Skip to main content

Griffith, Banderas and the collapse of lifetime marriage

By Pepper Schwartz
June 9, 2014 -- Updated 1141 GMT (1941 HKT)
It seems the sweetness has run out of Mike "Sugar Bear" Thompson's relationship with June "Mama June" Shannon. The couple, who star in TLC's "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," announced in September that they were separating. Now there are allegations that Mama June has moved on to a relationship with a man who's <a href='http://www.people.com/article/mama-june-dating-sex-offender-here-comes-honey-boo-boo' target='_blank'>causing concern at TLC. </a> It seems the sweetness has run out of Mike "Sugar Bear" Thompson's relationship with June "Mama June" Shannon. The couple, who star in TLC's "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," announced in September that they were separating. Now there are allegations that Mama June has moved on to a relationship with a man who's causing concern at TLC.
HIDE CAPTION
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
Shocking celebrity splits
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas are divorcing after 18 years of marriage
  • Pepper Schwartz: Hollywood marriages are tough to maintain, but so are normal ones
  • She says lifetime marriage is turning into a crapshoot, especially for Baby Boomers
  • Schwartz: We have to aim high, have lots of fun, work hard at being loving to our spouse

Editor's note: Pepper Schwartz is professor of sociology at the University of Washington and the author or co-author of 19 books, the latest of which is "The Normal Bar." She is the love and relationship ambassador for AARP and writes the Naked Truth column for AARP.org. The opinions in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- When I heard that Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas are divorcing I was surprised at my own reaction, which was, honestly, sadness. I always thought they were an exciting couple -- both are passionate people who conquered a risky business, and each had a past that was just a little messy. Griffith had three marriages before meeting Banderas, two of which were to Don Johnson. Banderas had one previous marriage, but was certainly the epitome of the "Latin lover" in looks if not swagger.

And yet they seemed deeply in love and stalwartly committed to each other over the years. I know -- they are a Hollywood marriage, which can be a minefield for marital stability. But for better or worse, these are also real people marrying with hopes of being together forever.

Because they are famous, we follow their lives through the tabloid or lifestyle magazines. They become part of our daily landscape and in a strange way as we become invested in their welfare. I realized as a read the story of their breakup that I wanted them to stay together -- forever. I wanted their private lives to have the "happily ever after" of their movies.

Pepper Schwartz
Pepper Schwartz

I thought this pair had deeper roots and a deep enough connection to last for the long run. So, I think my sadness came from the recognition about how unrealistic I was.

Hollywood marriages face special pressures that hurt their odds of lasting forever. But even if they were an average couple, the truth is that having made it to 18 or 20 years as they did, does not, in the slightest, guarantee you a sealed forever deal.

Marriages these days can fall apart at any stage of the relationship. The famously enduring marriage of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward turns out to be more of an anomaly than a model. Really, when you think of it, Newman and Woodward were cast from a mold that was formed by a different generation and that mold appears to be broken.

Now, long marriages have no guarantees of continuance, even if they have lasted decades. Just ask Robert Redford and Lola Van Wagenen (27 years) or Jerry Lewis and Patti Palmer (36 years).

In fact, the statistics tell us that the biggest percentage increase in divorces is among people over 50. So if you thought that getting older formed a protective bubble over your relationship, think again.

Lifetime marriage is turning into a crapshoot for many people, especially Baby Boomers. Maybe holding on till "death do them part" is least likely for Hollywood stars whose work takes a hard toll on their relationships and whose exit from marriages is not generally impeded by financial concerns. But really, no marriage is immune against what seems to be an epidemic of marital unraveling.

Well, so be it. But we can do things that give us better odds of staying with our spouse. To me, that means we have to be intentional about our relationship every day, year, and decade we are together. We have to aim high, have a lot of fun, work hard at being each other's lover and friend and always do everything we can to repair problems along the way. If it ends, it ends -- but it shouldn't die without having been given every chance to live.

