Of all the roles Kim Kardashian has taken on over the years—television icon, beauty mogul, prison reform advocate, mother of four—she’s handled few quite as deftly as supportive spouse.
Self-described “greatest artist that God has ever created” Kanye West never shy about offering his take on any situation, his bride has doggedly defended his right to state each and every opinion that might spring to mind.
His ardent champion, she’s remained in his corner throughout feuds with other musicians and the continued support of Donald Trump that had him delivering a politically charged rant on Saturday Night Live and tweeting about their shared “dragon energy.” And each time her reasoning boiled down to the simple fact that he always had her back as well.
“We’ve been through a lot together, you know,” she explained to Van Jones on a 2018 episode of The Messy Truth. “I’ve known him forever. He’s put himself up against the world for me when everyone told him ‘You cannot date a girl with a sex tape. You cannot date a reality show girl. It’s going to ruin your career.'”
The 21-time Grammy winner and Yeezy founder brushed off each warning with nary a consideration, she continued. “Everyone told him that…And to me, he was like ‘You’re not going to tell me what to do. I’ll let you know it’s going to be OK.’ He was always that strength for me. So I’ll always love and appreciate him for always standing up for me.”
If only he stood by her.
Because in the end it wasn’t his assertion that she once contemplated an abortion or his ill-advised presidential run that has Kim considering divorce as she once-again fights to save their six-year marriage. Quite simply, Kanye failed to be there for her.
Holed up in the $14 million Jackson Hole ranch, the work-life space he’s used to record his long-delayed 10th studio album, meet with artists on his GOOD Music label and create pieces for his fashion line, “He is focused solely on creating right now and is very extreme about it,” an insider told E! News of Kanye this past summer. “He will spend hours on hours creating new music, editing or creating pieces for his line, and doesn’t give himself breaks.”
Which translated to no time for Kim to breathe as she juggled her work, bar exam studies and the care of North, 7, Saint, 5, Chicago, 2, and 19-month-old Psalm at the family’s main Calabasas, Calif., homestead.
With the coronavirus keeping everyone largely locked down, turning parents into teachers and 24/7 entertainment, “2020 was hard being home with the kids at all times,” a close source explains. “Having four kids is chaotic and crazy. Kim was exhausted and spent. It was a stressful situation, she was studying for the bar and dealing with so much.”
Ultimately, though Kanye popped in for time with the kids, including a cameo at Kim’s October tropical birthday trip and a December family vacation to the Dominican Republic, “They have very different lifestyles,” says the source, “and that’s been made very clear.”
And no flower wall or display of Kenny G-fueled romance can fix that.
For a pair who sought out some of Europe’s most romantic spots to cement their commitment and continuously showered each other with increasingly lavish gifts (a casual $1 million Lorraine Schwartz choker as push present, a hand-painted Birkin for Christmas), their unraveling is proving to be every bit as banal as their coupling was lavish.
Their problems are “regular relationship issues,” a source told NBC News, dismissing any chatter of infidelity or something more nefarious. Which is why neither has fully given up hope that a straight-forward solution might remain.
“Kim and Kanye are still trying to work through things in their relationship,” an insider said. “They are in therapy working on their marriage. Divorce has been discussed, but Kim wants more than anything for their relationship to work. “
After all, this is the man who had her raving to E! News that “he really is the most romantic, sweetest person I’ve ever met in my entire life,” still riding high months after his epic 2013 marriage proposal—complete with 15-carat ring—at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
As she explained it to Cosmopolitan that same year, “I have this best friend who understands me and helps me through all my tough experiences, and vice versa, you know? It just feels like this is it for me. I used to think, Well, can you really have it all? The truth, the excitement, and the passion? Now I know you can.”
But seven years on, she’s struggling to view their connection through that same rosy prism.
“She and Kanye have been in counseling and trying to work through things, but she doesn’t have much hope,” admits the close source. “She has been in contact with her lawyers again to work out a settlement. She is getting her ducks in a row.”
With divorce attorney Laura Wasser, the high-powered attorney tapped to handle her 2011 split from second husband Kris Humphries, on retainer, “the divorce has been discussed off and on for a while,” says the source. Temporarily assuaged by Kanye’s plan to connect in the Dominican Republic ahead of the holidays, “Kim was at her wits end,” continues the source, “but she has never wanted to give up and will do anything to try and work through their issues.”
With their children front of mind, Kim continues to waffle as she faces the prospect of officially cementing the separate lives they’ve led for some time now. “It’s not about the marriage anymore, she’ll always care for Kanye but it’s over between them,” an insider explained. “Kim is only focused on what’s best for the kids. It’s a tough decision for her and she’s figuring it out.”
But no matter which way she veers, “Kim’s family is extremely supportive and will be there for her with whatever she needs,” says the close source.
That includes pitching in with childcare, she and older sister Kourtney Kardashian largely maintaining an open-door policy that allows their seven children to “go back and forth between their houses,” and offering up a sympathetic ear as the KKW Beauty founder works out exactly what she’s going to do. “No matter what Kim decides,” says the source, “they absolutely support her.”
After all, that’s just the Kardashian way.