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 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


Cheer Up, Hallo-Weiner! Halloween for Divorcees

As a holiday, Halloween is one of the least depressing ones out there. I mean, this is a day that is designed to support people embracing alter egos, coming out of their shells, experimenting, letting the hair down—you get the picture.

Halloween is not a time for reflection (you’ve done enough of that) nor does it require a lot of awkward family time (if you’re in the middle of a divorce, you could use a break from that). Instead, Halloween is an opportunity to have some non-reflective fun, and probably get a little creative, drunk, or both. And what could be a better distraction from your crumbling marriage than a sugar high and a lot of weird costumes?! Here’s what you do.

If You Have the Kids

  • Trick-or-Treating. The classic Halloween activity, though it has become a bit worrisome in recent years as people are advised to be more and more careful. If you live in a safe area, you should have no qualms, surely, about taking your kids out begging for candy in the dark—but if there’s any doubt, perhaps stick to one of the alternatives.
  • Throw a Kids’ Party. Cupcake decorating, Halloween games, even create a haunted house with peeled grapes standing in for eyeballs—why not go the whole nine yards. After all, now that you’re divorced, you need to REALLY make an effort to make sure you’re the Fun Parent.
  • “Scary” movie marathon. Age-appropriate scary movies, of course—ie. no need to drag out Freddy Kruger if the kids are under five. No, in all seriousness, if you’re hosting your kids and possibly their friends for Halloween night, there’s almost nothing better than Nightmare before Christmas or a selection of Halloween Specials on Netflix, some candy, popcorn and fizzy apple juice—you get to chill out and everybody’s happy.
  • Scavenger hunt. If you have a bit of time to spare, putting together a scavenger hunt for candy or small prizes or whatever is pretty fun. Write out a sequence of clues, and place them in and around your house for the kids to find, accompanied by treats along the way—with the final treat being a giant pile of candy OR a giant pizza and Halloween movie. Total win.

If You Don’t Have the Kids (or if You Don’t Have Kids at All)

  • Make an amazing Halloween-themed dinner party. I once went to this dinner party where the hostess dressed up like Morticia and served six courses of things like Jack O’Lantern Soup and Poisoned Apple Pie – and it was all delicious and it was all really fun to eat and talk about. (I mean, the adult palate gets so neglected at Halloween time, seriously.) If I wasn’t so lazy I would do this.
  • Throw a Grownups’ Costume Party. Making your friends dress up can either make them love you or hate you, depending on your friends; you really have to make this call for yourself. One tip if you decide to do this: leave it pretty open as to what people can dress as. The worst thing is if you specify people should dress up as either pirates or monkeys, and then everyone comes as Sexy Donald Trump. Just let them go nuts.
  • Bar crawl (in costume of course). Feel like embarrassing yourself and/or your friends? Organize a bar crawl in costume, which demands that people actually be seen out in public in full Heidi/Edward Scissorhands/Sexy Donald Trump attire, a fact that just adds to the general fun.
  • Halloween cocktails. Just want to get drunk with your friends, and Halloween is a good excuse? No problem. There are actually a LOT of Halloween cocktails out there, like a Candy Corn Martini, a Smoking Zombie, or THIS super-weird, super great Glow-in-the-Dark Cocktail. Bottoms up!
  • Scary movie marathon. Okay, now you get to break out the REAL scary movies, and these days there are a lot to choose from. Just to help you out, here’s a list of the most popular horror movies released in 2015, and HERE’s a list (I actually recommend this one more) of the best horror films of all time.

Have something to add, ask, or some inconsistency to point out? I LOVE IT. I’m all ears. Leave a comment below or tweet to me.

James J. Sexton

Divorce Through the Ages

When it comes to divorce history, the average person can muster up about three talking points: that whole Protestant church reformation thing, Elizabeth Taylor, and that time Uncle Rob left Aunt Debra, started dating your French teacher and Thanksgiving got très weird.

