Can an Oscar threaten your marriage? It does if you are a woman, according to a new study by the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and Carnegie Mellon University. (The research looked at men, but concluded they were not more likely to divorce after winning an Oscar.)
What increases divorce risk among Oscar-winning actresses?
1. Their husbands may feel threatened or emasculated. That super-charged female recognition can shift the marital balance of power so much that the relationship no longer meets the expectations of both spouses.
2. Stated differently, an Oscar-winning wife may develop a greater sense of entitlement in all aspects of her life, including her marriage, (more so than an Oscar-winning man). Her man may be unwilling or unable to conform to the new order. Alternatively, the woman may develop a feeling that she is unfulfilled, unappreciated or trapped — independent of her marital partner’s conduct.
3. The general public’s insatiable curiosity, fascination, and paparazzi-style pursuit of actresses molds the actresses’ lives in ways they cannot always control. Our social adulation of entertainment heroines diminishes their privacy and increases their stress. Think limousines, private jets and gated communities — twenty-four seven. Starlets can be prisoners of their own fame; and an Oscar makes it worse.
4. The earnings of an Oscar-wife may increase dramatically relative to her husband, with transformative effect: The wife could develop a greater desire to be a decision-participant if not the outright decision-maker. She may become more opinionated, assertive and independent-minded than she was before.
5. Hollywood is known for over-sized egos. But a woman’s Oscar can have an exponential, self-aggrandizing disruptive impact on the pre-existing role models and division of labor in the relationship. (Since top male actors already have massive egos, an Oscar probably doesn’t change them as much.)
Major events like birth, death, job loss and bankruptcy will strain any marriage; no surprise there. Nor is it surprising that an actress winning an Oscar is at increased risk of divorce.
What I am really curious to know is if Oscar wives are more often divorce plaintiffs than their non-Oscar peers. I bet you they are.