Dr. Robin Stern: Welcome to The Gaslight Effect podcast. I'm Robin Stern, co-founder and associate director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, and author of the bestselling book, The Gaslight Effect. I'm an educator and a psychoanalyst, but first and foremost, I'm a wife, a mother, a sister, aunt, and healer. And just like many of you, I was a victim of gaslighting. Please join me for each episode as I interview fascinating guests and explore the concept of gaslighting. You'll learn what it truly means to be gaslighted, how it feels, how to recognize it, and how to understand it, and ultimately how to get out of it.
Dr. Robin Stern: Before we begin, I want you to know that talking about gaslighting can bring up challenging and painful emotions. Give yourself permission to feel them. Some of you may wanna go more deeply with your emotions. While some of you may hold them more lightly, no matter what you're feeling, know that your emotions are a guide to your inner life. Your emotions are sacred and uniquely you respect and embrace them for they have information to give you. If you want to listen to other episodes of The Gaslight Effect podcast, you can find firstname.lastname@example.org or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for being here with me.
Dr. Robin Stern: Welcome everyone to this episode of the Gaslight Effect podcast. I'm thrilled today to be joined by friend and colleague, Evan Schein, who is, uh, a lawyer in New York dealing with marriages, divorces, prenups, and gaslighting throughout. Um, gaslighting is not his only specialty. However, uh, I think it's wonderful, Evan, that you are out there as, um, deeply knowledgeable and experienced as you are, and as I know you are from our last, uh, episode together in dysregulated dysfunctional marriages that end in divorce, of course, and gaslighting in particular. So I welcome you back and would love to, to hear what's been on your mind and what you've seen since we recorded our last episode, uh, which was I think in March or April, is that right?
Evan Schein: It feels like it was yesterday. And Robin, I have to tell you, I I'm thrilled to be back, uh, you know, with you, with all your listeners on the podcast. And I have to tell you, following the conversation and discussion that the two of us had on your podcast, which I absolutely love, it was eye-opening. And even as an attorney and someone who deals in situations like this and lives it and breathes it with my clients on an almost daily basis when they're going through divorce, transition, life altering times in their life. For me following that podcast, what was incredible is I received a few phone calls, and one of the phone calls I received was someone who heard our, heard our, our episode, someone who listened to the episode, someone who was going through an extraordinarily tough time in their life, in their marriage, in their family's situation.
Evan Schein: And you realize the powerful, powerful this of, of podcasts of conversations, when people can talk about certain behaviors about gaslighting and someone who's listening could appreciate that they're not alone, that this happens, and they can put a name to things that that person might be experiencing in their life, in their family, in their marriage. Hearing that from someone since we spoke last was so rewarding because again, it's, it's podcasts like this. It's, it's what you do, it, it, it's, you're making a difference and you're calling attention to behavior. You're calling attention to such incredibly important topics and things that people should be aware of, people know about, and you really make a difference. And so for me, since we spoke last, that's something that was, you know, incredible to be on the receiving end of that phone call, knowing that a difference was made for this particular person in her life going forward, and how she thinks about her family and her marriage.
Evan Schein: But gaslighting, it's, it's something that's absolutely real. It happens. I see it in relationships in marriages, people who sit across from me in my office, and either they're looking to get divorced or they're about to get married. And I see it a lot in the context of prenuptial agreements in ultra high net worth situations when there's family members involved and the negotiations and the conversations surrounding money, surrounding prenuptial agreements are not going as smoothly as one side, one family would have hoped. And that's a hard conversation. Look, nobody likes talking about money. It's not a sexy conversation. It's not an easy conversation, especially before you're about to walk down the aisle. And there's a lot of feelings, a lot of dynamics, a lot of fa, a lot of family members. So I would say since our last conversation, I'm definitely seeing an increase in gaslighting behavior surrounding prenuptial agreements.
