J. Lo and Marc Anthony. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. Katy Perry and Russell Brand. Seal and Heidi Klum. The list lately of celebrities who are divorcing, or who've separated and appear headed for divorce, seems to be growing every week. And, with news of each new celebrity break-up, one of the most frequent questions/remarks I hear is "I don't understand -- they seemed so happy?". Well, to those people I say -- I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but the truth is you just didn't know them, and you really never will.
In an age in which a star's every move, blunder and indiscretion is captured by paparazzi, exposed, and then instantaneously beamed around the globe by gossip (and even traditional) media outlets, most celebrities nowadays go to great lengths to try to safeguard their images. One of the ways they do this is by carefully controlling the information about them that gets released and served up to the general public. The reality is that we, the often unsuspecting populace, don't "know" these people -- we are either fed a narrative by celebs and their handlers, or we're left to create our own, based on the bits and pieces of information that they make available to us. We live in a time of hero worship -- where "celebrity" status is exalted, and those who are famous (or infamous) are idolized by many. It's not surprising then that we would be led to believe that celebrities are happy in their marriages (and other areas of their lives), or that we just assume that they are. After all, it fits our romantic notions of fame, and of the "beautiful people", and frankly, it's what we want to believe. That's why our first reaction is often surprise when we get word of yet another celebrity split.
I've handled many divorce cases involving "famous" people and I can assure you of this: celebrities aren't superhuman, they're real people just like you and me. They are fallible. They make mistakes. They face the same challenges and suffer the same problems in their relationships as we do; and their marriages fall victim to the same perils as ours, and also occasionally end in divorce.
Oftentimes it's even harder to make a "celebrity" marriage work. Most of the famous people I've known are driven and have healthy egos -- there's a reason why they got where they are, and it's not just dumb luck. And, when you put two outsize egos together in one marriage, the combination can be combustible. Add to that, the greater likelihood that the couple will have difficulties confronting and tackling issues such as privacy (and the lack thereof), making time for each other while having busy schedules, jealousy, trust, physical appearance, and money (as Notorious B.I.G. put it, "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems"). Indeed, they may not be fighting over balancing the checkbook, or who's doing the housework, or having to watch the kids, but celebrities have their own somewhat unique set of challenges in their marriages. Additionally, some celebrities are surrounded by people who constantly reinforce to them how wonderful they are. You can imagine then the problem they have, and the extreme psychic injury they suffer, when a partner loses interest, strays or wants out of the marriage.
But, as far as an "epidemic" or an "outbreak" is concerned, from my own experience and from the statistical data I've seen, there exists no such thing. The reality is that "celebrity" marriages have about the same success (and failure) rates as "normal" marriages -- they just garner a whole lot more attention and publicity. So, while we will continue to root for our favorite celebrity couples (and then express surprise if and when they end up divorcing), at least we can rest assured in the knowledge that when it comes to marriage and divorce, we are just like celebrities -- just without the paparazzi hiding in our bushes.