While those are some biggies, there’s a whole rich tapestry of divorce history out there. Turns out as long as people have been getting hitched, they’ve been getting unhitched. Let’s take a gander.

500 BCE – When not busy inventing democracy and partying, ancient Greeks were getting divorced left and right. Their motto was “matrimonia debent esse libera” which loosely translates to, if you want to date Todd go ahead I’m not stopping you. The ancient Greeks saw marriage as a practice to enter into freely and exit just as freely.

331 CE – Constantine got all religious right wing on the good people of the Roman Empire. Under his Christian rule, disgruntled couples needed a serious reason to divorce. Such grounds included proving your husband was a murderer, poisoner or tomb disturber. I dated a tomb disturber once. It was not awesome.

1000 CE – Christianity spread like wildfire through Europe, and with it came a very conservative stance on divorce. It wasn’t allowed at all but there were some workarounds. If for instance you had really had it with your husband and his inability to throw his codpieces in the hamper, notbeside it, you could ask the church for an annulment. They were hard to get and could only be granted if the couple entered into the marriage “improperly” but I guess you had to try what you could to get away from that nightmare and his terrible lute playing.

1517 CE – Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses, which much like Kat’s poem in 10 Things I Hate About You, was a long list of complaints, to the All Saints’ Church door (historians dispute this, but it’s a nice image). Luther’s list was about his grievances with the Catholic Church, not Heath Ledger, and with it he kickstarted the Protestant Reformation.

1537 CE – Henry the VIII wasn’t too hot on Catherine of Aragon anymore so he changed the course of history by renouncing the papacy and made the Church of England Protestant. Along with the rest of Protestant Europe, divorce became a civil issue rather than a religious one. In an interesting twist, to be granted a divorce one member of the marriage had to wrong the other. If both people broke vows, they were stuck together. And if it was discovered that the couple was in cahoots and both wanted a divorce, no divorce would be granted.

1603 CE – Divorce was allowed in Japan as long as the husband wrote a letter to the wife informing her of the divorce. Wives were not granted the same letter writing rights, but some could seek sanctuary from their husbands in so-called Shinto “divorce temples.”

1752 CE – Prussia decided divorce was a private matter and established a law allowing for divorce in any instance where the couple mutually agreed. Austria liked the sound of that and followed suit allowing non-Catholics to divorce as they saw fit.

1800 CE – Sometime after the French Revolution settled down, divorce was legalized in France.

1931 CE – Citizens of Spain were granted the right to divorce, but not for long.

1938 CE – Franco decided he wasn’t too cool with the whole divorce thing and abolished divorce in Spain.

1953 CE – Oklahoma became the first state in the US to institute no-fault divorce.

1954 CE – The Special Marriage Act was passed in India that allowed citizens to marry and divorce irrespective of their religion.

1970 CE – An Italian law was passed allowing for Italians to divorce as long as the couple had been separated for at least five years.

1981 CE – Spaniards were finally granted the right to divorce once again and the “express divorce” (exactly what it sounds like) was introduced.

1987 CE – The Italian law was amended to make the separation period at least three years.

1995 CE – Divorce was approved in Ireland.

1996 CE – Princess Diana and Prince Charles divorced a few months after Princess Diana declared in a TV interview “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” Burnnn.

2005 CE – Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston divorced. The world wept and no one ever fully recovered.

2010 CE – New York instituted no fault divorce, becoming one of the last states to do so. A bill was filed in the Philippines to introduce pro-divorce legislation but it didn’t get very far.

2011 CE – Divorce was approved in Malta.

2015 CE – Italian divorce laws are amended again, shortening the separation requirement to six months. Divorce remains illegal for all Filipinos except Muslim Filipinos; civil annulment is an option but the process is lengthy and costly. Even Vatican City is beginning to warm to the idea of divorce… Sort’ve. 


