Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kim Kardashian: What We Can Learn From Her Impending Divorce

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Kim Kardashian is getting divorced after only 72 days!
Wow! Yes, that’s right. The newlywed star is getting divorced. But the honeymoon isn’t over yet, is it? Apparently it is. Ok, so what does that have to do with you and me? Isn’t this site about fatherhood? Well, read on – we’re going somewhere with this.

For those who may not know, Kim Kardashian is a reality television star. Her show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, put her and her family on the map in 2007. And since then, she’s had a meteoric rise to fame. She and her sisters have starred in hit spinoffs, Kourtney and Kim Take Miami and Kourtney and Kim Take New York. She’s also starred on ABC’s hit series Dancing With the Stars. Add other accomplishments such as successfully launching multiple fragrances and you’ll get the picture: Kim Kardashian is a star.

She began dating NBA player Kris Humphries of the New Jersey Nets in October 2010. They became engaged in May 2011, and married on August 20, 2011 in an elegant made-for-TV wedding in Montecito, California. It was broadcast on the E! television network and watched by millions around the world. Reportedly, Kardashian and Humphries made $17.9 million from the ceremony. And how much did the wedding cost? Some estimates say $20 million. And unlike many young couples, these costs weren’t out of pocket expenses for them. They paid little or none of the cost of the elaborate event. Celebrity does have its privileges.

Well, just 72 days into the marriage, to the surprise of millions, on October 31, 2011, Kim filed for divorce from Humphries, citing irreconcilable differences. In less than 2 ½ months, apparently, it just wasn’t working.

There are different schools of thought on what actually occurred. Some believe that the marriage was a stunt to get the media and fans talking. A widely held view in many circles is that any publicity is good publicity. So, to them, this was a stunt to enhance the Kardashian brand. When people say, “Can you believe that Kim Kardashian is getting a divorce?” that results in greater awareness of the brand and spells $$$$. That’s just how it works.

The E! network defended itself for partnership with the couple by airing their wedding with the following statement: “Any insinuation that E! and producers orchestrated Kim’s wedding is completely false. The Kardashians have authentically lived their lives on camera for a long time and Kim’s wedding is one of the many real-life events that the family has shared with viewers…”

Others believe that it was just as Kardashian claimed in her divorce filing – their differences were irreconcilable. It’s highly unusual that a couple divorces after less than 3 months but it’s not entirely impossible. Stranger things have happened. But regardless of what true reasons are, the divorce has been filed and now the legal process of ending the marriage has begun.

There are some lessons imbedded in this story that I hope that men, women and children learn. I believe that families will be better for it. So here are the lessons:

Marriage has traditionally been a sacred institution – one that should not be entered into lightly. “Till death do us part,” is a phrase often repeated in wedding ceremonies. So, in repeating the vows, couples really are saying that despite the challenges that inevitably arise, they will remain committed to each other until death. Words such as “for richer, for poorer; in sickness, in health, for better, for worse” used to be revered to the extent that divorce was never an option.

But over time, divorce has increasingly become the norm in our society. Take a look at these statistics, for instance: In the United States, in 1900, 7.9% of marriages ended in divorce. The percentage increased to 23.1% in 1950; to 48.1% in 1975 and to and 50.3% in 2000. You get the picture? Couples are stay together less.

Certainly there are a variety of factors that have caused the change. One prevalent factor is that women have joined the workforce in increasing numbers over the decades. Previously, many women who were unhappily married opted to remain in those marriages because they were less educated and would likely endure financial turmoil if they opted to leave. But in today’s world, many more options are available to them.

Add kids to the picture and marriages take on greater significance. Some divorced couples trace the demise of their marriages to the birth of their children and the manifestation of fundamental differences in the viewpoints on how they should be raised. Indeed, having kids adds a new dimension to the married life.

I tend to be somewhat traditional in my viewpoints on marriage. Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen my parents happily grow together while raising my 3 siblings and me. This year they celebrated 47 years of marriage. Statistics show that children with actively engaged fathers and mothers in a two-parent household fare better than their peers who do not enjoy the same privilege. When dads and moms work together to raise children, the married life can be quite rewarding.

Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries didn’t have kids – 72 days isn’t a long time, is it? In my view, that’s one good thing that comes out of this story. Children are often the innocent victims – collateral damage, if you will, when marriages fail. Since this couple had no kids, when this marriage is over, even if the divorce proceedings should get messy, it is over. When kids are present, there’s a perpetual tie that binds mother, father and child(ren).

Another lesson I’d like to look at in this impending divorce is the fact that in our society, we often emphasize the glamour and elegance of weddings and fail to give the same emphasis to the marriages. Weddings can truly be beautiful. If you saw the Kardashian / Humphries wedding, you can attest to this. $20 million can go a long way!

One of my fondest childhood memories was waking up early one summer morning at my uncle’s home in Jamaica and watching the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. Some called that the wedding of the century. Now a generation later, their son, Prince William took Kate Middleton to be his bride earlier this year. I wrote William & Catherine;Charles & Diana: What We Can Learn From Them as I thought of these two royal couples and their fairy tale weddings. Charles and Diana didn’t fare quite so well. I do hope that William and Kate’s relationship stands the test of time.

You see, wedding ceremonies are great. Honeymoons can be greater. But it’s the marriages that tell what couples are really made of. Sprinting to the altar after a whirlwind romance is fine; but marriage is a marathon – one filled with twists and turns that can either cause the demise of a relationship or make it become more fortified.I know of couples that separate and divorced while still having outstanding debts incurred from their wedding. How sad is that? I’m all for memorable weddings but what good does it do to not have the same devotion to every detail of the marriage as there is to the wedding?

The final lesson I’d like to share regarding this couple’s divorce is that we should not become so enamored with celebrities that we lose ourselves and our core convictions in the process. Hollywood thrives on the public intrigue with its stars. There’s a reason why the E! network is so successful. Celebrity sells, plain and simple.

The unfortunate consequence to this, in my view, is that people view the lives of celebrities and watch their every move. And many believe that whatever their favorite star says or does is to be embraced. Young children, in particular, are impressionable and can be easily influenced while observing the lives of their favorite stars.

In the Kim Kardashian case, I believe that her 72 day marriage has sent a message to young children that marriage isn’t really a serious commitment – you get in, get out and move on. For this reason, I implore dads and moms to teach strong traditional family values to their children. I have a 13 year old and a 15 month old. I would like to think that my wife and I would instill such values in them that, regardless of what a famous star says or does, they would emulate the values taught to them by their parents. That’s the true responsibility of parenthood.

I hope that these pointers I’ve shared here have been beneficial to you. This impending divorce has been in the news recently so I figured I’d share thoughts on the matter that would ultimately benefit families across the world.What happens next with this divorcing couple, I don’t know – I’m not one to keep up with the Kardashians! The 72 day wedding is their legacy unfortunately. I do wish them well as they live their lives. I also wish that they, as well as other celebrities, would recognize the degree of influence that they have on the lives of others and therefore, make decisions that would result in them having a positive influence on the public.

If you’re married, especially if you have children, please do your best to keep it together. If you’re unmarried and desire to be married, do choose wisely. If more than 50% of marriages fail, tell yourself that yours will be one that not only succeeds but also thrives. The love in our homes is ultimately what makes our world go around.

Celebrities are great to watch and observe; but as we all live our lives, let’s embrace the values that will lead us to build happy, successful marriages and families. We deserve nothing less.

Enjoy your day today.


The Upbeat Dad