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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    • acotrel says:

      06:58am | 07/07/12

      I think it is sad when people don’t know the difference between sex and love, and get married just to get their end in, or because they have got their end in and the girl is pregnant. I believe we have a responsibilty as adults to teach our kids about relationships, and help them learn their social skills.  I think that something as silly as ballroom dancing in schools might be a help.  If the kids can get away from the old sticky teenage peer group attitudes, and learn to respect and care for each other, we might be a lot better off.  Sex before marriage is good stuff, but if you are not aware of what love means, it is dangerous.  The media has a role to play in this.  You never saw Fonzie in Happy Days give Janie a quickie and take the consequences.

    • Bertrand says:

      08:23am | 07/07/12

      That’s all well and good Acotrel, but I have a feeling I have seen stats that show it is older Australians more likely to divorce.

      Younger generations have a try-before-you-buy mentality that sees cohabitation increasingly common before marriage. Marriage is something people are less inclined to jump in to today than in the past. This is why the median age people get married at has increased dramatically in the past few decades.

    • RTC says:

      09:33am | 07/07/12

      For once acotrel says something we can agree on!

      A good test for people considering marriage would be to see if they could live with their partner for a year with only having sex together once a month. And no nookie on the side.

      If they can there is a good chance that their relationship is a lot stronger than just someone you can get naked and sweaty with.

    • acotrel says:

      07:10am | 07/07/12

      I don’t think much of your video.  Marriage is not something to be frivolous about.  I am not religous.  I remarried at age 60 because I love the woman and want to be with her, and to show my commitment to her and help her to feel secure in our relationship.  At our age it is not about sex, if that happens it is a bonus.

    • iansand says:

      08:32am | 07/07/12

      Bah humbug.

    • TracyH says:

      08:56am | 07/07/12

      I dunno acotrel…I think sex is important at every age; if anything, even more so the older we get. It shows a level of committment and says ‘hey, even though I’m older, I still think you are worth making the effort for!”. I know of a lot of marriages that broke down because one or the other was hurt that thier partner couldn’t be bothered wny more. but yes, it’s not the sex act itself that is imortant; it’s the symbolism of making an effort.

    • Rose says:

      11:01am | 07/07/12

      Just because they danced into the church doesn’t mean they were any less serious than everybody else about the marriage.
      I work with a girl who had all the bells and whistles for her wedding, the wedding itself was serious business and had to be perfect. They had an image to present and nothing was left to chance, it was organized and prim and proper and probably the epitome of the perfect wedding. Thing is, during the lead up she only spoke of the wedding, he only spoke of the $$$ they would get at the wedding (they are Greek and the whole big cash expectations were in full swing, from memory I think they netted about $10,000 plus presents). I never heard talk about the future, their plans post wedding and to me the whole thing seemed superficial. I had asked her questions about the future and she always replied “we’ll worry about it after the wedding”. I mentioned to another girl at work that I was concerned that they hadn’t seemed to make any future plans and we both agreed that the whole marriage seemed to be starting on very shaky ground. Fast forward twelve months and they had a baby and were separating. Both had pretty much got what they wanted, she got a baby, he got a nice financial payout from the sale of their home. Friends and relatives had sunk loads of cash and hours of free labour into fixing the house and the couple made a significant profit.
      Just goes to show Acotrel, the wedding itself is absolutely no indicator of the success of the marriage. My wedding was a bit of a disaster in some respects but my marriage is well over 20 years old, it’s all in the commitment, not the public show of a wedding!

    • Pudel says:

      02:39pm | 07/07/12

      @ Rose, I had a beautiful wedding nearly 15 years ago.  But although I wanted the wedding to be nice, it was and still is just a day.  For me before the wedding, during the wedding and after the wedding the most important thing was the marriage.  In nearly 15 years I have never regretted the commitment we made to each other that day.  I have been angry with him and we have disagreed on things over the years.
      I honestly love him more than I did then, as our relationship has strengthened due to shared experiences, both good and bad.

    • acotrel says:

      05:39pm | 07/07/12

      Tracey, I’ll let you in a well-kept secret.  Sex doesn’t last forever.  Women and men both go through change of life, and simply lose libido.  It sometimes comes back, but there is always Viagra if it doesn’t.  If you take anginine for heart problems, Viagra will cause your blood poressure to fall through the floor.  Not having sex is not the end of the world. Get your priorities right !
      Number one : stay on the right side of the grass !
      Number two: enjoy being with your partner in a beautiful place.
      Number three: Don’t worry if you don’t get your bit. There are other ways of expressing your love.

    • TracyH says:

      09:47am | 08/07/12

      acotel…I’m no spring chicken smile...and I still enjoy sex. I don’t have a husband any more, but I have a wonderful lover when the mood strikes who is nearly 70 wink

      I agree it changes in frequency, perhaps, but unless there is a physical cause, sex does not have to end.

    • Helen says:

      09:37am | 09/07/12

      acrotel - I dont think its the sex, but the intimacy that it builds. Of course, intimacy isnt just about sex, and neither is sex always about intimacy. Holding each other in bed and just talking is pretty powerful.

