For most of my life, I’ve had a bit of stardust in my eyes, thinking what a wonderful thing it must be to be famous, beautiful, and wealthy. For example, in the past, whenever a beautiful celebrity married another beautiful celebrity, I had to know all the details. See the dress. View the perfectly placed flowers and the fairy tale scenery. Scour the pictures to see if I could glimpse well known, glamourous stars who attended the gala with their other well known Hollywood dates. I imagined the luxury honeymoon that would follow the ceremony and daydreamed about the magnificent “happily ever after” that lay waiting for the couple who seemed to have it all.
But the truth is, the celebrity divorce rate is two thirds higher than for other couples. And when you take a look at the statistics, it makes perfect sense.
It’s hard to make a relationship work no matter who you are, but when you add in the factors that most stars deal with on a daily basis, the difficulties are even greater. They must often spend long periods of time away from each other when filming or touring. In addition, they are constantly surrounded by other beautiful and successful people with whom they must work, sometimes on a very intimate level.
Yet in spite of these facts, some celebrity relationships have managed to stand the test of time. Here are some star spouses whose lessons can help our own partnerships flourish.
Ryan Reynolds on his marriage to Blake Lively: “She always responds with empathy. She meets anger with empathy. She meets hate with empathy. She’ll take the time to imagine what happened to a person when they were five or six years old. And she’s made me a more empathetic person.”
Even in the best long term relationships, we often become judgmental of our partners. We think things like “Why don’t they just….” or “I can’t stand it when they…” But somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten to consider the reason for our partner’s behaviors.
Most of these times when we find ourselves thinking these negative thoughts, our partners are not purposefully doing things to incite our anger or frustration. The reality is their actions or words result from the fact that they are fighting inner battles and dealing with inner demons we don’t know about.
For example, one thing I often find myself resentful of concerning my husband is that every day after he comes home from work and eats, he sits in his favorite armchair, and within a half-hour, is snoring like a freight train. I’m angry that he doesn't sit and talk with me, cuddle up with me on the couch, and stay awake long enough to watch at least one episode of our favorite television show together.
And if I’m honest with myself, my feelings are coming from a place of selfishness. But if I look at the situation and try to be practice empathy, I find my mindset changes drastically.
For example, my husband works twelve-hour shifts that vary in time. He may work two days from 7 am to 7 pm, and then two days from 7 pm to 7 am. And no matter the schedule he works on a particular day, he has an hour commute to and from work. This adds up to fourteen hour days.
And if I look at these things with an emphatic eye, I understand that the reason he is dead asleep so quickly after work is not that he doesn’t love me. It’s that he’s tired. It’s that it’s a relatively new job, one that he had to find after being laid off, and one that is twenty thousand dollars less than the job he had before.
The drive tires him, his circadian rhythms are shot, he’s walking on pins and needles to not say or do something wrong that will cause him to lose a job our family desperately needs, and he’s depressed that our family has to live more frugally than we had to when in the past.
And pondering these things, I feel ashamed at my ill feelings when the fact is he loves our family so much he’s willing to face these things day after day to help us survive.
Practicing empathy allows us to view our partners in a kinder way, one that engenders love, not resentment. It’s a trait that is essential to keeping our relationships happy, so ask yourself the real reasons your partner says and does what they do. Try to understand what they are going through, and more importantly, let them see that you are there for them no matter what. This is what sustains real love and makes it last.
John Legend on his marriage to Chrissy Tiegen: “We support each other in everything that we do. I love seeing her succeed at the things she loves to do and she loves seeing me succeed at things that I love to do. That’s the way you should be with your partner.”
We need to be cheerleaders for our partners in order for love to last. We need to support them in their dreams. We need to give them emotional support when they are struggling and provide physical support when they need it as well. There are so many ways to show a person that you care, and only you know the best ways to show your partner.
For example, if your partner experiences the loss of a loved one or the pain of betrayal by a friend or family member, be there for them. Be the shoulder on which they can cry. Validate their feelings. Offer to do things that will make them happy. Maybe it’s a funny movie together. Maybe it’s a visit to the park to walk and talk and view the beauty of the changing seasons.
If your partner wants to lose weight or be more fit, support them. Offer to watch the kids for an hour so they can exercise. If they are changing their eating habits, don’t buy your favorite treats and have them lying around to tempt them.
If your partner wants to take a class or go back to school, help them make that happen. Tell them that you’re proud of them for wanting to improve themselves, and help them overcome the difficulties that may stand in the way of their dreams.
The old cliche still stands true that “love conquers all,” and if two people work together to help each other, there’s not much that can stop them. And knowing your partner will be a warrior alongside you, helping you achieve the victories you desire, is one of the keys to a love that stands the test of time.
Justin Timberlake on his marriage to wife Jessica Biel: “I’ve watched my wife change. I’ve watched her body change. It’s a temple. It should be worshiped. It should be marveled at. I’m fascinated by her. She’s everything, man. She just constantly surprises me with who she is, and who she’s becoming, and I really hope I do the same for her. I’m excited to see what she’s going to do next. I wake up and roll over and look at her, and I’m inspired.”
It’s so easy for those of us in a long term relationship to lose our identities. Even though most of the hours in our days are controlled by the responsibilities and routines of job and family, we must not lose who we really are in the process of daily life. We must keep growing, keep learning, and keep becoming more fully the person we were meant to be.
So, nourish your spirit and add excitement to your relationship by being bold and going after your own dreams. Make time for hobbies you enjoy and new experiences that will both give you personal happiness and enliven your time with your partner. By allowing yourself time to pursue your own aspirations, you will be more thankful for the times you share with your partner, not to mention the fact that you will have more to talk about than what you’re having for dinner or how your day went at work.
In addition, the fact that you are growing as a person will breed a sense of mystery and awe in your partner, and these qualities are always sexy because they remind your partner that there’s more to you than they thought. And that intrigue is what helps keep the spark in a relationship.
Real Star Power
The truth is your partner has picked you as his or her leading lady or man, and you don’t need makeup artists, fancy galas, or exotic vacations to keep love alive. All you need is to show love and compassion for your partner and to keep findings ways to grow yourself and your relationship together. If you do, you’ll see stars when you see your lover, not when you glance at celebrities on camera.