Brangelina and the real reason relationships fail
The breakdown of one of Hollywood’s most famous relationships has left everyone questioning whether long-term relationships can ever work. But did Brangelina fall victim to the same problems that cause many relationships to fail? We investigate…
No-one expects celebrity couples to last forever but if there were one union we all thought could go the distance it was Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. On the surface, they look like the perfect pair. They’re both passionate philanthropists with a love of family. They both know what it’s like to be an internationally famous film star. In essence, they just seemed like a good fit. The perfect Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
However, according to eHarmony’s Chief Scientist Dr. Steve Carter, these similarities can only take a couple so far. ‘Brad and Angelina both seem like really mature people. They obviously made this last a long time. And yet it still didn’t work out. It seems like a perfect example of the basic foundations of compatibility not really being there. If you have a weak foundation, the relationship will eventually be undermined and rundown. It seems like that’s the situation here. These two people, seemingly great people individually who appear to have it all together, just got to the point where it was too much work to overcome the core issues that make them different.’
Of course, every relationship has conflict, even the most compatible ones. The most important factor in a long-term relationship is how you deal with this conflict. If either partner becomes negative or nasty then that often leads to a relationship breakdown.
‘If you come into a situation with a hyper reactive or pessimistic attitude, you’re going to undermine that relationship,’ agrees Dr. Carter. ‘The most important thing to remember is to be careful with what you say to each other. Be nice. Play nice. You can’t take things back, no matter how much you apologise. If you say really negative things to your partner, it’s going to corrode the marriage.’
Despite intense media speculation, nobody can be sure of the actual cause of Brangelina’s split, but a lack of core compatibility, combined with mishandling of conflict, more often than not lies at the root of a relationship’s failure.
‘The lesson here is that the biggest predictor of happiness in your life is you, how you behave and your ability to approach things in a positive, calm, ‘glass half-full’ way. If you enter into a conflict with a very reactionary, pessimistic perspective, then the situation is very likely to get worse instead of better. I’ve seen very compelling research that those behaviour choices can then have a corrosive effect on the quality of a relationship.’
When it comes to divorce, it’s best for both partners to put their family’s needs at the heart of negotiations. ‘You need to put the children’s needs first, regardless of what you think of your spouse,’ says Dr. Carter. ‘If you focus on being the best possible parent you can be and put aside your negative feelings about the situation, in the long run, you’re going to be a lot happier. You won’t have to suffer any enormous public embarrassment.’
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