Dr. Robin Stern: That's so fascinating. No, I wanted to ask last time, and I, and, um, so I'll ask this time, do you think the gaslighting begins in prenups in your office? And I, I asked you that question because without giving you a chance to answer yet, but I, I really, um, have, I've had a few people come in and say, I just had no idea what he really thought of me and what he really wants me to think of myself. Until we got to the lawyers that whatever conversations people, or in this case one particular couple had had, were about, well, you know, this is what I'd like, or this is what, um, what I think would be helpful for me in my life, if anything does happen. And of course, we're never gonna get divorced, but this is what I think is fair. And then suddenly in front of the lawyers, um, their accusations going back and forth, and the gaslighting begins, well, that's just being greedy. That's just being, um, you're, do you realize how ridiculous you sound like that's just being greedy, especially from high net worth, people marrying not so high net worth people. So I'm wondering if you have had the experience where suddenly the gaslighting is happening because suddenly they're reacting in a more honest way with lawyers in front of them,
Evan Schein: Uh, all the time. And it's a, it's a, it really is a brilliant question. And I've had that situation where we have settlement meetings. We'll sit around my conference room or sit around a, a, a virtual zoom screen trying to hash out some of the finer points of a prenuptial agreement. And you hear the way people speak to one another or speak down to somebody else. You hear comments, you hear things that are said, and I'll finish the meeting or finish the zoom. And I'll think to myself, wow, there, these are two people who are getting married. You know, if you didn't know any better, you would think they're splitting up and getting divorced,
Dr. Robin Stern: Tell me more about that.
Evan Schein: Of course, it, it, it's when you discuss money, when you discuss life, when you discuss expectations, jobs, careers, children, you can learn a lot how someone speaks to you, their tone, what they're saying, how they're responding to you. Uh, is it a conversation, is it a dialogue or is it demands? This is what I expect from you. So you can learn an incredible, uh, amount of information from your soon to be spouse with conversations like that. I'll call them the hard conversations, the conversations that nobody wants to have. Um, and you can learn a lot from someone as you're negotiating a prenup, uh, in terms of how someone feels about money, how someone thinks about money, how someone looks at money, how someone perceives money. And I'll give you an example. When people often refer to money as my money, right? Or my job or my career, people don't realize it, but it, it, it often could feel belittling to the person on the other side, right?
Evan Schein: Because it could be our money and our life just like it's our children, right? No one has possession of, of just, you know, of, of just the children. And, and so when people use certain words or communicate in a certain way, initially, it might not be a red flag when you're in the receiving end of it, but these are things just based on my experience and training, doing this for 15 years, I'm used to hearing those things and seeing it from clients who are separating and get divorced. Because if you fast forward 10, 15 years, when somebody comes in, I'll hear those exact phrases, I'll hear all the issues that generally go back to the beginning to to, to go back to your original question, which is yes, very often things start in the beginning, whether it's a conversation about a prenup, whether it's a conversation about executing a will, whether it's a conversation about family or spending.
Evan Schein: Things often go back to that early conversation. And then there's a pattern of behavior throughout the course of the marriage. So when somebody comes into me, they'll reference what happened early on, and now they have the benefit of 5, 10, 15 years of all of these things that have added up, that now have become obvious. And they might not know it's a certain type of behavior or gaslighting or, uh, something else, but they know that something is wrong because there has been a cumulative impact and cumulative result over many, many years. But generally it started several years earlier.
Dr. Robin Stern: It's so, it's so fascinating, and it actually is heartbreaking because, um, many times somebody will come to my office and say, I, I don't know what happened. Like one day we were in love the other day. It was about his money and my money, and not that we weren't in love anymore, but like, what happens to that, um, joint, uh, that what happens to that joining? What happens to that deep connection? What happens to, um, holding hands and looking at the future together? And that hour, right? That word hour. What happens to that when suddenly you're lawyering up and each one of you has a lawyer and one of you starts to think, well, wait a minute, you know, I thought he thought I, I was a fair person. Now he's telling me that I'm not a fair person, that I'm greedy, that I, um, I'm not entitled to things and this is the person I'm gonna marry.
