You can never get enough advice about relationships and it’s even better you seek advice from wise counsel. The Honorable Keith and Dana Cutler are taking court television to a new level as the husband and wife pair up to help couples work out their issues. MADE caught up with this wise couple for sound information when it comes to infidelity, moving in with your significant other and more…
MADE: We have a few questions regarding situations that a lot of people may find themselves in, so I’ll jump right in. If you suspect that a spouse or significant other is cheating, is it illegal to go through their text messages?
Dana: As far as text messages on phones or DMs, it depends on one thing—Do you own the service? Is it on your Sprint or Verizon account? If it is a service that you are paying the bill for, legally you have a right to it. You can call Verizon up and say, “I wanna know how this phone has been texting. I want to know who this Ipad has been DMing with?” because you’re paying for that service. So even though it may be your boyfriend or girlfriend’s phone, if you’re paying for the service, or the carrier that’s providing data service, you have a right to what you’re paying for. Or if that person has giving you a password, absolutely, you open that door. Is it illegal if you serendipitously got this information, like their password, nobody is coming to arrest you, but it does imped your ability to be trusted and to be trustworthy in a relationship. If you’re at the point where you need to snoop, to get information, that’s just the tip of the iceberg gone bad. So we tell people you shouldn’t be in that position. We came up in a different era. We didn’t have cell phones for me to check. Our son is a millennial and his phone is an open book to his girlfriend. He doesn’t want her to think he’s doing something. I’m not saying that’s appropriate for every couple, but I think every couple should have that conversation about how they’re going to manage their digital space together. What are you comfortable with, what am I comfortable with?
MADE: If you do suspect your partner is cheating, what’s the best way to approach them?
Keith: The best way to approach them is in a calm discussion manner. Not in a accusatory manner, because if you go in with your finger pointing and you’re mad and you’re angry, they’re going to get defensive and you’re not going to get anywhere. So if you suspect your partner is cheating, the best thing to do is try to figure out the best time to try to talk to them about it. Sit down with them and say, I have a concern I need to share with you and I want to talk through this because this is very important to me. And get them to talk about it and not argue about it. If you go in like you’re preparing a court case and you have your evidence and you’re ready to go, then they’re just going to put up defenses. But if you talk with them, and let them know, this is the concern I have, here’s what I’m looking at here’s the email I found, here’s a picture I found and I have a concern about this. Is there something in our relationship that’s causing you to go look elsewhere. Let’s talk about that because I want to resolve this. That’s probably the best approach to to do that. It’s difficult because when you’re the person being cheated on, you’re angry, you’re mad, you’re hurt, embarrassed and out for blood. So I’m not saying that it’s going to be easy to do it that way, but that is the best way to do it.
Dana: Here’s the thing that goes back to managing the digital space together, because just because you have a picture together with somebody, or you send a certain type of message, or a flirty message, in your partner’s mind, that may not be cheating. They may think they’re just being sociable. It’s no different than being in the club and asking a girl to dance or be asked to dance and I dance with another guy or another girl. I’m a social person. So you may be coming at them like, “You’re cheating” and they’re like, “No, I’m just being sociable.” So you want to be careful about how you come to them because in their mind it might not be cheating at all. So if you come in accusing them, then you can’t have that conversation. Now if you have a picture of them laying in bed together, that’s a different animal. You have to be careful because if you haven’t qualified that space, then what you consider cheating and what they consider cheating may be two different animals.
MADE: What should a young couple consider before moving in together?
Dana: This is so funny. Our oldest son and his girlfriend just moved in together about two months ago. He was really concerned that mom and dad were going to say, “This is wrong” but its like, “Look man, you pay your own taxes. I can’t get into that.” I’ll tell you what I told him. When a young lady moves in with you, she is anticipating that this is a stepping stone to something permanent. Most women [think that]. So if you don’t see her as marriageable, do not move her in with you. That’s how you get your tires cut and your windows busted out. You don’t need to be thinking of just June 2018, what are you thinking about June 2020. If you don’t see her as being anyone you can take into your future, don’t bring her into your now. Just don’t and I think that’s the hard questions that young people have to ask themselves. Is this person part of my future? Can I imagine my life without him or her? And if you’re like yeah I can see me at [whatever age] without this person, don’t tie up your finances, and your home and pots and pans, sheets and towels together because it’s just difficult.
