I have represented divorce and family law clients for nine years in Las Vegas and I pay attention to the trends in society, including the technological changes and the evolving views on relationships. As part of my practice, I not only look at the law, but I do my best to present my clients with bigger picture concepts to help them through the horrible experiences that brought them to me. I try to have them see things from their significant other's points of view and the point of view of a judge.
We live in a day and age of constant stimulation. We see people do amazing things on TV, in movies (I include some movies below that you may want to watch), on Facebook, and Youtube. We then examine our own dull lives and many of us determine that our significant other is a weight around our neck. A ball-and-chain. A restraint on freedom. We realize that if we didn't have to share our time, money, and energy with this other person, whom we may still love (but not be in love with any longer) we could be doing those exciting things and meeting new and exciting people.
We then throw away the stifling comfort of a committed relationship in favor of the risk and potential rewards of adventure. Of course, what many of us do not realize until it is too late is the downside of the risk of leaving someone to whom we were committed. It is important to remember various truths about our so-called modern, civilized society as we break up with those who love us and seek out the temptations we have deprived ourselves of while in the committed relationship.
Do not forget or fail to consider the following as you enter the world of single-hood after years of being in a committed relationship:
1. AIDS and other life threatening or terminal sexually transmitted diseases still exist and are far more common in single people with multiple sexual partners. STDs (or STIs) are virtually nonexistent in committed one-partner relationships. Many single women unintentionally spread disease with unprotected sex. Some people intentionally spread disease. There are some criminal statutes for spreading STDs, but if a person is dying of AIDs anyway, what can criminal justice really do?
2. It is estimated that 1 in 20 people in the world is sociopathic (some think that it is more than that, but still, if it is 1 out of 20, that means you already know several sociopaths). Brain chemistry, drugs, or a birth defect in which the amygdala of the brain is smaller than normal can cause this. Sociopaths can act like they care about people, but they do this only to get what they want. Sociopaths can be good for society (lack of empathy can make sociopaths good at sales, surgery, politics, and war), but can be very hard to deal with, and a small minority of sociopaths are criminals, a smaller minority consists of psychopaths who murder or rape for pleasure. Sociopaths can be charmers who destroy what they charm. An excellent movie about a sociopath, depicted by Daniel Day-Lewis, who did good for society but was still horrible to those close to him is “There Will be Blood.” Other single but mentally disturbed individuals can ruin your life too. Take for instance Audrey Tautou’s character in “He Loves Me, He Loves me Not”.
3. Two income homes with shared living expenses means more money saved than living singly (unless your domestic partner is using you and spending far too much). Marriage gives tax breaks that single people cannot get. Consider the financial impact logically as part of your resolve to break up. The financial and emotional impact of divorce is brought home in the movie “The War of the Roses”.
4. The grass is greener where you water it. Don’t envy your neighbor’s lawn, water your own. Consider that the investment in yourself and your relationship may be better for you than fleeing it for new territory. Meryl Streep’s character had to make a huge decision that meant sacrifice either way in “The Bridges of Madison County”. The bridge could be a symbol for her choice, stay home on one side, or cross over to a new world.
5. Singlehood can mean rejection (both you rejecting others and them rejecting you), heartache, loneliness, and crazy exes. You should always background check anyone you intend to get serious with. You may find out that they have a history of drug abuse, sexual violence, or crazy exes themselves that can hurt you and/or your children. The wife and mother to the character portrayed by Viggo Mortensen had no clue her gentle husband was a former murdering gangster in “A History of Violence”.
6. If you do have children and want to enter single life, you still have a life commitment to them and some sort of connection with the other parent. You may have court battles for child support even after the children are adults. Worse yet, you may be left totally on your own to raise the child, such as what happened to Will Smith’s character in “The Pursuit of Happyness”.
7. New people in your life can set you up in such a way that you face criminal responsibility. Be wary. Jim Carrey’s character did this to his lover in “I Love you Phillip Morris”.
8. New is not necessarily better. Committed love can be much better for your long-term happiness, than the thrill of a new love (crush), which lasts for a short while and leaves you worse off. Gael García Bernal’s character had to realize that his wife and child were more important than the cute young woman in “Mammoth”.
9. Sometimes being single is much better than remaining married--and feeling trapped, take for instance Jennifer Lopez’s character in “Enough”. Some people have to go through a few long-term relationships before they find the one that will be there for the rest of their lives, sometimes even with the same person. In my practice, I have seen people in their second marriage to the same person. A movie depicting this would be “The Marrying Man”. Former family court Judge Judy Scheindlin divorced and remarried her husband. However, some never do find another that will love them as much as the one they threw away. When you are old, will you live in despair and loneliness with all the regrets, or will you have friends and lovers keeping you in the moment instead of in the past?
10. There are a lot of movies that can encourage adventurous risk-taking which should be considered in light of all of the above. Such movies may include, “Titanic: in which Rose is convinced to pursue a romantic, adventurous life instead of a life with a rich husband”, “The Bridges of Madison County: about a wife having to choose between domesticity and adventure”, pretty much every movie with Michelle Williams in it (Blue Valentine: about a dwindling marriage, Take this Waltz: about a wife finding someone new, Mammoth: about a husband being seduced, Incendiary: about an adulterous wife who loses everything, including her mind, Broke Back Mountain: about a loyal wife with a disloyal gay husband, and even My Week With Marilyn: about a wife who strays) “Kramer vs. Kramer: about a mother and father fighting over a child”, “The War of the Roses: about a husband and wife fighting over everything through a divorce”, “Indecent Proposal: about a rich guy buying another man's wife”, "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?: about a tumultuous marriage", “Revolutionary Road: about an evolving marriage”, “Two for the Road: about a dwindling marriage” and "Rebound: about finding someone new after a divorce".
By Anthony M. Wright, JD
March 4, 2013
Anthony is a Las Vegas divorce attorney, licensed in Nevada since 2005. When considering marriage and divorce, it is advisable to meet with a Las Vegas family law attorney to more fully appreciate all your options. Why are Las Vegas family lawyers so good at giving advice? Because, Las Vegas is perhaps the marriage and divorce capitol of the entire world. It is an adult playground where relationships are born and die. Nevada has the easiest laws to get married and to get divorced, so clients flock here and the family law attorneys get plenty of experience. An experienced divorce lawyer has probably heard and seen it all many times. The relationship problems depicted in the movies mentioned in the article above are small compared to the real relationship problems most divorce lawyers are asked to handle in family court.