Dr. Robin Stern: And deep conviction is that the ghost of that gas sliding follows you, which is kind of what you're saying too, to, into your marriage, and that that is heartbreaking. But how do we do it better? You know, how do we do it better if people are coming to the office and, and that is the way they think about money and dividing property, and suddenly they're protecting themselves rather than embracing the other person. And, um, I, I don't know the answer yet. I don't know the answer. I don't know what if there is a way around that ghost of gaslighting following you. Because even when people sign a prenup and they accept, okay, so these are the terms, they've still heard those words.
Evan Schein: Yeah, no, it's a really good point. Then. I absolutely love the phrase ghost, ghost of gaslighting follows you because it's true. And if nobody knows the answer, if you don't know the answer, then, then nobody does. But, um, but, but the truth is what's said. You can undo, and I often give the example in a trial on finances or parenting or when, when you have a trial in divorce action, you see your spouse, the person you once walked down the aisle with, the person that you once said, yes, I do, until death. There was part say all these terrible things about you as a parent, as a spouse, in terms of finances, in terms of your lack of contribution. You can't unring the bell once the bell is wrong. You can't go back. And there's resentment and there's anger, and that ghost of gaslighting really follows you and follows someone over time.
Evan Schein: And then it becomes more visible and it's not a ghost, and it becomes something real and something you have to deal with. But I think one of the things I would throw out, because I thought about your question in terms of what could be done, and I don't know the exact answer or the exact science or the exact recipe or script, but I think part of the problem is, is twofold. I don't think people before they get married or early in their relationship, based on my experience as a divorce attorney and what I hear from clients who come in and see me, people don't talk enough. They don't talk about life. They don't talk about what life is going to look like in 10, 15 years from now. You know, it, it's not the honeymoon phase. It's not, you know, going out to dinner and traveling the world.
Evan Schein: It, it, it's life and marriage. It, it, it, it takes work, you know, marriage, you know, whether there's children or, you know, job loss or, you know, dealing with death or dealing with, you know, people, uh, you know, getting sick, whatever it may be. Marriage is not something that you can just enter into without a true understanding of what you're really signing up for. And I think those conversations are deep. I think those conversations require effort by both people, a willingness to have those conversations by both people and generally it's not one conversation. So I think people try to avoid those conversations at all costs. And usually the conversations that people have are not before something happens, it's generally only because something happened. So people are prepared, people haven't discussed how do we handle certain situations? So I think that's the first thing. And then I think the think the second thing is people don't take the initiative to work with professionals, whether it's therapists, psychotherapists, uh, experts, whoever those people are, depending on the circumstances.
Evan Schein: I'm a huge believer that people could benefit from working with one or two different professionals depending on the situation and what their family dynamic is. But again, people often don't seek professional help until something has gone wrong. And if people could be proactive, even if they struggle to have that conversation, point number one, work with a third party, learn how to communicate, learn how to discuss topics, hard topics, uh, I think people would find themselves in a much better position, a much better relationship. And that's not to say that people won't end up in my office, but I think people will have a much better tool and much better outlet and resources to help them get through tough times, uh, and figure out proactively what to do when certain situations arise.
Dr. Robin Stern: So I think those are fabulous answers. And when I said that I don't know what to do about the ghost of gaslighting, it, it's really true. But what you can do so is to, um, prepare yourself for the ghost of gaslighting. Being there is to have those conversations because the conversations that you might have before a prenup, before you enter into a lawyer's office can help you to settle yourself about what you are gonna talk about, can help you to frame and reframe what you are listening to and what you are saying in a way where you are curious and interested in the other person, and still setting a limit where you are saying, this is what I need. Can you do it? Rather than, this is what I need, and there's something wrong with you if you don't think it's fair. So that your ability to talk about it could be discovered beforehand by seeking help, even by talking to your lawyer extensively before you meet with your partner and their lawyer, or before you have a zoom call or however you're doing it, because it's for, for many couples, it's really the first time that you are so activated when you're actually in front of the person having the conversation rather than, um, just talking yourself.
