What Demi Moore’s 3 Marriages Teach Us

Its about more than just love, companionship, sex and money

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Demi Moore has had three marriages — to Freddy Moore, Bruce Willis and Ashton Kutcher — and dishes about them in her new memoir Inside Out. If nothing else, she reveals an essential truth — if you don’t know why you’re getting married, the marriage is probably not going to be a healthy one.

So, I’m going to analyze each marriage and offer takeaways (because there most definitely are takeaways)

She married Moore, a musician, when she was just 17, an age that you don’t necessarily know what you’re doing or why you’re doing it, but you feel it intensely anyway There was trouble even before it began:

The night before we got married, instead of working on my vows, I was calling a guy I’d met on a movie set. I snuck out of my own bachelorette party and went to his apartment. Why did I do that? Why didn’t I go and see the man I was committing to spend the rest of my life with to express my doubts? Because I couldn’t face the fact that I was getting married to distract myself from grieving the death of my father. Because I felt there was no room to question what I’d already put in motion. I couldn’t get out of the marriage, but I could sabotage it.”

When you feel like there’s “no room to question” what’s already moving forward is how people end up marrying the wrong person, which is what Jennifer Gauvain found while researching her 2010 book, How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy30 percent of the women she surveyed knew they were marrying the wrong man but tied the knot anyway.

Takeaway — if you’re grieving or in a challenging emotional place, don’t make big decisions like getting married. What you really need is people to nurture and support you, and you can have that without tying yourself legally to a romantic partner. And know that there always is room to question yourself. It may mean you waste a crap-load of wedding money, and disappoint parents, friends and loved ones. Still, you will save all of them — and, mostly yourself — from a certain kind of hell down the road.

When she married Willis two years later, they’d only been together for four months — not a lot of time to get to know each other. But, OK — that marriage lasted 15 years anyway. It also produced three children. Divorcing with children complicates everything — really, although she notes that “we managed to move the heart of our relationship, the heart of what created our family, into something new that gave the girls a loving, supportive environment with both parents.”

Kudos for that. Still, she writes, the marriage was doomed because he thought her acting career took time away from their family — men once again putting their career and ambition above their spouse’s — which could have been addressed in a relationship contract.

Takeaway — If you’re planning to have/raise children together, it’s essential that you have important discussions about what that’s going to look like and then write it down in a marital/relationship contract. You want to be clear about what each parent’s expectations are for themselves, their child and each other. And if you really want to protect your children, have a parenting prenup.

Finally, she married Kutcher, 15 years her junior — he was 25, she was 41. Of course, there was a lot of judgment about the age difference at the time, but Moore doesn’t say that that was the problem. It was more about old family patterns and feeling that she was unlovable, and undeserving of love.

“I just felt like a 15-year-old girl, hoping somebody liked me” until she found herself going “into contortions to try to fit the mold of the woman he wanted his wife to be.”

Oh, and she began drinking and doing drugs again.

And that might actually be a problem.

Takeaway — Hoping someone likes you is a sure sign that marriage isn’t what you really need. And not being your authentic self in a relationship will only harm all involved.

Looking at Moore’s marriages, it’s easy to see that why we marry is a multilayered and somewhat complicated thing. It’s more than just love and companionship, sex and money — it has a lot to do about our family of origin issues, how we feel about ourselves and our expectations.

We are sliding into engagement season, and the temptation to say yes to a proposal from your partner isn’t too hard. But before you even get to that stage, it’s a good idea to explore your motivations for wanting to marry (if you do want to marry, that is), as we discuss in The New I Do (which is now out on Audible — yay!).

There’s no shame in marrying and divorcing as Moore and many of us have done, no matter how many times. There’s also no shame in gathering some self-awareness first.

Want to explore your motivations for marrying? (Of course you do!) Read The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (Seal Press). You can support your local indie bookstore or order it on Amazon.

Written by

Award-winning journalist, coauthor of “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels,” mom, changing the narrative about older women

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