Tuesday, June 08, 2010

For Better or Worse, In Fame and in Famine

Posted by Michele Olson
Do famous people reflect the pulse of what’s happening in society? Is that why when there’s a birth, marriage, death etc of someone we never met, we still feel like we have some kind of connection to their relationship and we care so much?

Fame doesn’t seem to be a healthy ingredient in the recipe of a good marriage.

Tipper and Al, Sandra and Jesse, and now 'Dog Whisperer' Cesar Millan and Ilusion, his wife of 16 years, have decided to get a divorce.
Meanwhile Rush Limbaugh just got married again, for the 4th time.

All these people have the money to marry and separate pretty painlessly when it comes to finances. We know in the average person’s life, the current economic times are preventing divorce…people simply can’t afford it. Still, we look to these famous names to comment on marriage.

From Bill Doherty’s recent article in Psychology Today:
Rush Limbaugh's multiple marriages is a 21st century American story. As sociologist Andrew Cherlin documented in his terrific book The Marriage Go Round, we Americans are crazy about both pair bonding and breaking up. In comparison to Europe, American's cohabitate and split up more easily, we marry and divorce more frequently, and we go on to remarry and re-divorce more readily. I’m not against hope or against trying again for a permanent union. But as a marriage therapist what I find depressing is people churning through multiple marriages without learning very much—except that they married for the wrong reasons or married the wrong person (but now it’s different) or that the love went away.

I’m not so sure we can compare “real people” to what’s happening in the world of “famous divorces.” I think the lesson is; it’s even harder to keep a marriage together when fame enters into the picture and even easier to move on to multiple marriages without feeling the day-to-day struggles that every day people deal with through the process. I’m also uncomfortable with using famous marriages as the benchmark for what’s really happening in the health of marriages. Dare we say that if the majority of famous people got divorced and the rest of the world didn’t-we’d be doing really well in seeing a low divorce rate overall.

The truth is; we don’t know these people. We don’t experience personal pain or joy at their comings or goings…it’s more like a wreck on the side of the road from which you just can’t seem to look away.

Famous people will continue to steal the headlines away from the real story. The real story is you. Make sure you participate in some type of pre-marital inventory before you marry. Once married, take advantage of all the opportunities for marriage education through workshops, online and read all the excellent books available.

Famous marriages and divorces are fiction to those of us who don’t really know these people. Any divorce is not to be made light of, but I think we have to be careful of the emphasis we place on deep sorrow over the rich and famous while doing nothing to support marriage in our own community, state, or personal relationships. That’s where the conversation and action about marriage really matters. That should be the headline we care about in the newspaper or blog.

For everyone getting married who hasn’t had their 15 minutes of fame yet, perhaps we can add this to the wedding vow: In sickness and in health; in fame and in famine.

Meanwhile, back in Every Day, U.S.A. if we put our energy into working on our healthy relationships on a daily basis and keep our eyes on how we are doing our best, we will all be just fine.

What about you? Does a famous divorce affect how you view your own marriage? Leave a comment!


Anonymous said...

Although I do have sympathy with famous people who undergo personal relationship break-ups under such public scrutiny, it IS like the wreck on the side of the road that we slow down to stare at then drive away. I guess it's a way of saying, "There but by the grace of God go I." And count our comparatively lucky stars. Just think, we're lucky in comparison to the rich and famous--a novel situation, to be sure. So, in reality, to return to our day-to-day practicalities, we must work at our relationships and especially our marriages in order to maintain them happily and successfully--like practicing the piano, golf, or anything we want to be good at and enjoy to the fullest.

thinkmarriage.org said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I agree, it is a good reminder to look in the mirror and think about our own relationships. Something good coming out of something sad.
Keep blogging!