'Amazing Race 4' winners Reichen Lehmkuhl and Chip Arndt confirm end of "marriage"
By Reality TV World staff, 10/03/2003
After months of rumors about the status of the relationship of The Amazing Race 4 winners Reichen Lehmkuhl and Chip Arndt, who were billed as "married" during the show, Reichen has finally confirmed that they have split up -- although he says that the less-than-two-year marriage "officially" ended this past Sunday. Why? The stress of the show. Or maybe not.
In an interview with Metro Weekly, Reichen says that the couple, who were "married under God" in a February 2, 2002 ceremony at the Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles, had "been trying since we got back from the race to get along and work things out and it just wasn't happening. And we decided last Sunday in a very emotional discussion and conversation that it was best to just let each other go. So we're both now single, officially."
Reichen noted that he and Chip had requested the "married" title after a previous Amazing Race team, Joe and Bill (also known as "Team Guido"), were billed by CBS as "life partners". As he explained it, "Chip and I said, "We don't want it to say ‘life partners.' We consider ourselves married under God. We haven't registered our relationship with the government because we're not allowed to register our relationship with the government, but we had a ceremony. And we want to be known as married. So the producers met with the CBS executives and they made the decision to put married under our names."
While Reichen declined the opportunity to provide any "intricate details" as to the nature of the relationship's problems because "they really are our business," he seemed to wobble back and forth as to the impact appearing on the CBS program had on his marriage to Chip. When asked by the interviewer if The Amazing Race put a strain on their relationship, Reichen replied, "Yes. Through the race, we got to know each other really well because we saw each other put in situations that we had never seen before. And I think it augmented a lot of feelings -- a lot of stuff that was good as well as the stuff that was bad." Nothing new here; one of the most interesting aspects of The Amazing Race is the pressure that it puts on relationships, as discussed in this article on Salon.com.
However, Reichen then said that the show created more pressure on them after filming finished (the final stage ironically ended February 14, Valentine's Day), which makes us wonder exactly how strong their commitment to each other was, if it could be so significantly impacted by something as minor as having to keep their success a secret until the program aired. The self-proclaimed "gay role model" put it this way:
"But the real strain came after it was over. The day after we won, they called us into a meeting and said, 'We're not going to show The Amazing Race next week like we had planned. We're going to wait six months.' We weren't even allowed to tell anyone we had done The Amazing Race. And they told us that if the press found out that we were the ones who won, we would be sued for fifteen million dollars. So Chip and I only had each other for six months as a sounding board. And that put a lot of stress on the both of us because we had a lot of arguments. We kind of started falling apart. When it finally started to show we were relieved, but then it became even harder because everyone was like "Did you win? Did you win?" And we had to be like, 'Watch the show.' It was very anti-climactic for us."
Wow, what a strain. We can't help but wonder that, if Reichen and Chip had such difficulty maintaining the details of the program private for six months when they had each other to talk to, how could other reality television winners, ranging from original Survivor winner Richard Hatch to virtually every other reality-show winner since, deal with the stress of not being able to tell anyone how they did, which is standard operating practice in reality programming. Could it really be harder to have a secret that you could share with your significant other -- a person that you had pledged to be with "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer"? We also note that the six-month gap between Reichen and Chip's triumph and the broadcast of the final episode is the STANDARD delay for Survivor.
Perhaps sensing that he was on thin ice, Reichen changed his story at the very end of the interview, shifting primary blame for the split away from The Amazing Race 4: "I think the race added some big stress, but I think the problems that Chip and I have are out of the scope of the race. So I don't think going on the race or winning it had anything to do with it." Needless to say, we agree.
Although the point of the interview was for Reichen to support the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an organization dedicated to helping gays and lesbians in the military, which Reichen once contacted during his term as an Air Force officer after a female enlisted person at an L.A. airbase uncovered his sexual orientation and tried (but failed) to have him discharged, we can't help but feel that Reichen's answers about Chip shade the truth more than a little. If Reichen was committed to his marital partner Chip in one way or another until last week, then why, in a June conversation, did he refer to Chip as his "ex-boyfriend"? On the other hand, perhaps some questions don't need to be asked.