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Mar. 18 2010 - 9:32 am | 1,274 views | 0 recommendations | 18 comments

Maybe Sandra Bullock & Kate Winslet’s hubbies weren’t feeling appreciated

Bullock at the premiere for The Proposal in Ju...

Sandra Bullock Image via Wikipedia

Actresses Sandra Bullock and Kate Winslet are having marriage trouble, generating rumors of an Oscar-winner’s curse, reported by the LA Times (below.) These women have it all – they’re gorgeous, talented, smart, successful, and as far as I can see, fun. What could possibly motivate their husbands to stray?

Perhaps the guys haven’t been feeling appreciated.

I’ve been doing research for an article I’m writing for Make it Better Magazine about what men really want from their wives and partners. It hasn’t been easy; guys aren’t comfortable talking about their needs. Being needy is a sissy thing.

But when the stoic clams finally open up, the thing they all say they want more of from their mate isn’t sex (well, they wouldn’t mind) – it’s appreciation. They want to be recognized for their work, their contribution to the family, and they want to feel valued for being, well, the man.

According to Marriage and Family Therapist David Klow, for some successful men, home can be the place they feel the least validated. They spend their days in high-powered careers commanding respect and admiration, then come home to their family where they are treated as incompetents. Klow calls this the “King of the Boardroom, Jester of the Bedroom” syndrome.

I’m not saying Bullock and Winslet have treated their husbands like fools – Hollywood marriages have unique pressures of their own. I’m just pointing out that while men may not always be the best communicators, they have emotional needs just like we women do.

Maybe we owe it to them to pay more attention.

Just days after last year’s Oscar winner Kate Winslet announced her split with hubby Sam Mendes comes news that the marriage of the newest champ, Sandra Bullock, may be on the rocks. In Touch Weekly reports that Bullock’s hubby, Jesse James, had an affair on the sly while Bullock was filming “The Blind Side.”

Now Oscarologists wonder: Is there really a kiss of death curse associated with winning best actress?

Over the past 12 years, eight of the best-actress champs busted up with their lovers after winning: Kate Winslet (won for 2008), Reese Witherspoon (2005), Hilary Swank (1999, 2005), Charlize Theron (2003), Halle Berry (2001), Julia Roberts (2000), Gwyneth Paltrow (1998), Helen Hunt (1997). Five of the splits occurred less than a year after their Oscar triumphs (Winslet from hubby Mendes, Witherspoon from hubby Ryan Phillippe, Swank from hubby Chad Lowe, Paltrow from boyfriend Ben Affleck, Roberts from boyfriend Benjamin Bratt). Berry’s break-up with Eric Benet occurred 18 months after winning; Hunt split with Hank Azaria less than two years later.

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It’s ironic, looking back, at how effusively the stars gushed at the Oscar podium while thanking their men on the eve of their relationship’s end.

Witherspoon: “I want to say thank you to my wonderful husband.”

Swank in 2005: “Chad, you’re my everything. Thank you for your support. It means the world.”

Berry: “My husband, who is the joy of my life.”

Bullock to James: “You get dressed up in monkey suits and you sit at a table with people you don’t know. I love you so much, and you’re really hot. And I want you so much!”

Can it be a mere coincidence that these women’s romantic lives go kaput so soon after the biggest triumph of their careers? Is it because victory goes to their heads and these women become impossible divas to live with? Or is it because their men are overly macho types who can’t tolerate being upstaged by their female partner’s success? The latter may be a contributing factor in the split of Witherspoon and Phillippe. There were reports that Phillippe looked miserable and pouted all night at the parties — where he obviously didnt want to be — after Witherspoon won. Ryan should’ve exulted in his own victory too. That same night his film “Crash” won best picture, but he didn’t win a statuette himself. Some observers believe that bothered him a lot as Reese flashed her glittering golden boy right and left, leaving her lover boy sitting alone in a corner, looking downcast.

via Sandra Bullock and Kate Winslet: Victims of Oscar curse? | Gold Derby | Los Angeles Times.


