Street Smarts: Divorce and Addiction

Comedian John Mulaney is famous for his “street smarts”, “horse in a hospital” and other great bits. What is not funny is his announcement that he and his wife of six years, Anna Marie Tendler, are divorcing, they made the announcement after Mulaney was released from rehab for cocaine and alcohol addiction.

addiction divorce

A Horse Loose in a Hospital

According to Page Six, Mulaney checked himself into rehab late last year after struggling with alcohol and drug abuse. A spokesman for Mulaney confirmed the divorce to Page Six and added, “John will not have any further comment as he continues to focus on his recovery and getting back to work.”

His estranged wife, Tendler, is an artist who works across many mediums and is a master’s candidate in NYU’s Costume Studies program — and added through her spokesperson:

“I am heartbroken that John has decided to end our marriage. “I wish him support and success as he continues his recovery.”

In December, Mulaney entered a rehab facility in Pennsylvania for 60 days for treatment for cocaine and alcohol addiction.  In February, he exited the program and entered outpatient care. Mulaney has been vocal about his struggle with substances in the past. He often discussed his sobriety and the issues that led up to it in his stand-up sets and interviews.

In a 2019 interview, Mulaney revealed he began drinking at age 13. “I drank for attention,” he said. “I was really outgoing, and then at 12, I wasn’t. I didn’t know how to act. And then I was drinking, and I was hilarious again.”

Addiction & Divorce

I’ve written about the intersection of addiction and divorce before. Ironically, scientists at the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions found that couples where only one spouse was a heavy drinker had a much higher divorce rate than other couples.

However, when both spouses were heavy drinkers, the divorce rate was the same as for couples who were not heavy drinkers at all. And that’s the surprising outcome:

50% of couples in which one partner was imbibing significantly more than their spouse ended up divorcing. However, that number dropped to 30% for couples who possessed similar drinking habits, regardless of if they were heavy or light drinkers.

What researchers have concluded is that heavy drinking spouses may be more tolerant of negative experiences related to alcohol due to their own drinking habits.

While alcohol is legal, and certain type of drugs are becoming legal in many states, they can have a big impact in your custody or divorce trial, because drugs and alcohol impacts how the court crafts a parenting plan, including the time-sharing with children.

Generally, for purposes of establishing or modifying any kind of parenting plan – which governs each parent’s relationship with his or her child and the relationship between each parent – courts look to the best interest of the child as the primary consideration.

However, what does the “best interest” test for child custody mean when discussing drug or alcohol abuse?

A determination of the best interests is made by evaluating a number of statutory factors affecting the welfare and interests of the child and the family, including, the parents’ ability to maintain a substance abuse free environment for the child.

One Black Coffee

“I wasn’t a good athlete, so maybe it was some young male thing of ‘This is the physical feat I can do. Three Vicodin and a tequila and I’m still standing,’” he said. Who’s the athlete now?”

Mulaney struggled during the pandemic. In December, he revealed that he took a job as a staff writer on Seth Meyers’ “Late Night” show to help his mental health.

Prior to that, he appeared in a strange “Late Night With Seth Meyers” segment, where he made a rambling speech about the royal family, punctuated by long pauses.

His decision to go into rehab was met with a wave of support from fans and fellow comedians. However, some fans noticed that, around the same time, Tendler went silent on social media. Her Instagram account now solely focuses on her art.

Mulaney and Tendler — whom the star has often fondly referenced in his stand-up shows — reportedly met in the late 2000s during a group trip to Martha’s Vineyard. They were married in July 2014 in Boiceville, New York, by friend and comedian Dan Levy and the wedding had a 1920s and woodland-deco theme.

Mulaney shared photos on his Instagram and has written:

“Happy Valentines Day to a woman who is a cross between Joan Didion and Erika Jayne. Anna, you might as well be the Sea Org, because I’d sign a Billion Year Contract to be with you…Life would be so stupid without you”.

The Page Six article is here.

 

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