This week, actress Halle Berry announced that she and her husband of two years, Olivier Martinez, are divorcing, citing “irreconcilable differences.” In a joint statement to People, the two said:
"We move forward with love and respect for one another and the shared focus of what is best for our son."
No, this isn’t her first time at the divorce rodeo. Berry was once married to baseball star David Justice and singer Eric Benet back in the day. She also has a 7-year-old daughter, Nahla, with former boyfriend Gabriel Aubry, a relationship that has brought Berry a lot of unwanted press, fights and court cases.
Yes, it is fair to say that she has been “unlucky with love.”
Relationship-wise, Berry is kind of like the Black Jennifer Aniston, but with a twinge more drama. But when Aniston’s marriage to Brad Pitt ended (because he was in love with Angelina Jolie), folks did shade her, but it still feels like over the years #TeamJen was still rooting for her to find real love.
And as sexist as it is to believe that a woman cannot be complete without a man or that we should feel sorry for a single woman who is constantly kissing frogs with no princes in sight, when Aniston got married this year to actor Justin Theroux, America took a collective sigh of relief. “Finally. You go girl, be happy.”
But for Berry, the reaction to her private life has been different. We just can’t ever be happy for her when she finds love. And when that love dissipates, it’s like everyone becomes a relationships expert on how she has “terrible taste in men.”
Even Terry McMillan, known best for her best-selling books Disappearing Acts and Waiting to Exhale (and for marrying a closeted gay man whom she later divorced), ironically tried to come for the Oscar winner.
Thankfully, Twitter dragged her for these comments, because McMillian should know better than anyone else how extremely hard marriage and relationships are.
And it’s even harder when your relationship failures are out there for everyone to dissect. I can’t imagine what that must feel like to have to release an official statement about something so devastating and personal as a divorce that will only be retweeted and re-shared by folks who have relationships that make the cast of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta look mature and rational.
So what, Berry has been married three times? That doesn’t mean she is crazy or that she can’t keep a man. Like writer Helena Andrews wrote back in 2010, perhaps “a man can’t keep Halle Berry.”
Think about it: It’s been rumored that Berry’s first husband hit her and her second husband was a sex addict and cheated on her with almost 50 women. While both men deny these allegations, the details really don’t matter. What does is that Berry wasn’t happy and as difficult of a decision as it probably was, she chose to find happiness elsewhere.
So why you mad?
I get why this empowering narrative is hard for folks to wrap their heads around because when it comes to hetero relationships, especially in our community, we tend to believe that men are the ones making all of the decisions. Like if a relationship ends, it’s because he is fed up with her, not vice-versa.
But newsflash: Not all women are powerless beings waiting to be chosen by men. We choose you, too. We don’t all live to keep our relationships intact at all costs, and we can and do walk away when we are unhappy. But most important: A man doesn't define a woman, and having the most beautiful wife or girlfriend who cooks, cleans and has sex with her man whenever he wants won't ever stop him from being trifling.
But I digress.
Relationships fail. We are all flawed. We even get divorced. Not everyone lives the fairy tale or the Christian version of it. For many folks, myself included, this quest for love brings more pain than joy, and we have the wake of exes to prove it. But we get up, dust ourselves off and keep pushing. And with that, the Halle Berrys of the world don’t need your cruel jokes, ill advice on how to keep a man or your silly pity. They need your empathy — that, and for you to mind your own damn business and worry about what’s going on in your home, not ours.
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