Brad and Angelina: What Can We Learn from Serial Marriage?

The recent announcement about the impending divorce of super-couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie took most people by surprise.  After all, they’ve been together for 12 years. That seemed to indicate that they had a solid relationship.

According to the Divorce Statistics website, 41% of first marriages end in divorce before the couple reaches their 30th anniversary.  67% of second unions end in divorce, and a noteworthy 74% of third marriages dissolve.

The data provided by the Divorce Statistics website, however, doesn't really deal with the importance of self-discovery and learning lessons before going forward into the next relationship or marriage.  Rather than worrying about how many times we've had relationship failures or worrying about what others think, it is far more important to have self-awareness and knowledge for the future, so you can finally get it right!

For many members of the ‘trio club,’ their first marriages came at a very early age.  That was true for me, personally.  I had a serious boyfriend in high school and married him at the age of 18.  Unknowingly, I began my sequential marriage cycle by coupling at this tender age.

This was certainly true for Angelina Jolie. When she was only 14-16 years old, Angelina already had a serious boyfriend. So serious that he actually lived with Angelina (and her mother).

In 1996, at the age of 21, Angelina eloped with English actor Jonny Lee Miller, with whom she had co-starred in the 1995 movie ‘’Hackers.’’  However, she initiated a separation after just 18 months, and they were divorced after less than three years of marriage. And so began her journey into serial marriage.

Not long after that divorce, Jolie married Billy Bob Thornton after a whirlwind two-month courtship. That second marriage, sadly, ended in an abrupt separation and divorce #2 within just three years as well.  Angelina has managed to remain friends with both her first and her second husbands.  Angelina and Brad Pitt became a couple in 2004, about a year after her second divorce.

The mega-stars were a committed couple for ten years, finally getting married in August 2014.  But just two short years later, they had separated.  And by now, they had six children, to complicate matters.  And, interestingly enough, their children had wanted them to get married in the first place.

When she was asked about the unexpected dissolution of their marriage, Jolie said, "It took me by surprise, too, because overnight, we totally changed. I think one day we had just nothing in common. And it's scary but... I think it can happen when you get involved and you don't know yourself yet."

For many couples, including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, “tying the knot” often seems to lead to the undoing of their seemingly tight-knit relationship.  Perhaps, it spoils a good thing.  Who knows in their case?  One thing is for certain, nothing changes overnight.  A relationship erodes over time when no one is paying attention.

Lessons Learned:

1)     It’s not how many relationships or marriages one has had that matters, it is whether the individuals who have experienced these failures have gained new self-awareness, self-respect and knowledge going forward.

2)     Don’t let anyone pressure you into getting married – not even your children.  If it doesn’t seem right, don’t do it.

3)     Pay close attention to your relationship every single day. Is there mutual understanding?  Are there common goals?  Are you both demonstrating love & respect all along the way?  If not, address these matters rather than allowing the relationship to slip away before your very eyes.  Don’t be caught by surprise and explain it away as “our relationship changed overnight”, because it didn’t.  It happened over time and, perhaps, could have been salvaged.

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