Avid readers of SofR who are also following the Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries’ marriage fiasco unfold on reality TV probably understand why the marriage didn’t work. Many of the factors that contribute to relationship dissolution are evident in their relationship and have been previously discussed on the site.
Opposites May Not Attract
Though Kim initially thought it was great that she and Kris were very different people (at the beginning of their wedding special, Kim says “I think Kris and I are a really good match because we’re so opposite”), their differences became a source of conflict in their marriage. Being from the same geographic region and having the same level of education helps a relationship succeed. Kim and Kris were 0/2. Kim is from LA and Kris is from Minnesota; Kris has a college education; Kim does not. Furthermore, Kim is a compulsive neat freak and, by her standards, Kris is a slob. It should be no surprise that they had difficulties adjusting to life together, as opposites really don’t attract.
Friends Know Best?
It was also clear that Kim’s sisters, Kourtney and Khloe, were not fans of Kris (see this post for more about why outsiders predict breakups best). In particular, Khloe was extremely vocal of her suspicions about Kris’ motives for marrying her sister and felt that he did not make an effort to bond with the family. This was especially problematic because Kim’s family plays a huge part in her life.
Kim is also a big believer in destiny. She has described success in life as having children and marrying Prince Charming. In addition, her sister Khloe has often said that Kim is in love with love and falls hard for every guy she is dating. As we know, destiny beliefs about relationships often undermine relationship functioning when things get rocky.
Mismatch of Sacrifices
In addition, Kim and Kris made disproportionate amounts of sacrifices to make their relationship work (see here for more about sacrifices). Specifically, Kris was willing to sacrifice his career to make their relationship work. Recall that Kris decided to return to Minnesota to train for the pending NBA season. When Kim confronted him about living in separate states, she insisted that because it was his offseason, he should be with her in NYC and says that he should simply fly back and forth between Minnesota and NYC. Though Kris initially reacted poorly to her demand, he eventually agreed to do what was best for their marriage by sacrificing his regular training routine to make his career work in NYC. Kim, on the other hand, was not even willing to entertain suggestions of sacrificing her career to Kris. Never once did she suggest that she travel between the two locations. Further, when discussing where they would raise their kids, Kim vehemently objected to raising kids in Minnesota because she would not be able to pursue her career there.
Unemployment and Divorce
Finally, during their 72-day marriage, Kris’s employment was uncertain due to the NBA lockout and his free agent status. Though the results are mixed, there is some research indicating that when men are unemployed, the likelihood of divorce also increases (for more see here).
In sum, Kim and Kris were clearly not meant for each other and the circumstances of their marriage made it much more difficult for them to make it work. However, it is also possible that their marriage didn’t work because another woman came between them (stay tuned).
Sabrina Thai - Graduate Student, Psychology, University of Toronto
Sabrina’s research focuses on relational social comparisons to better-off and worse-off others, including individuals' responses to learning that partners have performed better or worst than them. Sabrina is also interested in how individuals respond to encounters with highly successful relationships.
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