James J. Sexton

Divorce Lessons From the Real Housewives of Orange County

Everyone has their favorite nutso reality wives, and the Real Housewives of Orange County are (one of) mine. Each season is chock-full of WTF-ery, and this season’s no exception. Not only are they full of drama, silicone and alcohol, but they’ve also been keeping us divorce lawyers busy for ten seasons now. Just how many divorces have these ladies left in their wake? Let’s take a look.

Vicki Gunvalson – 2

Tamra Judge – 2

Alexis Bellino – 1

Gretchen Rossi – 1

Shannon Beador – 0

Heather Dubrow – 0

Jeana Keough – 1

Lauri Waring – 2

Lizzie Rovsek – 0

Lydia McLaughlin – 0

Lynne Curtin – 1

Jo De La Rosa – 0

Quinn Fry – 1

Tammy Knickerbocker – 1

Peggy Tanous – 1

Kimberly Bryant – 0

Meghan King Edmonds – 0

That’s a total of 13 divorces! That’s a lot of summer homes, European vacations, and botox parties for my Californian colleagues. A lot of divorces yes, but none should be seen as anything but a learning experience, especially for viewers. Here are some important lessons we can learn from those spray-tanned, bejeweled top wearing, medically “enhanced” housewives:

1. Be honest about, and in the loop regarding your finances.
Lynne was blindsided by an eviction notice and a shocking confession from her husband regarding their dwindling bank accounts. Do not be Lynne. Do not assume bills are being paid and all is right with your family’s books. Even if you’re not the breadwinner, there is no reason you shouldn’t be totally on top of your family’s finances. Know your bills, know your bank accounts, know what’s coming in and what’s going out.

2. Divorce should be an option.
This season we’ve got a front row seat to Shannon’s marital troubles. From couples retreats to staged fake funerals, Shannon and husband David are really trying to save their marriage. Shannon keeps insisting “divorce isn’t an option.” Well, she doesn’t have to take it, but it should at least be an option. If they cannot make it through their problems, there is no reason they must stay together. It is a myth that staying together is better for the kids. Giving the kids a healthy, emotionally balanced household, or households as it were, should be the top priority. Screaming matches, miserable parents and growing resentment are all perhaps much worse than the divorce Shannon refuses to entertain.

3. Have a prenup! 
Vicki’s messy divorce from Don dragged on and on as they hammered out the details of their split, including the fight over spousal support. Not having a prenup can really cost you, as Vicki found out the hard way. Prenups don’t “ruin the romance,” they prepare you for the future because this is real life, not a fairytale. If your prenup never becomes applicable, great! If it does, you’ll thank yourself for having the safety net.

4. Don’t date Slade. Just don’t. Don’t.
Even if you had a time machine to take you back to his Amex- Black-Card-literally-setting-money-on-fire-with-idiotic-collectibles days from Season One it’s just not worth it. Just ask Jo who, you may have noticed, is now, post-Slade, far more likely to actually need that ridiculous maid costume for work as a real maid.

5. If financially possible, don’t live in the same house once you’ve decided to break up.
Jeana lived with Matt long after they decided to split. It was awkward and prevented Jeana from moving on with her life. When you split, hit the bricks if at all possible. Start fresh somewhere new, or have your ex-partner do it.

6. If it’s important to you, fight for it. 
Whether it’s the house, custody of the kids or the dogs (looking at you Gretchen), or anything else that means the world to a you, don’t give up the fight. Tamra had a bitter, drawn out custody battle with Simon that left her in tears throughout many episodes. But she kept fighting, and according to interviews she’s pleased with the final result.

7. The third time might just be the charm. 
One divorce may not be enough to get long lasting happiness; sometimes it takes two. Lauri, Vicki and Tamra all seem to have found love the third time around. While Tamra and Lauri went through with a third wedding, Vicki seems to be happy just living with Brooks (for the purposes of this lesson, please ignore all the Brooks turmoil, nod your head in agreement, and move onto the next lesson).

