Love, honour – and annoy
For Slavica Ecclestone it was his long hours; for Jennifer Aniston, his constant Twittering. Hannah Betts winkles out the ugly truth behind 'unreasonable behaviour'
Wednesday 25 March 2009
Spring, and 'tis the season not for rising sap and blossoming ardour, but for that still more time-honoured romantic phenomenon: unreasonable behaviour (UB).
For, behold, fessing up to a spot of unreasonableness allowed Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone a positively boy-racer divorce. The behaviour in question centred on his workaholic, 18-hour day tendencies. However, it is entirely possible that his ex merely woke up one morning and found it unreasonable to be married to Ecclestone.
And it's not just married types. Everybody's favourite desperado-next-door, Jennifer Aniston, is believed to have dispatched warbler John Mayer on the same grounds. The issue appears to have been that, while too busy to be in touch with his inamorata, Mayer was never too hectic to drop his addiction to social-networking-via-haiku site Twitter.
Recent gems charting their off/off relationship include his immortal: "Half of my heart is a shotgun wedding to a bride with a newspaper ring/HOMH is the part of a man who knows he's never really loved a thing". Not unreasonably, this made the Friends star retort that it was, like, totally over. Shortly after said dumping, Mayer's Twitter update lamented: "This heart didn't come with instructions." Mayer is 31.
Ah, unreasonable behaviour – can't live with it, can't break up in Celebrityville without it. For, while we civilians may behave unreasonably, unreasonable behaviour as a lifestyle choice is a VIP preserve.
The reason is clear. When slebs want something they want it now: a smoothie, an African nipper, a divorce. Without unreasonable behaviour they will have to wait two years for a decree nisi – years that might usefully have been spent totting up other marriages. Instead, with a spot of unreasonableness, it's adios, re-route the offspring, and find yourself the requisite Brazilian.
The beauty of UB is that it can be all things to all men; and, more specifically, a certain type of woman. Edith Wharton got this spot in The Custom of the Country, where her heroine – the sublimely monstrous Undine Spragg – defames not one, but two paragons of former husbands with the charge.
For although violence, abuse and the like may be a factor, what is more usual is a series of ostensibly blameless defects the cumulative effect of which is the mother of all hissy fits. Moreover, as with Spragg, the boot may often appear to end up on the wrong foot.
Word on the street is that Madonna alienated ex-husband Guy Ritchie by her refusal to eat normal food, subscribe to a normal religion, penchant for smothering herself in $800-a-jar unguents and rage when he would not concede that she was "bigger than Jesus". Accordingly, it comes as no surprise to find the singer divorcing him for the unreasonable behaviour that is watching television, enjoying the odd roast, and going to the pub.
Here, too, lies another truth about UB: all too frequently the behaviour in question is what the complainant appeared to sign up for. Thus, when Paul McCartney accused Heather Mills of the unreasonable behaviour of being rude, argumentative, and more than a little screwball, the collective response was: "Really, Sir Paul, d'ya think?".
Moreover, the Macca proceedings illustrate a further crucial dictum: canny divorcees keep it uncontested. This is vital in order not to devolve into: "You wouldn't fetch my leg so I could take a leak" type jiggery-pokery.
Otherwise, the form is clear. Keep things vague: "We have to maintain different continents". Stick to the correct platitudes: the behaviour should not be affecting one's health, yet "continuing". And, where possible, let benevolence reign – paradigmatic example, the ex-Mrs George Galloway's pointing to his friendships with other women, rather than, say, that leotard.
Meanwhile, so much is unreasonable behaviour a rite of passage for the contemporary celebrity that post-modern slebs – those famous merely for being famous – fall over themselves to get a piece of the action.
Accordingly, 90-second "closure" for UB became the most compelling claim to fame on the part of Big Brother poster girl Chantelle Houghton and the sometime pop singer she married, Preston of the Ordinary Boys. While Cheeky Girl Gabriela Irimia, although merely a fiancée, got to ditch MP Lembit Opik for being both dictatorial and not terribly adept at touching her bum – proof that a charge of unreasonableness may contain much by way of reason.
Life & Style blogs
What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
iPhone 6s photos leak shows new phone will be thicker than iPhone 6, could make cases defunct
Women really are more attracted to men who make them laugh, study finds
Worrying about your weight makes you more likely to pile on the pounds, researchers claim
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
- 1 Refugee crisis: Sweden the only European country with a majority favourable towards non-EU immigration
- 2 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 3 Malnourished two-year-old found being breastfed by dog in Chile
- 4 Bob Geldof offers to take four refugee families into his home 'immediately' as he condemns humanitarian crisis as a ‘f**king disgrace'
- 5 YouTube video shows woman verbally abusing takeaway staff 'because they used green peppers'
£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...
£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...
£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...