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What To Do When… It’s Over, and You Don’t Want to Blow Up Your Life.

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Special Guest – William / Bill Faeth |

What To Do When… It’s Over, and You Don’t Want to Blow Up Your Life.


What To Do When… Intro 00:01
Welcome to What To Do When… A podcast from real lawyers with real perspective, where we explore a variety of legal issues and scenarios. Each week we focus on a new topic and discuss what to do when and if any of these legal scenarios ever happened to you or a loved one. With over 40 years of combined legal experience, our hosts offer their unique perspectives and insights on a range of real life legal situations.

Jackie Critzer 0:29

Hi, guys, welcome back to another podcast at Critzer Cardani. Here in Richmond, Virginia. I’m Jackie.

Scott Cardani 0:34

And I’m Scott. Jackie, what do we have on the docket for today?

Jackie Critzer 0:38
Today is our second part of our mini series with Bill Faeth. And it’s What To Do When… It’s Over, and you don’t want to blow up your life.

Scott Cardani 0:48
Whoa, that’s a deep topic. And in for those of you who are just joining us, we had a podcast prior where we went through Bill’s credentials, we won’t do that again today.

Jackie Critzer 0:55
Go back and watch it though. It’s a good one.

Scott Cardani 0:57
It’s a really good one. But what are we talking about here? So what happens when we don’t want to blow it up?

Jackie Critzer 1:05
Well, it’s over. Right? So let’s first acknowledge that if we’re saying it’s over, we’re acknowledging the marriage is irretrievably broken, there’s no hope. The counseling maybe came and went, whatever the case may be, it’s done and gone, regardless of the reason. And you don’t want to blow up your life. Bill, what what does that even mean?

Bill Faeth 1:23
Well, when folks are clear, we’re done. I can immediately come back with data. There are… when folks split, there’s essentially three things that happen. Either they end as friends, genuine friends who like each other, who are respectful for each other, who can even have Christmas together with the kids to follow me, right? Not hateful, nothing funky is going on. I can’t live with you. But I still am your friend. Second choice is this Cold War. That I will not fight in front of the kids in front of you. But I think you’re a dirty sob. Okay. And the third is is active hot war willing to do everything to destroy you, your life, you know, your your career, whatever. Now, the statistics on that are repeated over and over again.

Scott Cardani 2:16
And I can verify, and Jackie can too, that’s the three cases we have every time.

Bill Faeth 2:20
In the first case. Generally people who are ending think they’re going to end as friends. About a third who nasty affairs or whatever, they’re going to be hateful of each other. They think right? Two thirds, and believing they’re gonna remain friends. Forgive me, within a year, half of those because of lawyers – and all that comes with that, or judges are now at least stilted with each other and having problems with each other. The trust has been broken because of money or whatever, custody hearings, all this kind of stuff. Within so we got now we’ve got 1/3 left. Within five years, life happens and half of that. So essentially, maybe 1/6 of people decide to end as friends remain and do that. To the degree with me so far?

Jackie Critzer 2:20
So far…

Bill Faeth 2:24
To the degree that you end in a cold war, statistically, those kids are more likely to have trouble in school, more likely to you to use substance themselves. And it’s predictive of their marriage not doing so well. That with the first group, when parents even though they end their marriage, they end as friends and behave that way. Statistically, those kids grew up the same as if mom and dad were still married.

Jackie Critzer 3:45

Scott Cardani 3:45

Bill Faeth 3:46
But that’s about one sixth. And the group who the third group were their act of hot war, those kids almost predicted they’re going to get divorced, you know that most of them are divorced or use substance or fail at school. It’s a graph that grows terribly in reverse do you follow me? But literally being friends, buying Christmas presents together three years later for the kids kind of thing having Thanksgiving doing Halloween together and talking. And when they remarry, that they remain friends kind of thing. Yeah, that weird thing were they all get along right and literally and the kids know it. So when the kids having a problem mom and dad still sit down at McDonald’s with the kids and talk it out. What are we can do working together backing each other up.

