What Can We Learn from Celebrity Divorces?
As early as the 1930s, the marriage of two celebrities was deemed skeptically as both glamorous and short-lived. Despite the many couples that have remained together even when in the public eye, the tabloids have done little to offer a contrary story often pouncing upon news about the latest celebrity breakup with unrelenting fervor.
In an effort to understand how such magical match-ups could’ve gone wrong, we as observers sometimes buy into the frenzy, adding speculative fuel to an already raging media fire. And who can blame us? It’s difficult to admit that our most admired celebrities are prone to the same divorce-related difficulties we face: the struggle to reach fair settlements, establish custodial rights, and the stress of making such decisions while under the added pressure of familial or societal expectations. One thing is for sure: whether a couple is being pursued by the paparazzi or watched closely by one’s own community, public scrutiny can add another layer of complication to an already difficult and painful situation.
But it is by taking a closer look that we see celebrities as human, too. And maybe by acknowledging that humanness, we will be able to identify opportunities for growth in our own lives. So what can we learn from the couples who, despite public scrutiny, uncouple with grace, fairness, and kindness? How can we provide a healthy lifestyle for our children as co-parents, even as we wrestle with our own expectations and heartbreaks? Here are a few takeaways we’d like to share from recent celebrity separations and divorces. A breakup is never easy, but these couples teach us that the power of love can endure even after a marriage’s end.
Eat, pray, love and disconnect.
Recently, Elizabeth Gilbert announced her separation from longtime partner and the man with whom she fell in love near the end of her Eat Pray Love journey. For several years, Gilbert has been a beacon of hope for men and women at the end of their own relationships. Many of us at Wevorce have experienced painful divorces some of which paralleled Gilbert’s journey and we find her authenticity both admirable and worth pursuing as we write our own life stories.
Perhaps what we appreciate most about Gilbert is her ability to temper her vulnerability with firmness as she establishes boundaries for herself and her partner. “This is a story I am living not a story I am telling,” she says, in her request for privacy. And she continues with a polite appreciation for her community’s “love kindness and continued blessings” and requests understanding and forgiveness for her absence from social media during a sensitive moment.
What they’re doing right: By balancing a need for support with a firm request for privacy, the couple is allowed to process their grief and healing privately.
Conscious uncoupling no matter what the critics say.
Immediately following the public announcement of their separation in 2014, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin faced criticism for their use of the term “conscious uncoupling” a phrase that had been first coined by Psychotherapist Katherine Woodward Thomas. Their approach placed a high priority on staying on good terms throughout their divorce versus being sucked into a painful vortex of blame, accusations, and hostility. “We are and always will be a family,” a blog post from the couple explained, “and in many ways we are closer than we have ever been.”
“We are parents first and foremost,” they continued, “to two incredibly wonderful children and we ask for their and our space and privacy to be respected at this difficult time.” Although some critics initially dismissed the couple’s approach, the duo has set a pattern for other couples and parents wanting to remain amicable as they cautiously unravel the threads of their most precious relationships.
What they’ve done right: By prioritizing their family’s needs, the couple ensures that their co-parenting efforts succeed apart from public scrutiny and judgment.
Always put the children first.
When Singer/Songwriter Jewel Kilcher and Ty Murray announced their divorce in 2014, they made it clear they were dedicated to remaining “dear friends who hold each other in high esteem” especially as they transitioned into co-parenting roles.
Jewel continued via her blog, “Ty and I have always tried to live the most authentic life possible, and we wanted our separation as husband and wife to be nothing less loving than the way we came together.” Granted, such amicability isn’t always easy, but for parents who want to put the best interests of their children at heart, it’s certainly something to work toward.
What they’ve done right: While it’s not always possible for a couple to part as friends, the two have been able to redefine the terms of their relationship, and have done so as loving co-parents to their young son.
While recent divorces among Hollywood’s elite often elicit judgment, why not show a little compassion to those in the public eye? Even the most passionate and seemingly solid relationships are not immune to challenges, and certainly no marriage is immune to divorce. It’s perhaps this reality that reminds us of our humanity and our need for grace, be it in our own relationships or toward others as they work through their own divorces.