Dr. Robin Stern: 'cause if you're talking for yourself about what you need, you're not getting that kind of pushback. And so I think that a lawyer's role can be very important. Sit down and talk about this. Maybe you spend more time one-on-one with the person. How, how do you do it? Do you sit with the person one-on-one several times before you bring in the other person?
Evan Schein: Yeah, it's a wonderful question. And every attorney has likely a different way they approach prenuptial agreements. Um, I mean, my, my approach really depends on the client, what the client needs, who I'm working with, uh, what the client's feelings are towards the prenuptial agreement process. So it really depends. But there's certain things that I do regardless of who I represent or what a client's financial sophistication is, or whether they want the prenup, the person who asks for it or they're on the other end. I always walk a client through options, what it looks like, give an overview of New York state law where I practice, uh, explain the purpose of a prenuptial agreement, the benefits, the concerns, why it's important. If you're on the receiving end of it and you're assumed to be spouse asked for it, I'll explain if I represented your spouse, this makes sense, right?
Evan Schein: Or this is what that person is looking to protect. Right? And then I would also explain to the person I'm working with, right? Here's different options. Here are creative ways, this is why it's important, right? Let's say there's a family business and generational wealth, right? Using that as an example. Okay, that makes sense. The wealth that was created before the marriage, the businesses were created during, before the marriage, he's looking to protect, or she's looking to protect those family assets and family wealth. That's understandable. With that said, there's a way to make sure that it only protects that, that it doesn't carry over to, uh, a level that would make someone uncomfortable. Right? And I also think it's important that every person understands what the prenuptial agreement says, that they read it. I go through it in tremendous detail with a client providing comments. I mean, this is, uh, often a 30, 40, 50 page agreement.
Evan Schein: And to me, it's incredibly important that a client understands and knows what they're signing. There's an opportunity to make changes, there's an opportunity to speak to me as much as that client needs to in person on the phone over Zoom. And every client's different, right? In part because sometimes people are okay with the prenup process. Other times people, one person might be hesitant, other times one person might need to be in person with me. So part of it is reading the client and understanding what a client needs, what their emotional thoughts are about their prenuptial agreement process. And I'll even take a step further. It, it's really the psychology about money. It's really the psychology about money for how this person who I'm working with grew up. Are they in finance? Did they have, do, do they have a, a great level of understanding about money?
Evan Schein: Are they comfortable with a prenuptial agreement? So for me, it always goes deeper than just, this is a legal document, because how I approach it and where the difference is depending on who I'm working with, is based on emotional considerations, psychological considerations, financial considerations with respect to somebody's understanding. So I take all of those things into consideration. Sometimes I'll insist somebody come to my office and do things in person because I wanna truly watch them and, and, and see them and make sure that they're going through it, uh, from a comfort standpoint and that I'm there and they can ask me questions. And other times, people that may not be necessary, depending on, again, their background.
Dr. Robin Stern: Interesting. And, and I interesting, um, and thought provoking Evan. Um, and I, I wonder about, uh, whether money is the only thing that people fight about in a prenup.
