Do Relationship Time-Outs Really Work?

Actress Emma Stone and her beau, actor Andrew Garfield, have just announced that they are “on a break,” with respect to their relationship.  They assure us, though, that it’s not over completely; this is simply a time-out.  Wow!  Where did they get the idea that relationships can only be sustained if there are periodic breaks?  Did they learn that time-out thing from their Baby Boomer parents, whose disciplinary skills probably included looking the other way when their children seemed unmanageable?   My question is this:  If everyone is non-communicative during a time-out, how will they ever learn to address the real issue(s) involved?  Then, when the time-out is over and everyone reverts back to their same old behavior and actions, won't that inevitably lead to future time-outs?

The article about Emma and Andrew’s long-distance relationship woes says they have been “dating” for three years.  So, wait a minute.   Does dating -- sharing fun activities, hanging out whenever possible, talking on the phone and on email -- mean you're actually working on developing a committed relationship?  Sounds like the answer is no, since our young stars complain that they don't have enough quality time to spend together after putting in long hours making movies.

Emma and Andrew are blaming their need for a relationship hiatus on the hard grind of working in the entertainment industry.  But, at the end of the day, it’s their choice whether or not to make their relationship a top priority.  They need to ask themselves: Are we honestly dealing with our self-interest, egos, workaholic tendencies and control issues?  Are we willing to put everything out on the table, be transparent and honest about our relationship and lifestyle pros and cons, and even admit we might possibly be candidates for couples’ coaching? 

The stars can simply sweep their relationship problems under the rug, hide out for a few months in their respective residences and then appear at the next Hollywood gala hand in hand, wearing superficial smiles and hoping they can pull off their “We’re in it forever (albeit with occasional time-outs)” explanation  for the TV cameras, and their adoring fans.  Isn't that easier than just calling it quits, saying “next,” and looking for that new lover who is more exciting to jump into new adventures with?

Bottom line: Why pretend you're willing to do the hard work necessary to sustain a relationship, when your real, and transparent, priority is to be a star on the set of your next movie? 

If the new trend for Hollywood couples is to say, “I need a time-out” when the relationship waters have become a bit choppy, how about the truth? “See ya, pal.  I might get back to you later, when and if I feel like it." But the party line to the public? "We just need a break, but our relationship isn’t really over.”   

Wouldn’t it be better for Emma and Andrew to be more open and honest and tell their fans that the relationship needs work? If the couple has in fact taken their relationship beyond simple courtship, and truly love and respect one another, isn’t it worth genuine effort and a little investment in time and money for relationship counseling, so they can get back on track?  Rather than "We need a break," they could say, if they mean it: “We’re in this for the long haul, and we’ll get back to you with our progress!"

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