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A Dirty Word Or A Saving Grace?

PREMARITAL INSURANCE
By Ty Supancic, Esquire

I regularly help couples design and build foundations for the most important project in their lives. The work is long and involved and at times unpleasant, but I believe the results are worth it in the long run. We take the time to examine and investigate their dreams and circumstances, and using that information, we design and create a strong foundation together which will support whatever they chose to build on it. If what they build together fails sometime in the future, it will not be for lack of planning.

No, I’m not a contractor or an architect. I’m a family law attorney and the “foundation” I’m describing is a mediated premarital agreement.

“Premarital Agreement” and “Pre-Nup” are dirty words in the common vernacular, but I believe this is due to misunderstandings based on Hollywood propaganda and sensationalistic news coverage. Premarital agreements need not be unilateral documents forced by one spouse upon another. The alternative to the Hollywood stereotype, and the vast majority of the premarital agreements we draft in our office, is a premarital agreement reached by mutual discussions and assent to terms designed to support marriage and discourage divorce.

At the most basic level, people get divorced because they’re “unhappy.” Unfortunately, statistics tell us that divorce does not bring happiness. Studies reveal that most people are just as unhappy after their divorce as they were before it. But in addition to being “unhappy”, after divorce they’re also damaged; emotionally, spiritually, and financially.

Despite this reality, people get divorced anyway. Why? I believe people are “playing the odds” or gambling on a different future. People know what they have, and they think they’re unhappy. They don’t know what things will be like after their divorce, but they figure, “it can’t get any worse.” They’re wrong. They’re trading known circumstances for unknown circumstances on the misguided premise that things will be better. They seldom are. Remember the old Irish adage, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”

Read more…

Spinning Record

photo by joshfassbind.com via PhotoRee


YourTango.com recently posted a great article by Dr. Margaret Paul called “Do You Have The Same Fight Over and Over?” about why couples can sometimes resolve conflict easily and why other times resolving conflict seems completely impossible. From the article:

As long as avoiding pain is more important to you than being loving to yourself and your partner, you will be closed and protected and the conflict cannot reach a mutually satisfying resolution.

Dr. Paul says, “If you are stuck in resolving conflicts, let go of the issues and look at your intent. I assure you that when both of you are open to learning about yourselves and each other, and want to support your own and your partner’s highest good, you will be able to easily resolve your conflicts.”

Read the article HERE.

What About the Children?

When the topic of divorce surfaces, the first thought of many is, “What about the children?” Divorce is thought to traumatize all children involved, and with fair reason. A family splits, lives are altered, and people must adapt to their new circumstances, whatever they may be. Stephanie Dolgoff, author and divorcee, watched peers gasp when they heard she was divorcing her husband with whom she had children. She felt terrible whenever she would receive this reaction to the news, understandably, as if she had failed her children by not working harder to save the marriage. As time went on, however, she began to feel more comfortable with how the situation turned out, as her children became more at ease with the new living arrangements. She and her husband tried to handle the divorce as maturely as they could, in the hopes that things would turn out better for everybody. They did.

I’ve learned that I’m in many ways a better parent than when I was anxious and unhappy and I was distracted by the tension in my marriage. Having gotten my divorce legs, I’m present and peaceful and able to give to them. Aside from plain wanting to leave a situation that wasn’t bringing me joy, I wanted to show my girls what a happy woman who took care of herself and her emotional needs looked like. It will serve them well.

If you’re interested in her full article, you can read it here.

Love, Romance, and Expectations

Keeping Great Expectations Realistic
By Dr. James Walton

By the late 1500’s, the idea of marriage based on love had taken hold in Europe inspiring Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  Shakespeare’s work explored the ecstasies of passion and the devastating consequences of fiery passion not balanced with a realistic perspective.

It was their unrealistic expectations that swept them off their feet and carried them off to their tragic end.  What was true in the time of Shakespeare continues to hold true today; if we allow our expectations of love to run our romance, we will never see the marriage in a realistic light.  Our unrealistic expectations will kill our relationship.

Statistically, arranged marriages experience lower rates of divorce than love based marriages because they do not have the luxury of depending on love to carry them through.  If their marriage is going to survive, they have to make decisions based upon what is good for the relationship.  What is true for them is also true for you.  If your marriage is going to survive, then you must base your decisions on what is good for the relationship above what is good for you alone.

We often expect marriage, and surely our spouses, to rescue us from our feelings of isolation and loneliness.  Love will conquer all.  It will not.  Marriage is not a solution for loneliness.  Two can be a lonelier number than one.

To improve your marital odds, lower your expectations of what your marriage is going to do for you.  Healthy relationships are created by our participation in them.

Your marriage should be treated as a living being under your care whose health is dependent upon your attention.  To have a successful marriage, you must become its loving servant to enjoy all the gifts that a healthy and loving relationship can bring.

Dr. James E. Walton, Ph.D. is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with a private practice in Sherman Oaks. Visit his website at LAtherapist.com or call 818-753-4865.

Gale and Jack, The Resolution

[Click here for the first part of the story]

The next week I got a phone call from Jack.  “Hey, what gives?” he asked.  “How come I can’t talk to Gale and I have to talk to you?”
“I think you know that better than I do,” I replied.
“Well, look, what’s it going to take to get you and Gale to lay off?”
“I’m not ready to answer that question, Jack, because frankly, you don’t sound very serious.”

He didn’t say anything for a moment.  I waited.

“Mr. Supancic?”
“Yes?”
“I’m serious.  I love Gale and I want to save our marriage.”
“You have one option.  Obey those restraining orders as if your life depended on it.  Get yourself a place to live indefinitely and settle it in your mind that you’re not moving back in with Gale next week or even next month.  And start sending her the support payments we called for in that Order to Show Cause.  Are you willing to do that?”
He took a deep breath. “Yes.”
“Then there’s something else you can do.”
“What’s that?”
“You can get into a treatment program.”

Jack argued that he didn’t need a treatment program, he could go cold turkey, Gale loved him, he didn’t have anything to prove. I was straightforward with him.

“You said you wanted to save your marriage. Gale’s convinced nothing can change you or your behavior.  The only chance you have of regaining her trust is to face yourself sternly and unflinchingly.  Half measures will accomplish nothing. You’ve spent two years destroying whatever trust and admiration Gale once had for you.  The burden of proof is squarely on you and it’s a big burden.”

Six months later Gale called and asked me to have the restraining orders lifted.  I explained to her that that wasn’t necessary and it would be wiser to leave them in place.  I told her she could readmit Jack into her life without violating them, but if the experiment flopped, the orders would still be there to fall back on. But Jack had been clean and sober for six months, they were in counseling, and she was ready to have the orders lifted.

You can imagine my joy when I saw them together a year later.  They were happy, healthy, and on sound footing.  They followed through, got professional help, saved their marriage and saved themselves.