Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

$45 Million a Year Can't Buy Kobe Love

This diamond ring doesn't shine for him anymore.

Friday it was announced  that Vanessa Cornejo Ubrieta Laine Bryant had filed for divorce from her husband Kobe Bryant, five-time NBA champion of the Los Angeles Lakers. In a statement the couple announced their ten year marriage would end in 2012 due to "irreconciliable differences." The Bryants have two daughters, eight year old Natalia and five year old Gianna. Apparently even a $4 million  purple diamond ring could not paper over the gulf between them.

Kobe pursued Vanessa in typical mirage man fashion. He met the 17 year old high school junior while shooting a video for a rap album. Kobe proclaimed in an Esquire Magazine interview that it was love at first sight, a condition where the superficial qualities of looks and charm are emphasized over character and shared interests. In love at first sight, candor and open communication that might prevent insincere and misplaced affection are avoided at all costs.  Sexual attraction and pretending to be compatible drive the momentum of the relationship at this point. Kobe pulled out all the romantic stops, flooding her high school's administration office with flowers for his adored high school student and picking her up in his expensive Mercedes every afternoon after class as her classmates looked on in awe.  http://www.esquire.com/features/the-game/kobebryant1107-2

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Kobe submerged himself to conform to Vanessa's tastes to heighten the sense of commonality between them even though she was a sheltered Southern Californian high school girl and he was a cosmopolitan globe-trotting superstar. He used sexual longing and superficial knowledge to sweep her off her feet,  make an immediate commitment to her and spend every possible moment together. Yet two years into their marriage, an article appeared in Newsweek Magazine saying that Kobe and Vanessa were growing apart and Kobe had contacted a divorce lawyer. Then three months later the world was stunned when Kobe was arrested for sexually assaulting 19 year old hotel employee Katelynn Faber at The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera in Eagle, Colorado. Although the charges were eventually dropped, Kobe admitted to having an "adulterous sexual encounter" with Ms. Faber.

How does a man go from head over heels in love to straying like this? After the peak honeymoon stage of the relationship, resentment builds up as the man tires of always accommodating a virtual stranger. Real life takes the shine off the romantic fantasy. The differences that Kobe and Vanessa's parents, colleagues and friends saw so clearly now loom large.  Yet the smitten couple ignored the red flag when both sets of parents and Kobe's teammates refused to attend their wedding. A century ago that alone would have been proof of incompatibility and the courtship would have ended. Early Americans knew that a man's friends were a mirror of his true self.

The only way a mirage man can keep the superficial relationship going is to pretend everything is fine. Yet inside disillusionment takes hold. After realizing he doesn't really even like this person, the mirage man feels trapped. The mirage man may continue to observe the letter of the union, but this is the moment when many begin to live a dual life where they can once again do the things they really enjoy. Often this means returning to the singles scene  and looking for others to connect with. 

After the scandal broke, Kobe tried everything a millionaire superstar could to patch things up, giving Vanessa a $4 million eight carat, purple diamond ring and two years later surprising her with a re-commitment ceremony and a $50,000 dinner on the beach in Laguna, California. Yet by 2007 the rumors of discord returned. According to TMZ, "She's been dealing with these incidents for a long time and has been a faithful wife, but she's finally had enough." Now all the money and romantic schemes in the world can't save these once true romantic believers.

http://www.tmz.com/2011/12/16/kobe-bryant-wife-divorce/#.Tuvg_XNPkqU

J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.

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