Together and Apart

Posted: June 10, 2010 in Relationships

Just yesterday, Jesse James accused his ex-wife, Janine Lindemulder of driving under the influence of drugs with their young daughter in the car, in hope of regaining full custody of his daughter. Though Jesse was awarded the custody of the child with his then-wife Sandra Bullock in 2009, Janine is now contesting the rights to custody after the exposure of Jesse’s infidelity, which resulted in a split with Sandra Bullock recently.

How did Jesse and Sandra end up in such a state?

(Image source:

Sandra met Jesse in 2003, when she arranged for her godson meet Jesse and tour the set of Monster garage as part of his birthday present. Jesse was buffed and masculine, while Sandra was simply attractive and beautiful. It was probably the physical attraction that sparked off the interest in each other.

Jesse and Sandra, both famous celebrities, were no strangers to the prying eyes of the paparazzi and the public, considering that they both were also linked to many high profile relationships with other celebrities prior to their marriage. This social similarity is also another factor which contributed to their relationship.

Jesse’s tattoos and bad boy image might have appealed greatly to Sandra, who by contrast was a total opposite of that. This is a good example on how opposites attract.

Most women prefer their men to be successful and competent (if not more than themselves). While Sandra was a famous actress, Jesse was a television personality and a CEO to a motorcycle manufacturer. The pair were compatible as they were both highly successful individuals in their industries. Jesse’s good physique and financial stability made him a very eligible bachelor.

The couple tied the knot in 2005 and appeared to have a very happy marriage, until Jesse’s affair with his mistress was exposed to the media last year. Sandra was quick to disassociate herself from her husband, and moved out of her matrimonial home before news of the scandal broke out; apparently, she received a tip-off from her publicist that her husband’s infidelity would make the headlines in the tabloids.

Sandra then made herself distant from everyone, and faded into obscurity, appearing later only to deny allegations that she had made a sex tape with Jesse. After the deescalation of their relationship, Sandra filed for divorce.

Sandra handled the separation well and ended it on a positive tone. She described their current relationship as “a different one. A bittersweet one. One of new understanding. One of forgiveness. One of support for his recovery.”, and bore little anger or hatred towards the man who cheated on her with not one, but several women. I find her approach extremely admirable, as not many women would have been able to handle the situation so calmly.

The separation process of Sandra’s marriage is a reflection on how Knapp’s model of relational development applies in reality. Though Sandra probably did not use it like a handbook, the principles mentioned by Knapp in the coming apart phase is pragmatic and evident in Sandra’s approach.

What do you think was the main attraction which resulted in the couple’s get together? Physical appearance? Individual’s competency (and success)? Social similarity, or dissimilarities? Share your views!


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  1. chris says:

    I find it pretty sad how, as the meaning of marriage and divorce evolve over the ages, these things happen more frequently. Marriage used to be a sacred thing, with man and woman promising themselves to each other “till death do us part”. However, as time passed, people started to be able to find pleasures (i.e. sex) from extramarital sources such as prostitutes. Because of this, marriage lost one of it’s most important hallmarks.

    As such, people now view marriage as a pretty temporary thing, possibly only to placate their partners. And when these people are tired of their partners, they see divorce as freedom. This is in stark contrast to the past when couples would stick with each other through thick and thin, always striving together. This is also partially due to the stigma that in the past was associated with divorce which has now all but disappeared. Now when couples say “till death do us part”, we really do have to take it with a rather huge pinch of salt.

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      It seems more of a western culture that marriage is taken as a temporary thing. What makes it worse is that celebrities are often influential, and many of them have been in several marriages. This gives the impressionable youths the mind-set that ‘divorce is alright’, which eventually leads to them subscribe to the same culture.

      I certainly hope that our society will stay away from this culture; I advocate one marriage for life.

      • chris says:

        Yeah it’s actually kinda interesting. I was doing research for ESL on marriages and it turns out that Pakistani marriage is supposed to be the most stable form of marriage there is. A really huge reason is because the weddings are arranged. Hence, the couple is forced to live with each other through thick and thin, unlike in the current Western climate when couples can get divorced because “he keeps putting dirty cutlery in the sink instead of washing it”.

        Having said that, while I too endorse marriage for life, there has to be a shift in the way our generation views marriage. Perhaps it’s because our generation has grown up more pampered that we are less resilient to challenges of living with another, choosing to have a divorce rather than compromise? It’s really hard to say, but unless attitudes start to change, marriage in the future will be nothing more than a farce (if it isn’t already).

        • Rawbeanladen says:

          Personally I think that our attitudes towards marriage is greatly influence by our upbringing. Kids who grow up in broken families have a higher tendency to end up in broken marriages due to perceiving divorce as a normality. This is true to an extent, as I personally observed among my friends who are brought up in dysfunctional families.

