When I told my parents I was getting a divorce my mother said, "It's very sad when a 5 year marriage only lasts 2 and a half years." My father then asked if I had a quarter for the toll since we were seconds away from crossing the MacArthur causeway in Miami. Their nonplussed attitude calmed me down considerably. It was just a divorce after all. I then asked if they were sad that my husband and I would no longer be together and my father said something that stuck with me. It's dangerous to have attachments to couples instead of having attachments to the two individuals within the couple since you never really know what goes on behind closed doors. If you fall in love with a couple you often end up heartbroken when that couple breaks up. So my father was sad that my soon to be ex-husband and I were going through a difficult time, but he was not sad that we would no longer specifically be a couple.
I was reminded of his philosophy when the news recently broke that long-term partners Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins spit up. Both incredible actors and passionate activists, they had met on the set of Bull Durham 23 years ago and have two sons together. I was devastated to hear this enduring, intelligent, gorgeous, outspoken, fantastic partnership had ended because I had years ago fallen in love with them together.
When an idol lets us down, Tiger Woods for example, we often feel betrayed because we trusted that person with our adoration and they didn't live up to our expectations. We unfairly do the same with couples, both famous and non-famous. We become attached to the couple and what we think they stand for together, the two halves making a much better whole. This couple adoration usually starts in high school. The prettiest cheerleader dates the quarterback and everyone fawns over them walking through the halls. Then when the Prom King and Queen break up right after graduation it's a blow to our perceived world order. If they can't make it work, how can I, a mere mortal? They were so perfect together!
The reality is they were not perfect together nor should they be seen as lesser beings because they aren't together anymore. Although specific neighbors seems happily married and the envy of the cul-de-sac, they can't be counted on to be the ambassadors of marital bliss. Nor can Princess Diana and Prince Charles, Tiger and Elin or Susan and Tim. I will just have to love Susan for being Susan and Tim for being Tim.
But thank God we all still have Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson!