‘Til Death Do Us Part?
You’re online and it’s time to upgrade your software; do you take the time to read the agreement before you click ‘I agree’? You’ve purchased a new smart phone; have you read the contract thoroughly before agreeing to the terms? You’re standing before the minister or justice of the peace; have you given serious consideration to all that’s being said before you either repeat those vows or say, “I do”? How many of us had the privilege to watch our grandparents grow old together, yet how many of us are the product of a broken home? ‘Til death do us part’ which were once words to live by are now just words. “In the U.S., the average divorce comes after eight years of marriage. That’s 24 times longer than Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney lasted; 40 times longer than Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries; and 324 times longer than Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra.” (Berman) Much like a phone contract or apartment lease, people are treating marriage the same way; when they’re unhappy they look for a way out.
In the United States, ending a marriage was never a legal option until 1701 when Maryland became the first state to allow married couples to divorce. However, if you lived in South Carolina, laws permitting divorce were not put in place until 1949, nearly two hundred and fifty years later. Fast forward to now and the sanctity of marriage seems more or less a joke. In Las Vegas, couples can get married in a drive-thru. As quickly as two can marry, the same two can just as quickly divorce. One of the more popular examples of this took place in 2004 when Britney Spears was married for fifty-five hours to childhood friend, Jason Alexander. Spears went so far as to say the marriage was a joke which is why it was so quickly annulled.
In ‘The End of the Affair,’ David Sedaris shares an encounter with his partner, Hugh. The two had just seen the film ‘The End of the Affair.’ Sedaris appears to regret watching this love story with Hugh. He states, “The theme is universal and encourages the viewer to make a number of unhealthy comparisons, ultimately raising the question, “Why can’t our lives be like that?”” (Sedaris) I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can relate to what Sedaris is saying. In the movies, they show us the romance, the wooing of the woman by the man, the conflict they face in getting together, and ultimately the happy ending. But real life is far different from what Hollywood portrays. Their films don’t show us what happens after the credits have rolled.
In August 2000, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were Hollywood’s ‘IT’ couple. In their vows, they promised each other a lifetime of love and milk shakes. Their ‘lifetime’ came to an abrupt end in 2005. Brad Pitt was shooting the film “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” with Angelina Jolie. The sparks that flew between the two in the movie was simultaneously going on while they were shooting the film. “Brangelina” had taken the world by storm. Eventually, a heartbroken Aniston would file for divorce. Their breakup gave women across the country the opportunity to wear their support for either Team Jolie or Team Aniston on t-shirts.
Dave Singleton and his “Real Rules for Successful Gay Dating” had me looking at a side of Hollywood that many won’t acknowledge…the success of homosexual relationships. Singleton wrote this story in 2004, before gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. He talks about how there is one goal in straight dating: “together forever till death do us part” (Singleton). He doesn’t believe the same holds true for the gay couple, especially gay males. Maybe he’s speaking from his personal experiences. From what we see in Hollywood, gay men appear to be more successful in their relationships than women. Melissa Etheridge has been in two long-term relationships with women which resulted in a total of four children. Now her former partners are left to raise the children on their own. Rosie O’Donnell married her longtime partner, Kelly Carpenter, in 2004. O’Donnell and Carpenter are parents to four children. Carpenter moved out of the couple’s home in 2007 and it wasn’t until 2009 that O’Donnell revealed the two had split. Elton John, Neil Patrick Harris, and David Hyde Pierce are among many gay men in Hollywood who have experienced long term successes in their relationships.
Benedict Carey brings us a psychological look at romance. He states in his story, “The Brain in Love,” “While lust makes our eye wander, they say, it’s the drive for romance that allows us to focus on one particular person, though we often can’t explain why.” (Carey) Let’s travel back to Hollywood and look at couples that meet that criterion. “Will and Grace” star Debra Messing came out recently and stated she and her husband of ten years had separated last year. She and on-screen love, Will Chase, have taken their relationship off-screen. By the way, Chase recently announced he and his wife have also called it quits. While this happens more often than not, it’s the popularity of the internet and social media that bring these stories to light. In spite of these “showmances,” there are successful Hollywood relationships that began on a TV or movie set.
Warren Beatty had a reputation in Hollywood for being a playboy, a womanizer. While making the film, “Dick Tracy” in 1990, he and co-star Madonna had a brief relationship. But it was his 1991 “Bugsy” co-star Annette Bening that not only stole his heart, but caused his eyes to wander no more; they’ve been married nearly twenty years. Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman met when Perlman was a guest star on the TV series “Taxi.” The couple recently celebrated their thirtieth wedding anniversary. Joanne Woodward and the late Paul Newman may hold the record. The two met while Newman was still married to Jackie Witte whom he divorced in 1957. Newman and Woodward got married in 1958 and were married for fifty years before Newman passed away in 2008.
It’s the short term relationships and even shorter marriages that grab our attention. The tabloids in print and online are saturated constantly with stories of new romances and recent heartbreaks. Why are we as a society so invested in relationships that have nothing to do with our lives? Why do we care so much about people we will never meet in our lifetime? David Sedaris said it best when he said, “They rarely make movies about long-term couples, and for good reason: Our lives are boring.” (Sedaris)
John Berman. ABC’s 20/20. ABC. 04 Feb. 2012. Television.
Sedaris, David. “The End of the Affair.” Latterell 335-337.
Latterell, Catherine G., Remix: Reading + Composing Culture. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006. Print.
Singleton, Dave. “Real Rules for Successful Gay Dating.” Latterell 352-358.
Carey, Benedict. “The Brain in Love.” Latterell 400-403.