’s a high school student just call the cops, case closed.

The Internet Dating Site Rando

Figure out which book club she belongs to and join that book group. All Internet Dating Site Randos belong to book club, this is just a fact. Read whatever thriller or Oprah-approved book is that month’s pick and craft a very deliberate talking point about fathers, as you know she lost her father and you are a terrible person. Keep laying it on thick and philosophical until she cracks and runs off to the bathroom. Excuse yourself to go check on her. Apologize a lot through the locked door and convince her to come out explaining how sorry you are. Be extremely kind and comforting. Suggest hitting a diner after book club and offer to buy her a tuna melt to make up for making her cry. Bond over tuna melts. Talk about your lives and interests and explain you always wanted to take up running. What a coincidence, guess who runs?

Accept her invitation to join her running group. Over the course of 12 Sunday morning runs, get to know Rando better. Also get to know Isaac, the running group leader. Notice how well Rando and Isaac get along. Talk one up to the other. Buy a $100 Chili’s gift card and tell Isaac and Rando you got it as a gag gift, and mention how funny it would be to head over to Chili’s for some post-run eats. Go to Chili’s as a trio, fake an emergency phone call, apologize profusely, order some Lime SNO-JITOs for the table and leave the gift card. Hang out in the parking lot, spy through the windows, and wait for love to blossom like a Bloomin’ Onion. Pardon me, I mixed up my fast casual dining restaurant chains! Love blossoms alright, and Rando dumps the married guy and lives happily ever after with Isaac the runner.

The Childhood Sweetheart

This all started on Facebook so go straight to the source. Childhood Sweetheart runs a custom pet accessories business which happens to have a Facebook page. Like it. Inquire about several high priced personalized pet items. Order them all. Receive them, leave glowing reviews on the Facebook page. Repeat. Private message the business and explain how much these items have really brightened your days, and frankly, changed your life. Attach pictures of (borrowed) animals wearing the goods at a dog park you know she frequents. She will respond thanking you. She will also say, oh my gosh is that Liberty Dog Park!? She's there all the time and invites you to say hello if you ever see her. You're in. You see her, say hello and strike up a pretty good friendship. You take the dogs on hikes and meet up at the craft supply store to check out new rhinestone styles. You talk about life and the future and it turns out she wants kids pretty badly. She loves the dogs and all, but she always wanted kids and time’s ticking, you know? You ask about her relationships and she says she’s actually reconnected with her first love and things are going pretty good except, can you keep a secret, he’s married. You don’t say.

Ask her all about him and what he was like back in school, and how they first got together. A lot of these stories involve Tom, married guy’s best friend in seventh grade. Ask more about Tom. Tom sounds great, and seems a lot kinder and more interesting than married guy ever was. Mention this to her. A lot. Wait for it to dawn on Childhood Sweetheart that it was Tom she really loved all along. Encourage her to reconnect with Tom. She does. They hit it off. He’s got beautiful blue eyes that would look great on their babies. Tom is also married, but that is now some other mistress dispeller’s problem.

 

A New Home For Your Relationship Memorabilia

It has been a hard couple of weeks. How were any of us to know that just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, all we had to do was wait about six hours. On the plus side, you may have seen your partner’s true colors shine through in a Facebook or Twitter fight and you’ve finally decided to kick that piece of garbage to the curb and move forward with you life. Congratulations! Have you thought about what you’re going to do with all the stuff that reminds you of them? Have you thought about turning that stuff into a piece of art?

A few weeks ago a very interesting museum opened in Los Angeles. It’s called the Museum of Broken Relationships and it contains exactly what you think it would. It’s a new branch of a Croatian museum housing the detritus of broken hearts. A lawyer (because why not) helmed the expansion in LA, and it seems pretty great.  

The museum’s contents are community sourced, and anonymous. It’s shocking something like this just opened, as it’s such a good idea. We’re surrounded by so many objects that passively absorb life and meaning. How many terrible secrets does your coffee table hold? How many awful memories were made in your formerly favorite sweater? What happens to the fancy frames that once held your wedding photos? You donate, refurbish or burn them obviously, but how neat would it be to be part of an art exhibit instead?

In lieu of worrying about the country, the world, and the future while staring out into middle distance with Sharon Van Etten playing on repeat, I give you my suggestions for what should be added to the Museum of Broken Relationships. And if you’ve got something personal to add, please donate to the museum!

 

Tattered Copy Of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest

  • Relationship Length: Fall Semester Sophomore Year - Spring Semester Sophomore Year
  • Location: Any College Campus, USA

Every girl on every campus across this great land dated an insufferable know-it-all whose favorite writer was David Foster Wallace. The know-it-all pushed Infinite Jest on his short-lived love, and lent her his copy that had notes written all over the margins. All of his shallow observations were scribbled next to tedious paragraphs, begging the reader to notice his brilliance. Boy did he know just everything about life! He was pre-med for one semester so he could brazenly diagnose anyone using medical jargon he definitely picked up from Grey’s Anatomy. He knew everything about intersectional feminism, so he could really explain what to women what they were doing wrong and how they were betraying the cause. He went camping once when he was twelve, but let him tell you about how he could survive in the wilderness for six to nine months, no problem at all. His entire personality was compensation for a crippling lack of self esteem and feelings of inferiority. You know the type! Anyway he forgot to ask for his beat up copy of Infinite Jest back after dumping the girl in the cafeteria, in front of everyone, explaining she wasn’t “into philosophy enough” and things were getting “a bit tepid.” When he asked for the book back several weeks later, she ignored all his texts and blanked him whenever they passed each other on campus, out of spite.

Object: Minnesota Twins Jersey                                                                              

  • Relationship Length: Season 2 - Later Season 2, A Bit Season 4 and 5                         
  • Location: Beverly Hills, California (90210)

Brandon and Emily fell for each other quickly but Emily had some deep issues Brandon couldn’t solve. Then Emily slipped Brandon MDMA without his knowledge and it was really messed up. Brandon had to break up with her for that. She did not take it well! She stalked him and called a million times and sent threatening letters from her old timey typewriter. Then she poured gasoline on the Homecoming float the gang worked so hard on, and threatened to kill herself. She went away after that, I assume to an inpatient program. Brandon and Emily met up a couple times, years later, but it just wouldn’t work. It was a high school romance doomed from the start, a love that could never be, and all that’s left is the Minnesota Twins jersey Emily basically stole from Brandon.

Object: 1500 Bound Pages Of PR invoices                                                    

  • Relationship Length: Summer 2016 - Later Summer 2016 (?)                                
  • Location: Everywhere in the World

Summer 2016 was full of news, but no story was greater than the very fishy fairytale Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston were living. They were “spotted” (photographed by every major news outlet as if they were all tipped off beforehand) canoodling by the water in Rhode Island, in Nashville, in Rome, in England, in Australia, and in nine other places by the time this piece gets published. So weird they got together so soon after Taylor and Calvin Harris broke up and so conveniently timed around Tom’s James Bond campaign. Is it a real relationship? Is it all a ruse in order to make a Lemonade style video? Is it all to make Tom more famous in America? Is their love real? Is any love real? Are chemtrails real? I don’t know but I’m sure this will implode in on itself soon, and the truth has got to be out there.

Object: Fake Medical Report From A Noncologist                                      

  • Relationship Length: Season 7 - Season 10                                                              
  • Location: Orange County, California

An insurance broker got divorced and fell in love with a swindler who didn’t seem to have a job or a home. She moved him into her house and her family fell apart. Everyone warned her this guy was no good, but she didn’t listen because he gave her heartfelt Hallmark cards all the time and her love tank was full. Then the swindler got very, very sick and the insurance broker needed her friends’ support and most importantly, casseroles. The friends got concerned when the swindler was trying to cure his dire illness with juice cleanses and harnessing energy from the earth. The friends poked around some, and more and more holes appeared in the swindler’s story. Turns out the swindler was indeed quite a swindler. The insurance broker probably knew all along, but the relationship ended anyway due to the deep embarrassment surrounding the situation. If you press a shell from the Pacific up to your ear and listen closely, you can hear her whining about casseroles to this day.

Object: Starbucks Cup With Ashleigh Spelled “Ashley”                              

  • Relationship Length: 2:00pm Sunday - 2:15pm Sunday                                          
  • Location: The Starbucks Near My Home

Ashleigh and Tim met on Tinder and set up a date for Sunday afternoon at their/my local Starbucks. Tim was excited because he thought Ashleigh was really pretty and they had a nice chat on the app. Ashleigh was excited to get out into the dating world again after her rough breakup. She spent an extra ten minutes making her hair perfect and Tim bought a new shirt for the occasion. Tim arrived first, got a drink, sat down and waited. Ashleigh came in, got in line and Tim recognized her instantly. Ashleigh picked up her drink and locked eyes with Tim. She took a seat at the table and said “Oh hi, so nice to meet you, can you hang on a second I have to take a picture of this cup.” The cup had “Ashley” written on it. Ashleigh thought this was hilarious, I mean how could they spell it wrong? Tim was like, “Well I guess A-s-h-l-e-y is the more common spelling.” Ashleigh didn’t get it. Her name was A-s-h-l-e-i-g-h, it’s totally different. Not totally different, Tim explained. Actually it was quite similar and her spelling was not that common, Tim explained further. Ashleigh took offense at this. They sat in silence for four minutes, which is a very long time if you think about it. Tim spoke first. “This isn’t going to work. It’s your name on a cup, how could you possibly care about this?” Ashleigh responded “I just think it’s important to get people’s names right.” “But it’s a just a cup,” Tim implored, incredulously. They argued some more and I got the hell out of there. A cup with a misspelled name is all that remains of this short-lived romance.

Object: $27.00 Check Made Out To Bernie Sanders                                    

  • Relationship Length: April 30, 2015 - July 12, 2016                                                  
  • Location: Gentrified Urban Neighborhoods, USA

What a love story! Passionate young men across the nation with little to no political, financial or historical knowledge banded together to teach the rest of us a thing or two about a thing or two. Whatever liberal rebellion you went through in college, it was nothing like this. These boys knew way more about the world than you ever did. They get corruption, ok? They see the whole big picture, ok? They know voting is only worth it if you believe 1000000% percent in the person you’re voting for, with no wavering at all, otherwise, stay home in protest. You may have encountered them in your Facebook feed or aggressively canvassing on your street or even in your apartment building because the neighbor you hate buzzed them in for some inexplicable reason. They organized rallies, traveled far and wide to see Bernie speak, trolled you on Twitter when you said something innocuous about big dreams needing big plans. Then Clinton won enough delegates and for a few days there were peeps from the Bernie Bros about the system being rigged, and protestations about super delegates, and promises to abstain from voting altogether unless they got their way. Then things were quiet for a few weeks until Bernie officially endorsed (sort of, that speech was weird) Clinton and the Bros’ hearts were demolished. They quit politics forever because they didn’t get their way but they found new things to focus on like telling you why the new Ghostbusters is actually sexist if you really think about it.

Dumping Trump: A Crash Course

We originally posted this one last year, but decided it needed to be reposted. You know, now that Trump has the Republican nomination. Take a moment to read and remind yourself: this is a mutually destructive relationship.

Respectfully,

James J. Sexton

_________

I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but Donald Trump is currently a viable Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential race. You may define “viable” in any way you choose, but my personal definition is “in the debate this week.” My definition ends there.

His polling numbers are confusingly strong. There are people out there, people we know, people we’re related to, people in line behind us at the post office, people standing next to us right now in an elevator that want Trump to be president. Of our country. They want him in charge of the nuclear codes. They want him to have veto rights. They want him to command our armed forces. They want him to broker peace deals with ISIS. No seriously, the guy with the hair and the temper talking to ISIS is what they want.

While we remain inside this fever dream, we can look to those that have already dumped Trump to remind us there are good and rational people still left in America, and thankfully their votes count too. Way before Hispanics, veterans, GOP leaders, NBC, Macy’s and people with a good grasp on reality started distancing themselves from Trump, there were two women hightailing it out of Trump’s life — his ex-wives.

Eternally glamorous, bejewelled and be-accented (not a word) Ivana hit the bricks in 1992, with Marla Maples following suit in 1999. Trump and Ivana’s divorce hit the headlines recently due to alleged rape claims, or due to poor word choice, depending on who you believe. While that’s being hashed out by proper journalists, let us focus instead on the other less potentially criminal details. It was an ugly divorce and an excellent breeding ground for amazing one liners such as “Don’t get mad, get everything.”