Jackie Critzer 4:33
So Bill, I’ll just tell you. I’m divorced. And I have two teenagers with my former husband. So our daughter is almost 15 and our son is 16. They are the most well adjusted, straight A’s students goal minded, doing so well. And I’ll tell you, we’re exactly in your statistic. We’re friends. It was tough at first of course, nobody gets divorced. And it’s like, oh yeah, high five. Let’s get divorced. But we had birthday parties together. We call each other when something’s going on. Our daughter wanted Snapchat this year. And I said, let’s call your dad. My husband has a say in it. But her dad and I first talked about it. And she needed to know that we were talking, I call them right in front of her. We had a conversation about it. He says, kiddo, I don’t think this is the way to go. Now, we don’t share holidays. But we we talk on the phone about our kids, we talk to our kids about talking to the other parent, we can see each other and have a good time. And hey, how are things going? You are 100%, right? These kids are going places. And they’re doing so so unbelievably well. And I pat myself on the back, because I do this for a living. And I feel like we worked really hard to get here. But I’ll tell you, my husband and his ex wife also do very well in the co parenting of their two teenagers. So So together, we sort of were able to mirror and model off of each other and see what great benefit we have in these teenagers, all four of them with the different parent groups that are just thriving. They’re just thriving.

Bill Faeth 6:08
You’re saying something so important that happens after the divorce, that if we backed up for a minute inside the marriage, the thing that I focus on inside the marriage is the two of you have unique may need to make each other the first priority… ie communicate, care about each other, get along with each other. When couple in marriage get along with each other, nothing else is different statistically, their kids do better in the world. And more than that teenage problems or fewer. Drug use is less just because mom and dad are cherishing each other within the marriage. Outside the marriage when ascended, being friendly, the kids see that all the attention they can go to either parent, they’re having a problem and adolescent problem talk to either one mom and dad are working together to address the adolescent. And when when parents mom and dad give the message together, side by side supporting each other up no matter where it is in the marriage or after the marriage, the kids are better for it. We know that I tell people all the time, that can’t be true. We got to solve the problem first. No, you stand together first side by side backing each other up. And the problem whatever is by that alone is less.

Jackie Critzer 7:23
Do you see a lot of parenting philosophy differences in the couples that come to you?

Bill Faeth 7:32
Yeah, people tend to duplicate what they’ve seen. But they still need to… I’ll cite some other statistic. I have a very expensive it used to be 700 bucks now it’s probably 1200 bucks. Test. Several 100 questions like 700 questions, zero the seven on values what you agree on. Two copies of it, you both Philadelphia military, California cost a lot of money. What comes come back, the vast majority of people share at least 80% of each other’s values.

Jackie Critzer 8:06

Bill Faeth 8:07
Probably 90-95. But what they fight over and because they don’t know any better is the remaining five.

Jackie Critzer 8:15

Bill Faeth 8:16
And what they’re really fighting over is not the values, they are fighting over loving each other. You know, you know, this becomes cause because you don’t respect me or talk me well, or you’ve been you know, we didn’t hug me last night. I’m in a fight over something with you. Even though I probably agree with you. Does it makes sense?

Jackie Critzer 8:34
Makes sense.

Bill Faeth 8:34
And why it plays out in divorce. Okay, we didn’t make it and I’m gonna find a reason to dislike you.

Jackie Critzer 8:41

Bill Faeth 8:42
But if you back up, we probably agree on most things. If we quit. I don’t have to hate you kind of business and work together for the well being of the kids. Follow me? We can get along and be friendly enough, that second group is at least friendly enough. The kids are probably a bit…

Scott Cardani 9:00
Let me ask that question there. Because this is some I see a lot. What if one of the parents is like you said, an abuser? Type one narcissist, you know, off the wall. I mean, is there are times when that can happen, or is it still better to? You know, and I struggle with that? Because I see it a lot.

Bill Faeth 9:19

And I don’t know, you know, because we do a lot of custody work. I’ve been doing trust you. I started out as a guardian ad litem in Richmond City. And I did literally 1000s of cases every year. So I have this experience realm of watching these things play out where you have one parent, for instance, they’re a crack addict, they’re using crack every day. You know, and you come up that parent with them. You don’t have that sort of ability or I think worse is the parent who is emotionally are narcissistic, or in that realm. They’re really abusive to you. Maybe it’s the other spouse, it’s so bad. You know that it makes it difficult. To do that, so how does that play into that theory?

Well, now we’re into a deeper level of morality and consequences and responsibility. We live in a society, that that profoundly encourages addiction, and profoundly encourages narcissism.

Jackie Critzer 10:18

Bill Faeth 10:18
Truth is whatever you want it to be. Truth is whatever wanting to be, and if somebody is called on it, well, who are you to tell me and people get mad. You know, I have my truth, all that business. The mature immaturity and addiction and that background noise that our society presents is profoundly troubling. And what do you do when somebody has a crack addict and won’t change? What do you do? But narcissism will never apologize. We got major problems here.