    • M says:

      07:14am | 07/07/12

      What’s this temptation rubbish? Men and women are only as faithful as their options.

    • acotrel says:

      08:47am | 07/07/12

      If you really love your partner, you are blind to the temptations. However the biggest chick magnet seems to be the wedding ring on a man’s finger. I suppose it must be like buying a car if the model has been proven in rallying ?

    • Rose says:

      11:03am | 07/07/12

      Bullshit, if couples are committed and happy they don’t even look at other options, they don’t need them!!

    • Cynicised says:

      01:22pm | 07/07/12

      Rubbish, M. Men and women are as faithful as their decisions.  One can have many options but still decide not to exercise them. Some (admittedly rare)  people still honour the concept of fidelity in marriage.

    • SZF says:

      01:28pm | 07/07/12

      Isn’t that a Chris Rock quote…?

    • Johnno says:

      08:37am | 07/07/12

      Brilliant video - cheered up my day.  Thank you. 

      Now back to drafting family law affidavits ...

    • Ginger Mick says:

      09:27am | 07/07/12

      I am not surprised at the current situation with marriage and divorce because of all of the unmitigated trash that is shown on TV, soaps and reality shows.

      Soaked up by both sexes , expectations, myths, fears, bad ideas and attitudes pumped out several times a day on numerous channels, what can you expect if millions of young people watch this negative rubbish.  It soaks in and effects their lives.

      What was the divorce rate before colour TV?

      Between 1962 and 1973 it started to rise then took off.


      Go take a look and be shocked.  We are what we eat, read, watch and experience.  If you spend hours a day watching rubbish you end up rubbish.

      AND it only takes ONE person to upset the balance.

    • marley says:

      04:44pm | 07/07/12

      I don’t know about here, but in Canada, the divorce rate soared over that period because divorce became much easier legally.  That had a lot more to do with the divorce rate rising than crap TV did.

    • acotrel says:

      05:23pm | 07/07/12

      The divorce rate started to increase when the Russians launched Sputnik.

      Just joking - the biggest increase was due to WW2 and the returning servicemen.  Their PTSD often destrroyed their own marriages and carried on to cause disfunction amongst their progeny.  My generation lived with ratbags, and followed their examples.

    • Ben says:

      09:49am | 07/07/12

      >>But you get my drift, marriage is a boat everybody paddles hard enough to keep afloat, while dodging unexpected waves and submerged objects.

      I think I’ll go for the Vogon poetry, thanks.

    • acotrel says:

      05:54pm | 07/07/12

      If you are with the right person, it is much easier. People should invest more time in finding that person to marry. The first cab off the rank could be driven by a dodo.

    • PhilD says:

      10:34am | 07/07/12

      @M Temptation:  Options and choices.

      “Choices enable temptation.”
      ? Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity

      “Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.”
      ? Mae West

      “A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is… A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.”
      ? C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      11:13am | 07/07/12

      What I cannot understand about divorces such as that of that Cruise person & Katie Holmes is that she knew he was a member of that wacky, brain-washing pseudo-religion when she married him. So why did she marry him in the 1st place?
      One’s 1st marriage can be a mistake so people should be given a 2nd chance. However if the 2nd fails maybe these people should ask themselves: “Why cant’t he/she maintain a relationship?” Then think very, very carefully before becoming husband/wife # 3, 4 or 5.
      Incidently, wasn’t Cruise married to that Kidman woman? Didn’t they adopt a couple of children?
      What has happened to them? Have they been sent to that weird Scientology Concentration Camp-cum School, just as Katie Holmes is, justifiably, scared stiff her daughter will be?
      We never hear about those two adopted children. Why? Have they, just as has happened to so many Trophy Children, been taken off the Trophy Bracelet & discarded?

    • Rose says:

      03:46pm | 07/07/12

      I can’t help feeling the same way to an extent. Katie Holmes can’t say that she didn’t know Tom Cruise was nuts before she married him, the rest of us knew. I think the problem is similar to the problem Princess Diana had, it’s one thing to know something, quite another to experience it. Both probably were swept off their feet with grand gestures, all the best things money could buy and they obviously opted for the fairy tale without realizing that the reality would be very different. Both were obviously naive enough to think they could handle it and have some control over it.
      I feel for Holmes though, the thought of your child being sent off to these Scientology camps would be terrifying and she absolutely should do everything in her power to prevent that, hopefully she can protect her daughter from a man who is clearly and dangerously obsessed with a very concerning religion.
      As for Connor and Isabella, Tom and Nicole’s kids, apparently Nicole was effectively sidelined and she lost all ability to share their lives as Tom dragged them through Scientology indoctrination and education. This is supposedly one of Katie’s main concerns, that Cruise will freeze her out of her daughter’s life and have her educated and indoctrinated in Scientology. I think she should be concerned and she should try and get full custody so that can’t happen, that little girl needs protecting.
      A lesson for everyone else getting into relationships, you really have to understand what it is you’re getting yourself in for. You can’t change the person you commit to and if something is a worry before you commit, understand it is more likely to get worse not better when you’re firmly in the relationship.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      11:17am | 07/07/12

      Marriage is just a business contract, nothing more.

