Friday, July 29, 2011

Follow The Example Of Gene Simmons?

The Huffington Post/Mark A. Barondess

A few months ago I wrote an article that stirred some discussion on The Huffington Post. The premise of the article was that anyone going through a divorce should follow the example of media giant Howard Stern. My thought was that despite what you may think of him, he handled the demise of his marriage in a private and dignified manner that should be emulated by all. So with that example in mind, what could be more outrageous? When it comes to getting engaged, you should follow the example of Gene Simmons.

Now at this point, you may be thinking that I am completely crazy. Why would anyone look to this rock legend for anything to do with getting engaged or married? Gene is known for his antics not only on stage as one of the founding members of KISS, but also for his legendary antics with women off stage. Seemingly, a very poor example for a marriage - or is he?

In 2005, I wrote a book on relationships, marriage and divorce titled "What Were You Thinking??" As part of the book, I interviewed a variety of old and new friends in order to gain their perspective on getting married, and in many instances, getting divorced. One of my favorite interviews was with Gene Simmons because he understood and could articulate the risks of marriage.

Gene's philosophy has always been what I would call seriously "anti-marriage." I understood when I spoke with Gene for several hours about marriage, that his apprehension was probably based upon his father leaving his mother and him when he was a child. He did have long-term relationships with Cher and Diana Ross. But marriage, that was a non-starter. There was a fear of commitment and too many women to "meet."

I could have understood his entire philosophy, but in certain respects, it did not match up with what I was seeing that day. The whole afternoon that we were together at his palatial Beverly Hills home, his then long time partner, Playmate Shannon Tweed, was around constantly. And honestly, they acted like a very happy married couple.

There were no cameras around, it was just us, and they acted like they were really in love. So much so that, I wanted to title his essay for my book "The Happiest Married Couple in America?" When the essay was submitted to Gene for approval, he would not allow me to reference marriage in the title, even satirically. So the essay ended up being titled "The Happiest Unmarried Couple in America?" Gene was that adamant about the dangers of marriage.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered that Gene Simmons had finally proposed marriage to Shannon Tweed.

What could have happened? I saw the clip from a recent "Joy Behar Show" where Gene and Shannon were interviewed. I thought their relationship was over after he made light of his infidelities during his relationship with her-she actually took off her mic and walked off the set. It was clearly not staged and you could see the pain in both Shannon's and Gene's eyes - it was actually uncomfortable watching it. Maybe Gene needed to see the potential demise of his relationship before he could appreciate its importance and ask the big question.

So all of that being said why is Gene Simmons a good example to follow in getting engaged? One word-time. Gene waited a long time to get engaged, to make the commitment of a lifetime. Yes, he obviously did much wrong during his relationship, and I am not condoning that in any respect. But these days, even with such a high divorce rate, people still rush in to marriage. Dr. Phil once told me words to the effect that people spend more time selecting their china pattern than they do on selecting their spouse.

If you are thinking about getting married, you also need to think about getting divorced. Take your time. Go slow. If you are engaged but have a feeling that the marriage may be a mistake, break it off - even if you are walking down the aisle. It is easier to break off an engagement than to dissolve a marriage. Think through the concept of spending the rest of your life with the person you are considering marrying. Half of first marriages fail - and that that potentially includes yours. I am not saying that you need to take 28 years like Gene Simmons did, but his example of not jumping in to marriage is worthy of being followed and will help you avoid the fifty percent chance of your divorce.