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‘The Golden Bachelor’: Theresa Nist Addresses Fans’ Reaction to Divorce from Gerry Turner

Just days after announcing their split, the pair face both support and dismay from viewers

spinner image The Golden Bachelor couple Theresa Nist and Gerry Turner smiling
Theresa Nist, left, and Gerry Turner.
John Fleenor/Disney

Some fans were shocked when, on Friday morning, the now-famous couple who met on the ABC reality dating show The Golden Bachelor — Gerry Turner, 72, and Theresa Nist, 70 — announced that they are divorcing after about three months of marital not-quite bliss.

“I think we just think it’s best, for the happiness of each of us, to live apart,” Turner explained on Good Morning America. He filed for divorce hours later, citing an “irretrievable breakdown,” according to court documents obtained by Page Six.

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Snarky reactions were quick to follow the announcement, including, on X, “That’s what happens when you make a mockery of marriage,”​ and a sarcastic “Who could have predicted this [laughing emoji].”

But there was also, “​Life happens and we wish you only the best.”

​Yesterday, Nist posted a note on Instagram, along with a quote from Dr. Seuss: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” She called her Golden Bachelor moment “one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” and thanked everyone who has offered her “love, kindness and support.” She implored the rest to find a bit of compassion: “For everyone else who is confused and angry and who does not understand, please try to find it in your heart to understand and to try a little kindness. Not just for me but for the world and for everyone you encounter.”​

She added, “I truly thought it was going to last forever. It turns out, even at the age of 70, you don’t know everything.”

When Turner and Nist announced their split on the interview with Juju Chang, Turner explained, “Theresa and I have had a number of heart-to-heart conversations, and we’ve looked closely at our situation, our living situation, so forth and — and we’ve kind of come to the conclusion mutually that it’s probably time for us to — dissolve our marriage.”

And yes, Turner clarified for Chang, that means they are divorcing.

The pair met as part of the new offshoot of the ABC Bachelor franchise, encompassing The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, where a single man or woman is introduced to a few dozen members of the opposite sex who wrestle each other for the star’s time and attention. At the end of each episode, the star hands out roses to those he or she is still interested in and sends one person packing.

The Golden Bachelor, which won the AARP Movies for Grownups award for best reality show, focused on singles age 60 and up. It aired last fall, with 22 women vying for the attention and love of the handsome, blue-eyed Turner — a retired restaurateur in Indiana whose high school sweetheart and wife, Toni, died suddenly in 2017 after 43 years of marriage.

There were lots of tears (mostly Turner’s; the guy is a crier) and emotional drama. Turner seemed to be extremely enamored with another woman, fitness instructor Leslie Fhima, 65, but after overnight dates with each of the two remaining women (Fhima and Nist), he struggled with his decision, and had to let Fhima down hard at the end. “If I’d known this would be how much pain I would cause, I would have never taken the first step in this journey,” he said on camera, weeping.

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On the Nov. 30 finale, he gave Nist, a widow and financial services professional, the coveted final, golden rose, and proposed marriage. On Jan. 4 some 5.2 million people (according to Nielsen) watched their lavish wedding ceremony live on ABC, and millions more watched it later on Hulu. “We have a trust that cannot be broken,” Turner said to his new bride.

spinner image The Golden Bachelor couple Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist raise their arms in the air after getting married
Eric McCandless/Disney

Nist and Turner still looked head-over-heels just a few weeks earlier, in March, sitting closely together in his Indiana kitchen on the video for the Dear Shandy podcast. They noted that they were still considering where they might live together, and “the hurdle right now” was her finance job, which, she’s noted, she loves. “I’m a very loyal person,” Nist said, “and my employer was so good to me. And before I left [to be on the show], I kind of said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you.’ ” 

Turner added that “the difficult thing is” he’s retired and ready for fun, so the “hurdle” — her work — “is still there, and right now, we’re dealing with it. It’s just something we’re gonna have to find a way around.”

But earlier this week, on Good Morning America, Nist said, “We looked at home after home, but we never got to the point where we made that decision.”​

​The news may not be entirely shocking, considering that the bulk of their courtship was conducted with other women elbowing each other for time with Turner and cameras following their every move (just to name a couple ways that their get-to-know-you period was weirder than most). But many viewers did seem to find encouragement in the story of two people finding love again late in life. Nist acknowledged as such in the interview, noting, “We have received so much love and support from so many people who watched The Golden Bachelor, and I don’t think we can tell you how many people told us that it gave them so much hope. We want none of that to change for anybody.”

Chang asked what they say to people who state, “I knew it wouldn’t last.”

“We say don’t give up,” said Nist. “Stay in it, stay hopeful, because we are.”

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She also said that she wasn’t swayed by the post-wedding headlines that revealed details about Turner’s dating life, which was in reality more active in the years since his wife’s passing than he suggested on the show. Nist said he’d already told her about his past romances before they married.

And they still love each other, apparently. “Did you fall out of love?” Chang asked.

No, they both said emphatically.

“I still love this person,” Turner said, in his somewhat endearing, earnest way. “There’s no doubt in my mind, I still am in love with her. I root for her every day.”

Nist added, “Yeah, I still love him.”

She has to give back the ring, she said: “I think that’s the rule.”

Fans have another opportunity to see late-life romance in the spotlight this fall when ABC airs The Golden Bachelorette, with 22 older men contending for the heart of a yet to be announced woman. ABC has suggested that she will be one of the women from The Golden Bachelor (presumably not Nist).

AARP teamed up with Katie Couric Media and asked viewers to vote on whom they thought would make a good Golden Bachelorette. The favorite was former Golden Bachelor contestant Ellen Goltzer, 71.

Nist’s advice to the new Bachelorette, whomever she may be? “Be authentic. Be yourself.”

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