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August 14th | ADOPTING AND NAVIGATING NON-TRADITIONAL RELATIONSHIPS
Rick’s guest family lawyer Joel Grandstaff, with Laura Dale & Associates, takes on legal questions from callers. Joel explores what your rights are as a parent in a common-law marriage who wishes to move out of state with their child. Also on the show is Jayna Haney, a therapist who works with stepfamilies, blended families, and single parents with the goal of mending troubled relationships. Hear also from a couple who have taken on a non-traditional experimental approach to a relationship that involves a verbal commit to an exclusive relationship for a year after which they decide if they want to continue being together. What rules and agreements have they set up for themselves? How do they deal with difficult situations, infidelity, exiting the relationship? It’s a varied show within the theme of non-traditional couplings.
Rick: Good morning everybody! And welcome to my show. I’m really that you’re here. It’s Sunday morning, 8:00 o’clock and we’re here on KPRC every Sunday morning at 8:00 AM for Divorce Talk Radio. And this is an opportunity to talk about issues that you might have in a divorce that you went through at some point in your life, maybe one that you’re in the middle of right now or for some of you, maybe you’re thinking about divorce down the road and you want to get some early tips, and that’s why we’re here.
And I’ve got some really fantastic guest on the show. In today’s show, I just want to say again is brought to you by Laura Dale & Associates. She is one of our sponsors. She has got a fantastic firm here in town. They specialized in all things family law, divorce, adoption, relocation, modification.
And with me today is one of her attorneys that works with her, Joel Grandstaff. Joel, welcome to the show.
Joel: Thank you very much, Rick.
Rick: And thanks for getting up so early this morning.
Joel: You’re welcome.
Rick: By the way, before I met Joel, I actually knew your wife.
Rick: And so, how’s Perry doing?
Joel: Perry is doing great.
Rick: Is she listening in on the show this morning?
Joel: Well, I’m going to put it on the radio so yes.
Rick: OK. So tell our listeners, Joel, how the heck you got into family law in the first place.
Joel: Well, I started out life as a teacher and taught six years in elementary, four years in middle school, and four years at the high school level.
Rick: And where did you teach school at?
Joel: I was in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Rick: Indiana, David Letterman, Larry Bird, Michael Jackson, Axel Rose, Ramon Scott, the Indiana who is your fight song on?
Joel: That’s right.
Rick: We try and make all of our guests feel comfortable here, Joel.
Joel: Well, you left out Oscar Robertson.
Rick: Oscar, The Big O, Oscar Robertson.
Joel: The Big O, one of the biggest basketball players in history.
Rick: But probably the best college basketball coach in history who actually gained all of his success on the West Coast in Southern California, John Wooden from UCLA is actually [0:02:43] [Indiscernible], right?
Joel: That’s right. He went to Purdue, unfortunately Purdue. I’m an Indiana grad.
Joel: But yes, he was Indiana’s Mr. Basketball in high school.
Rick: That’s so cool. So you spent some time teaching. Did you go back – are you what’s called the late lawyer?
Joel: Yes. I became a lawyer at 41 years of age.
Rick: OK, so just a couple of years ago.
Joel: Just a couple of years ago.
Rick: You look pretty good. How long you’ve been practicing?
Joel: About 25 years.
Rick: And if any of our listeners have a question for me or for Joel, you can call us this morning, 713-212-5950. You can also listen to our show if you miss it live at the KPRC website which is KPRCRadio.com. You can go down, click on Media and Podcast, click on Divorce Talk Radio and you’ll see the current show.
Before asking another question, Joel, we actually have a caller right now. So I want to see who that is. Hello, Jennifer. Welcome to the show this morning.
Jennifer: Yeah. Thanks, Rick. I appreciate it.
Rick: It’s pretty gutsy on your part to call in because you haven’t really heard too much about our lawyer yet. And so, do you have a legal question this morning?
Jennifer: Yeah, I do. So, I had a child with someone who I never married and she is now six. And I – we have been apart now for a year and I am seeing someone that was in Illinois. My question is, what is the process that I would need to go through in order to move, take her with me. We have never been through a court process. We have been able to work out visitation and child support between ourselves and we generally get along. I have a sense that he would be fighting me on this because he probably wouldn’t want me to take her although he will still have visitation of course but just the distance and so forth is going to add a lot of other moving parts to the situation.
So, from a legal standpoint, what would I have to do and what is his right in terms of how he could sort of “fight” me on this situation?
Joel: Well, Jennifer, you said you’ve been together for five years or six years?
Jennifer: We were together for six years.
Joel: Six years.
Jennifer: Or actually, eight years all together and then we had our child two years into the relationship but we were never married.
Joel: OK. Without any orders in place, any court orders, there really is nothing that prevents you from moving to Illinois. You could move in to Illinois as you please. The problem for you once you move is that he would most likely file something in Texas as soon as he possibly could. Try to get a Texas court, a Harris County, Texas court to bring you back with the child. And that’s possible and that could happen. But without any orders, nothing prevents a person from moving anywhere with her children.
Rick: Now, do you have any type of orders in place or is there anything establishing him as the father of Jordan? Is he on the birth certificate? Anything like that.
Jennifer: He is on the birth certificate, yes. But that’s the only kind of – I mean like I said, we’ve never gone through the court or any kind of filing of anything other than – because we’ve worked out everything between us in regards to child support and visitation and so forth. We’ve been able to do that on our own without the court involvement.
Joel: Listening to your story, if he is on the birth certificate, he filed an acknowledgment of paternity, which has the same effect as a court ordering or a court’s order that says he’s the father of the child.
Joel: So, it would be easy for him to establish that he is the father of the child through an acknowledgment of paternity and also the fact that you lived together and he held the child out as his child for a long period of time. All of those things create a presumption that he is the father of the child.
Joel: But again, without getting an order in place, he has got no way to assert his rights as a parent. The only way he can assert his rights as a parent is to get a court and get an order from the court that outlines exactly what his rights are. So at this point in time again, if you move to Illinois, it would then be – the ball would be in his court and he would have to take action or basically you would be to stay in Illinois.
Rick: You know that expression, Joel, sometimes it’s better to get forgiveness rather than permission. Strategically, is Jennifer better off if she really is intent on moving, is she better off just going to Illinois or is she better off sort of working it out on the frontend just to see what she might be looking at on the back side?
Joel: Well, that one is really impossible to answer without seeing the personalities that you’re dealing with and the attitudes that the people have. If you’ve got a person who has been a devoted father, who has been very involved in the child’s life, you should expect that if you move without talking to him about it and going – seeing what his positions are, I would expect a pretty tough reaction from him on a situation like that and I would expect him to file a suit, paternity suit and ask the court to bring you back here with the child. At least, bring the child back.
Rick: Jennifer, what does he do for a living and has he been a pretty active dad over the last six years?
Jennifer: He has been very active in her life and a good father. And he is an attorney although he is not practicing anymore.
Rick: Do you say he is an attorney.
Joel: We would not hold that against him.
Rick: Not a very good one but an attorney nonetheless.
Jennifer: But he doesn’t practice anymore. He gave that up and he did a startup for another company completely unrelated. And so technically speaking, he is an unemployed which brings me to another problem is that he told me when I moved out a year ago that he could only pay me child support for a year. And I said, “Well, did you know as an attorney that you are actually liable until she is 18?” “Well, I would not have any money after a year because I’m unemployed and this business would not generate any money for I don’t know how long, if at all.”
So my next contention is that, “Well, if I can only get a job in Illinois to support me and my daughter, if you’re not going to give me any financial support then I have to go wherever I can to get a job because I haven’t had a very good luck here finding work, full-time work. I do freelance.
And so another sort of point to move to Illinois is that there are potentially job opportunities with connections that I have there that would make it a little bit easier for me to get a full-time position. And if he’s saying, well, he’s not going to pay me any child support then I would think that that would be something that would be in sort of my favor.
