How Your View of Marriage Impacts Your Relationships

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Recently, Angelina Jolie admitted in an interview that she never thought she'd fall in love.

"Having come from a broken home-you kind of accept that certain things feel like a fairy tale, and you just don't look for them," she explained. And then, of course, she met Brad Pitt, and the rest is producing, parenting, and partnership history. But did her anti-love viewpoint help or hurt her chances at happily ever after?

If you come from a broken home or have had some bumps in your relationship history, it's natural to be skittish about commitment, says Danielle Dowling, Ph.D., a Los Angeles-based relationship coach. "If you dismiss your fear and don't analyze it, it may haunt you."

But if relationships simply take a backseat to the other stuff in your life, or you have the "I'm not a marriage person" attitude (and your views are authentic), your mindset could actually help bring about the type of connection you want, says Vicky Barrios, a New York-based relationship therapist. If you're not focusing on an end goal, you end up dating someone simply because you want to be with them, explains Barrios. Dating different men, exploring what it's like to be single, or having a long-term boyfriend are all ways of discovering what works best for you instead of doing what you think you should be doing. "It's only in recent times that human beings have looked toward marriage as a vehicle for social growth and spiritual expansion. As recently as last century, marriage was primarily a socio and economic institution," explains Dowling.

Of course, as Jolie illustrates, feelings-and plans-can change with time. Always allow for the possibility-even if you think you're clear on where you stand.

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