Marriage in a Jon-and-Kate America

Marriage in a Jon-and-Kate America

So, last night on Jon & Kate plus 8, the “life-changing” announcement was made: Jon and Kate Gosselin are getting a divorce. No one was surprised. And not many people have even raised an eyebrow. Why should they? It’s just another reality TV couple getting divorced.

But I couldn’t help but thinking… what does this tell us about marriage in today’s Jon-and-Kate America?

First, what about Jon and Kate’s marriage? They’re divorcing despite the fact that they have eight children together. Throughout the series, Kate has garnered a reputation for herself as a bossy, condescending, heartless bitch who walks all over Jon. And now, with Jon’s reported multiple affairs, he’s erased any sympathy he might have had for himself. The TV show has raised concerns by family members and fans alike about the effect it’s having on their children. Is it really a leap to think that perhaps the television show has had a negative effect on their marriage as well?

The concern I have is the apparent ease that Jon and Kate Gosselin ended their marriage with. Sure, things have been quite obviously hard for them lately. “Rocky” might be a nice way of putting things. But their attitude is seemingly one of just quitting rather than doing everything they could to save their marriage. Could they maybe have seen a marriage counselor? Stuck it out for the sake of their children? It seems like the best decision they could’ve made would have been to quit the TLC reality show and taken some time to heal the rift that has opened in their relationship. Certainly, sticking out the marriage would have been harder than just giving up. But instead, they chose to take the easy route, and make a few bucks while they did it — the divorce announcement episode pulled in a record 10.6 million viewers. And as Kate’s brother Kevin Kreider pointed out, they chose to make a decision that would be heartbreaking for their children known on national television. Divorce is life-shattering for the children involved, and Jon and Kate happily used the situation to get more ratings. Were they so concerned about their children’s welfare then? What they’re doing right now is selfish, exploitative, and cowardly. Rather than face the music, they’re hiding behind the cameras.

The thing that really bothers me about Jon and Kate Gosselin’s divorce is that it is all too indicative of the average American divorce. We have been bred to believe that we have the right to be happy no matter what, all the time. And if we aren’t happy, then we should walk away from whatever the situation is. When it comes to marriage, that mindset is especially ironclad. If the other person makes you unhappy, even for a short period of time, then you must leave. If things in your marriage are tough for a few years, then the marriage is a failure and you should get divorced. Thinking long-term is almost never practiced in today’s marriage culture, and Jon and Kate are just another example of that. And staying together for your children? A huge no-no, thanks to feminists.

The fact that Jon and Kate are getting divorced is sad, but what’s even more sad is what it says about the current state of marital affairs in this country. Because really, there are millions of Americans who are just like Jon and Kate Gosselin. And we sympathize. People who divorce shouldn’t shunned, but nor should we continue to think of divorce as the easy out that’s perfectly acceptable. Marriage should not be disposable, but unfortunately, in our Jon-and-Kate America, it is.

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  • John says:

    agree completely. My fiance and I were just talking about this last night while we watched. While Kate was the way she was, Jon allowed her to behave like that because he never set any boundaries early on. He eventually hit a breaking point and the complete opposite direction. Not to excuse Kate, but I’ve learned from experience, when you don’t crate boundaries in relationships, parties on either side will eventually take advantage, not on purpose, but because they can and it’s ok to them because the latter has allowed it.

    I’m disapointed to see Jon just give up. Like he said last night, “I’m excited, yet sad for the kids”, and “I’m only 32”. Excited? Why the hell are you “excited” about? Breaking your family apart and not even working to keep it going?

    After watching last night, Jon has lost ALL credibility in my book. I’ve been through some tough times with my fiance, but we ALWAYS fight for eachother. Never once do we just “give up” which Jon seems to have done.

    You’re right, this is the sad state of marriage in our country these days. It’s like divorce is no big deal anymore…


  • I’d agree heartily with you on the devastating consequences to the children(though arguably Jon’s purported affairs would have made a divorce legal in any era of American history).

    What disturbs me are 2 things: the fact that so many people eagerly tune in to such a train wreck (can’t we just live our own lives? Or enjoy TV without having to imagine that it’s real?), and the widely accepted idea (which you mention) of one’s happiness being conditioned on the behavior of others. Everyone thinks I’m callous for saying it, but you’ve got a right to expect fidelity and common courtesy from your romantic partner; you don’t have a right to them making you happy all the time.

  • Mat says:


    It’s a good example of what is wrong with marriage in this country, but I am truly puzzled as to why anyone would watch that crap.

