Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen are calling it quits after over ten years of marriage. With Tom retiring, coming out of retirement, and retiring again, people began speculating that Tom has chosen football over his family. Now that the football star and his wife have announced their divorce, people feel as they know Tom’s more focused on football than he is on his family. When it comes to celebrity divorces, a lot of people think they know what’s going on—especially with figures that are as famous as Tom and Gisele. However, as a family law attorney with years of experience, I’d be willing to bet not all is as it seems.
Being a Provider
A lot of men feel the pressure to provide for their families, and what providing means is going to differ from person to person. It’s not uncommon for men to feel as though they need to provide an extravagant lifestyle for their wives. However, research has shown that most women would rather have their husbands spend more time at home than have a luxurious life. In fact, research has shown that nearly 70% of women would rather their husbands take a paycut than work a job that required them to work long hours. The same survey revealed that 18% of women were neutral. Only 11% of women would rather have the luxurious lifestyle than a husband who works less.
Being a Workaholic
It might sound crazy, but some people really do become addicted to their jobs. In fact, it’s estimated that about 10% of Americans are addicted to work. And if we take a closer look at this, it’s not hard to see why. A lot of people feel a sense of pride and satisfaction from performing at work. It’s not uncommon for people to find a sense of self in their job, or in the fruits of their labor. It’s not only possible, but I’d argue that it’s likely that Tom Brady finds at least some of his identity in being a professional athlete. When people rely too much on their jobs for their sense of identity and self worth, they can begin to feel lost when their career ends.
Renegotiating the Relationship
Whether they’re married, dating, or in a long term relationship, couples are constantly renegotiating the terms of their relationship. What used to be okay at one point in the relationship may no longer be acceptable in the relationship. For example, it may be okay for one party to play video games until 3:00 am. However, once a new baby comes along, such behavior may no longer be acceptable. Knowing what we know about football careers, Gisele knew—or reasonably should have known—that Tom was going to be spending a lot of time away from home. In some ways she signed up for this—but given Tom’s ridiculously long football career, it may be that she didn’t expect him to be playing when he’s 45.
Is This Really Worth It?
When we renegotiate the terms of our relationships, we often make a lot of compromises. Going back to the example of the spouse playing video games until the wee hours of the morning, we might find that the person was more than willing to sacrifice gaming for something as fulfilling as parenthood. But not all stories of renegotiation have a happy ending. In fact, divorce can happen when there’s a standstill and there’s nothing left to negotiate. In the case of a professional football career, it may be that one person cannot live without playing football while the other party can no longer deal with having a spouse that’s away from home for so long. For other people, there may be other jobs that are equally fulfilling but require less travel and less time away from home. The aforementioned may not be the case when we’re talking about a career in professional sports.
It’s Not so Simple
Saying that Brady chose football over his family may be an overly simplistic way of viewing this. Though there are good reasons to believe Tom’s career decisions have caused this divorce, there are likely other factors that have not been made public. Most people are willing to work through big disagreements, even when both sides seem to be at odds with each other. However, a big disagreement can be the end of a marriage when there are other issues that are causing marital discord. Having other issues, feeling a societal pressure to provide, and finding deep fulfillment in a career that is incompatible with your spouse, can put a lot of strain on a marriage.
When It’s Relevant to You
If you’re in this situation, it’s important to remember that you can almost always renegotiate your relationship. In overly simplistic terms, Gisele could have just allowed Tom to continue with his career as he wanted. Tom could have just given up his career for Gisele. You can almost always save your marriage or relationship by simply choosing to put up with whatever your significant other is doing. But people have limits. There’s no shame in walking away from a relationship that doesn’t allow you to be the best version of yourself. If you’ve tried to be reasonable, compromise, explore solutions, and more, and your significant other is unwilling to negotiate, you need to do what’s best for you and your family. Unfortunately, that can mean ending the relationship.