Keith: I think the other aspect of this is that when two people move in together, its great at the beginning. But that’s not the time on which should base your decision. You need to base your decision on what it looks like after 3 or 4 months. The first couple of months are great. You’re hanging out all the time. “Yes, honey. Yes, dear. Whatever you say, dear.” But after about 6 to 9 months up to a year, that’s when the real people start coming out. That’s when dishes get left in the sink for two or three days. And if that’s something that bothers you. Then you need to address that issue. They’re not going to automatically change. That’s when the people who don’t leave the laundry in the hamper but on the floor, they picked it up the first couple of months, but then they fall back into their regular habits. So that’s when you really need to look and see is the person, I want to move forward with? And if so, how are we going to address these things that are now driving me crazy that I didn’t see the first couple of months because I was so happy to be moving in together. So my advice to millennials is if you want to move in together, just realize that the first couple of months are going to be great, but after that, that’s when you’re going to see the real person you’re going to be hanging with. That’s what you need to base your decision on.
MADE: What advice would you give to millennials about talking to friends about your relationships?
Keith: That’s an interesting question because we see that a lot in couple’s court. Couples come in and they tell us about their problems and then there’s the friend. There’s the helpful girlfriend and there’s the helpful guy friend. And you tell them everything that’s going on and soon your best girl friend is all in your business, not giving you good advice. You boy over here is talking about what you’re girl isn’t doing and he’s going to steer you to someone else and be very problematic. So we tell couples who come to Couple’s Court to keep people out of your relationship. It’s ok to go to other people for advice. It’s ok to go to other people for advice, but don’t invite them into your relationship and give them all the details and all the lowdown and you’re doing everything they say. That is usually a recipe for disaster.
Dana: The worst thing you can do is take advice about relationships from somebody who hasn’t had a relationship in four years. The other side is that you don’t know if it’s coming from a place of jealousy. They give you advice and you look up and you’re the outsider and they’re the insider.
MADE: This is such great advice, thank you! Finally, what are your three tips for a happy and healthy relationship?
Dana: This is for the ladies: If you have a boyfriend, you are his safe space. When he’s out battling the dragons, he should feel like he can come to you and be say to him, “You ain’t jack. You don’t have a job, etc.” He can get that from the rest of the world. You have to be the place of safety for his heart, if you will. I think we get caught up in what we want our men to be and do and sometimes that makes us say some things that we don’t realize will tear them down internally. And I’m not saying that’s an excuse for guys to go outside of their relationship. You need to be a safe space for your mate. This is the place where he’s going to come and unwind and share. He may not want to share with you if you’re beating him up. People for forget that. It sounds a little old fashioned, but it’s real. This is really one of those areas that I hear men talk about. They come to us for encouragement and support and we’re not there. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we’re not there.
Number 2: Women need to take care of themselves so that they are able to give to another person. If you don’t love and care for you, its hard to love and care for somebody else. Sometimes we get so busy taking care of our kids, our family sometimes we forget to take a afternoon every now and then for you. Don’t forget you. And I think men get that. They like for us to look nice, so go get your hair done, go get your nails done. So I think in the process of taking care of him and the kids, don’t forget to take of yourself.
Keith: Two things I would add to that. One is when you argue, and you will argue, make sure you keep your arguments about the issue at hand. Don’t take it into personality, into name-calling, into belittling the other person because you lose track of what you’re arguing about and you don’t ever resolve the issue. Not only do you not resolve the issue, but you create more issues because now you’ve personally attacked the person. So if you argue about something and you have a genuine dispute, try to keep as focused on the dispute and how to resolve the dispute as possible and not belittling the person and scoring points.
The second thing is a relationship, people like to feel appreciated and in the beginning of a relationship, everybody feels appreciated because everyone is going out of their way to make sure the other person feels appreciated. As time goes on, people tend to do that less. And so, you try to make the other person feel appreciated as time goes on. If you continue to do that, then that will contribute to a healthy a strong relationship because the person feels appreciated and they know you love them.
Check your local listings to catch Couples Court With The Cutlers and follow them @couplescourttv.