When Tom Cruise leapt onto Oprah's couch and declared his undying love for Katie Holmes, comedians all over the country got down on their knees and thanked their lucky stars that he'd provided them with such a goldmine of material. After all, our collective national skepticism and dire divorce rates told us that no one would willingly go on national television and make a fool of themselves by so shamelessly declaring their love for another human being. And sure enough, Cruise became the butt of jokes (and some pretty funny imitations). But that was only one side of the story. The other, more sentimental side, was that we, and millions of others, could relate to Cruise's declaration and giddy display, after all we did it all of the time, safely out of the glare of the television cameras. Anyone who has ever been head over heels in love knows the joy of being a fool for love! And we secretly cheered for TomKat.
There is no denying that we are a celebrity obsessed society. We vicariously place our own hopes and dreams in the lives of famous people, whatever they may do. Whether it's LeBron James winning a championship, Meryl Streep winning an Oscar, Snooki getting pregnant, a Kardashian getting married, or Michelle and Barack Obama blessing each other with public displays of affection, we get a vicarious joy out of the happiness of others -- especially when they are famous.
Likewise, we are often doubly saddened when tragedy strikes celebrities, not just because we can relate to their tragedy, but because when something goes wrong in the lives of people living our dream lives, we all feel a little more vulnerable.
This is particularly true when the marriages of famous people collapse. Divorce rates are staggering enough and make many people skeptical of marriage, so when the marriage of someone famous dissolves, such as Tom and Katie, it just adds to our overall skepticism.
When we chose to write Perfect Combination: 7 Key Ingredients to Happily Living and Loving Together and to open our love to public scrutiny by writing about our lives living and working together 24/7 as theater producers, our goal was to combat the skepticism, share the joy of love and help share the tools we'd discovered in our emotional MapQuest on the road to love and happiness.
Like everyone else we share in the joy of celebrity love and feel the pain when that love fizzles, especially, when like us, those celebrities work together! So we were particularly pained to hear about the separation of Vera Wang and her husband, Arthur Becker, an executive who'd become integrally involved with her brand over the years. We personally know the joy of being partners both in marriage and in business and can only imagine the pain of such a marriage ending.
For us, we believe working together has strengthened our bond, and we look on with pride at couples who also work together, knowing both how challenging and yet how rewarding it can be.
The dissolution of Vera Wang's union forces us to take a pause and do a relationship check-up because we never want to take our happiness for granted. We were struck by reports that the demise of her marriage was in part a result of the demands of her career; that there were days she was thrilled she'd gotten married and days she was not so thrilled, but that her husband understood her nature "which is that it's always about product," she said. We could very much relate to the possibility of being consumed by "the product." And have fought tenaciously to not being overwhelmed by the demands of our business and our own workaholic tendencies. We try to always be mindful not to let the demands of our business, nor its ups and downs, derail our relationship; and we work overtime to keep the romance in our romance.
We've learned over the years that we can learn from our own lives, but we truly benefit when we learn from the lives of others.
With that in mind, we took a pause, reminded ourselves that no one is perfect, that love takes work, but with work it works, beautifully. And to keep ourselves on track, we wrote these simple reminders for ourselves, we share them with you in the hopes that they bring you love and happiness:
1. Don't always focus on your own needs. Realize that in helping your partner, you help yourself.
2. Listen. Encourage. Don't berate. Help your partner accomplish the goals they have, but don't dismiss them if they fall short of those goals.
3. Discover new things with each other. Be willing to be adventurous in every way.
4. Keep laughter in your lives, always.
David and Jamillah Lamb have been married for 10 years. They founded and have run Between The Lines Productions, Inc. since 2003. Born and raised in Queens, N.Y., David attended the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and New York University School of Law. He is the playwright of "Platanos y Collard Greens." Jamillah Lamb grew up in the same Chicago neighborhood as first lady Michelle Obama. She earned her master's degree in public policy at Harvard. Together they wrote Perfect Combination: Seven Key Ingredients to Happily Living & Loving to share what they have learned as successful partners in love and in business. They live in Brooklyn with their daughter. For more information about "Perfect Combination: 7 Key Ingredients to Happily Living and Loving Together," check out Jamillah and David's website www.acoupleoflambs.com.