Social media has gone wild with the breakup of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Headlines scream out “The Planet Is Shocked”; “Fans Mourn Brad and Angelina’s split”; “Cheer on Jennifer Aniston.”
The divorce of Hollywood’s golden couple has caused a tsunami of gossipy speculation, catching more than the usual attention by Twitter and Facebook users all over the world.
Why should we care?
It is easy to get caught up and follow sensationalism. In the process we sometimes lose our very own soul, forgetting that there are real people being hurt here, especially children, and allowing us to say and repeat things that denigrate and degrade. But they don’t even know the difference, you may say. The Torah teaches us not to curse the deaf. If someone is unable to hear my words why should it matter what I say? Because it is our own character that becomes impacted by our negative speech and thoughts. This becomes a life-changing principle to live by.
Instead of filling our time with mindless speculation about other peoples ruined relationships, let’s take a few moments and focus on how we can better our own marriages.
. All Marriages Require Effort
We sometimes live with an ‘if only’ attitude. We think if only I had an easier life, my marriage would be so much better. We dream of sparkling jewelry, fancy vacations, glamorous parties, celebrity chefs, nannies, gorgeous homes and apartments on the beach, believing that if we had even some of these perks we would have the solution to our problems. We would be incredibly happy.
But that is simply not true. How often do celebrities or couples who seem to have it all, break up?
It is not our place to judge anyone else’s marriage, certainly not a celebrity couple that in reality we do not know at all.
But we can take a step back and realize that most couples begin their lives wanting to share conversation and spend time together. There is magic at the beginning of becoming a pair. The question is how did we lose the joy?
All relationships require effort. It is all too easy to get lost in the everyday stresses and obligations of life. Couples can sit hours, side by side, never exchanging a word. They are both buried in their emails, texts, Facebook and Instagram accounts. We do not even realize the damage we are causing. The gulf between husband and wife grows wider over time. Suddenly we realize that there is more silence than conversation. It is not that we are disagreeing or fighting. There is simply nothing. The divide has become too difficult to repair.
Work creates an added pressure on relationships. The sooner we recognize the need to carve out time for one another away from that stressful environment, the better we communicate and connect. In November 2015 Jolie spoke about the stress of work on her marriage. “There were days during filming last year when we were really worried and it was hard.”
Yes, we all face tensions and some moments of life weigh down on us more heavily than others. But those are the times we must pay most attention to and not allow ourselves to lose those we love most. What do we have left if not each other?
If you feel as if your relationship is going south, take the time to figure out how to make life better for the two of you. Don’t be afraid to address the issue, but be sure not to come off as if you are blaming, complaining or angry.
If you believe that you are in a good place right now, be sure to continue to invest in your relationship. Don’t take your love for granted. Speak kindly. Do something for your spouse that shows how much you cherish the relationship. Say ‘thank you’ for the little things you may be overlooking. Be respectful when you disagree. Make time for each other-even if it’s a walk or bike ride together. Look for other topics to speak about besides problems, the kids or how to handle the mortgage. Share your dreams. Laugh together. Don’t wait for bad feelings or apathy to emerge. Infuse positive energy into your relationship every single day.
- Parent Together, Not against Each Other
No one knows what happens behind closed doors and it is not our business. Some of what the couple has said gives us pause, though, to contemplate our own parenting dynamics.
Pitt has been very vocal about their different parenting style. He has said that he was very influenced by his strict childhood. In an interview he added, “I am the disciplinarian with the boys. Girls do no wrong, so I don’t have to be (a disciplinarian with them).”
Couples need to be on the same page with their parenting. We cannot discipline the boys more than the girls, or treat certain children as our princes and princesses. The baby of the family must be held accountable for his actions. The oldest cannot be burdened with unreasonable responsibilities. The difficult child may not bully parents into allowing bad behavior while other children are over disciplined because we know that they will not protest. We can’t allow favorites to get away with mean words or actions.
Husbands and wives may have different thoughts on parenting but they must unite in their methods so that children do not grow confused and spouses resentful. When one parent says something to a child and a spouse undermines that word through rolling eyes, ignoring the other parent’s rule or making a disparaging comment, disrespect is born. This becomes a great source for ‘chutzpah’ that ultimately destroys peace in the home. Of course the marriage bond suffers.
- Never Gloat at the Unhappiness of Others
For some reason many people have expressed delight in this split and enjoyed sharing Jennifer Aniston’s meme’s. Photos of her and past clips from her show in various states of glee have flooded the internet. Witty jokes add to the fun.
Whether you know a couple going through difficulties, or they are notorious but distant, we must never allow ourselves to get pulled into this type of enjoyment. It is ugly and unworthy of the sacred souls we have been granted.
Other people’s pain should never become a source of laughter or derision. It is basic kindness to feel sad when a family is broken. Or at least do not get involved in gossip and snide remarks. Being the speaker or the listener is equally harmful. Our words and thoughts reflect our character.
When marriage works we cherish the love that we have been given. Take time today to reflect on your relationship. Ask yourself how you can build your bond and communicate the joy that your partner brings into your life. Don’t take your love for granted.