Keep It Simple, Stupid: You're Smarter than You Look

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Overview

Today's definition of family is completely unrecognizable from what it was forty, thirty, even twenty years ago. Into the chaos that has become typical of the modern American family, judge Judy Sheindlin attempts to bring some order. With Keep It Simple, Stupid, Judge Judy addresses how convoluted family life has become. The traditional nuclear family has expanded to include exes and parents of exes, merging families, stepchildren, lovers, adopted children, in-laws the list goes...

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Overview

Today's definition of family is completely unrecognizable from what it was forty, thirty, even twenty years ago. Into the chaos that has become typical of the modern American family, judge Judy Sheindlin attempts to bring some order. With Keep It Simple, Stupid, Judge Judy addresses how convoluted family life has become. The traditional nuclear family has expanded to include exes and parents of exes, merging families, stepchildren, lovers, adopted children, in-laws the list goes on and on.

Complex issues naturally arise from the enlarged families into which we're born. There is the ex-wife who wants more child support from husband number one so she can stay home with new baby by husband number two. There are the parents who gave their daughter thirty thousand dollars as a wedding gift only to watch the marriage quickly crumble and their former son-in-law claim half the money. How about the adult son who runs out on his kids, leaving his parents to pay his child support? When it comes to families, Judge Judy has seen it all in her courtroom, and she knows stupidity when she sees it.

Tackling all the explosive issues that drive families crazy -- and into court -- Judge Judy shares her on-target, brutally honest thoughts on the chaos that is characteristic of today's American family and gives no-holds-barred advice on how to resolve conflicts and repair relationships.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Relationships snarl easily, even when you play by the rules. You figure love will make everything smooth; practical decisions about money, religion, or grandparents' rights will mystically work themselves out. But Judge Judy Sheindlin knows better. After two marriages and 30 years spent fixing others' nuptial agony, Judge Judy has seen it all. Marriages are botched; children are manipulated; wills are disputed. The key, she's found, is to think ahead. Be practical. You may feel less chest-squeezingly romantic at first, but you will also feel less trigger-squeezingly homicidal in the end.

The judge's no-nonsense, spicy style has earned her a loyal following for her syndicated courtroom show, Judge Judy. It's also popped her last two advice books, Don't Pee on My Leg and Tell me It's Raining and Beauty Fades, Dumb Is Forever, onto the bestseller lists. In Keep It Simple, Stupid, Judge Judy's acid wit again burns through tangled relationship problems, leaving only basic issues for consideration. She offers hardheaded advice to relationship manglers of all ages, especially those whose problems haven't yet come to a family court bench. Facing a host of marital dilemmas culled from her years as a family court judge, wife, and mother, Judge Judy cuts through the complications that foul most marriages.

The judge begins with some words of caution to cohabiters -- folks so spooked by legal bonds that they opt for a pseudocommitment instead. Her take? "If any child of mine ever opened a bank account with Mr. Almost-Sort-of-Committed, I'd have her committed." Cohabiters should recognize that shared finances must be written down, and gifts must be distinguished from loans. Without a legal marriage, you have to put yourself first.

But in most cases, Judge Judy points out, you have to put the relationship first. In a marriage, for example, Judge Judy insists that decisions must be worked out for the good of the couple -- hopefully in advance. She cautions: "Ten times measure, one time cut.... Some things just can't be undone." Make decisions in advance about what you expect, before the wedding takes place. And once you're married, always try to make things better for your mate rather than holding on to your independence like a grudge. Similarly, when you decide to have children, always try to make things better for the child. As the judge puts it: "Repeat this mantra: it's not about me, it's not about me, it's not about me." Children deserve protection -- particularly in cases of divorce. Even when parents remarry, children should always be considered first. The judge observes: "Balancing a new marriage with the needs of children already traumatized by divorce creates conflict.... Kids have exquisitely sensitive radar for any sign of unfairness, and you have to bend over backwards to make sure they don't feel short changed." But when children are grown, they must also take responsibility for helping their aging parents. In death as in life, says Judge Judy, your goal should be creating harmony rather than forcing others to recognize your needs.

In Keep It Simple, Stupid, Judge Judy creates a handy guidebook for those hoping to stay away from family court. Think ahead; do what's best for the family; always protect your children. The judge's simple advice makes sense in a time when relationships can be horribly confused -- and it's comforting to read that advice in such solid, uncompromising commandments. With Judge Judy's wit and hard-edged understanding, even common bunglers can keep their relationships romantic.

