Once bitten twice shy - when couples get back together
Pictures hinting at a reconciliation between Ronan and Yvonne Keating may have come as a surprise, but the couple wouldn't be the first to get back together following a messy break-up, says Tanya Sweeney
The Irish celebrity-watching public might sooner believe that Jedward were getting honorary physics doctorates from Trinity College before they'd believe this latest rumour. Yet, it seems that the highly unlikely has happened. After tales of his affair with a dancer came to light, it looked as if Ronan and Yvonne Keating's rock-solid marriage was no more.
Yet the two have recently been spotted in Australia walking arm in arm and enjoying downtime with their three children. What's more, Yvonne appears to have re-affirmed her commitment to her husband by getting a new tattoo in a Sydney inking parlour last week.
A rather encouraging development, even if their newfound commitment is a volte-face from a few months ago, when the pair publicly announced their split.
In May, the Keatings issued a joint statement: "With great sadness, Ronan and Yvonne Keating today announce their separation. The separation is amicable and they will continue to work together in order to provide the best for their children. The family ask for privacy at this difficult time. The situation as outlined in that statement remains the same and the couple continue to work together for their children."
Few could have foreseen that, just a few months later, the two would be a picture of contentment and togetherness, seemingly more indestructible than ever.
And yet, as unlikely as a reconciliation might have once seemed, the Keatings are not the first couple to patch things up. In fact, others have flourished under grislier circumstances, even after a messy round in the divorce courts. In Hollywood, such behaviour seems almost par for the course.
Sean Penn and his wife Robin Wright are one such couple who have cried 'reconcile' a time too many. After many years of will-they-won't-they? shenanigans, the two finally filed for divorce in December 2007. They then decided against divorcing only months later. Penn then filed for legal separation in April 2009, but they reunited again for a short time in May. At the time of going to press, the two are still apart.
Closer to home, Amy Winehouse and her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil straddled the fine line between all-consuming love and hate. The pair began their relationship in 2004 and did the on-off-on tango until they married in 2007. After a string of spats, the pair filed for divorce in February 2009. Within months of finalising their divorce, Winehouse was papped leaving her ex's house one morning. Predictably, the press had a field day.
And just as Sienna Miller and Jude Law rekindle their romance, it transpires that Miller's former fling Balthazar Getty is back in the familial fold. The actor left his wife Rosetta and four children for the blonde. After a year-long fling the two split in 2008, but now Getty and Rosetta are back on track.
"It was a very challenging time for everybody involved," said Balthazar in a recent interview, "but I loved and missed my family too much not to make it work. Rosetta is understanding enough and spiritual enough to let us try. In a way, I don't know... I feel like we're better than we've ever been."
After meeting in 1995, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee appeared to be love's young dream. However, the euphoria was short-lived. They married that year and had two baby boys before their union turned sour. Accusing her husband of domestic abuse, Anderson filed for divorce in 1998 and Lee spent four months in prison. In 2008, they decided to patch up their differences. "We've only given it a try 800 times -- 801, here we go," Anderson told 'Rolling Stone' magazine.
Elsewhere, Sean 'Diddy' Combs went through no shortage of ups and downs with his wife Kim Porter for a decade before finally calling it quits in July 2007 after the birth of the couple's twin girls.
Fellow rapper Eminem had a turbulent time with his high-school sweetheart Kim Mathers. The pair met in 1989, married 10 years later and divorced in 2001 following Kim's attempted suicide. Against the odds, the pair remarried in 2006, but their marital bliss lasted for three months before they went down swinging again.
And in the kaleidoscope world of reality TV where anything seems possible, Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker and beauty queen Shanna Moakler filed for divorce in 2006. The couple rekindled their romance in early 2007, but their divorce was finalised in early 2008. However, a tragic plane crash in September 2008 brought the couple back together.
Other celebs who remarried a former spouse include Larry King, Melanie Griffith, Robert De Niro and Liz Taylor. But is this just A-list folly or a sign of things afoot in society at large? Reuniting after a spat or a break is one thing. Doing so after no end of divorce-related mudslinging, solicitors' letters and bitterness in general is quite another.
Hollywood dictates that the odds are stacked against couples who decide, after a court battle, to give their union the kiss of life. The statistics aren't too encouraging either -- more second marriages end in divorce than first marriages.
In the US, around 6pc of divorced couples remarry each other. Yet 'Psychology Today' has stated that "a whopping 60pc of remarriages fail. And they do so even more quickly; after an average of 10 years, 37pc of remarriages have dissolved versus 30pc of first marriages".
In a recent study on couples who remarry, the reasons for re-hitching varied among different age groups: young couples might have divorced on impulse and they chose to remarry and start again after careful consideration; older couples remarried because they needed to care for each other. About 70pc of the divorced couples remarried one another because of children.
Experts said children were the key factor in remarriages, while two out of five had simply felt lonely after the divorce.
"I've come across couples who have been separated for quite a while, then find each other attractive and decide to make a second go of things," says Lisa O'Hara, counsellor with the Marriage and Relationship Counselling Services. "Often they have missed the person, or weren't appreciative of what they had in the first place. Or the person they met in their 20s wasn't the same person they were married to in their 30s or 40s.
"A break gives them time to think about what's important to them. They often come to counselling because they realise there's a pattern in their marriage that doesn't work for them, and they want to change it."
The disheartening statistics on the outlook for remarried couples is easy to explain. Often, too much water has gone under the proverbial bridge, leaving a couple with a none-too-significant elephant in the room. Others, all too mindful of the pain of their first separation, are simply waiting for the shoe to drop.
"People will, of course, fear the split will happen again," agrees Lisa. "They've experienced loss and grieving on such a big scale the first time round, it's hard not to get coloured by that experience.
Still, all is not lost. If routine is, as they say, the enemy of romance, no doubt the violent shove of a split can add fireworks to a reunion ... and, in some cases, save it.
Yet Lisa advises that those seeking a second crack at marital bliss proceed with no shortage of caution.
"Children fantasise about their parents coming back together," she explains. "Most times it never happens, but if you're in the tentative stages of a reunion it might be better to keep stuff to yourself.
"Ask yourself, what exactly is motivating you here?" she says. "Remember that you can't have the relationship the way it used to be. You need to renegotiate the terms of your relationship, and if you can't, you have to acknowledge it. The annoying habits and negative patterns of the first marriage should not spill over into the second.
"Remember, the past is done with. Despite what you might think, you're in a brand new relationship now."