The private lives of public figures aren’t so private, and the media floods us with juicy, titillating details about celebrity relationships. We claim to be above caring about such nonsense, but you don’t have to be a gossip-monger to at least listen in when a famous person marries or divorces. Entire countries were shocked by the divorce of England’s Princess Diana and Prince Charles and equally mesmerized by the recent marriage of their son Prince William to commoner Kate.
Why do we care?
Part of us is interested in knowing about the private lives of others out of sheer voyeurism. We’re curious about things we shouldn’t know. It’s like being in on a secret. Another part of us wants to see just how we measure up to others; there is comfort in knowing that other people—famous or not—share the same personal struggles as we, ordinary folk, do.
We somehow think that beautiful, wealthy, famous, brilliant, powerful people have perfect lives when, in fact, they still get disappointed with their model wives and rich husbands. It’s not that we like watching them suffer or fail but we find some relief in seeing that “having it all” does not guarantee relationship happiness. So many of us romanticize or idealize fame, beauty, power and wealth, and even postpone our happiness until we attain certain status symbols like the right career position or the right marriage partner. Somehow, with no disrespect or ill will meant toward the celebrity, it amazes us that a man can cheat on a fabulous wife like Sandra Bullock, Shania Twain or Jennifer Aniston.
In all fairness, we must admit that we are privy to only distorted peeks into the private lives of celebrities. The news we’re fed comes from paparazzi or publicists; the former provides out of context snippets of insight while the latter projects carefully crafted, image-making information. What really goes on behind those closed mansion doors? We’ll never know the full truth. Do we need to? Every couple deserves privacy.
Regardless of what others may say, I disagree that public figures owe us anything else but what we pay them to do. Politicians owe us their law-making skills. Entertainers should entertain us with their stage talents, not with their private lives. They need not be held to public scrutiny 24/7. Who are we to play morality judge over others? With that said, there are some important lessons we can learn from celebrity struggles that have been publicized. Here are a few:
Self esteem matters
If you struggle with low self-esteem, chances are your marriage struggles, too. Insecurity, doubt, suspicion, jealousy, depression, control issues and even abuse all stem from low self-esteem. A good celebrity example of this is Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez. Fame and wealth weren’t enough to eradicate Marc’s secret insecurities. When his wife’s career began to eclipse his, reports of his increasing control and jealousy surfaced just before they announced their split. It takes a strong man to stand by a strong woman without feeling threatened. Good celebrity examples of this include Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, and Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick.
Know what comes with the territory
When Sarah Ferguson married Prince Andrew, she was well-informed about what would be expected of her. Her rebellion was a betrayal to the kingdom and now she lives with great regret. People rush into marriage knowing full well that their future mates have insufferable relatives, all-consuming careers, irritating quirks, or dangerous habits. It’s not only unfair but it is irrational to expect situations to change just because you signed the marriage contract. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Enter marriage with both eyes open and afterward half-closed.”
When choosing a mate, don’t choose style over substance
Aging is a part of life. Fortunes and status are won and lost. In your twilight years, you’ll want a devoted partner who warms your heart. Don’t choose someone who only looks good. Choose someone who is good. Hugh Hefner, Hef, is not a dumb man. But he’s still prone to the same problem many men have, including choosing style over substance. So what if his wealth and fame affords him a bevy of beautiful, supple young girls? If that’s what he dangles out as bait, how can he be so disappointed when the ones who bite are interested in only what he can do for them? The girls he attracts have daddy issues or at least Sugar Daddy desires. The odd thing is that Hef doesn’t seem to be so shallow and yet, he rarely ever considers dating a woman his own age. If he did, he could find more emotional fulfillment and spiritual satisfaction in his relationships.
A positive example of choosing well, believe it or not, is Brad Pitt. He allegedly left Jennifer Aniston over what he perceived were shallow reasons for putting off having a baby. Instead, he turned to a woman with a very large heart who shared his desire of creating a large family. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Angelina Jolie happens to be a gorgeous woman in her own right, but surely Jolie’s well-known humanitarian priorities over Hollywood success won over the spiritually-minded Pitt.
If you’re going to be bombarded with celebrity gossip news, at least learn from it and strength your own marriage. Be on the look-out for more celebrity marriage profiles as we see what lessons can be learned.