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Caroline Farrow: Brangelina was always going the way of a Z-list reality show

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Let’s face it, on paper, the odds never looked good for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. One the one hand you have ‘Groom Raider’ – an openly bisexual former heroin addict with a propensity for other women’s husbands, whose past antics have included carting a vial of her husband’s blood around her neck and French kissing her brother for attention, with two previous marriages behind her. On the other, a serial monogamist with a purported weed habit, who was still married to another woman when he embarked upon the relationship.

If this were not the coupling of two rich, successfully and superficially attractive Hollywood film stars – but of say, Z-list stars of a crummy reality show – nobody would have been surprised when the inevitable divorce papers were served, with the accompanying mandatory melodrama.

It only goes to further undermine the credibility of the UN, that they seem so keen to recruit these shallow, flaky individuals as ambassadors for their progressive liberal right-on causes – lending them an international gravitas, access to politicians and platform, that they do not deserve. It is not clear why a woman with a history of unhinged and unhealthy attention-seeking behaviour, someone with no respect for the sanctity of marriage and the family stability needed by children, should been lauded as a fabulous example of humanity and women’s rights.

One comforting aspect of the entire circus is the outpouring of public schadenfreude on behalf of Brad Pitt’s former wife, Jennifer Aniston, whom he seemingly dumped for Angelina. It is good to know that public opinion still considers sleeping with another woman’s husband beyond the pale.

If my sympathy seems limited, it is because it is precisely these types of attitude which seep down into the consciousness of we lesser mortals, and do so much to damage the marriages and lives of so many men, women and children. Marriage is not supposed to be a cure for boredom. Anyone who gets married in order to generate some excitement in their lives will soon be headed for the divorce courts. Once the initial novelty and  thrill wears off and the merry-go-round slows down – you will soon be looking out for and heading off for the next ride.

This might seem feasible to the hedonistic pleasure seekers of LA, who have the time and money to indulge in feckless self-seeking behaviour, but for the rest of us who do not have unlimited finances to rack up several spouses and residences to which we can escape, it is a recipe for disaster.

Despite an abundance of blessings such as wealth, successful acting careers, adulation and enviable looks, the odds were always stacked against Jolie and Pitt. As Brad’s second marriage, the relationship had a 67 per cent chance of failure, and being Angelina’s third – it was 73 per cent more likely to finish. One of the reasons for this, is that once an individual has been able to handle the pain of divorce, they feel more empowered to be able to go through it again and are quicker to spot the warning signs and leave. Marriage no longer feels like a lifelong commitment. But then again, Brad and Ange said that they were unwilling to get married until gay couples were afforded the privilege, demonstrating that they had little understanding about what the institution involved in the first place.

The other negative factor weighing against them was their cohabitation. According to a recent study by the University of Wisconsin, couples who cohabit prior to marriage are 50 per cent more likely to divorce or separate. Other studies have similar findings, demonstrating that couples who have previously cohabited have lower levels of satisfaction in their marriage and tended to feel less committed. Incredibly, one 1997 study demonstrated that living together prior to marriage actually increased a couple’s acceptance of divorce, unlike other independent living situations. Brad and Ange lived together for ten years, before finally tying the knot, with their relationship seemingly beginning to struggle shortly afterwards. The fact that they were by all accounts in an open relationship, both free to pursue other sexual partners, cannot have helped.

A young friend of mine despairingly wondered whether the demise of Brangelina proved that there was no such thing as eternal love. If two such attractive, rich people, seemingly soulmates cannot make it work, she asked, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Plenty. Firstly, remember that over 14 years, 50 per cent of celebrity marriages end in divorce, unlike 25 per cent of marriages in England and Wales. During the first 3 years of marriage, 7 per cent of celebrities divorce, unlike 2 per cent of the rest of us. Secondly, there are plenty of things you can do to maximise your chances of a successful marriage such as not stealing someone else’s spouse, not cohabiting and not having sex with other people.

A happy and contented marriage is possible, but only if both partners are willing to sacrifice and put the other person first, which is an anathema to the self-centredness of Hollywood. If you are unable to avoid the divorce courts, then the very worst thing you can do is make the children the centre of a nasty custody battle or publicly belittle and undermine the other parent.

Parenting should be a joint enterprise, not one control freak determining the rules (or lack of) in the household. Perhaps the couple ought to have thought about this key issue before embarking upon collecting and uprooting a string of children from around the globe and thrusting them into a dysfunctional and itinerant household. Children crave emotional stability, safety and firm boundaries. They deserve a strong loving relationship with a selfless mum and a selfless dad, away from the glare of the paparazzi.

(Image: FCO)

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Caroline Farrow
Caroline Farrow
Columnist for the Catholic Universe

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