Tabloids at the time said the split and ensuing money battle was better than anything Dynastychurned out. Most fascinating to me is, did you know a 1987 Mercedes was a big sticking point in their settlement? Odd they’d be fighting over a five year old car when either party could buy a Mercedes made out of sapphires and caviar. What a weird thing to squabble over. Most agree it was a power move by Ivana and in the end she got the car plus an estimated $25 million. I am assuming she had to sign a strict NDA barring her from ever speaking of any trade secrets. By trade secrets, I mean the architecture behind Trump’s haircut.

His first marriage disintegrated thanks in large part to his relationship with Marla Maples, his soon to be second wife. Maples recounted her life in the tabloids in a great New York Magazine piece. When news of the Trump/Ivana split hit the papers, Maples fled to Guatemala for a month to get away from reporters. She came back and they married, but it didn’t last. The Trump/Maples divorce was much less Dynasty than divorce number one. Maples explained the marriage’s demise had a lot to do with press pressure, lack of privacy and Trump’s dedication to his work. That’s quite polite of Maples seeing as we all know it probably mostly due to his insufferable personality.

Trump married for a third time in 2005 and so far that marriage is sticking. So dumping Trump was left to companies, ethnic groups, television conglomerates and people who understand how diplomacy works and what the job responsibilities of a president are.

I’m not sure how long it will take for Trump supporters to come back around to this place we call reality. It might be when Trump inevitably says something racist, illogical or just plain dumb in tonight’s debate. It might be on November 8, 2016. I truly hope it won’t have to be when he’s in power and decides to sell Alaska to Russia to pay for fence to keep us safe from Canadians and their un-American Canadian bacon. Or when he bolts giant gilded T R U M P letters onto the side of the White House. Or when he bankrupts the country just as he’s done to his businesses time and time again. Or when a large gust of wind comes along revealing underneath that yellow cotton candy there’s a “666” tattooed on his head.

Get your popcorn handy because Thursday’s debate is sure to be entertaining.


Respectfully,
James J. Sexton

 

Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

This Meme Will (Not) Save Your Marriage

This meme comes to us from Victorious Marriages, a Facebook-based movement led by a Christian minister. They’ve got lots of helpful advice to make your (deeply patriarchal) marriage a success. It’s a lot of obvious stuff like: communication is key, honesty is imperative, and don’t let one fight destroy your marriage (do a lot of people throw in the towel after one argument? Who are these people? How many marriages are they churning through in a lifetime? Can you give them my card? Or, better yet, share my Facebook page with them?). I guess if you follow their tips and give it up to the Lord, you’re bound to have a victorious marriage. That’s all well and good and I’m not here to judge anyone’s religious beliefs or explain equality to you, but I am going to go ham on that social media meme they posted.

This is where we are, huh? We need to preemptively warn others our marriages are sacred, so don’t go winky smiley face-ing at us because our will powers are too weak for that saucy catnip. Predators are just all over the internet waiting to destroy your relationship through flirty DMs. How weak are these marriages that a “haha” comment on a status update from Paul in your Zumba class can snowball into a full blown affair? Who are these home wreckers reclining on divans in silk robes, smoking a cigarette on a long cigarette holder, scrolling through Facebook for their next victim? Call me crazy but posting this meme isn’t telling the world your marriage is strong. Instead it shouts out, "hey my marriage is such a disaster that any outside influence can be insidious". It also reeks of paranoia and mistrust of the whole world. Could a meme like this actually strengthen a marriage? Let’s take a look at a few couples.

The Newlyweds. Ron and Susan just exchanged their vows in front of a hundred and twenty-five loved ones and danced the night away to such hits as “We Are Family” and “Hotline Bling.” The cake tasted weird, as wedding cakes are contractually obligated to taste weird, no matter the flavor, no matter the baker. The blissful yet exhausted couple makes their way to their honeymoon suite, both riding the line between ok drunk and sloppy drunk. Susan spends twenty minutes freeing herself from the intricate lever and pulley system keeping her dress up. She sighs with relief as she cuts herself out of sixteen layers of Spanx. Ron rubs his sore feet, blistered from the fancy yet inflexible shoes Susan insisted he wear. He playfully puts his cumberbundt around his head, Rambo Style, for the eighth time and it is still the funniest thing he has ever done. Susan’s and Ron’s eyes meet across the dimly lit hotel room. Ron asks, “You ready?” With intensity in her eyes, Susan replies, “You bet I am.” They whip out their phones and upload the Victorious Marriages social media meme to their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Of course, they do it one by one so the other can Snapchat the process. They pop the complimentary bottle of champagne the hotel left for them and toast each other. Here’s to a victorious marriage: NOTHING can stop us now!

5 Years Married. Jenna spends most of her time on Twitter @-ing customer service with complaints and live tweeting The Bachelor. She has 26 followers including her husband Mike. Mike only tweets during March Madness, but retweets all of President Obama’s posts. That is, until this past May. He synched his running tracker to his Twitter and every time he runs, the world knows, and Jenna faves every running tweet. Last week she noticed there was already a fave for his 2.1 mile run around the reservoir. That’s weird Jenna thought. So she clicked. Who’s xxxHotxxGirlxx1997xxx? And why the heck is she fave-ing Mike’s tweets? You and I know xxxHotxxGirlxx1997xxx is a bot. Sure I like to imagine she’s a middle aged woman in Lithuania looking to catfish Mike and blackmail him into serious debt, but life isn’t that exciting. Jenna helped Mike sign up for Twitter in 2011, and she happens to know Mike’s password. Jenna has some self-esteem and abandonment issues that she’s working on in therapy, but she’s not far enough along to stop herself from DM-ing xxxHotxxGirlxx1997xxx the handy Victorious Marriages meme her mom sent her after going to church retreat. She then changes Mike’s password, locking him out of his own account. Mike mentions it a week later. Jenna says, "Oh that’s odd." Mike is too lazy to look into it. He’s also too lazy to sign up for a new Twitter account. Yahtzee! A victorious marriage!

10 Years Married. Steve and Allie got the cutest Goldendoodle the world ever did see. They named him Biscuit. One day Allie’s friend says Biscuit is so cute he could definitely be Instagram famous. Allie mulls this over and later that night opens up an Instagram account for Biscuit. Within a month Biscuit has two thousand followers. Not famous by Kardashian standards, but Biscuit lands himself a BarkBox sponsorship and that’s nothing to scoff at. Allie is featured in his pictures every so often. She usually doling out a treat or giving a belly rub. TuckerLovesGolf84 is a long time follower and a frequent liker. He usually throws out a “So cute!” comment every other picture or so. But on the posts featuring Allie he goes a bit further. Usually it’s something like “So cute! And so is his mom! ;)” Steve’s eyes narrow at these comments. He gets it. Allie’s beautiful and smart and funny and that’s why he married her. He’s not threatened by TuckerLovesGolf84. He trusts Allie. He doesn’t want to be the type of person who is worried about comments on his dog’s novelty Instagram account, but this whole thing just sticks in his craw. He comes across the Victorious Marriages Facebook page one night during his casual evening scrolling. He shows Allie. Allie thinks it’s really funny. Steve “jokingly” suggests they post it on Biscuit’s Instagram account. Allie is confused. Steve explains he’s kidding, ha ha total joke, ha ha... Allie goes back to her book. Steve has low level, constant anxiety for the rest of Biscuit’s life. He is heartbroken when Biscuit dies six years later, but also, secretly relieved. They close Biscuit’s Instagram account. Rot in hell, TuckerLovesGolf84. Another victorious marriage!

25 Years Married. Patrick and Ellen have been happily married for 25 years. Ellen is an avid reader and forms a book club with a group of her close friends. Their first pick is a steamy revenge story about a scorned woman. It is not good. The whole book club agrees and the conversation wanders as the pinot flows. Turns out the daughter of Christine, the main character, is seeing a married man she met of SlapChop. That’s the name of the phone thingy, right? Christine is pretty sure that’s what it’s called. Anyway, he’s got a wife and kids and he’s Christine’s age and it’s despicable but what can Christine do? Her daughter isn’t going to listen to her, so she just keeps her mouth shut and tries to stay out of it. A seed is planted in Ellen’s mind. What if Patrick is on the SlapChop and Ellen has no idea? What if he’s secretly seeing one of her friend’s daughters? Why has he been so quiet lately? Is it an affair, oh god, what if it’s an affair? Ellen and her wine drunk brain pull out her phone and go to Goggle.com. Wait that’s not right. Google. Right, google. She searches “save my marriage,” drops her phone, steps on it, falls down and is now bleeding from the head. While waiting to be seen at the emergency room, she keeps googling ways to save her marriage and finds herself on the Victorious Marriages Facebook page. Patrick rushes to Ellen’s bedside where she’s getting stitches and is being treated for a concussion. He’s so relieved she’s ok but she keeps babbling about marriage victory and begs him to put a picture on Facebook for her. He says of course whatever you want. He drops Ellen’s hand as the nurse comes in to check on Ellen. It’s Tracy. Patrick and Tracy been having an affair for two years. They met at the gym. They did not meet on SlapChop. Another victorious marriage!

40 Years Married. Max and Julia have been married for 40 years. They heard a report on the news about social media fueling infidelity. They don’t really get what social media is and are too tired to get divorced so they have dinner and continue to not know how to use Facebook. Another victorious marriage!


These examples are ridiculous because this meme is ridiculous. I guess my point is, while social media certainly plays a part in modern marriages crumbling, so does the rest of life. A wedding ring worn on the subway isn’t going to keep a creep or handsome Hollywood actor from talking to you, and neither is a meme on the internet. Stop worrying about old flames and strangers coming after your spouse, and instead maybe, I don’t know, talk to your spouse. Because memes aren’t going to prevent stuff from happening and moving to a nuclear fallout shelter with just your wife and 30 years worth of canned goods isn’t really a plausible option

 

Signs Your Partner is Manipulating You (and What to Do)

Everyone knows that sometimes marriages just go wrong. It’s nobody’s fault sometimes; two people just don’t mesh the way they once did, or things happen that make life difficult over time. Some ex-couples even stay friends.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

About half the time, divorce comes about because someone is really, really pissed. And the general reason for that? Manipulation of some kind.

If you’re reading this, there’s at least a small chance that you clicked because you’re worried you’re being manipulated in some way. After years in the business of divorce, I have some experience in knowing what spousal manipulation looks like—and also how to deal with it. Basically, it boils down to some pretty obvious signs.

You consistently are made to feel guilty, whether you did anything wrong or not.
Everybody’s wrong sometimes, and everybody cries sometimes (so says R.E.M.). But if you’re in the wrong 100% of the time for years, and your spouse won’t or can’t take responsibility for any wrongdoing, chances are they’re full of it. It takes two, people.

Passive aggressiveness.
You know that thing people do where they say something nice, or helpful, but it makes you feel horrendous? It’s the classic move: pretend to be being helpful while actually being critical, in order to avoid direct confrontation—then deny you meant anything by it, and the other person is clearly overreacting. It’s a cheap way to get an unfair advantage, and it’s highly manipulative.

Gaslighting.
A close cousin of passive aggressiveness, gaslighting is when someone makes you feel crazy. You have an issue with their behavior? You must be crazy. You think they’re making bad choices? You’re clearly crazy. This is most damaging when it goes beyond just saying you’re crazy, to actually acting concerned about it. The secret weapon here: playing on your insecurities. Don’t buy it.

You often feel small.
Feel like your needs don’t matter? If your spouse routinely dismisses what you want or need, minimizes your concerns, and/or calls you “ridiculous,” you’re probably being manipulated.

They isolate you.
One of the more dangerous kinds of manipulation is when, usually in multiple ways, a partner or spouse methodically isolates you from other people. This can come in direct or indirect ways—for example, by demanding you stay away from your friends, or by pretending to be sick every time you want to go out—and is usually a control issue.

They twist your words.
Feel like your spouse is a master at twisting your words into something ugly when they weren’t intended that way? Standard tactic.

They have a pattern of forming relationships with vulnerable people.
Manipulative people like being in relationships where the power dynamic is skewed in their favor. Have you noticed that your spouse’s other relationships are skewed this way? An example is someone who can only have who are significantly less attractive than they are, or someone whose friends are all significantly younger/less experienced/less worldly. The key is that they have to have the advantage in every relationship.

They lie.
If you’ve consistently caught your partner in lies, particularly damaging lies, you can bet there are plenty of lies that you haven’t found out about. Big red flag.

They are distant or emotionally unavailable a lot of the time.
Everyone needs space sometimes, but if you feel like you are being pushed away for weeks or even months at a time, and your partner is unwilling to explain why, it can become a very destructive relationship for you. While there are sometimes extenuating circumstances, like depression, this is still something that needs addressing.

