Shrink Wrap

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

Sherri Shepherd: What Is Enough?

Finding balance.

"The View" host Sherri Shepherd is splitting from her husband, Lamar Sally, and it's turning out to be one nasty breakup. She kicked him out of their home and is refusing his efforts to speak with her and work things out, and Lamar is doing his part to complicate proceedings by requesting their pre-nup be voided due to "fraud." All the negativity might make people wonder what happened to get them to this point, and could it have been avoided?

While there could be many reasons including rumored reports of cheating, one mentioned possibility is that the disparity between what Sherri expected Lamar might contribute to the marriage and what he actually contributed was so great that she finally wanted out. Although Lamar has been a father figure to Sherri's son, Jeffrey, for the last four years, it’s been said that Sherri doesn't feel like he's done his part in the relationship. Also, when they got married, he made it seem like he was "a big Hollywood player, with scripts being sold;" however, her now estranged husband hasn't been as successful as she thought he might be. Although he sold a series to HBO, it never aired, and Sherri doesn't feel like he is contributing enough. Their breakup raises the often-discussed issue: what does it mean to be an equal partner who does his or her fair share in the relationship?

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There are different ways to contribute to a marriage – financially, as well as on the home front dealing with everything from taking care of the kids to cleaning the house and doing the laundry. When both people are working, this sharing of the various burdens can become especially murky. Often a balance will be established whereby the person making less money, which sometimes can be little to nothing, takes on the domestic chores. Being a huge help at home can offset the financial disparity. What it comes down to, really, is that each partner knows what is expected of him or her and that they are able to pull their weight, if not by bringing home money, then in other ways.

The problems arise when each person’s assumptions about what the other is responsible for and will do don’t connect with what they actually do. If you are fine with the fact that your husband isn’t making much money, but he is with the kids all day and dinner is ready when you get home from the law firm, then things are likely to feel balanced. However, if he isn’t doing any of that, you might start to feel disappointed and resentful. The same rings true if you are holding down the home front with the expectation that your husband is the breadwinner, and he ends up being unreliable. It may be that the expectations Sherri entered into her marriage with were not met, which more than likely contributed to going down this road toward divorce.

There are a few things you can do to hopefully avoid getting to the point where ending your marriage is the only way out. The first is to carefully discuss and agree on the expectations you have for each other. Articulate them and make sure you have a plan in place. For example, if one of the kids gets sick at school, you want your husband to be the one to interrupt his day to go get them and care for them since he is working at home trying to write a novel, while you are locked into your office from nine to six. If you have an agreed upon plan that you see is not being put into practice, say you are the one who keeps getting called repeatedly when the kids need something at school because your husband doesn’t pick up his cell phone, you are bound to get angry. What is important to do is to use your anger to address the situation and figure out what needs to change so it doesn’t keep happening. Otherwise, your anger is going to continue to build and inevitably it will start to seep out. Most likely it will come out in a blaming, critical, nasty tone which is only going to distance your partner and make them back off. So instead of having the effect you want, which is to get them to be cooperative, the tone can distance them further and will likely make them less inclined to respond to your concerns. While your anger is understandable, the challenge is to use it constructively so that you don’t create a Catch 22 where you are perpetuating the very issue you are trying to clear up.

It may be that your expectations of your partner are unrealistic and need to be altered to be more tuned into what they are willing and able to do. Eventually, though, if you are always disappointed and you don’t feel like you are getting your fair share, that might be the fork in the road that leads you to consider a divorce. This may have played a part in what Sherri and Lamar encountered that brought them to the point of deciding to end their marriage.

 

 

            Please tune in to “Let’s Talk Sex” which streams live on HealthyLife.net every last Tuesday of the month at 2 PM EST, 11 AM Pacific. We look forward to listener call-in questions, dealing with relationships, intimacy, family, and friendships, at 1.800.555.5453.

Connect with Dr. Jane Greer on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/DrJaneGreer, and be sure to follow @DrJaneGreer on Twitter for her latest insights on love, relationships, sex, and intimacy.

            For more on Dr. Greer, visit http://www.drjanegreer.com.

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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