What Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen’s Divorce Says About Sacrifice and Manipulation in Marriage

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Late last month, seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady and supermodel Gisele Bündchen announced they had finalized their divorce after 13 years of marriage. They did not give a reason for the parting other than to say they came to the decision “amicably” and remain committed to raising their two children together. But that hasn’t stopped the internet from speculating.

On Friday’s show, Megyn was joined by Dr. Laura Schlessinger, bestselling author and host of The Dr. Laura Program on SiriusXM, to discuss what may have gone wrong between Brady and Bündchen and the lessons about self-sacrifice that can be learned from their divorce.

What Went Wrong?

Megyn noted that the news of the Brady and Bündchen’s split has been “weighing” on her. “We don’t know them, but we’ve met them a couple of times,” she said of the former couple. “They looked like the perfect picture of happiness to me.” For one thing, their high-profile careers seemed well-suited for one another. “They’re both beautiful and they’re both super successful,” she noted. 

And yet that is reportedly what got in the way of their relationship. “Now the reports are that they’ve filed for divorce,” Megyn explained. “They say this marriage has fallen apart because he wouldn’t give up his football career… and she wanted him to give up his career.” She said she finds that hard to believe. “It just seems like who would let a beautiful marriage fall apart because of football,” she asked. 

Dr. Laura, who is known for her relationship advice and has two bestselling books on the topic – The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands and The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage – had a simple response to that question: “Nobody would,” she stated. In her view, the perception of the marriage likely did not match the reality. “It wasn’t, most likely… really a beautiful marriage,” she explained. “When there’s a husband and wife and they’re both hot celebrities, it becomes a business to portray a certain image because that’s part of the marketing of them.”

That “marketing” is what can make it difficult to see what is really going on behind closed doors. “On the outside we do see these beautiful people with these ‘perfect lives,’ and we buy it because we’re meant to buy it,” Dr. Laura explained. “It creates these images that even we smart people who are skeptical wind up believing and then… we hold ourselves to similar standards that are unattainable.”

Sacrifice in Marriage

It is no one’s business whether Brady and Bündchen divorced because of his football career, but Megyn and Dr. Laura agreed that it speaks to a larger point. “You have to make sacrifices for your marriage,” Megyn said. “You have to make some professional sacrifices for your marriage, which I think people don’t think about as much.”

Dr. Laura shared that she recently received a call from a listener who was trying to decide if he should dial back his career that he loved for the sake of his relationship. “I said to him, both people have to be willing to sacrifice for the happiness of the other,” she recalled. “If only one does that, that is, to me, almost an abusive relationship; but if both are doing that, that’s the perfect marriage.” The net-net: “Sacrifice is the one thing we need to be able to do,” she added.

To be sincere, that sacrifice must come without strings. “I’ve heard you talk to people before… about… if you make a sacrifice for your partner, then there’s another piece of it which is not holding it against them for eternity,” Megyn said. Such a scenario would not be a sacrifice but a “manipulation,” Dr. Laura noted. 

As she explained, sacrifice and manipulation “can look the same” but are very different. “Resentment is because the manipulation didn’t work,” Dr. Laura said. “‘I gave up this for you and now I’m expecting to get this’ is not the same thing as ‘I love you and I want you to be happy, so this is what I’m giving to you.’” Ultimately, a sacrifice is “a gift,” she concluded. “We don’t get resentful about heartfelt gifts.” 

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Dr. Laura by tuning in to episode 438 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.