Rick: Jennifer, we’re going to have to go to a break so if you’ll stick around with us, we’re going to take our break and then we’ll come back on the other side and Joel will answer your question about child support. Fair enough?
Jennifer: Sounds good.
Rick: All right. Well, you’re listening to Divorce Talk Radio. This is Rick Goldberg. Stick around we’ll be right back after this break.
Rick: Welcome back everyone to Divorce Talk Radio. This is Rick Goldberg. Man, I love that Louis C.K. bit on divorce. It’s so funny. Ramon, thank you for playing that this morning. With me this morning is Joel Grandstaff, an attorney with Laura Dale & Associates who is also sponsoring our show. A big shout-out to Laura. She is probably up at her ranch this weekend having a good time with her husband.
And a little bit later in the show, we were going to hear from Jayna Haney who is kind of a regular with the show. Jayna specializes – she is a therapist who specializes in step families, blended families, and of course, she’ll correct me if I don’t say it, single parents, right?
Rick: So Jayna, thanks for coming. Good morning.
Jayna: Good morning.
Rick: If you didn’t – if you weren’t with us the first segment, we have a caller, Jennifer, who has had some really interesting situations come up for her, wanting to relocate from Texas up to Illinois. And she has got another kind of follow-up question for Joel around child support and the fact that her husband is now saying, “Hey, I could pay you for a year, baby, but I just got no more money.” It’s kind of what we call the Jewish flu. When you have the Jewish flu, you have pneumonia. You got no money.
So, Jennifer, what’s up with that? He doesn’t want to pay child support anymore. Is that what I’m hearing?
Jennifer: Well, he hasn’t – he told me that a year ago when I moved out that he would only be able to pay me for a year. But it’s coming up on the year in September and so I am afraid to sort of bring it up. I want to wait until he has done something because I don’t want to make it easy for him to say, “Oh no! Yeah, you’re right. I don’t have the money.” So I’m sort of waiting for him. So, that’s probably obviously a lot of anxiety for me because I have no idea if I’m going to be able to afford to stay in my apartment or not.
Rick: So Joel, what is she to do?
Joel: Well, the only way that she can assure of getting child support is to file paternity action and actually get the court involved in their lives and have the court make the basic rules that a court makes when you’re talking about children. Child support will be ordered. There’s virtually no way to get out of child support in Texas. So if you’re unemployed and you’re not voluntarily underemployed or unemployed, in that case, they’ll probably set it at probably at the minimum wage in that area.
Rick: And so, if you’re at that minimum wage, how much a month will that be required to pay a month?
Joel: Of the top of my head, I’m trying to think what it is right now. I think it’s about $280.
Rick: OK, 280 bucks.
Joel: Two hundred Eighty bucks a month. Now, there are so many issues that go into whether the court reduces the child support or not. Like I said, if you’re voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court could set the child support at what they think you should be making and basically giving you an incentive to go back to work. But he doesn’t get off the hook on child support.
Rick: Now, if Jennifer takes him back to court on child support, how is that going to impact her wanting to potentially move to Illinois?
Joel: Well, it’s clear she’s caught in rock and a hard spot here because she has got no rules in place at all so there’s nothing to enforce. So what – the problem is this. If she files a paternity action here in Harris County, the courts here most likely would restrict her to Harris County if dad is an actively involved father. That’s what they would probably do. You would have to have an extraordinarily good reason to take the child to Illinois. So that’s the big dilemma you have.
The problem is if you go to Illinois without anything in place, there’s no way to force him to do anything. You can’t make him pay child support. You can’t make him do anything because there are no orders for a court to enforce. If he allowed you to go to Illinois and you stayed there for a period of more than six months, then the jurisdiction over the child would switch to Illinois. But you’re damn blind that he’s going to let you go to Illinois for a period of six months without throwing a fit here in Harris County and asking a court to bring you back.
Rick: Well, Jennifer, hopefully if you’ve learned anything this morning, it’s important to have a good attorney giving you a good solid advice as you move through this process. And I just want to wish you the best of luck in whichever direction you go. Really appreciate, Jennifer, calling in this morning.
