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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Brad and Angelina's Divorce by the Numbers....

Doomed from the start?...
Unless you're living under a rock, by now you know that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, one of Hollywood's most celebrated and scrutinized romances, are calling it quits after a fourteen year relationship, which included a two-year marriage.

On Tuesday, Jolie, 41, filed for divorce, citing "irreconcilable differences," the ever popular legal grounds for ending a matrimony in our no-fault-divorce culture.

Now, it's easy to make fun and dismiss it, as another example of the Hollywood lifestyle run amok, as the talk show circuit has already started doing and, in a subliminal way, others use to vindicate their own failures.  Yet, despite their fame, status and fortune, as a married man of eighteen years and a father myself, it's really quite sad.

At the end of the day, it's as Julia Roberts' character says in Notting Hill, "I'm just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love her."  These are two people who fell in love and couldn't make their relationship work, regardless of how it started or why it is ending.

As most married couples know, marriage is not easy.  But, it takes more than feelings.  It takes true love, which means commitment, selflessness and perseverance.  Feelings come and go but true love never fails.  In fact, it "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things," as St. Paul writes. 

In any case, having been involved in the Marriage Covenant group at my parish for several years, and seeing many struggling marriages make it and others fail, I wanted to share some observations and stats about the Pitt/Jolie divorce:
  • Living together before marriage is an almost surefire recipe for divorce.  According to the U.S. Census, while first time marriages have an almost 40% chance of divorce, those that lived together before tying the knot have an almost 30% higher rate of divorce than those that waited.  Pitt and Jolie lived together for twelve years before getting married.
  • Second marriages (Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston) have a 60% chance of getting divorced.
  • Third marriages (Jolie was married to Johnny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton) have a 73% chance of getting divorced.
  • Getting married doesn't fix a relationship.  I'm not sure if this is the case, but their struggles have been rumored for years.
  • A leopard doesn't change his spots, unless he/she has to and wants to, and even then, it takes great effort; or as a female friend put it on Facebook, "If he cheated WITH you, he'll cheat ON you."  Pitt and Jolie started their relationship as an affair while co-starring in Mr. & Mrs. Smith.  Since then, there have been rumors about his infidelity, including the most recent one with a co-star, Marion Cotillard, who happens to be married herself!  Somewhere by now, Aniston is smiling.
  • For the most part, men and women can't be close friends (unless one is gay or has a hump like Quasimodo).  Sorry to burst the Friends TV Show bubble but, as Marriage Counselor/Author, Dr. Willard Harley, writes in his book, His Needs Her Needs, Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, which I am currently reading and we are discussing as part of our Marriage Covenant group, "An affair begins with friendship... Conversation draws you together... As your friendship deepens, you start giving each other mutual support and encouragement...  Life is difficult. Many people become disillusioned about the way their lives are turning out.  When they find someone encouraging and supportive, the attraction toward that person acts as a powerful magnet." The next thing you know, when someone allows another person to fulfill their innermost needs, that should be exclusively reserved for their spouse, whether wanting to or not, an affair begins.  (See the previous point!)
  • In today's throwaway society, where the preference is to replace rather than fix, if God is not at the center of a marriage, the chances for success are as hopeless as my attempts to keep up with the modifier, Tania, never mind Shaun T, in the Beach Body Focus T-25 workouts I do with my wife every morning.  Couples that share a faith in God, pray regularly and attend church weekly, are at least 30% less likely to get divorced or higher, depending on religious affiliation, than those that don't.  While Jolie professed having a belief in God, spurned by her role in the 2013 movie, Unbroken, Pitt was openly agnostic at best.
In other words, the numbers were stacked against them.  They were destined for futility before they even started.

On the surface, they were the poster children for modern day nuptials; beautiful, glamorous, active in causes and charities, parenting three children of their own and adopting others from Ethiopia, Vietnam and another from Cambodia, which she adopted during a previous marriage.  Jolie was a good-will ambassador to the UN, which included missions to countries around the world and became an icon for the women's health issues movement by choosing a preventative double mastectomy and removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes.  Pitt has been cited as one of the most influential and powerful people in the entertainment industry.  But, it appears, behind the scenes, despite all the success and accolades, the couple was struggling.

In a press statement, Brad Pitt, 52, stated, "I am very saddened by this, but what matters most now is the well-being of our kids.  I kindly ask the press to give them the space they deserve during this challenging time."

The well-being of their children may already be off to a rocky start.  Six kids, including three that were adopted, will have to grow up in a broken home; either without their father or bouncing around from house to house, which we may try to sugar coat in saying that it's not a big deal but many children of divorced parents develop anger, trust, depression and other psychological issues growing up.

If that wasn’t bad enough, children of divorced parents are 40% more likely to get divorced themselves, and, if their parents get remarried, it increases to 91% .  It’s a vicious cycle!

Meanwhile, millions of young fans and kids around the world see the public breakup as another example of how adults resolve difficult marriages...

[photo credit: Getty Images]

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