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

 

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

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

 

The 6 Worst Divorces in the NFL

No doubt you’re all stocked up on beer and cocktail weenies, and have plans with 45 of your nearest and dearest for Super Bowl 50.

As part of my own Super Bowl fun (and ongoing examination of our other national pastime, divorce), I’ve put together a few of my personal favorite divorces of the NFL, from the brazen to the money-grubbing to the downright illegal. That’s right, folks, it’s the…

Whatever your game plan this Sunday, enjoy yourself, be happy about all the things you’ve done right in life, and as always, drink responsibly.

Happy Super Bowl, everybody!

Respectfully,
James J. Sexton

Holiday Cookies and Cocktails to See You Through

If you’re not familiar with The Great British Baking Show on Netflix, I will wait for you to log in, binge watch and meet me back here. Go ahead.

… … …

That was great right? Relaxing while somehow still intense, no? It is the perfect show. Friendly competition among supportive, genuinely nice people, interesting challenges, and mountains and mountains of cake. GBBS has been a huge hit in the UK for six seasons, and while we wait patiently for Netflix to add more episodes (hint, hint Netflix), the good people at ABC have decided to give the concept a spin with The Great Holiday Baking Show which just premiered November 30th. Please, please let this be as good spirited as GBBS. Do not let this be another bullet point in the we Americans can’t have nice things list.

In the spirit of sugar and spice and everything nice, and the fact that you need to have cake around if you’re going to watch The Great Holiday Baking Show, I’ve rounded up some treats for you to try. Also alcohol, because holidays. I’ve given them a divorce spin, because I’m me. So swing by Costco or the closest bodega, get several tons of sugar, whip up some treats, invite all your your pals over and pig out.

Credit: Modern Day Moms

Credit: Modern Day Moms

First up, how about some Eat Your Feelings Brownies. These brownies contain oreos and chocolate chip cookies, because if you are going to eat your feelings, you should be efficient.

More into nuts, as in your ex-husband was freaking nuts? Then how about some Passive Aggressive Pecan Sandies? You know who was nuts? The guy who divorced Martha Stewart.

Should you have frozen your eggs and waited for a better fella instead of marrying Mitch? Maybe? Who knows. Contemplate the answer over some Frozen Egg(s)nog.

Craving something sofisticato? How about some Alimony Amaretti? You’re going to want that alimony to pay for the pricey almond paste needed to make these.

Nothing says sweet victory like these Full Custody Custard Tarts. One taste of these babies and you’ll be planning a trip with the kids to their Portuguese birthplace. The kids really should see Europe, especially on your ex’s dime.

Celebrate your settlement with these I Got The Boat Banana Boats. These are great for parties because you can make a little fixings bar and everyone can go to town.

If you’re feeling artsy, flex your creative muscles with some Midlife Crisis Cutout Cookies. Any rollout dough will work, as the focus here is the visual. Freehand your cuts outs. Anything from flashy sports cars to motorcycles to 25-year-old tennis instructors will work. The devil is in the details. You really want to get that tennis instructor’s eyes the right color, so take the extra time to get the royal icing shades just right.

Nothing says the holidays like mulled wine. And nothing says getting over a breakup than being drunk on mulled wine. Make this seasonal Glogg which will make the house smell so good, and get tanked.

Finally, some Finally Home Alone Cookies. These classic Irish treats happen to contain nearly every ingredient of the sundae masterpiece created by Kevin inHome Alone. What’s that? Double pun referencing both the film and the satisfied sentiment of a finalized divorce? That’s right, yahtzee!

Ready, set, BAKE!

Gain Some Willpower & Avoid Backslide With These Handy Apps

Often the hardest part a divorce is the final step. No, not signing the papers. The real final step is avoiding the backslide. You’ve made your decision, moved out of the house, got a lawyer, had some papers drawn up and you’re ready to embark on your new life. Ahead lies freedom and independence and you’re feeling good. And wait, what’s that now? You’re more than a little tipsy at 3am. And you think it’s a great idea to call Sheila and slur/shout that you’ve made a huge mistake and “Please, please, please, Sheila give me my keys back, I swear it will all be different this time?”

