America doesn’t have royalty, a fact of which we were all reminded when William and Kate got married in shoes which likely cost more than the White House’s art collection . . . or maybe the White House itself.
At least we had the Kennedy family.
But William and Kate hadn’t even had time to return the duplicate toaster gifts to Harrod’s, when our collective marriage-euphoria was punctured by news of the dissolution of the marriage of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver.
Maria, of course, is the daughter of Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver (Eunice was the sister of John F. Kennedy). An old People magazine article reported on the details of the day on which she exchanged wedding vows with muscle-man Arnold at St. Francis Xavier’s Roman Catholic Church — the same place where Maria’s uncles John and Robert served as altar boys many years before. Thousands of well-wishers gathered behind police barricades to catch a glimpse of the glamorous Kennedy family and Arnold’s body-building buddies. Jackie O dazzled in a navy blue suit, between John Jr. and Maurice Tempelsman. The (ten!) bridesmaids’ dresses were blue, pink and violet silk, and the bride’s Christian Dior gown had an eleven-foot train. Another American near-royal, Oprah Winfrey, read Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee?” to wedding guests, who’d later feast on a wedding cake which weighed 425 pounds. Arnold gave his in-laws a silk-screen portrait of his bride created by Andy Warhol, who was one of the many famous guests. At the time, Arnold vowed to Maria’s parents, “I love her and I will always take care of her. Nobody should worry.”
And it looked like it was working. It was one of Hollywood’s longest marriages, a left-right pairing (or really left-far-left pairing) for which everyone rooted. Who would’ve thought one of their children would eventually tweet the news of his parents’ split to his friends?
The Schwarzenegger-Shriver split is yet another reminder that marriages need work, every day of every year. There’s no point at which a marriage is “safe” from challenges . . . not in the first year, the fifth year, or the twenty-fifth year.
Do we need this reminder, in an era in which so many people say they are “going through a divorce” in some passive way, as if fog settles over homes and unwitting spouses must grope their way out of an unfortunate circumstance beyond their control?
But here we are, so let’s just say it anyway. Attractiveness, muscles, silk bridesmaid dresses, royalty, fantastic jaw lines, cool jobs, historically interesting families, and long bridal trains do not prevent divorce. What does?
Ideally, weddings are the beginning of journeys, covenants before God made in front of faith communities, vows which last as long as life itself. Yet church-goers get divorced at the same rate as non-Christians.
So even if you don’t have millions of dollars or a new movie coming out, we should all take a moment to pray for this family. . . and perhaps our own as well.
— Nancy French is the author of the upcoming Home and Away: A Story of Family in a Time of Warand can be followed on Facebook.