The Best Explanation of the GSR Divorce

The most asked question before and since the finale aired was ‘Why did Grissom and Sara divorce anyway?’ I’m not a Tumblr person, but I was linked to this beautiful explanation:

Anonymous asked: I don’t get it though if they loved each other so much why did they divorce

hey, anon!

ironically? because they love each other so much.

and also because they are awkward, self-sacrificing dummies who sometimes have trouble expressing their feelings.

more discussion after the cut.


so here is the thing: grissom and sara have always loved each other, but they also have had a lot of communication problems over the years, and being married long-distance really compounds those problems for them.

when sara returns to vegas in season ten, she does so fully believing that it is only on a temporary basis—i.e., because the lab needs someone to fill-in on night shift after the abrupt departure of riley adams and because she and grissom are waiting on funding for their joint research grant to come through. she expects she’ll be in vegas for a few months and then be back in paris with grissom soon enough.

but that’s not what ends up happening.

for whatever reason—the show never explains why—the research grant never gets picked up, and sara ends up staying in vegas long-term. meanwhile, grissom takes a teaching position at the sorbonne.

and at first, this situation works out okay, as both grissom and sara make time to visit each other monthly and to talk daily on the phone. as sara tells her mother-in-law in episode 11×13 “the two mrs. grissoms,” her and grissom’s marriage is unconventional, but it works for them.

things only start to change when their communication begins to deteriorate. as i talk about here, grissom and sara don’t stop seeing and talking to each other all at once, and neither do they do so because they fall out of love. rather, it is just a gradual process—something that happens because they live on separate continents in different time zones, and both of them are very busy with their careers. it starts out with a few seemingly innocuous “i’m swamped right now; could i call you back later?” type conversations, but it eventually turns into them missing their usual daily talks with some frequency.

the more calls they miss, the more awkward it becomes for them when they finally do get a chance to catch up with each other. missed talks turn into missed visits (see episode 11×13 “the two mrs. grissoms”), and, before you know it, they’ve fallen out of touch. even so, they still love each other, as we see in episode 13×03 “wild flowers,” when sara calls grissom to wish him a happy anniversary on the day they first got engaged, leaving an “i love you” message on his voicemail.

soon the lack of contact starts to wear on both of them. they miss each other a lot, but they can’t seem to make the time to see or talk to each other—not now that they’ve both built up these lives in which the other one only plays a very small (physical) part.

the obvious solution would be for one of them to move to where the other one is, but, the thing is, they both erroneously believe that the other one didn’t want that.

sara thinks that because grissom has stayed abroad for so long, he doesn’t ever want to come back to vegas, so she won’t dare ask him to, because she fears he’ll say no (and that kind of “rejection” would break her heart), and she also won’t go to where he is herself because, again, she thinks he’s built up this whole life without her, and she doesn’t want to impose on him.

grissom thinks the same about sara (i.e., that she has stayed in vegas for so long now that that’s where she must really want to be, and he doesn’t want to interfere with her life or work there).

since grissom probably isn’t very forthcoming about communicating his feelings—because he oftentimes has trouble in that regard—sara mistakes his silent suffering for him preferring to be alone; she believes that if he doesn’t voice how much he misses her, then he must not miss her at all, when really the opposite is true (i.e., he misses her so much that he can’t even begin express how much so).

on the other hand, sara does communicate her feelings, though not in a straightforward way—i.e., she doesn’t come right out and say to grissom, “i’m sad because i miss you, and i want us to be together;” she just can’t help but sound sad when she talks to him. and that being the case? grissom just thinks he’s making her sad without really fully understanding why.

he’s still got sara and heather’s words from season nine ringing in his ears: “sometimes not making a decision is making a decision.” so he sees that sara has made sort of this passive decision to stay in vegas—not realizing that all she’s really waiting for is an invitation from him to go to where he is or for him to come home to her—and he decides he has to support her in making it.

just like she tried to do for him back in season nine (see episode 09×05 “leave out all the rest”), he decides to “set her free” in order to give her a chance at happiness. he thinks she’s miserable being tied to him without having him present in her life, and he feels guilty about it, so he decides to be the one who makes the change.

it’s something that breaks his heart to do, but he loves her so much that he feels compelled to move forward. in his mind, he’s doing something for sara that she can’t do for herself but needs done. he thinks he’s being merciful, sacrificing his own wants and needs to do right by her. he knows he’ll always love sara, but he would rather love her from afar than keep hurting her by maintaining their ties to each other even when they aren’t together.

so in episode 13×11 “dead air,” he calls her and says they should get divorced—which is, of course, just the opposite of what sara actually wants.

but, unfortunately, she doesn’t communicate what she actually wants to grissom. see, she thinks that if grissom is asking for a divorce, he must be doing so because he wants a divorce—i.e., he must have grown so comfortable living alone that he’s decided he doesn’t need her anymore.

and sara has always feared rejection more than just about anything, especially when it comes to grissom. so she can’t bring herself to fight it. if he “doesn’t want her,” then what is there for her to do? she has to accept his decision. she can’t handle remaining in a relationship with grissom if she thinks even for a moment that he doesn’t want to be in that relationship as much as she does.

so she consents to the divorce, even though it breaks her heart to do so. she knows she’ll always love him and that she’ll never love anyone else again, but she figures she has no choice but to accept the status quo and soldier on.

she copes by throwing herself into her work more than ever before, but, as we see throughout seasons fourteen and fifteen after the divorce, she is still very much in love with grissom and misses him intensely.

in the meanwhile, grissom “copes” with the divorce by joining a sea shepherd “ocean peace” organization, which is originally what sara wanted him to run away with her to do in season nine. he names his boat after a character in a book they’ve both always loved. he thinks about her all the time, but he tries his best to stay out of her life because he doesn’t want to hinder her in any way; he just wants her to be happy.

