I am never surprised when celebrity couples announce breakups. Marriage is hard enough on ordinary people like me, and I can imagine that the pressures are magnified 10 times when you’re dealing with two people in an ego-driven, beauty-obsessed industry like entertainment. Being an actor is a demanding way to earn a living, between all the networking, schmoozing, rumor-mongering, long days at shoots and filming in locations far away from home. That is a set of circumstances I would hate to have to deal with.
All that took the sting out of hearing about the breakups of two MAJOR celebrity couples featured on this blog: Halle Berry & Gabriel Aubrey and Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon & Mike Nilon. I’m not sure why the Berry/Aubrey relationship fell apart, but in the Beauvais-Nilon case, the husband was accused of carrying on a four-year affair!
Without being patronizing, I sympathize with Halle and Garcelle in all this (sorry, unless these women have been caught severely hurting their children, the sisters have my steadfast backing). Assuming that they are reasonable and stable people, it just reinforces the message that all black women everywhere will have to spend a significant part of their adult lives single, and not by choice. If stunning, accomplished beauties like them can’t find the simple happiness of a loving, devoted husband or mate, it makes me feel like true, grown up love between men and women is unattainable. But then I think: Hey, take it easy. Their problem was that they hooked up with guys, and as any woman who has been in a marriage or long relationship with a guy will tell you, those creatures are hard to love at times. Men have a shocking capacity to be immature, callous, insecure, moody and cruel. There have been times when I’ve complained to my friends or what have you about Hubby’s behavior, and some of the women who have been married a lot longer than me offer the same advice: You have to suck it up and tolerate it. Judging by the behavior I’ve witnessed, relationships are often sustained by a woman’s sheer ability to tap into her willpower and tolerate a lot of male nonsense and weakness.
Of course, the one guy out there who reads this will be insulted. So let me try to be balanced here. Sometimes, women are the flaky ones who drag down a relationship. Spend inordinate amounts of money. Gossip too much. Leave him to do too much heavy lifting in everyday duties. In either case, it’s a very depleting way to live, and as heartbreaking as it might be to separate, breaking up is sometimes the healthier thing to do.
This is why I do not actively encourage black women to date or marry outside their race, and certainly not as an alternative to black men. Marriage and long-term relationships are serious business, and people should not get into them for the wrong reasons. If a black woman is open to a relationship and can find a more than reasonable level of happiness with a guy outside her race, I think that’s wonderful. But black women should never, ever date across color lines thinking that white, Asian or Hispanic guys are less of a headache. It may be “rough out there” for a single woman, as the husband of one of my friends once said, but it is definitely better to be single than put up some guy’s incorrigible nonsense. And I heartily disagree with the sentiment behind Luther Vandross’ smooth ballad “I’d Rather.”
If Mike Nilon cheated on his wife while she was pregnant with their twins, he’s scum. I don’t know what Gabriel Aubry’s story is, but I’m glad that in that case, I’m not hearing a lot of mud slinging. In fact, he released a statement that sounded promising for a dignified, amicable split:
“While I will not comment on all of the wild inaccuracies being speculated about in the media, I am sad to say that Halle and I have decided together to separate at this time. “She is, and will forever be one of the most special and beautiful people that I have ever known, and I am certain that we will continue to have only love and respect for one another.” “We have been blessed with the most amazing daughter in the world, and her happiness and well-being are the most important thing for both of us. Please respect our privacy during this very difficult time.”
I’m not sure what’s going to happen in these two cases, but both couples have kids. As famous parents, I hope that Halle and Garcelle handle this painful episode without leaving a scandalous trail of public insults for their children to find later on.