by Carson Abrir
President Obama’s advice to a group of young child actors at the White House this week might be just the prescription for Courteney Cox, 46, and David Arquette, 39, Hollywood’s breakup of the week featured prominently on the cover of the current issue of People Magazine.
“You can’t just have other people telling you what to do. You’ve got to want it for yourself,” the Commander in Chief told young stars of Waiting for Superman during a private Oval Office meeting on Monday.
The morning after Arquette and Cox publicly announced they were splitting up, Arquette called in to the Howard Stern radio show to say, “I’ve been going to therapy. I’m trying to grow up …”
Six year old Coco, the couple’s daughter, should be strong incentive for Cox and Arquette to make the leap into adulthood. Beyond his Howard Stern telephone appearance, Arquette reportedly made time the day after their announced breakup to take Coco to breakfast at Nate ‘n Al’s, a landmark Beverly Hills’ Deli older than Arquette and Cox both.
“He was trying to keep a happy face in front of her, but he still came across a bit tense and stressed out,” a diner observed.
Cox and Arquette have both shared their intimate struggles publicly many times over the course of their 11-year marriage. Cox has played a key role helping other high profile couples navigate marriage challenges. The actress recently told InStyle, “You should realize that the intriguing things you fall in love with will probably become the things you don’t like.”
“Love is a feeling, marriage is a contract, relationships are work,” says marriage and family therapist Lori Gordon.
Seth Eisenberg, a relationship and marriage education trainer at the PAIRS Foundation, says many of the struggles Cox and Arquette have talked about publicly are typical to most intimate relationships.
“Love relationships go through four predictable stages,” Eisenberg says, “illusion, disillusion, confusion and conclusion.”
“When Cox talks about falling in love with ‘intriguing things,’ that’s the illusion stage – where someone is looking for what they want to find and celebrating it,” he says. “Illusion becomes disillusion when we become disappointed, confusion as the power struggles begin, and conclusion when a couple decides to start the whole cycle over again with a new partner.”
“Real love begins with making the decision to accept each other – not for things, not for an illusion, but for the miracle of who someone is at a much deeper level,” Eisenberg adds.
“Conclusion can actually be the beginning of a much fuller experience of love and intimacy,” he says. “It takes two people who are motivated, often out of a commitment to their children, and open to learning and growing with each other.”
While Cox and Arquette are sure to continue sharing intimate insights through publicists and interviews, those who recognize Coco will likely pay the greatest price for her parent’s decision to shatter the foundation of her life are hoping the couple will find a way back to each other.
Our Counselor-in-Chief’s advice, “You’ve got to want it for yourself,” may be the missing ingredient.