—and that brings us to the finale, when, despite his “good intentions,” grissom can’t help but return to vegas to see sara when given the opportunity to do so.

he has never been able to help himself when it comes to loving her; he has always tried to set up all these arbitrary rules for himself in regards to her, but he inevitably ends up breaking them.

grissom still loves sara, and sara still loves grissom. both of them erroneously think that the other one wants to maintain their split—but then they start spending time together, and, despite the awkwardness of interacting as a divorced couple (and sara’s intensely hurt feelings from grissom “rejecting her” two years ago), it actually feels really nice, just being around each other again.

so despite the walls sara tries to put up around grissom to protect her heart, she starts to betray the fact that she still loves him through her actions, and he starts to notice it. still, he doesn’t dare to hope that she would ever take him back—hence all his talk about how he will remain a “lonely whale” forever.

sara likewise still thinks that grissom doesn’t want her and even believes that he may have “moved on” to heather—hence why she wishes him luck finding what he’s “looking for” but ultimately doesn’t try to stop him from leaving at the end of the episode.

it takes some intervention from lindsey willows to get sara to see that grissom has actually loved her all along and that he regrets their divorce as much as she does.

and once sara is armed with that knowledge (i.e., once she knows for sure that grissom loves her back and that he wishes they could be together again)? that’s when she realizes that it’s more than worth it for them to try again.

grissom and sara’s love for each other has never been in question, and a lack of love has never been the problem between them. it’s always been an issue of communication and distance. and in the finale, they overcome those problems, seemingly forever now.

so, yeah, that’s my take on why grissom and sara divorce. they are a couple of flawed human beings who love each other a lot but make a big, devastating series of mistakes. luckily, they’re able to overcome those mistakes eventually—and it’s a good thing that they do, because they are both so happy when they’re finally together again.

“omnia vincit amor; et nos cedamus amori.”

Credit: AJ — Addicted to Storytelling

That is basically the best explanation there is.

12 thoughts on “The Best Explanation of the GSR Divorce”

  1. OMG!!! this is the best.. it all make sense.. yes.. they always had problems to communicate their feelings.. but we always knew the lack of love wasn’t a reason, was the opposite.. i think, the biggest sacrifice in love, is putting the happiness of the person you love above of yours, if you want their happiness and if that means is not with you, then you have to accept it.. hat is why GSR is THE PERFECT couple.. cuz Sara and Grissom aren’t perfect.. just human beings with flaws, they make mistakes like everyone.. but their love so big and real that even when they try to denied ..they just can’t

  2. Wasn’t there something in season 14 about a pregnancy and miscarriage? Or was I dreamin? That was an excellent explaination of why they got a divorce.

  3. Yeah, I totally agree. Of course, I was sad when they divorced but I always understood why. And this is a good explanation to why. Good work! ^^

  4. Don’t forget that Griss went to Peru on an archeological dig. Where the video call happened on the 2 Mrs Grissoms.

  5. I really like this and it’s something I’ve felt myself for a while as well. I just hope that in the “future”, the Grissom/Sidle family learns how best to communicate and how best to meet each other halfway. Because I might be an avid shipper, but Mr. Doesn’t Communicate And Has To Talk To Heather About How He Feels All These Years Into The Relationship needs to grow up a bit. 😉

  6. They love each other so much and they want what’s best for the other person and tend to give themselves short shrift.
    “I’m too old for her.”
    “I’m not good enough for him.”
    “There are all these other guys who want her.”
    “I’m not enough to keep him interested.”
    And on it goes.

    As has been said, so much of their communication is non-verbal: gazes, smiles, wiping away a tear. Maybe they can work it out for good now. 🙂

  7. This is a fantastic explanation. Two flawed (as we all are) human beings who somehow found each other. He once left everything behind because he had to go after Sara. She just returned the favour and this time there has at least been a little communication. Also hoping the DVD when it comes out shows any cut scenes. It seems to me that Marg said that Catherine’s last line was “good for her” which we never heard her say, at least in my memory. I am wondering if there was a scene where Sara leaves the office and Catherine sees her. Not sure anyway. If you remember her saying it, let me know.

    1. @Susan McNicoll: There was a cut scene where Ecklie tells Catherine she’s the new lab director (because Sara left). And that’s where Catherine says “Good for her.” It’s literally about how Catherine is happy Sara went for Grissom.

      1. @Mika E. (Ipstenu): Thanks Mika. That is more or less how I had it worked out in my head. I guess they did not have enough time for everything and also decided not to tell us in advance she was going after Grissom. What a beautiful love story it was (and is).

      2. @Susan McNicoll: would have loved to see cath say that. Wonder how/in what scenes Sara’s last line of “wait, wait!” Would have been used. Hope we get a lot of extras with the DVD.

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