In covering the breakup of Hollywood superstars Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, USA TODAY used the headline: "If 2 Happily Married Celebs Can't Make It, Can Any of Us?" The accompanying article baldly declared: "Marriage is hard - and Hollywood marriages are harder." This echoes the common pop culture theme that it's daunting, against-the-odds work to build a loving, lasting family - a message that discourages young people from marriage.
Actually, research by leading psychologists (including my wife) shows that long-term married couples attribute their success to relaxed communication, a sense of humor, forgiveness and fun, more than gritty, punishing toil. As for Douglas and Zeta-Jones, they faced more challenges than most couples - including a 25-year age difference and his troubled history of clinically diagnosed sex-addiction. It makes no sense to use their sad example for another bout of marriage bashing.