Another high-profile Hollywood marriage has ended and I have to admit I am disappointed and even a bit saddened by the news. Anna Faris and Chris Pratt, two seemingly likable, even dare I say, humble celebrity “hotties” have unfortunately called it quits. I say unfortunately because over the last eight years I’ve found myself undeniably enchanted by their goofy, lovey-dovey antics on the red carpets of tinsel town. One might even call their out-in-the-open flirting and chemistry swoon-worthy—as they could probably draw sighs from even the most jaded of souls. I have pored over media accounts of their fairytale-like romance with the same intensity as a zoologist who marvels and delights in the birth of an albino gorilla. (Look it up. They exist and are so dang cute.) For as long as I can remember, I have been hooked by the breathtaking love affairs portrayed in the bright lights of the entertainment industry. As wary as I am of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s politics, I was bummed out by the couple’s demise. What went wrong? In fact, I scoured countless “reputable” media outlets trying to extract a hint at what caused their shocking split. It’s embarrassing to admit how much time I pored over articles about Ben Affleck’s affair with the nanny. Why, Ben? Why? And more importantly, why is a celebrity marriage that survives more than 5 years the stuff of unicorns, mermaids, and leprechauns?
Back to Anna and Chris. As I was reading the mounting speculation explaining their reasons for separation, I came across one article that detailed their unconventional meeting and courting. Pratt explained to Esquire magazine that when they met, Farris was still married to her first husband and so he didn’t really consider her fair game. That’s apparently extremely stalwart and virtuous, according to the standards of showbiz. The Esquire writer describes Pratt’s anemic attempt to woo his new co-star. “When Faris came over to his apartment, he left porn magazines out. She didn’t mind. He detailed sexual encounters he had recently had as a single man in Los Angeles. She was into it. Into it into it? Into it into it. So, when she called him to tell him that she had left her husband, Pratt decided he was going to marry her.”
No longer sigh-worthy. Now we’ve driven full speed ahead past the barricades into “just plain creepy.” Ok, let me get this straight? Their early encounters of attraction, while she was STILL married, were based on porn magazines and the crude discussions of his failed sexual exploits? Even the Esquire writer is incredulous! Did you catch the italics on the “into it?” This is generally when I stop reading.
Now I’m beginning to consider the wider ramifications into the whole institution of marriage for all of us married folk. It’s become cliché to mention how many marriages end in divorce. Recently Pope Francis chimed in on the lack of understanding of the sacramentality of marriage. He made the off-the-cuff announcement that many marriages were not actually valid because couples don’t fully grasp what they are agreeing to. Although, I’d argue that there is no way you can actually ever completely know what you are getting into. Can anyone ever fully understand what it’s like when you have an extremely colicky nine month old and the only way they will quiet down and sleep is if they lay squarely on your already tired thorax ALL NIGHT? And your spouse has only been holding the kid for roughly one hour and 47 minutes and 22 seconds while you’ve been doing most of the heavy lifting for the last THREE hours. This bears no obvious connection to my own life…
While we can’t ever know what it’s really like. I get the Pope’s intimation that it is imperative that we try to understand. I remember my mom regularly cautioning me that when you agree to marriage, you make a vow to God so “you better be COMPLETELY sure” before saying I do. This may or may not have coincided with some of her most frustrating trials with my dad. But, I got the point. I’d like to say that when my husband and I entered into the sacrament of marriage we were both as pure as doves. In reality, we both carried enough wounds and brokenness to populate a hospital ward. But on some level, I like to think that we did understand, at the very least, the profound sacramentality of our marriage. That the person of Christ was an integral part of the union. That we would receive graces in our coming together. That in growing in unity, we would better understand the nature of sacrifice and specifically Jesus’ sacrifice for His Church. It has been such a blessing in my life.
In contrast to Anna and Chris’s coming together I will share something about my husband’s and my pre-Cana encounters. We had completed the battery of psychological questions as part of our Parish’s marriage prep. Our scores reinforced what we already suspected. We were very compatible. But there was one striking discrepancy. There was a question that asked if infidelity in the marriage could be a cause for divorce. That may not have been the exact wording. It’s been 13 years. But I had answered that one with a resounding yes; infidelity was a reason to end a marriage. My husband, however, said no. At the time, I was incredibly moved by his answer. But not touched enough to share his sentiments. “Infidelity is a major betrayal,” I explained to the deacon. We agreed to disagree. We were married. And somewhere along the way, a light came on for me, probably those sacramental graces mentioned above. I love this man enough to forgive even the terrible betrayal of infidelity. No need to hold your breath. Thankfully, we haven’t tested that assertion. But it is such a beautiful foundation for our lives together. It has given us the strength to persevere through colicky babies and other family drama, as well as the inevitable monotony of married life. It has provided us a fruitful, hopeful beginning. I admit I know absolutely nothing about the intricacies of their marriage, but I’m guessing Chris Pratt and Anna Faris never had that. I’m truly sorry for them and all who suffer the pain of divorce. But I won’t stop hoping and praying and daydreaming. God put that desire in us for a reason. He wants to draw us to real, authentic sacramental beauty in our marriages. It’s okay, go ahead and swoon from time to time.