Now that Angelina Jolie has bagged her man in the old-fashioned way, the cosy Jolie-Pitt relationship is a done deal and fait accompli.
Meanwhile ex-wife, Jennifer Aniston is still reeling five years later from the rapid developments since their separation in January 2005 and is left to console herself with a series of unsuccessful relationships, while nursing her longing for motherhood.
Aniston and Pitt had attempted reconciliation in March 2005 but filed for divorce that same month. It was rumoured that Jolie was involved with Pitt during their attempt to save their marriage. The divorce was finalised just six months later.
The Aniston-Pitt fairytale wedding in July 2000 was a $1 million extravaganza with 200 guests, 50,000 flowers, a gospel choir, four bands, spectacular fireworks and a lobster and champagne feast.
It is a tragedy that, for all their wealth and fame, celebrity couples don’t get professional help for their marriage problems. The starry-eyed couple could have avoided the agonising ritual of divorce by consulting the best marital therapists in the States. They could have even consulted megastar television psychologist, Dr Phil.
Instead they suffered public heartbreak and role modelled distorted values and dysfunctional behaviour to the whole world. Although fabulously rich, famous, successful and photogenic, these idolised people are, in reality, still fragile human beings.
Aniston’s parents had a stormy marriage that ended in divorce and she is quoted as saying that during her marriage she often felt “fear, mistrust, doubt and insecurities” and that “when your parents split up, it’s impossible to delude yourself about fairytale romance and happy endings.”
Without psychological help, she was doomed to repeat her parents’ marriage failure. No amount of wealth and adulation will protect celebrities from their own vulnerability and the suffering involved in a bitter break-up.
For all of us, famous or ordinary, breaking up a marriage or long-term committed relationship, where the emotional bond is deep, is nothing short of a tragedy. It is not a flippant decision, as our contemporary culture tends to suggest.
In chucking in their marriage so soon, Brad and Jennifer demonstrated to the public, especially impressionable young people, that marriage is disposable and if it’s not peachy you can bust up and instantly find a replacement.
Instead of working to reconcile, Brad Pitt got entangled with Angelina Jolie. His motives, I suspect, were multi-faceted. Suffering shock, rejection and anger over conflict in his marriage, he was vulnerable to the offer of comfort and escapism with another woman. He was boosting his battered male ego, and also lashing out at his wife, in his pain and confusion. Add to the mix, lax morals and he was unable to resist temptation on the film set from a manipulative seductress with her own agenda to trap this desirable prize.
Jolie is an aggressive woman who goes hard after what she wants and she won the cat fight for Hollywood’s most desirable leading man. And now the glossies are glorifying her as the doting mother, despite her role in destroying a marriage.
Brad Pitt, although ecstatic at becoming a father, was the victim of entrapment, the oldest female trick in the book. At a time of emotional turmoil, he blundered into parenthood, the most important decision in life.
While the talented actor is swept up in his role as Dad to an ever expanding brood, six at last count, he continues to be racked with guilt over the pain he inflicted on his ex-wife and admits to being burdened by a ton of emotional baggage.
Aniston’s story of humiliation was quickly relegated to old news as she tried to salvage her self-esteem with a fling with actor Vince Vaughn, her co-star in the movie, The Break-Up and previously Pitt’s best mate! That relationship is now history and she has since dated a series of celebs, including the much younger singer, John Mayer.
Rebound relationships are usually driven by retaliation and a desperate grasping at comfort to ease the pain of rejection and loss. It is far healthier to allow time to grieve. Starting a new relationship immediately on top of the suffering of a break-up is not an ideal foundation.
For relationships with traumatic beginnings, the future will always be uncertain. Statistics show that relationships born out of affairs or on the rebound often fail.
All of this dysfunctional behaviour only deepens the emotional damage and unresolved issues between the original couple. We saw two people, Pitt and Aniston, acting out their pain instead of dealing with it.
Angelina Jolie, revered for her adoption of orphans, has built her new family on a foundation of opportunism by jumping into another couple’s marriage crisis and swooping up the vulnerable Brad Pitt. All is forgiven and forgotten by the media and public eager to move on and devour the next tasty morsel of ‘news’ served up by that mesmerising enmeshed couple, ‘Brangelina’.
From all reports, Jolie is the dominant partner who wears the pants, a gross disappointment to the legions of female fans who swoon over Pitt as the ultimate rugged macho man. It seems he’s just your regular hen-pecked guy who lives in fear of being berated by the missus.
Working in the movie industry is dangerous to marriage. It requires an actor to live away from their partner while filming for long stretches of time. It throws them into romantic and sexy scenes with other attractive actors. Movie stars and other performers tend to fall in love with their own image and narcissism makes it difficult to consider someone else, especially when the partner left at home. That’s why Gwyneth Paltrow is wise to accompany her husband, singer Chris Martin on tour with his rock band, Coldplay.
But sadly, the much-publicised marriage failures of celebrities infect our culture with skewed values, which goes unchallenged in the media.
So here I go with some old-fashioned, counter-culture Dr Phil-style advice. It is wrong to leave your marriage for no good reason, just because it gets too hard, you get hurt or you wish to pursue your selfish interests. Couples experiencing conflict or frustrated that their needs are not being met within the marriage should make every effort to get help.
Ideally, divorce is only acceptable for serious reasons, in cases of abuse, where after the intervention of good professional help, the offending partner refuses to change.
If a couple decides to separate, the ethical track is to allow ample time for reconciliation, up to two years. It is wrong to get involved sexually with someone else while in a state of separation (and use a third person for comfort or retaliation).
If reconciliation fails and they divorce, then both partners and children need to achieve emotional closure before divorcees become involved with new partners.
The correct way to start a new relationship after divorce is the cautious, respectful, old-fashioned way. Start dating and get to know each other, and if you like each other’s character (not just physical appearance), enter into courtship and only become intimate once you are in a committed relationship, ideally married.
This responsible, ethical course of action protects everyone from exacerbating the pain of divorce.
Meantime, the rest of us should refuse to follow the bad example set by movie stars and other celebrities. In matters of marriage, they are usually not reliable role models.