Let’s talk about the big news that dropped last week. No, not another Ukraine story. Not the invasion of Speaker Pelosi’s San Francisco home by a deranged conspiracy nut. No, much worse. It’s the divorce of Tom Brady and Gisele. Alas, they seemed like such a nice couple. After reviewing this modern-day tragedy, this Shakespearean parting of two media figures, this real-life fourth-quarter marital comeback that fell a few yards short, we’ll shine a little light on Mormon divorce.
Perhaps you haven’t been following the story, which is understandable because Tom and Gisele managed to keep their divorce negotiations largely out of the public eye. It was clear the last few months that there was some friction in the relationship. There were reliable rumors a few weeks ago that the two had lawyered up. Then on Friday news broke that they had filed a mutually agreed-upon settlement with a Florida court and that the agreement was accepted and filed. Done and over. Stories: “Tom Brady speaks about divorce from Gisele Bundchen for the first time.” Tom is quoted as follows: “Obviously the good news is that it’s a very amicable situation, and I’m really focused on two things — taking care of my family and certainly my children. And secondly doing the best job I can to win football games.”
You probably think that if Tom had been a little less focused on winning football games and a little more focused on his family and maybe his wife that things wouldn’t have come to this. He actually retired from football (wife cheers) during the off-season, then after forty days reversed course and un-retired (wife jeers). His football season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has thus far been thoroughly mediocre, so it’s a real headscratcher to figure out what his un-retirement got him except a few more bumps and bruises, and a divorce. Well, he’s reportedly getting $15 million for his quarterbacking services this year, but he’s also foregoing $37.5 million, the yearly pay he will reportedly get from Fox in his next gig as a football commentator. So it’s not money that drew him back to football.
It’s only fair to get Gisele’s side of the story. “Gisele Bundchen reveals decision behind Tom Brady split after finalizing divorce.” She says: “The decision to end a marriage is never easy but we have grown apart …” Reading between the lines, I detect a message that runs like this: “He had to choose between me and football, and he chose football.” And, I suppose, she just decided she couldn’t handle one more year of watching him get smushed five or six times a game by 300-pound defenders. Of course, one never knows in these matters. Maybe they just got tired of each other. Maybe after forty days at home with the wife and kids, Tom just decided that he’d rather hang with his teammates and play football. Maybe after yet another avacado and kale TB12 smoothie for breakfast, Gisele just decided she’d rather add some bacon and eggs to her morning menu. Whatever. Best wishes to both parties.
Tom and Gisele aren’t the only couple to split up, of course. Even within the Church, divorce seems more common these days. Personally, I have seen several LDS couples who have untied the knot as empty nesters or with the kids well along as teenagers. Couples you would not have thought would split up. That seems to be the Mormon approach to divorce: stick it out for as long as possible for the benefit of the kids, keep up appearances for as long as possible, then finally hit the divorce button. Mormon divorce just seems to be a much more common thing that it was ten or fifteen years ago.
Admittedly, my view of things is fairly limited, a fairly small sample. Readers can weigh in with their own view, what they have seen and possibly what they have experienced. At the same time, it’s worth noting that LDS culture and LDS leadership have come around to dealing with divorce more as just one of those things that might happen in a marriage rather than a sin or something we just don’t talk about. In General Conference last month, Elder Soares, in his talk titled “In Partnership with the Lord,” said some nice things about being a single-parent. He didn’t spell out exactly what led to the man and woman he referred to in his talk being single parents, but it could have been divorce. I’m sure LDS listeners who are divorced and living as single-parents heard it that way and were encouraged.
So here are a few things you might discuss in the comments.
- Have you seen more Mormon divorces the last ten years or so than in earlier years? Has LDS marriage become a little less eternal and a little more like everyone else’s version of marriage?
- Any other celebrity divorces that made you think, “Oh, that’s too bad, they seemed like such a nice couple.”
- Any LDS talks you have heard locally or in General Conference that struck you as helping LDS divorced persons feel welcome in the church, or more welcome than they used to feel? Any talks that seemed like a step backwards?