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November 2, 2008

Why Madonna's Divorce Crushes Us



Photo Credit: Jon Furniss/Wire Image

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Call me delusional, but despite the endless rumors on TMZ and Perez about custody, prenups, and settlements, I still can't believe she's getting divorced from Guy Richie. The most upsetting part, though, is that most people are assuming it was inevitable, all her fault, or both.

I don't for a minute imagine she was an easy person to be partnered with. Stories swirled that she spent four hours a day at the gym and didn't have sex with her husband for over a year (this is “Erotic, erotic, put your hands all over my body" Madonna we're talking about). I read gossip items about her pushing Kabbalah on him, railroading him into adopting, and being a self-absorbed workaholic. But that was Madonna just being Madonna. Presumably he knew that going in; just by listening to the lyrics of “Holiday," he'd have known the girl can't take a day off. I see Madonna, and lots of other alpha-women, as being stuck in a Catch-22: If after the wedding, she'd quit work and traded her bodysuits and bad-girl attitude for mom jeans or, worse, gone all meek and Stepford, we'd say Richie was sold a bill of goods. On the other hand, when she kept being the self-absorbed workaholic she's always been, she gets blamed for ruining her marriage.

Sure, Madonna is exceedingly type A, the ultimate ball-busting alpha woman. But I haven't heard anyone question Richie's role, how maybe he couldn't handle her never-ending string of successes while his once-ascending career sputtered out a series of creative and commercial flops (she bounced back from Swept Away; him, not so much).

Well, why should a stranger's marriage mean so much to me? In 2000, when they wed in a fairy-tale-perfect castle in the Scottish Highlands, it proved that the belief about men being intimidated by powerful women was an antiquated load of bull. A successful husband, an adorable family, a killer body, a substantial bank account, and a rockin' career? Madonna's happily ever after assured me a modern woman could have it all. Don't get me wrong — I don't think Madge and I are identical bosom buddies. But if controlling overachiever Madonna, the ultimate ball-busting alpha woman, could find a cool, supportive guy to spend her life with, couldn't we all?

Which is why I was crushed when their marriage finally split. None of us will really ever know exactly why they divorced — maybe she did step out with A-Rod. But the point is that everyone thought it was inevitable. “How could a woman like that pull this off?" was the sentiment. What I'm left wondering now is ... can't we?

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