The Divorce Expert: 86% Of People Who Divorce Remarry! Why Sex Is Causing Divorces!

Summary notes created by Deciphr AI
Summary Notes


In this insightful conversation, renowned divorce lawyer James Sexton delves into the complexities of love, marriage, and divorce. With over two decades of experience handling high-conflict cases for celebrities and billionaires, Sexton offers a candid perspective on the impermanence of relationships and the societal pressures surrounding marriage. He highlights the common threads leading to divorce, such as infidelity, financial transparency, and the struggle with monogamy, suggesting that marriage should not be an automatic choice but a considered decision. Sexton also touches on the unique dynamics of LGBTQ+ relationships, open marriages, and the emotional toll of his profession, including cases where love leads to tragic outcomes. Despite witnessing the breakdown of countless unions, Sexton maintains a profound appreciation for love, urging individuals to cherish their connections in the face of life's inevitable endings.

Summary Notes

Marital Problems and Divorce Statistics

  • Marital problems are attributed to two main issues.
  • James Sexton, an experienced divorce lawyer, provides insights into relationship failures.
  • The divorce rate is approximately 56%, with 86% of people remarrying within five years.
  • Individuals often lack understanding of what marriage entails, exemplified by prenuptial agreements (prenups).

"There's about a 56% chance that your marriage will end in divorce, yet 86% of people remarry within five years."

  • This quote highlights the high probability of divorce and the propensity for individuals to remarry quickly.

Prenuptial Agreements

  • Prenups define the distribution of assets in the event of a divorce.
  • A shocking prenup clause imposed a financial penalty on a wife for weight gain.

"The most shocking prenup I've ever seen said that for every ten pounds the wife gained, she would lose $10,000 a month in alimony."

  • This quote describes an extreme and enforceable prenup condition based on the wife's weight.

Divorce Lawyer's Role

  • A divorce lawyer handles contested divorce and custody proceedings.
  • The likelihood of meeting a divorce lawyer correlates with the high divorce rate.
  • Marriages can fail not only through divorce but also when couples stay together for reasons other than happiness, such as children or finances.

"By the time someone sets foot in my office, something's gone terribly wrong in their life, because no one ever meant to meet me."

  • The quote conveys the sentiment that encountering a divorce lawyer often signifies significant marital distress.

Marriage Success and Failure Rates

  • The definition of a failed marriage can include both divorce and staying together out of obligation or unhappiness.
  • The combined rate of divorce and unhappy marriages could suggest a failure rate of 70-75%.
  • Despite high failure rates, marriage remains an important institution, with many remarrying soon after divorce.

"That means that you've got something that fails 70, 75% of the time."

  • This quote emphasizes the high failure rate of marriages when considering both divorce and unhappy unions.

The Purpose of Marriage

  • The role and purpose of marriage as a societal institution are questioned.
  • Marriage is compared to other technologies that have clear purposes, such as mugs or coasters.
  • The assumption that marriage is a natural step in a relationship is challenged, given the high failure rate.

"What problem is marriage designed to solve."

  • The quote questions the fundamental purpose of marriage as a societal construct.

Remarriage and Cognitive Bias

  • A significant percentage of divorced individuals remarry, often believing their next marriage will be different.
  • People may have cognitive biases or delusions about love and remarriage.
  • A case is described where a client, after a difficult divorce, is eager to remarry quickly, overlooking potential risks.

"This time it's different. This time I'm really in love."

  • This quote reflects the common belief among divorced individuals that their next marriage will be more successful.

Love as an Economy

  • Love is described as an economy, where different values are exchanged in relationships.
  • The term "gold digger" is deemed pejorative and oversimplifies complex relationship dynamics.
  • Relationships can be symbiotic, with each partner contributing different values, such as financial stability or emotional support.

"I think love is an economy."

  • This quote suggests that relationships involve an exchange of value, which can be healthy and symbiotic.

