“In what capacity is working on yourself or your marriage a bad thing? What marriage isn’t a journey? … Nobody’s perfect … We all have our own set of problems.”
~ Reese Witherspoon
by Carson Abrir
A week after their star-studded, country-elegant wedding, Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon, 35, and superstar talent agent Jim Toth, 40, are back at work.
Jim Toth knows the value of hard work. He rose from a mailroom clerk running errands at the Creative Artists Agency to become one of CAA’s top executives guiding the careers of Robert Downey, Jr., Tobey Maguire, Scarlett Johansson, and other A-list Hollywood celebrities.
Downey, Maguire, Johansson and CAA colleague David Bugliari were just a few of the close friends who landed an invite to witness the couple’s nuptials March 26 in Ojai, Calif. Renee Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey, and Alyssa Milano also came to celebrate.
Reese Witherspoon shares a lot in common with Elle Woods, the hardworking, ambitious Harvard law student she portrayed in Legally Blonde that led worldwide audiences to begin referring to her as “the new Meg Ryan.”
Both of Reese Witherspoon’s parents have PhD’s. Her father, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Tennessee Air National Guard, is an ear, nose and throat doctor. Her mother is a professor of nursing at Vanderbilt University.
The actress is promoting Water for Elephants, a film based on author Sara Gruen’s novel inspired by the biblical story of Jacob from the Book of Genesis. Water for Elephants opens nationwide on April 22.
In the movie, Robert Pattinson plays Jacob Jankowski, who we meet as a 23-year-old Cornell University veterinary student as he receives news that his parents died in a car accident. With the people he loved dead and his plans to join his father’s veterinary practice destroyed as Jacob learns that his father incurred massive debt to treat animals for free and pay for his son’s Ivy League education, Jacob jumps on the circus train in search of himself.
Reese Witherspoon plays Marlena, the wife of a head circus trainer who is both charming and brutal to the people and animals he loves. Marlena’s love affair with Jacob takes us on a journey in which both characters struggle to find the courage and wisdom to embrace their destiny.
Off the screen, the Hollywood super couple also know that taking care of their marriage will shape their family’s own destiny. In 2005, two years before the end of her 7-year marriage to actor Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon told Oprah, “In what capacity is working on yourself or your marriage a bad thing? What marriage isn’t a journey? … Nobody’s perfect … We all have our own set of problems.”
As our own wedding present for Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth, here are six tips from the trenches of marriage education that can help the loving couple continue nurturing the passion and commitment they share:
- Make it a priority to regularly and naturally meet each others’ needs for bonding. For busy couples especially, rituals such as the Daily Temperature Reading help couples proactively keep the flames of love burning bright.
- Regularly ask how you can be a pleasure in each others’ lives. What’s a pleasure at 35 when you’re busy promoting a new movie is different from what’s a pleasure at other times. Many couples fall into the trap of assuming that what’s a pleasure for one person is the same for the other. You have to ask, share, and listen to know.
- Create and nurture true passion in your life together. That goes far beyond sex to include the full range of sensual experiences, connecting intellectually, emotionally, and building on your shared interests.
- When you make mistakes, which all humans do from time to time, own them, look at them together with compassion and empathy, and learn from them. The belief that we can’t be vulnerable and fully human with the person we share our life with can sabotage love and intimacy. Being vulnerable requires a partner who responds with empathy.
- Make marriage the foundation of your lives. Work is never done. There will always be a new film, client, assignment, or opportunity to tackle. The idea that our most significant relationships get time and attention only when everything else is finished is a recipe for pain, distance, and, too often, the loss of the wishes, hopes and dreams couples share when they say, “I do.”
- Consider enrolling in an evidence-based marriage education class together. Programs such as PAIRS Essentials have helped thousands, including many famous celebrities, learn to sustain loving, pleasurable, fulfilling relationships. It’s like finding out how to be your own marriage counselor as couples learn practical, proven skills for improving communication, understanding emotions, and solving the conflicts that invariably arise in any close relationship. Your willingness to be a positive example for others will make a difference in their lives too.