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When Anna Faris and Chris Pratt announced their separation, fans were crushed  — it certainly one of those oft-repeated celebrity “love is dead moments.” The couple, who had been married since 2009 and have a 5-year-old son, seemed to be a great fit. So then, what happened? Life happened. While we can never know the truth about celebrity marriage — or anyone’s marriage, quite honestly — Faris has been open about some of the issues that arose between them. And while every marriage is unique — given the personalities, values and expectations of the couple — there are some things all of us can learn from the Faris-Pratt separation.

Having a road map

When they wed, Pratt was most known for his goofy Parks and Recreations character and Faris was the bigger star. Then, he started getting roles in blockbuster films, Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World, among them, while Faris’ career seemed to have sputtered. She was the hands-on parent while Pratt was off filming, and she found herself often sad and questioning if what the tabloids reported were true: “[I]n this crazy world where he’s off doing movies and I’m in L.A. raising our child, of course I’m going to feel vulnerable, like any normal human would.”

“They really didn’t have a road map for what this would all be like,” an “insider” said.

What could they have done differently? Well, they could have created a marital plan, one that would have asked — and mutually answered — some of the issues she eventually had to grapple with: How will we handle things if one of us has to be away from home for months at a time? What can we do to support each other’s career: switch off on childcare, refuse some movie roles, etc.? How can we best reassure each other about our marriage when it’s  under constant tabloid pressure? Are we good at monogamy and choosing it willingly? Do we agree in how we define infidelity?

In other words, the road map was theirs to create.

Losing yourself

Faris also says she often lost herself in her relationship. “I made that mistake, I think, a little bit, like ‘I’m checking my relationship off the list’ and if that would be the final piece of advice I could give you, that would be know your worth, know your independence.”

Faris wouldn’t be the first wife to lose herself in a marriage. In fact, there are literally dozens of self-help books on the topic. Psychoanalyst Beverly Engel, author of Loving Him Without Losing Yourself, calls it the Disappearing Woman — what happens when women forget what they believe in, what they stand for, what’s important to them and what makes them happy once they’re in a relationship with someone they love. That’s because many women have been brought up to view a romantic partnership as the major accomplishment of their life.

What could they have done differently? Faris could have maintained a life outside of her romantic partnership and Pratt could have encouraged it (and vice versa, of course). She could have learned how to be happily independent and treasure alone time. And she could have looked to others to have some of her needs met — by family, friends and even her own self — instead of expecting her partner to fulfill all her needs. He can’t, and she can’t do it for him either.

You gotta have friends

In her upcoming book, Unqualified, Faris admits she made a mistake — she didn’t cultivate a group of gals who’d be there for her no matter what, in part because of bad experiences with mean and competitive women. And then when she and Pratt wed, she was given questionable advice about making her hubby her BFF. As she writes:

I was once told that I didn’t need a tight group of girlfriends because Chris should be my best friend. But I never bought that … The idea of your mate being your best friend — it’s overhyped. I really believe that your partner serves one purpose and each friend serves another. … To be honest, I think the notion of best friends in general is messed up though. It puts so much pressure on any one person, when I truly believe it’s OK to have intimacy with different people in different ways. tweet

Amen!

So now Faris finally has what she says is a handful of women she can count on as confidantes.

What could they have done differently? Faris could have been encouraged from early on to recognize that friendships are as important — perhaps even more so — than romantic relationships, which is the idea behind relationship anarchy. She also could have encouraged Pratt to have a group of male friends — the lack of male friendships is a true crisis in America. And, she could have discovered early that good friends offer intimacy, too.

Finding beauty in the temporary

In observing the way fans reacted to the Faris-Pratt split, actress Kristen Bell offered some grounded advice all of us might want to embrace when we experience the end of a romantic relationship — celebrate the power and beauty of the time spent together, even if it wasn’t “until death.”

I think there’s a little bit of lack of acknowledgment about really loving something that was. If there are two people that decide not to be together, it shouldn’t really be a heartbreak for everyone. You should say, ‘Oh, they tried. But that doesn’t discount the lovely years they had together.’ If I ever get divorced, I’m still going to be like, ‘Wow, I loved being married to that man.'” tweet

That, of course, is exactly why time-limited renewable marital contracts make sense for today’s couples. Staying together as long as there is love is a better way to be together than staying together, miserably, purely to live out a vow. But you knew I’d say that …

Want to learn how to create a marital plan? (Of course you do!) Then read The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (Seal Press). You can support your local indie bookstore or order it on Amazon.


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