Get it together, Kevin. 3pm you is going to hate 3am you. You don’t want Sheila back. You think you do right now, but you definitely don’t in the long run. Thankfully Kevin and the rest of us live in the modern age and there are tons of helpful tools out there, literally at our fingertips, to keep us strong and far away from the backslide.  

Killswitch cleans up Facebook accounts, erasing an ex from an app user’s FB life including, and arguably most importantly, wiping all pictures the user and ex are tagged in together.

How can this help you, Kevin?

Getting ready for bed, doing your last scrolls you will not “accidentally” stumble upon that picture of you and Sheila in Turks and Caicos. You won’t spend hours flipping through the thirty-one photos from that MLK Day weekend trip back when you loved each other and everything was new. You will not then decide to “just see what Sheila’s up to” hoping her privacy settings are pretty loose ever since you guys defriended each other. You will not see a picture of Sheila looking happy and tan from two weeks ago with her arm around some guy on a beach. You will not start wondering is that Turks and Caicos? Did she take that spitball to your Turks and Caicos? How could she? How could she throw everything you had out the window and defile your love and memories with some jerk in a pair of aviator sunglasses? Did she take him to the boozy brunch place with the good crab cakes? Your crab cakes? You won’t then spiral, turn on Adele and cry for the next thirty-six hours because you used Killswitch.

GAIN SOME WILLPOWER AND AVOID THE BACKSLIDE WITH THESE HANDY APPS

James J. Sexton, Esq. | September 1, 2015 | Divorce & Separation | No Comments

 

Often the hardest part a divorce is the final step. No, not signing the papers. The real final step is avoiding the backslide. You’ve made your decision, moved out of the house, got a lawyer, had some papers drawn up and you’re ready to embark on your new life. Ahead lies freedom and independence and you’re feeling good. And wait, what’s that now? You’re more than a little tipsy at 3am. And you think it’s a great idea to call Sheila and slur/shout that you’ve made a huge mistake and “Please, please, please, Sheila give me my keys back, I swear it will all be different this time?”

Get it together, Kevin. 3pm you is going to hate 3am you. You don’t want Sheila back. You think you do right now, but you definitely don’t in the long run. Thankfully Kevin and the rest of us live in the modern age and there are tons of helpful tools out there, literally at our fingertips, to keep us strong and far away from the backslide.  

 

Killswitch cleans up Facebook accounts, erasing an ex from an app user’s FB life including, and arguably most importantly, wiping all pictures the user and ex are tagged in together.

How can this help you, Kevin?

Getting ready for bed, doing your last scrolls you will not “accidentally” stumble upon that picture of you and Sheila in Turks and Caicos. You won’t spend hours flipping through the thirty-one photos from that MLK Day weekend trip back when you loved each other and everything was new. You will not then decide to “just see what Sheila’s up to” hoping her privacy settings are pretty loose ever since you guys defriended each other. You will not see a picture of Sheila looking happy and tan from two weeks ago with her arm around some guy on a beach. You will not start wondering is that Turks and Caicos? Did she take that spitball to your Turks and Caicos? How could she? How could she throw everything you had out the window and defile your love and memories with some jerk in a pair of aviator sunglasses? Did she take him to the boozy brunch place with the good crab cakes? Your crab cakes? You won’t then spiral, turn on Adele and cry for the next thirty-six hours because you used Killswitch.

 

Designated Dialer grants users the forethought they do not possess on their own. Before heading out for a night on the town, a user picks contacts he or she definitely does not want to call drunk later. If they try, they’re forwarded to a toll-free number that reminds the user calling that person is an awful idea. They can then unlock the contacts later when they’ve got better decision making capabilities and can pass a coordination test.

How can this help you, Kevin?

You’re at a bar on a Tuesday night after a really crappy day at work and wouldn’t you know it Bay City Rollers’ “I Only Want to Be with You” comes on. Sheila’s go-to karaoke song! What are the odds? A minute in you’re weeping so hard you have to sit down. God Sheila, it’s crazy but it’s true, I only want to be with you, you think/scream/cry. Or at least that’s what you feel right now in this exact moment when you’re tired and hungry and a little lonely because you went on a really terrible first date last night. You’re trying to remember why things got so bad with Sheila and while the list is long and reasonable you can’t quite remember even one thing on that list. You’ve also had about a lake’s worth of beer. You pull out your phone and you dial Sheila. But you don’t get Sheila. You get Designated Dialer. Then you get a burrito and eat it in bed and you remember how much Sheila hated your bed burritos and you know what good riddance Sheila.