Evan Schein: Great question. So money's the core of what people fight about, but prenups with agreements, they, they can touch on money, income, bank accounts, businesses,
Dr. Robin Stern: What, what about homes? And as assets in that way, like, this was my home. I bought it before we got married, and in fact, I went and hurry up and bought it before we got married. And, and now you can't have it. And, you know,
Evan Schein: So that's often one of the most controversial points because let's say somebody did that. Let's say somebody has a separate property home that he or she purchased before the marriage, and that home, somebody wants that home to be protected as her or his separate property because it was purchased before the marriage. The problem with that, for many people, and the reason people get offended, is because marriage is a partnership. They're building a family together in the home. And many people push back on the notion that even though the home and the marital residence might be someone's separate property or premarital funds were used to acquire it, people on the receiving end don't wanna feel as if they're a tenant in their own home, that they're a tenant in a fa in, in a home that they're building and either building with financial contributions or indirect contributions, or, you know, staying home and raising children or providing love or renovating or contributing to. So the marital residence becomes a very polarizing, uh, hot button topic for discussion.
Dr. Robin Stern: Yeah. So this is very important, um, for many people listening, uh, and really fascinating. So you use the word offended. So the person who wants to perhaps share in that home, um, uh, that you were talking about, because they're decorating together and they're traveling and buying things and putting them in the home, and, and yet the home belonged to, uh, the per the other person before they got married. Um, and so do you think the feeling of being offended is what triggers what, in your experience, what triggers the other person to do the gaslighting? Because if I say, Hey, you know that, that's so hurtful, you're, you're offending me. Like I I'm your partner, I just wanna share this with you. And then are you triggered on the receiving end? And I'm asking you really from your experience to then say, this is like what you're asking for is not fair, it's not reasonable. You're greedy. This is crazy. Like, no, no one would ask for that. That's my home.
Evan Schein: Yeah. So the answer is yes, I see that based on my experience, I, I, I see that quite often. And in many respects, it's the clients in other respects, you always have to wonder how much influence the attorney is having, because I often hear, you know, Evan, my soon to be spouse, and I spoke simple agreement. Here are the terms, I'm comfortable with it. And sometimes if I'm the one reviewing the agreement as opposed to drafting it, the document I receive doesn't accurately represent what's communicated to me by my client with respect to what the terms should be. And either I recognize it could be like the game of telephone, either my client necessarily did not fully understand or did not communicate it exactly to me. And, and that's fine. Or it's the attorney sometimes on the other side. And so I was like working with an attorney who I've worked with before, who I have a good professional relationship for that reason.
Evan Schein: But it's one of those things that the first draft of an, of a prenuptial agreement is incredibly important because even though it's not words being verbally communicated, what's on the first draft, what's written in the 40 50 page document, it's like words. It's like that bell once you ringing it, once you see that first draft, you can negotiate it. But for many people, they can't get out of their head and get out of their mind what they just read. And that feeling of being offended or feeling of, uh, you didn't want me to share in the marital home, or you didn't want me to share in our assets, even if it gets negotiated and it's changed, that first draft I always tell people, is an incredibly important document for a whole host of reasons.
Dr. Robin Stern: Mm-Hmm.
Evan Schein: I have, I've had two situations in my career, uh, where that happened. Um, one with respect to, uh, certain behaviors that were occurring, gaslighting, other behaviors and other, other things. And this was a prenuptial agreement as I think back that was being negotiated for some time. So it wasn't a situation that people came to me last minute, uh, which creates a whole host of other issues. But thi this was actually, if I had to think back probably about nine months of negotiations on this prenuptial agreement. And what started off as a very loving engagement, uh, you know, with all the usual things, planning, uh, the wedding and picking the venue and picking the band and the flowers, and then the prenuptial agreement process started, I was witness to that relationship. And the dy dynamics being on emails and in certain meetings changed very, very quickly. And so ultimately, those two people, to my knowledge, did not get married.
