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'

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.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicHunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original  manuscripts
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
lifeAiming to show breasts in a non-sexual way for cancer awareness
New Articles
i100... while following the referendum
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
Arts and Entertainment
tvBut something’s not quite right
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

    Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

    SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

    £1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

    Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

    £32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week