They “punish” you.
If you feel like you get punished when you confront your spouse or disagree with them, that’s not good. Even in the case of real wrongdoing in a marriage, there’s very little point in “punishing” your spouse. Either you deal with the issue, forgive and move on, or you choose not to forgive and move out—but what you shouldn’t do is remain in the relationship while lording the wrongdoing over the partner as a form of power. It’s understandable in some cases, I admit, but ultimately it’s not constructive, and only further damages the relationship.

******************

I do want to say that sometimes these things pop up in even quite happy relationships, and it doesn’t necessarily spell the end. It’s important to be able to have an open conversation about what’s going on: for at least one of you to have the courage to bring it up, and for both of you to talk about what’s going on and why that might be.

Of course, if you’re reading this post you’ve probably been there, done that, and it hasn’t worked—or else you can’t even communicate with your partner about it, because they won’t have it.

At that stage, therapy is an option, and it can help. However, both people have to be committed to improving the relationship, so you’re going to have to prepare for conversation in that case, too.

The final option when you’ve exhausted all others is to muster up the nerve to leave. While difficult, I see people do it every day, and have happier lives afterward; so while it’s perhaps the most difficult option in the short run, in the long run it may be the best decision for you.

Have something to ask, add, or a pithy story to tell? I’m all ears. Leave it in comments below, comment on Facebook, or tweet to me!

Respectfully,
James J. Sexton

 

8 Divorce Hacks that Will Save You Time and Money

Once you make the hard but important decision that you’re going to get a divorce, one of the first things you have to face is the inevitable cost. And I’m not talking in the more esoteric sense of the term “cost” (like the emotional cost or interpersonal cost) I’m talking about two important resources: time and money. The latter is renewable the former is not. At the outset I make it clear to clients that I would rather you put YOUR children through college than mine.

Contrary to the beliefs of some, divorce attorneys do exist for a reason: even with the best of intentions, people who are divorcing often aren’t fully aware of the ins and outs of the law, including what rights you have. Divorce isn’t just about dividing up “stuff”—it’s also about thinking through your own future (for example, retirement), ensuring your children are provided for, and creating fair divisions of assets that aren’t easily divided up.

The truth is, by the time you decide to divorce, often that decisions is directly related to an inability to negotiate productively within the marriage. If there’s an unequal distribution of power in the relationship, if there’s a lack of trust on either side, or if there’s simply an inability to understand one another or see eye to eye, the possibility of amicably and fairly disengaging from each other is usually slim to non-existant becomes almost impossible. Whether you like the idea of a divorce attorney or not, you might need one. (Luckily, a lot of us are actually nice people.)

On that note, here are my tips for keeping the legal aspects of your divorce as simple as possible, thus saving me time and you money.

Write down your goals.

Not only does writing down your goals help you figure out what you really want and need out of this process, it also is there as a reminder in case you lose your bearings. Everyone—and by that I mean everyone—gets emotional during a divorce, at some point. Having concrete goals helps you keep your s*** together. I tell clients all the time there are three things you should identify at the start of a divorce: what you need, what you want and what you’re entitled to. (It’s worth noting that that second thing is typically informed by that third thing).

Familiarize yourself with the family finances.

One of the biggest shocks for many people, male and female spouses alike, is how little we pay attention to the flow of incomings and outgoings. Spend a week or more using your spare time to go over your bank statements, bills, taxes, 401(k)s, insurance policies, and so on. Have all the documents on hand in case we need them, and make copies of the crucial stuff.  If you don’t have access to a copier use a handy app like Scannable or Evernote (I use both all the time in my personal and professional life).  

 

Review everything your spouse reports.

Even with the best of intentions, mistakes can be made (on either side). People also lie like crazy sometimes when they’re getting divorced. Review everything your spouse reports to make sure your reports line up.

Close joint accounts.

Any purchases made from joint accounts can create problems during the divorce, and you could end up paying for stuff you didn’t buy or spending tons of money in legal fees trying to “sort out” what was pre-divorce and what was post-divorce.  Keep it simple. Close the joint accounts. . The simplest thing is just to close them. Online accounts, too: chances are you’ve logged into your email account from your spouse’s phone, laptop or iPad, or vice versa; privacy is important now. Change passwords or close them down.  PLEASE NOTE, however, that you should either: (A) let your spouse know you’re doing this before you do it (so they don’t panic and think you’re raiding the piggy bank; or (B) take only HALF of the money in the account and let your spouse know that you’ve left the remaining half in there for his or her sole and separate use.

Figure out how much money you need.

“Need” is a subjective term, but let’s think about it this way: what is the amount of money that will allow you to live comfortably until and through your retirement, taking into account your lifestyle and your existing annual income? This is your goal going into the divorce.

Record all your expenses.

Collect all the records you have from the past year or two, and then keep a record of everything you spend from now until the divorce is finalized. This will help answer any questions that may come up about expenses.

Come to my office for legal advice—not personal advice.

I fully understand people seeking personal counsel during a divorce, because it’s a seriously tough time, but your divorce attorney is likely not the best person to be providing emotional support. Frankly, we’re not trained for it and we probably have a higher rate-per-hour than many people who ARE trained for it. If you need someone to talk to about the big stuff, there is zero shame in getting therapist – I can even give you a referral. Plus, it has the added benefit that you and I can focus on what we can do best together: win your divorce.

Don’t want to pay spousal support? Help your spouse get a job!

One of the most difficult positions to be in is that of a spouse who has sacrificed key career-building years to raising a family, to allow the other spouse to work, and then to face a divorce in which they are left without any professional skills to fall back on. I don’t condone putting anyone in that position, regardless of what spousal support can be provided; I have seen many people in this position, and it’s not a nice place to be. If you can hack it, commit some real effort, time and money into supporting your spouse in building skills and attaining a good professional situation.

It’s a common misconception that divorce attorneys want long, miserable, drawn-out divorces—because that means more money from that one client. In fact, we usually want the opposite. A single difficult divorce can take up a lot of time and resources, and keep us from serving other clients—so I want to handle your divorce with as much efficiency and as little conflict as possible, without sacrificing in results.

You also might not be aware that divorce attorneys are often trained in (or have offices that offer) mediation as well as litigation. My office offers mediation services, and it is for some couples a less expensive and more tolerable option. Feel free to get in touch with us about our mediation services.

Have a comment to make? Want to disagree vehemently with my views? I welcome a lively exchange! Feel free to leave a comment below, on my Facebook page, or tweet to me.

Adult Children of Divorce are Getting Ripped Off

People are very concerned about children of divorce. Dozens of books outline the millions of things that can go wrong, and the very special attention kids will need during such a big change. Kids go to therapy, color their feelings, get calmed down by horses and most importantly, often get two Christmases. People make divorce out to be a bad and devastating thing, but there was only one child of divorce in my fourth grade class and she and her mom lived in a condo with a pool. My dumb married parents didn’t have a pool, so I don’t know, divorce sounded pretty cool to me. Teachers were also nicer to her, gave her a bunch of extra leeway, and she managed to con her dad into sending her to a sleepaway camp even though he said no the three previous summers. Michelle’s life was a lot better than mine because her parents were trying to buy her love, as the old divorce stereotype goes. But do adult children of divorcing parents get the same special treatment?

Heck no, it turns out. The Times recently ran an article about children affected by later in life divorce. There was a lot of talk about hurt feelings and other psychological impacts but not one mention of elaborate gifts. So these poor adult kids get their idea of marriage and love obliterated, without the specialized support young children are often afforded, plus no presents. What a rip off.

All those seven-year-olds get special mother/son dates and TWO bikes, but what of Gerald, the 31-year-old mild mannered systems analyst that just found out his perfectly boring parents aren’t celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary next month, but rather, they’re throwing in the towel and splitting up. Gerald played by the rules his whole life. He never snuck out while grounded or stole alcohol from the liquor cabinet, topping the bottles off with water hoping no one would notice. He never got high behind the bleachers or asked for anything more than lunch money from his parents. He got his degree from an ok school and got an ok job and just last year bought an ok house with money he saved up himself in an ok high yield account. Now his life is getting turned upside down but no one seems to care because he’s not an impressionable middle schooler anymore.

Who will take pity on poor Gerald? Will his mom take him out for soft serve after his little league game? No. Will ol’ Ger-bear have to teach his 59-year-old dad how to use Tinder? Oh yes. Will he learn his dad is “into butts?” You bet he will. Don’t you think he deserves an all expenses paid ski weekend for that? I sure think he does. It’s time to grab victimhood by the horns, Gerald, and here’s how.

First off, if my old pal Michelle can get away with doing no homework for three months, Gerald deserves a little break as well. In lieu of teacher pity, get boss pity. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to take four to six hour-long breaks during the day to walk around the block or chill out in his car for “mental health reasons.” I also think it’s fair that Claire take on a couple of Gerald’s projects as Claire’s parents are still together and it’s really time for her to step up to the plate and earn that promotion, you know? I also think it’s fair that people stop judging Gerald for how much free pizza he eats on Pizza Tuesdays because no one mentioned a slice limit in the recurring calendar invite, and also Gerald is going through a pretty rough time so everyone can piss off.

Secondly, just because Gerald’s parents don’t have to fight over his custody doesn’t mean they shouldn’t fight for his love. Gerald won’t have the luxury of two Christmases because he’s a “grown up” and grown ups don’t need a large pile of gifts to know they’re loved and blah blah blah. That’s a load of crap. He does need tangible proof this divorce isn’t his fault just like an eight-year-old would. But just like expensive cheddar, Gerald’s tastes have matured way beyond those of an eight-year-old. Summer camp isn’t going to cut it. An all expenses paid eleven day Mediterranean cruise will though. And horseback riding lessons are for babies. Jetskis are for adults. So, mom and pop should buy him a jetski. No wait, TWO jetskis. One for his regular home and one for his lake house; the lake house his parents should also buy him.

Some divorcées really knock it out of the park for their kids’ birthdays in an attempt to compete with, and then upstage the other parent. This applies to Gerald as well. Celebrating 32 might not seem like a big enough milestone to garner bar mitzvah or quinceanera level parties, but why not? And why even limit it to birthdays? Maybe it’s time for Gerald’s dad to cough up the dough for Drake to play Gerald’s laid back, backyard Memorial Day barbecue.

While Gerald’s missing out on the double Christmases, he will be punished with two Thanksgivings. He’ll have to split his time between two marathon dinners where he will get grilled two times by a bevy of aunts and cousins as to why he hasn’t settled down yet. His thirteen-year-old cousin Chloe will ask him yet again if he is gay and, yet again mention her piano teacher is “a catch.” He will repeat this misery again on Easter. Twice. Lucky for Gerald, the final act in making this divorce work for him is blaming all of his problems on this divorce. All. Of. Them.

Aunt Louise on him again about being single? Divorce’s fault! Late for work? Divorce’s fault! Hasn’t gone to the gym in six years? Divorce’s fault! Ice cream for dinner again? Divorce’s fault! Mounting credit card debt? Divorce’s fault! Commitment issues? Divorce’s fault! Are you questioning whether any of this can really apply since his parents only got divorced six weeks ago? Stop questioning because Gerald will answer, “you know, there was tension there for years.” And you can’t question him! Because he’s a little broken bird of an adult man who now owns two jet skis he didn’t have to pay for. It’s Gerald’s time to shine, excuse-wise. Literally everything that is wrong or even sort of wrong in his life is because he now comes from a broken home. Soar like the excuse ridden eagle you were always meant to be, Gerald!

Respectfully,

James J. Sexton

What is the Number One Predictor of a Breakup?

I’m asked this question a lot. As a divorce attorney, I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but because it comes up so often, I thought it’s something worth writing about as well.

As someone who has had a “ringside seat” to the demise of several thousand previously happy relationships, I can tell you the #1 predictor of a breakup is the rate at which either or both parties stop trying to impress the other.

When people start dating they typically offer their partner a “best self” version of themselves. Comedian Nikki Glazer called this the equivalent of having “spanx for your personality”. It’s still you but it’s a very flattering and compressed version of you and the real stuff is dying to get out.

You also, at that phase of a relationship (sometimes weeks, sometimes months, often from dating through just after the honeymoon) spend a lot of time and energy trying to make your partner have warm feelings about you: doing small gestures that will make him or her feel good about you and feel loved and attended to.

After some time passes and your partner becomes a “given” in your life (no longer a shiny new toy that you aren’t sure you’ll be allowed to keep and, thus, want to play with as long as possible) your energies become, understandably, directed at the other (and often more stressful and maintenance requiring) aspects of your life (work, family, friends).