Dr. Robin Stern: And Evan, did it change because of the communication between the, the parties as opposed to just the facts, like, no, you can't have this, but, but rather, um, you know, the, the way they spoke to each other and the gaslighting
Evan Schein: It, in my opinion, it did. And there was also, in that particular situation, there were family members involved and parents and grandparents, and the family had an attorney who was separate from the, the prenuptial agreement attorney on the other side. And, and I saw that. And so everyone started to exercise their power or their control. And to the person who never really wanted to be in this situation, it was a very overwhelming, demeaning, powerless, uh, position to be in. Um, and ultimately the marriage didn't happen, at least when it was supposed to. And, uh, but you saw the tone change, you saw the communication change, you saw the family dynamics change, not from the two people who were not only from the two people who were supposed to get married, but from these outside people, immediate family members. So when you start to see that happen, uh, where it's not just the people, it's, you know, the soon to be Mother-in-Law that seem to be Father-in-law, the, the, the grandparents, all those people, siblings, it's a very hard, uh, path to walk back from. So that was in one instance.
Dr. Robin Stern: So, uh, the family members in that case, did they join the gaslighting of the other party? Uh, the accusations, the, um, uh, insinuations, the shifting, like, I need this, well, you're too greedy. That kind of the pivot in, um, the conversation. Like, it, it sounds like, um, collective gaslighting.
Evan Schein: I, I think, I think, I think so. I, I I think that the family members ended up being in the spouse's ears the soon to be spouse's ears with respect to, uh, you know, sort of planting certain seeds with respect to not getting married. And so, yes, I think it was, uh, a lot of things were being influenced, being repeated, being coached. So collective gaslighting. Yeah, I, I, I think that happened, uh, I don't know if it happened directly. I didn't observe that from the other family members to, uh, the person on the receiving end of the prenuptial agreement, um, directly. But I definitely, on conversations, on conference calls, I definitely saw it taking place based on comments that were being said on one side of the equation from somebody's parents or someone's grandparents. And I think that ultimately caused a rift that how is this marriage going to happen and take place given just the bad blood that ultimately ended up ensuing, uh, over the course of the nine month negotiation.
Dr. Robin Stern: You know, it's very destabilizing, um, uh, to experiencing gaslight, to experience gaslighting from your spouse to be, or from your in-laws, to be, uh, at the point where you are in love and planning your wedding. Because here are the people who are supposed to love you and embrace you, and instead they're calling you names and they're telling you you're not entitled, and they're telling you you're greedy. And the people I've seen who receive that kind of communication from their future spouse are really devastated by it, and often go through a period where they do believe it. Maybe I am being too greedy, you know, maybe, maybe I should not be asking for the house to be shared or the money, um, that I, that I really think I need. And sometimes that doesn't happen. And the attempt at gaslighting is just meant with fury on the other end, as opposed to the, the person stepping into the gaslighting and saying, the fury on the other end is like, wait a minute, what the hell happened? Like, I thought this was us.
Evan Schein: It's an excellent point. And I saw that, 'cause that happened, I think what saved my, my particular client, and when I say saved, I'll say by her not getting married. I think ultimately she realized it obviously before it was too late, because I think that exact behavior would've transpired down the road if they got married because they started the process early, which is so crucial, because if you're gonna have these hard conversations, if you're gonna negotiate a prenup, if you're gonna be in these difficult life conversations, those hard conversations, do it early, do it early enough that you can have time to process the result and really the impact of those conversations. So she went through Robin, exactly what you described. Is it me? Maybe I shouldn't be asking for this. He told me I'm greedy. Uh, this is what his mom said. Like she went through that.
Evan Schein: The difference though, in this particular situation, there was still a few months to go before the wedding, so she was able to get out of that. She had that moment, I mean, whi which lasted several weeks, but she also had an attorney and there were a few different professionals involved. So at some point she was able to look at it and say, you know what? I'm not being greedy. Right? But there definitely was that period where there were those feelings, right. And if the wedding was a week later, there's a good chance that the marriage would've happened.
Dr. Robin Stern: Yeah. Like in other gaslighting situations, people around you who do have your back, who are like seeing reality and the way you're seeing reality can be the support you need to step away from the gaslighting. Um, I, I'm curious about something else, Evan, now that you know about gaslighting, uh, and it does come up and you do see it happening in front of you. Is there ever a time where you can say to your client, or you do say to your client, you know, there's a kind of manipulation going on that I see, or is that not your job, it's the psychologist's job? Like, what do, what do you think about that? And do you ever say anything?
