02/06/2012 07:59 pm ET | Updated Apr 07, 2012

Heidi Klum And Seal: Trauma Or Neglect?

After seven years of marriage and three children together (not including one from a previous relationship of Klum's), Heidi Klum and Seal are divorcing and going their separate ways. Although the split is "amicable," rumor has it that their seemingly perfect marriage had ripples of trouble underneath the surface. Reports suggest that Seal had some anger issues, and Heidi reportedly could no longer tolerate his behavior around the kids.

We don't really know what happened in their marriage, and they deserve their privacy as they work through their separation. But we can surmise that one of two things happened: Their relationship fell apart because of trauma or neglect.

Many marriages suffer from neglect, particularly for couples in long term partnerships or for high-profile couples like Heidi and Seal who both have successful careers and busy lives. Being pulled in many directions can force partners to forget that the relationship needs as much, if not more, attention than their careers. Ambition can trump a marriage, not because they don't care for each other, but because they may assume that the marriage will take care of itself. As many Hollywood couples have discovered before them, it does not.

A relationship can also end because of trauma. Traumas may occur when someone has an affair, becomes ill, or when there is a death in the family. These big life changing events create such stress that couples may not survive the impact and divorce, rather than coming together to work through the difficulties. However, traumas are not only caused by big stressors. Chronic anger and arguments can be traumatic as well. The cycle of angry outburst followed by remorse and cautious forgiveness that is repeated over and over can feel abusive and exhausting in a marriage. Patience can be worn thin when one partner is being yelled at constantly. That partner may be working hard to keep their children safe and free from that type of debilitating stress and at some point, he or she may leave the marriage to protect the children from the anger cycles.

Sometimes all it takes is one really bad argument. Things said in the heat of anger can create a traumatic event in the lives of a family. Words shouted in hurt can sometimes never be taken back. That type of trauma can be difficult to get over. For couples who don't have the skills to express their frustration, things said carelessly in an argument can wound a partner deeply. In the morning after, remorse and "I'm sorry" can mean very little when feelings have been hurt, or worse, someone has been physically hurt.

We don't know what happened to Heidi and Seal, and we may never know. But it may be that Seal said things he can't take back and that Heidi decided, once and for all, "you're out."

Tammy Nelson, PhD is a sex and relationship expert and the author of Getting the Sex You Want and the upcoming The New Monogamy. Find out more at