We finally get our spouses to join us for that movie we’ve been wanting to see – our first date in ages – and then we run into one of those people. You know – the inconsiderate boob that ruins the movie for the rest of us. The one that refuses to turn off his cell phone because he’s sure he’s going to get an important call. And when that call comes (probably from his bookie), instead of slipping discreetly out to handle things, he announces in a stage whisper that he’s in a movie (yeah, we know) and has to make it quick. But then he doesn’t.
Here’s 5 more things that should be banned -for all our sakes – from movie theaters. If there’s something on this list you just can’t give up, please do us a favor – DON’T go to the movies.
1. Perfume or cologne. No matter how wonderful it smells, it’s going to clash in a headache-inducing way with the just-as-wonderful scent from the guy in front of us.
2. Your big-faced glow-in-the-dark watch. You know – the one that sheds enough light you can read by it? If you must have verification of yet another minute passing by, maybe you could get a watch face with raised numbers and hands that you could keep in your pocket so you can feel the time without bothering the rest of us.
3. All things crunchy. Yes, M&Ms count. And bootleg, smuggled-in chips? Should be a firing-squad offense. There’s a reason the nacho chips are saturated with liquid cheese-product at theaters.
4. Gum. Unless you can chew it with your mouth closed (yes, we can hear as well as see someone chomping with their mouth open) without snapping, smacking, or popping, it should be banned.
5. Hats more than two inches taller than your head. And, no matter what decade the movie depicts, this includes retro 1980s big hair, too.
Well, there you have my Friday Five list of what shouldn’t be allowed in movie theaters. But as long as we’re on the subject of movie etiquette, let me just mention one more thing. Please be advised there is an unwritten rule that anyone who leaves during a movie – it doesn’t matter if it’s for a drink refill, bathroom break, or emergency gall bladder surgery – they simply forfeit the movie time. They are not entitled to a blow-by-blow recap, thus blotting out what is currently going on for the rest of us. The movie will come together and make sense to them later as you explain the missed section on your drive home.
What would YOU like to see banned from movie theaters?
Being the second wife can sometimes be a challenge. Especially when the new husband comes with children. As a Family Law Attorney, I’ve seen this handled two different ways. The easiest path, and the one that causes the least harm to the children, is if the adults act in a mature fashion and are civil to each other. Even if his ex-wife starts out hating you, consistent civility could eventually bring her around.
Acting mature, however, makes no sense if your goal is to make sure the ex knows your husband traded up on the wife ladder. If you are self-focused with the primary goal of making his former’s life miserable – regardless of the cost to the children – then read on to learn step-by-step how to ensure that his ex hates you.
1. Cut the children’s hair. If it’s a boy with curls, lop them off. If the girl has beautiful long, straight hair, give her bangs. This is sure to infuriate her. You get the added benefit of creating trepidation in the children as they head back to their mother’s house knowing the negative reaction that will follow their arrival.
2. Have the children call you “mom.” Bonus points if you can get them to refer to their mother by her first name. She’ll soon learn that you don’t just have the man; you have the kids, too. Don’t worry about the confusion it causes the children – they need to toughen up sometime.
3. Send the children back to her house in dirty clothes. Preferably something they have slightly outgrown and/or has a rip or missing button. If she doesn’t like to see them that way, she can just buy them some new stuff – again. The kids might have a little discomfort for a while, but that’s a small price to pay for her having to shell out a few more bucks.
4. Insist that your husband not give an inch when he wants to compromise with her about visitation schedules. Flexibility is not an option. Make sure she knows that you were behind the decision so that she knows who is really running the show.
5. Insist that the children have the phone on “speaker” when they talk to their mother from your house. That, of course, is at times when you actually let them take the call. Most of the time cell phones should be confiscated during their visit to inhibit unfettered communication with their mother. You might have to fabricate grievances so you can justify this action by claiming you are disciplining them.
6. If a special medication is sent with the child, “forget” to send it back. If the child’s condition worsens on her watch, you can use that later to show what a neglectful mother she is. Besides, a missed dose or two never – well, rarely – killed a kid.
