Life

Saturday 24 August 2019

Rosamund Pike says we're too demanding on our men

Gone Girl star Rosamund Pike has insisted we expect too much from our partners in modern relationships, but is she right?

Rosamund Pike
Rosamund Pike
Actors Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox
Hazel Davies and Bob
Astrid and Mark
Brad and Angelina.
Lisa and Conor
Rosamund Pike

Aoife Stuart-Madge

While promoting her latest hit movie, Gone Girl, actress Rosamund Pike caused controversy when she said that we expect too much from modern relationships.

Of course, the film - about an unhappily married young woman who goes missing, leaving her husband accused of murder - is not exactly an advert for marriage. However, it does raise the question about how well we really know our partner.

Actors Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox
Actors Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox
Hazel Davies and Bob
Astrid and Mark

In a series of interviews about the film, the 35-year-old unmarried actress claimed that marriage is overrated.

"People have ridiculous expectations of a mate. In my grandmother's day, you wouldn't expect your husband to fulfil the same need in you as your sister, or girlfriends, or colleagues at work. You'd have different needs met by different people. Now we want all our needs met by one person, and I don't believe that's possible," she says.

Her comments are divisive, but Laois-based relationship and intimacy coach Mark Sutton agrees with her viewpoint, claiming that the modern-day concept of 'soulmates' - where one person can understand your every thought and emotional need - has created a romanticised version of what marriage should be.

"The modern ideas of relationships are often Hollywood-inspired and create an unrealistic ideal, and excessively high expectations that we have for spouses. These expectations are potentially putting an excessive amount of strain on partners. Not only do we expect our partners to be joint providers, lovers, supporters, but also counsellors and psychologists, confidants and care-givers: and that is too much. If we look to our partner to fulfil all our needs, then that engenders emotional dependency and unhealthy attachment within the relationship," says Mark.

This is at odds with the notion of the modern day 'super couple' - partners who count each other as their only best friend, whose MO is "you and me against the world", and who are so intrinsically linked they even have their own portmanteau (step forward, Brangelina)

Actress Megan Fox claims she doesn't need many friends outside her marriage, while Angelina has admitted that Brad is her entire emotional universe, declaring: "I'll talk to my family. I talk to Brad Pitt. ... I don't have a lot of friends I talk to. He is really the only person I talk to."

But is it unrealistic to expect one person to be your entire emotional world?

Not according to married mum-of-two Hazel Davis (38). She met her partner Bob at university and they have been together for 18 years. Hazel describes Bob as her best friend and the one person she shares her innermost thoughts with.

Brad and Angelina.
Brad and Angelina.
Lisa and Conor
Rosamund Pike

"My partner fulfils all my emotional needs. I have known him for years and we were friends for a few months before we got together. Crucially, he knew me when I was quite immature and so he knows all aspects of my personality so, unlike a lot of my friends, he doesn't only get or expect one side of me. He knows how to handle the happy me, sad me, unmotivated me... I talk to him about everything - even the stuff I probably shouldn't tell him. If I couldn't share all my emotions with my husband, I would feel that something was lacking. I would rather have a sexual lack, than an emotional lack. It's so important."

Despite sharing childcare duties, the couple make an effort to spend as much time together as possible in order to emotionally reconnect.

"We can watch romcoms together or go for a walk or go to a gig. He's very good at lifting me up if I'm feeling down or encouraging me to try new things or making me feel good about myself."

However, Mark Sutton says that while your partner can be your best friend, and you can share common interests, it is important to celebrate your differences, and those differences include maintaining healthy friendships outside the relationship.

"Family and friends play an important role and can provide an outlet for you to unburden things that have been on your mind - especially if it's something about your spouse or something your spouse is unequipped to deal with. Simply, they may also be a way of blowing off steam, and enjoying activities that your spouse has no interest in."

Rosamund - who is expecting her second child with London businessman Robie Uniacke - certainly seems to think so. She claims she is so independent in her own relationship that she prefers to be seated away from her partner when they go out together.

"I do think separation is key to a relationship. I go out with my partner and we are put next to each other - there's a feeling of, 'What, you don't think we can't operate without each other?' I don't need him as a crutch. Of course, he's the person I want to go home with but he's not necessarily the person I want to sit next to. I'd rather meet someone new, and he would too," she said.

It's a formula to which Lisa McCann (35) would subscribe. "It's important to be your own person and not just someone's wife or husband. My husband Conor works away in London during the week and we both have your own lives and are busy, but when we do spend time together it is quality time."

Lisa adds: "I think intense co-dependency is unhealthy. I need co-workers, friends, my sister and my mum to confide in, too, as well as my husband. To expect one person to play all those roles is unrealistic. We are both our own people, individually. We complement each other but Conor is not my emotional crutch. I think spending time apart from your spouse pursuing your own interests and hobbies and seeing your own friends is healthy. It makes for a stronger relationship because we are excited to see each other and to spend time together and we have lots to talk about and catch up on, but I don't fall apart emotionally the minute Conor is not around. I have my own life going on as well, and can stand on my own two feet - but at the same time, I know I can lean on Conor if I need to."

Mark Sutton says this is a healthy balance. "Having solo and time shared with others time is not an indication that there is something wrong with the relationship. Far from it. Those who respect each other's needs for space are acknowledging the individual needs within the relationship and that is healthy. If we spend too long together, we tend to allow our boundaries of self to get fuzzy and we need to re-orientate and regain our sense of who we are within the relationship.

"This can revitalise and regenerate the relationship itself, there are new experiences to share and talk about, it also gives us the chance to miss the other."

Irish Independent

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