Prenuptial Agreements and Relationship Dynamics

  • Prenups are legally binding contracts that set the terms for a marriage's economic aspects.
  • There is a social and legal distinction in the definition of marriage.
  • Prenups require ongoing communication and management of assets and liabilities between spouses.

"A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people that defines the rule set essentially for their marriage."

  • The quote explains that a prenup is a legal agreement that establishes the financial terms of a marriage.

Prenup Discussions and Marriage Outcomes

  • Discussing prenups can be challenging and may lead to the end of a relationship if not handled properly.
  • Prenups should be seen as a form of protection and care for both parties in the event of a divorce.
  • The reluctance to discuss or agree to a prenup can indicate underlying issues in the relationship.

"All marriages end. They end in death or they end in divorce, but they all end."

  • This quote rationalizes the need for a prenup by acknowledging the inevitable end of all marriages.

Role of a Divorce Lawyer

  • Divorce lawyers often provide both legal and emotional counsel due to the personal nature of divorce.
  • The effectiveness of prenups in the U.S. is affirmed, with enforceability being contingent on fairness at the time of signing.

"I have an undergraduate degree in psychology, and I think I use it as much as I use my law degree."

  • The quote illustrates the intertwined nature of legal and psychological advice in divorce proceedings.

Fidelity Clauses in Marital Agreements

  • Fidelity clauses in prenups or postnups impose penalties for infidelity.
  • These clauses are criticized for being difficult to define and enforce legally.

"Fidelity clauses. Yeah. So it's something people include in prenuptial agreements and also sometimes in what's called a post nuptial agreement."

  • The quote introduces the concept of fidelity clauses in marital agreements, highlighting their potential use and complexity.

Emotional Affairs and Fidelity Clauses

  • Emotional affairs involve intimate thoughts and confidences shared over a period, creating a bond that may be seen as more threatening than a single physical indiscretion.
  • Men and women react differently to affairs, with men often concerned about physical betrayal and women about emotional connections.
  • Fidelity clauses in prenuptial agreements attempt to define cheating and assign a penalty, but the speaker suggests cheating already carries inherent penalties, such as complications and pain inflicted on multiple parties.
  • Infidelity causes significant emotional turmoil and the notion of adding an economic penalty may not deter the act.

"When men find out that a woman who they're with has had an affair, their first question is, did you sleep with him? When women find out a man had an affair, their first question is, are you in love with her?"

This quote reflects the gender differences in reactions to infidelity, highlighting that men may prioritize the physical aspect, while women may focus on the emotional connection.

"Cheating is its own penalty. Cheating turns your life, at best, cheating turns your life into like an unbelievably complicated, like, jumping from 1ft to another, lying to everyone involved."

The speaker emphasizes that cheating already has significant negative consequences without the need for additional penalties such as those outlined in fidelity clauses.

Generational Shifts and Prenuptial Agreements

  • There has been a significant increase in prenuptial agreements among younger generations, reflecting a more pragmatic view of relationships.
  • Social media often portrays an idealized version of happiness in relationships, which may not reflect reality and can lead to dissatisfaction among those comparing themselves to these portrayals.
  • Performative social media behavior can mask the true state of a relationship, leading to a disparity between public perception and private reality.

"The people currently in their twenties and early thirties, like the prime demographic for marriage, mid twenties to mid thirties, are getting prenups at a rate that I would say is probably five x what it was ten years ago, 15 years ago, certainly 25 years ago from when I started."

This quote indicates a significant generational change in the approach to marriage, with more young people opting for prenuptial agreements than in the past.

"I see people in my office who publicly are having the greatest relationships ever. Like, if you believe their social media, they are so madly in love."

The speaker points out the contrast between the happy relationships people present on social media and the troubled ones they may actually be experiencing.