Scott Cardani 10:51

Jackie Critzer 10:51

Scott Cardani 10:52
But but if it could be possible, and I’m not sure how that would work, the consequences. Either the person who is a crack addict who is offered some hope, but no, you’re not going to get so and so that I worry that forgive me for talking about lawyers, too many guardians ad litem that I’m aware of dealing with, bring their biases to the table.

Jackie Critzer 11:14

Won’t recognize something’s wrong somewhere and won’t confront that person. And I also am aware of people who do co parenting counseling, who basically do nothing. You know, they sit and they fuss over scheduling the Sunday dinner or something like like that… rather than dealing with confronting Mom and Dad, you people stop your crap. Yeah, this is no good for the kid. Yeah, you know, that, that there was a little truth into the parenting to co parenting, how’s it can’t confront, and no, this doesn’t work, you got to stop doing it with the consequences of your kids. I’m working with a case now, where I told mom unequivocally. If you continue doing what you’re doing, in a short period of time, three years or less, your kids will not talk to you, will not like you and you have the most lonely number of days. And of course, what she’s saying, you’re full of it, right?

That’s your opinion, right?

Bill Faeth 12:15
That’s my opinion, I’ve never seen this before. Yeah. What’s not been three years, it’s been a year and a half, and the kids hate her. And the divorce is not even final. But what I would say, What are you doing? If she came to me and said, I’d like to fix this? Okay, I’ll help you fix it so you can get back with your kids. But again, what do I know? And I worry that, that we’re all enabling the narcissism, we’re all enabling the addiction. Whether it be pot… pot isn’t bad… pot’s, terrible! You know, there’s all these things, we rationalize the way that people can be immature in their lives and get away with it. We’re all spending addiction or the new iPhone addiction, you know, versus what’s life about? What are you doing? What do you cherish? What values looking back.

Jackie Critzer 13:09

Scott Cardani 13:10
No, I agree. I think that’s but you know, for for, like I said, for practitioners and us, and you get no situations that are not going to be healthy. And you have to make those choices. But I think what you’re saying, and what I’m saying is, you know, that’s where we need help.

Jackie Critzer 13:25
And calling a spade a spade.

Bill Faeth 13:27
But if somebody could call a spade a spade, I would hope that my naivete forgive me, but that somebody would have authority ie a judge would say to somebody, not in a mean way that “Grow up. This doesn’t work. That’s not right.”

Jackie Critzer 13:42
Well, you know, you made a point about, there are some folks who may come see you who otherwise might sort of end up as the friends that you talked about versus the Cold War or the act of hot war. I think in our world, we’d call that a high conflict, right, the act of hot war. But the lawyers get in there and stir trouble.

Bill Faeth 14:05
At 400 bucks an hour. Why not?

Jackie Critzer 14:08
Yeah, I think Scott and I can absolutely attest to the fact that there are plenty of attorneys… when we know that there are certain attorneys on the other side, we demand a higher retainer. Just because of how much conflict we know they stir. Yeah, that’s crushing, and it’s crushing to those familes.

Bill Faeth 14:25
We’re back to more bias. What is marriage? Marriages – I shouldn’t say this right and politically incorrect. A man and a woman loving each other for rest of their lives, raising kids and doing the right thing and carrying on a lineage generation after that. We’re all this is just your opinion. There is no objective morality. You do what you want. That’s the environment we live in. You can’t call them any anybody out and say no, that’s not true. This is the truth.

Jackie Critzer 14:50

Scott Cardani 14:50
Well, and I think, quite frankly, we gave up marriage a long time ago when we brought in no fault divorces. And we say well, it’s just good enough to live separate apart for a year and we can call it A day. And again, it doesn’t bring that you might have to change some of your own behaviors to think, you know, you’re you’re, it’s no, there’s no, there’s no real commitment under anybody under the law. When you say I do.

Jackie Critzer 15:17
While I agree with you, I also have to say that I don’t think it’s our government’s job to legislate our morality. If I’m married, and I want to get divorced, I don’t want the government to try to have some more input than they already do. That’s my it’s my heart issue. It’s my husband’s heart issue. It’s whom I don’t think the government’s role is to be different than it already is. I mean, it already makes you in Virginia, you gotta wait a year. There’s some exceptions, right? But you have to wait a year. And why Scott? Why does the General Assembly have that we have that we have to wait a year?

