At the Break­ing Point

Seven years af­ter they wed, friends fear Car­rie Un­der­wood and Mike Fisher are headed for di­vorce

In Touch (USA) - - Cover Story -

What’s the big hurry, ma’am?” a po­lice of­fi­cer asked Car­rie Un­der­wood on the morn­ing of Jan. 29. The coun­try su­per­star was speed­ing through the res­i­den­tial streets near her home in Ten­nessee when a cop pulled her over and grilled her. “I wasn’t even pay­ing at­ten­tion,” Car­rie replied from in­side her gray Mer­cedes SUV, footage from the po­lice car’s dash­cam shows. “I know that’s no ex­cuse.” And yet it was good enough for the of­fi­cer, who let her go with a warn­ing to slow down. Still, Car­rie was shaken by the in­ci­dent. “I feel so ashamed! I may or may not have cried in my car,” she tweeted af­ter­ward. The oth­er­wise un­event­ful traf­fic stop left the nor­mally calm, cool and col­lected singer “su­per emo­tional,” says a Car­rie in­sider. “It was a red flag that some­thing is off.” That would be her mar­riage. The “Dirty Laun­dry” singer, 34, and her hockey player hus­band, Mike Fisher, 37, are on the verge of a split seven years af­ter they tied the knot. “She and Mike love each other, but like any cou­ple they’ve had chal­lenges. So much so that at times, Car­rie has been at the break­ing point,” the Car­rie in­sider tells In Touch ex­clu­sively. Through the years, every­thing from dif­fer­ing per­son­al­i­ties (she’s shy, he’s out­go­ing) to dif­fer­ing in­ter­ests (she’s a ve­gan, he’s an un­apolo­getic car­ni­vore) to dif­fer­ing sched­ules (their jobs have kept them both on the road) have taken a toll on the par­ents to 2-year-old son Isa­iah. Their big­gest prob­lem of late: Mike’s de­ci­sion to come out of re­tire­ment just six months af­ter he hung up his skates and re­sume his NHL ca­reer with the Nashville Preda­tors. “She re­ally thought that Mike’s re­tire­ment was go­ing to give them the time they needed to work on mak­ing their fam­ily stronger,” says the in­sider. “His de­ci­sion put a huge strain on their mar­riage. If Car­rie and Mike con­tinue to grow apart, it will surely end in di­vorce for them. And that would be heart­break­ing.”

DASHED HOPES When Mike an­nounced his re­tire­ment in Au­gust, the Sea­son 4 Amer­i­can Idol win­ner was elated that her hus­band —who, dur­ing a dark time last sea­son, suf­fered two con­cus­sions — would be safe…and at home. “Just by the very na­ture of their jobs, Car­rie is gone on long con­cert tours and Mike was away play­ing for the team a lot,” says a source.

In­deed, in 2016 alone, Car­rie played 92 shows in cities from Louisville, Ky., to Lon­don. And dur­ing the 2016–’17 NHL sea­son, the Preda­tors had more than 100 games, in­clud­ing matches all across the coun­try. “Car­rie has wanted more qual­ity time with Mike,” says the source. “They’ve only been on a cou­ple of va­ca­tions to­gether in the seven years they’ve been mar­ried.”

But life off the ice (where he was known for his vi­o­lent streak, even in a sport where vi­o­lence is rou­tine) left Mike “stir-crazy,” ac­cord­ing to a Mike in­sider. “He would play golf, go fishing, go hunt­ing to fill his time, but his heart was still with his team­mates in Nashville. The Preda­tors are hav­ing a great sea­son and might win their first-ever NHL cham­pi­onship, and it just ate at Mike that he hasn’t been a part of it.” Car­rie, who’s busy record­ing an up­com­ing al­bum, re­luc­tantly agreed be­cause he promised it would be a one-sea­son gig. “But Car­rie does have that fear he’s go­ing to get so mo­ti­vated by play­ing this sea­son that he’s go­ing to want to come back again next fall,” says the in­sider close to Mike.

Mike’s re­turn to work has thrown a wrench in one of Car­rie’s most im­por­tant plans: hav­ing another baby. “Car­rie’s been des­per­ate to have a lit­tle brother or sis­ter for Isa­iah,” says the Car­rie in­sider. “But she’s been strug­gling to get preg­nant. She was hop­ing Mike would be­come more in­volved in the process of pos­si­ble IVF treat­ments, if it came to that.” The sit­u­a­tion speaks to a larger is­sue in their mar­riage, says a friend: “He isn’t al­ways cog­nizant of Car­rie’s feel­ings and needs.”