          I do agree with the point that you brought up with regards to how divorce is gaining popularity due to a pampered younger generation. This may become a social problem in time to come. I wonder what we can do to reverse or erase this potential threat to a future generation of happy families.

          • chris says:

            Yeah I actually saw statistics on that. It’s quite scary, how many kids from divorced families end up being divorcees themselves. However, IMO it’s more of a correlation rather than a causal link because it merely desensitizes them to the possibility of divorce. And, well, if we’re a generation to which divorce is a norm then nobody’s really gonna care anymore in perhaps just 10 years time.

            I honestly can’t think of any way we as a society can do anything to reverse this trend though, because it’s human nature to want the best for oneself. And in terms of marriage, this would be freedom. Unless Hollywood comes out with a whole bunch of shows in which marital freedom is a good thing and hardsells the idea to the people. I mean, it’s a common trend, people mirroring what they see on television or in the movies. Another way that *might* help to reverse the trend would be governmental intervention. I don’t even want to go there though. It’s gonna be kinda scary should it ever come to that . Scary stuff.

            • Rawbeanladen says:

              It seems that the attitude and perspective towards ‘marriage’ is heading towards a downward spiral. In ten or twenty years’ time, would the definition of marriage be what it was years ago?

              The media has a great influence on society. While movies and television shows could help by portraying happy family life, the influences made by high profile celebrities cannot be made up. Many of them who face irreconcilable differences end up in divorces, and the media spotlight on their lives do not help but amplifies the rising trend of divorces.

              • chris says:

                Oh god, I just reread your reply. You make a very good point when you say that the media “amplifies” the rising trend of divorces. It is perhaps because of this “amplification” that so many couples get divorced! I dunno how to really explain coherently so I’ll just use a flowchart.

                People idolise celebrities=>celebrities get divorced=>people subconsciously start to think that, well, perhaps divorce isn’t all that bad=>leads to divorce having less of a social stigma=> rising divorce rates.

                It’s a vicious cycle. Celebrity marriages cause rocketing divorce rates!

                • Rawbeanladen says:

                  Very apt flowchart! That is a successful paraphrase of my long explanation by using a simple flowchart which clearly illustrates the essence of the said vicious cycle!

                  The social norms greatly affect our perspectives towards similar issues in our everyday life.

  2. Angel says:

    There have been a research that western marriages are more likely to end up in a divorce state. Judging from the continuous reports on divorces and splits from Hollywood celebrities and soccer players, it has become a norm for them to be ” together and apart “. Western countries are known to be open to such vibe but don’t you think such open mindsets have caused the divorce rates to increase?

    They would rather part than to forgive, rather leave than to understand and rather go than compromise. Mutual attractions are important initially but trust and compromise are more important eventually. Too much mutual attraction with different individuals is not healthy though 🙂

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      You have raised up a good point there. I too, believe that the rising divorce rate is due society’s open and overly liberal mindset. Not only does this breed disharmony in the younger generations, it may also lead to promiscuity being ‘accepted’ as a social norm in time to come.

  3. keeteng says:


    I think it was the social similarities that guided this pair together, and provided the common basis upon which the both of them could build a relationship. But in the American context – i believe cultural influences and social status also helped in creating differences between them, and as time went by – dissolution of the relationship was the only rational thing for both parties. The last straw was the discovery that the husband , Jesse , had been having affairs with other women. I believe that totally eliminated any remaining bridges of trust between them and even burnt the chance for any possible resurrection of the relationship.

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      You made sense stating the adultery was the main cause of the dissolution, which I agree with. The way that Sandra Bullock handled it was rational and admirable. Few women would probably be able to manage it with the same level of resolve. In addition, she reflected on Knapp’s model of dissolution with success.

  4. Jaslyn says:

    In my opinion, I guess there are different reasons that brought a couple together, be it be celebrities or ordinary people like us. The need to have companion, who understand and complement each other is something which everyone need. Taking Jesse & Sandra for instant, both being famous celebrities, having the similarities of “understanding” each others’ work and thoughts, could be a reason to draw them together too, after all, not everyone will be able to understand the life of a famous.

    And of course, other reasons that you have stated in your entry is equally important and relevant, especially when what a women (& men!) need are just security, mutual trust and someone they can rely on. Having the financial stability, the status, are some reassurance factors. However, the irony part is that these factors are also the factors that attract unwanted attention, which eventually leads to infidelity, causing their divorce.

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      Security is extremely relative and subjective, which it’s something that I still haven’t been able to figure out. My personal opinion aside, I think that your view has allowed me the insight of a woman. Opposites attract, but similarities are also a pulling factor. Constant attention is difficult to deal with though.