Performative Culture and Authentic Happiness

  • The speaker criticizes the performative nature of happiness in relationships and wealth, noting that true satisfaction does not need to be broadcasted.
  • Wealthy individuals may not flaunt their wealth, suggesting that the need to display wealth can be inversely related to actual financial security.
  • Fame and public validation are not as fulfilling as genuine connections and personal achievements.
  • The speaker encourages focusing on real intimacy and connection in relationships, rather than seeking validation from external sources or comparing oneself to unrealistic standards.

"The people that have true joy in their relationship really don't feel like they have to advertise it."

This quote suggests that genuinely happy couples do not feel the need to constantly showcase their happiness to others, as their satisfaction is self-evident.

"When people say, look at how happy we are, look at how happy we are. Look at how happy we are. You know, it's like, please tell me how happy we are."

The speaker critiques the constant need for external affirmation of one's happiness, which may actually reflect underlying dissatisfaction.

Comparisons and Unrealistic Expectations

  • Individuals often compare their own relationships to others, creating unrealistic benchmarks for happiness and satisfaction.
  • Societal pressures and the portrayal of idealized relationships can lead to feelings of inadequacy and discontent.
  • The speaker emphasizes the importance of realistic expectations and open communication to maintain a healthy relationship.

"There's so much of our day to day life that we're constantly feeling like we're not doing well based on nothing."

The speaker highlights the tendency to feel inadequate based on unfounded comparisons to others, stressing the importance of recognizing this pattern.

Sex and Intimacy in Relationships

  • Sex is seen as the distinguishing factor between romantic and platonic relationships, serving as a crucial component of intimacy and connection.
  • Changes in sexual frequency or desire can be indicative of deeper issues within the relationship.
  • The speaker advocates for open discussions about sexual satisfaction and needs, without defensiveness or conflict.

"Sex is the glue. Sex is the thing that brings you together. Sex is what makes a romantic relationship a romantic relationship."

This quote underscores the central role of sex in defining and maintaining romantic relationships.

Preventative Maintenance in Relationships

  • The concept of preventative maintenance involves proactive measures to maintain the health of a relationship, such as open communication and small gestures of affection.
  • Addressing issues early on can prevent them from escalating and causing significant damage to the relationship.
  • The speaker encourages couples to engage in honest and timely discussions about their needs and concerns.

"Wouldn't it be better, before you completely lose the plot, to just do the preventative maintenance?"

The quote advocates for addressing issues in a relationship early on, likening it to routine maintenance that prevents larger problems from developing.

The Role of a Divorce Lawyer

  • The speaker, a divorce lawyer, describes the role as manipulating emotional states to achieve favorable outcomes for clients.
  • High conflict situations often require strategic and tactical thinking, which the speaker specializes in.
  • Divorce lawyers see the culmination of unresolved issues in relationships, emphasizing the importance of addressing problems before reaching a breaking point.

"My job is to manipulate everybody's emotional state through the power of storytelling. That's what being a divorce lawyer is."

This quote provides insight into the strategic nature of divorce law and the importance of narrative in legal proceedings.

Work Ethic and Personal Reflection

  • The speaker, identified as "A," describes an intense work ethic, waking up at 4:00 a.m. and immediately thinking about clients and cases.
  • They acknowledge their dedication to work as excessive and potentially detrimental to their well-being as a human being.
  • Despite this, they consider themselves an excellent lawyer due to their dedication and skill.

"I outpace everyone with my work ethic. I wake up at 04:00 a.m. and I'm immediately thinking about clients and cases, and I'm dedicated to this work in an absolutely insane way."

  • The quote highlights the speaker's extreme dedication to their legal profession, to the point of questioning their balance as a human being.

Perspectives on Divorce and Relationship Advice

  • Early in their career, the speaker would try to steer couples toward reconciliation if possible, through counseling.
  • They still recommend counseling if they believe a couple can resolve their issues.

"I would frequently try to steer people if I thought that was possible... I will steer them in that direction."

  • This quote underscores the speaker's willingness to encourage couples to seek counseling rather than immediately opting for divorce.

