Judy's 80th birthday and her marriage to Jerry Sheindlin, a man with whom she knew she wanted to have "forever" are her greatest achievements
Judge Judy Sheindlin and her husband, the Honorable Jerry Sheindlin, admit they have had a less-than-perfect marriage. But we'll give it to you straight: anyone who makes it until their silver anniversary is a winner. And Judy is now in her 45th year of marriage to Jerry, which is nearly two decades longer than she presided over her triple Daytime Emmy-winning titular court series Judge Judy, which aired its final episode on June 25 after 12,500 episodes. The duo only had to overcome one little blip, which resulted in the two judges, maybe ironically, facing off in court. Judy delivered an ultimatum after becoming dissatisfied with Jerry's unwillingness to care for her while she mourned her father's death in 1990. "She said to me, 'If you can't maneuver this, I'm going to divorce you,'" he told Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue in What Makes a Marriage Last. "'Oh, yeah?' I said. I dare you.' The next day, I received divorce papers. The next day. So, that was the end of that," reported Hello Magazine.
It wasn't, of course, since their divorce lasted a year and ended with Judy embracing her husband's blindspot, proclaiming to Marlo and Phil that you can't always change a man: "Like they say, don't try to teach a pig to sing. It doesn't work and it just annoys the pig." Not that Jerry, a retired New York Supreme Court justice, gets a pass all the time. Judy is every bit the irritated, watch-tapping, meme-generating, no-holds-barred cultural figure she plays onscreen, never hesitating to fire one of her signature jabs or tell a defendant, "On your best day, you're not as smart as I am on my worst day." When her husband, Judge Jerry Sheindlin, asked if she'd mind another TV rival, it wasn't your normal judgment from Judge Judy Sheindlin. The judge of the New York State Supreme Court has been approached about taking the gavel for "The People's Court."
“She is the one who told me I should do it,” says Sheindlin, 65, who will be sitting on the bench most recently occupied by former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who had appointed both Sheindlins to the New York City Criminal Court years ago. “If she had any reservations at all, I wouldn’t have done it", as per reported by The Los Angeles Times. Sheindlin met his wife of 22 years in a bar. “I just finished trying a murder case as a defense lawyer,” he recalls. “She was a prosecutor. There was a reporter from the New York Post there at the bar, and I was speaking to him about the case. Judy came walking in and put her finger in my face and said, ‘And who is this?’ I said, ‘Lady, get your finger out of my face.’ We’ve been together ever since.” Though Sheindlin enjoys his wife's TV success, he adds that if “my show takes off and I beat her, I am contacting Hollywood immediately to remake the movie ‘Sleeping With the Enemy.’ ”
TV’s Judge Judy Sheindlin is 80 today, or as she says, celebrating "the tenth anniversary of my eighth birthday." https://t.co/j3I9ZcNM9e— ABC News (@ABC) October 21, 2022
Judy had spent the first decade of her marriage ministering to Jerry's demands while simultaneously creating a legal career that had brought her from prosecutor to judge, so when her father ("my champion," she told Thomas and Donahue) died in 1990, she was taken aback. In dire need of a change of scenery, "I said, 'I've been taking care of you for 12 years, now it's your turn to take care of me.' And he was totally unaccustomed to that role," Judy described her spouse in her book What Makes a Marriage Last. "I wasn't asking for anything unreasonable, and he wasn't being unreasonable saying that he really didn't know how to do that. He was 55 and had lived a certain way all his life. He couldn't even conceptualize taking over that role. He just couldn't." Agreed Jerry, "What she said was, 'Unless you change, we can't stay together.' I said, 'Tell me what you want me to do. You can't just say 'take care of me.'' What does that mean? Do you want me to carry you from place to place? Do you want me to buy you things? Do you want me to feed you? Do you want me to keep you warm? What you have to do is tell me—use your words and tell me what you want me to do to take care of you.' She said, 'Just take care of me.' And I said, 'I don't know how to do that.'"
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Valerie Macon / Stringer