Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom recently shared some relationship inspiration on social media.
Katy posted this photo of the couple all dressed up with the following caption:
“Orlando and I’s initials are O.K. We continuously put in the work to make sure they aren’t 🚨K.O.🚨 Find yourself a partner that will go down to the mat with you and get back up every time. I love you my fighter @orlandobloom 🥊♥️”
Fans of the stars and other celebrities flooded the comments saying things like “Mom and dad!”, “So perfect”, “Such a beautiful couple!” with one person even hailing them the “Dream couple!”
While the sentiment she shared is sweet, as was his response: “I love you and our love ❤️ bombs💥wouldn’t have it any other way 😍”, my question is whether it’s realistic to aspire to have the kind of relationships celebrity couples have.
According to a study last year, 87% of people who say their marriage is “great” say that they work together with their partner to set long-term financial goals – and married couples who fight about financial issues have about $30,000 in consumer debt, on average.
While we don’t know exactly how Katy and Orlando’s situation works, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say they’ve got a financial planner to take care of all of that crap for them. Second, her reputation as one of the highest-paid celebrities with a net worth that exceeds $300 million tells me they’re not one of the married couples fighting over consumer debt.
The research also shows that 41% of married couples with consumer debt argue most about money, compared to just 25% of debt-free couples, and 43% of those with $50,000 or more in consumer debt felt embarrassed talking about personal finances, compared to just 10% of those who were debt-free.
So already, one huge thing that’s eliminated in relationships where there is this level of extreme wealth (and the added bonus of celebrity) is shame and embarrassment. As someone who is in their Brene Brown era, the learning of shame is that it can poison so much of what we do and the relationships we have with the people in our lives. Not having to get over the hurdle of financial shame and embarrassment is a monumental advantage in relationships where money is abundant.
There are three other findings that make Katy and Orlando’s situation even further removed from most people’s reality. The first is that married people accumulate wealth 77% faster than single people. As someone who is single and living in a very expensive city, I feel this in my core. But beyond being relatable, the other reason this is important is because it means wealthy singles are way less likely to just settle on anyone due to financial interest.
Having financial privilege and independence means the person they choose is actually someone they love. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at my financial situation and have been tempted to settle on the next guy that came into my life just to alleviate some of my housing, grocery and entertainment costs. When making ends meet isn’t a concern for you, you can be as patient, picky and persistent as you want to be in your quest to find your person. The process is a lot more rushed and stressful for the rest of us.
The second finding is that a couple earning more than $125,000 or more in a year are more than 51% less likely to divorce. Depending on who and where you are, $125,000, even as a joint income, can sound like a lot of money. But it’s chump change for these two. Especially when you consider that each year between 2009 and 2014, Katy Perry earned between $30 and $50 million from a combination of album sales, merchandise, touring and endorsements. Even on the lower end, this means Katy Perry earns 240 times the minimum amount recommended to lower the risk of divorce. And she does that on her own. Orlando and his $40 million net worth is just…extra.
The third finding is that having a lack of assets in a marriage, particularly in the first three years of marriage, can increase the likelihood of divorce by 70%, compared to those with assets worth $10,000 or more by that time. This is huge. If this is what it means to start your marriage off on the right foot, it’s no wonder so many marriages fail. Especially when you look at the finding that shows that 41% of those married five years or less say they felt pressured to go into debt for their wedding, with about 54% of married couples married five years or less saying some expenses were covered with a credit card.
Katy and Orlando had a wedding for 150 people planned in Japan before the pandemic put a hold on things. That doesn’t sound like a couple needing to put their nuptials on a VISA. But prior to that, they dealt with things that would take the average person years to recover from financially, like their divorces. Katy and Orlando both endured very public splits before meeting each other. The expensive lawyer fees, moving costs and division of assets that plague so many of us just don’t seem to wreak the same financial havoc on the wealthy.
Even during their relationship, Katy deciding to start her non-alcoholic line of beverages, which I wrote about here, means two things: they likely didn’t have to sit and have the conversation about how much it was going to cost them or how long they’d be in the hole. And secondly, it breathes life into research that shows combined wealth increases at an annual rate of about 16% for couples. I imagine that number is much higher for these two given the guaranteed success of her business simply because her name is attached to it.
While it sounds like I’m just giving big hater energy about a rich, famous couple professing their love for each other on Instagram, what I’m trying to do is put things into context for people who see a photo and caption like that and wonder why their relationships are so hard.
This is why I pull research. Because it’s hard to argue with cold, hard numbers. Sometimes we (read: I) need the reminder that we’re not working with the same resources that everyone else is. It makes my catalogue of failed relationships seem a little less daunting and allows me to look at the factors beyond my unwillingness to settle (even though research says it would be in my best interest!).
When you look at the research and the data about the reality of the hardships everyday people are facing, it’s so much easier to see through the smoke and mirrors of it all. If rich people find their relationships in a rut, they can take off to some fancy private island or a luxurious resort to reconnect. They can hire the best help for anything from easing the load of having to cook a meal everyday, maintain a clean home or someone to guide you and your partner through your darkest times. Everyday people have a lot less resources to work with.
So it’s important to remember, in seeing celebrities celebrating their love and their relationships, that the playing field isn’t exactly even. And because of that, sometimes we have to be a bit gentler with our loved ones. And more importantly, we have to be a bit gentler with ourselves.