I was speaking with a female client once, during a long wait in Family Court before a divorce was finalized. I asked her when she knew her marriage was officially over and she told me, in an uncharacteristically nostalgic and melancholy tone, that it was NOT when she caught him texting with his mistress, and NOT when she found the bank records that showed he was gambling his entire bonus rather than bringing it home. It was months before all that when she noticed, for the first time, that he stopped buying her granola.

“There was this particular brand of granola that I like and when we were first dating and married he would always notice when I was running low on it and get me a new bag of it when he would go to Whole Foods for lunch (he worked in the Time Warner Center above the Whole Foods). I never mentioned it to him – I don’t know that I really noticed all that much that he did it – but it was a nice feeling – that he noticed I was low on my favorite granola, and that he knew it was my favorite, and that he was thinking of me while he was in Whole Foods and brought it home for me and didn’t even think to point it out and try to “get credit” for all of that. It was just something he did because he was thinking of me and knew this silly small unique thing gave me pleasure. One day I noticed I was out of that granola and he hadn’t bought it for me. I was a little surprised but I didn’t think much of it. The next time I ran out I left the bag on the counter as a subtle hint – but he never bought it for me again. I think there was a part of me that knew, at that moment, I was no longer on his radar and things were heading south.”

I asked her if there was anything like that on her end of the relationship and she replied flatly:

“Blow jobs.”

I almost spit out my coffee.

“I know it sounds silly and it might be inappropriate to say – but I used to give him blow jobs a few times per week. It took all of five minutes in the morning and for the rest of the day he was all giddy and happy. I got a kick out of how much he enjoyed it. But after some time married I started sleeping in a bit more and I just didn’t think to take that five minutes to do it. Plus I had this feeling of, I don’t know, resentment – like I don’t OWE him a blow job and I’ve got 50 things to do today – he can wait until I get home tonight and we can have sex so both of us enjoy it. But I guess that was his granola in some ways. I don’t know.”

So there it is. Granola and blow jobs.

But really it’s just about the little things we do to remind the other person that we take pleasure in their pleasure. The little reminders that we are paying attention and trying to find ways to make them smile.

Relationships are all about connection in my view. By the time someone reaches my office the connection is destroyed but most of the time it broke a long time before.

So in my view the #1 predictor of a break up would be the rate at which the partners in a relationship stop demonstrating the small daily gestures that make you feel special and loved and connected in that relationship. Or, to put it another way, the frequency with which each partner tries to demonstrate connection to the other partner. Whether it’s something as predictable as sex or flowers or something smaller and more subtle (like noticing which granola she’s running low on) I think if you observe a shift in that particular kind of energy/dynamic it’s a sign something is off. Ignore it at your own risk.

Respectfully,

James J. Sexton

7 Steps to Healing a Guilty Conscience, Post-Divorce

So you blew it. You cheated, got caught and now you’re divorced. Your friends are taking your spouse’s side and your dog won’t even look you in the eye. Guilt: not just for Jewish mothers anymore!

I’ve said it a million times, there is no easy divorce. But when your actions were the catalyst behind it? Yeesh. One way ticket to sad town on the pain express, please! Moving on and rebuilding your life cannot happen unless you deal with the ever present guilt weighing you down. Ignoring it or pushing it down might give you a short term quick fix, but over time the guilt will fester and seep into aspects of your life you couldn’t have imagined.

You are of no use to anyone sitting in the corner smacking your temples with closed fists. No one wins in the corner. Plus you’ve become a fire hazard. And seriously, your boss really wants you to get back to work because if this keeps up she will have no other choice than to fire you. Then you’ll be sad, guilty and unemployed. So take this bad experience, learn from it and grow beyond it. Let the guilt serve a purpose, learn to work through it and move on. How?

Identify the actions that led to the guilt
Go beyond just “I slept with my kid’s soccer coach!” Explore what happened and why. Were you bored or lonely in your marriage? What led to the soccer coach? Before it happened, could you have talked to your spouse? Did you not express your unhappiness due to fear or cowardliness? How did you get there and what could you have done differently?

Identify the source of your guilt
Now that you know how you got there, where is your guilt really coming from? Do you feel guilty because you hurt someone you love/loved? Or is it more that you let yourself down and betrayed the standards you hold yourself to? Is it society? Or your family? Is it a combination? Is it guilt that you don’t feel guilty enough?

Take responsibility
You’ve figured out the source now take responsibility. When we do bad things, there is a childish urge within us to blame others for our actions. For example, if your spouse just took better care of himself/stopped nagging so much/was younger/had more interesting things to say you wouldn’t have strayed. Um, no. You’re a grown up now, you have to hold yourself accountable. Accept responsibility, whether it was one hundred percent your fault or whether you can weasel your way out with a lot of excuses. You are to blame and that is ok.

Apologize
Depending on the situation, you may have a lot or just some apologizing to do. Writing a letter to your former spouse taking responsibility and apologizing may be the only thing on your list. If the situation is more complex, you may have some kids and friends to apologize to as well. No matter how long your apology list is, make each apology thought out and heartfelt. It’s quite possible the recipient may not be very open to what you have to say, but expressing remorse is about you as much as it is about them. The final apology on your list should be the one to yourself. As cheesy as it sounds, you’ve got to talk to yourself like a crazy person, or journal to yourself like a teenage girl. Tell yourself you’re sorry for letting you down.

Forgive yourself
So, you talked to yourself in the mirror or closed the journal you hope no one will ever, ever find, and you have apologized to yourself. Now it is time to forgive. Shockingly, you are only human like the rest of us, meaning, you make mistakes. Was this a biggie? Yeah. Maybe even the biggest of your whole life. But it doesn’t make you evil, or beyond forgiveness. The only tragedy here would be if you went through all this life-changing turmoil and learned nothing from it. So forgive yourself, give yourself a clean slate and start fresh.

Learn from this
Remember step one, where you figured out how you got to cheating? That was an important step because now you can use that knowledge to feel out a future cheating situation way before things get out of hand. If your eye starts wandering in a new relationship, you have to tools to assess why that is, and maybe, just maybe you can speak to your partner and work things out before you end up at a hotel with the president of the PTA. Or you won’t work things out, and you’ll break up with your partner in a mature way that doesn’t involve them dumping the crap out of you when they catch you with the president of the PTA. Use this guilt ridden situation to learn about yourself.

Learn how to accept mistakes and how to move on from them with grace. Give yourself the chance to improve and to strengthen your empathy muscles when someone inevitably wrongs you in the future.

Focus outside yourself.
Maybe it’s the lapsed Catholic in me, but penance is a great way to work through guilt. Go modern Catholic over old school Catholic though, as throwing money at a situation doesn’t really help. Instead of, or in addition to, writing a check to a worthy organization, get involved yourself. Donate your time and efforts to a local soup kitchen or mentoring program. Get involved in your community and see how full your heart will feel as you realize you are needed and appreciated. Soon your self esteem will build back up and you’ll be ready to dump the guilt and start anew.

And of course, if all else fails, seek therapy! There is absolutely no shame in doing so. In fact, just the opposite: Working on yourself is a lifelong endeavor and I applaud it.

Have a word of advice to share with others? You know what to do: Leave a comment below, on Facebook, or in a tweet.

Seven Podcasts to Listen To During Your Divorce

Getting divorced means you will inevitably have more time on your hands than you used to. Time you spent fighting with your spouse will now be spent on more productive activities like going to the gym, watching TV shows you actually like, and standing in the kitchen eating yogurt naked just because you can.

This got me thinking—as did the fact that National Radio Day is coming up this Thursday—that podcasts are an awesome way to coach yourself through this transitional period. Let’s be honest, we rarely know what to do with new freedom when it’s granted to us, it typically takes a while to figure out who we are in this new world of self-discovery. So while you’re wading around in the pool of alluvial muck that will become your new life, why not listen to some interesting and motivating podcasts? These are my recommendations.

Stuff to Blow Your Mind – “Animal Sexual Fluidity”
So, this is an amazing podcast, and I recommend listening to ALL the episodes as soon as you can. However, since you’re going through a seriously confusing time in terms of your personal life, possibly your sexuality and maybe even your family structures, I’d say start with this episode. The bizarreness of nature—and its insistence on change—will help put your current transition in perspective, while distracting you with lots of sexually diverse and crazy sex-changing animals. It will blow your mind.

This American Life – “Break-Up”
This is an old episode of this now world famous podcast (ca. 2007), but it has always stuck with me because of how cliché—and how sad—breakups actually are. And also how necessary they are. The best thing about this episode is that Phil Collins shows up to discuss possibly the best breakup song of all time, and to tell the story behind writing it. You’ll laugh, you’ll relate to Phil Collins, you might cry a little—this is just listening gold.

Stuff You Should Know – “Polyamory
Come on, you know you’re curious—and now you can look into things that titillate your curiosity without guilt! This episode of the Stuff You Should Know podcast looks into the myths and realities of what it means to be in a committed relationship with multiple people—and it’s probably not what you were expecting.

Serial
Officially, this podcast has nothing to do with your divorce, except that you are going to get so into it that you’ll forget all about your divorce for a few precious hours, and focus instead on this masterpiece of storytelling. The podcast is twelve episodes describing one reporter’s experience of re-opening the real-life 1999 murder investigation of a high school student. If you find yourself running over and over your divorce in your head, this is the podcast to break the cycle.

Berkeley’s Happiness Matters Podcast – “Is Divorce Always Bad for Kids?”
There’s a common perception—or maybe it’s just conventional wisdom gone awry—that having two parents together, no matter how unhappy they are, is better for children than having two divorced parents. This podcast episode looks at that question in detail, providing a lot of research context, in order to find out whether divorce is really always bad for kids.

Sex Nerd – “The Sex Slang of Urban Dictionary” (in 2 parts)
This podcast is genius from the folks at The Nerdist, and taps into subjects of interest and humor around human sexuality. This two-part episode is both hilarious and extremely useful (because you’re going to need to know this stuff now that you’re single). Enjoy your lesson!

RadioLab – “Who Are You?”
Let’s face it: you have no idea who you are anymore. Don’t worry—it’s totally natural to feel that way after a divorce. Even if you’re not getting divorced, it’s healthy to wonder about this question at least every few years throughout your life. (If you’re not getting divorced that means you’re just reading this post because you think I’m entertaining, and that means you are already awesome, so stop worrying.) But seriously, “Who am I?” is pretty much the most important question we can ask ourselves after “How do I get food?” and “Where’s the bathroom?” so this one really deserves your time. Plus RadioLab is funny.

 

Love and Radio – “Thank You, Princess.”
Did you know people buy used panties off the internet? Or that some people will literally pay good money to be harassed in a manner that possibly reminds you of your divorce? Have a listen to this crazy episode of Love and Radio, which is essentially an interview with a self-described “Humiliatrix”… and be prepared to be completely weirded out, yet completely fascinated. I want to put out a quick disclaimer that this is at times a strange podcast, and that this episode in particular is pretty out there. As such I’m not condoning the subject matter, some of which is likely to be illegal—but it is REALLY entertaining.

Happy listening, and Happy (early) National Radio Day!

Respectfully,
James J. Sexton

Smarttess: The Mattress to End All ... Marriages?

Do you remember that movie Real Genius?

Let me refresh your memory: a bunch of stuff happens involving a young Val Kilmer, and a weirdo called Lazlo whose super genius inventions, intended for good, are instead being used for evil. Lazlo has a breakdown. Then there’s a pool party scene. Where am I going with this?

Well, there’s most likely a real-life Lazlo hiding out in some kid’s closet, post-breakdown, because his or her brilliant advancements in doohickies and whathaveyous led to THIS masterpiece of the 21st century: an adultery detecting mattress.

Smarttress is covered in special sensors that detect ~movement~ and send word to the owner’s smartphone that something is happening on that Orwellian bed. Is this less or more creepy than people who use nanny cameras? Little bit better but also a little bit worse, right?

I assume the purchaser is keeping the high tech component of the mattress a secret from their partner, as, if the partner also knew they’d just have adulterous sex, like, anywhere else. If you’re so suspicious your partner is cheating on you to the point that you’re investing in an A-HA CAUGHT YOU! mattress, why not save a couple of thousand dollars and just, I don’t know, confront them about your suspicions? Or get medical help for your crippling paranoia?

Whatever the case, when your marriage crumbles from the actual adultery, or the accusation of adultery, or the discovery that you bought an adultery detecting mattress, let me handle your divorce!

