Jim Duzak | Live on Sound Authors
February 28, 2009
Dr. Kent: Welcome to Sound Authors! Today on the show as always I have three author guests and one musician and as a little preview I’ll tell you about the upcoming guests. The third guest on the show will be Nina Burleigh and she’s got a book called Unholy Business: A true tale of faith greed and forgery in the holy land, that will be an exciting one talking about the ossuaries in Jerusalem and things like that. The second guest on the show I’m very excited to chat with Garen Thomas who is the author of Yes We Can: A biography of Barack Obama, and of course that’s a great book to look at these days with our new president in office for about three weeks and at the end of the show we’re going to chat with Snowblink, a great duo out of Canada. Right now, my first guest on the show is Jim Duzak. He’s the Attorney at Love, and of course this is the week of love, its valentine’s week and the book is called Midlife Divorce and the Rebirth of Commitment. Welcome to the show Jim Duzak.
Jim Duzak: Well thank you very much Dr. Kent, its great to be on.
Dr. Kent: So tell me a little bit; you’ve been dealing with marriage and divorce and all that and all the issues surrounding relationships for quite a while.
Jim Duzak: Well that’s right I guess you could say both personally and professionally as a 28 year husband and father and I worked at a fairly young age also and a single father afterwards. Meanwhile I was in law school and married my second wife as a result of meeting through a personal ad. I’ve been a divorce lawyer, a divorce mediator and it’s been a lot of different ways of approaching men and women relationships.
Dr. Kent: So tell me about this book Midlife Divorce and the Rebirth of Commitment. Of course we all know a lot of people that hit middle age and say this isn’t it for me anymore and they get divorced, so what does this mean rebirth of commitment?
Jim Duzak: Well the commitment part I think is crucial to the book and what I’m saying is that they don’t necessarily have to get divorced in order to make a commitment nor do they just have to stay in their marriage and make a blind commitment to their marriage no matter how unsatisfying that marriage may be. What I’m saying is that people need to make a commitment to themselves to live what I call an authentic life. A life that’s true to your own core values, whatever those values might be. I don’t try to tell people what they should believe and what everyone should do but what I found over the years is that so many people lose their sense of identity when they get married. They’d be less married to a partnership and so forth but it’s, you don’t stop being yourself, or at least you shouldn’t stop being yourself.
Dr. Kent: So Valentines Day is coming up so speaking of not stopping being yourself, it is a confusing day for most men. What exactly do those fellows go out a do? Do you go buy the proverbial flowers, the necklace; do you just be a nice guy for a day and then go back to normal life? What’s this thing about Valentines Day in our culture?
Jim Duzak: Well here’s what I have to say. There’s no question that Valentines Day with all the hype associated with it and needing attention, it puts a lot of pressure on both men and women for different reasons and I can certainly sympathize with men feeling they’re being manipulated and so forth but I have two things to say. If you have a woman in your life and she means something to you, chances are that she does look at Valentines Day as something that’s important. For one day go along with it and make her happy and take her to a nice place. If she’s worth being in your life, she’s worth splurging on. But the other thing is though that I feel Valentines Day should be the once a year event.
I mean literally it is but any more than say mothers day or fathers day should just be a once a year you know paying attention to mom and then forgetting about her. I think to make the spirit of valentines day to come through people, both men and women need to do little things every day to keep it going and you said before just go back to your old habits and that’s precisely what people should NOT do. Its true you don’t have to go out necessarily and spend a fortune 365 nights a year and I don’t recommend that but if you do little things that you just work into your daily routine that will enhance the romance in your life without breaking the bank.
Dr. Kent: So what is the working relationship and what’s the difference between I guess in this book you talk about midlife divorce. What’s the difference between young people falling in love, middle age people falling in love? The first time, the second time the twelfth time?
Jim Duzak: Well, you would like to think that people learn from their mistakes and middle aged people would be maybe a little more careful, a little more discerning and that probably is the case. The flip side of that though I think is that when people who have gone through a tough divorce or they’re in their 40s or 50s or 60s, and they’re starting out all over again in the dating world, oftentimes they try too hard to especially very early in the relationship I mean as early as the first date to make sure that everything is right this time.
They want to be absolutely sure that whatever the problems were last time around won’t be a problem this time and I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to want to avoid making the mistakes of the past. You certainly want to do that but I think most people put too much pressure on the first couple of dates. They are so concerned about is this person right for me for the long term that they don’t even have any fun and unfortunately a lot of people that might otherwise have been a perfectly good match for them might get scared off. A lot of first dates these days between middle age people feel more like a legal deposition than a date. There’s all these questions and you can tell that the questions are there to try to exclude you or get rid of you from the list as you answer them wrong. It’s not much fun.
Dr. Kent: So you talk about also strategies for improving a marriage, how to be different, you’ve got a workshop entitled Marital Boot camp for Men. What is the key to a successful marriage?
Jim Duzak: Its sort of a variation of what I said before. My philosophy of life really is little things repeated often and for men in particular, those little things start with simply paying attention. So many women complain that “he’s always got his face in the computer screen when I try to talk to him” or there’s the guy who never compliments his wife. Before you can compliment her you have to notice, you have to pay attention that she got her hair cut today or that she’s wearing something you’ve never seen before. You have to get in the habit of noticing and then not just relying on the fact that well she knows I love her or she knows I think she’s beautiful, just say it. Say it once in awhile. Yes, she may at some level know that you care but we all like these little reminders that it really is still true and that’s typically the problem with men. That they don’t pay attention to the little things and if they would just do that, in most cases the big things will take care of themselves.
