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Jennifer Lopez Divorce Woes - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Want to watch Dr. Sylvia dish on J Lo's Divorce on CBS? Click here.

Friday’s shocking announcement by Jennifer Lopez and Mark Anthony announcing their decision to divorce left many of us confused. While the world witnessed their affection and devotion onstage, there was obviously a very different story behind closed doors.

What happened to this great couple?

This divorce is unfortunately very typical for many couples that are wildly successful. It is very hard to remain married in the glare of celebrity since you acquire power by being incredibly self-interested. Being married requires an entirely different way of relating to your significant other. You have to learn to share resources—time, decision making etc. Thinking as a unit rather than as a single person is difficult for all of us after marriage but is especially hard for people who have a lot of power. They are used to getting their way and often want to dominate in the relationship.

The other issue that is difficult in a marriage like this is fidelity. In a survey of over 1000 people, one research found that the more power you had, irrespective of gender, the more likely you were to cheat. In fact, the most powerful people were 30% more likely to have an affair.

Which raises the question - Is it more difficult for powerful women to remain successfully married than for powerful men?

I don’t think it is a gender issue. I think that the real issue is that a lot of couples don’t know how to have two equally powerful people in the same marriage. Women who have acquired influence and power do not want to be told what to do and how to act. Neither do their husbands. Each partner has an expectation of receiving respect and the same consideration they would give to the other person. However, it doesn’t always go the way they had planned. Powerful men and women are often reluctant to share and they expect their spouse to give in on the decisions. Essentially, they are usually pretty bossy. They will let the spouse vote but ultimately want to hold the reins of power. That’s when all the trouble starts.

What about the classic cliche of a seven-year itch?

There absolutely is a seven-year itch but it is more likely to begin in the fifth year of marriage. By then, the couple should have figured out how to be married--how to handle money, in-laws, sex etc. If you haven’t figured things out, you’re much more likely to be fighting about it at the five year mark and then divorcing at the seven year mark. Remember that after the birth of the first baby, marital satisfaction drops significantly for 2/3 of the couples. If you never resolve those problems and remain married, after twenty years your marriage will most likely be characterized by a chronic lack of intimacy and closeness that causes the marriage to erode and then end suddenly.

Here are some of the common challenges that powerful personalities face in marriage:

Public Prominence is a Battlefield: Celebrities have a dual relationship with the media. They need the media attention to stay top of mind with the public but they also invite criticism and scrutiny when things are difficult. That is a lot of stress for a marriage.

Spouse's Needs May Compete: Celebrities must be driven by relentless ambition and vision. The "spin" machine can de-stabilize even the best of marriages, requiring the relationship to shift with events. Expecting one another to be emotionally present may be unrealistic, especially with the demands of celebrity. The challenge is to become accustomed to "less" spouse at times while maximizing the time you are together.

Strong Opinions and Big Personalities: Being a celebrity demands a big personality that often comes with strong opinions, high expectations of others, and a lack of compromise and patience. People of influence are often stubborn and they want their way. When both partners are celebrities, they are bound to clash.

Here's what everyone can learn from J Lo's example:

Style of Marriage: When you get married, it is important to be clear about the style of marriage you want. A traditional marriage that involves an automatic imbalance of power (usually the man is more powerful) is often preferred. However, when you have a female who is very powerful and influential in her own right may necessitate the couple having more of a peer marriage in which power is shared and negotiated.

Are You Willing to Fight for the Relationship? The bottom line is to ask yourself how willing you are to fight for the relationship. Relationships can be pulled back from the edge if both partners are willing to push through. However, it requires a total overhaul of marital expectations and a willingness to sacrifice your own agenda for the sake of the relationship at times.


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