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Monday, November 14, 2011

Celebrity divorce a sign of the times

Telegraph Editorial

There goes the sanctity of marriage again.

Yet another celebrity marriage bit the dust recently when reality TV star Kim Kardashian cited irreconcilable differences and filed for divorce from former New Jersey Nets basketball player Kris Humphries just 72 days after their highly publicized $10 million wedding. She was seemingly appalled when she received a backlash from fans and media calling the whole relationship and marriage a sham just for TV ratings.

This is just another in a long list of celebrity marriages that failed before they had much of a chance to begin – think of Britney Spears and her 55-hour marriage to childhood friend Jason Alexander; Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman, who were married a mere nine days; or Lisa Marie Presley and Nicolas Cage, who were married for a whopping three months. Just to name a few.

According to Thomas Bradbury, a psychology professor at the University of California who studies couples in their first years of marriage, this is not just a celebrity problem. Most divorces happen in the first three years.

Just seven years ago, according to a U.S. Census Bureau study, most first marriages ended in divorce in year eight, a phenomenon commonly referred to as the “seven-year itch.” Today, marriages end in less than half the time.

It’s not just a problem in our relationships. Today, employees who are 25 to 34 years old have a median tenure at a job of three years. That’s less than a third of the median tenure of an employee 55 to 64 years old.

Though the baby boomers appear to be sticking with their jobs, 35 percent of them have been divorced. Their children and grandchildren are marrying on average four years later than they did – and staying married for less than half the time.

We live in a sound-bite society, where even our conversations online have been cut to 140 characters (Twitter). Young adults want it all, and if they don’t get what they want in their career or relationship, they move on.

The problem is that leaving a job, shortening a conversation, or capturing sound bites on TV or clips of the newspaper instead of the full rendition has a different impact than leaving a relationship.

If you leave a job, in all likelihood, your position will be filled with a nearly equally able individual relatively quickly, and business continues like usual. In a relationship, especially one with children, there are loved ones who feel a significant impact. There’s collateral damage that we may not see the effects of for years to come.

In order for everyday folks and celebrities alike to view marriage as something serious, it needs to be treated that way. It’s not a friendship bracelet, “poke” on Facebook, a friendly “tweet” on Twitter or casual affair.

It’s a commitment to be with each other, through thick or thin, and not just for as long as we get what we want.