Her possible thinking? “I’m doing this all by myself now (anyway), so I can just go ahead and make it official,” says Miami-based marriage therapist Jacqueline Del Rosario.Indeed, the second half of the statement from Holmes’ attorney, Jonathan Wolfe, is telling: “This is a personal and private matter for Katie and her family. Katie’s primary concern remains, as it always has been, her daughter’s best interest.” (Cruise’s rep says he is “deeply saddened” and is “concentrating on his three children.”)Recent history has shown that celebrity couples who make a spectacle of snuggling together don’t necessarily stay together (see: Heidi Klumand Seal, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher). Now, it appears the other extreme — pairs who lead seemingly separate lives — could be another kind of marital red flag. (The famously seldom seen together duo of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin have long been dogged by divorce rumors.)
“Part of being in love and being in a strong, healthy relationship is growing together, and you can’t grow together if you’re not spending time together. Like a basketweave, the lives must intertwine,” Del Rosario says. “When we’re not evolving and changing together, our lives diverge and we tend to grow apart. We become solo individuals.”
Except “a solo marriage is a front, and usually a child is put in the middle of it,” says New York psychotherapist Bonnie Eaker Weil, author of Make Up, Don’t Break Up.
And indeed, there was always a third person in the Holmes-Cruise marriage: their daughter. For Holmes, “her love affair has been with Suri,” says Kathryn Smerling, a New York-based family therapist specializing in divorce (who has not treated Holmes). “You see that she’s so animated when she’s with her,” and not when she’s with her husband. In those shots, she is “always posed. … She looks just like a movie star, not a real person.”
Theirs was a “child-centered marriage,” says Weil — a kind of union that can be doomed. “What kept them together this long was Suri.” Even before we saw her make her debut on the cover of Vanity Fair, Weil says, Suri was the star of this marriage.
“All those pictures show the closeness between Suri and Katie,” Weil adds. “That is not a coincidence. Usually that indicates that Tom and Katie are no longer close,” that all they have in common is their child.
“Solo marriage works for people that do not want that kind of closeness,” Weil continues. “I think Katie needed more closeness, and she got it from her daughter because she couldn’t get it from Tom.”
Successful couplings “need a balance of distance and closeness,” Weils says. “I call it the porcupine theory.” Two porcupines in an igloo have to stand near each other enough to stay warm, but not so close that they prick each other. Holmes and Cruise “weren’t even in the igloo together! Katie and Suri were in there.”
But the parent-child, vs. parent-parent, bond only works as a substitute for a little while. “Once a child grows up or leaves for school, whether kindergarten or college, that’s when a woman feels the emptiness and feels the loneliness” that her husband is unable to fill. That’s why talk of another baby — which Cruise swatted down earlier this month — was so significant. ( “I’m so happy with three,” Cruise told People magazine June 14.) With attention shifted to something new, a child “could have diluted this marriage even more and they could have lived together another five years,” on parallel planes.
Throughout the Cruise-Holmes partnership, Suri became a kind of decoy, Weil and Del Rosario agree. Tracing the trajectory of the family, Del Rosario sees a tactic increasingly common in Hollywood: Give a child an unusual name so people know it’s your child — “they’re branded for life.” Keep the media busy talking about your child, vs. what the public really wants dirt on — your marriage.
“It’s pretty smart,” says Del Rosario. “I don’t know how healthy it is, but I think it was a pretty good strategy that worked for them for a while.”