Celebrities are a very singular sort. They have to be in order to become a celebrity in the first place, and the experience of being rich, famous, and adored inexorably alters them even further. They seem so unlike us, more godlike than human. Yet despite this, they suffer from many of the same problems we all do.
Especially when it comes to relationships.
In reality, celebrities aren’t gods. They just as human as the rest of us—even moreso, actually. Think of them as normal, everyday people, but amplified. Bigger homes. Bigger money. Bigger breakdowns. Bigger blowups. Bigger pain. They are life, exaggerated, and when they fail, it all happens beneath the ever-watchful public eye.
An analysis by the Marriage Foundation found that celebrity couples divorce at nearly twice the rate of the general population. This study, which included an analysis of 572 popular celebrity couples who married since 2000, reveals the myth of the quick celebrity divorce to be true. The spotlight isn’t just making their divorces seem more prevalent—they are more prevalent.
But why? What causes the marriages of celebrities to tank at double the rate of everyone else’s? And, just as importantly, what can the average person learn from this?
Lets’ find out.
No Limitation and Infinite Temptation
Stars are under far greater pressure to separate than the average couple, and in no small part because of their fame and fortune.
Limits aren’t always a bad thing. Limitations can keep our baser desires in check. They can keep us responsible and accountable.
But celebrities don’t have many limitations, and, what’s worse, they have far more temptations. They work with some of the most beautiful people in the world. They’re adored by thousands of fans. Their money can take them anywhere, buy them anything.
And so there’s little incentive to remain in a relationship when things become difficult, especially for two people who are accustomed to getting what they want as soon as they want it.
Emotions are volatile things. How you feel about your spouse can shift over time, especially once the emotional honeymoon stage is over. When this happens—when the relationship is no longer primarily fueled by emotion or physical desire—married couples must choose to love and care for each other.
When relationships hit an inevitable low, sometimes limitations are what temporarily hold them together—divorce is difficult, painful, and financially draining. And sometimes, these considerations can make all the difference, encouraging a couple to heal a relationship rather than move on.
But it’s at this point that many celebrity marriages fail. When that emotional drive dies away—typically around the two year mark—other opportunities begin to look a lot better. And because of a lack of financial consequences, many celebs simply move on to the proverbial greener grass.
Although the celebrity version of this issue may be bigger and crazier, remember, in your own relationship, that emotions and attractions come and go—work hard to establish a close, intimate friendship with your partner that can serve as the bedrock of the relationship with other factors vary.
Remember your commitment to your spouse—it’s one of the most important promises of your life.
"Leggo My Ego"
Power changes most people, and one of the first things to change is often the size of one’s ego.
In any marriage, it’s important to consider your partner’s needs and wants, not just your own. But since many celebs are accustomed to being the center of attention and admiration, this doesn’t always work out. When two powerful people start asking one another to give up attention and time, resentment can brew.
This problem can become especially pronounced when one celeb partner or the other is offered a life-changing job opportunity—one film, music, or book deal can completely change the direction of someone’s life.
And when two people who aren’t willing to bend to anyone else’s will find that their lives are headed in different directions, that’s it for the relationship. This is especially true if a spouse becomes competitive, and subsequently resentful of their partner’s success. This was the primary reason behind the high-profile split of Scarlet Johansson and Ryan Renolds.
It’s important to remember that your spouse needs and deserves your attention. A marriage isn’t a competition or a power struggle—it’s cooperation. It’s a shared life. Communicate with our spouse about your goals, aspirations, and future. And ask your spouse to tell you the same about themselves.
Justin Timberlake, in an interview with Vanity Fair, puts summed this up well, saying "I think the mistake is that people commit to who that person is right then and not the person they're going to become. That's the art of staying together, is changing together.”
Plot a course together, and you’ll avoid the smaller version of the celebrity relationship meltdown.
The third biggest cause of celebrity splits is the intense, unrelenting pressure of public and professional scrutiny. For many, it’s just too much to handle.
Celebrity lives aren’t like those of the general public. They’re watched. Constantly. They’re always under review, and every action they take can affect their bottom line as their popularity waxes and wanes.
That means they have to constantly have “the look”. They have to act a certain way. They have to tolerate cameras clicking in their faces and adoring fans begging for their time. They’re put on display for the masses, treated as an entertainment commodity, and gossiped about.
Add to this the pressures of critics, threats, stalkers, and other security issues, and you have one stressed-out celebrity life.
This takes a toll on relationships. Just as the constant stress of public scrutiny has led to more than one paparazzo receiving a black eye, it is also often a source of depression, paranoia, drug abuse, and acting out for many celebrities.
These things wreak havoc on a marriage as one or both partners desperately grasp at coping mechanisms to get them through day after difficult day. For them, life is not a fairy tale. And sometimes, it’s a hell.
If you take anything away from this kind of celebrity breakdown, let it be this: don’t be afraid to seek outside help when the pressures of life, employment, or family begin to wear you down. And just as importantly, support one another—identify areas of discomfort and pressure, and work together to overcome them.
You and your spouse are one another’s greatest refuge. Don’t forget that.
The Fairytale That Wasn’t
We often hold celebrities up as that which we aspire to. We want to be the next Brad and Angelina. We want the pizazz of Johansson and Reynolds.
But the truth is that the reel relationships that we see in the media aren’t the same as the real relationships underneath. These people experience the same, if not more, problems that all of us do. And when the very real problems of these famous men and women come out, they are huge and devastating.
Rather than trying to emulate the dazzling veneer of celebrity marriages, try learning from their very real mistakes. They’re more similar to our own than you might think.