What Courtesy of Divorce Court Taught Me About Love & Relationships
Love & Relationships

What Courtesy of Divorce Court Taught Me About Love & Relationships

Whenever I tell people that Divorce Court is one of my favorite shows they stare at me like I’m crazy, or like I’m a 75-year-old woman trapped in a 25-year-old’s body, or better yet, a crazy 75-year-old woman trapped in a 25-year-old's body. Yet, the show is currently in its 17th season, proving its appeal spans decades and demographics.

Part of the television program’s broad appeal and popularity stems from its fabulous and wise, no-holds-bar judge, Lynn Toler. In the 100+ episodes that I’ve watched, Judge Lynn has offered up some pretty valuable love and relationship advice each and every time, much of which can be applied to any type of relationship.

Here are some of my favorite tips from The Honorable Judge Lynn Toler:

1. You Can Have the Happily-Ever-After Fairytale

One of the most memorable tidbits I heard from Judge Lynn was this proclamation. I am a hopeless romantic. I am in love with love. But I always hear that the “honeymoon stage” doesn’t last past a couple of years. This is a blow to my very detailed marriage fantasy where my husband and I will be madly-in-love, make-out partners and best friends for the rest of our lives. So when I heard this confirmation that my dream of never-ending romance was possible, I vowed to hold on to this jewel forever. Judge Lynn shares that the romance-filled marriage that many dream about is possible…if both parties agree to put in the work it takes to achieve it. The fairytale marriage doesn’t just happen; it is achieved by continuous mindful action. That means making a deliberate effort to keep the romance alive, and often; whether it’s by buying flowers just because, or complimenting your spouse when they look good, or bringing all the things you love about the person to the forefront of your mind so you can look at them with #googelyeyes. Whether or not you consider marriage as a job, if you want the great romantic ending, you both have to be willing to put in the time and work to achieve it.

2. If You Operate in Chaos, You Will Breed Chaos

Divorce Court often gets cases where the couple lives in a chaotic environment. Judge Lynn calls these “disassembled communities”. These are areas where many of the community members are engaging in activities and behaviors that are toxic to sustaining a healthy relationship or marriage. Now whether you live in a disassembled community or not, Judge Lynn’s advice is still applicable. If you have friends, co-workers, or acquaintances that are living the scandalous YOLO lifestyle, whether they’re single or in relationship, you cannot operate as they do. Of course you’re bound to have that one crazy friend that loves to party hard, but if you want to have and remain in a successful committed relationship, chances are you can’t party with them every weekend, unless you’re bringing bae along. You also should minimize your hang-out time with people exhibiting toxic relationship behaviors; i.e. being verbally abusive, controlling, never happy, and of course, cheating. Even if you say that’s not your way of operating, you can unwillingly pick up some of their habits and behaviors. Most importantly of all, DO NOT TELL THESE PEOPLE YOUR BUSINESS. Sharing your relationship woes (and even tales of triumph), can breed jealousy, and opportunity for unhappy, messy people to bring unhappy mess into your relationship. Protect your bond.

3. The Way You Get ‘Em, Is the Way You’ll Lose ‘Em

This is a familiar saying. I know no one reading this is involved in a love triangle but just in case you’ve recently bumped your head and find yourself in love with someone’s boyfriend, girlfriend, or worst of all, spouse, this one’s for you. Every now and then Divorce Court features a couple and an “other”, and Judge Lynn’s response to this situation is always the same…disgust. No matter if you think this person is your soulmate or long-lost love, if the person is willing to cheat, lie, or be deceitful to their significant other, what makes you think they won’t do the same when you’re together. If you’ve never believed in karma, please believe, just for this one instance, or it’ll be forced to prove its existence to you by way of tragic heartbreak.

4. Make a Life Outside of Your Relationship

This is like recurring theme number one on Divorce Court. Time and time again a case will come in where a spouse or partner is unhappy, resentful, and often accusing their mate of not spending enough time with them, or of cheating. In cases like these Judge Lynn always admonishes the unhappy spouse to create a life of their own. Too often when we get into relationships we focus so much of our attention and energy on the other person, or on preserving the relationship, that we don’t feed our own likes, desires, and goals. When that happens, just like the couples on the show often exhibit, the relationship becomes strained due to the neediness, and accusations of infidelity and neglect. As Judge Lynn advises; find a hobby, go back to school, hang out with the friends you may have been neglecting… make plans of your own. And if on the off-chance your mate is cheating, you’ll be financially and emotionally secure to chuck up the deuces. Your mate should add to your life, not become it.

5. Therapy is Good, Actually It Should Be Mandated

The thing about Divorce Court is that everyone who appears on the show realizes Judge Lynn’s advice-giving greatness and so, oftentimes, couples who have no plans of divorcing, come on the show just to get some of her relationship gold. While that is definitely understandable (I, myself have pondered finding afake husband just so I can be in her presence), even Judge Lynn acknowledges the fact that there are some problems that 20 minutes in front of her can’t fix. She often recommends therapy, marriage counseling being one option, but also personal and private counseling sessions for individuals.

When we come into relationships, we’re bringing baggage, distinct perspectives, habits, life experiences, and trying to combine them all into one functional entity. It’s amazing how so many marriages last when you think about it. Part of the reason they do prevail is because those couples have discovered, over time, or with help(see how I emphasized that part), tools for a healthy relationship. Dissecting the real reasons for your habits, behaviors, and attitudes; unpacking years of baggage, pain, and betrayal, opens you up to successfully adopt new and healthy relationship patterns with your spouse. There are low-cost, and even free, therapy options around the world; and whether or not you’re in a relationship right now, making time to work on being a better you should always be a priority.

6. Communicate Right

This is the last of the relationship gems offered by Judge Lynn Toler. This list is in no way a comprehensive rendering of all the pearls of wisdom she has shared over the years, but this definitely a great one that I believe is applicable to all the relationships in your life, from friendships, to your relationship with your parents. We always hear that communication is key to sustaining any relationship, but how you communicate is just as important. Speaking while angry can bring about damaging results. Judge Lynn advises that you wait instead, until you’ve cooled down, so that you can clearly express your feelings, and it’ll also help your partner/friend/family member to truly hear what you are saying.

Don’t go below the belt either; saying things that you know will hurt can be tempting in the heat of the moment, but it’s not worth the fallout or loss of trust. No one wants to share sensitive information or be vulnerable with someone they think will later use that information against them. Also, Judge Lynn advises repeating what you heard the person say back to them, in order to clarify their intention. Oftentimes what is said and what is heard are miles apart; it’s like an IRL game of telephone. It’s a great way to avoid misunderstandings, conflict, and hours of the silent treatment. Taking time to truly hear what the other person is saying and being open to understanding and maybe even adopting a new way of thinking or looking at things is essential in every relationship you have. You will become a more caring, understanding, thoughtful, and enjoyable individual and partner when you actively practice proper communication.

If you want more amazing relationship advice, check out Judge Lynn‘s website https://www.judgelynn.com/ or catch Monday through Friday on Divorce Court.



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