There are a lot of problems with fans blaming an athlete’s celebrity wives and girlfriends for his on-field struggles. For one thing, it advances a tradition of treating women as burdensome sorceresses holding men back from greatness. For another, it just doesn’t really make much sense. The best athletes in the world are too distracted by their pretty girlfriends? Doesn’t everyone in that equation deserve a little more credit than that?
But Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is turning the table and actually crediting his marriage to reality TV star Kristin Cutler (neé Cavallari) with on-field improvement. Asked by the Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh about sharpening his mental focus in the offseason, Cutler credited couples therapy.
“We have somebody on staff here. Kristin and I have done couples therapy also. I’ve never met with a quarterback guy or any (mental coach) in that regard. But just couples therapy and meeting with Gloria (Balague), who’s our in-house sports psychologist, you start getting insight on some things. You start seeing things differently. That definitely has helped me deal with stuff.”
Haugh then asked Cutler how he’s changed since coming to Chicago in 2009, suggesting that back then he would not have been caught openly discussing couples therapy. Here was Cutler’s response:
“I’m more thankful I’ve gotten to that point. I’m not surprised. You look at your 2006 self when (I) came into the league and it’s a drastic change. But if you’re not trying to get better in certain aspects of your life, you’re just going to stay the same. I think we can all improve. Things at home, things in your life away from work, if they’re not in order, it’s definitely going to affect your professional business.
“We talk about it all the time with guys in the locker room, we say, ‘Hey, if you’re going to go out every night and do these things, there’s going to be an effect. You’re going to have a problem working.’ It all correlates. But when you’re younger, you don’t really realize that. You think you can burn it at both ends. I did it myself when I was younger. You can get away with it for a little bit, but there comes a point where enough’s enough and I need to make some decisions.”
Cutler’s 2015 season wasn’t dramatically better than previous campaigns, though he did post the best QB rating of his career while throwing the fewest interceptions of any full season. The Bears entered the season looking like one of the NFL’s worst teams but were able to begin the year 6-7 before losing their final three games.
Whereas a year ago Chicago was ready to dig Cutler’s grave, now Haugh is writing sentences like this:
In retrospect, that detached prima donna seems like a different guy than the one who now undergoes regular introspection. Since then, Cutler has gotten humbled and married to Kristin Cavallari, gaining a perspective on life that makes the 32-year-old father of three a more likable player and respected team leader.
The lesson? Apparently couples therapy really works!