  • Glenn says:

    I’ve been tuning into the show now and then the whole time it’s been on and been watching it less and less as time goes by. Just couldn’t take the way she treated him it got progressively worse as time went by. Until it became Kate plus 9 as Jon was just another child to be berated, who happened to watch the other children when Kate went on book tours or Larry King.
    I wouldn’t be surprised to find out Kate is Bi-polar what with her mood swings. I’m not trying to excuse Jon’s behavior as this running around with 20 somethings is just an attempt by him to get in a relationship where he ware’s the pants!
    I hope the show is canceled so the kids and the family are out of the lime light. I think the two older girls will have problem’s later in life because of this show, but hopefully it’s not to late for the sextuplets!

  • ModDem says:

    The real tragedy is how all of this affects the kids. Divorce is bad enough. But media coverage and the rest are inexcusable. Jon and Kate did a selfish money driven disservice to their kids by putting them on television.

  • God save those kids.

    And may God have mercy on those parents. I don’t.

    We owe a debt of gratitude to the feminists to show us how to stigmatize things. It’s really about all they’ve managed to achieve for the last third of a century or more. A man yelling at his wife the way Kate berates Jon…nowadays…that’s just intolerable. Her putting up with it: Equally intolerable.

    Now what we need to do is switch it around.

    There’s simply no call for a woman to behave the way Kate does. Even without cameras rolling. And I have no sympathy for men who put up with it. The decision to get divorced, itself…I have a tough time coming out and condemning it. I’ll help condemn having eight kids before the fact, sure.

    But I look at it like this: If I was married to a Kate Gosselin, and she came at me with that nonsense I’d be quick to respond with a neck-breaking “Ex-CUSE me??” And we’d be off to the divorce court. Where we belong. Women like this don’t deserve to live with evolved human beings like the rest of us.

  • Stephen J. says:

    There’s a fundamental principle of quantum mechanics which says, essentially, there are certain things you can’t observe without changing the thing observed.

    I think that applies very profoundly to our ever-televised age. The sheer awareness of the cameras, and the ulterior analysis of producers and advertisers, distorts the relationships on display in ways I doubt even the people involved really understand. What Jon and Kate might have been had they not been under scrutiny sixteen hours of every twenty-four, had they not been encouraged in blatant and subliminal ways to include the ratings potential in their decision-making process, had they had to turn to each other for support rather than to support staff or starbaggers outside the family — we can never know any of that. Because they made the choice to make their family their job and their performance, and the collapse of the lines between those spheres couldn’t help but warp all of them.

    The great deception of reality TV is that it makes us think we are seeing something “natural”, something “honest”, when the truth is that the simple awareness of being on TV distorts your reactions and behaviour immeasurably. There *aren’t* millions of couples like Jon and Kate, because Jon and Kate put themselves under the microscope for profit and turned out to be unable to withstand the stress. So while there may be some distressing commonalities, I think it would be a mistake to take the Gosselins as representative of married couples in America. They aren’t. They only appear to be.

  • Mat says:

    Actually Stephen,

    Yeah, there is. You’d be surprised at what you’d find in the land below the ivory tower.

  • Stephen J. says:

    There are millions of couples with eight kids who have their own reality TV show? Ivory tower notwithstanding, I doubt that.

    I agree that there is a “right to happiness” mindset that’s destroying all too many marriages in the West, and that in many ways the Gosselins appear to be a perfect embodiment of that. All I’m saying is that (1) we should take what the Gosselins *appear* to be with several large grains of salt, and (2) we should not assume that even their worst appearance is necessarily representative of the majority of marriages yet.

    It should be remembered that the famous “50% of marriages end in divorce” statistic is a misrepresentation of the actual data that doesn’t take into account the repeat factor, i.e. people who get divorced once are exponentially likelier to get divorced again and overweight the stats. More marriages survive than collapse, even today.

    The real social toxicity is in those transitory couples who never get married even once, and who separate and recombine regardless of whatever children may be involved, creating a generation with no expectation of having — or having to provide — stable family structure *anywhere*, to *anyone*.

  • Mat says:


    I think Cassy was referring to the divorce rate, not the fact that they had eight kids. In your last paragraph, you didn’t specify that fact.

    As for the transitory couples, I’m afraid that’s going to be a fact of life in the future (I know this issue on a personal level with my brother), even though I detest it.

  • Leniese says:

    Isn’t Jon cheating though? That’s enough for me to walk away from a marriage because why would I be with someone who’s just going to stick his pole in any female that comes by. Also why be in a miserable marriage for the rest of your life? But of course divorce is the reason I’m not getting married ever.

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