7. Make sure the child is exposed to profanity. This is easily accomplished by allowing access to off-color TV shows and bawdy radio disk jockeys, or by encouraging the child to be present when his father is working on something frustrating. If you catch them when they are young enough, these kids are sure to carry the new vocabulary home. Greetings, Mom – from my house to yours!
8. Make sure you are first on the emergency call list at the child’s school. If you get to fill out the paperwork, leave Mother’s name off of it. That additional space can be used for another friend of yours – or maybe your own mother’s. A side benefit to this is that if your husband ever has to go back to court (and chances are he will if you are following these clever tips), you can prove how the school always calls you first if the child has a problem – even before his own mother.
9. Make sure you volunteer to be on every field trip, every classroom party, and anywhere else that she might pop up to spend time with her children. You don’t want her to forget how prominent you are in her children’s lives.
10. Most importantly, make sure you speak negatively about her to or in front of the children. It doesn’t have to be true to be effective. And don’t just limit yourself to verbal putdowns. Rolling your eyes when they quote her, having the theme for the wicked witch be her ringtone, and throwing out notes they give you from her without reading them are all examples of showing disdain without saying a word. The kids will get the message. If you work hard enough and long enough at this, they just might stop mentioning her in your house.
Now remember: in order for this plan to succeed you must complete each step regardless of how much distress it causes the children. You must persevere through the arguments this will probably cause between you and your spouse as he sees the negative effect on his children and deals with increasing numbers of angry emails and phone calls from his ex. You may even be lonely for a while if this behavior leads to the break-up of your marriage. But you will always have the knowledge that while it lasted you successfully made her life miserable.
Related article: 5 More Ways to Get His Ex to Hate You
Notice I said “courthouse” and not “courtroom.” Most of us know what’s expected of us in a courtroom: hats off, gum out, manners on. We address the judge as “Your Honor” and are respectful to the other side – at least when the judge is actually in the room.
What too many parties don’t realize when they enter a courthouse is the courtroom is not the only place they are being judged.
One of the first things I tell a new client is to assume that they are being video taped and audio taped at all times. If they don’t want it seen in court, don’t do it. If they don’t want it heard by the judge, don’t say it. Whether or not you are literally being taped, you never know who’s watching and/or listening.
Emotions run very high in Family Court. People are angry, hurt, resentful, scared, nervous, confused, uncomfortable, sad and all those other things that arise when the fate of children, property and one’s future are at stake. Most of us reign in all the conflicting emotions in the courtroom and try to present a calm, respectful demeanor in hopes of demonstrating our credibility. The effort can be stressful and draining. And the temptation to just let loose as soon as you step out of the courtroom doors can be overwhelming. Giving in to that temptation could cost you your case.
Just because you don’t recognize anybody around you in the courthouse doesn’t mean somebody doesn’t recognize you. Just because you can’t hear what others are saying, doesn’t mean you can’t be heard. And just because you can’t see anybody, doesn’t mean you can’t be seen.
Why it Matters
You may be wondering why on earth you should care what others see and hear – they should be minding their own business, right? First of all, since you don’t know who they are you don’t know whether or not any aspect of your case is their business. Secondly, even if they should be minding their own business doesn’t mean they will.
In the two decades plus that I’ve been hanging out at courthouses across the state, I’ve heard more stories than I can count about what a judge’s clerk, bailiff, or reporter saw or heard that got shared with the judge – either deliberately or inadvertently. (Venting about the judge is a great way to get their attention!) I’ve heard accounts of judges who are in the hallway or a public part of the courthouse witnessing bad behavior from parties during a break, before proceedings and after proceedings. Should they take such things into account while making their decisions? How can they not? Much of what a family law judge hears during testimony falls under the he-said/she-said category – because there’s often not additional evidence regarding personal conversations during a marriage. So credibility of a party is a crucial factor when a judge has to decide which version of an event is more believable.
