Dancing down the aisle, straight to the divorce lawyer
I see myself as a pragmatist and a realist, but even so when I hear a marriage (or long-term de facto relationship) has broken up I usually feel a bit sad.
Truth be told, I feel it a bit more keenly when an actual marriage goes belly up—especially one whose wedding I’ve been to.
You tend to remember all the joy and optimism on the couple’s wedding day: the grand gestures, the grand words, all those intentions that are 100 per cent authentic until life gets in the way.
Getting married is such a big statement, and by having a wedding you drag everyone along for the ride. After that comes the more private ‘actually being married’ bit, when, quite rightly, the shutters tend to come down.
Then for those who don’t make it, there’s the big announcement of the split bit, the coping with everyone’s shock and surprise, and then lamentably even sometimes the people taking sides part.
I’ve occasionally been really amazed to hear of friends who have announced they’re going to split. One such couple a few years back was The Most Unlikely Couple in Australia to split.
She was the life of the party, always entertaining, seeming very happy and displaying lots of affection for him. Whenever we saw them I felt like she lived in vibrant technicolour, while in trying to spread myself around three kids, a job, covering all the logistics of family life such as running the house, cooking/cleaning etc, and being a wife, I only managed shades of pastel.
Turns out she was miserable and having an affair. It got extremely messy. You could have knocked me down with a feather. Even so, unless one partner is physically or verbally abusive, dishonest or overtly using the other person up, I don’t catch myself judging people when their marriage crumbles.
Perhaps that’s something to do with having gotten an L-Plate marriage under my own belt in my twenties before embarking on the 15 year-old one I’m working away at like the next person now.
Anyway, having said all this very sincere stuff about that hollow pit-of-stomach feeling you get when some friends end their marriage, feel free to laugh and consider me a lightweight when I say that even when some celebrities end their marriage I feel a bit sad.
And here’s another chance for a feel-good giggle, I even felt that a little bit when I heard about Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. I felt for her and her daughter, basically.
Given I’ve always found the image Cruise projects as weirdly intense, I also felt relieved for Holmes (who, of course, I feel like I know is lovely from all those pictures of her loving her little daughter) that she would have a chance to find her own more mellow Keith Urban.
But still, I felt sorry and bit sad that all that “we’ll be in our honeymoon phase forever” stuff couldn’t, in at least one case be true. I guess I wanted to buy into that fairy tale, perhaps because they did such a Hollywood job of telling the story.
But one line in all the acres of explanations-without-explanations articles that followed really got me. This idea that celebrities have more pressure on their marriages than the rest of us.
Sorry, but I call absolute bull-dust on that.
Barring couples undergoing acute financial stress or a serious illness in the family, I don’t reckon anyone has more pressure than anybody else on their marriage, in fact it’s one aspect of life that is a great leveller.
I think, but tell me if I’m wrong, that most married people have very similar issues; keeping “the spark” alive, navigating work and child-care arrangements, division of the boring stuff (day to day drudgery), staying connected during the intensive years of parenting, coping with ups and downs in each other’s employment situation and health etc.
And possibly boredom; though given that we’re still in the “intensive years of work and parenting” phrase, being laid back enough to actually be bored seems a distant luxury.
There’s also the “growing in the same direction” thing, given that people whose marriages fall down sometimes say they “grew apart”. I don’t really believe in that one either, because you are who you are at the start of the marriage, the middle, and at the end, if there is one.
I think grew apart is code either for “oops, you’re not who I’d decided you were in the early stages” or otherwise for “we stopped loving eachother”, a perfectly valid, but still sad, reason to call time on a marriage.
As for the straying issue, which seems a big one in celeb-land, well, if things are OK I reckon it takes a pretty hot lightning bolt to rip someone from stable roots. Could be wrong, of course.
What part of this do celebrities have harder than the rest of us? The fact they’re so much better looking so are just that bit more tempted to go have sex with someone else? Or that their glamorous jobs remove them physically from the location of their spouse for periods of time…just like millions of others with massively less glamorous jobs?
Or the fact that they have all that responsibility for all those staff and all that cash and it keeps them awake at night—making them difficult to live with? Sorry, that last one was facetious.
But you get my drift, marriage is a boat everybody paddles hard enough to keep afloat, while dodging unexpected waves and submerged objects. It’s just that some have Gucci oars.
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