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Dr. Jane Greer Headshot

Ashlee Simpson: It's Over, She's Out, What Happened?

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While the song says love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage, that doesn't mean it's true. One often follows the other but, in reality, they are two different things. Just because you have love does not mean you have what it takes to maintain a healthy, successful marriage.
I think that's the story with Ashlee Simpson, 26, and her rock star husband Pete Wentz, 31, whom she married in May 2008. In early February, Ashlee, pop singer, actress and sister of Jessica, filed for divorce citing "irreconcilable differences," and asking for spousal and child support. The couple has a two-year-old son named Bronx.

They certainly had their share of issues to deal with including drugs and alcohol, Pete's bi-polar disorder, their mutual jealousy but especially hers, competitive careers of which hers began to decline while his was thriving, and that ever-demanding task of taking care of a young child. In order to deal with those strains, or any others that people encounter every day, there must be a strong foundation - that all important feeling of unity, or the "we" to carry you through. To get there you have to be willing to work together as a team, be able to solve problems and know when and how to compromise so you can stay connected. As I talk about in my book What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship, you have to be willing to support each other's needs and, most importantly, make each other feel like number one.

One example illustrating the difficulty that Ashlee and Pete had with this were the public displays of jealousy that Ashlee has had over past and present females in his life. Jealousy is one of the hardest things to deal with and spikes especially when you feel you are not getting the quality time, security or reassurance of love that you need to trust and relax. It is then that everyone your partner interacts with can seem like a threat. Pete was preoccupied with his busy career; Ashlee was focused on hers, and when that didn't go well, became focused on the baby. Ashlee and Pete were moving forward with their own needs at the forefront of each of their minds, so it is not surprising that insecurity would be one of the symptoms of their failed marriage.

No matter how much Ashlee and Pete loved or love each other, my hunch is that they were never able to form that partnership and create this vitally needed sense of "we" which is the essential glue that keeps a couple together. They were on two very separate parallel tracks - each doing his or her own thing - and were unable to combine their independent lifestyles, so they eventually got derailed from each other.

They were married young, they followed their hearts. All of that may be true. But in the end it comes down to the simple fact that they didn't have the necessary skills or the maturity level to problem-solve effectively to stay together. For Ashlee, and for many others, sometimes love isn't enough. Being able to recognize when you are tired of being unhappy, because your needs are being neglected and you can't reach a mutually agreeable middle ground with your spouse, is the first step toward taking care of yourself. The good news is that Ashlee has taken on this responsibility and is back on track for herself and her son. Hopefully she is getting on with her life.