Maybe you think Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphies' marriage was a sham. Maybe you think they married for love. Maybe you couldn't care less. But there are some people who probably should be paying attention: Anyone who hopes to marry and not divorce.
No one really knows what's really behind Kim's decision to file for divorce just 72 days after marrying the 26-year-old pro basketball player, despite rumors that they couldn't agree where to settle down -- Minnesota, where Kris is from, or L.A., where Kim's family lives -- and that their marriage couldn't withstand the constant work and media pressures. Since most of those pressures were self-created (they're reality TV stars, after all) it's hard to be too sympathetic.
Still, Kim's claim of "irreconcilable differences" is all anyone really needs to know -- it means that the two most likely didn't have the essential long, hard discussions before they said "I do" in a splashy multimillion-dollar wedding. Even Kim admits she "got caught up with the hoopla and the filming of the TV show that when I probably should have ended my relationship, I didn't know how to and didn't want to disappoint a lot of people."
She sounds sincere, if somewhat misguided. In fact, she sounds a lot like the hundreds of women who admitted that they knew there were problems in their relationship but "by the time they made it to the ceremony, they felt it was too late to turn back."
So, where did Kim and Kris fail?
They didn't handle stress well as a couple. Beyond the media and TV pressure, Kris is 152-plus days into an NBA lockout. "Partners in healthy relationships know how to recognize stress, and they make allowances for it," says Dr. Thomas Bradbury, a professor of psychology at UCLA and co-director of the UCLA Relationship Institute. "Know the ways your partner shows stress, and when you see those signals cut him or her some slack."
They didn't think past the wedding. Few things prove how the priorities of brides-to-be are skewed more than buying a wedding gown a few sizes too small and then dieting to look good on the big day instead of wanting to diet to start off married life as fit and healthy as she can be. OK, that's not what Kim did -- or had to do -- but it sure seems clear that most of her three-month engagement was spent focused on planning the wedding day and not what comes after, like, say, where they might want to live.
They didn't compromise. Working on solvable problems together is key, says John Gottman, author of Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work and co-founder of the famed Gottman Institute. If Kris truly wanted to live in Minnesota and Kim couldn't imagine leaving L.A., they could have easily bought a house in both cities and spent some time in each.
There were hints of contempt. Along with criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling, contempt is one of "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," according to Gottman, who's pretty accurate in being able to predict which couples are headed for divorce. In a preview clip of the E! show Kourtney and Kim Take New York, Kim wonders how can she keep her career alive if she's in Minnesota and not L.A. Kris' response? "Baby, by the time you have kids and they're in school, no one will care about you." That may be true but, ouch!
They were too materialistic. A just-released study says focusing on money and possessions can hurt a couples' happiness and stability. Remember when Kim burst into tears after losing a $75,000 diamond earring after Kris playfully pushed her into the waters in Bora Bora? That was just one sign of many.
Still, if nothing else, the reality TV stars' whirlwind courtship and marriage has an important message for anyone who ever hopes to live happily-ever-after: Better to put a lot more thought into planning your life together than your "big day." Now, that's reality.