Seven years and six children later Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have finally announced that they are going to marry. Celebrity brides consistently set the benchmark for other weddings world-wide, but what can we take from the couple’s having waited this long before taking the nuptial route?
One could argue that with the high incidence of divorce amongst celebrities, that Jolie and Pitt wanted to weather the initial storm of family and relationship against the backdrop of constant media speculation (and there has been plenty).
There is also the added fact that both have been married before – Jolie twice and Pitt once.
But there is also conjecture that the engagement comes as an endeavour to re-ignite a relationship that has now reached the classic ‘seven year itch’ stage – the idea that after seven years of marriage (or relationship) one begins to start looking at other options, hence the urge to scratch an itch (look at Seal and Heidi Klum’s recent divorce after seven years).
So why marriage now? We can only hypothesise. But as with many couples who have co-habited for some years, there seems to come a time when both want something more concrete, some sort of vow that they are part of an accepted unit, other than having chosen to be together.
Interestingly couples who do marry after living together are 50% more likely to divorce than those who did not according to the book Marriage Savers, whilst about 45% of those who cohabit, do not marry. Only 12% of couples who have begun their relationship by living together end up with a marriage lasting 10 years or more.
Another American study based on a national survey of family growth reveals that couples who marry after age 26, or have a baby eight months or more after marrying, are more likely to remain married for more than a decade.
Living together is not necessarily a precursor to marriage, as many couples choose cohabitation over marriage. And a wedding ceremony is increasingly merely an administrative transition, bringing very little change to the way a household operates – as in the case of Pitt and Jolie.
The long term trend is that there are now fewer marriages, fewer marriages at a younger age, cohabiting is an option to almost everyone, and the number of marriages is declining with less value to marriage, despite the ideal of a relationship remaining.
Happy Wedding Planning!