What Would a Marriage Counselor Say?
Experts share their no-nonsense advice for 10 celebrity relationships gone wrong.
Sometimes the phrase "celebrity relationship" alone is somewhat of an oxymoron. Marriage is tough as it is, but throw in the pressures of Hollywood and, in most cases; it's a recipe for disaster that rivals any movie script. Despite the glitz and glam of an A-lister's image, "The most important thing is to not expect perfection," says Beverly Hills psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish. "We are all flawed human beings and it's important to acknowledge that and be accountable for our own flaws and errors."
Here, we dissect ten celebrity relationships that went sour and what could have possibly been done to save them.
Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher
With a 15-year age difference, the odds were stacked against this power-pair from the start. But they managed to make it six years, before rumors of Kutcher's serial cheating ultimately put the kibosh on this Kabbalah loving couple (Moore officially announced she was filing for divorce on November 17).
"So-called "cougars" or the older woman-younger man relationship have been on the rise, but let's get real, it's not likely they'll last long term," Kriger says. She believes that, in Kutcher's case, it was fun for a while but when the thrill was gone, they didn't have much in common to keep them blissfully in Holy Matrimony.
Not to mention, their every misstep was tracked and reported to anyone who would listen. "If every couple who ever had a bump in the road were put on the cover of every magazine in the world, we"d all be screwed," Miller says. While over-exposure could be to blame, Tessina says, there had to be signs they were growing apart that were likely ignored. Donaghue agrees: "I would tell these two to reminisce about what made them fall in love in the first place."
Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries
With the ping-pong of he-said/she-said going on in the media and accusations that it was all a sham, it's hard to understand just what went wrong in this "made-for-tv" marriage that went belly up in just over two months. "Something really bad must have happened to end this marriage so quickly," says Tina Tessina, a licensed psychotherapist practicing in Southern California.
Or could the cameras be to blame? "Reality TV makes for great TV, not relationships," says Allison Pescosolido, co-founder of Divorce Detox. Relationship expert Lindsay Kriger agrees that Kardashian playing out her life for all to see may have been the downfall to her marriage. "Kim and Kris were so busy broadcasting their relationship on reality TV, they didn't take the time to make sure it worked in actual reality," Kriger says. "Although Kim has made her money as a show pony on TV, it seems no one told her that when it comes to love, a fairytale union can"t be ordered on Gilt."
Chris Donaghue, host of LOGO's new series Bad Sex, has some advice for the Keeping up with the Kardashian's star. "Stop chasing shiny objects and put in the time and hard work it takes to make a marriage work long-term," he says. "Marriage is not like fashion-in one season and out the next!" Kardashian should apply the same skills that make her so successful in business to her future relationships, Kriger says. "Without willingness from both parties to negotiate and give and take, a marriage is basically hopeless."
Sandra Bullock and Jesse James
As this story sadly played out in news reports nationwide, Sandra Bullock won the sympathy vote and admitted adulterer Jesse James became the bad guy. Ironically, The Blind Side actress ended up being blindsided herself, totally in the dark about her husband's cheating ways. But some speculated it was the imbalance in their careers that ultimately led to their relationship's demise. "Overall, I think these two were a good match, but I have a suspicion that her skyrocketing career and her accolades such as her Oscar win ultimately hurt his manhood," Tessina says.
While none of our experts are abdicating James of his responsibility for causing turmoil in the marriage, Donaghue also thinks it may have been Bullock's career that pushed James away-and into the arms of other women. "I would love to know how Sandra kept connected with her husband while she was always away shooting movies." He adds, "Someone should inform them that relationships don't run on autopilot, no matter how busy you are." While all our experts agree, therapy is definitely in order for James, Brooke Miller, of Soapboxtherapy.com hopes Sandra learns to love and trust again. "Eventually, she'll be able to open her heart to a man who wants the same things she wants."
Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds
Two hot Hollywood actors in the prime of their career-sounds like a perfect match, right? Not so fast-these two were headed for splitsville from the start say our experts. "It's not a surprise that the Sexiest Man Alive and the Sexiest Woman of the Year paired up, but it's also not a surprise they divorced after just two years," Kriger says. "It seems to be the Hollywood norm."
While this divorce was mostly amicable, it didn't come without public blame. Johansson claimed Ryan was "away too much" while Reynolds countered Johansson was "too independent and emotional." "Welcome to what we call life," Donaghue says. "Unless you are planning on sacrificing your careers, you both better learn how to tolerate distance, regulate your emotions and understand sacrifice."
J-Lo and Marc Anthony
A few failed marriages under each of their belts and with lessons learned, these longtime friends turned Latin lovers seemed destined for a long and happy life together." Jennifer Lopez treats relationships like a revolving door and it seems she's always chasing that high you get in the beginning of one," Donaghue speculates.
