Did the news of Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman's separation after thirty years of marriage shock you? It did shock me briefly, but I have had clients who were married for forty and even fifty years yet ended their marriages. The bigger question is, why do many people feel that we somehow have the right to comment on the marriage or separation of a couple we don't even know and never will?
News Media Saturation Invokes a Closeness That Doesn't Exist. Every day we are bombarded with television reports, Internet articles, blogs and tweets on numerous celebrities and others "in the spotlight", and we begin to feel that we already know them. I probably hear more about Prince William and his new bride Kate Middleton more than I do my own relatives, notwithstanding Facebook! This artificial closeness makes people think that they can give their opinion on a famous couple's relationship. But we truly do not know what goes on in another relationship, unless we are in that relationship.
Anonymity and Fearlessness of the Internet. There is a tendency to be braver and bolder when making statements online; people say things that they wouldn't dare say in person. Realistically, is the person on the other computer going to reach through and punch your lights out for making that nasty statement, as they could very well do in person? Nope. The fear and the social filters have disappeared. The censors are not there. People feel free to trash at will.
People Want to Believe That Celebrities Are Just Like Regular People. Celebrities are usually fantastically good looking, in top athletic shape, rich beyond our wildest dreams and are masters at their craft. This can inspire envy and jealousy. Yet divorce knows no political, racial, ethnic or class boundaries. The marriages of the rich and famous fall apart as much as, if not more, than regular folk. Although people would like to think that celebrities are god-like, they are a lot like us. Talking about the downfall of the rich and famous somehow brings them down to a lesser god-like status. It also takes the focus away from our own problems.
Conversely, We Want Celebrities to Beat The Odds. Yes, thirty years is a long time to be married and the overall divorce rate is 50%. We know the statistics. Hearing that a long term marriage broke up is disheartening for many. The thought is, if the rich and famous can't make it work, who can? It plays into our deepest fears.
Hearing the news that a long term celebrity marriage has broken up plays into our fears that we too may be doomed. Try to put things in context. We don't know these people. We don't know what it was like to live with them or be them. What pressures or problems they must deal with. Like any other couple's relationship, there are parts that you will never know nor should know. There are many ways to view a conflict, more than just his side versus her side. Most importantly, let's stop and take a look at our own relationships and marriages, be grateful for the many things we do have and do the best we can to be there for our partner.