In an industry dominated by headlines about the salacious breakups of celebrity marriages, I think it worthwhile to shed a little light on the Hollywood relationships that stand (at least some of) the test of time.
Case in point: Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar.
In a recent E! News interview, Mr. Prinze, Jr. opened up about the secret to his matrimonial success, which began well before the exchange of wedding vows when he and Ms. Gellar were filming I Know What You Did Last Summer in 1997.
“We were just friends. That’s one of the reasons I think our relationship has always been so good,” he admitted. “We were just friends for a good two years before we ever went on a date. She knew what kind of guy I was. She knew what my morals were, what my priorities were and vice versa. We already kind of knew all the faults in the other person.”
“As long as [your spouse] can make you laugh, laughter lasts forever,” he noted. “If you just think she’s hot or she just thinks your hot, you’re in a lot of trouble when you’re 60!”
The standard operating procedure for most Hollywood relationships seems to be the following—meet your next fling on the set of your most recent film, hop into bed together, adopt a media-fueled nickname for your time together, and then crash-and-burn when you hook up with a cocktail waitress at a Golden Globes after party.
And we, the American public, seem to love every scandalous minute of it.
But the end of any marriage, regardless of the couples’ profession, is a sad thing. Apart from escaping an abusive situation, no one should ever cheer the end of such an important commitment, especially when kids are involved.
Of course, regular, everyday people break up and get divorced too, but their relationships weren’t daily fodder for millions of voyeuristic (and in many cases, impressionable) fans.
In my mind, this is why it’s important to highlight some (relatively) famous married folks who have found ways to honor their public commitment to stay together “till death do us part.”
Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar established a baseline of friendship. They got to know one another. They got married. They had kids. And, subsequently, the have made the health of their marriage and the raising of their offspring the top priorities in their lives. I don’t mean to make it sound “easy” to start and maintain a family, but it is fairly simple and straightforward.
Last year, in a similar interview with HuffPost, Prinze, Jr. gave husbands a little (candid) advice on some ways they can take the lead in keeping things copasetic in their homes.
“I cook and clean. Fellas, if you cook and clean, at the end of the night, when you’re ready for what you’re ready for, there’s no, ‘Ah, I’m too tired babe. I just can’t do it.’ You cook and clean, you want to watch the game after? She says yes. You want to play ‘Grand Theft Auto’ online? She says, ‘Yeah, why don’t you play “Grand Theft Auto.”‘ And if you want some loving, she always says yes.”
They say the secret to getting a man is through his stomach. That’s not true, it’s a little further south,” he joked. “For a woman, it’s the stomach. If you can feed ‘em, you’re good to go.”
Any husband reading Freddie’s tongue-in-cheek suggestions know just how accurate they are. Despite the humorous way that he articulated them, the (very healthy) underlying theme of his recommendations is one of sacrificial leadership.
“For me being a father, not having a dad, it makes it my No.1 priority,” he explained. His own father passed away a year after he was born. “So when my daughter was born, that was pretty much it for me. I became a full-time father. It’s not a job. It’s what I love to do.”
A cynical observer would posit that it was “easy” for Prinze, Jr. to focus on his marriage and parental responsibilities because he is no longer leading man material. But the wise among us will recognize that even if this is a fair summary of the situation, it still speaks well of Prinze, Jr.’s character that he had the maturity to accept that he wasn’t a twenty-five-year-old heartthrob anymore and needed to make his family a priority. My hat goes off to him and his family; we should all appreciate his willingness to promote a positive image of marriage in Hollywood.