Respectfully,

James J. Sexton

Going Public With Your Divorce: 10 Tips From a Seasoned Divorce Attorney

So you’ve decided to get a divorce, and you now have to daunting task of actually telling people…Or maybe you’ve been going through a divorce, and have learned a few hard lessons about what not to say about it to your friends, family, kids…

Either way, from the moment you tell the first person, the world becomes a bit of a minefield, for reasons personal and legal, when it comes to talking about your divorce during your divorce.

Here’s a list of what to say–and what NOT to say–while you’re getting divorced. This is the same advice I give my clients, taking into account how what you say out of court can affect what happens in court.

Have a Plan.
This is my life, and I live each and every day by this maxim, because it’s the key to successful divorces. Know what you’re going to do. Write it down. Put it on a timeline. Check things off as you go. In this case, the plan is about deciding who to talk to and how you’re going to do it. Seriously–don’t be too proud to write this stuff down.

Decide Who You’re Going to Tell & In What Order.
It’s important that your family doesn’t know you’ve filed for divorce before your spouse, or that your kids don’t find out from a neighbor. Starting with the people who will be most affected, plan who to tell and what language you’ll use (it obviously won’t be the same with everyone you tell).

Don’t feel the need to tell everyone, either. Stick to the people who are directly affected, and the people whose support you’re going to be calling on during the divorce.

Choose a Headline.
The obvious one–“We’re getting divorced”–isn’t going to be enough for the people who are close to the fray, like your family and close friends. They’ll want to know more, and having invested in your marriage in various ways themselves, you might feel they deserve that. Decide exactly what you’re ready to say about a) your reasons for splitting, and b) what the future will hold. Use calm rather than emotional language.

Focus On the Positive. Within Reason.
Let’s face it, this isn’t a positive situation. But if you can take a positive–or even a neutral–tone regarding what you try to say about it, you’re likely to avoid ending up in an accidental rant, or bursting into tears in public. Not that this won’t happen anyway, it probably will. But having a positive message, however forced it might seem, will actually help you feel more in control, and be more in control. Eventually you’ll probably find that that positive message is something you sincerely feel.

Stay On Message.
A PR classic, it’s important to have your neutral or positive take on things in mind, and memorized, so that you will be able to remind yourself of what to say when people ask, which they will. This helps you keep from being goaded into talking about things you’re not ready to, to have conversations with your spouse that are counterproductive, or to have a meltdown in the grocery store (see #4). Know your message and stick to it.

Be Ready For Backlash.
Some people love hearing about divorce, because it feeds the rumor mill, and they’ll (subtly) grill you for details that they’ll then go repeating. This is inevitable, and you just have to be prepared to ignore it. Other people hate hearing about divorce because it means their marriage, too, is potentially fallible. They’ll be full of disapproval. Again, just ignore it. Or, have a response on-hand for when people are less than supportive, something that puts up a boundary without causing a confrontation, like “Well, we’re really trying to keep this as a family matter, but thank you for asking” or “I appreciate your input” followed by a quick change of subject.

Don’t Post Anything on Social Media. 
Anything you post on social media is effectively public, and can be used against you in court. Keep your privacy settings at maximum levels during your divorce, and you should refrain from mentioning anything related to your divorce at all–even rants, or rather, especially rants. (That’s what your divorce lawyer and therapist are for.) Here’s a useful infographic about what not to do on social media during your divorce.

Verbal, Not Written. 
On that note, be aware that anything you put in writing–like a private message on social media or an email–could end up out in the public domain. In divorce proceedings, sometimes these things unfortunately come up. If it’s not something you’re okay with the judge reading, don’t put it in writing.

Don’t Talk About Your Divorce at Work.
The exception here is if you have colleagues that you’re very close to, as in best friends. Otherwise, you’ll be wise to try to keep your divorce out of the workplace. On one hand, it can come across as unprofessional or airing your personal business in public; people have surprising attitudes about divorce sometimes.

On the other, talking about it could easily make you become angry or upset at work, which is unprofessional. There’s also the fact that if you let everyone know what’s happening in your personal life, it might affect how they interpret your professional work, regardless of whether it’s affecting your work or not. To be on the safe side, you’re better off keeping it relatively quiet until the divorce is final.

Keep the Kids Out of It.
When you’re talking to friends and family, be careful who might be listening (ie. your kids–I was amazing at listening through air vents as a kid). Be especially careful when speaking about your kids directly, for example what might happen to them regarding custody; this could get back to your kids and cause a lot of anxiety.

In an age-appropriate way, discuss issues that affect your kids with them directly, and make an agreement with your spouse not to say anything negative about each other or go into details about divorce proceedings while they’re around. It’s just unnecessary negativity and pain that they don’t deserve.

Respectfully,
James J. Sexton

What Happens in a Post-Marriage America

We’re at an interesting crossroads here in the twenty teens (is that what we’re calling it? Let’s say yes.). Social media runs our lives, we might have a Flamin’ Hot Cheeto running our country and more and more, marriage is falling out of fashion. I watched a recent episode of CNN’s The Wonder List where host Bill Weir explored Iceland’s beautiful terrain, and their decidedly nontraditional views on marriage. Turns out those Icelanders are heavy into hot springs and elves, but marriage just isn’t their thing. People get together and have families and build homes just like the rest of us, but weddings and marriages aren’t really part of the equation anymore. And as a whole they seem like pretty happy people.

That got me thinking. As marriage rates decline here at home, what would the US look like if we followed Iceland’s lead and phased out marriage as a concept? Well, first of all, I’d have to find a new line of work. Is it too late to learn how to use Excel? Is there an age cut off for astronaut training? Does Kanye have any sort of mentorship program? Other than my career crisis, would we be better off or would civilization as we know it crumble? Let’s explore.

The year is 2020 and marriage is officially old fashioned and no one is buying the “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage” rhyme anymore. Engagement rings are no longer a thing and the blood/conflict diamond business nosedives. With all those senior financial analysts no longer blowing three months’ salary in suburban malls, diamond demand plummets and jewellers worldwide reevaluate where they purchase their gems, and start realizing buying from conflict zones isn’t such a great idea. This ethical thinking spreads to other industries who source raw materials from conflict areas. A national discussion begins. That leads to an international discussion, which leads to a global overhaul of capitalism. People begin to only buy what they need and share with others. Advertising is seen as vulgar and no one participates in it anymore. Russell Brand sits at a juice bar in North London, smugly nodding to himself with satisfaction, then makes out with the waitress.

As men and women across this great land are no longer pressured into being bridesmaids and groomsmen for people they love and will soon hate, or people they barely know yet they were recruited to balance out their lopsided wedding party, thousands of dollars in cheap gowns and ill fitting tuxedo rentals are saved. Without weddings, there are no bachelor and bachelorette parties. Suddenly, young women no longer spend their hard earned money on plastic penis paraphernalia (“P3”), and the P3business collapses. Sadly, there will be some job loss but there are greater gains. See without P3 demand, so much less non-recyclable plastic (whistles, straws, novelty necklaces, etc) ends up in landfills and in our oceans. I’m not saying the eradication of marriage will solve global warming completely, but we haven’t tried, so how can we be sure?

You’re probably shaking your head right now thinking, but what about the polar bears? Just because there is less plastic penis paraphernalia doesn’t mean the polar bears suddenly have their ice caps back. And you are correct. Except, without weddings, nobody buys ice sculptures anymore. You know where we’re going to send all those superfluous blocks of ice? Yeah, that’s right, straight to polar bears in need. So there. Again, can we solve the climate crisis by getting rid of marriage? Who can say for sure? I mean I just did, but I’m not rubbing anyone’s nose in it. Ahem, Al Gore, ahem.

During the Trumpocalypse years (that’s what Trump’s two presidential terms will be known as. You don’t want to know how he won the second one. Trust me, you don’t) there’s a serious food shortage because it turns out half baked ideas and bloviating don’t qualify you to be president. People take up backyard farming and create beautiful gardens behind electrified fences because damned if you’re going to leave the only food you’ve got unprotected. That, coupled with a huge excess of Mason jars leads to a jam craze. See, without weddings to plan, Pinterest becomes a barren wasteland where only one egg cup recipe gets posted every few months. The recipe is the only tumbleweed rolling through the Pinterest desert. Without Pinterest wedding boards full of Mason jar craft ideas, there is a serious jar surplus. What do you do with a lot of jars? Fill them with jam. Raspberry, blackberry, boysenberry, huckleberry, every berry is game. People jam all day and all night and it’s all fun and games until large swaths of the country learn a very important lesson about botulism. The American population plummets. All that death actually solves the unemployment crisis, so hey you win some, you lose some.

As people adjust to post-marriage life, they realize they can have as many or as few relationships as they’d like, and no one relationship needs to last “forever.” No one believes in  ~the one~ anymore. Nobody’s mom is asking, “So when is he finally going to put a ring on it?” As time goes on, people become more relaxed and less jealous. And everyone’s blood pressure is really great. Relationships are viewed as chapters in a long book, rather than, say, prison sentences. A new generation of children is born to unmarried parents. They grow up in homes where people have chosen to be together every day on their own volition; instead of in a home filled with passive aggression because two people made a promise to god or whatever when they were 26, and now they’re 40 and very different people. This new generation of kids grows up in families that are more like communities. Over the course of their childhoods there can be several parental figures and everyone is just really cool about everything. Am I describing a commune? Yes, I am describing a commune.

So let’s take some inventory here. Post-marriage could lead to post-capitalism, post-climate change, post-Pinterest, post-overpopulation (I know this one is grim) and post-passive aggression. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Maybe Iceland is really onto something, minus the part where I have to find a new job. You know what, forget this whole thing. Keep getting married. Like tons of times. Like, after seven marriages when you’re thinking maybe that’s enough, it’s not. Go for eight. Please. Because Kanye isn’t responding to any of my tweets.

Respectfully,

James J Sexton

How to Prepare for THAT Prenup Conversation

So it’s your wedding day and you’re about to say those two little words. There’s something niggling at the back of your mind that you’ve haven’t got around to organizing… Food? Ordered and paid for. Presents for the in-laws? Check. Prenup? Ah. Oops.

It’s easy to put off important elements of wedding planning that are less fun. I’ll admit I’d much rather go to a cake tasting than talk to my intended about money and what happens in the eventuality that we decide to go our separate ways, and I’m a divorce attorney! I have more uncomfortable conversations with people by 10am than most people have in a month.

You can always do a postnup but let’s be honest, when you’re back from honeymoon and the tan’s starting to fade, it’s easy to get caught up in the stresses of everyday life. From a practical legal standpoint the enforceability of a postnuptial agreement is far more controversial in New York than a prenuptial agreement. And, it’s much wiser to be aware of your partner’s financial habits before getting hitched. If you’ve religiously paid off your credit card in full every month, it can be grating to see that your spouse has racked up thousands in interest thanks to their decision to make minimum payments.

So here’s how to bring up the topic, WITHOUT using the words, “By the way, when we divorce I’m keeping the house, darling.”

