Meriwether: Divorce Team
Radio, Episode 170. Welcome, everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd
Orston. We are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the
Divorce and Family Law Firm of Meriwether and Tharp. Here, you learn about
divorce, family law, and form time to time, even tips on how to save your
marriage if it's in the middle of a crisis.
Todd Orston: Leh, there have been some
unfortunate reports that although divorce rates have actually been decreasing
over the years, they may actually increase and increase dramatically due to
COVID-19. That's due in large part to people don't have some of those natural
breaks that they once did. Shelter-in-place rules have forced us to engage in,
for lack of a better way of putting it, homeschooling, people are working out
of their homes. So they are finding themselves in situations where, for 24
hours a day, they are together. Those natural breaks are sometimes, to some
people, really necessary. It's not that you don't love your spouse or love your
children, but you just sometimes need a little bit of breathing room and people
aren't getting that and that's adding a lot of tension in the house.
Todd Orston: Leh, you and I were talking
about ways to successfully deal with these shelter-in-place orders and to
maintain a healthy relationship with our spouses and our children. You were
talking, we were talking about tension even in our own homes, and you came up
with a question that you yourself used. For the benefit of our listeners, I'd
love to present that question. So tell everyone. What was the question that you
came up with and used in your family?
Meriwether: Do I have to? No,
I'm just kidding. No. I've always considered to have a great marriage with my
wife. We go to marriage conferences. We're reading all the time. Despite all
that, there was a lot of tension in our house when all this was going on. At
one point, I just felt the tension from her end. So I went outside and I was
just like ... I was getting mad. Why is she so ... What's going on? I wanted to
get ... I was getting mad and I wanted to go in there and say things to her.
I'm like, "Well okay. I need to start taking my own advice when it comes
... And everything I read. Calm down. I'm going to go ask her why she's so,
what's wrong with her or what's going on." Then I realized, "Okay.
That's a bad, those are bad questions because it automatically puts the person
on the defensive." I was like, "Well what can I ask that would not
put her on the defensive, but help me get to the bottom of things?"
Meriwether: The question I
came up with ... Now, you may not be under quarantine at time of listening to
this, but the question I asked is, "What can I ..." I came back
inside and I said, "What can I do to make this quarantine better?"
Being the wise person she is, she said, "You know what?"
Todd Orston: She told you to sleep
Meriwether: Not that quite,
Todd Orston: No? All right. All right.
Meriwether: She said,
"That's a great question. Let me think about it and give you an
answer." She's like, "I'm glad you asked because I feel irritated and
I don't even know why." So let me give you some background. When all this
stuff first started to hit, I had gotten engrossed in, "Man, this could
have a massive negative impact on Meriwether and Tharp, on the law firm, on a
lot of businesses that I knew about," and I'm doing all kinds of research.
What can I do to help? What can we do on a marketing end? All these orders are
coming in everyday and I am just ... I was probably working more hours when
this thing happened than before it happened because I was just trying to pivot.
I was trying to figure out what to do. What if Meriwether and Tharp, everything
went suddenly bad? How will we pay our bills?
Meriwether: All those things
which is going through a lot of people's minds, right? What I didn't realize
... So she came down an hour later and she winded up giving me three things,
but the first one was, "You know what?" I'm embarrassed to even say
this, but the point and the reason I'm telling this is because it was this
simple. I was leaving my dishes out. For whatever reason, it was driving her
nuts because we had the kids at home and she was doing the ... She was helping
Quinn with his homework and I wasn't. So she felt like, "Oh, I have three
kids at home, not two." I didn't even realize I was doing it. I was just
coming upstairs because I was working in the basement and I would come upstairs
and set my dishes on the counter and just go right back downstairs because I
was so hyper-focused on what can we do to avoid a complete economic collapse.
Don't get me wrong. I was very worried about people dying from COVID-19 too.
Todd Orston: Didn't you have a friend
that actually ... I mean we all at this point have had people, but somebody who
was very sick with COVID?
Meriwether: Yeah, I had
somebody that was quite literally on his deathbed. He wasn't a personal friend.
He was more of my wife's, good friend of my wife's, her husband. I mean he was
on his deathbed and-
Todd Orston: Yeah.
Meriwether: ... thankfully
... Well this is one of those anecdotal cases where he was given
[hydrochloroquine] and within hours, turned around. So not saying that's the
solution. There's a lot of medical data both ways there, but the point was a
lot was going on in my mind. I became overly hyper-focused on it and forgot
simple things. Those simple things were driving her crazy. Once I asked the
question, she brought it to my attention and I adjusted my behavior. That
wasn't something I normally did either, but the point being that that one
question can make all the difference because you're not putting someone on the
defense if you just ... Maybe you're towards the end of the quarantine and
things are ... Depending on what state you're in, in Georgia, we started
opening things up. Still not opened up yet, started opening things up. Other
states haven't yet. It may be a couple more weeks.
