Hollywood Marriages: Is the Second Time The Charm?

March 28, 2011 By:
Hollywood Marriages: Is the Second Time The Charm?

Sometimes you just have to untie that knot, learn some life lessons, and tie it again.

Reese Witherspoon married this past weekend in Ojai, California, and we’re all hoping this one fares better than her 8-year marriage to Ryan Phillippe.

Divorce is practically a career move in Hollywood, leaving us to wonder if “happily ever after” is even possible in the very town that produces so many movies saying it is!

But stars, starlets, and the rest of us can breathe easy. Because while half of marriages end in divorce, there are plenty of examples that prove some might need a second try to get their happy ending.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have been married fifteen years. And I’m pretty sure in Hollywood, marriage is calculated like dog years. You multiply that number by 7, and they’ve practically been married for a hundred. Will Smith explained their secret, which is a “deal” they share when it comes to infidelity:

“Our perspective is you don't avoid what's natural. You're going to be attracted to people. In our marriage vows, we didn't say 'forsaking all others'. If it came down to it, then one can say to the other, 'Look, I need to have sex with somebody. I'm not going to if you don't approve of it, but please approve of it'.”

Smith’s first marriage was to Sheree Zampino, and lasted for three years. So I guess he learned his lesson: being brutally honest about how horny he is and finding someone with a very, very open mind. Not to say that he doesn’t appreciate his wife:

"I don't let a day go past that Jada doesn't feel like the Queen of the World,” Smith said.

He and Jada are, in fact, so committed to making their marriage last, they research what goes wrong in other celebrity marriages.

"With Bruce and Demi, we spent hours talking to them. And Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman - hours, just trying to understand what happened.”

Faith Hill is another example of a celeb that learned some marriage lessons and made the second one work.

Her 1998 marriage to music executive Daniel Hill lasted six years, with the two divorcing in 1994. Two years later, Faith married Tim McGraw, and the couple has since been together for fourteen years. Now that the math is out of the way, Tim says their marriage works because they put it before their careers.

“We talked about it from the beginning: this is not something we’ll quit,” McGraw says.

He also admits that Faith has given up some of her career to support their marriage.

“Faith has sacrificed so I can work, even though she’s still at the top of her game. There’s no way around that, but it’s what she wants, to be home with the kids.”

Actor Tom Hanks even got lucky the second time around. He married Samantha Lewes in 1978 and they split nine years later. Sounds like a lifetime, but not when you compare it to his current wife Rita Wilson.

Tom and Rita married in 1988 and celebrated their 23 year anniversary this year. Speaking about Rita, Tom said, "My secret to a happy marriage is just being married to the right woman. I got lucky with the wonderful Rita Wilson. I'm the luckiest man alive."

And Michelle Pfeiffer says her second marriage to producer David E. Kelley has lasted nineteen years because of, simply, compatibility.

“We're both homebodies. I'm not sure about the opposites thing. It may attract initially, but it's what eventually breaks people apart. We love being parents. He has a wonderful family and a real feel for family, as do I. We're similar in our approach to everything, and he's romantic and cute to boot.”

So being hot doesn’t hurt.

Ozzy Osbourne and Sharon Osbourne have been through thirty whopping years of ups and downs. Ozzy was previously married to Thelma Mayfair, and after their divorce, he learned to take the good with the bad.

“You just stick it out. When you get married, you say for better or for worse, and people want the better and not the worse, for rich or for poor, they all want the rich and not the poor. You gotta ride the storm. At the first bend in the river, you can’t get off the boat, you’ve got to ride it through the rapids, you know.”

Sharon might have had to steer Ozzy off the crazy train quite a few times, but it looks like it’s worked out for both of them.

And the “rule of seconds” seemed to apply to Old Hollywood, too. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were married for fifty years before he passed away in 2008. It was his second go around, after a nine-year marriage failed. Newman said what kept him and Woodward going was being able to laugh at themselves.

"There's a lot of baloney I could talk about the secret of a long marriage,” Newman said. “In all honesty though, I don't have the faintest idea—apart form stating the obvious and saying it's important you keep each other laughing. A sense of humor might be the most important thing of all."

Divorce is one of the most painful things to go through, so maybe people take marriage just a tad more seriously when they decide to jump back in. With her second attempt, there are a few things Reese can keep in mind to make it work. Stephanie Coontz, author of “Marriage, a History”, says there are a couple of traits in a successful second marriage that keep it going:

“Over the years, I have taken oral histories of many couples whose second marriage had lasted longer than their first marriage and was still going strong. In almost every case, two things stood out. One was the willingness of these individuals to admit what they had done wrong the first time around, instead of putting all the blame on their former spouse. The second was that both spouses felt they had discarded older gender-stereotyped attitudes and behavior that had created problems in their first marriage.”

So basically, it’s about keeping an open mind, which is good advice for any of us. Here’s wishing Reese and her new man the best.

And here’s hoping that we all get that Hollywood happy ending, even if it takes some work!