A new report from The Marriage Foundation finds that after 10 years of marriage the divorce rate for celebrities is 40 per cent. For the rest of the country, the figure is just 20 per cent over the same amount of time.
The report, written by relationships expert Harry Benson and family law Barrister Rehna Azim, argues that the celebrity culture absorbed from magazines like Hello! give us unrealistic, fairy-tale expectations about marriage and relationships, when in fact, “…the glamour of celebrity weddings is a poor indicator of future marital success.”
The Marriage Foundation examined 572 well-known celebrity couples who have tied the knot since the year 2000. The report highlights the weddings of celebrities such as Britney Spears, whose marriage to Jason Alexander lasted just 55 hours. It concludes that people should have more accurate expectations of how much hard work it takes to keep a marriage together.
High Court Judge and founder of The Marriage Foundation Sir Paul Coleridge commented on the Hello! magazine approach to marriage: “…there is still, or maybe more than there was, a completely unrealistic expectation about long-term relationships and marriage in particular, that if you find the right ideal partner that’s all that matters and things will just carry on from there and you will be divinely happy.”
In a foreword to Hello? Goodbye! Marriage and divorce among celebrities Sir Paul cautions against young people treating celebrities as role models: “The other worrying feature of these statistics is the picture they paint to those who regard the celebrity life style as something to be admired and copied for its own sake. These are, after all, the role models upon which many, especially young people, fashion their lives. Aspiration for happiness built on celebrity lifestyle is, it seems, dangerously flawed,” he says.
Sir Paul also links the fragility of celebrity marriages to false expectations stemming from their gilded circumstances. “Unfortunately all men and women, glamorous or not, are riddled with the same weaknesses and shortcomings which surface even quite soon after the excitement of the wedding has died down.
“Coming down to earth with a heavier than usual bump must surely create added pressures. And material plenty, as they know only too well, does nothing to alleviate the stress except in the very short term.”
The report also points to the corrosive effect of celebrity gossip magazines and tabloid newspapers constantly speculating about celebrity marriages being “on the rocks”. Celebrity break-ups make better stories than happily-ever-afters, argues the report, so the tabloid newspapers are always on “split watch”.
“Commitment, responsibility and stability simply don’t make good headlines. That’s why Cate Blanchett (happily married for 15 years) will always lose the OK cover to Katie Price. It’s why more teenagers know Kim Kardashian (lavish television wedding – marriage lasted 72 days) than triple Oscar winner Meryl Streep (whose marriage has lasted over two decades).”
Marital success must be measured over the long term, argue Mr Benson and Ms Azim. Yet long term celebrity marriages are often overlooked by newspapers and glossy magazines. Even then, “no marriage is ever completely secure.”
The report attempts to redress the press bias towards celebrity divorce by emphasising celebrities whose marriages have survived.
5 of the longest–lasting celebrity marriages:
Kirk Douglas and Anne Buydens (58 years)
Barry and Linda Gibb (40 years)
Jeff Bridges and Susan Geston (35 years)
Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach (31 years)
Tony and Cherie Blair (30 years)
But it also acknowledges the short-lived nature of many high-profile relationships:
5 of the shortest celebrity marriages:
Britney Spears and Jason Alexander (55 hours)
Sinead O’Connor and Barry Herridge (18 days)
Drew Barrymore and Jeremy Thomas (30 days)
Pamela Anderson and Rick Salomon (60 days)
Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries (72 days)
Notes to editors:
For media inquiries please contact Media Intelligence Partners Ltd. Daisy Jones on 0790 317 2002 or 0203 008 6063 or Nick Wood on 0203 008 8146 or 0788 961 7003.
The Marriage Foundation was founded by Sir Paul Coleridge, a High Court Judge, moved by his personal experience in 30 years as a barrister specialising in family law. The Foundation engages in evidence-based research and campaigning to demonstrate the benefits of marriage.