Chicago Cubs infielder-outfielder Ben Zobrist and his wife Julianna Zobrist, a Christian music artist, have decided to end their 14-year marriage, according to reports from several news outlets.
The Christian couple, both the children of pastors, have been bold about their faith in Christ over the years, pointing many others to Christianity and talking about how their faith helps them through life’s struggles. But they’ve also been living high pressure lives in the spotlight.
Stunned fans have been posting prayers for the couple on social media, like “Leslie” who wrote on Twitter: “I pray for the Zobrist family during this time.”
The Chicago Tribune reports the couple has filed for divorce in separate states. Ben Zobrist, 37, filed last week in Williamson County, TN, where the couple has an offseason home outside of Nashville. Julianna, 34, filed in Cook County, IL, according to the newspaper.
Julianna did not give a reason in her court papers why she’s seeking a divorce. But Ben claimed in his filing that his wife “has been guilty of inappropriate marital conduct which renders further cohabitation impossible,” according to the Tennessean. The newspaper reported the filing says, “Husband is unsure if the marriage can be salvaged.”
Ben and Julianna wed in Iowa City, Iowa in December of 2005 and have a son and two daughters.
The Cubs organization allowed Zobrist an indefinite leave of absence earlier this month. Joe Maddon, the team’s manager, told the Tribune he didn’t know when he would return.
“I couldn’t even begin to surmise that,” Maddon said before Wednesday’s game against the Reds. “I have no idea. I totally respect the man’s privacy. I totally respect the man. I feel for him.”
Ben, Julianna and their children were featured as “The All-American Family” in the cover story of Parade Magazine in 2017.
The couple had expressed their love for each other on social media for the last several years.
They met through Julianna’s sister’s husband, Dan Heefner. Heefner and Zobrist were teammates and roommates at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL, according to the newspaper. But the couple didn’t date until she attended college at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.
Zobrist was instrumental in the Cubs’ winning the World Series in 2016. He was named Most Valuable Player for the series, which saw the Cubs reclaim the World Series Championship title for the first time in 108 years.
As CBN News reported in 2016, Zobrist was happy to return to Chicago with the Commissioner’s Trophy for Cubs fans, but had noted what people really need is Jesus Christ.
“We know that as a Christian athlete, people are watching, and so we want to be the best example that we can be,” he said in a 2013 interview with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as reported by ChristianExaminer.com. “But at the same time, I want people to know that grace is for everyone. We all need grace. We all need Christ….That is the message the whole way we look at everything in our lives.”
In an interview with CBN.com about her third album “Shatterproof,” which was released in 2016, Julianna spoke of the need for the gospel of Jesus Christ to saturate everything she does.
“We all need a savior. We all need rescuing. There’s not one of us that is exempt from that,” she said. “Once we see that part then we understand the Scripture that says, ‘While you were yet still a sinner, He died for you.’ I want that message. A message that is soaked in truth.”
While the Zobrist’s lives have been filled with successes, they’ve also been tumultuous in some ways. In just a few years’ time starting in 2014, they moved from Tampa to Oakland to Kansas City to Chicago. In that time, Ben won a World Series championship and Julianna recorded a new album while also raising two young children and giving birth to a third.
In a recent interview, CBN asked Julianna how she maintains stability, and she replied, “That’s a great question. If you can figure that out can you just let me know? That would be great. (Laughs) Oh man, it has been a wild, wild ride. It is a story that you cannot write on your own. You can’t make it up. It has just sort of happened.”
“We really felt like we have been standing under the water hose of God’s blessing. It’s really not an issue of balancing to me. When you so highly prioritize your family there really isn’t much of a balancing act to happen because they are going to be your first priority regardless. We do have to be very detailed oriented, very scheduled. We have a weekly family meeting about our schedule for the next week. I know without the shadow of a doubt that when we look back in 20 years I will say that in no way did we sacrifice our family on the altar of careers. That’s not something that we are willing to do. So, we are eyes wide open to that temptation and we do everything that we can to keep priorities where they should be.”