Archive for the ‘Celebrity Divorce’ Category

Divorce in the over 50’s.

Vanessa Feltz, poses a very interesting question today in the Express.  about whether you stay loyal to ‘the marriage’, friends and family, or break for the border and take a risk of finding happiness. She talks particularly about the age group of people in their 60’s, when it would seem safer to stay married rather than be on your own, and she quotes Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne as an example of this.  I do think the decision is helped a little by having access to funds and a lifestyle that takes away the financial stress that most people have when they separate. 

However, the question of staying or going when you are over 60, doesn’t have an easy or a right answer.These are deeply personal decisions rarely taken lightly, although friends will often think they are. Staying in an unhappy marriage is debilitating, making you think, that, as you say in your article, where there is breath there is hope. We are all living and working for longer, so in our 50’s and 60’s there is a feeling that life isn’t over and there is a chance to get it right. Separating is devastating and has a ripple effect way beyond the couple, but sometimes its more devastating to stay together in a relationship sapped of joy. None of us knows what goes on behind closed doors and its easy to stand in judgement when the door closes on a marriage. Marriage isn’t easy, but nor is divorce, but one thing is true, there is life after divorce and it is also a new beginning.

The true cost of Divorce.

Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce have given us a very graphic insight into the devastating consequences of divorce. The reason we are so horrified by the disintegration of their family life, and their own lives is because theirs is an extreme version of what so many people feel when they are involved in the process of separation.  Sometimes, looking at a catastrophic playing out of events, can show us all what can happen when the brakes aren’t put on acting on how we feel.

Their fall from grace has been like watching a car crash in slow motion.  The only difference between the Huhne/Price separation and others, is that they actually put into action, all their anger, bitterness and hatred, with devastating consequences for not only themselves, but also their family and their friends.  They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned; well one would have to look no further for the evidence.  Their separation and its Technicolor ramifications should make us all take a deep breath before acting out of spite. 

There has been no upside in their separation.   The consequences of their downfall and unravelling has meant losing jobs, losing face, losing family, losing friends, losing security and losing respect.  During separation, we can feel many of the things that this couple clearly felt, but fortunately, when dealt with quietly and thoughtfully, they are temporary and are capable of remedy.  They are capable of remedy because if we are sensible in managing separation, then our sense of right and wrong can remain intact and we can grow and develop out of it.  It is not just because Huhne and Pryce are in the public eye that they will always be associated with this.  It is because they have wreaked such havoc and nastiness on each other, that they can never successfully be good role models for their children, or have respectful relationships with either each other or their children.  Their friends will have looked on in horror, as each of this couple in trying to communicate the loathing of the other, have destroyed something fundamental in life – integrity. 

It is unusual that a divorce ends in criminal proceedings and prison, but we would do well to hold in mind in this extreme case, what can happen when we let our actions get the better of us.  Anger, bitterness, envy, hate are all normal feelings. It’s what we do with them that really matters.  Understanding, that in bringing the other person down, is only going to bring you down.  Tearing someone else apart however justified it might feel, will only tear you apart in the process.  Take your feelings somewhere where they can be understood and managed.  Feel them, go through them and come out the other side in time.  Keep family relationships intact for the sake of the children and for the sake of your own sense of self.  That is what is important.

Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce may have quite a bit of time now to reflect on the craziness of the past year.  I wonder if they will ever wish they had managed it all differently.  From the insensitive, callous way he chose to communicate his affair, to the vengeful, spiteful way she chose to bring him down.  There are never any winners in these sorts of battles.  Both people lose.  The only way to win is to be good to yourself by not embarking on a war of attrition.   Hopefully, if nothing else, their case will serve to teach us that.

Marriage – Unrealistic Expectations?

Sir Paul Coleridge was interviewed in the Daily Mail today saying that young people enter marriage with expectations that are unrealistic.  He cites Hallo magazine as setting up idyllic marriage scenarios which people buy into and then get disappointed that life is in fact, not like that.

I’m not sure how true that is.  We can all see that many celebrity marriages end badly and last for less time than it takes to eat the wedding cake.  I don’t think the population is fooled into believing that marriage is a bed of roses, just like we know when we watch Downton Abbey that life isn’t like that.  No-one who comes to our groups has had unrealistic expectations of love and romance.  They have tried hard to make their marriages work and often have had no voice in the decision to end it.  We may as a society like looking at glossy pictures of fairy tale weddings.  It is a form of escapism not a method of learning what marriage looks like.  Sir Paul Coleridge I feel, needs to give people some credit. 

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

 Everyone loves a happy story.  So willing were we to invest in the happy ever after fairy-tale of Tom and Katie, that the press fused this couple into ‘TomKat’.   How lovely they looked together.  She had the man she had always had a crush on from the silver screen and he had fallen in love again.  Ahh, how sweet.  As a nation we shelved the pain of Tom leaving Nicole, the pain of Nicole being surplus to requirements and instead we took up another ‘love conquers all’ narrative and ‘this time it’s for real.’  There are two points here really.  Why do we anaesthetise ourselves in this way?  Is our collective memory of Tom and Nicole so short?  Do we really believe that there was some fundamental flaw in that relationship that would not be carried into the next one.  Why do we suspend disbelief on the altar of some fiction of wishful thinking?