  5. Erica says:

    we often talk about how opposites attract but often disregard how these differences can become the very same reasons for breaking up when the ‘love’ is gone. there lies a thin line between being able to complement each other and standing in each others’ way – which i believe is a natural progression of humans. we all change, at different stages of our lives, at difference paces, at different degrees.

    hence, i think it is very important for two people to have common fundamental values & guiding principles in life. it does not matter if two people have very different interests. it does not matter if their incomes match up to each others’. it does not matter if they look compatible. what matters is what they come home to, what makes them come home, and at the end of the day, know why they even come home.

    you’re right in that the media amplifies divorce from a western-centric view. but as much as i hear of stories of infidelity, i still find it hopeful that there are people who still hold such basic values close to their hearts, especially our seniors here in SG. they respect their marriage, they stick with each other throughout – it really is not as bad as we think. we all know we cannot entirely believe what’s put in the media anyway.

    in all, i really enjoyed your writing, especially the part you talked about how Sandra coped with the break up. of course, what we see is only the surface because again, we cannot trust what the media feed us. but i would say she’s encouraging other women in her shoes to stand up and walk away when placed in situations like that, which is positive only in that sense.

    what people say about love is blind, is sad but true. yes we should all live in the moment but if you’re in a serious relationship, you gonna have to keep tabs along the way if you care enough about where you’re heading. you need to communicate and share the same values in life to go far, which in this case i don’t think these two people had.

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      Time changes a lot of variables which in turn affects a relationship. Though we sometimes hope that things remain unchanged, that is rather impossible as nothing remains the same forever. We just have to adapt to changes and work things out.

      I agree that having a similar guiding principle is important and it helps to keep couples together with a common direction. How their incomes and appearance match up is very relative and it is solely dependent on their maturity and perspective. It brings me much pain as I can personally relate to how having different goals/principles/perspectives can tear a couple apart.

      Like you, I still hope that marriages can be treated with respect and upheld throughout people’s lives. One marriage for life is ideal, though it is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve due to the changes in society and the roles that couples play in a family.

      Love is blind. It is, and always will be.

  6. Joey says:

    Unlike those fairy tale stories where prince and princess can live happily ever after without much worries do not exist in most people. In reality, things do not work this way, humans have lots of things to consider beside love and affection. Taking Singapore as an example, the high living standard and fast moving pace environment making couples to think twice about the future and with the influences of the western culture younger generation Singaporean thinking is more open compare to older generation and they are also more open to sexual exposure. I’m not saying that it’s because of the influences of the western culture that’s why we are who we are, if there must be someone at fault for all this it’s the society fault. We make the world, the world made us. It’s all linked.
    Actually throughout all these times things did not change much on marriage, it’s the mindset of the individual that changes. Marriage itself is a ceremony, a procedure what make it special is the couples that standby this pledge of marriage. So what factors resulting in couples getting together? Different people have different requirement for their partner but there is a few factors that I think is generally for most people.
    One of the factors is lust before love; which is the physical appearance of an individual that attract the attention of another sexually and spark the curiosity in them. I think this is true for guys as there’s a saying men fall in love with their eyes but girls are also coming into picture on this factor. Next factor is interest; this point is much straight forward as bird of the same feather flock together nothing to argue about. Last point I going to talk about is individual competency; I think this factor is much considered by most female out there, like what life they will lived if get together with that guy. This is very much needed especially for Singapore, love is not bread we cannot eat love and we need to eat to live. Hence, a guy financial capability is put into consideration.
    There is no definite standby rule type of requirements or factors for all people and the reasons to get together is also different for everyone, some just do it to fill their loneliness, to show off to their friends, make use of the feeling to get what they want from the other party and most preciously for the love they had for each other. It’s hard to judge a relationship but it’s easy to judge the action made.

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      As the saying goes ‘Happily ever after is so Once upon a time’. Back in the olden days when life was simple, happiness in marriage seemed to be common. With the change in modern society and the pressures of living in a fast-paced world, the simple joys of marriage seem to have eroded over time.

      Physical appearance is an initial draw, but it can also contribute to a separation if the couples fail to look beyond that. I have personally known couples to separate because the physical attraction died off and the weak love built on that failed to withstand the trials of time. It is sad, but people can be shallow.

      Like you said, there are no standard rules in this game for two. Everyone has to play by their own rules and hope to make things work out.

  7. hi robin!
    i think that the problem with people looking up to celebrity marriages (and thus being influenced by them) is that they have different priorities from normal folk. with the constant media spotlight and fans tailing them almost everywhere, i feel that they also have to cope with much more pressure than the average couple. my point is, that celeb marriages and “normalfolk” marriages are very different, and problems will surely arise when we normalfolk try to adopt the practices of the celebs.

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      Every relationship has its own problems and pressures, but you accurately highlighted that a celebrity couple is bound to face more of it than normal folks. We can’t adopt their lifestyle, and vice versa it’d be challenging if they adopted ours.

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