You may think you know every person your ex would have with them, but there’s always a chance that there is someone you wouldn’t have a reason to know – whether a new acquaintance or the friend of a friend – so don’t make assumptions. And there’s no possible way you would know who opposing counsel might have a relationship with amongst observers. I’ve gotten more than one good tip from a witness who heard a disclosure made or saw behavior from my client’s ex outside of the courtroom that proved helpful to my client’s case.
It doesn’t matter if the names you call your ex or soon-to-be-ex are accurate. It doesn’t matter if you are the wronged party and everyone you know thinks your anger and behavior is righteous. The people that see you in the courthouse generally don’t know you, your family history, and your specific circumstances. They only know what they see and hear. If what they see is you lambasting into the other party in the hallway or conference room, that is what they will base their impression on. If what they hear is you spewing hateful remarks about your opponent to your attorney or supporters, that’s what they’ll base their impression on.
Whether your venting takes place in the courtroom when the judge is not present, in the hallway, in a public area, or even in the rest room, assume your conversation and/or your behavior is not private.
Your attorney may warn you about exhibiting negative body language in the courtroom. Things like rolling your eyes and shaking your head vigorously while another is talking won’t serve you well. But what often isn’t discussed is what body language can convey to observers outside of the courtroom. Talking to your ex or one of their witnesses while standing too close or hovering over them can be construed as threatening even if the words spoken are benign. Displays of arrogance or gloating intended for your ex may not go unnoticed by observers. Hostile looks or gestures could result in courthouse law enforcement interference or escort for your ex – something the judge is likely to find out about.
Judge the One You’re With
Your family and fiends are extensions of you. While they may think their trash-talking and glowering looks toward your ex demonstrates their support of you, they’re not helping at all. Everything stated above about who’s watching and listening to you also applies to them. And reflects on you. If you know that a family member’s hatred toward your ex is stronger than their self-control, you may want to consider leaving them at home.
You should behave appropriately and respectfully in the courthouse during your family law case because it is the right thing to do. And because it serves you well and, if you have children, such behavior better serves them, also. If that is not enough motivation or incentive for you to do so, then remind yourself that there are eyes and ears everywhere.
Related articles you may find helpful:
Ladies’ Home Journal Magazine was onto something when they touted the importance of “The Little Meaningful Things Happily Married Couples Do.” Admittedly, as soon as I got the magazine I raced past what other couples were doing and checked to see if Steve and I were in the mix. But after I happily scoped out our 2″x3″ patch of magazine real estate and realized the focus was on the very simple things that couples did for each other, I read the whole article to see what other happy spouses were up to.
Here are 5 gems from some of the long-marrieds of the group who shared the simple acts that contributed to keeping their marriage strong:
“Whenever I need to run into town to get something, Julie grabs her shoes and comes with me. Just the fact that she’s always up for keeping me company is great.” John Skirvin, Cedar City, UT, 24 years.
From her: “My favorite meal is salmon, mashed garlic potatoes and a salad with blue-chees dressing. Every year he cooks and serves it to me while I watch the Academy Awards.” And from him: “She buys me snacks for the Super Bowl and makes sure no one interrupts me while I watch it.” Nancy and Thomas Clift, Napa, CA, 57 years.
WHAT LITTLE THINGS DO YOU OR YOUR SPOUSE DO FOR THE OTHER THAT MAKE YOUR MARRIAGE STRONGER?
Well, more from Cutie Cooper dishing up marriage talk in today’s Friday Five.* Tell us what you really think, Cutie!
On opinions: The time for having singularly strong opinions is when you are a single person. Once you choose to be one-half of a pair, you must compromise, so that no one person gets what he or she wants at the expense of the other. It may take some getting used to, but reaching decisions that you both can live with can be quite romantic since each one is a symbol of your connection.
On spending:Splurge on the things that bring real pleasure to the people you love: good food, unique experiences, a comfortable space to gather in. You’ll be far richer than if you rack up bills for material possessions that can’t be freely shared.
