Natalie Portman to Courteney Cox: Can Men Handle More Successful Wives?

In the case of Courteney Cox and David Arquette and so many others in Hollywood, I'm thinking NO!

Natalie Portman to Courteney Cox: Can Men Handle More Successful Wives?

In the case of Courteney Cox and David Arquette and so many others in Hollywood, I’m thinking NO!

-Melissa Chapman,

Natalie Portman Academy Award

In the lead-up to the Oscars, there was an inevitable dredging up of the supposed “Oscars curse” —  you know, the notion that winning a Best Actress Academy Award is a death knell to said performer’s love life. And Sunday night, as a glowing, gorgeous Natalie Portman accepted her award, I couldn’t help but wonder how her relationship with much less famous fiance / baby daddy Benjamin Millepied is going to ultimately fare. Because it sure seems like men in Hollywood at least have a reaaaallly hard time being married to women who out-shine them.

Case in point: Last week, along with so many other women, I watched with rapt attention as a clearly uncomfortable, fidgety David Arquette sat down with the great mama O (Oprah) to discuss his recent life implosion. I’ll be honest, I felt this wave of compassion sweep over me as Arquette sat in what appeared to be a burning hot seat (judging from his inability to sit still) and got raked over the coals about his drug abuse, partying ways and of course the dissolution of his marriage to Courteney Cox.

While Arquette gave a Oprah a litany of excuses to rationalize and explain away his bad boy behavior — the drugging and drinking to be exact — he also candidly spoke about being in Courtney’s shadow and how, to a certain extent, it emasculated him. In fact, he relayed an instance where he was called “Mr. Cox,” and how incredibly uncomfortable it was for him.

Unfortunately I don’t think Arquette is alone is his inability as a husband and a man to live “in the shadow” of a much more powerful woman, whose celebrity and financial status eclipses his. And yet, so many wives, especially in Hollywood, politics and the public eye, have done just that for so many years. Hence the phrase, “Behind every good man is a good woman.”

So why is there such a s double standard when it comes to powerful women? What is it with their apparent inability to keep their relationships to less successful men intact? Cases in point: Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry, Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe, Sandra Bullock and Jesse James … I could go on!

Is the weight of people assuming that these guys are “kept men” who can’t pull their own weight what ultimately crushes their unions? Or, as in the case of David Arquette, what causes him to act out as a means of dealing with living in his wife’s shadow — ultimately thus destroying the relationship.

Honestly, what’s most interesting to me is that I’m married to a much older man, who before I met him had achieved his own measure of success, and 12 years into our union, he admits he’d be pleased as punch to let me take the reigns of our relationship financially and be the breadwinner. He’s “assured me” if I ever make Courtney Cox money, he’d  be basking in my shadow as opposed to running from it. Perhaps it’s because he’s older and more secure in his own person that my husband has this attitude.

So what do you think, can men handle being married to more successful women? Do you think there is such a thing as a “Ocsars curse” — and will Natalie Portman become its next victim?

Melissa ChapmanMelissa Chapman blogs about her marriage and everything in between at Her work has appeared in The Staten Island Advance,, ABC News, BlogHer, Baby Center, Momtourage, Lifetime Moms, Babble, The Washington Post, Time Out NY Kids and iVillage.


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0 thoughts on “Natalie Portman to Courteney Cox: Can Men Handle More Successful Wives?

  1. I think the problem is when you have two “center of attention” people in the relationship — as often is the case when you have two actors! Natalie Portman seems like a very level-headed woman, and her fiance is a dancer and choreographer, not an actor … so there’s hope!

  2. As a society, we value women for their looks and men for their financial success. I don’t agree with it at all but unfortunately that’s how mainstream America feels. I know many successful women who are not actresses but scientists, doctors, lawyers, etc. who have the same problem. Women have not come as far as they think they have when it comes to equality and that fact hurts both men and women.

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