Dr. Kent: What kind of big things are we talking about?
Jim Duzak: The big things could be for example the fantasy about having an affair. I’m absolutely convinced that particularly for women, when women have affairs nine times out of ten its not she’s in search of better sex, she’s in search of somebody who will pay attention to her and appreciate her and treat her nice, treat her with respect. Most of the time, the kind of woman who has an affair is not really waking up someday and saying I want to have an affair but she meets somebody who seems to treat her the way that she feels she should be treated and quite frankly most people that have affairs would rather not be looking elsewhere.
I’m not trying to justify people who have affairs, I’m not saying just because there’s justification for it but I understand the motivation and other big issues might be money problems. Getting into big arguments over your spending habits and so forth and a lot of times if you had just expressed yourself over little things that come up in this area you wouldn’t get to the point where you’re $30,000 in debt on your credit cards but a lot of people just try to avoid conflict and they say well you know this is a problem but maybe it’ll go away and maybe it’ll get better, but usually it doesn’t.
Dr. Kent: I’ve heard a couple situations that just pop to mind that are timely right now. One is that a lot of soldiers that have been deployed for a long time will come back and their marriages will fall apart. The suicide rate is actually very high based on part of that and then there’s these economic times, most put serious strains on relationships. Are there ways to get through that? It’s interesting to think about that on Valentines Day.
Jim Duzak: Yeah I mean its not a pleasant thought but there’s no question that military marriages in particular are very high stress situations and because your combining a number of things that are in and of themselves high stress. The fact that most military people is a in some sense a predictor of divorce. Generally speaking the younger you are when you get married the more likely it is that your marriage will end in divorce and a lot of couples are people that got married in their late teens, early 20s, late 20s and the couples are used to being separated for a long time and certainly separation can be a huge stress if people aren’t properly prepared for it. Not to mention all the temptations that go with it.
The wife whose left behind who’s trying to raise kids without the father and all that kind of thing. There’s no easy answer to that; all I can say is I know there are a lot of military spouse support groups out there and I would say to anybody listening who is a member of the military, I would just urge them first of all you’re not alone. What you’re going through, thousands and thousands of other military families are going through so try to find support within your peer group.
Dr. Kent: Then there’s another thing happening now. My next guest of course is a biographer of Barack Obama and the new president and first lady really love each other and set such a beautiful example for African American communities that really need like an infusion of some of that positivity as well as all of us in these times.
Jim Duzak: Absolutely and all politics aside, one of the things I remember reading something Mrs. Obama said a few months ago when she was interviewed for a magazine. She said they have always considered their date nights to be something inviolatable. In other words, whether it’s Saturday night, Friday night or whatever it is, I don’t know if they’re still doing it in the Whitehouse.
Dr. Kent: They are, I heard on the news they had taken a valentines date night.
Jim Duzak: And that’s a wonderful thing! They insist on nothing interfering with it and it’s a matter of importance to them and their little girls are growing up in that kind of environment where they can see that there’s nothing more important to daddy or mommy than the two of them and these are wonderful things to see. Again, all politics aside, you may or not agree with him politically but I think he’s a wonderful example for all of this.
Dr. Kent: Absolutely. So let’s talk about this book for one minute; Midlife Divorce and the Rebirth of Commitment. Why did you decide to write a book? Where can we find it? What else can we find and all that?
Jim Duzak: The easiest ways is to go to any of the major online booksellers like Amazon, or you can go on my website, which is www.attorneyatlove.com and you can read excerpts from all seventeen chapters of my book on my website as well as get direct links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all the rest. So that would be the easiest way to learn about it.
Dr. Kent: What inspired you to write the book in the first place?
Jim Duzak: As I said earlier almost 40 years or so of dealing with men and women relationships from just about every angle but particularly in the last few years especially when I was doing a lot of divorce mediation as a full time mediator for the divorce court in phoenix. I just have seen so many couples who had given up on their marriage prematurely in my opinion. My job was not to try to bring them back together per se although there were many cases where I sort of hinted that they might’ve been a little bit rash in filing for divorce after only being married a month or two and I had cases like that.
But I really do feel that a lot of people didn’t know how to deal with conflict or were just uncomfortable with all the accommodations you have to make when you live with someone else and a lot of them had unrealistic ideas about what marriage would be and so forth and I just felt that I tried to reach people who maybe hadn’t given marriage a try. Maybe hadn’t tried a lot of suggestions that I make about how to find the satisfaction you’re looking for within their marriage without settling for less. I don’t believe in that either. I don’t think you should stay in a horrible marriage; oh this is my fate in life. I honestly believe that most divorces are unnecessary. Not all but most could probably have been worked out to the mutual satisfaction of the couple.
Dr. Kent: So we’ve been speaking with the attorney at love, his website is attorneyatlove.com and his book is Midlife Divorce: The Rebirth of Commitment. It’s been such a pleasure chatting with Jim Duzak.
Jim Duzak: Well thank you Dr. Kent, I really enjoyed it.
Dr. Kent: My next guest on the show as I mentioned earlier is Garen Thomas. She’s the author of Yes We Can: A biography of Barack Obama so come on back for that and we’ll enjoy chatting with her.