Never Liked It Anyway is perfect for anyone looking to make a quick buck off a broken relationship. The site lets users buy and sell gifts and other ex memorabilia with great listings that explain why a user is selling an item and what they’d do with the money when someone purchases it.

How can this help you, Kevin?

Sheila had terrible taste. Don’t get me wrong, she had a lot of good qualities, and has so much to offer the world. She’s gonna make some guy, some guy who is not you, really happy one day. In the meantime you’ve got a pile of Sheila gifts sitting in your hall closet. Gaudy watches and flashy silk shirts galore. Who exactly was she dressing? How long have you had those sweatpants? Since high school? How often do you wear them? Always? That’s what I thought. You have no need for these confusingly expensive and very not you items. You could donate them sure. But when you left Sheila you also left her salary… And you’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit but Ebay confuses you. Good thing you’ve got Never Liked It Anyway. You can pool your earnings and buy forty to fifty new pairs of sweatpants.

Then, of course there’s Tinder for your rebounds and Snapchat for your nudes, but you already knew that, didn’t you Kevin? Go on, get out there Kev. Start your new life full of independence and free from the backslide.

 

Respectfully,

James J. Sexton

Divorce All-Stars: Katy Perry & Russell Brand

I recently shared a post holding up Bruce Willis and Demi Moore as paradigms of mature divorce. Now I want to focus on a slightly—or very—different recently divorced couple, one you might not expect: Katy Perry and Russell Brand.

If you’re one of the uninitiated, Katy Perry is a pop singer-slash-pinup girl known for such classics as “I Kissed a Girl” and “Teenage Dream,” and Brand is a British comedian-slash-revolutionary who likes to piss off various members of the upper classes and book critics by publishing bad—but entertaining—books about Che Guevara.

In all, these two were married, I think, a total of about fourteen months. Not a great start, but hey, we all make mistakes. Anyway, once you get past the uber-quick marriage, there’s a lot to be said for how Brand and Perry handled the divorce once it was in progress. Much like the stars of divorce badassery Bruce and Demi, Perry and Brand kept things pretty much under wraps in terms of how they presented things to the public.

I mean, Brand made some jokes—that’s his job, after all—but they were pretty mild, and he was ultimately as graceful as Russell Brand has ever been about anything. He wasn’t mean-spirited, just honest: “Marriage is an arse-ache,” was about the height of detail he gave when the media was rushing for the reasons for divorce. Well, sometimes, yes it is. Moving on.

Perry was totally silent on the matter, keeping mum even after a divorce-themed prank was pulled on her by a UK DJ on the air in the middle of her divorce—now that’s professionalism. The point is, the two haven’t said anything vindictive about each other, even when hounded, undoubtedly by the press, to do so. As a result, while people might snicker at the length of the marriage, and maybe the fact that Brand originally suggested a break by text message, overall they did pretty well. Regardless of behind-the-scenes feelings, Brand opted not to take the $20 million of Perry’s money that he was legally entitled to, and Perry even left Brand a little smiley face on their divorce papers.

When it comes to talking about your marriage, there’s a fine line between what’s professional and what isn’t, and Brand and Perry managed like pros. Brand got a laugh or two and moved on; Perry just moved on. And while I don’t condone poking public fun at your marriage or divorce—seems like a recipe for making either one more difficult—I always condone poking fun at yourself. Don’t forget that laughter is the best medicine.

 

Respectfully,
James J. Sexton

Our Complicated Relationship With Social Media

While art directing my perfectly curated breakfast of avocado toast and an iced latte, complete with a blogworthy striped paper straw, I thought to myself daaamn this looks good, I’m going to get so many likes. But I also thought about a simpler time, when I ate without photographing it, when I could see the stage of a concert with my own eyes instead of through the 100 phones in front of me, and before I felt the need to micro-document every single thing I did to prove to my high school frenemies on Facebook that my life was way, way better than any of theirs. Just 10 years ago the world was very different.

