Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A Divorce Lawyer Just Gave Incredibly Powerful Marriage Advice and It’s Only 4 Words Long |

December 23, 2018  

If you want to know how to keep your car running, ask a mechanic. If you want the lowdown on caring for your pipes, call your plumber. Why? Because people who deal with things when they’re broken often know the most about how to keep them in good repair. James J. Sexton thinks the same principle applies to divorce lawyers.

If you asked people to name common reasons for couples to get divorced you’d probably hear a lot about dramatic conflicts — infidelity, financial disagreements, sexual mismatch, differing visions for the future. And Sexton confirms that these sorts of big, gnarly issues are indeed the immediate reason most people find themselves in his office. But he insists they aren’t the real reason marriages break down.

“In Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities one of the characters is talking about how he went financially bankrupt and one of the other characters says, ‘Tim, how did you go bankrupt?’ He said, ‘Well, I went bankrupt the way that everyone does, very slowly and then all at once.’ I think that’s how marriages end. Very slowly and then all at once. There are lots of little things that happen and then the flood comes.”

What sort of “little things” does he mean? “That annoyed look on your face, that time you ignored your partner when they needed you, all those times you couldn’t bother to give that person your full attention. These are the small things that become big things over time,” he offers later in the interview.

“I’m a romantic, but I don’t believe in fairy tales. I think that we sell people a bill of goods about what love is supposed to look like. Love is a verb,” he insists. “Falling out of love is very slow. It’s a very gradual process. You put on weight slowly…. You don’t just wake up one day and you’ve gained 20 pounds. You very slowly gain weight, but sure enough, it happens. It’s the same thing with love.”  

And not falling out of love, like not gaining weight, isn’t about dramatic gestures or heroic acts. It’s about a relentless daily commitment to small actions. It’s about doing things — not clamming up to avoid the fight, not complaining about how the towels are folded, reaching out a hand in a tense conversation. It’s, in other words, a verb.

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