Someone once asked me what I valued most in a relationship. I said “peace”.

There are people who want just the opposite even though they may not realize it. Bill Eddy of the High Conflict Institute describes them like this:

“High-conflict people (HCPs) have a pattern of high-conflict behavior that increases conflict rather than reducing or resolving it. This pattern usually happens over and over again in many different situations with many different people. The issue that seems in conflict at the time is not what is increasing the conflict. The ‘issue’ is not the issue.”

He says these people have a pervasive need for conflict in their lives. They may not process conflict in their minds the same way that most people typically do nor be capable of resolving disputes.  They argue with you for the sake of arguing.

Every so often I make my kids and my wife watch a one of my favorite old time movies like Citizen Kane or Casa Blanca. They usually raise eyebrows at my suggestions and say something smart alecky like, “Is it in black and white?” But they participate in the “what did you learn from this?” discussion that follows.

I think the next one will be Gaslight, the 1944 film, starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. In the movie, the husband tries to drive his wife crazy using various deceptions including turning down the gaslights in the house.

The term is now used to describe similar emotional abuse and manipulations in marriages and relationships. Even smart people are susceptible to gas lighting. It occurs when you allow the other persons voice to outweigh your own memory and perceptions.

Scientists at the University of Georgia have discovered the secret to a long and happy marriage. They surveyed 468 married people and asked questions about finance, communication and expressions of gratitude by their spouses.

“We found that feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last,” said Ted Futris, co-author of the study.

They also found that spousal gratitude can solve negative problems in other areas of the relationship as well, such a money problems or arguments.

The most consistent significant predictor of marital quality in the study turned out to be spousal expression of gratitude, that is saying thank you. “It goes to show the power of ‘thank you,’” Allen Barton, lead author, said. “Even if a couple is experiencing distress and difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes.”

The secret of a long and happy marriage? Thank your spouse at every opportunity.

“Let miracles replace all grievances.” — A Course in Miracles

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 decision today legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. The decision was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who says in the last paragraph:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

Eva Mendes says the number one reason for divorce is sweatpants.  That got a lot of pushback on social media but I think I know what she meant.  Sweatpants is just a symbol for a way of life.

In the sixties, some men grew their hair long.  Others objected to that.  But it wasn’t really the long hair they were objecting to.  They were really objecting to the hippie lifestyle and liberal belief system that long hair represented.

Think of a complicated set of beliefs as a suitcase.  Then use another word as a handle to carry that suitcase around.  For example, lawyers use the handle res ipsa loquitur meaning “the thing speaks for itself”.  This is a presumption that helps prove something by circumstantial evidence.  An example is if you see a broken flower pot on the sidewalk and a ledge above with flower pots, you can presume the flower pot fell off the ledge even though you didn’t see it happen.  But that’s too complicated to explain to the judge every time, so a lawyer might just say “res ipsa” and the judge knows what the lawyer means.

I think that Ms. Mendes was using sweatpants as a shortcut to say that you have to work at a marriage.  She meant you can’t just have an I-don’t-care sweatpants attitude about your relationship.  You have to bring a yoga pants attitude to your marriage.  That means you need to care about your spouse and your marriage.   And that means doing things like saying “I love you”, showing affection, talking, and being interested in their life.

There is no negotiating with crazy.  — Brian Perskin, NY Divorce Lawyer

The family law attorneys of Gower & Bluck put together this helpful infographic of ten things you need to do before you file for divorce.

In court papers, lead law firm Jones Day and others that helped Detroit navigate its historic debt restructuring made a case—at the request of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes—for why their hourly billing rates and final tab are reasonable. Officials at Jones Day, who pointed out they had already cut $17.7 million from their tab, defended the $53.7 million in fees charged for roughly 17 months’ work.

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