A Divorce Lawyer Just Gave Incredibly Powerful Marriage Advice and It’s Only 4 Words Long
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.
In his book, If You’re in My Office, It’s Already Too Late, the 20-year veteran of every kind of divorce imaginable dishes out advice on how to avoid needing his services based on his up-close experience of marital breakdown. It might not be the first place you’d look for relationship advice, but when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.
And when you read this interview with Sexton in Vice it makes even more sense. In a long chat with Sean Illing, Sexton offers incredible insights into why marriages fail (social media is nearly always involved these days, he reports) and what that says about how to keep them strong. The whole piece is well worth a read in full but much of Sexton’s wisdom can be boiled down to just four insightful words.
We fall out of love “very slowly, then all at once.”
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.
“From my perspective, these big reasons have their origins in a succession of smaller choices that people make that take them further and further away from each other,” Sexton says, adding:
“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.”