Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Katy Perry and Russell Brand, Evelyn Lozada and Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson— celebrity couples seem to dissolve faster than an antacid tablet in a glass of water. Plenty of us look to the rich and famous for style inspiration, but it’s definitely not where we should go for relationship role models. And according to Stephen Goode, marriage counselor and author of the new book Marriage Triage: A Guide to Healing for the Hurting Spouse, there’s good news for real couples ready to take the plunge. Your marriage has a far better chance of success than the latest Hollywood hookup.
Why do so many Hollywood marriages seem to fail?
Stephen Goode: Any marriage based on an image more than the actual person will always end in disillusionment, and heartache. In the case of Hollywood marriages we have seen repeated examples of couples breaking up after whirlwind romances, and paparazzi congested weddings. There has not been a chance for the couple to really get to know one another.
Another key element in these “drive-by Hollywood marriages” is the fact that there is almost never any true premarital counseling that hits all the weaknesses and makes the couple face their obstacles before they ever arrive at the altar. The irony of this in the context of Hollywood marriages is that they know the cameras will be tracking their every move all the way to the divorce court, and this should provide some added incentive to seek credible premarital counseling.
Do Hollywood marriages and “normal” marriages face any of the same pitfalls?
Stephen Goode: In some ways they do. Both men and women have emotional needs that if left unfulfilled, can lead to emptiness, disillusionment, and frustration. Just like Hollywood hubbies, normal husbands face the constant challenge of spending enough time with their families. Wives face the same challenges of spending enough time with their husbands and kids. These types of struggles are common in both Hollywood and normal marriages.
What do “normal” marriages have going for them that celebrities do not?
Stephen Goode: In a normal marriage you have the advantage of more privacy and anonymity with your spouse. The funny thing is that many people in normal marriages idolize and envy the Hollywood crowd, but the truth is a normal marriage can at least enjoy more private and undisturbed moments together. You can attend church, go to a movie, walk in a park, without the constant need to pose and look over your shoulder for camera flashes and reporters.
Is there anything we can learn from Hollywood break ups?
Stephen Goode: We can learn to appreciate our own marriages by seeing how good we really have it. As difficult as marriage already is, we have the chance to get to know our spouse inside out, without the constant disruption that comes from being famous and sought out. We can cherish the intimate moments with our own spouse by being intentional about romance, cards, and flowers.
One of the biggest lessons we can learn from Hollywood breakups is that we get the privilege of writing our own genuine and real marriage script that is more than the words on the paper. Normal marriages may not have constant disruptions from paparazzi, but it is still a challenge to be an effective spouse in the typical daily activities of life.