Why did Jay-Z date Beyoncé?

The quick answer is “because he could.”

The real answer is one of the few lessons most of us should try to take away from celebrity couples.

With the ubiquitous paparazzi, endless tabloid streams and 24/7 news cycles, it’s easy to begin to feel like we “know” a celebrity.  We feel a little happy when we know it’s George Clooney’s birthday (call me), we feel sad when Britney gets caught in sweats and a ball cap, and we feel angry/betrayed/disillusioned when celebrities break up.

Some people take celebrity break ups harder than the break ups of their friends, and generally I counsel them to empathize, but don’t personalize.  In addition to the fact that no one can really know the complete dynamics of any relationship they’re not in, it is also difficult for a non-public-figure to understand the changes in self-perception and decision-making that someone goes through if they are constantly in the public eye.  Empathize, don’t personalize.  There is nothing most of us should take away from Tiger cheating on his wife beyond “it’s bad, and you always get caught.”

But today, let’s talk about what lessons we can take from celebrity couples.

Back to the original question: why did Jay-Z date Beyoncé?  It’s not just because she is breathtakingly beautiful — there are many of those fish in the sea.  It’s not just her beautiful voice — again, there are lots of lovely chanteuses Jigga Man could have chosen.  Beyoncé, almost exactly like Jay-Z, has a relentless work ethic, is obsessed with excellence, and chooses to have her craft dominate almost every element of her life.  Jay-Z and Beyoncé have similar life goals, priorities and aspirations.  There are few people outside of each other who could understand the values and priorities that shape each others’ lives.

Let’s take a look at the pair of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.  Friends since age 10 growing up in Cambridge, MA, as they became stars they each had their string of celebrity dating mis-fires.  Matt (it seems natural to call him by his first name, although we’ve never met!) dated Minnie Driver and Winona Ryder and Ben dated Gwyneth and J-Lo.  But in the end, they chose very different paths.

Ben married Jennifer Garner, successful TV and screen actor.  This keeps “the business” a core part of their relationship, home life, and how they build a successful marriage.

Matt married Luciana Bozán Barroso, a Brazilian bartendress with a child from a previous wedding.  For Matt, “the business” was something he decided was not a core part of the lifetime relationship he was building, and that family and home life, as far removed from Entertainment Tonight as possible, was central to his long-term happiness.

Ben married in the Caribbean, Matt married at City Hall.

So here’s the lesson: What you should learn from Matt and Ben is that if you want to build a fulfilling, long-term and wonderful relationship, the more emphasis you put on the shared values that will serve as the bedrock of your relationship, the greater your love will become.  Define yourself by your values, not your job, nationality or station in life.

Now get back to your US Weekly!