Expert: David Arquette — Breaking Up is Hard to Do!
Dr. Wendy Walsh: News that David Arquette has checked into rehab for alcohol use related to depression following his much publicized break-up with actress Courteney Cox has people asking more questions about the nature of the Hollywood marriage. Remember, this is the dude who chose Howard Stern and his radio audience to vent about his sporadic sex life and his recent hook-up. Clearly, Arquette has some boundary issues.
Facts about the Cox/Arquette marriage are few. Married 11 years, the two met on the set of Scream and worked together on three Scream sequels. They now have a 6-year-old daughter. Cox is nine years older than Arquette. The couple reportedly separated last June. She told People.com that they simply grew apart. He told the same media outlet, “She tries to be the mother to everyone –- that’s why she doesn’t want to be the mother to me anymore.”
From a psychological point, the timing of the marriage deterioration is most interesting. Although they both admit that they have been in and out of couples therapy for years (which only indicates that they would rather address problems than avoid them) their separation comes about nine months after the launch of Cougar Town, an ABC series where Courteney plays a recently divorced mother who dates younger men. Nine months. The length of a pregnancy. Could her character have given birth to a real-life cougar?
My money says yes. For two reasons. First of all, immersing oneself in a character for days, weeks, and months, especially a character so close to home, can be more than cathartic. It can also be confusing. And it can be very “inspiring.” Top it off with a co-star who is super easy on the eyes, Brian Van Holt, and you’ve got a prescription for, at best, an emotional affair, at worst, a sexual one too. My bet is that as Courteney and Brian kissed and chatted on camera, an off-camera intimacy developed that made Courteney question her commitment and happiness with her husband. Remember, after 11 years of marriage, the sexual hormones have calmed down her husband. Now imagine that she is paid to sniff a new guy’s pheromones every day!
The other reason why Cougar Town may have given birth to a divorce is more pragmatic. He’s the executive producer of Cougar Town, but she’s the star. Her light might be burning a little brighter than his these days, and in celebrity marriages that’s a power imbalance the relationship may not be accustomed to.
Finally, his reference to her as the person who has “mothered him” suggests that his depression and self-medication are a reaction to what might feel like a real maternal abandonment. Our emotional brain knows no age. The emotional injury of this separation may ring ancient bells for him that drive him to adult coping strategies.
My heart goes out to this family in crisis and I wish the very best recovery to Mr. Arquette. I hope he can remember in these dark days that this, too, will pass. And another mother might be on the horizon.