So, lets be realistic. You can't predict the future. I thought about this as I was looking at a photo of Melanie Griffith and saw a huge tattoo on her arm that said "Antonio."

Uh-oh -- I thought. If you yearn to have a name tattooed on your body, choose your mom's or the name of your first pet. Otherwise, take it from Melanie, Antonio and countless others: Even long marriages have an uncertain future. I am not saying to plan for an exit while you are trying to make a solid entrance, I am just saying -- take care and have a Plan B.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2101 GMT (0501 HKT)
Paul Callan says the grand jury is the right process to use to decide if charges should be brought against the police officer
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
Theresa Brown says the Ebola crisis brought nurses into the national conversation on health care. They need to stay there.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 2235 GMT (0635 HKT)
Patrick Hornbeck says don't buy the hype: The arguments the Vatican used in its interim report would have virtually guaranteed that same-sex couples remained second class citizens
October 26, 2014 -- Updated 0148 GMT (0948 HKT)
Paul Begala says Iowa's U.S. Senate candidate, Joni Ernst, told NRA she has right to use gun to defend herself--even from the government. But shooting at officials is not what the Founders had in mind
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
John Sutter: Why are we so surprised the head of a major international corporation learned another language?
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 2154 GMT (0554 HKT)
Jason Johnson says Ferguson isn't a downtrodden community rising up against the white oppressor, but it is looking for justice
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
Sally Kohn says a video of little girls dressed as princesses using the F-word very loudly to condemn sexism is provocative. But is it exploitative?
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Timothy Stanley says Lewinsky is shamelessly playing the victim in her affair with Bill Clinton, humiliating Hillary Clinton again and aiding her critics
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1414 GMT (2214 HKT)
Imagine being rescued from modern slavery, only to be charged with a crime, writes John Sutter
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1600 GMT (0000 HKT)
Tidal flooding used to be a relatively rare occurrence along the East Coast. Not anymore, write Melanie Fitzpatrick and Erika Spanger-Siegfried.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
Carol Costello says activists, writers, politicians have begun discussing their abortions. But will that new approach make a difference on an old battleground?
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1312 GMT (2112 HKT)
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1851 GMT (0251 HKT)
Crystal Wright says racist remarks like those made by black Republican actress Stacey Dash do nothing to get blacks to join the GOP
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 2207 GMT (0607 HKT)
Mel Robbins says by telling her story, Monica Lewinsky offers a lesson in confronting humiliating mistakes while keeping her head held high
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1329 GMT (2129 HKT)
Cornell Belcher says the story of the "tea party wave" in 2010 was bogus; it was an election determined by ebbing Democratic turnout
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
Les Abend says pilots want protocols, preparation and checklists for all contingencies; at the moment, controlling a deadly disease is out of their comfort zone
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 0336 GMT (1136 HKT)
David Weinberger says an online controversy that snowballed from a misogynist attack by gamers into a culture war is a preview of the way news is handled in a world of hashtag-fueled scandal
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1223 GMT (2023 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says Paul Krugman makes some good points in his defense of President Obama but is premature in calling him one of the most successful presidents.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 0221 GMT (1021 HKT)
Conservatives can't bash and slash government and then suddenly act surprised if government isn't there when we need it, writes Sally Kohn
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1205 GMT (2005 HKT)
ISIS is looking to take over a good chunk of the Middle East -- if not the entire Muslim world, write Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 2033 GMT (0433 HKT)
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 0442 GMT (1242 HKT)
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 2043 GMT (0443 HKT)
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 1700 GMT (0100 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2301 GMT (0701 HKT)
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1335 GMT (2135 HKT)
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 0208 GMT (1008 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 2004 GMT (0404 HKT)
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1307 GMT (2107 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2250 GMT (0650 HKT)
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
October 11, 2014 -- Updated 1543 GMT (2343 HKT)
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT