Divorce rumors are stirring for Kim Kardashian and Kanye West following several public appearances in New York City last week where the couple traveled in support of West’s Yeezy 3 Fashion Show and a performance on Saturday Night Live. Photos of the couple around town are being characterized as stressful to say the least – no one is smiling.
Adding fuel to the fire, West’s various tweets during the week and prior to performing on SNL included a bomb that he is “53 million dollars in personal debt”. West also tweeted about Kylie Jenner’s endorsement with Puma, and claimed that Bill Cosby is innocent. Sources told Radar Online that Kardashian was not pleased with West’s recent behavior. Kardashian, meanwhile, posted a video on social media on February 14 that hinted of marital problems.
Regardless whether the couple’s antics signal true marital problems or are simply more publicity ploys, in my experience as a divorce lawyer signs are pointing to the perfect relationship storm. To be clear, I am a divorce attorney but I do not represent Kardashian or West and I’ve relied on news media reports of their relationship. Here are the top 5 reasons Kimye’s marriage might be headed for an epic breakdown (and how you can avoid their mistakes):
1. New Baby.
Kardashian and West welcomed their son on December 5. Most people think that a new baby will bring a couple closer together. But a number of studies have shown that having a baby can test the strongest relationships and make a fractured relationship crack further. One study by the Gottman Institute found that as many as 67% of couples come close to divorce during the first three years of a new baby’s life. The same study found that 40% to 70% of couples experienced stress, profound conflict and a drop in marital satisfaction in the first few months after a new baby’s arrival. Reasons for marital unhappiness included sleep deprivation, irritability, and lack of intimacy and desire (the study suggests that women’s sex drives slow down during the first three years of a child’s life!). Expanding your family isn’t easy, so take time to create new ways of communicating and help each other ease the transition.
2. Debt or Financial Secrets.
West’s tweet that he is “53 million dollars in personal debt” may be cause for marital alarm. Nothing puts pressure on a marriage quite like finances. Extreme debt or financial hidden secrets can violate trust and lead to arguments (much like a sexual affair). One study by the National Endowment for Financial Education found that 31% of Americans who were polled admitted to lying to their partner about finances. Secrets ranged from minor (like hiding a small purchase) to major (like a secret bank account, gambling problem or big debt). But when the secret was exposed, no matter how big or small, the result was the same: 67% of the study’s respondents said the revelation led to fights, 42% said it damaged trust and 16% said it led to divorce.
Looking to avoid a financial-marital breakdown? Set aside time to talk to your spouse about the “dirty money conversation.” Look at the finances together and establish a way for you both to contribute to a marital fund, while each keeping at least one account in your own individual name. Nothing forces a couple to look at the finances quite like a prenup (which it seems Kimye covered), but the public airing of financial betrayal isn’t a good idea. Which leads me to:
3. Over-Use of Social Media.
The over-use and public airing of dirty laundry isn’t exclusive to celebrities. (In fact, in Kimye’s case it seems to be part of their overall branding and publicity). Still, the lack of privacy and intimate connection tied to over-use of social media is a marital hazard. In a blog on Psychology Today, clinical psychologist Joseph Nowinski, Ph.D., looked at several studies investigating the effect of social media on marital happiness. The results of increased social networking? A correlation with poorer marital happiness, higher likelihood of a troubled relationship and increased thoughts of divorce.
Decreased marital satisfaction should give you a reason to cut back on your Tweets. But, if that isn’t enough to give you pause before you post your thoughts, consider that divorce lawyers like me are mining social media for evidence in divorce and custody fights.
4. Living with Mother-In-Law.
Multiple reports are that Kardashian and West have moved back in with Kris Jenner (Kim’s Mom).
There is something wonderful about deep family connections that can help sustain a family, but time after time I’ve handled cases where the family involvement was so extreme that the marriage suffocated as a result. “I wanted a close-knit family and thought her bond with her mom was a sign that we’d raise a tight family,” said a client, I’ll call him “Tim.” Flash forward ten years and Tim felt like his wife’s family had driven a wedge between them. When her mother’s approval of Tim eventually soured, the fights in the marriage soared. “The constant need for her mom’s approval has caused so much drama in our marriage,” he said. “When I tried to set limits on her mother, she turned on me.” An involved and caring family is one thing, but there is such a thing as setting boundaries.
5. Artistic Temperament.
On the release of West’s new album and SNL performance, critics at the Village Voice wrote that “Kanye West is hip-hop’s current Jekyll and Hyde, the only one who dares to straddle redemption and damnation to such extreme degrees. We are exhausted, but we are enthralled, and we continue to circle, waiting to sink our teeth into his genius.”
But the highs and lows of artistic temperament may not be good for marriage. Studies have found that the highest divorce rates are among those who are professional dancers, choreographers, entertainers and other artists, in part because their art is given a high priority – maybe even more than their relationship.
In an article about the Top 5 Jobs With High Chance of Divorce, Barbara Bean-Mellinger writes that “Creative, artistic types in general are more sensitive, and may react emotionally to situations more often than less sensitive people, creating a tension-filled atmosphere.”
Other top jobs with high divorce risk: massage therapists, Bartenders, Machine Operators, health care professionals (nurses, psychiatrists, home health aides and some types of doctors), and Entrepreneurs. (I’m shocked that divorce lawyers aren’t on the list!)
Some other factors that may be afflicting Kimye: 67% of second marriage end in divorce; and people who don’t smile in photographs are 5x more likely to wind up divorcing their spouse.