With the advent of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (the holy trinity), and of course their handheld facilitator — the smart phone — our lives, our relationships and the way we interact has totally transformed. Though, with each technological triumph are we becoming a better society? A wise man named Neil Postman opined, “Technological change is always a Faustian bargain: technology giveth and technology taketh away, and not always in equal measure.  A new technology sometimes creates more than it destroys.  Sometimes, it destroys more than it creates.”

So, which camp are we in? Are we better off now than we were 10 years ago? It’s hard to say. Sure we’re all zombies with stooped heads, growing hunchbacks, stuck in the technology loop Portlandia perfectly described:

But the world has also shrunk and we’re able to meet and bond with people all over the place. It’s now easier than ever to find and build our own tribes. Access to information, art and music has never been more democratic. And of course, how we fall in love today is different as well.

I just finished reading comedian Aziz Ansari’s new book Modern Romance, an interesting sociological study on dating in modern times, in all its glory and horror. He too grappled with the question of whether we’re better off now than we were pre-social media. In America Tinder, Grindr, OkCupid and their dozens of copycats bring people together with a few taps and swipes. But in Japan, marriage and birth rates are declining and the contemporary internet age seems to be isolating people from each other more than bringing them together. Ansari didn’t find a definitive answer to whether we’re better off, but in much of the world social media is instrumental in getting people together.

It’s so commonplace now, that more and more the answer to “So how did you two meet?” is simply “the internet.” It is so the norm that chatting someone up, human-to-human, is so weird it merits experiments like this:

Sometimes people find their soulmates online and sometimes aspiring writers turn horrible dates into great short stories. But let’s focus on the soulmate couple. They swiped their way to true love and are now married, but social media’s influence does not end there. Dating apps and sites are of course expediting the cheating process, busting up marriages left and right. Curious partners snoop their way into uncovering cheating spouses who reconnected with their high school sweethearts thanks to Facebook. Concerned fans tweet wives mariage-shattering photo discoveries. Then there are all those politicians sending crotch shots to strangers, mangling their careers and their marriages in one fell swoop.

Even once the marriage is a pile of smoking ashes, the impact of selfie sharing and status updates is not over. Shiny social media accounts can make a person the envy of all their friends but they can also get them into hot water. Custody, alimony, and all sorts of other details of a divorce can be tied to what is posted online.

It does not fare well for a custody argument when a person’s supposed to be with the kids but instead they’re tagged in Facebook pictures slamming shots in Vegas. Boasting about a new car and flashy lifestyle on Twitter does not bode well for the “I swear I’m broke. I need alimony, your Honor” stance. Even the innocuous can be detrimental. Kid not properly bucked in his carseat in that Instagram post? Does it matter that they weren’t moving and two seconds after the picture was taken the parent fixed the buckle? It certainly doesn’t to a spouse’s attorney when she argues that they’re an unfit parent who doesn’t care about a child’s safety.

So what’s a person to do? Well, use your brain. Basically, don’t be dumb. Maybe posting a link to Rihanna’s Bitch Better Have My Money (NSFW!!!) video with a “Lol” isn’t the best status update to post on the morning of your court hearing. Set your privacy settings so that you can review pictures before you’re tagged in them. Think through each thing you want to post, and when you decide it’s fine, don’t post it, take a walk around the block and think it through once more. Honestly, if possible, the best idea is unplug. Take a break from all your accounts. Commune with nature. Meet up with your friends and talk to them in person. Read a newspaper instead of a newsfeed. Let us lawyers do our jobs while you enjoy the peace and quiet of a simpler life. And hope that your soon to be ex-spouse didn’t take any of this advice and all his or her internet mistakes will prove fruitful for you.

So, have we destroyed more than we created? Are we better off in this new frontier where we can Seamless tacos, swipe right to find a date, tweet the entire world our deepest and shallowest thoughts, text our grandmas happy birthday, and share the screenshots on Instagram — all without having to move an inch off our couches? Are we better communicators now? Is all this convenience giving us better, streamlined lives?

