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What went Wrong?

Actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow seem to have it all – good looks, fantastic figures, heaps of cash and, most importantly, a hot and successful husband. But how easy (or difficult) is it for celebrities to maintain their relationships? AW explores.

When Queen of Pop Madonna put her controversial pointy bra days behind her, and settled down with her calming yoga routine, her adopted child from Malawi, and, of course, her successful movie director hubby, we thought that the female Peter Pan had finally decided to grow up. Then, the superstar's seven year marriage to Guy Ritchie came to a grinding halt. Allegedly dishing out around USD 76-92 million in hush money to her ex to prevent him from making a ‘tell all' movie about her, she has now snuggled up to (or ‘cradle-snatched' if you prefer) 22-year-old Jesus Luz.

Thus, another celebrity couple bites the dust, and there are a million reasons why it happened. Maybe it's because of her constant working out while he's always in the pub. Or perhaps it's down to her obsession with Kabbalah and his own bloke-ish devotion to his mates.

He may have failed to sympathise when she hurt herself badly when she fell off her horse or because she might have banned fried foods for breakfasts. She may be uptight and controlling, and he may be emotionally retarded. It may be because she's half a century old, hitting the mid-life crisis stage, while he is 10 years her junior and still enjoying his prime.

Whatever their reasons, the point is this – all relationships and marriages face their challenges, but in the world of Hollywood and fame, there are booby traps left and right, from being surrounded by gorgeous temptations, being constantly monitored, and, of course, being hounded by nasty rumours. The pitfalls that celebrity couples face are ones that us average Aishah's thankfully don't have to deal with.

Temptation: the other woman/man

Spotlight: Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston Imagine yourself in Jennifer Aniston's shoes: your husband is the hottest man alive, and he's leaving to shoot a movie with the hottest woman alive, Angelina Jolie. The sets of ‘Mr and Mrs Smith' proved to create too much quality time between Pitt and Jolie, and those pouty lips eventually prevailed over Anniston's golden complexion. Temptation abounds in the sea of endless beauty that is Hollywood.

Real life: Temptations exist everywhere, not just in Hollywood, and marriage is supposed to nip those little urges in the bud. The reality is, however, that after the initial honeymoon phase has worn off, marriage is more about love and responsibility than lust – and if luscious people come your way, you have to exercise control and sort out your priorities and your morals in order to ignore them.

According to sexual health expert Dr Laura Bernam, one of the most common reasons behind infidelity is the need for appreciation. Someone who feels unloved or unappreciated may begin looking outside their marriage for sources of comfort and affirmation. “If you want to protect your relationship from infidelity,” Dr Bernam advises, “You must first protect your relationship from the silent killers - jealousy, bitterness, low self-esteem and mistrust. The only way to do this is through honest communication. Reveal your true emotions and needs to your partner and encourage him to do the same.”

Over-publicity Spotlight: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez

There was a time in 2002 where you couldn't turn on the TV or read a magazine without seeing or hearing that dreaded, silly compound word, ‘Bennifer'. They were the ultimate publicity lords, which was probably the end cause of their broken off engagement.

The couple was so overexposed, that their puke-inducing repertoire resulted in the embarrassing box office failure, ‘Gigli'. It's no wonder that both Lopez and Affleck try to keep a low profile with their current respective husband and wife, Marc Anthony and Jennifer Garner.

Real life: Overexposure doesn't always have to be the ‘turn on the TV and you're there' kind. Everyone knows a couple who are so unbelievably loved up that they are canoodling at every party, and they are rarely seen not hanging off each other's arms. Every sentence is littered with the other's name, the girl starts talking marriage before he's even proposed.

The outcome? A hard and harsh fall in the spotlight. The more people that are talking about your relationship, the more it is flaunted, the more chances of things going wrong for various reasons – too many opinions coming your way and clouding your vision perhaps, some jealousy and a lot of interference. The solution? Keep things quiet. This doesn't mean hiding your relationship of course, it just means keeping a grip on reality and realizing that too many cooks spoil the broth!