Infidelity in Relationships

  • The speaker believes that both men and women cheat frequently and it's difficult to say which gender cheats more.
  • However, men are more often accused of ruining relationships through infidelity.

"I think both men and women cheat with a tremendous amount of frequency."

  • The quote reflects the speaker's view that infidelity is common among both genders in relationships.

Sexual Satisfaction Disparities

  • According to the speaker, men generally desire more frequent sex, while women prioritize the quality of sexual experiences.
  • The speaker suggests that men's preference for quantity in sexual encounters is one reason why pornography is more popular among men.

"Men generally want more sex. Women want more quality sex."

  • This quote summarizes the speaker's observations on the general differences in sexual desires between men and women.

The Complexity of Cheating as a Cause for Divorce

  • The speaker discusses the complexity of cheating as a cause for divorce, suggesting it's often a symptom of underlying issues rather than the sole cause.
  • They advocate for examining the deeper issues in the relationship that led to infidelity.

"The danger of putting so much emphasis on cheating is that it's an oversimplification."

  • The quote emphasizes the speaker's belief that cheating is often a symptom of deeper relationship problems, not just a simple cause for divorce.

Extreme Cases of Infidelity

  • The speaker has encountered shocking stories of infidelity, including individuals who maintained two separate families unbeknownst to each other.
  • They have observed cliché scenarios, such as affairs with in-laws, and discuss the common occurrence of wealthy clients having affairs with nannies.

"I've had people come in and tell me stories that I just think to myself, like, how."

  • This quote illustrates the speaker's astonishment at the complex and often shocking nature of infidelity cases they have encountered.

The Nanny Fascination

  • The speaker theorizes that wealthy clients are drawn to nannies because they embody characteristics of a spouse without the complexities of an equal partnership.
  • They suggest that nannies represent a simpler relationship dynamic as employees and a version of the spouse without the responsibilities.

"The nanny is a lot of the characteristics of the wife... She's an employee. At the end of the day, so much simpler of a relationship."

  • This quote provides insight into the speaker's theory on why some wealthy individuals are drawn to affairs with nannies, highlighting the power dynamics and simplicity of the relationship.

The Impermanence of Love and Relationships

  • The speaker reflects on the transient nature of love and relationships, noting that loving anything exposes one to the pain of loss.
  • They emphasize the importance of appreciating loved ones and moments of love while they are present.

"To love anything is insane, right? Because to love anything is to expose yourself to the inevitability of losing it."

  • The quote captures the speaker's philosophical view on the inherent risk of pain associated with love due to its impermanent nature.

Challenges and Emotional Impact of Divorce Law

  • The speaker has encountered cases involving domestic violence and extreme situations, such as attempted murder by a spouse.
  • They have also dealt with the suicides of clients or their spouses, which brings emotional challenges to their profession.

"I've had clients who their spouse committed suicide. That's happened many times where people, I think, feel they're losing everything."

  • This quote reveals the emotional toll that divorce cases can have on the speaker, as they witness the profound distress and tragic outcomes for some clients.

The Speaker's Emotional Response to Their Work

  • The speaker admits to crying due to their work, both out of frustration when justice isn't served and out of appreciation for the beauty and resilience of people.
  • They share a moving story of helping a client regain custody of his beloved dog, which brought them to tears.

"I've cried for a lot of reasons about my work. I've cried from frustration... I've cried more often out of beauty."

  • The quote demonstrates the speaker's emotional investment in their work and the deep impact that both the struggles and triumphs of their clients have on them.

Reflections on Mortality and the Value of Love

  • The speaker discusses the finite nature of life and relationships, encouraging mindfulness and appreciation of the present moment.
  • They share a mindfulness exercise from Thich Nhat Hanh that involves visualizing the loss of a loved one to deepen appreciation for their presence.

"If we could just have that presence of mind when it comes to love. Like, love is not permanently gifted. It is loaned."

  • The quote conveys the speaker's belief in the importance of cherishing love and relationships, recognizing their temporary loaned nature.