On guests: If good people feel happy in your home, your marriage makes the world a better place.
On tough times: If you should have a choice of whether to laugh or to cry, laugh. Laughing makes you stronger, and it does not diminish the seriousness of a situation. I think instead of turning an already bad situation into a tragedy, make it into a comic strip.
Bonus pearl – a parting shot: One thing Harry and I always held on to was our senses of humor, and a sense of humor is something I recommend you develop if you’re not fortunate enough to have one already.
Wouldn’t you love to sit down and have a cup of coffee with her?
* All quotes are from Cutie’s book Fall in Love for Life – Inspiration from a 73-Year Marriage.
Barbara “Cutie” Cooper knows a little something about marriage – as well she should after being married for 73 years! With the help of her granddaughters, she tells her story in Fall in Love for Life – Inspiration from a 73-Year Marriage. And what a fun story it is!
Each chapter ends with a section called “Cutie’s Counsel” – succinct, and surprisingly timeless advice, that can be appreciated by everyone from somebody just starting to date to long-time married couples. If you like hanging out with someone who ‘calls it like they see it,’ grab a cup of coffee and spend an afternoon with Cutie Cooper.
Here’s a few of her nuggets of wisdom:
On Making it Work:
Check out Friday’s Five for more Nuggets of Wisdom!
It’s pretty common to keep a log during divorce proceedings. Jotting down notes about what’s going on with the children, visitation, the spouse’s behavior, etc.While that might help your attorney and your case, it’s probably not doing a whole lot for you emotionally during a challenging time. This is where journaling comes in. Even if you’re not much of a writer, keeping a journal – writing on a regular basis how you feel about what is going on and other related topics – can be very beneficial. This journal is FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. And here’s five reasons to give it a try:
1. It’s a place to vent. During divorce proceedings, especially when custody is involved, everybody is living under a microscope. The wrong word, a misconstrued gesture, being late for an appointment, all become fodder for leverage to be used against you. Your journal is the place you can go to just let loose – a place where nobody is judging you.
2. It helps you process the events. Some days it may feel like your head is spinning with all the information, change, and emotions that you are dealing with. Writing it down helps you sort out some of the issues and may allow you to see things more clearly.
3. It’s something you can do when there’s nothing you can do. There are so many things outside of your control during this time – court dates, who is talking to your children, the loss of property that has to be divided, and so much more. Journaling is one aspect of your life that is all yours – a go-to place that is waiting for you at your convenience.
4. It allows you to see your own evolution. At any given time, you may think you’re an absolute mess, and there’s no way it’s ever going to get better. Your own writing will show you that things do get better. Often very slowly, but it does get better. You get stronger. You evolve in how you react and handle situations. You will see that you are progressing. And the progress you see will be motivating.
5. It preserves your journey. Right now, you think you’ll never forget a moment of the pain, the conflict, the fear. But memories fade and we remember moments or overall impressions. You might be thinking: I don’t want to remember any of this. But there may very well be a time in your future when you will – it might be to help someone else going through the same struggle, to review your progress, to write your memoir – who knows what the future holds?
It may give you comfort to write in a leather bound journal that is soft to the touch. You might choose a blank book that has something uplifting on the cover. Or a printed divorce journal, like Discover Your Voice After Divorce, that has helpful thought-provoking questions that you might not think to ask yourself. Or a plain old sprial-bound notebook. Pick whatever works for you and get writing. Leaving some of your angst on paper may make your load a little lighter.
If someone asks for your advice when they are contemplating divorce, respond if you like. Or if someone you are very close to is heading down a catastrophic path and you and other loved ones are trying to help, it’s your call whether or not to say something.
But if a casual friend, acquaintance, co-worker, gym pal, or book-club buddy tells you they’re getting a divorce, they are probably not seeking your input. In such cases, here are 5 Things NOT to ask:
1. Have you considered the effects on your children? It’s hard to think of a more insulting question. Such a question presumes that you are being more considerate of their children than they are. You, who has no clue whatsoever about what goes on behind closed doors at their house.
