Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Why did Gwyneth and Chris break up?

I've had an odd reaction to to news that Gwyneth, she of perfect body, house, children, career, oscar and life advice, and her rocker Husband of 11 years are to split up.

It makes me feel sad.

I don't know why. I've had both a grudging respect for the Goopster, mixed in with a smidgeon of jealousy and a whole heap of 'you've got to be kidding me?' when she suggests my Spring capsule wardrobe costs $12,000 or that her kids love sprouts - so why wouldn't mine? (No matter how you salt and fry those fuckers NO kid like sprouts woman). But at the end of the day, marriage ending is always sad.  People talk of marriages failing, but they never say how for 11 years it damn well succeeded.

Marriage is tough. Beyond hard. There is you with all your shit and baggage and needs and wants and career and friends and stuff - and then, there is them with all the same. You have to come together, like some similar stuff, share life values, fancy each other, enjoy hanging out, get used to each other, tolerate the differences, buy properties, share money and expenses, household chores and then raise kids together. IT IS A MINEFIELD.

All along the way there are reasons to split - from lack of support, financial stress, illness, differences in opinion, careers pulling you this way and that, and then all the heap of angst and energy one has to expend on their kids. Meanwhile there are new people - fun sexy people dancing before you like sweets in a candy store (granted not regularly - but all it takes is the one) and you have to say 'no!I want the person at home with hooky toenails who hasn't showered all weekend and forgot to bring the bins in.'

I mean, there are potholes galore. There is no one fix solution to a marriage staying together. I have wanted to leave my Husband several times. I have felt lonely and neglected. I have had a crush on someone else. (I told Husband of course). I have wished for the heady days of sex all night and cocktails until dawn. But there is the school run and nit check and food list and all the mundane bollocks that just eats away at any kind of romance.

But Chris and Gwyneth - they had money! Help! Cooks! Cleaners - I mean, if you have all that - so you aint fighting over who pays the school dinner money, and tasty food is on the table and the wine is chilled and you have someone stacking the dishwasher for you and folding the laundry (FOLDING THE LAUNDRY!!!! What more do you need in life??) - then what is there to fight about?? Which deserted caribbean island to holiday in for new year? Which mansion to buy? Whether to go to the Met Gala ball or not, or should we skip the Oscars this year? Invite Madonna for tea or Cameron Diaz??  People! If Chris and Gwynnie can't make it - in their organic stylish lives, replete with pools and private jets - then what hope is there for the rest of us - who get a thrill out of the free coffee at Waitrose???

Maybe, there are just the same problems, but in a different scale. When folk are away with their jobs a lot - that separation takes it's toll. Since my Husband changed his job, I get such a kick out of us all eating dinner together. Something we haven't ever done on weeknights through our entire relationship. The simple pleasures really are the best.

Marriage is a promise we make when we are giddy with love. When we have hope and expectation. It  is a journey that constantly evolves. As Gwyneth said, staying together is a lot about both of you not wanting to split up at the same time. It is about forgiving mistakes. Letting go. Plus - and I am pretty shit at this - not sweating the small stuff.

I've had (to my knowledge) a faithful marriage for 10 years this October. But it is no picnic and every week there are reasons to go - to throw in that towel as we bicker over trivial rubbish. But there are always more reasons to stay. Not because of the kids - well, partly. But because he is home to me. I love him. When he walks through the door, I still get excited. I love nothing more than having dinner with him, or watching a movie together. Some days it is hard to muster the chat, the intimacy. It is easier to sit on line or read the papers. I don't think that what's out there is more exciting. I don't crave another. But I can see how, if people are not tied together financially - that it is perhaps easier to walk. As I type that though, I know it is never easy to walk out of something so sacred to you - that you have invested so many precious years into....

In marriage therapy, I remember so clearly what Wendy our counsellor said to me, back in 2008. She said that we just repeat the same mistakes - to make up for our issues, our childhood baggage - so if I left Husband, I'd just go and find another him. Naturally that isn't the case for some marriages dogged with infidelities or abuse or whatever... (or maybe it is - maybe folk just repeat those mistakes too?). Who knows, I'm no expert. But the point is - look at you, before you look at them... What is your part to play in this fuck up?

But I am married, still. I know how hard it is to stay so at times, but also how hard it is to go.  So as the vultures pick of the carcass of the Paltrow/Martin split and gleefully ravage on the perfect woman being just as fallible as the rest of us - I think let 'em be.

It's hard enough.


Anonymous said...

It is very hard, you've nailed it. And a lot of money / help doesn't always alleviate that if the distance between you is too great, too often for too long. They are very, very different in type, Gwyneth and Chris. He's very English, very private, very casual, she really isn't. They clearly worked on it and tried to meet in the middle, which is fantastic and saw them through 11 years, but in the end wasn't enough. I think to stay married it often comes down to keeping on, keeping on as it were. Obviously infidelity or other huge betrayals of trust can suddenly end things or reveal huge problems that may have just been simmering gently, but half the battle is to stick with it when it's boring and you're tired, not just when it's fun and exciting and weekends to Paris!

Anonymous said...

Well said. I think in their case, all the things we envy - too much money/success/travel/glamorous lifestyle was their very downfall. Maybe being part of such a high profile couple is a pain when you just want to be normal - which I believe he did. The grass is always greener and break-ups are always sad for all involved - no matter what glossy spin they put on it.

Chaos said...

Ohhhhh CM

This post is so painfully true! Your comments about your husband really touched me; they are beautiful in their simplicity. The moments. The details. The rage and the tears. The dinnertime joy and the homecoming heart leap. I think it's this, that is the DNA of love.

Last weekend I came home to discover that the love of my love had moved out. He still swears he loves me. There was no abuse/infidelity/falling out of love. There was certainly stress and some very low times, and his issues clearly overwhelmed him in the space of the hour I was out. I am heartbroken, but cognizant. My hands are tied. There is only hope, if both parties are adequately committed to staying.

This part chimes strongly for me:

"But I can see how, if people are not tied together financially - that it is perhaps easier to walk. As I type that though, I know it is never easy to walk out of something so sacred to you - that you have invested so many precious years into..."

Thank you for this post x

Shortlass said...

I just wanted to say that it's really nice to read something about their break-up that isn't calling them a pair of pretentious wankers. Things like this make me sad too and I'm sure that most of the time most people don't take the decision lightly.
I, too, long for the heady days pre-boychild when Husb and I went out, drank, travelled, socialised and misbehaved but if he suddenly wasn't there I would be devastated. Just because you're famous and rich doesn't mean you're always happy. And it sucks when you're unhappy especially a lot of people want to diminish you and your relationship and call you a ****.