8. Don’t lose yourself in your marriage. 
If the housewives can teach us anything, it’s that keeping a sense of self is paramount to happiness. Design that jewelry, swimwear or dress line. Take a job on the “news,” start a wine club or develop a line of vodka. Whatever it is pursue your interests and if you can turn that pursuit into a paycheck, all the better for your post-divorce life!

9. If you’re having relationship troubles, don’t sign up for a reality television show. 
In no way will it help. Look at the dozens and dozens of reality divorces that preceded your relationship troubles. You are not somehow different from them. That kind of magnifying glass could shake up even the strongest of relationships. Pop the popcorn, change into your pjs and get comfy on the couch. It’s much better being on this side of the TV.

What valuable marriage and divorce lessons have the ladies of the OC taught you? Tweet me or leave it in the comments below!

An Open Letter to Cinderella: How to Divorce Prince Charming

Dear Cinderella,

You might be surprised that I’m writing you this letter, considering that you are one of the world’s most prominent examples of a happy marriage. But, as a seasoned divorce attorney, I’ve learned to spot the ones whose marriages are on the way out—and frankly, Cinderella, I’ve seen that look in your eye.

You probably don’t want to admit it. You’re probably thinking, If I get a divorce from Prince Charming, will I be letting the world down? Will I be disillusioning thousands, nay millions of little girls whose dreams of finding fairy tale romance hinge on my prime example? Cinderella, we can only hope.

With this in mind, I’m going to advise you now as if you had wandered into my office, impractical shoes and all, asking “How do I divorce Prince Charming?”

Lesson One: Get a prenup.
I’m not going to sugar-coat this, Cinderella: You, like most ill-advised Disney princesses,
have been operating under the assumption that a Prince will make you happy. I’m guessing based on the fact that you were roughly sixteen when you got married, and your decision to marry was doubtless driven by a desire to escape a life of indentured servitude, you were probably more focused on racing to a life of bliss than on arranging a prenup.

Prince Charming has substantial assets, and this was probably part of the attraction. But,
as you’ll find out in the process of divorcing him, the Prince’s assets—his royal inheritance etc.—are “pre-marital assets” that you won’t have any claim to. Thus, like so many women, you were in a financially disadvantaged position at the start of the marriage, you assumed you shouldn’t ask for a prenup, and now you are at a financial disadvantage when you want to end the marriage.

This probably seems unfair, considering you’ve spent your life looking after Prince Charming and your royal children, smiling and waving when you’re supposed to, fulfilling your responsibilities, even indulging his sexual fantasies of having you dress up like a house wench and tickle his feet with your feather-duster—even with all that, now you’re left in a position where you probably can’t touch his royal monies. Such is New York law.

Lesson Two: Commingle your assets.
My advice to you is to get some of it for yourself by commingling your assets. In effect, commingling assets means mixing joint money, or your personal accounts (for example what you get from renting your father’s house to those wicked stepsisters of yours) with your husband’s inherited money. The idea is to make it difficult for Prince Charming’s lawyers to show clear separation of accounts in the court.

In short: open a joint bank account. Make big financial outlays (country house, jewels, angel investment in a Talking Mouse Circus) using mixed moneys. Avoid making big joint purchases from your husband’s inherited funds whenever possible, because you won’t have any claim to those in the divorce. And so on.

Contrary to the general belief among legendary damsels in distress, marrying royalty isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. Without a prenup and without commingling your assets, frankly it doesn’t matter that you caught him in three different broom closets with three different scullery maids last year; his pre-marital assets are still likely to stay with him.

Cinderella, you understand the complications of the fairy tale marriage; you, more than anyone, know what it really means to live “happily ever after.” I urge you to take that knowledge, along with your glass slippers and your wits, to the bank.

James J. Sexton

Who Gets the Pets?

The New York law has been changing around pet issues for several years now, with courts, and pet owners, increasingly treating pets like family rather than like property in divorce proceedings. I’m in full support, as you can imagine, having my pup, Huckleberry, as a big reminder that pets are people too.