Joel, have you run across that before, people in similar situations?
Joel: Many times.
Rick: And so, what’s – if you were just going to give some global advice to people who are in relationships, never been married, with kids, what should they be doing to maybe document things up a little bit tighter?
Joel: Well, my advice to anybody is don’t fly by the seat of your pants. And that’s what people who never go to court with their kids, that’s what they’re doing. And the problem is that if the couples break up, you’re going to have to have court intervention in it. And I think when you do things informally, you almost always at some point in time will run into some sort of trouble.
So my advice to people is go to court, get a court to set down the rules, the guidelines. If you get married, they will make exceptions to the various rules they put in place. But if you have no rules, to me, down the line, you’re just asking for trouble.
Rick: And thank you, Joel. Jayna, what’s in store for this little 6-year-old if mom decides to pick up and move and now be, I don’t know how many miles it is between here in Chicago, but what’s in store for that little girl? What kind of things is she going to have to deal with with that move?
Jayna: Well, she is probably going to feel confused. She may feel – she maybe – she may have a number of feelings that kind of compete. She may feel excited that she’s going to be going someplace new with her mom. She may be sad that she is going to have to not live next to her dad. And depending upon her temperament, she may be very resilient and be just fine understanding that she will still see her father sometimes but not all the time as she does now.
On the other hand, if she has a more sensitive temperament then she may really, really struggle with feeling like he abandoned them or the mother is taking her away from the dad. So a lot depends upon the child’s temperament but it also depends on how the mother explains it to the child in a way that’s really healthy and helpful.
Rick: And you’re working with a lot of single parents, right?
Jayna: I do.
Rick: And so, do you work with parents who struggle including the child’s other parent in the picture?
Jayna: All the time.
Rick: And so, in a situation like this, my cent about Jennifer is that she is having a hard time wanting to kind of maybe confront the situation. If she was here with us, what advice could you give her?
Jayna: Well, as Joel said, a lot depends on the temperament or the personality of herself and her ex-partner and how they communicate. But the bigger issue is that she has got to think in terms of what is best for her child but she is also got to see how this plays out. So she has got to look at that, “If I do this, this is what happens. If I do that, this is what happens.”
But the bigger issue is, is that she is – is that it’s just a difficult way in which to approach things and she is kind of – it’s a guessing game. And so, the best thing for her to do is to really think about what she wants and what is the most important thing and then to try to plan from there.
Ideally though, whenever you’re dealing with your ex, whether they’re a high conflict, whether they’re pretty easy going, if you approach it usually from a standpoint of mutual respect, it will take you a long way. Doing things at the last minute, springing things on them or whatever is only good in situations where you know they’re going to be really difficult.
Rick: If you’re just tuning in this morning, I’m Rick Goldberg and you’re listening to Divorce Talk Radio, sponsored in part by Laura Dale & Associates, one of the preeminent family law firms here in town. We’re on every Sunday morning at 8:00 AM. And joining me also today is Joel Grandstaff, an attorney at Laura Dale’s office.
Joel, in your opinion, what’s like the big reason people are getting divorced? What’s at the top of the list that you see?
Joel: Well, that’s a really tough one.
Rick: Glad I don’t ask the easy ones.
Joel: Yeah. I mean you’re talking about the – I think today that the expectation of going through hard times, going through the difficulties, I don’t think people today marry with the idea that this is through thick and thin, through health and all the other problems, financial problems that occur. And I think that what I see a lot in family law is that one of the people will give up on the marriage. Leave the marriage. Usually start a relationship with somebody else while they’re still married instead of ending the marriage and then starting a relationship.
Rick: So Jayna, when someone does that, they give up on the marriage, and I know you’ve had to have seen that in your practice, if that couple was in here and you had a chance to facilitate them a little bit, I mean what could you get them to do to keep one of them from wanting to give up on the marriage?