Evan Schein: So it's a great question. So as an attorney, divorce attorney, you, you wear multiple hats, right? You wear a lot of different hats. You know, sometimes I play lawyers, sometimes I play therapist, sometimes I play real estate, professional financial advisor. But I try to focus on the main hat, why someone comes to, you know, comes to my office to represent them in connection with a prenuptial agreement or separation and divorce. So now that I've had so many instances, uh, of situations where there's been gaslighting behavior from our conversations, from your books, I consider myself to be as an attorney knowledgeable on this particular area. So for me, I can spot it, I can see it, I can see certain behaviors that somebody describes. So that's the benefit of having this information and education. The other thing is that when someone uses the word gaslighting, let's say opposing counsel or an adversary party is accusing my client of gas lighting behavior, I have the benefit of knowing is that gas lighting behavior or is that word just being used and thrown around, but it's not necessarily gas lighting behavior.
Evan Schein: And then I'll, I'll make recommendations. I'm a huge believer in, in therapy, having clients work with different professionals, people who specialize in different areas, different areas of expertise. Uh, again, I'll, I'll wear the hat of therapist, I don't wanna play therapist. Um, so I'll often make recommendations and have someone, uh, work with a particular person trained to help them figure out exactly what's going on, how to communicate with someone in this particular situation, in this, in, in this dynamic, in this relationship, in the marriage, um, someone to coach them. So I think there's certain people who could advise on certain things much better than I can outside the legal world. Um, and I think it's important to know what the behavior is. And, and, and to just add to it would, my cases are in court and there's litigated matters. It's even educating the judges, the court system, different court professionals.
Evan Schein: It, it, it's, you know, again, people might use the word and it's applicable and then people, you know, might use the word and it's not, they're just using it to use it. And so I think it's very important as a matrimonial and divorce and family law attorney to understand and, and, and appreciate exactly what it means to, to know about gaslighting, to recognize when your clients are in certain situations, inserted marriages, experiencing that type of behavior. And then what do you do about it? Right? How do you handle the, the divorce negotiation, the prenuptial agreement, negotiation conversation if you know your client is in that type of situation?
Dr. Robin Stern: Yeah, well that's, that's really a great question, um, that I'm sure a lot of people live with without even knowing it. And I, I think the motivation in a prenup is very different than what would happen, I would imagine in a divorce situation. Like if people are throwing around the word gaslighting, whether it is gaslighting or it's not gaslighting, the motivation to do anything differently in a divorce, settlement may not be there, you know? And so I think it's, it's very, it's different terrain. It's really different terrain you're walking. And, um, I was just thinking about a couple who went through a very, very difficult divorce and, um, one party felt really devastated by the gaslighting, and when she confronted her husband with it and suggested that maybe they could talk about things in a different way, that they were going to end up getting divorced anyway, but did they have to destroy each other in the process, his motivation to do anything differently since he somehow decided he was the injured party, even though it
Evan Schein: Wasn't
Dr. Robin Stern: Really the case in terms of the facts of the case, but, um, he'd had no motivation to do anything differently. Whereas usually in a prenup, aside from the gaslighting tape that might be going on in the head of the person doing the gaslighting, there is motivation. You're about to get married. Like, this is the person you love, this is the person you just spent money to create the wedding, to buy, to, uh, reserve your plane tickets for your honeymoon, and you just spent five years together, or three years together, whatever. Like, come on, let's see if we can talk about this in a different way without twisting the conversation, without, um, resulting in complete heart break on both sides. And so I, as a practitioner, there's a level of motivation to hold it differently, do it differently, be more curious, less judging, be more of the learner rather than the knower, um, in the conversation in prenup. And then sometimes not.
