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The Oscar Curse: Are Successful Women Unlucky in Love?

Plus, tips for a having a successful, woman-on-top relationship.

Getty ImagesSandra Bullock and her husband split ten days after she won the Oscar for Best Actress in 2010.
Sandra Bullock

An Academy Award for Best Actress might seem like a blessing, but the women who win might think it’s more of a curse. 

Why? Because most of them find themselves sitting in divorce courts after their affairs with Oscar.

One study from researchers at the University of Toronto looked at every Best Actress and Best Actor nominee from 1936 to 2010. A whopping 60 percent divorced at least once after earning the nomination. (I guess it's really NOT an honor just to be nominated.)

Sadly, the marriages of Best Actress winners were the least likely to last. Of the leading ladies, winners were more than one and a half times more likely to divorce than non-winners—a difference that didn’t hold true for leading men.

QUIZ: What Kind of Love Are You In?

“Winning an Oscar would shift the status balance in favor of the woman,” says lead author Colleen Stuart, Ph.D. “That can be a source of relationship strain, especially because it violates the cultural norm that women are subordinate to their husbands.” 

We’d like to think that’s changing, but many successful women (famous or not) still find their relationships crumbling as they climb the proverbial ladder.

If that sounds familiar, these three tips can be your counter-curse:

Complement him. “People always told me to look for someone who matched my ambition, education and professional status,” says Marcia Reynolds, PsyD, author of Wander Woman: How High Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction. “I finally realized that someone who wanted to be as successful as I was would be trouble.”

Instead of hitching your star to another overachiever, Reynolds suggests looking for someone who complements you. If you’ve got the world domination role covered, look for someone who doesn't consider the less flashy role to be the backseat.

Find balance. “Emotionally, you need to keep balance in the relationship,” says Reynolds. “You need to allow the man to feel important.” That’s not to say that you should be subservient (the happy-to-keep-his-dinner-warm housewife is so last century). It means, ask him about his day, listen to him. “Never diminish it like it was less important,” warns Reynolds. After all, would you want him to do that to you? 

Show him some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. That’s right, give him a little respect when you get home. “If the woman starts to feel that she’s better than her husband, that’s death for the relationship,” says Reynolds. “You can’t be looking at what your partner doesn’t have. You have to constantly look at what he brings to the relationship and honor that. It might be qualities like patience, kindness, social intelligence or generosity. Everybody is contributing something.”

See these famous women who have succumbed to the Oscar curse:

 

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