In New York and across the US, it’s mattering less and less whose name is on the dog owner’s certificate, if indeed you have one, because pets aren’t subject to the rules of property division anymore. Basically, much like custody matters work with children, decisions are going to be made based on the best interest of the pet.

This also means that the courts can and have awarded shared custody, visitation, and alimony payments relative to pet ownership in New York courts. If you love your dog or horse or snake like it’s your own baby and believe it would be better off with you, here are the things you need to be prepared to argue for in divorce proceedings.

• The major care of the pet. Which partner has been the one providing more of the day-to-day care of the pet, including managing basic needs (food, water, scooping poo, etc.) as well as emotional needs (affection)?

• Financial means to support the pet. Pets can be expensive, especially if something goes wrong, or if it’s a big pet that eats a lot, or if it’s an exotic pet or a special needs pet. (Yes, I said special needs pet.) Which partner is able to support the pet financially?

• Time to spend with the pet. Does one of you work significantly longer hours than the other? If so, it could be argued that the pet should be with the person who works less taxing hours, because they’ll have more time for the pet.

• Who brought the pet into the marriage? Even though pets aren’t considered property, it may make sense to consider who has a longer-standing relationship with the pet, because this might establish a primary bond.

• Space for the pet. Different pets need different kinds of living spaces. Is one of you better equipped to provide what the pet needs in terms of space? Be ready to defend it.

• Children’s relationship with the pet. If you have children, it’s important to consider their relationship with the pet (whether positive or negative). This, of course, could impact arrangements for children as well as pets, so be sure you think this one through carefully.

The best scenario is that you, your partner and your divorce attorneys approach the pet issue with a goal of arranging an agreement outside of court, including ownership and visitation terms. This may not hold up in court, but it is likely to influence the decision if both partners agree beforehand. However, couples often disagree over pets, and fighting this out in court is something to be prepared for.

If you can’t reach an agreement, one thing to consider is what you’re willing to give up to keep your pet. In other words, you should discuss with your lawyer the possibility of exchanging property for pet ownership.

This is all relatively new territory, but it’s an important area that needs to be considered carefully before and as you wade through the joy of divorce proceedings. It’s not just about you, after all, but about this guy:


James J. Sexton

Your Partner: The Narcissist

According to Greek myth, Narcissus was a handsome man who, upon catching a glimpse of himself in a pool of water, became obsessed with it and promptly drowned. The moral of that story–“Get over yourself”–is sure to be completely lost on narcissists, named after Narcissus for their intense and all-encompassing self-obsession; I’m sure you know one or two.

Beyond common usage, narcissism can refer to the very real, very specific Narcissistic Personality Disorder (or NPD). This is a mental disorder characterized by an overinflated sense of self-importance paired with a fragile ego. This is the person who criticizes you, but flies off the handle when you even gently suggest they have an area in which to improve. This is the person who needs constant validation and admiration. This is the person who lies to get what they want, including to gain other people’s attention and positive opinion. Sound like your partner?

Spotting a Narcissist
These are warning signs that you’re dealing with your garden-variety narcissist:

  • He has an exaggerated sense of importance and entitlement.
  • She’s abusive or patronizing to waiters, and blames it on having low blood sugar because she’s so hungry.
  • He oversells his achievements in order to impress.
  • She has unrealistic ideas about her own intelligence and/or beauty.
  • He wants to be famous.
  • He has bouts of depression, caused by feeling underappreciated or rejected by people who should respect him more.
  • Swimsuit photos or gym photos on Instagram.
  • An inordinate amount of selfies.
  • She routinely selects friends who are less attractive than she is, so she can take a starring role in those relationships.
  • She sees herself as an exception to basic rules of society, like not cutting people off in traffic, or not paying for anything.
  • He fakes cancer.
  • She fakes a pregnancy.
  • He takes advantage of other people with no remorse..
  • He can’t remember what’s happening with you. Your life events are not even on his radar.
  • Envy and gossip are a big part of her general conversation.
  • He buys you gifts on clearance and pretends he paid full price.
  • She tells you how much she spends on gifts for you and other people.
  • She gives you detailed accounts of her dreams, never clocking the look of polite boredom on your face.
  • He creates dramatic moments of which he is the centerpiece, victim or hero.
  • He has trouble enjoying and engaging in the happiness of others, for example at a wedding or when someone gets a promotion.
  • Every conversation somehow turns into a conversation about him or her: his goals, her needs, his strengths, her complaints. They struggle not to talk about themselves.
  • You find yourself rolling your eyes a lot.

