Updated: Oct 13
There has been no shortage of celebrity divorces - Brad and Angelina, McKenzie Scott and Jeff Bezos, Kim and Kanye, Bill and Melinda Gates. Indeed, they seem to happen on a regular, if not, daily basis. But there is something different about the current rift between Tom Brady, the reputed greatest football player of all time and Gisele Bundchen the reputed greatest model of all time.
This story has garnered 24/7 media coverage since news of their separation first broke. It is at the top of every newscast, newspaper and magazine article, blog and internet feed. Every move and gesture they make - "she is not wearing a wedding ring"; "her face looks red and swollen"; "she missed his last football game"; he looks "sad, "distracted" and "not himself on the football field" - is examined, analyzed and commented upon.
What is at the core of this media frenzy? The short answer seems to be that up until now Tom and Giselle have led charmed lives. From the outside looking in, their lives have been "perfect", which is not only at the heart of those who love and envy them but also those who resent them for the same reason. It is like watching Barbie and Ken, Mattel's perfect doll couple, get a divorce. It just doesn't seem right. And it gives all of us reason to pause. If Tom and Gisele's "perfect" marriage can't last whose will?
Several years ago Rod Stewart sang about the fact that "Some Guys Have All The Luck." Indeed, Tom Brady could have been on the album cover. Blessed with incredible good looks, he came out of the University of Michigan and has gone on to greatness as a football player, winning seven Super Bowls, five times as the game's MVP. He even has a nickname - the GOAT - which stands for The Greatest Of All Time. Tom has overcome every obstacle and has come back from every failure or near failure.
For her part, Gisele is no less famous or wealthy. She has been one of the highest paid models since 2001, achieving Guinness Book of World Record fame and listed as one of the Most Powerful Woman by Forbes magazine. Gisele has appeared in more than 550 ad campaigns, 2,000 magazine covers and 3,500 newsprint editorials. She even has been crowned "the most beautiful woman in the world."
Following a whirlwind romance with Leonardo DiCaprio, Gisele dropped him and began dating Tom in 2006. They wed in 2009 and have two children, a son, Benjamin, age 12 and a daughter, Vivian, age 9. Tom also has a 15 year old son, Jack, born from a previous relationship with actress Bridget Moynahan.
It has been widely reported that the couple had an "epic fight"over Tom's recent decision to return to football after a two month retirement. However, as discussed in my five part series of articles written about the root causes of divorce, there are usually multiple reasons for a divorce along with a triggering event, such as an episode of domestic violence, infidelity or in this case a broken promise of retirement which finally causes the relationship to implode.
Assessing the seriousness of the breakup, multiple commentators have pointed to the fact that both Tom and Gisele have hired divorce attorneys. Indeed, this represents a serious step which often signals that the relationship cannot be saved. However, in my opinion there is something else which is even more telling.
During my career as a divorce attorney I have met with many potential clients who have told me that their spouse does not know that they are seeing me and they are not sure that they want a divorce. What they were really saying was that they were absolutely sure they wanted a divorce but first wanted to know how much it was going to cost and how to prepare for the inevitable divorce, financially and otherwise, before the official announcement is made.
Here, not only did Gisele consult with attorneys several weeks ago but there are reports that she also did so approximately seven years ago. Said differently, Gisele has visited the offices of a divorce attorney on multiple occasions. Reading the tea leaves, the prior visits were probably done without Tom's knowledge. For Gisele it represents confirmation that she has been thinking seriously about a divorce for a long time and for Tom her likely clandestine visits to a divorce attorney represents a secret or betrayal that can be devastating to a marriage.
Personally, I find myself in the camp of rooting for the survival of their marriage, if for no other reason then to save the children from the inevitable pain of their parents' break up. Additionally, they appear to be genuinely nice people. Besides, don't we all want to believe in the perfect fairy tale marriage?
During his professional career Tom has mounted many comebacks. One should never bet against him. However, my innate sense, after years of practicing in the field of divorce, is that their marriage will not survive. If a divorce does happen it is hoped that they do so quietly, without recrimination, rancor and in a way that inflicts the least damage upon their children.