  • Be straightforward. Just get to the point. Show your spouse that you’re behaving in a clear-headed and sensible manner about this potentially awkward topic. They’ll respect you all the more for it. Chances are, if they read the papers (or live anywhere other than a cave) they may be having the same thoughts, but were reluctant to bring it up.
  • It’s all about timing. In the middle of a “heated discussion” about finances? Don’t throw the prenup into the mix just right now. Having lunch with the soon-to-be in-laws? Not a chat that Mom and Pop need to be part of. Remember when Carl and Ellie from Up (surely everyone’s favorite romantic movie?) drew up their prenup? Me neither. It’s not generally a conversation that comes up naturally when you’re dazzled with love. Do a little forward planning and set the scene. Plan an occasion when you’re both in a positive frame of mind, when you have the time and energy for an in-depth discussion. You might introduce it by talking about student debts or even your joint savings plan after the wedding.
  • Avoid beginning the conversation with: “I want a prenup.” This is a sensitive subject and must be handled delicately so as to avoid arguments. After all, if you begin the chat by annoying your partner, you’re hardly likely to achieve the outcome you want.
  • Blame me. Remember when you blamed your mom’s broken vase on your (completely innocent) friend? Or when the dog ate your homework? Sometimes it’s easier to take the heat off yourself. Saying that your lawyer recommended a prenup (and it’s completely true – I do!) can make the conversation easier.
  • Remind your partner that ALL marriages end.  It may seem morbid to say it – but all marriages end: either in death or divorce. You don’t hope your spouse will die prematurely but chances are (if you’re responsible) you still had a Will prepared. Why? Because you don’t want the state legislature deciding your property rights when you die and belief you and your partner are in a better position to make those decisions together. A prenup is really no different. Why trust the legislature to decide your rights and obligations if you aren’t fortunate enough to die?  Perhaps remind your spouse that legislators are elected officials and, at present, as a result of the electoral democracy Donald Trump is quite possibly 11 months away from getting the nuclear codes.
  • Reassure your partner. A lot. Let them know that your intention is to protect his or her financial independence, as well as yours. To keep the two of you, as a couple, in control of your finances and property rather than the Courts or the state.
  • Be like a window: transparent. This is the time to be 100 percent honest with your partner. Often our thoughts about prenups have been shaped by our parents’, siblings’ or even friends’ marriages. Share this with your fiancé(e) so they fully understand that this isn’t the final stage of your dastardly plan to acquire all their hard-earned money and possessions. Be honest about what is important to you, and why.
  • Use this as an opportunity to talk about expectations.  In the event the two of you split up you may be surprised at how much you share the same concerns. Who would keep the apartment? How would the one who leaves the apartment pay for movers or a security deposit? This is the kind of stuff you can discuss and include in your prenup. Take the fear of homelessness out of your marital anxieties. If there’s an economic disparity between you and your spouse you’ve got different concerns but they’re born of some of the same sensibilities. If you’re the “monied spouse” you want to know how much you would be “on the hook” for if the two of you split up. Most likely you aren’t suggesting if you break up your partner should be out on the streets eating cat food – but you don’t want him or her to be eating caviar while you’re struggling to pay bills. If you’re the “non-monied spouse” perhaps you want to ensure that it’s okay to sacrifice your career status to raise children or pursue other interests secure in the knowledge that your soon-to-be-spouse is taking care of business. You might not be looking for the marriage equivalent of a “golden parachute” in the event of divorce but you might be looking for some confirmation that you won’t leave the marriage with less than what you have when it started. There is likely room for compromise on these issues and perhaps having a discussion about what you both want and need financially in a marriage partnership is precisely the kind of thing two people considering getting hitched should do!
  • Listen. It’s the best way of avoiding misunderstandings. If people would only use their ears as much as their mouth, the world would be a much happier place, trust me on this! Ask them their opinion, their hopes, and do some research together. Chances are, neither of you have much practical experience with prenups, so you can learn together.
  • Don’t get angry. You might not get the response you want, but it’s important to stay calm. Your partner might not want to hear you. (In which case, it’s time to start working on those communication skills, folks.) They might be insulted that you’d even think of divorce. One the one hand, this is understandable, but it’s time to get real. Forty-five percent of marriages end in divorce. Being prepared is essential, for both of you.
  • Be prepared to try again. So you didn’t get the result you wanted? Don’t give up and hope it all works out for the best. It’s important that your wishes are respected in this relationship too. Allow your partner time to cool off and re-evaluate your points. Consider the services of a mediator to help both of you air your thoughts, without things turning sour.
  • Have faith. If you’re seriously considering marrying this person let me tell you, at the outset, it’s important that you two can have a difficult conversation when necessary. It’s important to have the ability to upset or disappoint your spouse when necessary to honestly express your needs and feelings. Start warming those skills up early before you get hitched. This is as bad a time as any to see that, if you’re doing it right, you can be scared or upset and still be very much in love.  

Financial conversations can be hard when you’re in a relationship, whatever stage you’re at. Bringing up a prenup needs you to have lots of hats on – your sensitive hat, your rational hat, and your honest hat. But the good news is it can be done without causing offense. Better, it can help you build trust and solidify your relationship. If you need it – great, you’re covered. And if not, then you two lovebirds have begun your lives together in the best possible way – by being open and honest about the tricky stuff. It’s win-win. It’s better to have a prenup and not need one than to need a prenup and not have one.  

Respectfully,

James J. Sexton

Let's All Just Be Nicer.

There are a million reasons relationships don’t work out, but most marriages fall into one of two fundamental categories:

  1. either both people realize the marriage is over and want out, or
  2. one person wants out while the other wants to keep working on the relationship.

No one’s jonesing to be part of either of these groups, but one could argue scenario B is a rougher road. Someone is really going to get their heart stomped on in group B. If you are the leaver, you have most likely realized for the good of your well being and sanity you must get out of your relationship. And look at you! Way to make a decision instead of cheating on your husband for a decade and lying to everyone you know.

If you’re the one left behind, I am so sorry, can I buy you a pizza? I swear you are prettier and more interesting than Sheila in accounting and I don’t know why Dan left you for her, but you are better without him, and again, can I get you a pizza? I feel like if you had some pizza, this would be less awkward because life’s a bummer and people are sometimes the worst, and it’d be great if everyone tried a little harder to be nicer.

If you didn’t know, (why would you know?) March 3rd was “I Want You To Be Happy Day.” I don’t know why there’s an international taco day, or a national taco day, or a hug your pets day, or a hug your pets on international taco day which happens to also be national taco day. I don’t know who comes up with these things, but if it’s a paid job, someone let me know where I can send my resume because I would be all over that nonsense. “I Want You To Be Happy Day” is meant to be a day of giving, helping, and generally being unselfish — all good things to be, for more than just one day out of the year.

It’s hard to be the bigger person, especially when you have an arsenal of sick, sick burns inside of you. Being the bigger person takes humility and self control, both of which don’t seem to be abundant in today’s world. It’s hard to be humble when there’s so much bragging to do on Facebook, am I right? It’s hard to have self control when a biting tweet going viral is just a little brainstorm away. So, I reject “I Want You To Be Happy Day” because one day isn’t enough to address the serious problem of the pandemic levels of jerkiness committed by us and against us in everyday life. I reject the day and call upon you to embrace the year, decade or century of being nicer.

A divorce is a great opportunity to really challenge yourself to be better. The bliss of embarrassing someone with a perfect cutting remark is fleeting. The general good vibe you get from being kind lasts, and can also can build into a long term sense of smugness no one can ever question. Because what can they do? Criticize you for being too civil to Dan and his new wife Sheila? Oh, sorry Brandon, I’m just a pretty ok person who knows everyone is better off now and I can accept and embrace that, not like when you and Erica broke up. You were just so rude to her, I mean I get it, but that’s just not me, man. Dan’s happiness is all our happiness, you know, Brandon? Ah, feel that? Feel the warm rays of smugness upon your body? Embrace it. That’s what happens when you want others to be happy.

How can you implement this in your daily life? Here are some ideas.

Don’t Act Like A Republican Presidential Candidate.
This one’s pretty simple. Don’t regress into a petty, childish seventh grader. Don’t allude to to an ex-spouse’s small penis size, imply they’ve pissed themselves, point out a poor fake tan color choice, draw attention to an excessive sweating problem, call them a phony/fraud/liar, or claim they have low energy. If you do any of the above, you will not only look like a moron, you will also feel like garbage. And you don’t want either of those things, because those things are the job of the next leader of the free world.

Who are you making happy? Your parents. They no longer have to scold you for “raising you better than that.”

Solve An Important Mystery.
First, quit your job and take an unpaid internship in the film industry. Over the course of sixteen months, work your way into PA jobs on several lower budget movies. Do really good work and impress a few people on set. Make friends with them so they call you up to work on bigger projects. Go to film school at night and during your days off. Put together an impressive reel and land an agent through your PA buddies’ contacts. Do a few short films that do well at several international festivals. Have a few mid-level people at big studios take notice. Land a meeting with one of those people. Dazzle them. Get hired for a few smaller features. Work more, work harder. Land a huge summer blockbuster starring Reese Witherspoon. On day one, take Reese aside and ask her what the hell movie she was talking about when she said “Oh, that’s where we’re at? You’re fighting to be the girlfriend in a dumb comedy? For what?’ And by the way, two Oscar winners did it. I was like, I’ve got to do something.” Was it No Strings Attached? It was No Strings Attached, right? Kate Aurthur from Buzzfeed thinks it’s No Strings Attached. Ask Reese, find out the answer, quit the movie and the business and walk off set. Call your ex and tell them, “Yep, No Strings Attached, we were right!” Then tweet it and @ me, and Kate Aurthur and the whole world because seriously Reese, what was it?No Strings Attached right?

Who are you making happy? All of us.

Stop Airing Your Dirty Laundry, Unless It’s Really Interesting.
There’s an expiration date for complaining about a dissolved relationship. It is six months. If you are still complaining about a long gone relationship past the six month mark, all of your friends are going to get annoyed and bored. We all love a little gossip. Some of us love a lot of gossip. When it’s stale gossip that you’ve heard nineteen times since last summer, no one likes it. So either find something juicier you forgot to mention, or get caught up on Vanderpump Rules so we can all enjoy the conversation.

Who are you making happy? All of your friends, your hairdresser, the coffee cart guy, your dry cleaner, the grocery store clerk, and cab drivers who also happen to be strangers.

Actively Try To Let Go Of The Past.
I’m going to give you what you’ve been searching for since your marriage broke up. Ready? Here goes… You are right. You’re right about all of it. Every tiny thing on the miles’ long mental list of the ways you were right and s/he was wrong, I agree with you. I’m giving you the validation you’ve been longing for, and I am proving you weren’t crazy this whole time. There. Now let it gooooooooo…

Who are you making happy? Your boss. Now you can finally concentrate on your work again, instead of clicking through your honeymoon pictures trying to spot where exactly it all went wrong, again and again and again.

Forgive Them. 
I know! It’s so hard! But if you don’t forgive, you cannot move on. What do you gain from holding grudges? An ulcer? Great, so you’ve got the grudges but you have to forgo delicious Mexican food? Who is winning in that scenario? I’m not suggesting this will be easy. It might be the hardest part of your divorce journey, but the benefits cannot be denied. When you forgive, it’s like hitting the reset button. The dark clouds shift and the ice starts to melt and you can make a really, really, embarrassingly cheesy spectacle out of it. Tie a name to a balloon and let it float away. Burn memorabilia in a safe, well ventilated environment. Hack your wedding outfit to shreds. Do that stuff then say insufferable things like, “let go and let god” or “I’m truly at peace now” or “love and light.” You will probably go through a two to four week period in which you want to wear only flowing robes because you are centered and enlightened, so just go with it.

Who are you making happy? Your doctor, your stomach lining, and the flowing robes industry.

*Quick side note: if your former partner was really horrible, like legitimately, legally, penitentiary bad, forgiving them does not excuse them for what they did. You were right, what they did was wrong, and I hope there is just punishment for it. But you can forgive this person. You don’t have to wash away all their sins, that’s between them and the legal system or the god of their choosing, but you can unshackle yourself from the trauma.

Forgive Yourself. 
Ha! You thought forgiving others was hard, well welcome to the nightmare of forgiving yourself! You think you might be having a good day then in an innocuous, quiet moment when you’re waiting for your sandwich at the deli, the really rude part of your brain will list off all of your greatest failures. Every wrong word you spoke, every time you were cruel or petty, every mistake you made. A real comprehensive montage will roll through your brain and you’ll feel nauseated and you won’t even want the $14 sandwich with avocado you just splashed out for. There is no way to silence the jerk in your brain forever, no matter how much bourbon you try to drown him in. So what can you do? You can try to be nicer to yourself. You can cut yourself a break, because while you hold yourself to really high standards, you are still a human being and as such you make mistakes. Do things that make you feel proud of yourself. Help others. Try to learn from mistakes and try to stop repeating them. Try to be kind to others and hope happiness spreads like an infection and lifts you up along the way.

Who are you making happy? First yourself, then others, then… the whole world?

National Wedding Month? Here are 15 Better Ways to Spend $26k

In case you didn’t know, February is National Weddings Month. Oh yeah, someone decided that was going to be a thing. I suppose they picked February because it’s ~love month~ what with Valentine’s Day and all. I also assume that they assume a lot of people get engaged on Valentine’s Day (which, according to these fancy restaurant professionals, is a *major* faux pas), because they really don’t think people are capable of doing anything interesting with their lives.

According to an internet source, the average wedding in America costs $26,444. Twenty-six thousand four hundred forty-four dollars, American. Actual American dollars. For four hours of crappy food, “crowd pleasing” music, a dress or cumberbund you can’t breathe in, worrying your racist aunt is going to go ahead and be very racist, watered down well drinks, a brain splitting migraine you picked up due to the stress, a half-thawed sugar cube masquerading as cake covered in a layer of sweetened silly putty called fondant, and um, a concrete declaration of everlasting love and commitment that, with a divorce rate over 50%, statistically, satisfies the tort standard as inherently negligent behavior.

