As any famous person who has been married more than 25 minutes will know well, the world is obsessed with finding out the secret to their happy relationship. It's probably the stock interview question that apparently happily wedded stars, from Kevin Bacon to Victoria Beckham can count on being asked pretty much every time a member of the public or a journalist manages to get past the heavies and the PR girls and find themselves within five feet of them.
It's a revealing little convention, because it demonstrates our thirst for insight into the magic formula for a happy ever after, and how dearly we cling to examples and role models in love, feeling genuinely gutted when those examples fail us. In our tailspin of bewilderment and confusion about how to manage the great unsolvable puzzle of making relationships last, the best we can do is turn our eyes to celebs who seem to be pulling it off, and plead help.
Which explains the public reaction of unchecked woe when rumours started to circulate early last week that the three decades long, and very high-profile marriage of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne could be over. She'd been pictured without her wedding ring, and has reportedly moved into a new house, just down the road from the old one that she used to share with 300 grizzled old mutts. Including the mutt that is her husband.
Their fans were disconsolate. Showbiz's most stalwart partnership seemed at breaking point and as fragile as their marriage, were our collective hopes and dreams; our pitiful faith that if Sharon and Ozzy can make it, then maybe, so can the rest of us.
In some ways, they seem a funny pairing to be so attached to. He once tried to kill her, for a start. And the early years of their marriage were punctuated by violence. And yet, the public is happy to accept that he's changed. Whereas most people won't budge in their judgment that Chris Brown, who beat up Rihanna, is a bad 'un and always will be. Maybe we're more inclined to buy into the belief of Ozzy's rehabilitation because he's older and a bit frail now. It always seems as if, down a dark alley, Sharon would be the greater threat.
In the course of their life together, he's been about as adulterous and faithless as one would expect from a front man of a Seventies stadium rock band. Details details, we say, while insisting that leopards like Ashley Cole and Tiger Woods never change their spots. Just looking at those examples, which are the most high-profile of the modern marriage morality tales that have played out in the media of late, I'm forced to wonder if there isn't actually a racial thing going on in all of this. Though perhaps that's a subject for another article.
Or maybe it's just about age. In any case, we've been much more ready to believe that where other stars' past behaviour is the measure of their natures, in Ozzy's case, all along there was a dappy and tender old tee-totaller dying to break out from behind the face paint and surface savagery.
Rather inconveniently however, that's not quite the case. Or at least, Osbourne is not quite as reformed as we'd all thought. As demonstrated by the message he posted on his Facebook last week, explaining the reason for the strife in his house of late.
"For the last year and a half I have been drinking and taking drugs," he said. "I was in a very dark place and was an asshole to the people I love most, my family. However, I am happy to say that I am now 44 days sober."
And then, to the relief of all the wishful thinkers out there, he went on to add:
"Just to set the record straight, Sharon and I are not divorcing. I'm just trying to be a better person.
"I would like to apologise to Sharon, my family, my friends and my band mates for my insane behaviour during this period . . . and my fans."
Whether this is just Ozzy's hopeful take on the situation, or whether they really are splitting up, remains to be seen. But if it proves to be true, the next time we are looking for take home wisdom about love from the Sharon and Ozzy story, we can save our breath. The main difference between their marriage and all the broken ones out there? Unconditional, inexhaustible forgiveness, apparently.