Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Oscar Curse

There is a lot of buzz these days about the Oscar Curse and it may well be true according to researchers at the University of Toronto, who found that women that have won best actress are over fifty percent more likely to divorce than those who were simply nominated. Let’s be clear: since this accounts for a miniscule part of the population (256 women over 76 years versus over a billion normal women over the same period) these results simply do not apply to most people.

So what can we learn?

First, our actresses and actors are part of an elite class that dominates our consciousness. Remember that they are just people and suffer aches and pains like the rest of us. No one is exempt from the drama of being human.

Second, this rarefied group of women test social norms. By and large, they are more successful than their husbands, more visible and more powerful. Perhaps we don’t have a social norm for the kind of man that can skillfully handle this situation?

Third, commitment to a career, at its most ambitious level can be detrimental to marriage. This happens all the time with successful CEOs who have devoted their precious time to their career and not to their marriage. They divorce often. And actors of this caliber probably fall into a category of people who have neglected the plainness of a successful marriage in favor of career.

Finally, many people stay in an unhappy marriage because they are worried about money. Sometimes it works to their advantage because their marriage improves (but not always). Our star actresses don’t have to really worry about surviving. If anything, they may have to take care of their ex husband with support after the divorce.

(Sigh) Life is so very short. We should all find happiness.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Are Your Values?: Part Two

In my psychiatric practice I am witnessing a major societal conflict about values. And it is happening in the lives of the individuals who are sitting on my couch, right in front of me.

Value One: The value of personal happiness: Shouldn’t I be entitled to be happy?

Value Two: There is the value of family and clan: My family needs me; I can’t consider breaking up my marriage!

Culture is powerful and with so many divorces catching our attention, whether it is Al and Tipper Gore, Tiger Woods or simply your best friend, we are all influenced.

What are your values? Are they to your happiness or to your family or a mix of both?

The Intelligent Divorce enters at this point. I believe that even if you are choosing divorce. Or if divorce has chosen you, there is another choice to be made. Can you choose a divorce with more functionality than you may have otherwise done, by consciously deciding to divorce intelligently?

Now, that is a value worth pursuing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Celebrity Divorce: Troy Aikman

When the former Dallas Cowboy quarterback announced his separation, I was happy to see so little gossip on the subject. It seems like both parents are keeping their cards close to the chest. This is something that I admire. Too many celebrities - or their spouses - share the unhappy details of a failing marriage. This is the price of fame. But there are children involved and they must be protected.

Tipper and Al Gore handled their breakup privately, which is a model for all celebrities. Troy and Rhonda Aikman both appear to be dealing with their difficulties with maturity as well.

It sounds like there is some love left in this marriage, at least for their children.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What Are Your Values?: Part One

According to the Federal Reserve Board's 1995 Survey of Consumer Finance, only 42 percent of children aged 14 to 18 live in an intact two-parent married family. This according to The Heritage Foundation (2000) has left many children at risk for a host of problems, from academic underperformance to mood issues like depression and self destructive behavior.

What we are seeing is a redefinition of commitment to family and children. Unhappy marriages also yield significant hazards to children, but with work and time some of these marriages improve. So what is happening?

We are slowly changing our values from commitment to family and clan to commitment to individual happiness. In a way we are all losing here. Divorce is now a perfectly fine option to an unpleasant marriage, and a nasty divorce is sometimes a “reasonable” option to a calm divorce in which you may not be getting everything that you want.

The philosophy of The Intelligent Divorce is to bring our values back to baseline. Our children need stability and a lost marriage does not mean an unending war. We must value the structure of the family, even if it now means the structure of a family has been reconfigured because of a divorce.