Jayna: Well, I think the goal is to help couples understand that they were – as a general rule, they were brought together for a reason. There are things about the other person that attracted them. And what I have learned myself in my own life is that we tend to repeat our mistakes. We tend to – the issue is if you don’t work through the issues with this person you’re married to now, you will get divorced. And then what will – unless you do a lot of deep seated work which most people don’t do, then when you remarry, you will find yourself somewhat back in some of the same power struggles and the same situations. There is a saying, “Wherever you go, there you are.”
And so in this case, it’s worth it to stay in there and try to work through some of the issues in your marriage because we think that if we give up and we get out that it’s a relief. But very soon then you’re wondering, “Gosh! Well, that was a relief I’m not in a relationship but I still have to communicate with that person. I still have to share my child with that person. I still have to find ways to resolve issues.” And so quite frankly, divorce doesn’t give us the freedom we think it does.
Rick: Thank you, Jayna. We are at the 50-yard line and we are halfway through our show. We’re going to take another break. And I want to encourage you to stay tune. And when we come back, we’re going to listen to a couple who is going to be calling in who have sort of pioneered a whole new way of coupleship. So stay tune and we’ll be right back.
Rick: Welcome back everybody to Divorce Talk Radio. I’m Rick Goldberg. We’re on KPRC 950 on your AM dial and Ramon in the booth mixing the show up. Lacey is back there assisting. And in the studio with me, Joel Grandstaff, from the law firm of Laura Dale & Associates, one of the fine Houston family law firms, and Jayna Haney, a therapist here at The Lovett Center specializing in step and blended and single family relationships.
And if you’re with us last segment, I told you that we have a couple that was going to call in and indeed they have. They’re from Austin and they have sort of pioneered, I want to use the word, pioneer but they’re probably not the first to have done it but it’s working well for them, a really unique approach to relationships and coupling. With me is Daniel and Sarah. Are you all there?
Rick: Welcome to the show.
Sarah: Thank you.
Rick: Hey. Tell us and you all decide who you want to go first. We’ll see how this relationship really works. Tell us a little bit about the dynamic of your relationship and how you came together? Because what I understand is that you all make basically a contract with one another for when your commitment and you practice being in obviously an exclusive relationship for that year. And at the end of the year, you talked about things that are working, not working and then decide if you want to move forward.
Give our listeners a little overview as to how it came it to be and how it’s working and we’ll have fun. We’ll go from there.
Sarah: All right. Daniel, do you want me to speak or do you want to speak?
Daniel: I can go first if you don’t want to go first.
Rick: You guys are so kind and considerate.
Sarah: Go ahead.
Rick: Daniel, you go first.
Daniel: Great. So, I’ve been married before and I really am is not that interested in having that kind of an end of life kind of an agreement. However, Sarah and I are so well-suited for each other and we had from the get-go, well, an argument in our date, which opened up a great opportunity to discuss things immediately and value that I think that that was probably a precursor to us moving into a verbal agreement. It’s not a written agreement. It’s a verbal agreement because we’re older and we wanted to really tailor-make an agreement or at least a relationship structure that was contemporary but did have some of the earmarks of something traditional at least to exclusivity and commitment and faithfulness. So I think that was how it started.
Rick: Daniel, I heard a little laughter from Sarah. I don’t know if it’s related to once you said you all were older enough. But Sarah, what was that response from you and what can you add in?
Sarah: Well, he said we’re a little older and maybe that’s true, older. I think we may be a little wiser but we’re still pretty young at heart.
Rick: Well, there you go.
Sarah: But what I wanted to bring up is that we felt something pretty strong when we first met. And I had been involved when I moved in Los Angeles with a group of women, and one of the women, she really liked this guy and we did a ceremony at the beach and it was called a handfasting. And it’s a pagan – it comes from a pagan ritual.
But the term handfasting actually came out more in the fully Christian era when paganism kind of went away. Still, people talked about this handfasting. And I think this really is it’s a year and a day and it somewhat like an engagement but it’s just like a try it on for size let’s see if this is a good match. And so, we decided to do it for a year and a day.
Rick: And so, how many years and how many days are you into the coupleship now?
Sarah: Well, we’ve been together for four years but we’ve done this handfasting thing for two rounds.
Sarah: And like Daniel said, it’s a verbal agreement but when we finished the first round, we were kind of busy in our lives and we didn’t have the time to kind of reflect on like what was good, what was bad. So we kind of delayed it another month or two because I think there was Christmas or something so that we have the time to start up again because the most important thing about this handfasting is it’s like a ritual. You’re saying, “OK, I want this year to go this way. Here’s what the plan is.” And be accountable and see, well, did it go that way, was it good, and like that.
Rick: So Daniel, how has it been for you since you had been married before, didn’t want to go get into the same traditional until death do us part forever and ever drink that Kool-Aid kind of a thing? How is it working for you?
Daniel: Well, I think there’s an old term that says, “The master has failed more times the novice has even attempted.” So maybe being married and divorced before and not being married more than just once but feeling I was divorced several times throughout my adult life when it came to relationships that what I like about our experience is that it’s not a carbon copy of last year. Our first year was it’s almost like rewriting the document even though it wasn’t written. It was verbal. It’s like we did not want the first year to look like – or the second year to look like the first year.
And so what we want more of – so it was a new original and I hark it back to the early days with men’s movement in Houston where I was living at the time and as men got up to speak about relationships, about marriage in particular, it opened up I think that he has been married 13 times. And we all rolled our eyes and looked at each other like, “Why are listening to this guy?” And he said, “Well, I’ve been married 13 times to the same woman. We just had to recreate our relationship that many times.”
So, that idea of recreating or creativity and starting with a new original is I think the core of not only our wisdom and wise but our youthful energy so that we enjoy liberation within the structure of commitment. And I think that’s probably the most exciting thing about relationship is having both of those, the security and structure of commitment and then having freedom and liberation so I don’t feel like I’m being deprived from my life if I was free to do things as a single person.
Rick: That’s very cool. Jayna, you have a question for them.
Jayna: Well first, I just want to say that I think it’s great that you all were so intentional and mindful about what you wanted your relationship to be and that you didn’t allow what others thought your relationship should be or how you should do it to enter in. So because a lot of it is just the two of you, right? So if you’re happy and it’s a healthy relationship then that is the very best thing. So that’s the first thing I want to say.
The second thing I would like to know though is, so it’s not written but it’s verbal. So do you have specific areas that you talk about or do you have five rules you live by or can you give us a little bit more of the format?
Rick: What are some of the secret sauce because there are a lot of our listeners – by the way, we’re up to about 45 or so thousand listeners on Sundays I’m told. Maybe they’re trying to get the price up, I don’t know, for our advertisers. But there’s a lot of married people who listen and people that are in relationships. So share with them some of your secret sauce so to speak as to how you get through difficult situations, how you stick in with each other, what you all do.
Sarah: Well, one of the most important things – back to Jayna’s question which was like what are some of the structure like the rules of engagement? I think the first thing that was important to me and I don’t know why this is so important but I just told Daniel, I said, “Daniel, if while you’re dating me, you ever want to be with someone else,” I said, “don’t you ever be with me and try to be with someone else.” I’m like, “What I would prefer you do is tell me what’s up and then leave me. I would much rather have you leave me if you want to be with someone else.”
And I don’t know if it’s because something deep in my heart says betrayal would be the very worst thing. And so I’m like, “I got to be clear about this.” And he felt very much the same. He is like, “Yes, I can do that.” And I’m like, “OK. Then I can be in a relationship with this man.” Because duplicity just seems like the complete opposite of a marriage or handfasting. So because you can get out of it, it’s like, “Dude, just – if you need to get out of this, let me know so that I get to have my autonomy and I get to do what I need to do. But don’t keep something in your pocket and then try to do something else over someone.”
So that was like the strongest tool and maybe even the secret sauce is that there is a door out because I think when I think about happily ever after, I think my mind goes numb and I think I get scared that like who can do happily ever after? Like no one can. I mean it’s such a fairytale. I mean we can only do this day. We can do this next moment. And so somehow, it just seems like bite size piece to be a year and a day and then renegotiate.
