Everyone's a-Twitter about the latest Hollywood marriage to crash and burn. It seems like only yesterday when Kim Kardashian exchanged vows with pro-basketball player Kris Humphries and, after 72-days, and it pretty much was. But before we jump onto the mass bandwagon of outrage and judgment, let me just say this: the disappointment and heartbreak this young couple must be going through deserves some compassion. I have no more idea what's going on between those two than you do, but I'll venture to guess that a considerable amount of pain and regret went into this decision. It's a real shame.
It's pretty clear most people spend more time preparing for a wedding than planning for a successful marriage. I wrote these words in previous blog about the Royal Wedding and they are particularly relevant in light of what is happening with Kim and Kris. Today's somewhat grotesque commercialization of weddings certainly does not help. From what I understand, those particular nuptials were a money-making machine, netting millions from brand sponsors, television rights and exclusive photos.
I don't necessarily blame the young couple. They had to be under tremendous pressure. It seems like everyone in media wants a lavish wedding to fill up the 24-7 news cycle, and if people can profit, so much the better. And it's not just Hollywood couples. The wedding industry has redefined the meaning of marriage for most young people. It's all about the "bridezillas" and the reality shows rewarding brides and grooms with the weddings of their dreams. The bar for excess and luxury on what was once a deeply personal, joyous and family-focused day has been raised to impossible heights. Weddings are no longer about being a springboard into a successful marriage. They are more about the culmination of a series of events. And sometimes the marriage ends just as the cake is being tossed in the trash.
As a parent, this concerns me. I have three daughters and I hope that none of them will spend more time and money on an ostentatious wedding than they will on truly understanding themselves and their spouses. I hope they'll know it's not about the spectacle of celebration on the wedding day. It's about building a lifelong connection.
I don't know what's changed since I married my beautiful wife, or why. Back then, 17 years ago, a wedding day didn't seem like a competition or a statement of social status. I don't remember the table settings, the menu, or what the wedding cake tasted like. What I remember most was the meaning behind the ceremony itself, and the love and happiness we were able to share with our friends and loved ones. And I will never forget how beautiful my bride looked on that day in her simple but sexy wedding dress, with her hair in captivating 1920's curls. She had a glow that no Vera Wang gown could ever outshine.
It's a different world now, and I'm sorry to say we've lost sight of the fundamentals. But I have four assumptions regarding marriage that never change:
1) People don't get married because they want to be divorced (not even Kim and Kris).
2) People don't change into different people just because they are married.
3) There is no formal training required to be married, like say a driver's license. Rather, we learn how to be married while being married.
4) Married people don't typically reach out for help from a viable source until they think it's too late.
If we walk through these steps we can see how Kim and millions of others find themselves in marital discord. It's why we need to be spending more time planning our lives together than thinking about who sits next to whom on the wedding day.
None of us has a perfect union. We have all made mistakes in our relationships and will continue to do so. Just like Kim. So let's not join in with the snarky comments and sniping from the peanut gallery. There's no need to stoke the fire as I am sure these kids have already suffered plenty of humiliation and sadness. Perhaps there are some lessons that we can learn from Kim and Kris that can help us all.
I'll start with the following:
Trust your instincts, they never lie.
Remember that being a good spouse is more important than finding a good spouse.
When a breakdown occurs remember that rarely is anyone completely guilty or completely innocent.
It's far, far better thing to have the tough conversation before saying, "I do."
What are your thoughts? Speak on it!
Darryl Cobbin is a husband, father, marketing expert, and author of Before You Wed...Read This!" His next challenge? Helping others succeed at marriage.