If Oscars can be relied on for anything, it's some flops on the red carpet, some overlong speeches -- and discussion of the Best Actress Curse.
The Best Actress Curse, of course, is the one that saw Sandra Bullock and Jesse James breaking up days after she proclaimed her love for him from Oscars' stage, and caught Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe in its web after her second win. Those are just two of the 17 actresses whose relationships have broken up within two years of them reaching the height of their careers.
Last year, researchers at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and Carnegie Mellon University found there was more to this curse than simple coincidence -- after tabulating the statistics for winners versus non-winners, they found a 63 per cent chance of Best Actresses' marriages ending sooner (following the ceremony, the average was 4.30 years versus 9.51 years).
Interestingly, many of these splits occurred between people in show business, but that's no surprise to relationship therapist Eris Huemer.
"It's like a recipe for disaster when it's two celebrities together and they’re both vying for the limelight," says the Los Angeles-based author and counsellor. She sees this often in her practice, and attributes it to conflicting masculine and feminine energies, of which everyone has both.
For Huemer, 'masculine' means constantly doing and making things happen, "which you have to be to become successful." Feminine, on the other hand, is receiving and allowing someone else to take charge. What women need to do, she says, is be ready to decompress when they get home.
"If you’re a masculine in the workplace and a masculine at home, and your partner is the same way, there’s going to be a power struggle ... and the woman is not going to win."
SEE: The actresses who have been touched by the curse since 1933. Story continues below:
Huemer notes that most men want to be respected and listened to, while most women want to feel taken care of, safe and cherished. "That doesn't take away from any feminist movement -- she should be out there and successful," she emphasizes. "But if a woman is constantly in her masculine energy, then there’s nothing to take care of."
Huemer's answer to the issue is a willingness to put effort in your relationship, whether you're a big shot in the working world or not.
"The focus is so often on the career -- and it’s so easily done, because you have to go to work, you have to pay the bills, you have to take care of the kids. You don't have the energy to nurture the relationship like you did when you were first together. So you have to make sure you keep pointing out the ways you admire each other, and find things you enjoy doing together."
With people around the world vying for the dissolution of their relationships, Huemer allows that celebrities have particular stressors on their unions, but she still sees examples that can work.
"Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband are both celebrities, but they don't make that their lives, they don't show up on red carpets together," she says. "She's able to maintain her femininity in the relationship. She can be in the work world -- which every woman needs to be in -- but she goes home and is nurturing and can keep the family together."
So are married nominees Meryl Streep and Viola Davis in danger? Not hugely, says Stuart. "We found that couples who shared children were less likely to divorce, as were older couples." Streep has four children with husband of 34 years, Don Gummer, while Davis has a daughter and two step-sons with husband Julius Tennon.
And while studies are showing that the traditional dynamic of power is changing in marriages, it doesn't necessarily mean all is peachy for the Hollywood set. As Stuart said, "I hope the traditional roles are changing, but it's hard to say. Some of the shortest marriages in our dataset occurred within the last 10 years."