Rick: No, I get you. We’re going to stop right here for a minute but when we come back from our break, we’re going to continue this discussion. You all are going to have your phones on mute while you’re not talking so we don’t get that Austin breeze sound coming through. This is Rick Goldberg with Divorce Talk Radio right here on 950 KPRC.
Rick: Welcome back everybody. This is the final segment of Divorce Talk Radio here on KPRC. I’m Rick Goldberg and thank you for listening to our show this morning. We’ve been on the air almost about four months now and we are continuing to have a blast. If you are with us the last segment, you tuned into here Daniel and Sarah from Austin and we’re going to pick back up with them. But I’m going to tell you a little story about something I said the other day.
And I was on the phone with one of my best friends and I was talking about my relationship and he was asking me, “You know you sound like a really happy with what’s working in our relationship.” And the woman that I’ve been seeing, she was I thought sort of out of earshot distance and I told him, I said, “Really one of the best parts of the relationship is that when I have – when we both have challenging issues to talk about, is that I know that I can really speak my heartfelt truth to her and I don’t have to withhold anything and I know she’ll hear me and I know that she’ll be there at the end of the conversation.”
And I have to admit, I haven’t really felt that way too many times in my life where I had a partner that can really hold space for me like that and we can really go into some challenging areas and I can come out of them and know she’s going to be there for me. So, a great feeling.
And to sort of round this out, I got off the call and she says, “Hey, I just want to tell you I wasn’t like eavesdropping but I overheard your conversation and I want you to know that was the nicest thing that you didn’t say to me.” And so then it like led to just another really nice hour of good, deep conversation on that and other topics. So it’s really nice to be in relationship with someone that one can talk to.
Speaking of talking, Daniel and Sarah, are you still with us?
Daniel: We’re here.
Sarah: Yes, sir.
Rick: All right. Cool. So, welcome back. We’ve got about another 7, 8 minutes before we’re going to wrap the show today. I think what we’re all sitting on pins and needles here, we are talking on the break, Joel and Jayna and I is what are your agreements and what do you think you might – well, first, let’s just start with there. What are you agreements and then just a little hint of do you think you’re going to be changing any of those on your renewal next year? So, what are the agreements, guys?
Daniel: Well, I think Sarah alluded to a couple of the agreements. And one is there is marked exit in those – we all lift and to be clear why we would leave the relationship rather than doing something sideways. Second is commitment, faithfulness within the agreement.
The other thing, the agreement I’ve experienced is more of a real-time agreement is that I own my stuff and she owns her stuff. And I want to say the other word but I’m not going to. And what that means is, is that when there is a charge or emotional energy bigger than maybe the little offense that one or the other person may have committed, we tie to maybe there’s something else that’s coming up that we get to work through.
So a lot of that is – I think an agreement is, is to look at the emotional energy between what’s happening in the moment and how much of that is an opportunity to clean up something that maybe 30 years old or 40 years old. And that’s what I wanted. That’s an agreement that we have.
And finally or at least the next point before I yield to Sarah is that when I met Sarah the first time, I went through her library and I was like, “Oh my God! This woman spent some work.” And she was in a shadow group, young, looking at the shadow, those things we hide, repressed and denied. She had done that kind of work and I had done that kind of work. So we were already on a different level of understanding that relationship is a spiritual commitment and it will bring up things that are not all about the love through an oxytocin and the rescue fantasy and all that stuff so that we can work through it.
And so, we have a clear agreement that this is an experiment but also a place for us to grow emotionally and spiritually. And it doesn’t have to be comfortable all the time.
Rick: What do you two like to do for fun?
Daniel: Ping pong.
Rick: Ping pong.
Sarah: Barton Springs.
Rick: Barton Springs.
Daniel: Watching a lot of Joseph Campbell and their experience video.
Rick: Isn’t Joseph Campbell the sort of the creator of The Hero’s Journey?
Rick: You guys are just youngians, aren’t you?
