Love In The Limelight: It is difficult to know which combination is more challenging: a coupledom where both parties are super famous as in Brangelina; one party is famous and the other unknown, by contrast, as is the case of Kate and William; or both parties are famous but one is a superstar; an example of this is Paul Newman, whose spouse Joanne wisely chose to take a back seat to stardom, ensuring the safety of their Coupledom.
The Royal Guarantee: Kate and William have a distinct difference from the general run of famous coupledoms. Neither has to earn a living. Neither has to keep cranking out photo ops nor publicity stunts to keep their fame. With the Royal Coupledom, some of the pressures of more plebian couples are fortunately absent. Financial support including housing and child care cannot qualify as genuine concerns. And unannounced visits from the in-laws can be ruled out for sure. Keeping up with the Joneses should be a no-brainer.
The Royal Pressures: What will be their pressures? The need to breed…and birth an heir to the throne, likely to be fairly easy; to appear at events smiling, dressed appropriately with seemingly earnest interest in the “people;” and the appearance of sufficient regard for each other, at least in public.
A Typical Coupledom: Kate and William have friendship in their favor, history, a shared peer group as well as an alma mater. Attending college reunions together will not be a problem. They may have already experienced a short bout of premarital couples counseling, rumor has it, and hopefully absorbed the basic tenets of healthy coupling such as mutual respect and flexible roles. But the key to nailing down a secure future as a married couple requires more. They will need to find each other of interest for decades to come, off the throne or on the throne. And that is not easy, especially if the roles that they have to embrace are rigid, gender restrictive and repetitive.
The Spin Has It: The media is casting this couple as quite modern, liberated and easy with each other. Very unlike Diana and Charles. But once the doors close on the wedding carriage and the coupledom becomes a family business, this twosome will have to be creative and truly protective of that third entity, The Coupledom. How that entity will fare next to the importance of the kingdom remains to be seen. One or both of the team will need to keep an eye on the basic tenets of a good marriage: keep it interesting; grow and expand your knowledge and share it with your partner; listen and try to think what it feels like to be he or she (King or Queen to be); fight for the Us as well as the I; and ensure that each partner parents the offspring.
Paul and Joanne: Paul Newman chose an excellent second wife, a woman who understood the movie business, being in it herself. And a woman who understood the importance of family, the dangers of fame, and the need to get out of Hollywood and settle the family in a place with space and something else going on besides the movie biz. Kate and William won’t have that option. It’s one castle or another for them. But if someone of the twosome has a handle on those essential earthy values of relationship and family, even with tiaras and swords, they may become an amazing model for a mature coupledom in a Kingdom that could use it. We have Michelle and Barack. Let’s see if the British can pull off a true matching of equal partners who can take turns on stage and off stage, with generosity and mutual support. This will be fun to watch.
©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011