Es­pe­cially now. Since a mys­te­ri­ous ac­ci­dent in Novem­ber — she fell down on a flight of stairs at her Nashville

home, leav­ing her with a bro­ken wrist and 40 to 50 stitches in her face — Car­rie has been an emo­tional wreck. Mike was out of town when the ac­ci­dent oc­curred and rushed back home when he found out about it, ac­cord­ing to Car­rie’s rep. (But no one has said where he was or why he was away.) “It took her two months to muster up the courage to talk about the full ex­tent of the ac­ci­dent,” says the friend. “It came right when she and Mike were try­ing to save their mar­riage and she was plan­ning her come­back to the mu­sic world. You feel for her — it’s just been one thing af­ter another.”

ROCKY START Their re­la­tion­ship had prob­lems from the out­set. The fiercely de­vout Chris­tians met in 2008 at a meet-and-greet fol­low­ing one of her con­certs. But there was one big is­sue: He was based in Canada, where he played hockey for the Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors, while she was in Nashville and on the road tour­ing. “I mean, can I make dat­ing more dif­fi­cult?” Car­rie later said. They chat­ted

‘‘ It might just be good to have that space to talk things out” — CAR­RIE ON COU­PLES THER­APY

for months be­fore meet­ing up again on New Year’s Eve. Their first kiss took place just as the ball dropped.

By the next De­cem­ber, the pair were en­gaged. They wed the fol­low­ing sum­mer, and for the first year of their mar­riage, they shut­tled be­tween homes in Nashville and On­tario, Canada, un­til Mike was traded to Car­rie’s home­town team, the Nashville Preda­tors, in 2011. “I don’t know if their mar­riage would have lasted this long if that hadn’t hap­pened,” says the friend. “Car­rie was ready to move to Canada full-time, but her heart re­ally wasn’t in it. At least it put the two of them in the same city.”

Yet over time, they re­al­ized how dif­fer­ent they truly are. “Mike is as gre­gar­i­ous as they come. He thinks noth­ing of invit­ing six peo­ple over, peo­ple Car­rie barely knows, and it’s very un­com­fort­able for her,” says the friend. The source adds that even some­thing as sim­ple as fam­ily din­ner can cause fric­tion. “Car­rie not only doesn’t eat meat, she doesn’t want to cook it, ei­ther,” says the in­sider close

to Mike. “She wants to be the kind of wife who makes her hus­band din­ner, but it be­comes a prob­lem. They of­ten cook two sep­a­rate meals pre­pared sep­a­rately, so din­ner­time isn’t re­ally a bond­ing process.”

As much as they both adore their son, hav­ing Isa­iah com­pli­cated mat­ters, too. “Your mar­riage does change a lot when you have a baby — it’s a whole new dy­namic,” Car­rie said in 2015. “You have to make it a point to not lose your­selves as a cou­ple. There’s so much go­ing on it be­comes easy to not fo­cus on your mar­riage any­more.”

To rem­edy that, she has sug­gested cou­ples coun­sel­ing, but Mike hasn’t shown in­ter­est — ever. “He doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily say no, but he just kicks that can down the road,” says the source. “He ad­mits he re­ally isn’t com­fort­able with the idea.”

And so Car­rie of­ten takes so­lace in her mu­sic. “Dur­ing times of strife, she thinks back to the lyrics to some of her hit songs,” says the source. “She re­lates heav­ily to ‘Starts With Good­bye,’”

which in­cludes lyrics like “I knew I had to do it, and he wouldn’t un­der­stand / So hard to see my­self with­out him, I felt a piece of my heart break.” “It was a song she wrote be­fore she met Mike,” adds the source, “but it hits home all the more to her now, be­cause she’s feel­ing those emo­tions her­self in a re­la­tion­ship, rather than just imag­in­ing what they would be.”

NOW OR NEVER Loved ones fear the pair are near­ing the end. “If Car­rie and Mike con­tinue to grow apart, they will have no choice but to di­vorce,” says the source. “This will tear Car­rie apart be­cause of her faith and the vows she took. Ob­vi­ously, it’s some­thing nei­ther of them wants, and the stakes are higher than they were a few years ago be­cause of their son. But more and more, they seem to be go­ing their sep­a­rate ways, and it could spell doom for their mar­riage. They have a lot of work to do if they are go­ing to re­dis­cover what they’ve lost in each other. And time is run­ning out.” ◼

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