Daniel: We’re youngians at heart.
Rick: Youngian at heart. So have you started contemplating yet what it might look like if you begin to purchase any assets together, maybe a home and then how you might sort of deal with that if you decide not to renew an agreement down the road? I want to sort of get Joel in on something like that. But have you all thought about that at all?
Sarah: Yes. Why don’t I take that part?
Rick: A decisive woman. I like that.
Sarah: The way that we deal with it is we come into the partnership equally and we pay equally. But as far as the housing goes, I think I have – Daniel owned the house before and I have never owned a house. And I have – I would like to own a house but Daniel, it’s not so important to him. So I am just starting to look into how I could do that by myself. And is it even possible?
And then he would, if I’m thinking this is – if I could find something that’s at the right price rate, he would pay rent like he would if we were living together like right now, we live in a really cute apartment. And so it would be – I mean truly, it is separate. It is separate until we decide if we decide that we would want to become married.
Rick: Got you. Got you.
Jayna: Well, you know – go ahead, Sarah. I’m sorry.
Sarah: Oh, I was just going to say, when I was younger, I definitely thought I wanted some man to kind of save me and have the house and I did it overall these years. And I never met a man so far that I wanted to marry and Daniel is actually the first person I’ve ever lived with and I’m 51. And I lost my train of thought there for a second.
Jayna: Well, let me say while you’re thinking that I think a lot of reason why this works for you all though is because you’ve obviously put a lot of thought and time into it. And also, you both came to the table with a full part of who you were.
Jayna: You each know who you were. You had done a lot of your own internal work. And so, you came to the table and you were both whole, complete and undivided within yourselves and then you were able to – and that’s always what makes the best relationships is when you can both join up but also still be your own person and still deal with your own experiences. And so yeah, I think it – obviously it works great for you guys and I’m thrilled to see how intentional you are about everything.
And I think you probably have rock start sex. Sorry, Rick, I stepped over your line.
Rick: A couple of yogis having a rock star – I don’t know if we could say rock star sex on the show now.
Sarah: Wait. Let me just speak on this. Here’s this fantasy thing I think when you’re younger that like some person is going to – you’re going to find them.
Jayna: Prince charming.
Sarah: And they’re going to make everything better. And the thing that’s kind of cool about two people being equally invested even financially is I know other women who are friends of mine, the men pay for more stuff but then they feel beholden to the man in some way. And so, there’s something really clear about …
Rick: A partnership.
Sarah: … we give what we – there’s reciprocity and we give what we can give. But there’s not like someone gave and then someone feels like they have to give even though they don’t want to.
Joel: On your issue with your house, it’s really a very simple issue for you.
Joel: There’s nothing complicated about it at all. You’re not married. Therefore if you purchase a house in your name, on your credit, and you are the person on the note, it is one hundred percent your house. The only time the community presumption arises if it is – if a marriage exists. If both of you agree you’re not married and either one of you can go out and purchase a house in their name then it’s your house, the person that purchases it.
Rick: The nice part about what you all are doing given the divorce rate and the breakup rate is you decide at some point that you don’t want to be together then it’s kind of an easy dissolution. It probably takes a couple of weeks to find a new place, get your stuff out, and you don’t have the incredible cost and expense of going through a divorce. You don’t get to hire a handsome guy like Joel here to represent you and talk to you on a daily basis, therapist like Jayna.
It’s a lot just easier and cleaner. And there’s something to be said for that and there’s something we said for making the commitment and plunging in. And that’s why really, there’s no right or wrong in this scenario. It’s really whatever works for any individual.
I want to thank you both. We are out of time with our show today. It has been great. It’s always so much fun. Sometimes I dread when I’m driving over here at 6:37 in the morning, “Oh gosh! I got to wake up. Do the show.” And I got to tell you, there hasn’t been a time yet where I haven’t really loved it and enjoyed it. And I’m just glad we can talk about divorce and not make it a dirty word. We could talk about it, what it brings up for us, and have open discussions.
So, until next week, this is Rick Goldberg with …
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