This is it, folks -- the moment we've all been waiting for. This week, Angelina Jolie was spotted in what sources believed to be an engagement ring custom designed by Brad Pitt, and now the couple have confirmed that they will, "finally," as some people are putting it, get married.
I have to say that I was pretty skeptical when the news broke today. Tabloid covers and celebrity gossip websites have been speculating on the couple's will-they-or-won't-they factor since 2005, despite the fact that the pair remained tight-lipped about their relationship until Jolie announced to People that she was pregnant with Pitt's child in January 2006. The coverage of their coupledom has been relentless, from the birth and adoptions of their children, to the suggestion that Jolie and Pitt's ex Jennifer Aniston are engaged in some kind of catfight to see who makes it down the aisle first. Even the mere suggestion of possible nuptials makes headlines, as was the case this January, when Pitt vaguely commented that he "would like to marry" Jolie.
Jolie is, I imagine, far too cool and self-assured to even bat an eye at those tabloid covers or make note of the attention lavished on her relationship with Pitt. But could a mere mortal keep her cool in the face of constant marriage pressure? If I were to see a litany of magazine covers bearing a paparazzi photo of me and my boyfriend accompanied by the blaring headline, ENGAGED -- when we are certainly not -- the pressure would weigh on me. I'm weak-minded when it comes to marriage: I'd start to wonder why we weren't engaged yet. Which would lead me to decide that something must therefore be wrong with me or our relationship. And, before you know it, my boyfriend would come home from work, I'd pick a fight and then he'd really never want to marry me.
Because of my sensitivity to the marriage issue, the idea that a couple's relationship had to "go somewhere" -- as if it were a train or a movie plot -- really irks me, especially as its applied to women. It's as if a relationship must continue to hit milestones in order for it -- and for us -- to be considered legitimate. If you're single, when are you going to find yourself a boyfriend? If you have a boyfriend, well, when is he going to pop the question? Once you're engaged, when are you going to get yourself to the chapel already? (Don't wait too long, lest your fiancé get cold feet). And, once married, the question turns to children, an inquiry that has turned Kate Middleton's midsection into an object of tabloid scrutiny: When are you going to start breeding? (Luckily for Pitt and Jolie, they already have that part covered).
It's this pressure -- both the kind we experience personally when doled out by our families or friends as well as the kind we see thrust onto celebrities' relationships -- that I believe compels women who aren't engaged to create Pinterest boards of their wedding days (full disclosure: I'm one of them), or feel like they've somehow fallen short if their boyfriend hasn't dropped down on one knee after X amount of years. (There's also, of course, just as much pressure on men to "do the right thing" -- you know, stop dragging their feet and put a ring on it already).
And I really have to hand it to Jolie and Pitt for gracefully enduring over six years of speculation over the state of their relationship, as well as creating their family in their own way and on their own time. I just hope they're ready for the barrage of commentary on where, when and how they will tie the knot. Because that's going to be starting right about now.