Opinion and Editorial

Long Read: Calling it quits after years of being together

sushmita@khaleejtimes.com Filed on May 21, 2021 | Last updated on May 22, 2021 at 07.07 am
Bill and Melinda Gates. — Reuters file

Celebrities who smashed the public perception of being ‘model’ couples and went their separate ways

A few years ago, a friend opened up about her parents’ “loveless marriage”. They had been married for over 35 years, and she claimed she’s never seen any real affection between the two of them for as long as she can remember. “But they have been caring towards me, and there were no real problems: there was job security, decent money, I was never a troubled child.”

Once, after she’d donned on the mantle of an ‘adult’, she mustered up the courage to ask her mother if she loved her father. Romantically. “She told me to get real, that there’s no place for romance when day-to-day life overwhelms you, and that’s the way most marriages operate apparently.”

Her next question to her mother was: Then why get married, or “remain married”?

>>> ALSO READ: Silver splitters: Breaking up after a long marriage

“For a great number of reasons,” her mother explained. Security and social sanction topped the list. And “if love is thrown into the equation, consider that a bonus.”

She summed up her last 35-plus years as “a comfort zone”. Besides, by the time she realised there was “no room for love”, it was too late, too many years had passed. “If I’d been younger, maybe, but now it will be a be a real effort...”

For most regular folks, letting go of a relationship — which is formed on a letterhead and, at times not implemented in spirit — is a big ask. It takes tangible signs — like abuse — to take a stand and call it quits.

Otherwise, the solidly-boring vacuum is the one in which you learn to exist in.

On a website called womensweb.in, Nischala Murthy Kaushik — in a piece titled “Why do women ‘stay put’ in bad marriages’ — writes: “…I’ve seen so very many ‘paper marriages’, i.e., marriages which are pretty much confined and restricted to the marriage certificate. The couple have no real physical relationship, no emotional connect, are not really there for each other to provide any kind of mental support — and they are definitely not soul-mates. There is some level of financial dependency, some level of dependency on every day operations and functioning and some pseudo-masks worn to put up a decent face in front of society. But behind closed doors, it’s another story! Rather a sad one…”

Our bet is that this is not a woman-only phenomenon — rather a joint, yet inarticulate, decision.

Away from the realm of “ordinary people”, there are the celebrities, who inhabit a rarefied space and do things that are acceptable by us because “oh, they are like that only”.

Here is a reckoner of those who decided to go the way of splitsville after decades of being together.

>> Harrison Ford and Melissa Mathison, “supposed” to have been one of the most stable couples in Hollywood broke up after 20 years of marriage in 2004.

>> Former US vice president Al Gore separated from his wife years of 40 years, Tipper, in 2010. “The Gores have been viewed in Washington as one of politics’ most rock-solid, durable couples,” wrote The Guardian.

>> Journalist and television host Christiane Amanpour separated from her husband of 20 years, Jamie Rubin, in 2018.

>> Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith divorced in 2015 after almost 20 years of marriage.

>> Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos announced that they would be divorcing after 26 years of marriage, in 2019.

>> Mel Gibson and wife Robyn Moore got divorced in 2012 after over 30 years of marriage.

>> Tennis player Chris Evert and skier Andy Mill split after 18 years of being together, in 2006, blaming it on “irreconcilable differences”. The next year, golfer Greg Norman split with his wife for 25 years, Laura Andrassy. The reason why both cases are mentioned in tandem is because, post respective divorces, Chris and Greg got married in 2008.



Sushmita Bose

Sushmita, who came to Dubai in September 2008 on a whim and swore to leave in a year's time (but then obviously didn't), edits wknd., the KT lifestyle mag, and writes the Freewheeling column on the Oped page every Friday. Before joining Khaleej Times, she'd worked for papers like Hindustan Times and Business Standard in New Delhi, and a now-defunct news magazine called Sunday in Calcutta. She likes meeting people, making friends, and Facebooking. And even though she can be spotted hanging out in Dubai's 'new town', she harbours a secret crush on the old quarters, and loves being 'ghetto-ised' in Bur Dubai where she is currently domiciled.

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