Earlier this week, Halle Berry and her husband, French boxer-turned-actor Olivier Martinez, announced that they were splitting after two years of marriage. "We move forward with love and respect for one another and the shared focus of what is best for our son," the pair said in a joint statement.
The breakup is Martinez's first divorce and Berry's third. (She married baseball player David Justice in 1993 and soul crooner Eric Benét in 2001.)
If one goes by the reactions to the recent divorce announcement, the couple's "conscious uncoupling" is solely Berry's fault. The visceral comments attacking Berry—and only Berry—range from "she must be crazy" to "she must be bad in bed" to "she can't keep a man," and further beyond the pale. Given the rage of some of the feedback, you'd think Berry was divorcing some of the commenters, not Martinez.
For those this upset about Berry's fall to divorce yet a third time, I'm curious what folks would have her do. Should she never have been married at all, so folks could talk about her being one of the world's most beautiful women but unable to "get" a man? Or should she have stayed on and been unhappy with her husband, just so the folks she doesn't know or care about could applaud her for "keeping" a man?
If she should have remained married, I'm curious to know which husband folks think she should have stayed with: The first one, who allegedly was abusive? The second one, who had a sex addiction? Or the third one, who liked to fight?
I have a few guesses as to why folks are soooooo vocally upset about and with Berry for filing for divorce again. If you're one of the people so upset, check out these six theories and see if one applies to you:
1. You judge yourself by Berry's success. Berry's a beauty and somehow you think that if this gorgeous, rich woman can't live happily ever after with a mate, then your chances of doing the same are doomed. (Um, they aren't.)
2. Berry ruined your fairy tale. You're a hopeless romantic who really, really believes in love, and you were rooting for Berry, as if her marriage were a favored sports team.
3. She has the courage you don't. Let's face it: There are a lot of unhappily married people in the world who are sticking it out for the kids or finances or whatever reason they're using to justify staying when they've been unhappy for years. Frankly, Berry's refusal to be unhappy for whatever reason makes you feel lousy about your own choices. She's like the woman who quits her good job to go discover the world. You tell everyone how stupid she is, but you secretly envy her for fulfilling your dream.
4. You're bitter about the girl you didn't get. She's been considered one of the most beautiful women in the world for two decades, and her name has become a synonym for "beautiful woman." Somehow, looking at her reminds you of the popular, beautiful but ultimately unattainable woman who broke your heart and whom you never got over. Seeing Berry go through hard times gives you a twisted sense of retribution.
5. You're sexist (even if you're a woman). You judge women (and only women) by the status of their relationships and their ability "to keep" a man, i.e., placing the onus of maintaining a relationship squarely upon the woman. There are many men with multiple divorces. Culturally, we tend to joke about them "trading up" for a newer, usually younger model. We rarely make fun of them. Martin Scorsese has been married five times. No one ever talks about anything other than how great Casino and Goodfellas are. Try concentrating on how awesome Berry was in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge and Queen instead.
6. You're clueless about relationships. Here's the thing about adult interpersonal relationships of all kinds: It takes at least two people to make them work and to make them fail. If you must assign blame for why a relationship failed, assign it to both parties. Neither person was perfect, each of them made mistakes and both of them contributed in their own way to the relationship's demise. In short, if you must talk about Berry, talk about Martinez, too.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. Follow her on Twitter.