Bening may indeed be immune to the Oscar curse. Warren's once-hot career has cooled down and he seems content to let Annette shine, which just may be the secret to their relationship. Katz says: "You can't have two people putting their careers before their relationship, because then there is no relationship." Career And Family: Can We Really Have Both?
What about the rest of us?
Does the Oscar curse translate to "real world" couples? While the Rotman School's study didn't focus on non-famous folks, Casciaro says that there is data to support the link between sudden status changes and ruined relationships. "This type of pattern has been documented before in the general population... our findings were generalizable and consistent with what we know about regular people. Perhaps the only surprising thing is that there is no difference [between famous and non-famous relationships]."
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One such real-world study, published last year in the Journal of Family Issues, found that the greater a married woman's success the more likely that she will end up divorced. Researchers at Western Washington University discovered that "the tipping point came when the wife pulled in at least 60 percent of the family's income. Couples in this position were 38 percent more likely in any given year to get divorced." The Rise Of The Sugar Mama
So, what do we do when a sudden status shift or financial windfall finds us? How can we prevent our good fortune from turning into bad love?
Communicate. It seems so obvious, but so many couples just don't know how to do it. "An elevation in status almost always denotes a financial elevation. The best way to safeguard your relationship against financial jealousy and resentment is through communication," says N. Johnson. "Talk to your partner about your new lifestyle and listen to his concerns. Never undermine or devalue his financial contributions."
Spira adds, "Communication is the key in all relationships. Couples should find the time to talk about how a career change will affect their relationship. Will having more money mean you have the resources to hire help for the menial tasks so you can spend quality time together, or will your new bigger career change mean your man will have less attention from you? You need to make sure you find new and creative ways to balance your love life and work life to keep your relationship healthy and fed."
"Choose a complement, not a clone." Although we can't always choose whom we fall in love with, this suggestion from Katz is a good takeaway for all couples. If you look at some of the most successful Hollywood couples—the aforementioned Bening and Beatty, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, and Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward—they all have something of a star/co-star relationship; they're not simultaneously vying for top billing.
Don't ignore tradition. "That men are 'supposed to' be more successful in their careers than women is an old societal belief that won't die easily," says Dr. Johnson. "Although I think most men intellectually know that it's outdated and they want to believe it, it's still part of how they were raised."
"One way we can make it easier moving forward is to be conscious mothers and aunts and grandmothers and encourage our children to try everything, regardless of gender roles," recommends Dr. Johnson.
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While we can't know what, exactly, will happen to this year's Best Actress, we hope that, whoever she is, her love life follows her Oscar win to become a resounding success.