As the world prepares for the biggest wedding since the Prince of Wales married Lady Diana Frances Spencer on July 29, 1981 with the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the most searched stories on the Internet aren’t about marriage, but infidelity, betrayal, and divorce.
The media is widely reporting that basketball star Tony Parker’s affair with the wife of a former San Antonio Spurs’ teammate is the cause of this week’s divorce filing by Desperate (soon to be ex) Housewife Eva Longoria. People Magazine is claiming Parker only flirted with Erin Barry, wife of shooting guard Brent Barry, the first pick by the Denver Nuggets in the 1995 NBA Draft who played with Parker in San Antonio from 2004-2008 before leaving for Houston.
Tony and Eva with Erin and Brent
Although Parker and Barry are likely the only two who know for sure if their affair went beyond flirting, the fact that their story leaped to the top of the search engines within hours of Longoria’s public declaration of “irreconcilable differences” is a signal that many blame the betrayal for the breakup of their three year marriage.
According to some stories, Longoria’s friends are also now saying the tabloid reports about Parker’s affair in 2007, reportedly with model Alexandra Paressant, are also true, a claim she and Parker vehemently denied at the time.
On ABC’s The View this morning, Whoopi Goldberg talked about the unfolding Longoria/Parker/Barry drama and today’s TIME Magazine feature that reported four out of ten believe marriage is obsolete. “While marriage is becoming obsolete,” co-host Joy Behar joked, “revenge is not.”
Host Barbara Walters responded, “What one person said, who I like, someone from PAIRS Foundation, is marriage is like glue, living together is like Velcro.”
The glue of marriage depends on the commitment of those who get married. While the media regularly features lurid details of celebrity break-ups attributed to betrayal, it’s rare that infidelity is the actual cause of divorce. More often, affairs, at the flirtation stage or beyond, are symptoms of deeper issues that many couples successfully work through in marriage education classes. Once couples embrace regularly meeting each others’ needs for bonding (emotional and physical closeness) along with a commitment to staying a pleasure in each others’ lives, they create layers of protection against infidelity. While those lessons don’t change the past, together with skills for improving communication, empathy, and solving problems, they help couples who have suffered betrayal prevent it from happening again.
Those lessons also regularly influence the decisions dating couples in marriage classes make about whether or not to actually get married. They learn to go beyond the question of “Is this person a pleasure in my life today,” to search for tangible evidence to answer the more meaningful question, “Can I count on this person to keep their promises, including the promise to stay a pleasure in my life?”
While stories of betrayal may have the world googling, the lessons about what it takes to sustain love, intimacy, and commitment are worth considering too.