From lovers to friends, these pairs are in it till the end.
We’ve all seen the photos: Shots of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis happily posing together with their kids (and Moore’s second ex-husband Ashton Kutcher) have surfaced everywhere from exotic vacations to Hollywood red carpets. While you may think that’s unusual, Hollywood divorces don’t all have to end in disaster. Here are a few that didn’t.
Perhaps the biggest drama-free divorce in Hollywood happened between actors Demi Moore and Bruce Willis. “The key here is that the breakup was very clean and dry,” says Andrew Schrage, relationship expert for Money Crashers.com. “There was no horrible drama or rumors of affairs, and because they had three daughters together, there was a bond that would always keep them together and motivation to continue getting along,” he adds.
According to relationship expert Chris Donaghue of Logo TV’s Bad Sex, healthy emotional relationships survive any sort of physical separation. “Willis has provided a shoulder to lean on for Moore after her failed marriage to Ashton Kutcher. Just because two people cannot make it as a couple, does not mean they cannot make it as friends.”
Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger agrees. According to Stanger, as long as the sexual attraction is gone, there’s no reason exes can’t still hang out. “These two have the perfect relationship,” Stanger says. “The houses next door to each other, they vacation together, they keep it really amicable for the kids and that’s what counts.”
After a tumultuous divorce amid accusations of prostitutes, drugs, and death threats, it's amazing actress Denise Richards can even forgive Charlie Sheen. But it appears she has done just that. The actress has been by the actor’s side as his third marriage derailed and he’s come unhinged in the public eye. She's even publicly offered to care for his twin boys with estranged wife Brooke Mueller.
“Richards has taken on a ‘motherly’ role post-divorce,” Schrage says. “Sheen truly had drug and sex addiction issues. She didn't necessarily blame him as a person, but rather his habits that were tough to break.” Schrage adds that it’s clear Richards wants to see Sheen live a long, healthy life, perhaps for the sake of the couple’s two daughters.
While they never married, Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz were a Hollywood ‘it’ couple for nearly four years. Through his current on-off relationship with Jessica Biel and her long-term one with Alex Rodriquez, they remained buddies, even starring in a movie together and publicly flirting it up on the red carpet.
“The fact that they can still hang together is a great testament to their own self-confidence and applying the values that are important to their core selves,” says Elizabeth R. Lombardo, author and psychologist.
Donaghue agrees. “They were friends while dating and still friends now, a good sign for each of their prospective future partners,” he says.
Public arguments may have marred this young couple’s marriage, but for the sake of their 3-year-old son Bronx, it seems Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz have managed to stay civil, revealing in press statements they simply “grew apart.”
Stanger says this couple may seem civil, but it is likely they aren’t going to be one big happy family like Willis and Moore. “Couples like this stay friendly until one gets into a serious relationship, and then the partner who isn’t in the relationship becomes a little unhappy.”
While their three-year marriage just officially ended in November 2011, both Simpson and Wentz are said to have moved on and are now dating other people.
Although Denise Richards seems willing to play the “mother” figure to ex-husband Charlie Sheen, in the case of Courteney Cox and David Arquette, Cox was more than ready to relinquish that role.
Numerous media outlets reported that the 46-year old actress grew frustrated with her husband’s “immaturity” and “didn’t want to be his mother” anymore.
“David’s bad boy ways are what drew Courteney to him in the first place,” Stanger says, “but eventually she’d hoped he’d grow up.”
After supporting him through recent stints in rehab and on Dancing With the Stars, the two are still friends. “They started out as fantastic friends on the set of Scream, which has been a great basis for a friendship post-divorce,” Schrage says. Not to mention, their adorable daughter Coco.
Cruel Intentions co-stars Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe had a marriage and two kids under their belts by the time they were 27. When the actress was catapulted into super stardom with an Oscar win, it seems Philippe just couldn’t keep up and the seven-year marriage went kaput.
“Their current friendship is due in large part to Witherspoon’s maturity and motherly instincts to keep a relationship going strong,” Schrage says. While it was likely that Philippe was the catalyst for the break up, both chalk it up to being too much, too young. But, there was no love lost.
“Even though they were both young and inexperienced during their marriage, they are proof that true love and caring doesn’t expire,” Donaghue says.
The story of the beautiful actress and the professional athlete is one Hollywood knows well. Vanessa Williams and Rick Fox seemed like a love story right out of a made-for-TV movie—until they split after five years of marriage.
“This was a difficult relationship from the get-go given that they were living on opposite coasts and both had high-flying careers,” Schrage says.
When asked how he fought off the temptations to cheat, Fox told management consultant Val McLeod at a 2004 event, “These other women couldn’t even carry my wife's water.” Even though the duo eventually split up, that mutual respect has stayed intact. “Because they have both been able to maintain successful careers, there has been a lack of bitterness post-divorce,” Schrage says. Fox even guest-starred on William’s ABC series Ugly Betty.
“I've found many occurrences when couples are really good together but for some reason, they give up during the naturally occurring marital rough patches,” McLeod says. “I advise couples to establish a plan-of-action for those emergent issues that are inevitable in every relationship.”
McLeod believes that the Foxes had the framework for a successful marriage but didn’t have a strategic plan to keep it together when it mattered most.