I was saddened a few weeks ago to read, on the Internet, that the singer Seal and supermodel model Heidi Klum were calling their marriage quits after nearly seven years of what appeared to be close to bliss. This was bad news even to a realist/cynic like me, and I wanted to throw up my hands in Shakespearean fashion and say, “Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar!” – because this was a couple I really wanted to succeed (even though, I admit, “success” in marriage is still a rather nebulous term).
The news got me to thinking, yet again, about what it takes to make a marriage last – although, full of contradictions this week, I have yet to define the word “last.” But, hey, you know what I mean: for couples to stay together voluntarily and, generally, be happy.
Anyway, Hollywood marriages were setting records for briefness long before Kim Kardashian and the feller she was married to for a few days split up. But every so often, a union comes along which makes you believe – or want to believe – that, maybe, just maybe, love can take root and flourish, after all, even in Hollywood. That’s how I felt about Seal and Heidi. And maybe on account of their six seemingly good years I should still believe; because I’m old enough to appreciate that a relationship ending does not, necessarily, mean that it wasn’t good or that persons shouldn’t want something better.
Still, I can’t help wondering what might have contributed to the “irreconcilable differences” cited as the reasons for the couple’s divorce. Among us, lesser mortals, it is easy to imagine what these might be. And I, for one, credit these small issues as being greater cause for parting than, say, an occasional or even a long-term knuckle. That is a big thing; but, if lucky, you can put it in perspective or assign it a place at the back of your mind, once your partner and his paramour are not up in your face. But the “differences” are like the little foxes to which the Bible refers, the “little foxes that spoil the vine;” because they wear on you, grind you down, work your last nerve, until, one day, you realise that you just cannot spend another Saturday morning picking his dirty socks out of his shoes, or another Sunday afternoon listening to his mother complain, like King Fiah, that the “food too sarl.” No way. Mmm-mmm. Life too short to waste like that… .
However, in Hollywood, the Land of Make-Believe, surely it’s different…? I am certain that Jennifer Lopez, for instance, hadn’t a clue that the tissues Marc Anthony repeatedly left in his trouser pockets would foul up the washing machine. She probably didn’t even know where the laundry room was located in the mansion; that was Maid No. 3’s job, after all. And I don’t imagine Jennifer Aniston complained repeatedly to Brad Pitt about leaving half-empty glasses next to the bed, only to have them kicked over and either stain the carpet or mess up her pedicured toes. Not because Brad strikes me as being particularly neat and clean, mind you, but because “the help” would’ve whisked them away three seconds after he put the tumblers down.
Conventional wisdom claims that the two main reasons for divorce are sex and money. Again, we, ordinary people, are intimately acquainted with bedroom problems. Whether, in the beginning, he wants more than she can keep up with, or, later, after the kids come and the figure goes, he wants less, Joan Smith and Jean Brown understand how sex in overdrive or in low drive can kill a swinging engine. But if what we see on TV and in magazines is to be believed, those people’s sex lives are on auto drive. Their honeymoons are never a weekend at Jolly Beach, then back to work on Monday still sporting the wedding hairdo; those folks can get it on in their private planes while jetting off for three weeks to a private island where they don’t even have to wear clothes.
And why would they cover up what they spent good money on, anyway? Even if a “baby bump” (or two, since twins are “what’s trending now”) momentarily interrupts the passion, their personal trainers and dietitians will whip that post-partum body back into a “bod” in three days – just ask Beyonce. Or they can buy themselves a new pair of perky breasts in the same way we might cheer ourselves up with two new (though larger-sized) brassieres and the matching long-line, spandex panties to minimize the baby fat (nothing “phat” about a double belly, after all).
Obviously, these structural adjustments that the rich and famous undergo cost; but money, of course, was no object to, say, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. For it wasn’t the cheque book that wouldn’t balance or the platinum Visa card over its limit that caused that marriage to go for broke, either. And with prenuptial agreements being as standard a part of Hollywood weddings as O, Perfect Love is of ours, those couples never have to resort to singing Sparrow’s You Can’t Love without Money.
So, whereas you and I can point to our partner’s running the car out of gas again, or not fixing the running toilet, or being constantly broke, or becoming frumpy and unattractive as a case for uncoupling, what is it that causes the couple who has it all to split up, anyway? Did Heidi wake up one morning and wonder where her man got all those scars on his face? Did he come in one evening from the studio, wanting nothing more than a kiss from the rose, and find their four little children with peanut-buttery fingers all over his bed, instead?
Who knows? Maybe not even they really know what happened or who changed. But in Hollywood, it’s only in the movies that people mate for good, anyway. In real life – their real lives, that is – all the world’s a stage and all the men and women only players, making their entrances and their exits, and calling the in-between “love” and “marriage.”