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  1. collapse expand

    Marjie, I don’t find this persuasive.

    Sam Mendes apparently ditched Kate Winslet for a 27 year-old. Yeah, I’ve always found 27 yr olds a little more oooh-aaaah appreciative of an older talented, wealthy, accomplished man — compared to their student debt-burdened peers.

    Once a man has chosen — chosen – to take vows of fidelity and assume the responsibilities of marriage and/or fatherhood, he needs to step up to the plate and stay there. Marriage is often just a tough slog: the woman is worn out from work, parenting, commuting, often ignoring her own needs — and should never forget to tenderly cherish her husband? She’s probably too tired.

    Of course, men need to feel welcomed, valued and appreciated. But they also need to grow up and get that it’s a lot less sexy to change diapers or cook dinner or wash dishes than close a deal or boss your underlings about — and every bit as essential.

    Women who make their men feel incompetent need to examine their behavior. But many men “forget” to do domestic tasks that force their wives into far more additional work than is fair — and we don’t say thanks for that.

    • collapse expand

      Caitlin,
      I really can’t speak to what went wrong in these two Hollywood marriages, I’m just using them as a launching pad to discuss what men want from relationships. I usually take the woman’s side of things, and yes, we are often overlooked, under appreciated and taken for granted.

      But guess what? Men feel the same way – and it can be harder for them to express their feelings.

      I’m tired of seeing men as cheating, testosterone-driven pigs and their long suffering wives as helpless victims. This isn’t an empowering model for me. I’m not giving any guy a free pass to go boink a cocktail waitress, but both parties in a marriage are responsible for its success.

      Most of the men I know are hardworking guys who want to make their wife happy and do the right thing for their families. Is it anti-feminist to appreciate them for it?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    I want to go back to days where a woman who engaged in a extra-marital affair with a married man was call a WHORE!! and the OSTRACIZED from society. There is wrong and there is wrong. Women that prey on married men should be called out.Not letting men off the hook here, however it is up to Women to destroy those that would destroy them.

  3. collapse expand

    Why do men and women engage in potentially destructive behavior, addiction, infidelity, etc? Same underlying issue. People have lost themselves in the noise and stress of a spiritless life. The quiet, loving voice that would ordinarily guide decisions has been replaced by a bullhorn shouting ads for male enhancement and credit card offers. Dazed and confused, people try to reconnect with their lost selves or find happiness in the eyes of someone new,in pills or some other addiction.

  4. collapse expand

    This is wryly amusing to me; I don’t doubt that men DO want appreciation, but isn’t the fact that someone’s cheating on you pretty much a license for you to appreciate them less?

    Interestingly, a study of convicted embezzlers showed that the excuse they gave for the initial decision to steal was, they felt underappreciated.

    Someone over at Buzzfeed has done an interesting comparison between Sandra’s Oscar speech and her speech of a month earlier at the SAG awards, where she gushed over her husband:
    http://www.buzzfeed.com/scott/proof-sandra-bullock-knew

    Did she, in fact, know?

  5. collapse expand

    Although my wife and I have been married for 6 years. Been together for 8. I can’t really picture myself being so under appreciated that I’d want to go that route and cheat on her. Its sorta of like telling your friends your happy and sexually satisfied and they really don’t want to hear that. I know that if she did it to me, it would kill me on the inside.
    She must be terribly embarrassed though after the speech she gave.

  6. collapse expand

    You know, I really don’t like being in the position of defending Jesse James, but this excerpt from Marcia Reynold’s article last week kind of supports my original point about men not asking for what they need.

