Shrink Wrap

What we can learn from the trials and triumphs of celebrity relationships.

Katy Perry and Russell Brand: How Do You Start Your Marriage Right So It Doesn't End Wrong?

What We Can Learn From The Trials And Triumphs Of Celebrity Relationships

Katy Perry and Russell Brand may have had a courtship and a wedding to remember, but that is all they'll have left now that Brand recently filed for divorce from his wife of 14 months. The pop star and the actor tied the knot during a lavish ceremony in India after knowing each other for only four months. At first everything seemed great and they appeared to thrive, even soar, despite their dissimilar backgrounds — he is a recovering drug addict and she was raised by a deeply religious Christian family. But then, as it usually does, reality set in.

So often the most challenging year of marriage is that first year — when the big issues come into play. Where should we live? Whose career should take precedence? When do we have children? How many should we have? That is when, as I discuss in my book What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship, you make that big push away from being a "me" to working and living together as a "we." But forging that "we" can be tenuous because you are so used to living alone and thinking about yourself first; to suddenly be accountable to someone else and no longer consider what is best for me but instead what is best for us can be a shock to your system and, quite frankly, can sometimes start to feel like a sacrifice.

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Page Six of the New York Post, as well as other publications, reported that Brand was pushing to settle down and start a family, while Perry wanted to focus on her career and music tour. The couple reportedly battled over this before Christmas, and then spent the holidays apart. I witness this over and over again in my practice and I always say the same thing. It is so important to discuss these defining issues with your partner before you have that expensive wedding, and before you decide to say, "I do," because without that you really don't know what you are agreeing to. Many times people start out with the fantasy and never address the reality and the expectations that brings, each thinks they will deal with it when the time comes and hope the other will go along with whatever their need is. Or if they had protested before or didn't want to do it in the past, that somehow you will get them to change their mind. But that doesn't work, as we see here and as we saw with Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. Hollywood couples in particular are already leading such big glittery lives that it seems they often get carried away. People talk around these decisions, thinking love is all they need.

But that fairy tale of true love is not enough. Love is a great place to start. That attraction, passion, and mutual devotion can be your diving board but you have to know what pool you are jumping into to make it work. And it has to be about pooling your resources, sharing, and becoming a team. To get there you have to lay out your individual needs and hopes before you have gone too far. Mid-dive is not a good place to realize what lies below isn't what you were expecting or what you think will make you happy in the long run.

I often think of how we take the time to plan a vacation. We decide where we want to go, where to stay, eat, and tour. You wouldn't jump into the car without any thought and head to a destination. Why would you do that with a marriage? Learn what your partner wants out of life, and what they expect from you and the home you build, before you commit to being together forever. That is the only way to ensure a happy future and continued travel together. My advice is to deal with the "me" and the "we" before you get married so that you don't have to later ask, what about me?

 

Jane Greer, Ph.D., is a Marriage and Family Therapist, author of What about Me? Stop Selfishness from Ruining Your Relationship, and radio host of Doctor on Call.

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