You could throw a wedding to bring your families together and celebrate your most perfect union, or you could do about a million other things with $26,444 seeing as so many weddings are precursors to so many divorces. I’m not saying your beautiful, unique wedding, that’s totally not like anyone else’s even though you got most of your ideas from Pinterest and magazines that depict weddings that have already happened, will yield another marriage that ends in divorce. No siree. But, you do have my number right? Your marriage could totally be one of the lucky ones. You could have beaten the odds and found your one, true, forever and ever soul mate. Or you could have found an okay person you’re pretty sure isn’t a serial killer and that’s enough to spend the rest of your life with someone. They’re probably not a serial killer because serial killers are pretty rare. What do I know?

Well, I know $26,444 is a big chunk of change and if you want to spend it on a wedding, fair do’s to you. If you don’t, and would rather elope and save the cash for something else, here are some ideas.

2,647 Months of Netflix. Netflix costs $9.99 a month for the plan that allows you to watch on two screens at once. That’s 2,647 months of Netflix, or 220 years of Netflix, which is definitely longer than you’re going to live, all for the bargain basement price of one wedding. The two screen plan is key to keeping your relationship in tact. You’re going to want to entertain yourselves during the lulls in your marriage and you’re going to want to do it separately. Helen can enjoy Friday Night Lights in the tub for weeks on end while you comb House Hunters International for inaccuracies because that show is definitely not real. The cosmopolitan couple already purchased their international dream home! The other two choices are quite obviously decoys! We’re not dumb, HGTV!

37 Days of the Moon Juice Lady’s Diet. If you’ve been hanging out on the internet the past few weeks, you may have come across this Elle article about Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon’s diet. The Frisky analyzed it and calculated that Amanda’s every day diet costs about $710. You can use your wedding budget to drink silver needle tea before your son Rohan wakes for a whopping thirty-seven days. Oh yeah, Amanda blows through a wedding budget nearly every month on her weird food. The smugness and self satisfaction come free as a bonus.

21,000 Rolls of Toilet Paper. I bought four rolls of toilet paper for $4.99 this morning and that was on sale. More than a buck per roll for a necessity doesn’t seem fair but if you channel wedding money directly into toilet paper, you’ve got yourself over 21,000 rolls. That seems like enough to last you a lifetime. You can also fashion a wedding dress out of a few rolls like they do at wedding showers, and wear that to your fiscally responsible courthouse wedding.

A Hypothetical Child’s College Tuition For Some Amount of Time. If you plan on having kids with your new beloved spouse, instead of blowing $26,444 on a wedding, you could sock it away in a college savings account for the future apple of your eye. In 20 years that wedding sum will be more. How much? I don’t know, it’s pretty complicated and there are a lot of investment options, so just know it will be more. And if Bernie Sanders ends up president, and public college ends up being free, you can use those college savings to redecorate your kid’s room when he leaves for state school, instead of on tuition. Personal gym, home office, meat locker, sex dungeon, whatever you want!

The Best Honeymoon Ever. Remember when you were young and free and didn’t really understand how taxes worked and your back didn’t ache in the morning? That dumb little idealist in the Smiths t-shirt also swore weddings were stupid and that any sane person would go on a kickass honeymoon instead. Well, that dummy got a lot about international relations wrong, but did get the international holiday idea right. You and your partner can book those “around the world” tickets and hit something like a dozen different places for only a couple of thousand dollars for each of you. Then you can spend the rest on accommodations, excursions and tiny Eiffel Tower souvenirs for everyone you would have invited to your wedding.

26 Mont Blanc Pens. Are you an award-winning writer? Have you won a Pulitzer? Are you a best selling author with a large legion of devoted fans? If the answers to the preceding questions are no, is it possible none of those things is true because you haven’t purchased a very fancy pen? How can you write the next great American novel about the outdated tradition of marriage on a MacBook? Mont Blanc pens run around a grand each and you’ll want to buy quite a few. You need one on your writing desk of course. One by your bed for any late night ideas. One in your bag. One in the car. One for your coat pocket. One for your other coat pocket. Just buy them in a bulk set of twenty-six to be sure that when there is an idea to be had, an exquisite pen is lurking nearby to jot it down. They say wedding photos last forever. You know what else lasts forever? The wikipedia page you will have after getting famous off your groundbreaking novel.

A House. Most lenders require a down payment of twenty percent of the home’s value. An average wedding budget will land you in a $130,000 house, which if you’re outside the tri-state area could be a really nice place to live. If you’re in the tri-state area, well, you’re well on your way to saving for a 20% down payment. You’re basically a quarter of the way there. Almost. It’s confusingly ridiculous to live here and I don’t know why we do it.

A Car. The average price for a new car in this country is conveniently just about the same price as an average American wedding. So you can spend a giant sum of money to feed the friends and family you don’t really like all that much in exchange for a juicer and china you will never use, or you can buy a vehicle and drive far, far away from them. If you want to get a fancy car I can tell you, from my own intensive research, that an average wedding budget would cover the down payment and first year of lease payments on a Tesla P90D (with the “ludicrous speed” upgrade so you can go 0-60 in 2.6 seconds!). But, hey, disregard all of this if you think that seeing your uncle and your college roommates belligerently drunk in ill fitting suits, yet again, is more exhilarating than smoking a Bugatti or Ferrari off the line.

A Heck of A Lot of Gas. You can get a gallon of gas for about $1.99 in New York right now. A wedding’s worth of gas can get you 13,288 gallons away from home. You got a Prius? Well look at you, Mr. Conscientious. In that Prius you can drive over 664,000 miles on a wedding budget. Side note: if you get that Tesla we talked about earlier you won’t even need gas!

6 Premium Adele Tickets. Currently, the most expensive tickets on StubHub for Adele’s September 19, 2016 Madison Square Garden performance are $4,445 a piece. The seats are located in “Pod A” and I don’t know what that means but it sounds fancy. You and almost five of your closest friends (one can be your fiance, it’s up to you) could live it up in Pod A, see Adele up close and weep together. That experience will garner more intimacy than any wedding ceremony could.

So Many Bagels. A sesame bagel from my favorite deli costs $0.70. They are heavenly pillows of magical gluten that I dream about. They bring me more happiness than any human being ever has, and I’m not even that ashamed of that statement. I could get nearly 38,000 bagels for the cost of one wedding, which is 38,000 bagels closer to eternal bliss.

Your Electric Bill for 20 Years. The average electric bill in New York is $106. You could run your blenders, cable boxes, modems and light the lamp by your side of the bed in order to read self help books on relationships for twenty years, all for the price of one average wedding. Twenty years under a 60 watt bulb with Dr. Phil’s Relationship Rescue? Where do I sign up!

5 Years of Groceries. The average family of two spends $450 on groceries every month. On that budget you can get nearly five years of groceries for the cost of a wedding. Five years of delicious pre-cut Whole Foods fruit instead of limp, gray salmon that 120 of your nearest and dearest will complain about until you or they die.

1.5 Million Cotton Balls. You can purchase 200 cotton balls for $3.49. You can buy over 1.5 million cotton balls for the cost of a wedding. With over 1.5 million cotton balls, you can build a cotton ball kingdom in your large attic, finally knowing exactly what it’s like to live on a cloud made of cotton balls and live out your life in a fluffy cotton ball cloud kingdom of dreams.

17 Prenups. The internet claims the average American prenup costs about $2,500. As I have explained over and over and over again, the prenup is an engaged person’s best friend. Everyone should do it. People madly in love. People with a few doubts. People with a lot of doubts. People who turn oxygen into carbon dioxide through the process of breathing. Everyone. People are willing to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to dress up in doily covered dresses and rented tuxedos to dance to “We Are Family” in elk lodges around the country, but they scoff at shelling out a comparatively tiny sum to protect their future selves just in case John Lennon was wrong and you in fact do need more in this life than just love.

That’s bananas, people.

Save yourself the possible world of financial hurt that could await you. You can even do it seventeen times for the cost of one wedding, you know in case the first sixteen husbands aren’t the one, and number seventeen is the actual one.

Respectfully,

 

James J. Sexton

The Oscars Curse: Fact or Fiction?

It’s tough to be a woman in Hollywood. Perfectly beautiful people are driven straight into the arms of restylane happy doctors, as youth is paramount and 26 is over the hill. Second to youth is being thin enough to faint several times a day. Calories are counted down to the decimal point, and burned off in punishing bootcamps that violate the Geneva Convention. Then there’s the never ending auditioning and networking, all in the hopes of landing a movie role, making it big and taking home a paycheck that’s a fraction of the male lead’s.

If the movie’s a hit, there will be paparazzi stalking every meal and shopping outing, and Daily Mail commenters pointing out that the new Hollywood it girl has a weird big toe, and the big toe gets its own meme that goes viral on Twitter. Then by the grace of god and an all-white academy, an Oscar nomination! The big night arrives and by sheer luck and maybe some pocket lining by a Weinstein, a win! There’s five minutes of glee and pride and then some dumb reporter asks the winner if she’s concerned about the Oscars Curse. “The Curse?” she asks genuinely bewildered. “Oh yeah, you know how if you win Best Actress, odds are you’ll break up with your husband or boyfriend and probably because he’s cheating on you? You know, The Curse.” The actress freezes and the color drains from her face, she mumbles and grunts and stumbles her way out of sight. She gets served with divorce papers the following week.

The Oscars Curse. Did you know there was such a thing? It sounds ridiculous, but there’s actually quite a bit of evidence:

  • Jennifer Lawrence wins, splits from Nicholas Hoult.
  • Sandra Bullock wins, splits from Jesse James.
  • Kate Winslet wins, splits from Sam Mendes.
  • Reese Witherspoon wins, splits from Ryan Phillippe.
  • Hilary Swank wins, splits from Chad Lowe.
  • Charlize Theron wins, splits from Stuart Townsend.
  • Halle Berry wins, splits from Eric Benet.
  • Julia Roberts wins, splits from Benjamin Bratt.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow wins, splits from Ben Affleck.
  • Helen Hunt wins, splits from Hank Azaria.
  • Susan Sarandon wins, splits from Tim Robbins.
  • Jessica Lange wins, splits from Sam Shepard.
  • Holly Hunter wins, splits from Janusz Kaminski.
  • Emma Thompson wins, splits from Kenneth Branagh.

There are about a dozen more examples on top of those. But, is the curse real? Of course not, because curses aren’t real things. Except for that one time Bobby Brady found an ancient tiki idol and it caused everyone great harm. That was the real deal. But the Oscars Curse? Of course it isn’t an actual thing.

Shockingly, celebrities are people too. There’s an entire US Weekly column dedicated to proving they’re just like us — they pump gas, pick out children’s birthday cakes, get parking validated, sprint across the street from colonic appointment to acupuncture session, and have failed relationships — just like us!

They split for the same reasons we split. You might be an associate marketing manager at a home security company and Halle Berry might be playing one in a movie, but both of your jobs can get in the way of your relationships. Stress, long hours, transfers to the Chicago office/filming in Vancouver for three months can all put a relationship in jeopardy. Family planning can be a point of contention whether you’re Helen Mirren or Harriet from Montvale. If you don’t want kids, but your husband does, you guys have some pretty serious conversations ahead of you. (I don’t know if Helen Mirren wants or wanted kids, hers is literally the first name that popped into my head, I cannot explain why.) Finances are a sticking point whether you’re making $50,000 a year or $15 million for an action movie. If someone’s not pulling their weight or blowing big bucks on a hot tub without discussing it first, it doesn’t matter how many sequin encrusted gowns you have, there’s going to be a problem. Religion can tear people apart too. If one half of the couple isn’t as on board as the other half, tension can mount. Celebrities are just as susceptible to joining religions with centers built just for them as regular people are.

Then, of course, there’s cheating. Think about your friend group, how many of them are divorced? Probably about half, right? Now imagine if your suburban town also had a bunch of Hemsworths running around. It’d be utter chaos. No one’s marriage would be safe. You’re in an ok but boring relationship, and have half an eye out for Keith in purchasing, can you really blame Brad and Angelina?

Listen, they might be glamorous and know their way around a juice cleanse, but when push comes to shove, they’re people just like us. Sometimes marriages fizzle. Sometimes they’re a mistake from day one. Sometimes women marry seemingly good men who turn out to be weak little babies that can’t possibly let the women in their lives be the star of the show, even for one measly awards season.

If you prick Sandra Bullock, does she not bleed? She is human just like the rest of us, and the rest of us get divorced too. There’s nothing wrong with that, because that’s life. So let’s ease up on the Oscars Curse talk and focus our energies on more important matters like, what if someone accidentally finds Bobby Brady’s ancient tiki idol again? How can we be sure it’s still somewhere safe? Does anyone have Obama’s number? We’ve got to get down to the bottom of this.

Share and let me know what you think here in the Comments below, on Twitter,Facebook, and Instagram!