These are all interesting questions. Divorce and separation is so painful.  We can only know what we read about celebrity divorce, but if we are to believe any of it, we know that Nicole took many years to get over the callous way that Tom had ‘abandoned’ her. 

Tom’s marriage to Katie was a metaphor for what happens in homes across the land.  One person in the marriage moves on, finds another love and pays no heed, regard and fails to look back over the shoulder to the person left.  The family, the community, the friends then say, how nice, X has found someone else.  No thought is given to how not nice for the person still reeling, still trying to catch up and still trying to make sense of being left.  Nicole now seems to have moved on, married again and has a child.  Life does indeed go on, but do we really think that history doesn’t repeat itself.  Without the processing of what happened, what went wrong, why love flew out of the window to the extent that all has to be thrown away, then that repetition will pretty surely surface again.  Vengeful thoughts go – he has got his comeuppance.  What goes around comes around. He left Nicole. Katie left him.  The order of things has been restored. Isn’t it more than that though?  Katie knew about his scientology interest when she met him.  It is as though in love is blind mode, nothing else matters.  Perhaps we should all learn a lesson from this.  If something bothers you, explore it and see if you can really live with it before you hold your nose and jump in at the deep end.  Love changes and being in love dissolves. Then what is left is the being together.  That is where the hard part starts. 

We have all come to know in our personal lives about divorce and separation. It is mirrored in the celebrities whose lives we follow.  Yet, it is no less painful for its numbers.  It is no less bewildering because our film stars do it.  We need to learn something fundamental here about the nature of relationships.  We need to think about our huge expectations and idealisations of the forever after syndrome.  We all want to love someone and be loved. We all want to stay in a loving relationship for a lifetime and not be hurt or abandoned.  If those are our wishes, perhaps we need to become a little more real about what our needs are and whether we can meet our partner’s needs or they can meet ours, right from the beginning.  If we don’t, then we will continue blind folded to the pain of divorce and the euphoria of love within a new relationship.  Tom and a successful fourth marriage? Not a chance.

Do people give up on marriage too easily?

This morning Sir Paul Coleridge said, that having adjudicated on hundreds of divorces he wants to let people know that they shouldn’t give up so easily on their marriages. His view is that divorce is the scourge of our generation.  I am not sure if it is a scourge but it is pretty much common place.  I and other therapists working with Divorce Support Group see hundreds of people suffering from the impact of divorce and separation. The impact is devastating and has repercussions and consequences for not only the individuals themselves but also for children,grandchildren,grandparents,friends and other family members.  The
consequences of divorce can last, if not negotiated properly a very longtime.  Do I agree then, that people should work harder on their marriages? No-one I have seen over very many years, has ever left their marriage easily.  Those who have been left have no choice because their partner has simply made the decision for both ofthem.  Those who have done the leaving have not done so lightly.  Usually, therehave been many years of unhappiness, where couple counselling has been sought and tried, where the couple have tried and tried again to make it work.  I just don’t see that people choose to walk out on a marriage in an easy way, like choosing a new pair of shoes or which country to visit for a holiday.  It’s not like that.  It is really important that if it is possible to stay together then it’s best if they can but if it’s not, then an amicable reasonable divorce is what needs to happen.  Years ago, people spent lifetimes in unhappy relationships.  Now they don’t.  People are free of societal expectation and can therefore leave.  That doesn’t mean that it is done easily.

Women are perplexed by their Husband’s Choice of Mistress

I am thinking of Maria Shriver and Arnold Shwarzenegger as a prime example of how some women express complete incredulity at their husband’s choice of mistress.  There they are living together with their 4 children and unbeknowst to her, he is having a liaison with their housekeeper which resulted in a child.  Many women in our support groups talk of their husband’s having affairs with their best friends or people who they would never imagine would collude in their husband’s betrayal.  Often the mistress is envious of the marriage and the fact that her friend seems to have it all, the home, a family and a husband.  She can’t bear to be on the outside and would just like to have it for herself.  I suspect that the housekeeper who had an affair with Schwarzenegger was seduced by money, power and a touch of envy of the woman who seemed to have everything.

Sandra Bullock and Jesse James

I was interested to read Jesse James interview in which he said that he felt no remorse for his extra marital affair which broke up his marriage to Sandra Bullock.  He  also said  “2010 was actually the best year of my life because I fell in love with my best friend.”  What interests me is how many people display remarkable insensitivity of the impact of their affair on the partner who is left.  Jesse James comments are a good example.  Many people who come to our support groups say that the affair is bad enough but the public (to friends and family) display of happiness or talking about the ‘other person’ as though the marriage and the ex partner did not exist is almost intolerable.  It is one thing to grieve and get over the anger and the hurt, it is another to deal with coming face to face with an unfaithful partner’s lack of regard and respect for the devastation that lies in the wake of their infidelity.  I am always struck by the rather callous disregard that people have for each other when going through a separation.  If the leaving partner could remember for one moment that she or he loved their spouse sufficiently to marry them, or that their spouse is the mother or father of their children then perhaps a more benevolent kind of separation would begin to emerge.