Scott Cardani 15:49
I don’t know, I can’t figure it out.

Jackie Critzer 15:51
Well… They call it the cooling off period.

Scott Cardani 15:54

Jackie Critzer 15:55
The cooling off period, just maybe you want to get back together. That’s what it that’s the way it’s written. And I think that’s appropriate. I am all in favor of, of there being things in place, whether you as community or otherwise to try and save marriages. And I promote the covenant of marriage, I believe it is a covenant, it’s more than a contract. But I don’t I don’t think the government should be trying to legislate – that just my two cents.

Scott Cardani 16:20
And my point is on the other side of it is when you make something so easy to get in and out of, you don’t put any parameters there. So my point is, if we’re going to say marriage is this institution, we shouldn’t so easily be willing to throw it out. So there should be some hurdles.

Bill Faeth 16:34
If I could add with both of you are saying, I think the macro issue, which started with Rene Descartes that we’re time, there is an objective truth.

Jackie Critzer 16:46

Bill Faeth 16:46
We threw out God, we threw out morality, we threw out right and wrong, we threw out responsibility, and therefore all bets are off.

Scott Cardani 16:54

Bill Faeth 16:54
And that’s the world we live in. And I think… back to making marriages work, I think people within the marriage need a moral base, something that draws them together more than the feeling that I love you.

Jackie Critzer 17:11

Bill Faeth 17:12
And something more than, gee, I’m a parent, I ought to do something to this. I have responsibility. I gave my word to somebody. I have responsibility. I have babies, you know, children that need to take care of, they come first. But the world we live in, I come first. And that’s that’s the sad part of it.

Scott Cardani 17:34
Yeah. And it’s amazing to me that people will have a very moralistic thing about work. Like, you know, I can’t miss a day I’m there and I have to work with it, you know, but when it comes to the marriage, it’s doesn’t the same different this the same approach doesn’t apply. It’s amazing me because you know, you get the workaholic guy who would never ever violate any dictate of work. But in his home life, it doesn’t apply somehow.

Bill Faeth 17:57
What is that song? Teach your children? Is that one where his dad wanted to talk to him and he blew him off. And then later, he’s very lonely in the song.

Scott Cardani 18:08
Cats in the cradle?

Bill Faeth 18:09
Yes. Thanks.

Scott Cardani 18:11
Maybe I might be wrong. But that’s what I was think of. All right, I think we’re here. I think we probably should pause here. We’re gonna bring another episode here pretty soon. But today, we wanted to go over. You know, there’s choices is what we’re trying to bring to the table today. There are choices of how you want to keep this from blowing up. Do you want the high conflict?

Jackie Critzer 18:32
High? Well, first of all, it’s expensive. In so many ways, it’s emotionally expensive. It costs your children, likely their future lives. Okay? It financially, it’s expensive, emotionally, it’s expensive. All of those things. That’s the act of hot war that that Scott I have referred to as high conflict divorces that we’ve that we’ve talked about before, there’s the Cold War, right, which is we’re nice to each other in front in each other’s face. But there’s sort of under undertones of active war. And then there’s where where the couple ends as friends, and they’re able to co parent. They’re able to deal with discipline issues, and, and they’re able to follow through with their teenagers, whether it’s children, as parent teacher conferences, or any other issues. And so…

Scott Cardani 19:17
What we’re saying here is there’s people out here to help you try to be friends the best you can.

Jackie Critzer 19:22
But beware, there are people who also don’t want that for you.

Scott Cardani 19:26
Yes, very much so. But what are suggested is if you’re, you’re done, and you don’t want things to blow up. Realize there’s three realities as Bill said today that you’re going to face. You have to choose the reality that you want to the best of your ability. You can’t control the other person. They’ll tell you that. I can’t make Jackie do something.

Jackie Critzer 19:44

Scott Cardani 19:45
She’s an adult, but if I choose to be friends, then I can even get Bill’s help then, how I can do this better. If I’m struggling, even if that person won’t come to counseling, maybe I can go to Bill and say, hey, I want to make this better. What things can I change to try to be as friends as much as possible at least have a friendly Cold War, and not just a Cold War, you know. So there are things we can do. Again, like and subscribe. We thank you for being here today.

Jackie Critzer 20:10
See you next time.

What To Do When… Outro 20:12

We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of What To Do When… For more episodes, be sure to subscribe to our podcast and we encourage you to check archives to listen to previous topics. Tune in next week for a new episode and some fresh perspective from Critzer Cardani.

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