Respectfully,
James J. Sexton

Woof! Dog Park Flirting 101

Believe it or not, the weather will start to warm up soon(ish), we will all emerge from our post-holidays winter I-hate-the-world haze, and you just might start to thinking about dating again. 

I’m all about easing into these things—spring AND starting to date—and if there’s one thing I know it’s that having a dog can make both infinitely easier. Why? Because your dog probably has spring fever too, and will be dragging you outside whether you plan to go out or not, which is always a great motivator.

As for dating, nobody makes a better wingman/wingwoman than a dog. And when it comes to dating, do you know where the best place is to let you dog do all the heavy lifting? The dog park! (Assuming you got custody of the pooch, of course.)

There are a few reasons for this. Because you have the dog to keep you company, it’s really difficult (though not impossible, trust me) to look like a pathetic loser at the dog park. If you’re looking to potentially go out on a date with someone, a dog park is a good place to find someone appropriate, if you’re a dog owner yourself. I mean, you’ll know right away that they like dogs, and for some people this is literally the biggest deal-breaker when dating someone new.

Also, it’s a seriously low-pressure environment for socializing and flirtation in general—if things get weird, just focus on the dogs. In fact, there’s a whole dog park-flirting language that, for those in the know, is better than Tinder for picking up new partners. This is because the whole human-dog dynamic is absolutely RICH with subtext.

To help you out, I’ve broken the major Dog Park Flirting tactics down into a few simple lines. These are good to know from the perspective of both the Flirter and the Flirtee—even if you’re not down for the flirting, you really need to know what you’re walking into when you walk into a dog park.

Just keep in mind that dog parks are sort of like gyms, in that you tend to run into the same people over and over again … so if things go badly, you might have to find a new dog park. Just saying.

BEST DOG PARK LINES: 

“What an exotic breed! Your dog is gorgeous.”

Subtext: You are exotic and gorgeous.

“Hey, our dogs like each other!”

Subtext: I bet we would also like each other.

“Want to play Frisbee with us?”

Subtext: Say yes, and this becomes our first almost-date. 

“Do you mind if I Instagram your dog? He’s so cute!”

Subtext: I’m about to ask you for your Instagram handle so I can tag you, launching a relationship of some kind. 

“Wow, your dog is so well-trained.”

Subtext: I could be that well-trained. Train me.

“You know, she really likes you—she doesn’t jump on everyone like that.”

Subtext: My dog and I are high maintenance and come on a little strong, but we’re good people.

“I have no idea which of these tennis balls is mine and which is yours…”

Subtext: It doesn’t matter, we’re going to be sharing everything soon. 

“Oh no, my dog just got mud all over you—here’s my number, let me pay your dry cleaning bill.”

Subtext: Here’s my number, let me take you to dinner.

“Oh, hey, did you lose your ball? Have one of mine.”

Subtext: I’ve got balls to spare.

“They really get along—I hope we run into you two again!”

Subtext: Let’s schedule an extracurricular play date. 

“She’s a rescue dog. It took a long time to get her to trust humans, but she’s doing great now.”

Subtext: I am marriage material. I will make an amazing parent.

And, my favorite: When the object-of-your-flirtation approaches you and says “Oh my God! SO CUTE!” you say“Thanks! I work out. I try to eat right. Oh…wait…you meant the dog. Sorry. Yeah. He’s okay I guess.” It’s like Colt 45. Works every time.

So there it is! You’re now a Dog Park Flirting expert. Use or refuse at your own risk.

For more tips and strategies for being a divorced person or just a regular person, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram—or, if you’re really dangerous, all three.

Just one last thing though: make sure everyone is dewormed and up to date on shots before you go romping further afield.

Respectfully,

James J. Sexton

A First Date Guide for the Newly Divorced

Okay, so I admit that photo is a little misleading, because having sex is actually not on my list of tips for what to do on your first date after divorce. But I got you to click on my article, so, you may as well read it. Logical? Yes. Clickbait? Yes. But you clicked.

Basically, nobody’s first date after divorce is good. It’s just one of those facts of life, like the first time you speak in public or the first time you ride a bike. In all of the above situations, you are going to be terrified, sweaty, self-conscious, and there’s a decent chance you may end up scraped and bruised or hiding under a table. It’s fine. You’re human, and now divorced. You’re a divorced human.

If you’re anything like this human, you might have been avoiding going on a date for exactly the reason I’m describing here: you know it’s going to be bad. You’re absolutely right. Maybe.

The thing is, you can’t avoid it forever.

Once you get through all the stages of grief following your divorce—and I’m not saying rush through that part, because it’s important stuff—but once you do get that part out of the way, going on a date is kind of just something you have to do. Maybe it will take you two months, maybe two decades; maybe you’ll end up in a relationship, maybe you’ll decide to stay single for the rest of your life. Everybody’s different. But you do have to face it one way or another.

When you finally get to this point, here is the crucial thing: just get all the awkward out of the way in one dateEmbrace the bad dateness, because that is most likely what it will be.

What follows are the steps to success on your first date after divorce.

1. Choose someone it’s probably not going to go anywhere with. The main thing is to get rid of hopes and expectations as much as possible; pick someone you don’t have a crush on if possible. I would also advise not to pick someone you have to see on a regular basis, like a co-worker. Once you have a willing date who you feel lukewarm about, proceed to Step 2.

2. Pick a place you don’t really like. Just in case you embarrass yourself, it’s best to choose a venue for your date that isn’t crucial to your weekly routine, in case you have to avoid the place for a little while after this. Low lighting and not many people would be ideal also.

3. Order something awkward to eat. For appetizers, order olives so you have to spit out the seeds on your plate and feel gauche, and/or bruschetta, so the tomatoes fall off your bread into your lap. Go into the date planning to leave with some kind of food stain on your clothing. For your main course, order spaghetti so that you have to slurp it, and/or ribs because ribs are awesome. Enjoy yourself–you might as well.

4. Drink. A Lot. Usually drinking more than one or maybe two drinks on a date is bad form. In this case, it’s necessary to have at least two drinks, probably more. It depends on how many it takes for you to lose emotional inhibitions, because you need to be free and easy for Step 4. (Note: Please don’t drink and drive; one-night stands are also not advised. #NoJudgement, though.)

5. Tell your date how much they remind you of your ex. It’s time to get real, and by real I mean embarrassing. Talk about your ex—you know you need to. Apologize profusely, but be honest. Dating reminds you of marriage and that reminds you of your ex, and you’re going to just name the white elephant because you’re DRUNK. You’re in a weird place. It’s okay. 

6. Give your date a list of the three big ways you failed as a partner. This will feel like a sort of confession and will make you feel better, lighter even. Then shift the conversation away from yourself, because you’re getting really boring.

7. Be entertaining! It’s the least you can do, since you’re probably a huge drag to be on a date with. Memorize a few jokes and compelling questions beforehand. When your date gets that glazed-over look that means they’re deciding whether to hate you, break out the jokes and compelling questions. Order them an extra dessert and proceed to Step 8.

8. Pay the whole bill. You owe this poor person a free dinner.

9. Thank them. You needed to have this date more than your date needed to be there for it, probably. This person did you a great service, and they should be made aware of that fact by the end of the evening.

10. Resign yourself to being someone’s “worst date ever” story. Own it. That’s where you’re at right now. Embrace it.  

Now you can really start to move forward.

Have something to add, ask, complain about? I love all of those things! Get in touch with me on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram.

Heartache Sweeps the Grammys

We are knee deep in awards season. In addition to it being Presidents’ Day Weekend,(Anti)-Valentine’s Day weekend and the close out of Lunar New Year celebrations, it is also time for the Grammys!

If you have a pulse, you know how important music is to everyday life. It pumps us up, calms us down, makes us fall in love, makes us embarrass ourselves when we think no one can see us dancing in the car, and perhaps most importantly, helps us get through horrible breakups. Here’s a free idea for you marketing people and business executives: sell a breakup bundle containing a pint of ice cream, a box of tissues and an Adele album. As everyone knows, only time and Adele can heal all wounds.

It’s not just us regular people that know heartbreak songs are integral to life; the people handing out awards have taken note as well. Heartache and yearning win big at the Grammys. There have been a ton of stomped, smashed, broken hearts collecting golden gramophones for Record of the Year. Let’s take a look at some of them!

*Quick music industry lesson: Song of the Year honors the songwriting; Record of the Year honors the performance and recording. And with that knowledge you’re basically Clive Davis, so go take over any record label you want.


Sam Smith – Stay With Me
Sam gets it. He knows what it’s like to wonder “what if” as dawn breaks during a one night stand. He knows this isn’t meant to last. He knows this is just a one time thing. The person next to him is a relative stranger, but still, what if? What if he stayed? What if they got breakfast? Just some orange juice and all butter croissants at that cafe down the road. On the walk, a single ray of sun breaks through the clouds on that cold January morning and makes the golden streaks in the stranger’s hair glisten. And in the daylight Sam notices his eyes are really more aqua than green. And he falls in love and everything is fine forever. But it isn’t!!! Because it was all just a thought as the stranger gathered up his stuff and scooted out the door while Sam was lost in a daydream. A very, very lucrative daydream that made Sam Smith a household name.


Gotye – Somebody That I Used to Know
It’s summer 2012. You’re excited for the Olympics and nervous about the election. You haven’t yet noticed the fine lines that have begun to form around your eyes. You are young and dumb and it is great. Somewhere around the opening ceremonies you get dumped and the only person who can understand your pain is a Belgian-Australian who you could have sworn was Sting from the sound of his voice. His name? Gotye. His song? “Somebody That I Used to Know.” You haven’t heard from Gotye since, and possibly never will.

Adele – Rolling in the Deep
Queen of heartbreak. Princess of pain. Duchess of the dumped. When she’s not making us cry or being totally hilarious, Adele is writing Grammy winning songs in one afternoon after a breakup. I was barely able to pick up groceries and my dry cleaning last Sunday, but apparently Adele only needs three to four hours to change the musical landscape with a catchy, giant eff-off anthem.

Lady Antebellum – Need You Now
Lady A, as they’re called in the biz, have seen you at your weakest. They were peering into your window at a quarter after one in the morning, silently watching as you kept picking up and putting down your phone. They know exactly what you were doing. You were feeling lonely, and your will power was nowhere to be found. You needed someone now.

Kings of Leon – Use Somebody
Poor Caleb Followill was feeling empty. Maybe it was life on the road that got him down. Maybe he felt his celebrity status was keeping him from meeting genuine people. Did they like him for him, or because he was Caleb from Kings of Leon? He’ll never know, and we’ll never know. But he channeled that longing into “Use Somebody” and won himself a Grammy, and now he’s married to a model so I guess it all worked out.

Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On
This gem needs no introduction for it was burned forever into our brains as the theme song to the greatest love story ever told on water. James Cameron had a dream and that dream was to make seventh grade girls cry in movie theaters around the world. He succeeded. The audience fell in love with Jack/Leo then he went and died and all we were left with was a Canadian chanteuse’s promise that our hearts would go on. The song lives on in dentists’ offices and Chinese restaurants around the globe.

Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why
I don’t think I’ve ever been in a restaurant within one hundred yards of a palm tree that wasn’t playing this song. And while it brings back great memories of many a rum-based drink served in a pineapple, it’s actually quite a morose song. Don’t let Norah’s relaxed, whisper of a voice trick you, she is full of regret and isn’t entertaining the option of forgiving herself. Fun fact – this is a cover, so it wasn’t even Norah’s heartbreak that got her a Grammy.

Tina Turner – What’s Love Got To Do With It
This song was originally offered to Cliff Richard. This Cliff Richard. Imagine! I think this one’s about giving into lust and throwing love out the window because,“Who needs a heart/ When a heart can be broken?” Take a second. Imagine Cliff Richard singing it. Oh wait hang on, you don’t have to imagine it.

You’re welcome.

Carole King – It’s Too Late
A fun game to play is “Did You Know Carole King Wrote That” because Carole King has written one million perfect songs. “It’s Too Late” is no exception. It tells the story of a crumbling relationship that has fallen apart despite both parties really trying to make it work. Yes, it is about James Taylor in case you were wondering.

Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You
This is of course a cover of the Dolly Parton classic. It sounds awfully romantic, but Dolly wrote it for Porter Wagoner, her songwriting and singing partner, when they decided to split ways professionally. Dolly’s version is sweet and country tinged. Whitney’s is a stadium-sized belter filled with emotion and longing, and it blew the other nominees out of the water.

What do you think will win Record of the Year this year? Probably “Uptown Funk” right? Let me know in the comments or on any of our social channels: TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

As for your playlist -- Enjoy!

Respectfully,

James J. Sexton