I feel a little bad for Tom Cruise getting served with divorce papers only a few days before turning 50. Especially, since, according to tabloid headlines, he was completely blindsided by it. Only days earlier he and Katie were holding hands walking around the streets of Iceland.
Apparently the reality of being married to Tom did not live up to Katie’s teen-age fantasy of marrying one of the most famous movie stars of our generation. But the breakup may have less to do with Tom as husband and father than of his adherence to the practice of Scientology. We don’t know that, but let’s look at the facts, such as they are. Which is to say we have no idea what we are talking about. The facts as we know them are pure speculation based on what we read in the tabloids.
We do know for a fact that Katie managed to stay in for 5 years. I have to wonder how long she had been thinking about calling it quits? Her father had time to hatch and carry out a plan that involved firing all the help who might have made her exit “problematic” (the Scientology police?) and replace them with people loyal to Katie. That had to take a few months to put together! And whose idea was it? Did it start with her, or did her parents pull a sort of intervention to get her to admit she wanted out?
One tabloid headline suggested Katie was not the happy-go-lucky young woman her parents knew she had been 5 years earlier and they apparently blamed marriage to Tom for her emotional decline. That her exit from the marriage required the staff to be replaced seems like a move out of the textbook on how to de-program people caught up in religious cults. Not that I am suggesting Scientology is a cult. I am not suggesting this, but certain entire countries in Europe have, more or less officially, suggested it. Such as France. Not that we are naming names.
The Cruises rented a home in Pittsburgh this past year while Tom was filming Ghost Protocol, and were photographed in various locations enjoying some good times as a family. Tom took Suri ice skating. The whole family went shopping for fresh produce at a local farm market. The three of them are some of the most genetically lucky people I know in the good looks department. The perfect family. So full of hope.
But the question lingering in my mind is, when did Katie know she had to get out? Five years isn’t that long. She needed at least a year to pull off the legal stuff with her dad, get a place to live, change her cell number, and schedule the moving van. So that’s year four. She would have to admit to herself it was over way before that — but even once she got that gut feeling she probably didn’t say the words out loud until around year 3.
My guess is she knew it was over before she got pregnant with Suri (mid-way through year one) and once she had her daughter it just got complicated.
A Google search of the number of years women stay in a marriage after they have decided to divorce was no help at all — even Google Scholar didn’t have an answer to that question. If anyone knows the SEO terms for this concept, I’d be obliged if you’d send me the keywords or the links to the articles!
What I did learn from my search was that 90 percent of women who think about divorce never go through with getting one. And if you have been married at least 10 years, you are nearly 70 percent more likely to stay married to that person. If you want the link to those stats, you can Google it.
Huffington Post has an entire department devoted to the topic of divorce. Check out the comments there to this question posed to readers. Complete this sentence: “The moment I knew (my marriage was over) … ” If you needed any more evidence of man’s inhumanity to man — and I am speaking, of course, in the inclusive voice here — you will find it in those responses! As one might expect, infidelity was a frequent cause but in other stories there were actually weapons involved! The saddest cases were those involving people who were seriously ill and their spouses reacted with callous indifference.
My point is, even the fairy-tale marriage isn’t guaranteed to succeed. Remember these famous marriages that everyone said would last forever? John and Elizabeth Edwards. Al and Tipper Gore. Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley…
Lest you think I have forgotten that most tragic and fractured fairy-tale couple of our time — Prince Charles and Lady Diana — I say, well duh. But should we not look beyond our love and devotion to Diana and consider that the fairy-tale-come-true was really Camilla’s eventual marriage to Charles? No. We should not. Even if it probably is.
At long last, we come to the moral of the story, which is that neither wealth, good looks, great teeth, being able to fit into a size 3 dress, diamond tiaras, fame, or a particular faith — whether orthodox or un — guarantees a successful run at marriage.
My parents recently celebrated seventy years of marriage. Seven-O. They are 90 and 93 years old. I never heard them say an angry word to one another. My dad always gave my mom a peck on the lips and a hug when he came home from work. Then he sat down in his arm-chair until supper with the newspaper, after which he returned to his chair and read the paper and watched TV until bedtime. He changed the oil in his cars, kept them polished, mowed the lawn, and paid the bills. Mom fixed the meals and kept the house, only working outside the home a few years when things were tight. They would be lost without each other. When asked how they lasted this long they just shrug. Something about mutual respect and never considering the alternative.
So if you have been in a successful relationship for longer than 10 years, hang in there. It’s nothing to sneeze at. Don’t screw it up. You are our role models.
And we need more role models. Like Bill and Hillary Clinton. Seriously. If a relationship so publicly violated as that between Hillary and Bill Clinton can survive, there is hope for us all.