The Speaker's Philosophy on Love and Relationships

  • Despite witnessing the fragility of love through their work, the speaker remains a romantic at heart and is moved by the beauty and power of love.
  • They advocate for the bravery of loving despite the pain of loss, emphasizing the joy that love brings.

"How could you not be? When you're confronted every day with how fragile love is and how transient it is and how powerful it is."

  • This quote expresses the speaker's enduring belief in the value of love, even in the face of its challenges and impermanence.

The Speaker's Views on Marriage, Divorce, and "Soulmates"

  • The speaker criticizes the concept of soulmates for creating unrealistic expectations and contributing to the prevalence of divorce.
  • They propose viewing romantic relationships as chapters in a long book, each offering unique experiences and lessons.

"Whoever created the term soulmate, I owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude because they really helped facilitate divorces in industry."

  • The quote reveals the speaker's view that the concept of soulmates can be detrimental to relationships by setting unattainable standards and fostering discontent.

Relationship Comparisons and Expectations

  • The speaker warns against comparing real relationships to idealized or fictional ones, as it leads to perpetual dissatisfaction.
  • They suggest comparing relationships to other real relationships and learning from each experience.

"We need to start comparing relationships to real relationships. But how are we gonna do that if we're so deeply committed to lying to each other about how great our relationship is?"

  • This quote highlights the speaker's belief that honest comparisons and realistic expectations are crucial for healthy relationships.

Shortest Duration from Marriage to Divorce

  • The speaker shares that the shortest duration from marriage to divorce they have seen is 48 hours, typically resulting in an annulment.

"48 hours. But that's usually an annulment. That's. I mean, Vegas, baby."

  • This quote provides an anecdotal example of how quickly a marriage can end, illustrating the impulsiveness and regret that can accompany hasty decisions to marry.

Key Theme: Ease of Marriage and Divorce

  • Marriage can be entered into quickly and with minimal requirements, such as a small license fee.
  • The ease of marriage is exemplified by the possibility of getting married in Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator.
  • Divorce is often the result of two main reasons: infidelity and money issues.

"You just go to justice. The peace, pay dollar 40 license fee, and you're married. That's it. Go to Vegas. You can get. Guy dressed like Elvis will marry you for $50."

  • The quote highlights the simplicity and low cost of getting married in certain circumstances, like in Las Vegas, where even novelty ceremonies are available.

Key Theme: Money Issues in Marriage

  • Money issues leading to divorce are not necessarily about going broke but about transparency and the power dynamics associated with money.
  • Money symbolizes power, control, opportunity, security, and worth.
  • Dishonesty about money is common, and economic disparities or changes in financial status can strain marriages.
  • A significant number of divorces occur when the husband loses his job, which affects traditional gender roles and self-identity as a provider.

"Money is power, right? Money has a lot to do with power. And I think there's a lot, you know, there's a. It's misattributed to Oscar Wilde, but it's not something he would have said. There's the saying that everything in the world is about sex except sex, which is about power. And I think money is about power. Money is about control. Money is about opportunity, security. It's about a whole bunch of things, but it's not really about money."

  • The quote reflects the multifaceted role of money in relationships, extending beyond its economic value to symbolize various forms of power and control.

Key Theme: Transparency and Financial Discovery in Divorce

  • During a divorce, there is a mandatory discovery process to review all financials, which reveals spending patterns and hidden assets or debts.
  • People often attempt to hide assets, but the law has protections against fraudulent conveyances done in anticipation of divorce.
  • It is more common for people to be unaware of the debt structure they live under, which can be revealed in a divorce.

"In a divorce, you have what's called mandatory discovery, which is that I have a right to review all of your financials in that process."

  • The quote explains that in divorce proceedings, there is an obligatory exchange of financial information, which can uncover previously undisclosed financial details.

Key Theme: Debt and Appearance of Wealth

  • Many people, especially celebrities, maintain an appearance of wealth while being highly leveraged with debt.
  • Understanding that marriage entails sharing not only assets but also liabilities is crucial.
  • The illusion of wealth often dissipates during divorce proceedings when the true financial situation is revealed.

"It's more common that people don't realize the debt structure that they're living under, because a lot of people live under a tremendous debt structure."

  • The quote emphasizes that many individuals are unaware of the extent of their debts, which often comes to light during a divorce.

Key Theme: Lottery Winnings and Divorce

  • Winning the lottery can lead to divorce if one partner feels entitled to a portion of the winnings.
  • The law generally stipulates that lottery winnings during a marriage are to be shared equally between spouses.

"And he was beyond thrilled until he got told, yeah, she gets half. She gets exactly half."

  • This quote underscores the legal reality that lottery winnings acquired during marriage are subject to equal division in a divorce.

Key Theme: LGBT Couples and Marriage

  • LGBT couples have historically been marginalized, leading to a culture of making their own rules and traditions for relationships.
  • Marriage equality has introduced new conversations and considerations for LGBT couples, but the long-term effects on divorce rates are yet to be seen.

"So we might as well do it the way it makes sense for us instead of, you know, tradition is peer pressure from dead people."

  • The quote reflects the freedom LGBT couples have had to create their relationship norms, separate from traditional expectations.

Key Theme: Open Relationships and Divorce

  • The speaker encounters many cases of failed open relationships, but acknowledges that this may be biased due to the nature of their work in divorce law.
  • While the speaker has not personally witnessed successful non-monogamous relationships, they suggest that societal norms around monogamy may not be entirely honest or realistic.

"I meet a lot of people who have tried various types of ethical non monogamy polyamory, but they all have in common that they're in my office."

  • This quote indicates that the speaker often sees the unsuccessful attempts at open relationships, as those are the cases that end up seeking legal divorce services.

Key Theme: Infidelity and Love

  • Infidelity does not always indicate a lack of love or commitment in other areas of the marriage.
  • The speaker suggests that the human desire for variety and passion can coexist with love, even if it leads to what is termed as cheating.

"I've certainly seen people that were having affairs and in every aspect of their outward life appear to be deeply committed to their marriage."

  • The quote suggests that it is possible for individuals to engage in extramarital affairs while still being committed and loving in other aspects of their marriage.

Key Theme: The Concept of Marriage

  • The speaker questions the assumption that everyone should get married and encourages people to consider the purpose of marriage in their lives.
  • Marriage is seen as a legal status and a public declaration of commitment, but the speaker believes the essence of the relationship can exist without the legal institution of marriage.

"Marriage is a legal status. It's a government intervention. Everything else is just stuff we're putting on top of it and calling it that thing."

  • This quote challenges the idea that marriage is necessary for a committed relationship, suggesting that the legal status of marriage is separate from the emotional and personal aspects of a partnership.

Key Theme: True Love and Personal Experiences

  • The speaker reflects on various moments of feeling loved and loving deeply, including familial love and the love between a pet and its owner.
  • The speaker shares a personal story about their father, highlighting that true love can be expressed through actions rather than words.

"So to me, that's, you know, that's true love is when it's not even sacrificing to give that the joy of the other person just gives you so much joy and fills you so much that. That it's just the greatest thing."

  • The quote captures the essence of true love as the selfless joy derived from giving happiness to another, even at one's own expense.

Key Theme: Appreciation for Love

  • The conversation concludes with the speaker expressing a newfound appreciation for love and the importance of cherishing it due to its impermanence.
  • The discussion has prompted reflection on the preciousness of relationships and the urgency to express love to those important in one's life.

"We are most aware of the beauty of life when we're in the presence of death and the impermanence. And we can be the most aware of the power and presence and beauty of romantic love when we remember that it is impermanent, it is not permanently gifted, it's loaned, and that we're blessed to have it for however long we have it."

  • The quote highlights the heightened awareness and appreciation of love when faced with its potential loss, encouraging a proactive expression of love in the present moment.

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