—Jesse Gale

People
[Sheindlin is] part Harry Truman, part Rhea Perlman: funny, quick-tempered, bluntly honest.
People Magazine
[Sheindlin is] part Harry Truman, part Rhea Perlman: funny, quick-tempered, bluntly honest.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Stop squabbling and get real because Judge Judy (author of the bestselling Beauty Fades, Dumb Is Forever) is back on all our cases with the patented combination of sass and savvy made famous on her hugely popular syndicated television show. Here, she presents a series of short, lively composites of classic family conflicts that she has heard over the years, concerning everything from the breakups of live-in relationships to funeral arrangements. Just as in court, Judge Judy gives both parties a chance to say their piece before she passes judgment and hands out her bracing, no-nonsense advice. Pig-headed would-be family feuders take notice: Judge Judy has no problem saying, "I find you guilty of being insensitive and a bit shallow." Her wrist slaps and tongue-lashings are all part of the brand of justice she doles out. Another refreshing aspect of her rulings is that while she recognizes the rights bestowed upon a parent by law regarding, for example, joint custody after an acrimonious divorce, she also points out when exercising those rights may not be in a child's best interest; she also proposes more humane alternatives that may be less destructive. Her many fans will know that Judge Judy stands for honesty, loyalty, honoring family ties and protecting kids--and that dirty rotten rats need not appeal for mercy. While she discloses how others may have failed to keep the peace over money, marriage, divorce and re-marriage, she also reminds her readers to "stop playing games," "grow up" and do the right thing. B&w illus. (July) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
This latest book from Sheindlin (Beauty Fades, Dumb Is Forever) reads the way her television show plays out, moving quickly to the heart of the matter with clarity and on-target advice. She has compiled composite scenarios from the cases she has heard on TV, cases in family court, and letters she has received. The book's ten chapters cover living together, getting married, having kids, breaking up, the second time around, honoring aging parents, and making a will. The judge spells out all sides of the problem and then succinctly puts forth her solution with ideas that are direct, workable, and centered on the concept of keeping it simple. This is a quick read, but don't be fooled by the glib, brief answers to age-old problems; there is depth here. Sheindlin's style is that of a trusted, longtime friend who talks straight. Often, the reader needs to go back over the examples and think about them. The judge's sparse writing proves her point: she has kept the book simple yet offers sound, tried-and-true advice. This book will be popular in public libraries.--Susan E. Burdick , Lower Merion Sch. Dist., Ardmore, PA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641634017
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/1/2000
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 3 Cassettes
  • Product dimensions: 4.60 (w) x 6.84 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Judge Judy Sheindlin established herself as a tough but fair judge in New York's family court. She is the presiding judge for Judge Judy, a nationally syndicated daily television show based on real court cases, and the author of two best-selling adult books and a children's book. She lives in New York City with her husband, Jerry, a New York Supreme Court Judge. She is the mother of five and a grandmother of four.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
Living Without Benefit

(If you call this commitment, you should be committed.)


In the middle-class neighborhood where I grew up, if two people lived together without benefit of marriage, they were bums and their parents were pitied. Their lives were forever on the gossipy lips of old aunts and nosy neighbors. Times have changed, and it's no longer such a scandal to do a “test run.” But don't kid yourself that living together is the same as being married. If anything, it's much more complicated. There are no rules, no court of last resort when things don't work out. In my TV courtroom, I have presided over countless cases involving former live-ins. The issue usually revolves around money, possessions, and promises made and broken. It amazes me that people who turn faint at the thought of walking down the aisle think nothing of purchasing houses, boats, and cars with live-in lovers. When they try to get satisfaction from the court, they learn just why it's easier to keep things legal. I don't have a problem with two adults living together. If you choose to test the waters before jumping into the marital sea, don't kid yourself that it is a commitment until death--especially when it comes to money. So many women equate a joint bank account and credit card with commitment. Most of them are just not thinking. If a child of mine ever opened a bank account with Mr. Almost-Sort-of-Committed, I'd have her committed. Think how much easier it would be if we had laws for people living together. If I were to write those laws, they would include the following stipulations:

  1. No live-in arrangement shall exceed oneyear. If after one year there is no ring on the finger or date for the wedding, the temporary partnership shall disband.
  2. Live-ins shall not purchase any of the following items jointly: house, car, boat, espresso machine, dog, or health club membership.
  3. All expenses shall be divided equally, and a precise record kept.
  4. The word commitment shall be used only in referring to the upcoming wedding.


If live-ins abided by these rules, they wouldn't have so much trouble. Just listen to the tales of woe!

Payback Time

When people are in love and have stars in their eyes, they don't like to deal with the messy business of contracts. What really gets messy is when the relationship folds and one of the partners realizes too late that she doesn't have a leg to stand on. That's what happened to Amy.

AMY:

When Paul and I met, I was an accountant and he was driving a cab and going to school at night. Since we were planning a life together, we decided that he would go to school full-time and get his degree as a physical therapist. I would pay his tuition and the living expenses, and he'd help out with a part-time job. After he graduated, we'd get married and start a family, and then I would be the one to work part-time. Well, all went as planned, except he split when he graduated. I feel cheated, and I want to sue him for the money I laid out for his tuition. Isn't that fair?


PAUL:

We both went into this relationship believing it was going to work out. I loved Amy. I believe she loved me. We made an arrangement that I would graduate from school early so we could get started on a family. Let me stress here that Amy was the one who really pushed for this arrangement. I was perfectly happy going to school only part-time and paying for it myself. She insisted that it was better for us if I graduated sooner. The relationship didn't work out, and I regret that, but we never had an agreement that this was a loan. Never had a contract, verbal or written, that said if things didn't work out I would owe her a cent.


Judge Judy Says:

Amy, unfortunately, you should save the cost of filing a lawsuit. In order for you to be successful, you would have to establish that a contract existed between the two of you for Paul to reimburse his tuition and expenses, and there is no contract to that effect. This arrangement was an act of faith in your future, not a contract. Legally, Paul is absolutely right. Consider it money well spent on a good lesson for the future. Next time, make a contract and memorialize your contribution as a loan. That's my legal answer. Don't sue; you'll lose. There are other issues here, too, having to do with common sense and judgment. Amy, since you were chomping at the bit to get started on your life plan together, which included marriage, why didn't you just go ahead and get married? Was something magical going to happen when Paul graduated? You left yourself without any protection whatsoever, because you didn't think things through. Paul, there is no legal claim against you, but that doesn't mean you're off the hook. She put you through school. You'll reap the benefits of her hard work for the rest of your life, and you feel no moral obligation to reimburse her? If that's the case, she's well rid of you.


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Table of Contents

Today's definition of family is completely unrecognizable from what it was forty, thirty, even twenty years ago. Into the chaos that has become typical of the modern American family, Judge Judy Sheindlin attempts to bring some order. With Keep It Simple, Stupid, Judge Judy addresses how convoluted family life has become. The traditional nuclear family has expanded to include exes and parents of exes, merging families, stepchildren, lovers, adopted children, in-laws-the list goes on and on.

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