“The thing is, marriage is very hard,” aerodynamic light beam Hailey Baldwin told Vogue this month in an internet-shaking interview about the trials and tribulations of shackling oneself permanently to human plush toy Justin Bieber. “That is the sentence you should lead with. It’s really effing hard.”
Effing hard, indeed. That much most of us know: Marriage isn’t always easy. The first year, it is widely understood (though certainly debated), is the hardest. There are good years and bad years. Even the best marriages face tough times. But, uh, shouldn’t you have had some years under your belt before you go announcing to the world that till death to us part is a real slog?
In their case, Mr. and Mrs. Bieber got hitched in September, meaning their time on the job clocks in at something around four months. That’s just enough time to have an IKEA meltdown, realize one of them has terrible taste (him), find out what weird porn one of them really likes, argue over how much closet space she takes up, or that he always leaves an old plate of spaghetti under the bed.
In other words, yes, marriage is hard, but it’s still the kind of hard we think of as not the real hard. It’s supposed to be the stuff of silly spats, not soul-crushing self-searching personal journeys that come later when someone gambles away the retirement, secretly eats cat food or happens to have a secret family.
I concede it’s very difficult to understand why rich, beautiful people have problems. There’s no apparent reason for them to get mad over the stuff that plagues most of us in that first year, or at all: money fights, what to watch on the one television, where to hang the embroidered Bible verse, or who’s not pulling their weight around the house.
Making the statement seem even more dramatically oblivious and handwringing is the fact that these people are loaded. The net worths in this case are $265 (his) and $3 million (hers). Can’t they just throw money at their problems, or buy better, simpler problems? They have so much fuck-off money they could just hire a couple who looks like them to follow them around and have all their dumb fights for them while they hang out on a yacht.
“Do we really sound that stupid?” they would giggle in exasperated unison as they watched the faux Biebers go another round of I Love You More — No, I Do.
Unless, and this is a big unless, there’s something much more complicated going on. And in this case, they have a lot of factors working against them.
For one, they’re both incredibly young: He’s 24, and she’s 22. People who marry under age 25 are five times more likely to split up. For two, they’re both incredibly famous: He’s Justin Bieber, famous since he was 13, and she’s another model Baldwin, of those Baldwins. Hailey’s father, Stephen, is an outspoken Trump supporter with no love for his estranged brother Alec’s impression of the president. Dad also has an alleged cheating scandal and a Hannah Montana tattoo. Family drama aside, Hollywood marriages are notoriously short-lived, some of them lasting a mere 56 hours.
Three: Justin has some hangups about sex stuff. He put himself through a year of celibacy as something like penance for being “super-promiscuous and stuff.” He sees Hailey as a “reward” for his “good behavior.” “God blessed me with Hailey as a result. There are perks. You get rewarded.” Then, all horned up and ready to consummate, he rushed the wedding.
So — weird entitlement issues aside — maybe Bieber’s year-long abstinence means they didn’t do the deed until after marriage. That’s actually not always a death sentence! Some studies suggest women who marry as virgins or with only a few partners beforehand are less likely to divorce, but good sexual compatibility is a major factor in marital happiness, and it’s much easier to keep it and cultivate it when you at least agree that you started out with it.
That whole temporarily-celibate-till-marriage thing is also because they’re both Hotties for Jesus. He’s been going to a Pentecostal church for a few years to deal with his drinking/drugging/sexing, which, even as Christian denominations go, is one of the weird ones. Her parents are born-again; in another weird Stephen story, he was inspired by his nanny to find Jesus.
Blending such quaintly antiquated practices against the frenetic pace of modern social life and celebrity excess has got to be a mindfuck. It’d be like trying to be the coolest Amish person on Instagram.
But from the cheap seats, all the above isn’t even what strikes me as the five-alarm chili here. What strikes me as far more steps-laid-out-for-them doomsday is not that he went celibate because he couldn’t stop fucking, or that he needed church handlers to keep him from cheating on his wife.
It’s this: They admit they never dealt with the reason they broke up before, a “betrayal.”
They told Vogue that both consider the Betrayal extremely dramatic and that they can’t even talk about it. Bad communication skills are a huge red flag for any relationship, but especially one headed for the altar as husband and wife try to work through a serious trust issue.
Another red flag is not being over a previous relationship, and it doesn’t sound like he’s over the last lady. Reports that Hailey is “helping him get over” Selena Gomez make it sound like a positive that she’s the antidote to the poison of a broken heart. Maybe for him. Yet experts make it clear that before marriage, old relationships should be resolved or can have disastrous results. (Surely, this could all be tabloid drama stirred up by Us Weekly.)
And of course, they too have the problems all Regulars have once we move in together:
They are squabbling over decorating decisions. Healthy communication is a constant challenge, and in therapy they are working on developing an ebb and flow so that their personalities don’t lock horns. Sometimes they tiptoe around each other, and at others they practice arguing without being unkind. “Fighting is good,” Justin says. “Doesn’t the Bible talk about righteous anger? We don’t want to lose each other. We don’t want to say the wrong thing, and so we’ve been struggling with not expressing our emotions, which has been driving me absolutely crazy because I just need to express myself, and it’s been really difficult to get her to say what she feels.”
In other words: Stars — they’re just like us, except with a whole bunch of other shit. Which pretty much answers the question of how long you have to be married to credibly say it’s hard. It’s however long it takes to see you have a boatload of problems, whether that takes 40 years… or four months.