Gisele Bündchen, wife of legendary quarterback Tom Brady, is said to be fuming that he is still playing football after retiring at the end of last season — and then “unretiring” six weeks later.
The supermodel hinted at her disappointment to Elle magazine, saying “I’ve done my part, which is [to] be there for [Tom]. I focused on creating a cocoon and a loving environment for my children to grow up in and to be there supporting him and his dreams.”
But now her support seems to have dried up, with Gisele taking solo trips to Costa Rica and, most recently, New York, while skipping Brady’s first game of his third season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In short, the Brazilian stunner has been “quiet quitting” her marriage — and many of us wives and mothers of a certain age can relate. At some point, the job of running a household, raising kids and supporting a husband’s career while keeping the romance alive can feel like a burden. Especially during the pandemic. Who among us can honestly say they haven’t fantasized about taking a break and finally putting ourselves first?
And while Gisele certainly has more help than most of us managing the household, that doesn’t make it any easier, one expert said.
“Invisible labor isn’t necessarily the physical things that need to get done,” said Gemma Hartley, author of “Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women and the Way Forward.”
“It’s noticing, planning and delegating. If you’re not the one that’s doing the work yourself, it’s overseeing it and making sure it gets done. Women see it as their responsibility, so even when we do delegate this work, it still seems to stay on our plates.”
Supporting her superstar husband likely means that Gisele is parenting by herself for at least half the year, celebrating Christmas on her own, managing the household and staff, dealing with bruised body parts and egos and even relocating to Tampa. (Tampa!)
“There’s an expectation that men can lean into their jobs more than women can, even when it’s not a celebrity couple,” Hartley continued. “[Men] do that by neglecting the invisible work that is needed to keep the relationship going, the life going and the family going.”
When she married Brady, Gisele was one of the most successful supermodels of all time, having graced more than 2,000 magazine covers and boasting a net worth of $400 million. But since 2009, she has devoted herself to raising her children with Brady, Benjamin, 12 and Vivian, 9, and stepson Jack, 15. While she didn’t exactly retire from modeling, she has limited her cover shoots and campaigns and stopped doing runway shows.
Brady, meanwhile, has won seven Super Bowls, is worth $250 million and is undisputedly the greatest quarterback of all time. What more does he have to prove?
As Gisele, 42, told Elle, “Now it’s going to be my turn. It’s not like I’m going to be in the valley forever.”
That might mean she just needs an extended vacation. But it could also spell divorce.
Many professional working mothers with husbands unwilling to take on the demands of the household “have a tough choice,” writes author Lara Bazelon in her book, “Ambitious Like a Mother.”
“Radically compromise who they are and what they want to stay in the marriage, or leave.”
A 2015 study by the American Sociological Association found that women initiate 69% of divorces, and among college-educated women, it’s 90%.
For now, it seems that Gisele is still making up her mind, although she has made it clear what she wants from her husband, telling Elle: “I would like him to be more present.”
“I have definitely had those conversations with him over and over again,” she added. “But ultimately, I feel that everybody has to make a decision that works for [them]. He needs to follow his joy, too.”
Instead of following his joy, perhaps it’s time Tom started giving his wife the support she needs — before it’s too late.
Jacquelynn Powers Maurice is a married mother-of-two living in Miami.