Does any of this sound familiar? If this list rings a bell with you,


Why it’s horrendous to be married to this person:
Narcissistic tendencies affect a broad range of personal and interpersonal situations, including and perhaps particularly marriage. Generally people with NPD don’t seek treatment, and believe their problems–even if they continually run into the same problems over and over–are due to other people’s failings, including yours. This makes narcissists prone to cheating, conducting online affairs, and being abusive partners.

The bottom line is that narcissists don’t put the needs of others ahead of their own, making them ineffective at everything from sex to parenting. If what you’re saying can’t be reframed to be about them, they aren’t listening. They likely have unreasonable expectations of you, and they probably believe they deserve something amazing from a life partnership despite the fact that their main contribution to that partnership is bitching.

On the whole, you can expect your life to go thusly: Your narcissist will exhaust you in a cycle of emotional seduction and psychological abuse over many years, repeating the pattern until you’re so self-doubting that you can’t even consider leaving them. “I am the best you can expect to ever get,” is the relationship mode of the narcissist. “Help me, love me, admire me, need me, respect me, desire me, thank me”—these are the endless demands, voiced or unvoiced, of a narcissistic partner. Unless you’re Kimye, you don’t deserve to spend the rest of your days feeding that monster. I want to help you get the hell out, while maintaining your assets and what’s left of your dignity.

The truth is, I enjoy taking narcissists down. I’m like a superhero of sorts, with the superpower of being completely unaffected by your partner’s emotional manipulation because I have seen it all before, and I am going to help you win your divorce.


James J. Sexton


The United States of Divorce

For a change of pace, and to brighten up your Monday: Everything you never wanted to know about your nation’s relative inability to keep relationships going!

The Facts:

  1. There are 100 divorces every hour in the U.S.

  2. Slightly less than 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce. This number is affected by outliers with multiple marriages, however.

  3. Like marriage, divorce in the United States is the province of state governments, and divorce laws vary from state to state.

  4. In the US, 41% of first marriages end in divorce, 60% of second marriages end in divorce, and 73 % of third marriages end in divorce.

  5. The average age for couples going through their first divorce is 30 years old.

  6. According to the 2011 United Nations’s Demographic Yearbook, the US had the sixth-highest divorce rate. Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and the Cayman Islands had the top five spots in that order.

  7. 2008 voter data showed that states that tend to vote Republican have higher divorce rates than states that tend to vote Democrat.

  8. New York was the latest state to allow non-consensual no-fault divorce, in 2010.

  9. On average, it takes about a year to complete a divorce procedure in the US.

  10. A few high-profile court cases have involved children “divorcing” their parents; these are not actually divorces, but the legal emancipation of minors.

  11. In 2015, the Manhattan Supreme Court ruled that Ellanora Baidoo could serve her husband divorce papers through a Facebook message, and she became the first woman to legally serve her husband divorce papers via Facebook.

  12. As of 2011, for states with available data, the dissolution rates for same-sex couples are slightly lower on average than divorce rates of different-sex couples.

  13. Of marriages ending in divorce, the average length is 8 years.

  14. The average divorcee waits 4 years before remarrying, if they choose to remarry.

  15. Approximately 73% of people with parents still married make it to their 10th anniversary.

  16. 57% of people who grew up in homes where one or both parents were absent make it to their 10th anniversary.

