When Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie first got together, it caused a huge scandal.  He was married to Jennifer Aniston at the time, but it was soon clear he and Jolie had more than onscreen chemistry after filming Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Pitt had been talking about wanting a family in interviews and Jolie is a woman with the same dreams.  They fell in love, he divorced his wife, and they are now famously raising six children together (three adopted, three biological).

In the beginning – and even now to a degree – the couple faced major backlash with Angelina being labeled a “homewrecker” and the circumstances surrounding their relationship being questioned.  They said they couldn’t help it. They said they made each other truly happy.  Still, the naysayers said that it wouldn’t last because the romance began as adultery.

Despite the negative reception, the pair continue to have a relationship which seems to deepen more every day.  As a couple, they really do seem to support each other and their interests also coincide. They have been through a lot together including the death of Jolie’s mother, Marcheline Bertrand, and her high risk pregnancy with twins, Vivienne and Knox.

Most recently, though, Jolie shocked the world when she announced that she had made the elective choice to undergo a double mastectomy after tests showed that she was at an increased risk of developing breast cancer. She plans to have her ovaries removed for the same reason. After losing her mother and, most recently, her aunt to cancer, she took the news very seriously.

It must be an incredibly jarring thing as a woman to have both their breasts and ovaries removed.  Many describe struggling with their identity since those parts of their body are so highly associated with being female.  Emotionally and physically, it really must be a time of extreme turmoil.

It’s amazing, therefore, to see how Brad Pitt has rallied behind Angelina Jolie as she goes through this transition.  He has said that he’s proud of her and expressed his admiration for her strength and they, as a family, have done their best to carry on with their ordinary life despite these extraordinary challenges.

It brings into question all of the things people have said about their relationship over the years.  These don’t seem like selfish people who only care about themselves.  They seem like regular people who are just trying to find happiness and love in a way that is compatible with their own needs. It’s true that maybe things didn’t start in the most socially acceptable way but we have no idea what life was like for Pitt and Aniston behind closed doors. Sometimes, a marriage is over long before people accept it.  It just takes something to finally put it out of its misery.

With divorce rates being so high and affairs happening so rampantly, is it possible that the nature of our relationships, how they end and how they begin, is changing?  Are we in a period of transition?

photo credit: Barbara.Doduk via photopin