State, national lifestyle columnists

Hart: Wedding bells for Brad and Angelina?

By From page A2 | April 24, 2012

Who knew that Brad and Angelina were such traditionalists?

OK, I use the term more than a little loosely. But in case you’ve missed the hype, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are finally, officially, engaged.

After seven years together and six children — three adopted — I guess it was time. Pitt had said a few years ago that he and Jolie would not get married until everyone could do it — meaning until same-sex marriage was legalized everywhere.

Apparently they’ve changed their minds. And why? Well, because their six children want them to marry.

Pitt has discussed the possibility of marriage in media interviews.

He told “CBS Sunday Morning” in January, for example, that when it came to marriage between him and Jolie:

“We’re getting a lot of pressure from the kids. Yeah, it means something to them and they’re, you know, they have questions when their friends’ parents are married . . . ” So Pitt tells them, “‘We will someday, we will: That’s a great idea.’ ‘Get Mommy a ring!’ (they say). ‘OK, I will, I will.’ ”

Of course that’s what their children want.

And as The Hollywood Reporter put it in January, Pitt said:

“‘We’d actually like to,’ he says of his seven-year partner, Jolie, ‘and it seems to mean more and more to our kids. We made this declaration some time ago that we weren’t going to do it till everyone can. But I don’t think we’ll be able to hold out. It means so much to my kids, and they ask a lot. And it means something to me, too, to make that kind of commitment.’ ”

Interestingly, Jolie had said as recently as December 2011 in an interview on ABC’s “Nightline” about her children and their desire for her and Pitt to get married, “We’ve explained to them that our commitment when we decided to start a family was the greatest commitment you could possibly have. Once you have six children, you’re … committed.”

But maybe that’s not the ultimate commitment after all.

And how interesting it is that marriage would matter so much to the Pitt-Jolie children. Whatever some friends’ parents are doing, in the Hollywood culture they live in, marriage is not exactly a compelling ideal.

Yes, the Pitt-Jolie children see Fiona and Shrek getting hitched in the movies (as Jolie noted on “Nightline”), but it’s hard to believe that’s what this is all about.

Maybe there is just something about marriage that is so ingrained, so powerful, that even children pick up on the fact that that particular piece of paper really does mean something after all.

The statistics are on the side of the kids here.

The Center for Marriage and Families, at the Institute for American Values in New York City, has gathered reams of data from over decades showing that marriage increases the likelihood that fathers and mothers will have good relationships with their children. It’s also the case that living together out of wedlock is not the same as marriage — for starters, because married couples are more likely to invest themselves in the relationship than are those just living together, and cohabiting unmarried couples break up more often than married couples do. It’s even true that marriage is more likely to foster better romantic relationships between partners than with other types of families, including those headed by couples just living together.

I guess Pitt and Jolie are now actually getting married “for the sake of the children.” I wish them all well. And I think it’s a nice irony that the data suggest that a lifelong marriage, instead of just living together, would be good for these stars, too.

Apparently it’s true that out of the mouths of babes often come gems.

Betsy Hart is the author of the new ebook, “From The Hart: A Collection of Favorite Columns on Love, Loss, Marriage (and Other Extreme Sports).” Reach her through [email protected] For more stories, visit scrippsnews.com.

Betsy Hart


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