    • PhilD says:

      04:32pm | 07/07/12

      Was yours taken over or novated?

    • Cam says:

      05:49pm | 07/07/12

      And yet the gays are fighting tooth and nail to get it. Didn’t realise they were all so business minded…

    • PhilD says:

      09:44am | 08/07/12

      Gays? That would be going into voluntary receivership wouldn’t it?

    • Fiddler says:

      01:27pm | 07/07/12

      is getting in first and offering to be Katie Holmes “mellow Keith Urban”.

      As for the scientologists I am sure we will have coming after us, I will just picture them as something out of a zombie film. Just need to get some fuel for the chainsaw now…

    • Say it isn't so says:

      01:30pm | 07/07/12

      ” 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.”

      “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.”

      It might just be me but saying that you aren’t the kind of person who judges peoples marriages unless there is overt abuse going on in one sentence, and then saying that you flat out don’t believe in people growing apart in a relationship seems a little like you are judging peoples relationships and their reasons for ending it. In fact it even sounds like you are saying that you don’t believe that after years of being with one person, it might turn out that you have changed so much over the course of your lives that you are no longer compatible.  While it may not be the product of a loving relationship, it certainly is something that happens, just because it isn’t something you have experienced personally doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.  This is what happened to my parents, turned out that by the time they got to retirement they were two completely different people and had completely different ideas of what they wanted from retirement.

    • Robert Smissen of Rural SA says:

      01:43pm | 07/07/12

      Why do we marry the same person over & over again? ? The only difference is the faces, I know that it is in our hard wiring but you still do it

    • Rose says:

      03:57pm | 07/07/12

      I don’t know, sometimes people marry the complete opposite to their previous partner/s. A friend of my husband’s traded in a slim, hard working, independent, family orientated woman who had no problem with him hanging out with his mates and who loved nothing more than entertaining friends with BBQs, impromptu ‘parties’ etc for a woman who is significantly overweight, works part time and whinges about that, one who hates him spending time with bis family or old friends and who just isn’t pleasant to many people at all. The difference seems to be that she is dependent on him and he seems to need to be needed. I hope he’s happy, but really, he couldn’t have married anyone more different to his first wife.
      I think maybe people either marry a carbon copy of previous spouses or they marry their complete opposite smile

    • Anjuli says:

      03:02pm | 07/07/12

      To many people (females) read Mills and Boon ,expect every thing to be hunky dory and no hiccups along the way. The biggest test to any marriage is when the children come along .

    • roger, over and out says:

      04:36pm | 07/07/12

      the wedding is just the first baby step on the road to divorce!

      marriage is only a temporary procedure between the wedding and the divorce

      to avoid divorcwe always remain single!

    • Leningen says:

      05:47pm | 07/07/12

      To paraphrase all of the above:
      Let me not to the marriage of true minds
      Admit impediments. Love is not love
      Which alters when it alteration finds,
      Or bends with the remover to remove:
      O no! it is an ever-fixed mark….
      (But wait!, There’s more)

      If this be error and upon me proved,
      I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

      That Christopher Marlowe sure knew how his punchlines!

    • Greypower says:

      10:22am | 08/07/12

      “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”

      At 76 years of age with a 50 year marriage celebration coming up I can tell you that that is a wrong assumption, Wendy.

      At a youthful 27 years of age I had low self esteem, loads of guilt and didn’t like myself at all. Was surprised that anyone liked me enough to marry me!

      During those 50 years I worked on myself to improve all of that (having 4 chn helped!).  I gradually learned to like myself and during that process I changed ——  being able to speak my mind without worrying if others agreed with me was one,  and best of all—- I now like myself.

      Some change, some don’t - it’s a choice!

    • PsychoHyena says:

      11:23am | 08/07/12

      @Greypower, I agree and would like to add that until your relationship is faced with challenges, internal or external, you don’t know how either party is going to react to those challenges.

      Wendy with that one statement of yours you border very closely to victim blaming for domestic abuse. Relationships are like religion, you know there will likely be challenges but you put your faith in the other person to help you through, just as they put faith in you to help them through.

    • ML says:

      12:08pm | 08/07/12

      Being the same person all the way through life - what a scary proposition! Having values that are compatible is one of the keys to a relationship of longevity, but values can shift and change as we learn from our experiences in life. When my husband and I married in our early twenties, a fundamentalist Christian way of viewing the world was important to us. Over the years both of us have moved away from that perspective, both moving toward quite different expressions of our spirituality. We have learnt to be respectful of the other’s journey even if it is not what we would choose. The early years of our marriage were a celebration of our similarities. Around the 10 year mark we realised that an authentic life meant growth and change, and the question emerged: how different can we be while still staying together? As we head towards our 25th anniversary this year, this question is as relevant as ever. While there is no guarantee our paths will always run parallel I hope we both continue to embrace growth and change in our lives.

    • renold says:

      11:22am | 08/07/12

      Been married once and never again, had one reasonable relationship 3 years after divorce and never again. Wrong thing to say, but I don’t trust women


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