When Celebrity Divorces Attack

Why does it matter to us when two famous people we don’t even know get a divorce?

Short answer: it doesn’t.

But it’s more complicated than that. When it was announced recently that Amy Poehler and Will Arnett were divorcing, I took it about as hard as I’ve taken good friends’ divorces. For a few days, I was actually shocked how often I thought about what went wrong, why they couldn’t work it out, if there was a bad guy, etc. And then last night I heard Danny Devito and Rhea Perlman are getting divorced. Whaaat?! They married in 1982 but had been together since 1971. These people were together for 41 years! They have three grown children!

As a friend said on Facebook, “What on earth could necessitate a divorce after all those years?” Exactly! And who will think of the children? And by the children, I mean US!

In both of these cases – which I know next to nothing about – I actually felt sad. But why?

I think there are a couple of things at play here. For one thing, divorce is always just kind of a bummer. Mine isn’t even final yet – mostly because we are friendly with each other and basically too lazy to make the final push, despite living apart for more than a year. But I’m still grieving it. And so are the people who love me and my family. Even in the best of circumstances like ours, it’s just plain sad. And you know why? Because of weddings.

Goddam weddings! The reason I love them so much – and will cry at a stranger’s nuptials – is that the occasion is so nakedly hopeful. It’s crazy! Lovely and sweet and profound and crazy. Think about it: the deck is stacked against a long marriage. Our life expectancy is double what it was a hundred years ago. Women have financial independence in ways history has never seen before. There’s really no compelling reason to become entangled like that.

And yet we still do it. And it’s heartbreakingly beautiful to see two people beginning a life with shared hopes and dreams for a future together. Every time I witness it, I am full of optimism. Which is why it hurts so much when it ends. It’s not the end of the legal marriage, per se. It’s the death of a very profound hope that is so crushing.

So, there’s that.

Then there’s the star factor. Some people become stars because they are awful and soulless and will crush anyone and anything to get to the top. And other people become stars because they’re awesome. What they do is so rare, or so funny, or just so damn likable that we not only feel we know them, but we like them, too. Both of the couples I mentioned above meet this criteria. Poehler and Arnett are both hilarious and have contributed things to the world that make it better. And Perlman and Devito were not only part of one of the most beloved TV shows of all-time, but they’ve gone on to have cool second (third?) acts both in and out of the spotlight.

(I’ll forgive Twins. Sometimes a check is a check. They had to put 3 kids through college!)  

You know, if we really do like these people so much, we really shouldn’t mourn their uncoupling. They made a choice. They decided they’d be happier apart. We should probably just respect that and keep movin’, right? After all, we don’t even know them.

But if hear so much as a PEEP about Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, or Iman and David Bowie, I’m jumping off a bridge. You’ve been warned, celebs!

12 thoughts on “When Celebrity Divorces Attack

  1. What??? Danny and Rhea? I actually do feel sad about that. In their case, for me, it’s not the death of the dream that bothers me, so much as the death of all they must have built together in the 40-odd years they’ve been together. All that investment of love, time, energy, trust…flushed away. Sad.

    • reallyrealatlantahousewife says:

      Ugh, you’re so right about all the investment. I almost don’t want to hear any more about what went wrong, you know? It’s all too sad…

  2. Lisa says:

    What about how sad it would be if Tom Hanks & Rita Wilson?? On one of our trips after lots of wine Greta & I actually laid in bed & listed all the long time celebrity couples we would be sad about if they broke up. We drank enough that we couldn’t remember who was on our list the next day!!!

  3. It is terribly sad, isn’t it? I was shocked when I saw Danny and Rhea were splitting up. but, having been married for a mere 25 years, I see why this happens.

    I agree with you that couples get married with lots of hope. And at first there’s the lust to feed the hope. Lust is worth a lot, in my book, but then comes the kids. Kids are antithetical to lust, but they can become their own reason for staying together. Unfortunately, kids can be such a boner-killer that a couple can’t survive the death of lust. My husband and I hit a serious rough-patch when our children were 2 and 4 and almost gave it up, but we both knew that it wasn’t going to be easier without each other. We did stay together “for the kids”, but we also got lots of great marriage counseling, and survived this bump in the road.

    After awhile the kids get potty-trained and weaned, and if you are extremely lucky, you can resurrect the lust. That’s what happened for us.

    But for some couples the combined project of raising kids can sustain a marriage. I’ve known lots of couples who continue to stay together for the kids, but never really address the issues, or find a way to restore the spark. These couples rarely make it much past the kids leaving the nest. Once the raison d’etre is gone, the marriage is over. I’d say at this point it is about 50/50 who initiates the divorce with women more likely to leave because they are fed up with the man, and men more likely to leave because they’ve found a younger woman to massage their sagging egos.

    Fast-forward to post-kids and many couples find they just have nothing in common. In my personal experience most long-term marriages end at this phase because the women has had it. I’ve rarely known a man to leave a long-term marriage unless there is adultery involved.

    The lesson I’ve learned in life is that you constantly have to reinvent your marriage and that BOTH people have to be equally invested in the hard work involved in that.

    And this was a very long comment, but I love your blog. Marci Rich sent me over here. Welcome To GenFab! I’m glad to have you.

    • reallyrealatlantahousewife says:

      Wow. Starting to think getting invited to GenFab is gonna turn out to be the best invite ever. Sure feels like the right thing at the right time…

      I agree with everything you said here. We were married for over 20 years and the toll that kids take on desire – and the time and energy to fulfill that desire – can’t be understated. I always try not to embarrass my kids on my blog (the internet is forever!) so I won’t go into too much detail, but it’s so true that it takes constant reinvention and when one or both is too tired, it’s over.

      So glad you enjoyed reading the blog – I loved reading your comment! 🙂

  4. Nancy says:

    Did I see Alex from RHONY in an ad for Couples Therapy talking of divorce??

  5. Nancy says:

    BTW, I’ve always said it does not matter if you are the dumper or the dumpee, divorce is horrible!

Talk to me.

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