    “I believe Sandra Bullock described this type of relationship when she explained her marriage to Jesse James Sunday on the last Oscar edition of The Barbara Walters Special. When Barbara asked her, “How does he protect you?” Sandra answered, “Not once asking me to be anything other than what I am.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marcia-reynolds/sandra-bullock-and-jesse_b_494624.html

  7. collapse expand

    I appreciate what you’re saying, but I’m just not buying that infidelity — by either a man or a woman, because I’m with you; it’s not just men who cheat — comes solely out of a feeling of not being appreciated. It’s the beautiful thing about being upright beings — we have words and can express those feelings, and actually suppress an id-driven urge or two rather than act on them all the time. I don’t think it’s anti-feminist to appreciate hard-working men who are trying to make their wives happy. In fact, I think it’d be anti-feminist not to celebrate them for it. But I think to blame a wife — or a husband — for a spouse’s infidelity is barking up the wrong tree. Everyone’s capable of a slip or of making a stupid decision — things happen and people are human. But only the person who actually takes the action can take real responsibility for it.

    That said, agree with it or no, I like the stick-in-the-eye perspective of the piece, and I think you’re trying to get at some interesting questions.

  8. collapse expand

    There’s a word for guys who, in the 21st century, “aren’t comfortable talking about their needs.” It’s “wimps.” I know there was a time when expectations for masculinity included being stoic, taciturn, and as non-communicative as humanly possible. Those days are long, long over and there’s no excuse for any intelligent, assertive guy to be unable to express his needs, desires, and even his insecurities. Men should be able to say “I love you” and they should also be able to say “Hey, you’re being really unbearable right now. Stop it.” The inability to communicate isn’t macho, it’s weakness. Women who are specifically attracted to guys who can’t express their feelings are setting themselves up for failed relationships. There’s no need for a guy to be an endless, raging tsunami of angst and florid poetry–that’s sad in its own way. But there’s no excuse for any guy, in this day and age, not to have a bare minimum level of competency in identifying and articulating emotional needs.

  9. collapse expand

    While I agree that feeling appreciated is a necessary ingredient to a successful relationship I don’t agree that there is some sort of curse on Oscar winners that causes their relationships to fail.

    You are talking about Hollywood actors. These are people who are rich and famous. People who are accustomed to being flattered, surrounded by sycophants who cater to their every need and whim and others who continually reinforce the notion that they are great, special and better than others. They are extremely ego centric and are accustomed to having anything they want, whenever they want it.

    This is contradictory to what it takes to maintain a intimate relationship. Those who are currently in long term stable relationships know what it takes. It takes compromise. It takes understanding. It takes the ability to care so much about your significant other that you are willing to forgo your own personal needs, desires and wants for the good of your significant other and the good of your relationship. If you are constantly being told how great you are, how special you are, and how your needs are more important than others, how are you supposed to do what it takes to make a relationship work? You can get a nanny, you can get a housekeeper and you can find people to take care of all the little tertiary things that need to be done to maintain a successful household but if you can’t focus on your partner, and really, truly see them and what they need, how are you supposed to do what it takes to make a relationship work?

    Long term stable relationships in Hollywood are extremely rare. It’s not about the Oscar, it’s about the culture that these people exist in. Much as those in Hollywood try to pretend that they are just like everyone else, they are not. They live in a bubble. You may as well relate to them as you would to a far away culture located halfway across the world that believes in cannibalism or incest. It’s that different.

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    About Me

    I'm a 40-something mother, wife and writer who took a long unexpected gig as a stay-at-home mom in the Chicago suburbs which, to my surprise, I liked. In addition to spending quality time with my two kids, staying home gave me time to hang out on the North Shore, act in community theatre, sing in a band, host a local-access cable TV show and go back to school. Now I'm relaunching my career as a writer. I have another blog about life after 40, and am a regular contributor to local magazines and newspapers. I look forward to bringing stories from my neighborhood to yours.

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    I’m doing a series on dating after divorce for my blog about life after 40 called Forty Fabulous. Whether you’re single for the second time or happily married, it will make you rethink your relationship (and there’s some good dirt too.)