  17. A third of all U.S. divorce filings in 2011 contained the word “Facebook.”

  18. According to U.S. statistics, if one partner smokes, a marriage is 75% more likely to end in divorce.

  19. Statistics have shown that approximately 75% of people who marry partners from an affair eventually divorce that person.

  20. People enduring more than a 45 minute commute are 40% more likely to divorce.

  21. Among the occupations with the lowest divorce rates are agricultural engineers, salespeople, nuclear engineers, optometrists, clergy, and podiatrists.

  22. Among the occupations with the highest divorce rates are dancers and choreographers, bartenders and massage therapists.

  23. Other occupations in the top 10 include casino workers, telephone operators, and nurses.

  24. The Air Force has the highest rate of divorce out of all the US military services.

  25. Women initiate about two-thirds of all divorces in the US.

  26. Among first marriages, 15% of men marry someone more than 6 years younger. On second marriages, this rises to 38%.

  27. Less than half of U.S. children younger than 18 are currently living in a home with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage.

  28. The divorce of a friend or close relative may increase the chances that a couple will divorce.

  29. New York has the lowest share of currently married adult men in the USA.

  30. If you argue with your spouse about finances once a week, your marriage is 30 percent more likely to end in divorce than if you argue with your spouse about finances less frequently.

  31. Couples with no assets at the beginning of a three-year period are 70 percent more likely to divorce by the end of that period than couples with $10,000 in assets.

  32. If you have twins or triplets, your marriage is 17 percent more likely to end in divorce than if your children are not multiple births.

  33. If you’ve been diagnosed with cervical cancer, your likelihood of getting divorced is 40 percent higher than standard rates.

  34. Your likelihood of divorce is 20 percent higher if you’ve been diagnosed with testicular cancer.

  35. The only US President elected after a divorce was Ronald Reagan.

  36. Britney Spears and Jason Allen Alexander currently have the record for shortest US celebrity marriage, at 55 hours.

  37. Mel and Robyn Gibson’s divorce in 2009 is considered to be the largest celebrity divorce settlement, as Mel paid his ex $425 million.

  38. Among the most expensive celebrity divorces is Steven Spielberg’s settlement with Amy Irving ($100 million) and Michael Jordan’s settlement with Juanita Jordan ($168 million).

  39. In general, men tend to file for divorce in January over women at a ratio of about 2 to 1.

  40. The top 5 reasons for divorce include communication problems; infidelity or betrayal; financial problems; psychological, emotional, and physical abuse; and loss of interest.

  41. 79.6% of custodial mothers receive a support award, while only 29.6% of custodial fathers receive support.

  42. Among female respondents, those with a wedding bill higher than $20,000 divorced at 3.5 times the rate of those with a $5,000-$10,000 wedding bill.

  43. In recent studies it has been found that couple who meet online have a lower divorce rate and report higher levels of marital satisfaction.

  44. The use of Facebook and other social networking sites is linked to increased marital dissatisfaction and increased divorce rates.

  45. Among heavy social media users, 32 percent had thought about leaving their significant others, compared to 16 percent of non-social media users.

  46. Couples that use individual pronouns (“I” and “you”) more often are more likely to divorce than couples who use collective pronouns (“we” and “us”).

  47. Several studies have found that couples are more likely to fight after having a bad night’s sleep.

  48. According to a Brigham Young University study, couples reported lower marital satisfaction when one spouse’s gaming interfered with bedtime routines, with 75% of spouses of gamers desiring more marital input from their spouses.

  49. Interestingly, when both spouses gamed, a majority reported greater satisfaction in their relationships than the median.

  50. A 26-year longitudinal study found that when a husband reported having a close relationship with his wife’s parents, the couple’s risk of divorce decreased by 20 percent.

  51. Conversely, when a wife reported having a close relationship with her husband’s parents, the couple’s risk of divorce increased by 20 percent.

Are you sufficiently depressed yet? 


James J. Sexton