This article was sent to Marriage Memo subscribers on May 18, 2009, and then updated after Kris Allen's victory on American Idol.
Welcome from Arkansas, home of the Razorbacks, birthplace of the rich and famous. This is the state that gave us Johnny Cash, Sam Walton, Bear Bryant, Brooks Robinson, Bill Clinton, Conway Twitty, Billy Bob Thornton, Al Green, and Glen Campbell. And now, infinitely more important, it is the home of AMERICAN IDOL CHAMPION KRIS ALLEN!!!
As you can imagine, Kris Allen’s run on American Idol is the biggest story here in Arkansas right now. His recent “Kris Returns Home” visit drew a huge crowd by the Arkansas River in Little Rock, and then about 15,000 showed up for a parade and outdoor concert in Conway, where Kris attends college. And those numbers pale next to the dedication of his fans who faithfully voted hundreds and even thousands of times apiece with their phones each week to keep Allen alive in the Idol competition.
It appears that this humble, soft-spoken young man—a worship leader at his church in Conway—can look forward to a successful singing career. And my hope is that his new marriage—he and his wife, Katy, were married last year—has the same bright future. As I heard one radio DJ say this morning, Kris is the first American Idol winner who is married. The DJ even said, "If you are the praying type, pray for Kris and his wife."
I say this because fame often produces the same effect on marriage that cigarettes have on the human lung. It generates a cancer that slowly eats away at marital commitment. In the world of celebrities, marriages that last more than 10 or 15 years are considered minor miracles.
Here are three big mistakes that many celebrities seem to make in marriage:
Mistake #1: They fail to plant a strong hedge of protection around their relationship. The demands for their time and attention are unreal. To succeed in marriage, they need to find a way to say “no” to many of these demands and “yes” to time together. They need as normal a home life as they can get.
It’s also important to protect the marriage against the threat of continual sexual temptation. If I were Kris, I’d work with his pastor or with another man at his church to set up a strong system of accountability. This accountability partner would have total freedom to ask Kris anything about the sexual situations he faces on the road and would continually challenge and equip him to stay true to his vows.
Mistake #2: They often work out their conflicts in the glare of media. In recent weeks we’ve seen an example of this in Jon and Kate Gosselin of Jon & Kate Plus 8. It’s one thing to be the star of a television series about your large family. But if the strain affects your marriage, it’s time to pull away. The media is not your friend when you’re trying to work out a problem with your spouse.
When you watch interviews with Jon and Kate on the show’s Web site, one thing is clear: Jon is tired of doing the reality show, and is not happy about how the fame has affected their lives, while Kate is much more positive about the experience. In the meantime, they’re talking with media outlets in anticipation of season five, which begins May 25. In one interview, Kate told Entertainment Weekly, “Jon’s poor judgment and irresponsible behavior has, without a doubt, caused some added tension.'' This week she’s on the cover of People magazine.
You know what I’d do if I were in this situation?
1. Order the film crews out of the house.
2. Cancel the show.
3. Turn down all requests for media interviews.
4. Talk to each other and not to the world.
5. Get whatever help is needed to restore the marriage.
Mistake #3: They allow their convictions and priorities to be diluted by the pleasures of an extravagant lifestyle. It’s difficult to avoid this problem in a materialistic culture like ours; how many of us secretly wish we had enough money to take care of all our needs and fulfill our desires? Anyone in that situation would be wise to heed the words of Solomon, who denied himself nothing his eyes desired and refused his heart no pleasure, only to realize “Everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11).
Solomon accomplished as much as any man in history, but recognized all was vanity, all was meaningless. When everything else is stripped away, the real priorities of life are revealed:
Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun. Ecclesiastes 9:9
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. Ecclesiastes 12:13
As Kris Allen adjusts to his new of fame, I’m hoping that he is getting this type of advice from his pastor, his family, and his friends. Life will never be the same for Kris and his wife, and they need our prayers.