Seal and Heidi Klum's Split: Do Vow Renewals Always Mean Divorce?

What Women Really Think
Jan. 24 2012 5:38 PM

Seal and Heidi Klum's Split: Do Vow Renewals Always Mean Divorce?

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Heidi Klum and Seal in happier days.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The announcement that Heidi Klum and Seal are divorcing has prompted as many existential questions as bad “rose” jokes. If they can’t make it last, can anyone?

But their split shouldn’t really surprise anyone. After all, one of the things that made their love so famous were their annual vow-renewal ceremonies, which were more elaborate (and probably more expensive) than many people’s weddings. Past renewal-ceremony themes included “brides and grooms” and “white trash.” Charming.

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Perhaps the only thing that dooms a marriage more than an open relationship is a vow renewal ceremony—at least among celebrities and reality TV stars. Jon and Kate Gosselin renewed their vows in Hawaii (in a TLC special, of course) less than a year before their atomic split. Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony renewed theirs in 2010, about a year before filing for divorce. (As the New York Times noted in a 2010 piece on renewals, this was Anthony’s second time at such a ceremony; he had previously renewed his vows with his first wife.) Vicki Gunvalson, one of the original Real Housewives of Orange County, redid her “I dos” on camera, but the marriage ended about a year later. Madonna and Guy Ritchie did it, too.

In some of these cases, the renewal ceremony may have been a last-ditch effort to save a failing relationship. Of course, for those who split and then truly get back together, a renewal ceremony can mark a new beginning. But with celebrities, it can be hard to see the “I do-over” as a fresh start. In some cases, it seems like an excuse to throw a party (ahem, Seal and Klum).

If the renewal is the kiss of death, then we can expect a few more marriages to end in the coming years: Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox; Josh Duhamel and Fergie; Teresa Giudice from Real Housewives of New Jersey; Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon (their renewal was presided over by Al Sharpton). And … the Duggars.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. 

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