After nine years together, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie tied the knot in France on August 23. While Hollywood weddings and divorce rumors (think Beyonce’ and Jay Z) dominate headlines, celebrities and regular people actually have a lot in common when it comes to marriage and divorce.
“Brad and Angelina have actually taken several steps prior to making it official that could set the stage for an enduring marriage. They took the time to get to know each other, and they reportedly have a healthy relationship as both a couple and parents,” says Connatser Family Law Attorney Aubrey Connatser.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity couple living in Hollywood or a traditional couple raising a family in Highland Park. While there are always exceptions, we find that there are several common reasons why couples divorce, famous or not,” Aubrey says.
No. 1: Getting married too young
“We often see clients who were high school or college sweethearts who didn’t really date anyone else. After a couple of years they start to wonder if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, or their priorities change over time,” says Aubrey. Couples who date other people before settling on a mate are more likely to understand that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
No. 2: Getting married because you’re pregnant
If the only reason you’re getting married is because you are expecting a child, think twice. Says Aubrey, “Starting a marriage with a baby on the way can be difficult, especially if the couple hasn’t spent time getting to know each other, or they don’t really love each other.”
No. 3: Letting in-laws get in the way
“Couples need to tell their parents to mind their own business, or suggest they go to in-law premarital counseling where they will learn to mind their own business,” Aubrey says. The sooner the in-laws know their place, the less likely your marriage will suffer.
No. 4: Misleading each other about desired spousal roles
“Hold true to the deal you strike,” says Aubrey. For example, if you tell your spouse you want to work outside the home instead of staying home with the kids (or vice versa), then change positions after getting married, that might be too big of a hurdle for your spouse to overcome. Be honest up front.
No. 5: Abusing alcohol or drugs
Substance abuse and marriage don’t mix. “If you or your spouse (or both) are battling substance abuse, get help. Substance abuse is one of the most common reasons people divorce,” advises Aubrey.
No. 6: Not getting help for mental health issues
As with Mistake No. 5, if you or your spouse are suffering with mental health issues, your marriage will likely suffer too. Seek help from a mental health professional before it’s too late.
No. 7: Cheating
Obviously, infidelity is one of the biggest contributors to divorce, so if you’re thinking about cheating, don’t. “Adultery is typically a sign of a much deeper problem. If you want to stay married, address the issues in your marriage first,” says Aubrey.
No. 8: Marrying the “mistress”
OK, so you went ahead and cheated anyway and plan to marry the person with whom you had an affair – be careful. “If they slept with a married person (you) before, why wouldn’t they do it again?” Aubrey advises.
No. 9: Hiding financial issues
Aubrey has found that “When a couple’s finances aren’t transparent, their relationship usually isn’t either. Financial surprises can erode trust and breed resentment.”
No. 10: Skipping date night
It’s important to keep romance alive in the marriage, especially after children enter the picture. According to Aubrey, “couples should try to commit to date night at least once a week to focus on one another and also agree to discuss topics that don’t pertain to the kids.” Which leads us to …
No. 11: Getting lost in the kids
Couples who exclusively trade their identity as “husband and wife” for “mom and dad” often struggle after the last child leaves the nest. Says Aubrey, “Remember, your spouse is still going to be there after that last child graduates. Plus, setting a good example both as a couple AND as parents can help establish a solid bedrock for the children.”
No. 12: Becoming roommates
If you skip too many date nights, start sleeping in different rooms and the intimacy has faded away, your marriage could be in jeopardy. “While most relationships are cyclical in the intimacy department, we often see people file for divorce when one of the partners craves more intimacy than the other,” Aubrey says.
Seek Professional Advice As Soon as Troubles Arise
Whether you live in Hollywood or Highland Park, being married isn’t always a walk in the park – it takes work. If you want to avoid a divorce, start your marriage on the right foot; communicate openly about your goals and faults; and seek professional help at the first sign of trouble. And if issues in your marriage are too big to overcome, seek advice from an experienced divorce attorney to discuss your options before doing anything drastic.