Episode 196: Celebrity Divorce? Tom Brady & Gisele Bundchen…Marriage Equality; Does It Exist?
What I was seriously blown away by was the fact that Gisele, who had amassed a greater fortune than Tom, agreed to sublimate herself and take herself out of the work that created her wealth, modeling; remove herself from the spotlight, which modeling puts someone in; and be a wife and Mom, allowing Tom to be in the spotlight, build a reputation in front of millions of people, and have it appear that Tom is the career leader in the family.
Now think about this for a minute, because it happens in families around the country: Why, in this modern era of everything turned inside out, would a high-earning, high-achieving, public figure like Gisele, agreed to taking a back seat to her husband’s fame and career? Are women still in the mindset to make motherhood and domesticity their primary roles, the roles that would define them?
True, Gisele still worked and created revenue, but not in the spotlight as she had done with modeling. She had a skincare line and wrote a book. But if I, who follow fashion as a passion, didn’t think Gisele was part of the working world because she was no longer on the cover of magazines and walking in fashion shows, I’m sure much of the world thought she was a stay-at-home mom without a thriving career before marriage, supporting her husband’s career because he was in the position of providing more wealth than her. And how wrong we all are.
What seriously surprises me is that she gave up so much for the sake of her husband’s career and for a traditional home life for their children. She put her ego aside, which had to be big enough to propel her to international fame and stardom, and allowed the ego of her husband to dominate the marriage.
But what doesn’t surprise me is the energy of the support that her presence at Tom’s football games gave him as he played to his heart’s content. When Tom unretired this year and returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers without Gisele and the two children in the stands, cheering him on, his dismal performance says it all. The energy that Gisele brought to his performance ability as a valuable part of the family team cannot be discounted. I’m doing a speech on Presenteeism for corporate America, a term used to describe people being at work but unproductive due to emotional pain. The title of the speech is Driven to Distraction. I think this applies to Tom Brady and his unproductive season so far.
Now to us, noncelebrities who face the same challenges with who gets the career, who becomes the stay-at-home parent, who gives up cultivating their skills and talents and earning potential for the promise of a better life financially directed by the working spouse, all for the prestigious role of running the household. Being in charge of the house and family is a profession unto itself, make no mistake; it is quite often far more difficult than going to work each day and focusing inward.
Until the divorce! Something happens to break the momentum of the traditional family, and it all falls apart. Unlike Gisele who has her own fortune to rely on, and revenue streams that can be cultivated to grow larger with more brand awareness, most stay-at-home moms face a very difficult time transitioning to the role of a working mother who can earn enough to support herself and her children. It is the rare working spouse who considers what their other spouse gave up to allow the working spouse to build a career and earning power when, in the divorce process, when dividing retirement accounts and providing spousal support/alimony comes up in the divorce settlement negotiations. And that has to change. There has to be an acknowledgment of the value that the stay-at-home spouse brought to the family and to the ability of the working spouse to be successful.
Everybody struggles with having a career and raising a family. It’s a rare family in which both parents work and both contribute equally to raising the family. Generally, it falls on one of the working spouses to spend more time with the children doing homework, driving the children to playdates and sports and social activities, and generally keeping the household running.
My point in using Tom and Gisele as the example for how the energy of commitment to the family team has a value, is Tom’s inability to win games this year with that one variable gone, Gisele and his children in the stands. It seems that when that family team disbanded, it affected his other team, the football team. And that energy exists in everyone’s marriage. Sometimes we don’t know what we have until we lose it. Cliché but true. There is marriage equality; a stay-at-home parent and spouse is just as valuable as the working spouse, and should be treated as such in the divorce settlement. The influence the stay-at-home parent and spouse has on the financial success of the family is quantifiable.
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