Meriwether: If you feel
tension in your house, ask the question, "What can I do to make this quarantine
better?" Then sit back and listen. Don't argue with the answer. Maybe you
don't understand the comment. Ask some more questions about it to make sure you
understand so you can act on it, but don't argue with it. You may think that,
"Well that's just silly. You shouldn't think that way." You can't say
that about someone's feelings. You just have to act. That simple questions just
... I mean the tension was gone. It was amazing-
Todd Orston: Yeah.
Meriwether: ... until I
stopped putting my dishes away again. No, I'm just kidding.
Todd Orston: Yeah. No. I had something
similar and my wife came to me and basically I didn't realize I was not helping
make the bed, but I explained to her, I said, "We have truly 117 throw
pillows." I said, "I just don't have that kind of time." So I
don't even understand how we get that many pillows on the bed, but you got to
do what you got to do. We don't have that many pillows, but no. I agree with
you. We have been managing in my house. We've been managing pretty well and I'm
not going to lie. Listen, here's one thing I'm going to share. Do I like making
a bed? I don't. Maybe I'm just a typical guy, but I've been trained by my wife
that it's something that needs to be done, it's something that's important to
her, and therefore, I will gladly help.
Todd Orston: If it's something small
like that that I can do that brings peace into the house and allows us to
navigate through this COVID-19 shelter-in-place thing that we've got going on,
then so be it, but I love the question because at its heart, what it really
gets down to is communication, asking that question, being honest and saying,
"Hey, whether there's an issue ..." I mean this is the way I would
look at it. If you ask that question right away before there's a problem,
that's even better. You asked a question after there was clearly a little bit
of tension, but at some point, here's my takeaway. Sit down. Sit down with your
spouse after dinner, whenever, go for a walk, and talk and say, "Hey,
things are different now. We are together 24 hours a day and while I'm loving
it, I just want to make sure. Am I doing things I need to do? Is there anything
I can do to make it easier for you?"
Todd Orston: If you have that kind of an
open communication, hopefully it's going to avoid you even getting to the point
that, Leh, you and your wife got to where she was feeling some level of
tension. Even though you weren't doing anything overt or on purpose, it was
something that was bothering her, but you asked the right question. So again,
whether you're about to have a problem or not, think about this. Think about it
in terms of, "How can I communicate better to avoid these problems?
Meriwether: Yeah. Make sure
and try to ask the question. So let's change it a bit. Maybe you aren't
sheltering in place. My nextdoor neighbor, he's not sheltering in place. He's
actually working more hours now than ever. He works for, he runs some golf
courses and they were not shut down because they were able to social distance,
which I was surprised to hear. I thought they were, but anyways, all of them
were open. They were busier than ever. The restaurants were all shut down and
nobody can use a golf cart so everybody has to walk and keep six feet apart
which isn't too hard on a golf course. So anyways-
Todd Orston: Right.
Meriwether: ... he's been
busier than ever. The question he might ask would be, "Hey, what can I do
to make this COVID-19 crisis better?" On his end, so he's working even
more hours than he was before and his wife is at home. She's got ... One of
their kids is grown, but there's still another kid in high school, they have a
special needs child, and she's a teacher. So she's having to relearn how to
teach kids remotely. So there was a lot of pressure on her to do all that stuff.
By just asking that question, "Hey, what can I do to make this crisis
better," that's the key. First off, if you feel tension, don't let it just
fester. Ask that question. What can I do to make this crisis better? Then
listen to the answer and act on it.
Todd Orston: Great advice. We should do
a podcast on this.
Meriwether: We should. Let's
do it. Yeah, a good idea. I hope that helps. My only regret is I wish we'd
recorded this a week earlier, but hopefully it'll help. If there's been a lot
of tension in your household, go ahead and ask that question. You know what?
Here's another thing. I would think that question would work well for
co-parents. Even if you're divorced and there's a lot of tension between the
two of you, you can ask. Maybe you're ... Again, I was doing something that I
wasn't even thinking about because I was overly hyper-focused on a few things,
but maybe ask your ex-spouse or maybe you weren't married but you've got
children together, your co-parent, "What can I do to make this crisis
better," and act on it.
Todd Orston: You ask those questions.
We'll all get through it. Hopefully what some of those people are saying in
terms of divorce rates doesn't come true and people can just obviously
circumnavigate the COVID-19 waters in a way that maintains a healthy
relationship with their spouses, with their children. Everyone is better for
Meriwether: Yeah. I think
that about wraps up this show, everyone. Thanks so much for listening. I hope
that you're able to act on this. If you think this is great advice and think
this will help somebody, share it with them. Forward this show to them. We're
here to help as many people as we can. We're here to help people going through
divorce. We don't want you to get a divorce, but if there's something we can do
to help you through this time that's within our control, let us know. Email
Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org. If there's something you want to hear about,
you can email me at email@example.com. If there's something you're
dealing with right now whether it be a divorce or parenting time or a struggle
you're having in the marriage, throw it our way. We'd love to see what we can
do to help you.
Todd Orston: Thanks for listening.