Who didn't sing that annoying little elementary school song as a kid? " First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage!" It seems that celebrity couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt did not follow the path laid out in that teasing grade-school tune or what has been considered the traditional "rule" for a couple: you fall in love, get married and then have babies. How To Handle Your Jealous Spouse
They've been a couple for about six years, have six children together, and have recently confirmed that they are engaged to be married. Jolie and Pitt aren't the first or only couple to break what's assumed to be tradition when it comes to a relationship. Perhaps this is yet another sign that, when it comes to love, there aren't any rigid or absolute rules. Things happen as they happen.
Life doesn't always work out the way that we might have envisioned it, let alone the way we or others think it "should" go. We know that this traditional sequence of events — love, marriage, and then babies — has not been the only way for quite some time now. Jolie and Pitt are certainly not the first couple in history to have children before getting married. How To Date A Man Who Has Kids
Unfortunately, if the trajectory of your relationship hasn't followed this traditional order of operations, this might be a source of stress, tension or even shame. As happy as you are for the love you share with your partner and children, comments from others might dampen that happiness. Worse yet, your guesses about what others might think about your so-called "nontraditional" relationship situation might block intimacy with your partner and prevent you from fully connecting with your family.
Do you feel regret, guilt or shame about the choices you've made about when to have children and when (or if) to get married? If so, just notice that you feel this way and know that it doesn't cancel out the love you have for your partner and children. Know that acknowledging these possibly hidden feelings — whether they come from your or another person's belief system — is a first step in freeing yourself.
The intention here is to free yourself so that you can open yourself fully to your partner and to your children. You can love one another and feel good about what you've created in your life so far. Are You Worried Your Partner Will Cheat...Again?
As uncomfortable as it might be to admit to yourself that even a small part of you feels ashamed about the way your relationship has developed, admit it. Please remember, admitting that you feel regret or shame does not mean that you've done anything wrong. You have not!
We do not believe that the traditional order of operations for a relationship was ever the only right way. What's essential is for you to find a way to believe this too — to really believe it. Make peace with the decisions you've made in your life, even those that you feel some regret about or you wish had been slightly different. This might mean that you stop your thoughts when they dwell on what your great aunt said about how "long" it took you and your partner to get married. Love: The Key to Fighting Fair In A Relationship
It might mean that you politely change the subject when your father worries aloud about your children being brought up in a home where the parents aren't married (yet or ever). Instead, you can intentionally focus on the specific ways that the timing has been perfect in your relationship and life. Your children came at just the right time and you and your partner are growing your commitment to one another in just the right way. You don't even have to argue with your relatives or defend your decisions unless you want to. "Should We Make Up?"
Make your own way right for you and tune out the critics — especially the critic in your own mind. The more you can make peace with how your relationship has developed, the easier it will be to stay focused on what keeps you, your partner and your children close and connected. You can celebrate the many blessings in your life and after all, that's what's most important anyway.
Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the relationship they desire. Click here to get their free ebook, Passionate Heart-Lasting Love.
More great relationship advice from YourTango: