Most recently, it was Nicolas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley. Their marriage clocked in at 3 months 15 days.

Drew Barrymore and Tom Green lasted 5 months 4 days. (This after they teased that we're married, we're not married, we're getting married on "Saturday Night Live.")

And last week, when a Jennifer Lopez headline declared: "I Know True Love Is My Destiny," it wasn't just the player-haters who cringed. If she and Ben Affleck get hitched, it would be Round 3 for J. Lo.

It's the Hollywood quickie: You meet, you marry, and you move out faster than a movie starring Dolph Lundgren goes to video.

Why do they hurt us so with their love? Why do they make us watch?

It's not that we begrudge our celebrity idols love and happiness. We want them to seek their hearts' desire. Maybe we just want them to take more private time, committing themselves more fully to the off-camera work and struggle of marriage.

"Marriage implies permanence, and especially with celebrities, they have so many things up in the air about their lives, marriage gives them a little stability," says Lisa Daily, a Minneapolis-based author and online dating columnist. That said, "when things get difficult, so many other things in their lives are made easy for them, it's easy to throw in the towel."

Of course, short-lived marriages are not limited to celebrities.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, one-fifth of all first marriages end within five years and another third within 10. It's just that celebrities seem to do the whirlwind-romance-crash-and-burn-thing so much better than the rest of us.

In 1997, Robin Givens married and separated from her tennis instructor husband on the same day.

"In Hollywood, people act their smoke-and-mirror dreams," says relationship writer Gilda Carle, a psychology professor at Mercy College in New York. Of Cage, she says, "It sounded to me like he was marrying the dream of Elvis." (The Oscar-winning actor, who impersonates Elvis in 1992's "Honeymoon in Vegas," was rumored to have a thing for the King.)

Cage (who was divorced from actress Patricia Arquette in 2000 after 5 1/2 years of marriage) and Presley (whose 1994 marriage to Michael Jackson lasted 20 months) met at a party two years ago and married in August. Published reports say the couple maintained separate households and didn't spend enough time together to make love work. Which makes you wonder if maybe the two could have used their months more productively. With a little more effort, they could have earned a real estate license, or grown out a perm.

In 1998, after 13 months of marriage, Lopez split from her first husband, Ojani Noa, a waiter and model she met in Miami, and soon became involved in a highly publicized romance with Sean "Puffy" Combs. After they broke up, she wed hubby No. 2, dancer Cris Judd, in 2001 and filed for divorce last summer, just 10 months later. Next month the divorce will be final.

Now with her breathless declarations of love for Affleck, even fans want to say, "Hush, boo, hold a little something back."

People often mistake the euphoria of falling in love, when couples are on their best behavior, with a sustainable relationship dynamic, say relationship experts. Add to that the postmodern lessening of the social stigma of divorce and the decreased financial dependency of women, and a quick divorce can seem a tool of empowerment. It has become, say the experts, an acceptable option for folks who no longer have to live with a mistake for life.

And of course, life in Hollywood is always so much bigger.

We like big, storied romances, and epic sex. As a culture, we are notoriously in love with love (a 1999 edition of Bride was the most voluminous magazine ever published). And stars are supposed to be our stand-ins, leading the kind of lives we would lead if we didn't have to do dishes, punch time clocks and wipe runny noses.

That's why, when the richest and loveliest among us fail so quickly at marriage, it is not only a violation of the social contract, and the marriage contract. In some ways it violates the obsessive love and adoration we want to shower on them. It intrudes on our movie nights -- and it can make us say such catty things. How about getting re-divorced, J. Lo, before you get re-engaged?

Some Hollywood romances do go the distance, surviving pressures of celebrity in addition to the crazy roller coaster of commitment. Actors Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward have been married since 1958. Though unwed, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn have been coupled for 18 years. Longevity counts.

Still for every Denzel Washington and Pauletta Pearson, a class act for 20 years, there's a Barrymore and Green. They staged repeated publicity stunts including fake wedding dates and a faux marriage on "Saturday Night Live" before marrying in Malibu in July 2001 and divorcing a short time later.

Then there was actress Courtney Thorne-Smith, who appeared as an angelic bride on the cover of InStyle Weddings last year, weeks after she had filed for divorce from biotech firm owner Andrew Conrad. "Andy and I have mutually decided to separate. We remain good friends and will share custody of our dogs," she said in a later statement.

A weary public, disturbed by the repeated coarsening of a still-valued institution, can begin to wonder if there isn't some middle ground between healthy personal freedoms and couples like Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman (they lasted 10 days).

" 'In sickness and health, till death do us part' is not always the American way," says University of Louisville psychologist Michael Cunningham, but at least there remains the notion "that you take the bad times with the good times and you try to stick with it. You work it out is part of the expectation."

But sometimes, in Hollywood, it's just not part of the script.

Lisa Marie Presley and Nicolas Cage: three months; Tom Green and Drew Barrymore: five months; Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman: 10 days.Queen of the quick splits: Actress Robin Givens wed and walked out on the same day.J. Lo, whose first two marriages lasted a total of 23 months, is ready for No. 3, Ben Affleck.