2. Have you prayed about it? Very judgmental. Now is not the time to foist one’s own morals upon them, or to assume they don’t have any of their own. And frankly, no answer to that question will satisfy the one asking. If the answer is ‘no,’ more intrusive, intentionally guilt-inducing ‘advice’ will follow. If the answer is: “Yes, and God told me I should” is the one asking likely to believe them?
3. Were your parents divorced? Because we all know divorce is genetic, right? The question implies that, if the answer is yes, they were doomed from the start. And if the answer is ‘no,’ there must be something very wrong with them to not be able to stick it out, too. Again, take a step back and remember that you have no idea about the circumstances that led up to their decision. If it was, indeed, even their decision as opposed to one that was thrust upon them.
4. Was your spouse having an affair? Whether the question is a result of sympathy, empathy, or curiosity, this is sooooooooo none of your business. In any world, at any time, on any level.
5. Is there anything I can do? What are they suppose to say to that? This is right up there with “Call me if you need anything.” The speaker feels they have put out something compassionate, but it’s an empty offer. If you really want to help and there is something you think you can do, be specific. Such as “I know you’re scheduled to host book club next month, I’d be happy to cover that for you if your plate’s full right now.” If there’s not something specific to offer, simply tell them you’re sorry they have to deal with that and/or you’ll keep them and their family in your prayers – whatever response is sincere for you.
Bonus admonition: This is not the time to tell them your divorce-from-hell story. They probably have enough on their plate without the added baggage.
Have you had someone respond inappropriately to you when you said you were getting divorced? Is there something a casual acquaintance could have or did say to you that was helpful? If so, please share so we can all get better at navigating this difficult situation.
If time got away from you and you’re wondering what you can give the special mom in your life that won’t have that clearly grabbed-at-the-last-minute-out-of-desparateness look to it, here’s an idea for you. Find a fun frame – if you don’t have one on hand, craft stores and discount stores generally have great options – and put a saying in it that you have printed off the computer. You can put a heartfelt sentiment in original words, or find an existing quote that sums up your feelings toward this special lady. Here are some examples that I put together for today’s Friday Five.
There are so many celebrations and weird ‘holidays’ in May, I was having trouble deciding which one to write about. When I came across Dennis Spielman’s Uncovering Oklahoma’s 2014 Date Idea Book, I knew that International Tuba Day (first Friday in May), Lumpy Rug Day (May 3) and No Socks Day (May 8) weren’t going to make the final cut.
The book isn’t just a laundry list of places to eat and events – it’s a thoughtful collection of eateries, activities and options with remarks about what special characteristic makes it a good date choice. From fitness options to less-fit-conscious options (I’m just now finding out about a Cake Eater’s Club??) there’s something for every age, taste and budget. I was going to have my husband choose between a glass-blowing class and checking out a night of live music, pop-up shops and a major food truck gathering, but then I remembered it’s date month – we can do both!
For the evening date that doesn’t end until after the morning meal, Spielman highlights several Bed and Breakfasts around the state that offer special features to enhance your spousal date. I was delighted to see Holmberg House in Norman, run by our dear friends, innkeepers Lou and Gene Christian, included on the list.
The book includes a handful of suggestions for outside of Oklahoma, and some clever ideas for date activities.
For those of you who aren’t in Oklahoma, I’m pleased to tell you that I entered several state and city names with the words “dating ideas” into a search engine and for each there were several articles with entertaining suggestions. So while the ideas may not be as organized as the Spielman book or all in one place, they are readily available. Not to mention that I did a lot of the leg work for you in coming up with creative dating ideas in some previous posts: Date Your Mate for Free, Part One, Part Two, and Part Three. You will see things on those lists that will make you say: “Hmmm – I never thought about that for a date – what a great idea!” You and your spouse are now officially armed to fully participate in Date Your Mate Month!
Remember: Statistics show that a couple that makes time to play together is more likely to stay together. Just sayin’ . . .