Evan Schein: And that's why 99.9% of the people will end up getting married. Right? I mentioned the, the, the one or two times that the people do not get married in divorce. You're absolutely right. People approach it, handle it differently because where they're headed in a prenup, your goal is to get to wedding day, right? You obviously fell in love with someone, uh, you're planning a wedding. So generally there, there is, uh, a greater incentive to work through a lot of those issues. And for the most part, in my experience, people will get to wedding day. Whether they have fully worked through their issues or not is a separate concern, but the goal of getting married for the majority of people happens, uh, even if the negotiations are hard, tough or don't happen the way either party would've expected.
Dr. Robin Stern: Yeah. Um, I think just before we finish, I wanted to come back to the ghost of gaslighting. Well, there may not be an easy answer to that. The good news about the ghost of gaslighting is it may follow you, but it doesn't always appear just like other good ghosts may not always appear. So I've seen very difficult prenups move into marriage and, um, long-term where the ghost will appear every once in a while, and people just accept, look, we, that was a really crazy time, that was a really tough time, and here we are loving each other. 10 years later,
Evan Schein: You see it, it happens. And again, like, like many things, it, it, it's something you want to figure out as early on as possible. You want to have those conversations figure out, is this really the person that you wanna spend your life with? Have those conversations, have those discussions, and if you find yourself being unable to have those conversations, if someone is unwilling to communicate in a way that works for you, you wanna address it early on. Because situations, in my experience, uh, representing people going through a divorce or they come back in again, they'll have to reference many things that happened at the beginning of a marriage or beginning of a relationship. And it's that pattern of behavior that again, might have been harder to spot or see early on, but over many, many years, um, at some point in time it becomes a little easier to spot. Although for many people, they just don't know unfortunately what type of behavior it is. They just know that something's wrong. Yeah.
Dr. Robin Stern: And then, um, in that situation, I hope that you can help clarify some of that behavior, certainly in those situations I can as well. And to your point, that there are times that the ghost of gaslighting just does not go away. And, uh, and so it ends in divorce, but when it ends in divorce for those reasons, it also ends with people having more integrity. And, um, then would they have stayed in the marriage? So certainly you and I both know there are times where divorce is the right answer for people.
Evan Schein: Yes. And
Dr. Robin Stern: Leads to people to then be free to have gaslight free and, uh, um, wonderful Lives ahead, Evan, where can people find you? Tell them,
Evan Schein: Robin, this was fantastic. Thank you for having me back on the podcast. Always a pleasure to be back with you and your loyal listeners. People could find me at Berkman Bonker Newman Shine. We are a family law match money law firm with offices in New York City, Westchester, long Island, and New Jersey. Our website is Burke, B-E-R-K-B-O-T burbot.com. My email address is e shine, S-C-H-E-I-N, at burbot.com.
Dr. Robin Stern: So great to have you here and listen to your experience and wisdom and, and I know people will find this as meaningful, uh, as the last one, and we'll do it again. Just love engaging with you around this topic, and honestly, didn't expect to spend the entire time on prenups, but here we are. We just did it
Evan Schein: Absolutely. It might be, uh, a third episode, a fourth episode. A lot of good things on the horizon, but it's always a pleasure to be with you, Rob.
Dr. Robin Stern: Thank you, Evan. Bye everyone. See you next time on The Gaslight Effect podcast. Thanks for joining me for today's episode. I hope you found it helpful and meaningful. If you want to listen to other episodes of The Gaslight Effect podcast, you can find them at robinstern.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. And please leave a rating and a review. I also invite you to follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. This podcast is produced by Mel Yellen, Ryan Changcoco, Mike Lens, and me. The podcast is supported by Gabby Kaoagas and Solar Karangi, all of my work and my upcoming book is supported by Susan Pettit, Marcus Estevez and Omaginarium, also by Sally McCarton and Jackie Daniels. I'm so grateful to have many people supporting me and especially grateful for all of you, my listeners..