One is more famous Spotlight: Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe

Reese Witherspoon is America's darling. She was charming and hilarious in ‘Legally Blonde' and won an Oscar for her portrayal of June Carter in ‘Walk the Line'. Her, what's his name? Exactly. Ryan Phillippe was suffering from a severe drought of good movie roles and very little fame. Perhaps he felt neglected and emasculated? Whatever the real issue was, he cheated on her with actress Abbie Cornish and the response from the general public? What a loser!

These two aren't the only ones. Ethan Hawke hinted that his marriage ended because he couldn't handle Uma Thurman's ‘Kill Bill' success. He allegedly told a newspaper that, “It's unfair when one person's career is taking off and the other is really suffering. What happens – it's not that they're jealous of each other; it's that the person you share your life with isn't in the mood to support you. You want to have a pity party for yourself, but they're off to the Golden Globes, and you don't want to go because everyone is going to think you are jealous.”

Real life: It's a classic problem in all close relationships, not just marriage. It exists between siblings, friends, extended families and colleagues. Everyone wants to be successful, and usually, we all appreciate our loved ones doing really well – even if they're doing better than us. However, when you're in the same industry, then things are a little different. There are also the dynamics of the relationship to think about. The sad truth is that most men need to feel like men – and part of this instinct is being the principle bread-winner in the family.

When you're supporting your spouse in going back to school, getting a promotion or achieving an important goal, your marriage couldn't be better. You're a team – and more important, you're the mentor. But once that goal is reached and your sagely role is a distant memory, you may start feeling jealous that your spouse has overshadowed your accomplishments. And if the wife is the new achiever, this scenario can be particularly devastating because of the societal pressure men are under to achieve and excel.

In the situation when the wife is excelling, it can go two ways. “Either she backs down and lets go of her confidence so he can still be helpful to her, or she moves ahead and throws the marriage into a real shakeup,” says Karen Gail Lewis, EdD, marriage and family therapist and author of ‘The Secret to a Solid Marriage'.

The green-eyed monster Spotlight: Chris Brown and Rihanna

You'd think that celebs – with their perfect bodies, looks, hair… pretty much everything - wouldn't be susceptible to jealousy, right? Wrong. Pre-bust-up, according the Mirror, Rihanna stormed into a club in the UK where Chris Brown was flirting with some of his fans and broke off the fun. Later, rumours that Brown was flirting with Brit singing sensation Leona Lewis at the pre-Grammies party had sparked off the row between the couple that had led to Rihanna being hospitalised. The pair are now discussing reconciliation.

Real life: Jealousy is one of the most common relationship problems. “Jealousy is related to two emotions – fear and anger,” explains psychologist and relationship coach Dr Jack Ito, PhD, “Fear of losing what we have and anger at whoever seems to be threatening to take it from us. In a society such as ours, where the opportunity for cheating is ever present, it is jealous behaviour that is the biggest threat to our relationships.”

Even Rihanna, with her million dollar legs was jealous at something as petty as her man giving a little bit too much attention to his fans, so it comes as no surprise that ordinary women like us who may be a tad overweight, have less than flawless skin, or hair in need of some treatment may feel disconcerted when their husbands are surrounded by attractive women.

The key is this: remember that no matter how imperfect you think you are, he obviously thinks you're pretty special, which is why he chose you over everyone else to spend the rest of his life with. Now that's deep!

Celebrities are just as fallible as we are and their relationships come with the same issues as ours, albeit perhaps more dramatic, blownup versions. Actress or accountant, singer or seamstress, the bottom line is, all relationships take a lot of hard work – money, fame and great looks just simply aren't enough to sustain the more important things in life – family and friends. So next time you go green with envy at the celebs who seem to have it all, just remember that actually, they don't.

Article by:  Arabian Woman

Posted by: May Issue 2009

Marital Issues (Previous Features)

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