Divorce on the Silver Screen

Divorce on the Silver Screen

Divorce on the Silver Screen

They say art imitates life, so it’s no wonder there are so many compelling movies about divorce. I thought I’d reflect back on some of the best divorce movies of all time, and share what I think their most important lessons might be. (If you haven’t seen these, check them out!)

Best Divorce Movies of All Time

This Melissa McCarthy comedy features a heartbroken suburban mom shocked by her husband’s announcement of divorce after they drop off their daughter for her senior year of college. Trying to rebuild her life, she decides to finish college herself, and enrolls at the same university as her daughter. What ensues is a coming-of-age journey for a midlife woman who reconnects with her inner and outer passions and realizes she has a lot of life left in her.

A sweet, fun film starring Meryl StreepSteve Martin and Alec Baldwin, a long-divorced couple with three grown children find each other tantalizing once again and sneak around to have an affair until their children discover their secret liaison. Both in new relationships, they rediscover what was always wonderful about one another long after their marriage fell apart. It’s hard to root for an extramarital affair, but the story is so endearing you do just that.

Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn play divorce mediators who make the rounds of weddings uninvited just to meet and hook up with bridesmaids.

Of course, these silly shenanigans end up leading to love and a reckoning of sorts, as the pair rethink their perspectives on love and marriage.

Robin Williams and Sally Field star as ex-spouses in this funny but sad film about a family divided by divorce and a father so pained to be away from his children that he impersonates a nanny to be near them. It was celebrated at the time it was released, but I remember feeling conflicted about liking the timeless humor of Robin Williams, as it masked the pain of the father character at the dissolution of his family.

This tragicomedy featuring Michael DouglasKathleen Turner and Danny DeVito was inspired by a 1981 novel. It’s about a wealthy couple whose marriage disintegrates, and they battle bitterly over their material possessions and grandiose home. The title is a double entendre referring both to the couple’s family surname of Rose and English Civil War battles during the Middle Ages. It’s funny and at the same time devastating to see two people who once loved each other literally tear their shared life to shreds.

This throwback film starred Ryan O’NealShelley Long and a very young Drew Barrymore. In this film, the child decides to divorce her parents, choosing her nanny to become her legal guardian. The reason? Her parents are too self-focused to pay their daughter much attention. This movie is more a sad commentary on the missteps we make when we don’t realize how full and wonderful our lives truly are.

Another film-based-on-a-novel, Kramer vs. Kramer features Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep in a story about a couple’s divorce and its impact on their son. Released at a time when divorce was still relatively taboo, this movie explores topics such as the psychological impact of divorce, women’s rights and the rights of fathers, and how parenting changes once parents split.

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What We Can Learn from Celebrity Breakups

What We Can Learn from Celebrity Breakups

What We Can Learn from Celebrity Breakups

Addendum: This is perfect timing for this blog, since the Grammy’s on Sunday night featured 34 couples getting married by Queen Latifah on-stage during “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Some celebrities draw attention for breakups; others for love.

Anyone who knows me knows I really could care less about whether celebrities divorce, marry or somewhere in between. But our society craves this information and so I thought it might be fun to look at which celebrity couples split in 2013 and see what we could learn from these high-profile breakups.

Kris Jenner and Bruce Jenner

America’s ultimate reality TV family from Keeping Up with the Kardashians suffered a major blow when Kris and Bruce Jenner announced their breakup after 22 years of a very public marriage. In a publicist-issued statement, the couple confirmed they are living separately and “we are much happier this way.” Interestingly, their statement also included the following: “But we will always have much love and respect for each other. Even though we are separated, we will always remain best friends and, as always, our family will remain our number one priority.”

Lessons Learned: Living life in the public eye can’t be easy. Most divorces don’t require public statements to be issued with explanations! Granted, the Jenner-Kardashian clan consented to always-being-watched via their realty TV shows. Could that have been the deciding factor that tipped the scales and broke up the family?

Their statement of friendship and family focus is interesting and I hope it remains true. Too often, divorcing couples pledge to remain friends – and too often, the weight of a breakup can make that impossible. But, importantly, research does show that how they conduct themselves during the divorce itself, if they can be respectful of each other, then this worthy goal is certainly attainable.

Catherine Zeta-Jones & Michael Douglas

Rumor has it that this couple called it quits last summer after 13 years of marriage. There are conflicting reports, and some statements indicate that they separated as a step toward reconciling, with the separation inspiring work on their marriage.

Lessons Learned: No marriage is easy. No long-term relationship is easy! Sometimes taking time apart to review and evaluate, and then coming back together with fresh perspectives, is a dose of energy to infuse the marriage with new passion, appreciation and commitment. I hope this happens for Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas.

Miley Cyrus & Liam Hemsworth

I can’t believe I am even including this very young couple and astonishingly searching-for-herself young star in my blog. Even my daughters are beyond the realm of being interested in Hannah Montana! I mention them, though, because I believe this relationship story is indicative of a trend in Hollywood. (Details are as follows: allegedly they had a four-year relationship and called off their engagement.)

Lessons Learned: I reiterate, living life in the public eye is no easy task. The scrutiny and commentary can be grueling. And for a child star to grow up in that warped spotlight can really make it hard to learn reality and good decision-making in adulthood. I wish the young singer all the happiness and success in the world – which may require getting out of the limelight and getting to know who she truly is outside of the roles she’s played and the dreams her parents have pushed her toward. When she is complete, she could make a wonderful “better-half!”

Britney Spears & Jason Trawick

Poor Britney. She’s had such a tough road and she’s only 31. In her publicist-issued statement, Britney said of her recent ex: “I’ll always adore him and we will remain great friends.” He replied with the following: “As this chapter ends for us a new one begins. I love and cherish her and her boys and we will be close forever.”

Lessons Learned: Calling off an engagement is far better than calling off a marriage. Better to get out before you get in too deep. Having the confidence and courage to call off an engagement is a stronger place to be than saying “I Do” when you know part of you does not.

George Clooney & Stacy Keibler

Apparently, this break up, after two years together, had a lot to do with conflicting schedules and not enough time together. George Clooney is filming on-location, and his confirmed bachelor life may just not have room for a long-time love.

Lessons Learned: What couple doesn’t have a conflicting schedule? Time together is time invested in a relationship. When that can’t happen, absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder. Every successful relationship takes work, nurturing, attention and give-and-take. No exceptions.

Clint & Dina Eastwood

Even after launching an E! TV show called Mrs. Eastwood and Companythis couple called it quits, citing irreconcilable differences. They were married for 17 years and are parents to a 16-year-old daughter.

Lessons Learned: Every couple begins with differences. Make no mistake about it. Two very different people come together with the hope that they can bridge those differences with shared interests and common values. Seventeen years is a respectable go at it; ultimately, though, a marriage depends upon the commitment not to each other but to the acceptance of differences and to working through those differences with respect toward a common ground.

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