But, according to Miller, Anthony seems to shoulder more of the blame. "[Anthony] had a crush on [Lopez] for many years and watched as she found love in all the wrong places. When she finally realized she deserved his love and affections, he realized she's a real person and not some fantasy, and it all fell apart."
Tessina thinks this was a case of clashing careers-and ego"s. "It's not easy to dominate a powerhouse like J-Lo. I suspect a strong man like Anthony felt safe to her for a while but ultimately turned into a power struggle."
Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller
Unfortunately, only one word comes to mind when it comes to the explosive marriage between Charlie Sheen and third wife Brooke Mueller, and the events that unfolded over the course of several months: Trainwreck. "When two addicts get together, they are bound to become addicted to each other and mistake it for love," Miller explains. "It's a slippery slope once you figure out that you're just swapping out one addiction-drugs-for another-your partner."
While Sheen was plagued by rumors of drug abuse, partying and addiction for years before marrying Brooke, mental illness seemed to be at the root of this marriage's troubles. "My advice to Brooke would be to pay better attention to the emotional health of your next partner," Tessina says, "You can't marry someone to save him from himself."
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver
It seemed to be a storybook marriage, going on more than a quarter of century, until shocking reports revealed actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had fathered a secret love child with the couple's longtime maid-and covered it up for ten years. "I think Maria spent years overlooking Arnold's womanizing ways until she found out about an affair right under her nose. That was the deal breaker," Tessina says.
Miller speculates that keeping up that image of perfection for so long became just too hard to handle. "Making a mistake because you're human as Arnold did, but then covering it up and going on with your life like it never happened eventually causes the foundation of everything you stand for to erode. Slowly you erode and the relationship erodes and that perfect façade comes crashing down."
Adds Kriger, "Hopefully her 15-million dollar book deal will help ease some of the pain. Celebrity love lesson number one-if he smells like a cheater, he probably is a cheater."
Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz
While "rockstar" marriages seem to have an even shorter shelf life than other facets of the entertainment industry, Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz seemed relatively happy and in love-until she filed for divorce just two years after having son Bronx.
"Just because you"re a celebrity doesn't mean you won't fall into the common space of falling apart after having a child," Miller says. She adds, "Seems like they were in the honeymoon phase of their relationship when they had their son and the responsibilities, fears and challenges of being parents just took too much of a toll."
Donaghue feels this was just a case of running away when the going got tough. "Flirting, strippers and public emotional outbursts do not make for a happy marriage. They really needed to set some boundaries and stop accepting childish behavior."
And while motherhood seemed to cure Ashlee of her hard-partying ways, it didn't seem to be that way for Pete. "This was a real party couple, who made no secret about it. But when baby came, party girl Ashlee grew up fast and started taking life more seriously while Pete didn't get on the grownup train." When that proverbial train pulled out of the station, Ashlee left Pete behind.
Courteney Cox and David Arquette
This relationship seemed to be built to last, even by showbiz standards. Courteney Cox and David Arquette may have met on a movie set but no one could have predicted their eleven year union would end up being a box office flop. Despite that, the pair has been co-parenting 7-year old daughter Coco and even reportedly developing a TV sitcom together. "It seems like, throughout the course of the marriage, Courteney grew up and David remained in the role of the child. But now that they had an actual child, Courteney decided she couldn't be a mother to both," Miller suggests.
If her presence in the audience of one of David's competitions for Dancing With the Stars is any indication, this couple is likely one of Hollywood's most amicable-and admirable-splits. "It may have been the end of a family system that appeared a certain way," Miller says, "but this has never been a couple who's about looking the part."
Eva Longoria and Tony Parker
When the gorgeous actress married the equally gorgeous athlete, everyone was rooting for them. After a fairytale Parisian wedding, the couple decided after just three years, they "wanted different things" and filed for divorce. The catalyst? Longoria's reported discovery of hundreds of inappropriate text messages to another woman-on Parker's phone.
"I interpret the statement that they "wanted different things" to mean that she wanted a monogamous, married life and he still wanted to be a player, both on and off the courts," Tessina asserts. Miller agrees. "She wanted the whole kit-n-caboodle and he clearly didn't." While Longoria embraced the role of Mrs. Tony Parker, her husband seemed to keep his solo identity. "When someone loses their identity in a relationship, it's actually no longer a relationship," Miller says. "It becomes a one-man show."
But, the ever-confident Eva demanded more for herself and moved on with a younger-and hotter-guy. "A hot, new boyfriend is the perfect band-aid for a broken heart," Pescosolido says.
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