Marriage makes news, but does it make sense?


Michael is a shy, multi-surgically-altered 38-year-old whose first marriage was greeted with raised eyebrows and ended a mere 20 months later to almost no one's surprise. Debbie is a 37-year-old divorcee, the nurse of one of Michael's many doctors, who initially agreed to carry Michael's child as a surrogate mother but then yesterday married him.

Is it too soon to ask: Can this marriage be saved?

Not when one-half of the equation is Michael Jackson, he of the famously indefinable sexual preferences. His marriage to Elvis' daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, was viewed as a publicity stunt to divert attention from a scandalous child molestation charge. Even his announcement earlier this month that longtime friend Debbie Rowe was pregnant with his child had to be coupled with a denial that she was artificially inseminated.

But if Michael doesn't seem like great husband material, psychologists caution outside observers from jumping to such intimate conclusions.

Joyce Brothers, for one, is thrilled for the newlyweds.

"I think it's wonderful," she says. "There seems to be a meshing of needs. She is a nurse, and nurses tend to be loving and caring people. And he needs love and care."

And what does Rowe, who is six months pregnant, get out of the deal? She won't have to give up the baby she's carrying, Dr. Brothers says, and can be somewhat protected by his millions from the media spotlight that was certain to shadow her as the mother of Jackson's child.

Shirley Glass, an Owings Mills psychologist and relationship expert, has a less optimistic prognosis. Years later, it really does matter why you got married in the first place, she says.

"When couples review the beginnings of their relationship, how romantic it appeared is one of the saving graces during the hard times," Dr. Glass says.

"Fifteen, 20 years later, you hear someone saying, 'Oh, it was never meant to be. We only got married because I was pregnant.' How people reconstruct that courtship period and the motivation for getting married is a metaphor for the marriage."

Pub Date: 11/15/96

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