Well, the answer is simple. Just kidding! I have no idea. And I don’t have the free time to get a PhD in sociology and anthropology and the nine hundred other fields that all have to converge to get into even the same ballpark as the answer. I know this much to be true: Neil Postman was right. Social media giveth and taketh away. Social media brings us together and tears us apart. Social media can prove helpful and totally detrimental to divorce proceedings. This is the world we live in now, we must accept it. Now who wants tacos? We don’t have to talk to anyone at all to get them delivered to our door. Hang on, I’ll grab my phone.

Respectfully,
James Sexton

Ashley Madison Hack: Bad News For Cheaters, Good News For Divorce Lawyers

Did you have a good weekend? It was hot here in New York City, one of those weekends where you don’t want to move an inch. Hey, quick question. Did you use AshleyMadison.com to cheat on your spouse? Oh, you did. Hey, did you see the news this morning? No? Rushing to get out of the house, huh? We’ve all had those mornings. So, about Ashley Madison, I’ve got some bad news…

Krebs on Security is reporting that Ashley Madison has been hacked and 37 million users have had their data compromised. Not good for any of you who embraced AM’s motto “Life is short. Have an affair.” Perhaps it’s time to modify that slogan to “Life is short. Have an affair. Get a good divorce lawyer. You should probably monitor your credit closely for a while.”

A hacker group called “The Impact Team” is allegedly holding the data hostage, threatening to release all sorts of details that could ruin marriages, embarrass users and lead to identity theft. According to the Krebs article, AM CEO Noel Biderman confirmed the hack. He told Krebs “We’re not denying this happened,” which incidentally might be a great way to break your affair news to your spouse.

If “The Impact Team” does release the data who knows how many hearts will be broken. But one thing’s for sure, us lawyers have a busy autumn coming up.

 

Respectfully,
James Sexton

'Til Conscious Uncoupling Do Us Part

Around this time last year, I tuned into celebrity gossip for a brief moment when I heard about Gwyneth Paltrow’s grave announcement that she and her husband were divorcing—or to put it more Gwyneth-ly, “consciously uncoupling.” She released a statement about this, along with an explanation of conscious uncoupling from a guru, on her website Goop. This was put alongside equally realistic Goop items, like her exploration of the healing powers of “moon juice” and “spirit truffles.” (Surely those aren’t included in the “food stamp challenge” she recently attempted. Hey, at least we're talking about it... But, I digress.)

By the end of the day I received phone calls and emails from, literally, dozens of my friends and family members asking if I had heard about this “new” way of divorcing. It was difficult to suppress the combination yawn/gag inspired by Ms. Paltrow’s missive.

I’ve devoted my life’s work to helping couples, eh, “uncouple,” so absolutely no judgment from me on that front. Divorces for everyone! You will get no complaints from me. Though I did have to raise an eyebrow at the statement “We have always conducted our relationship privately”; indeed, so privately that Goop.com got so much traffic after this was posted that it crashed! Well played, Gwyneth P.

April 17 2015 TWO.jpg

In all seriousness, I’m sure Gwyneth Paltrow is a perfectly likable person in real life, and probably even a regular human woman, rather than a floating ethereal aura. Her brand has done well, and maybe she really has brought happiness to many, through her outreach via expensive candles. And if renaming divorce makes us feel better, then so be it. (I should possibly add a “Conscious Uncoupling” section to my website.)

The idea of a ‘friendly divorce’ has been around for a long time. My firm gets a lot of press for our “take no prisoners” aggressive approach when the situation requires it - but we resolve countless divorces each year by simple discussions and friendly negotiations. I love a good fight (what can I say - it’s a side effect of being good at fighting) but I love a happy client more. That’s why I, and all good divorce lawyers, will always work hard to give you a divorce that looks more like a “conscious uncoupling” than a “War of the Roses”. We’ve been doing that for years. There’s nothing “new” about being friendly to someone you’re going to have to see at your children’s weddings someday. This is simply a new term for a very old concept (and GP didn’t come up with it - a therapist named Katherine Woodward Thomas did - a bunch of years earlier).

I feel I need to say, though, that one of the things I have learned in my particular line of work is that uncoupling is not generally done while anyone is unconscious. For legal reasons I think it’s important for everyone to understand this--you can’t divorce anyone who is unconscious so congratulations - You, too, have reached the G.P. level of sophistication we all previously thought was impossible.

Respectfully,

James J. Sexton