On Again or Off Again? It's Stormy Seas for Christina O and Her Hapless Hubby

updated 07/15/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/15/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Rumors of conjugal chaos are as much a part of Christina Onassis' life as her two-tier stomach. But last month enough was enough even for French-born fourth husband Thierry Roussel, 32, heir to a $100 million pharmaceutical fortune. He complained publicly in France Soir that he was "scandalized"—not to mention infuriated—by the latest nasty press reports that had him divorcing his multimillionairess wife in exchange for a hefty chunk of Onassis' estimated $400 million empire. To put an end to the rumors he invited reporters and photographers from Paris Match magazine to the family's 18-room villa in Gingins on the picturesque slopes of Lake Leman near Geneva. (The house has a swimming pool in the living room, and a private children's zoo on the 10-acre estate has been installed for 5-month-old daughter Athina.) Although the couple looked somewhat uncomfortable, they nevertheless seemed the picture of domestic bliss.

But hours after the photographers departed, Roussel stunned the magazine when he told its reporters not to return the next day. The reason? He said he planned to divorce Christina.

Days later a scathing account of life with Christina, 34, appeared in Match. Though not quoted directly, sources believe that the piece was written with Thierry's cooperation as a last-ditch "open letter" to save his 15-month marriage and tame his volatile and egocentric wife. The article confirmed some of the complaints that were rumored to be bothering Thierry, an easygoing, homebody type. It stated that he is unhappy over the fishbowl existence that comes with the Onassis turf and that he detests her sycophantic friends. Other sources say that the independent-minded Thierry dislikes being called Mr. Onassis—something Christina never bothers to correct—and is annoyed that she claims the credit for his business successes. (He heads a conglomerate of 12 companies in areas as diverse as publishing, home furnishings and advertising sales.) He is also bothered by her weight, which is climbing toward the 200-pound mark despite an April visit to her usual fat farm in Marbella, Spain. "Christina is an extremely difficult character to live with," confirms one employee. "She expects people to do exactly what she wants." Rumors that Thierry has been seeing another woman haven't helped matters.

Ironically the pair purchased their storybook villa last year as a joint family residence that was to be the temple of their blissful union. "Thierry was sick of living in Christina's homes," reports one insider. When he tried to woo her to his secluded chateau outside Paris, she would complain that it "was too old, too cold and too miserable looking." Since Athina's birth the home has become more like a maximum security prison: 24-hour cameras are in every room, hired guards patrol their land, and Athina, in addition to a nanny and her mother's majordomo, is tended by a bodyguard.

Thierry's unorthodox love letter may have worked. Last week the pair attended the Paris funeral of Thierry's cousin and reportedly were living together again. Observers are betting the reconciliation won't stick. Once giddily in love, Christina "has probably grown bored with him and is only interested in going back to her old ways and old friends," says one pal. Another insider expects the on-again, off-again pattern to continue for the turbulent pair: "He has a foul temper, and often says things he later regrets. That's why they're a perfect match."

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