To understand the Watts case, and to further understand why, we have to understand the Emotional Narrative surrounding this case. Not our emotions – theirs. Although this is an important conversation, it’s also important to have this conversation in an intelligent and reasonable way.

Whether we admit it or not, everyone interested in the Watts case is extremely interested in Nichol Kessinger. If there are those who hate Chris Watts, there seem to be legions more who despise the mistress, many putting all the blame on her for what happened.

On CrimeRocket, the stats speak for themselves. Stories or analysis featuring Kessinger are far more popular than the other stories, and those simply featuring footage or photos of Chris’ mistress are the most popular of all. Why? People want to see what she looks like. People want to get to know her, and try to understand what Watts saw in her.

Many have looked scornfully at the footage, comparing Shan’ann favorably to Kessinger, or Kessinger unfavorably to Shan’ann. In this episode, we want to provide some intelligent analysis to a debate that I believe is important, but it’s important we conduct it intelligently, which is to say, using objective facts, using logic, using intuition and sensitivity – in sum True Crime Rocket Science.

Now please understand this. We still do need to be mindful that Shan’ann is no longer with us. And we do want to be mindful that no matter what the problems were in her marriage, no one deserves to be murdered for whatever reason. That’s not what we’re talking about here. So when we’re having this conversation, we’re not even thinking about that. We’re thinking about the relationship dynamics when Shan’ann was still alive, going back several years into their marriage. What made Chris Watts fall out of love? What attracted Watts to Kessinger, and Kessinger to him? And who, ultimately was the more attractive partner?

In the video posted recently about motive, we looked at the short, thin-slicing answer to this question. And then we looked at the longer version. We’re going to do the same here, but in a lot less detail on both counts. Let’s start with the longer, more general version of why couples break up and marriages don’t last, examine the stressors on the Watts family and then move on to Kessinger versus Shan’ann.

1. American Couples – Blumstein and Schwartz

Money, work and sex. This the trifecta that couples need to get right in order to have a longer marriage. In the Watts case, speaking in general terms, both seemed to have screwed up their money situation, and neither had stellar careers. If they had, the money situation wouldn’t have been as bad as it was. They’d gone bankrupt in 2015, but somehow they hadn’t learned the lesson from that catastrophe.

There are seven references to bankruptcy in the discovery documents. Most of them come from Nichol Kessinger.


In the CBI Report the word bankruptcy comes up twice.


At 5:45 Chris Watts quotes Blumstein and Schwartz:

“When a relationship breaks up, it’s normally the more attractive one that leaves…”

Watts then shrugs, saying he’s not sure whether that’s true. What do you think?

This also raises another prickly question – between Shan’ann and Watts, who was the more attractive part of the couple?

The three ”sexiest” areas when it comes to couples: money, work and sex.


Source: New York Times

the couples who are happiest are those most equal in power, in the freedom to initiate sex, in decision-making…

”Husbands and wives who do not believe that marriage should be forever are less willing to pool (their money).” ”Married couples who disagree about the wife’s right to work have less stable relationships.” ”When heterosexual women are attractive, they have more varied sex lives.” ”For all types of couples, possessiveness escalates when one partner fears the other might have a meaningful affair.” ”A fixation on beauty makes it difficult to create a stable relationship.”


Source: New York Times

Women, lesbian or straight, do not like to dominate, to be the more powerful partner, to feel superior; they want a balance, they want equality.


Source: New York Times

(So important is a balance of power to lesbians that they are the group whose members are most likely to have split up, to resent being put in a more powerful role. Indeed, they are the group that has sex least often, since a common lament among them was dislike for being the one to ”always initiate sex.”) Men, homosexual or straight, want to preserve their power and dominance; they care about the partner’s looks; they are still less ”relationship-centered” than women.

Philip Blumstein and Dr. Pepper Schwartz were sociologists at the University of Washington in the late 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s. Blumstein and Schwartz had begun studying sexual behavior in 1972. Eleven years later the researchers collaborated on a book simply titled American Couples.



On October 23rd, the New York Timespublished the following review of the book.


A little more about Philip Blumstein:

[Blumstein was a] social psychologist skilled at analyzing everyday encounters, friendships, and business relationships, Philip was hired as a sociology professor at the University of Washington in 1969 and became renowned for his research in human sexuality and relationships. He had a reputation for fastidious methodology and a talent for interpreting data.

A little more about Dr. Pepper Schwartz via Wikipedia:

Dr. Pepper Schwartz is an American sociologist and sexologist teaching at the University of Washington in Seattle. She is the author or co-author of numerous books, magazines, website columns, and a television personality on the subject of sexuality. Schwartz is notable for her work in the 1970s and early 1980s that culminated in the book, with Philip Blumstein, American Couples: Money-Work-Sex which surveyed lesbian couples, gay male couples and heterosexual couples. Schwartz also… writes the column The Naked Truth.

“When a relationship breaks up, it’s normally the more attractive one that leaves…”

Is that what happened in the Chris Watts case? Was Chris Watts becoming “the more attractive one”…?



2. Nichol Kessinger versus Shan’ann Watts

“So damn sexy…”


Who, ultimately was the more attractive partner?