Like many, I was surprised when Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins had split back in 2009. They seemed like a pretty solid couple, although they’re celebrities so who really knows. But I was more surprised by her recent statement that their parting made her “feel like a failure.”
Granted, it was the second long-term relationship for the 65-year-old actress. She was married to actor Chris Sarandon, from 1968 to 1979. Of that split, she said:
“At the end of my first marriage, it was about the loss of ideal, about who you thought this person was. I thought love conquered all and I had to reevaluate everything. … Then you get another chance.”
Her second chance, which lasted 23 years and produced two children, Jack, 22, and Miles, 19, did not come in the form of marriage, however. She and Robbins cohabited and since just 10 percent of all cohabiting couples make it past five years (let alone that they’re a Hollywood couple), they were anything but a failure to me; they raised their boys to adulthood. That is something to celebrate, not find fault with.
But what really surprised me was Sarandon’s comment about her perceived difference between marriage and cohabitation: “I thought that if you didn’t get married you wouldn’t take each other for granted as easily. I don’t know if after twenty-something years that was still true.”
Which is an odd (and somewhat naive) thing to say. Marriage, the institution, doesn’t make someone do or not do anything; the people involved in the marriage do things in their marriage. Taking each other for granted is not part of a marriage vow as far as I know, thankfully. Living with someone for many years, however, whether married or not, might — might — just cause some people to take each other for granted.
As a now supposedly older and wiser Sarandon says, “The one thing that’s been really clear to me is that you have to think of your own life and your relationship and everything as a living organism. It’s constantly moving, changing, growing. I think long-term relationships need to be constantly reevaluated and talked about.”
I’m not sure if she means each person separately needs to reevaluate the relationship or whether the couple does it together. Either way, I think the bigger take-home message is to stop taking each other for granted — whether you’re married or just living together.
- Do you think people are able to live together for decades and not take each other for granted?