The Internet is still reeling after an unexpected backstage reunion at this year’s Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, which took place in Los Angeles on Monday (20 Jan).
Moments after Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston won trophies for their roles in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and The Morning Show respectively, the exes, who were married from 2000 to 2005, were snapped congratulating each other backstage. It’s safe to say there are many who lost it after seeing the photos.
What’s more, a video of Brad Pitt watching his ex-wife’s acceptance speech from a backstage screen shared by E News has since gone viral.
According to Emma McIntyre, the photographer of the now-viral images, she spotted Brad walking down the hallway and “sensed there would be a photo-worthy moment”, she tells People.
“It was a moment of two accomplished people at the top of their game, acknowleging each other’s successes and genuinely seeming happy to see one another,” she says.
The Internet Reacts To “Brannifer”
Since those iconic photos were snapped, Twitter users have shared their excitement seeing as both parties are now single — Jen and ex-husband Justin Theroux called it quits in 2018 whilst Brad and his ex-wife Angelina Jolie split in 2016.
It’s not just the average Joes getting excited — celebrities are jumping on the bandwagon too. “Oh em geeeee,” actress Hilary Duff commented whilst Jamie Lynn Spears exclaimed, “WE WILL BE TELLING OUR GRANDKIDS ABOUT THIS. THATS HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS.”
Even the official Twitter account of the SAG Awards gave a nod to the reunion sharing a series of pictures of the former couple and simply captioning it “We’ll just leave this here.”
However not everyone was as ecstatic at the thought of the Friends star reuniting with her ex-husband, considering their messy break up. “I think that people forget that Brad Pitt cheated on Jennifer Aniston while they were MARRIED! He made her a joke for the whole world and how can you ship a thing like that? She moved on because she’s a lady, but how can you ship it when he did that to her? Are you serious?” one Twitter user remarked.
“Move along Brad, nothing for you to see here,” another simply wrote.
According to an eyewitness in the press room who spoke to Us Weekly, Jen was “so happy, thrilled and surprised while explaining how she felt excited and overwhelmed,” and was “also making jokes with reporters during the interview.”
Jen herself addressed the obsession fans have with her and Brad reuniting after Entertainment Tonight interviewed her on the red carpet. “It’s hysterical,” she said, before adding, “But what else are they going to talk about?”
The “Brannifer” reunion has now sparked rumours of a rekindling romance, which leads us to one big question…
Should Exes Reunite After A Divorce?
Although it comes with many challenges, reuniting after divorce is probably not as uncommon as we think. And while it’s an area that is yet to be closely studied, Relationships Australia counsellor Mary-Jo Morgan says that couples can successfully revive relationships after a divorce, but stresses the need for professional guidance. “I think it’s considered a lot more than we realised, but it’s one of those things that people don’t talk about,” she says.
Beware The “Honeymoon Phase”
Couples that rush into a relationship for the second time may find themselves lured in by the “honeymoon phase” again. Counsellor Leonardo Talpo of leonardotalpo.com calls this the “so-called ‘romantic period’ or phase, where the couple live in ecstasy, in a bubble and most of the time in denial”.
Although, this happens to couples who fall in love in the first round, it could potentially happen again when they reunite, after a separation or even a divorce. “Tendentialy, when we fall in love, we don’t want to see or we refuse to see, or even more we give a positive connotation to certain obvious negative traits/behaviours we experience in our partner; we tend to justify everything,” he says.
But for couples that have been together for a long time in the past, the desire to repair a relationship goes beyond chasing that warm and fuzzy “butterflies” feeling.
“What you have with your ex is a history and some important shared memories about a time in your life that was special, and the fact that you made that speaks to the level of intensity and commitment in that relationship,” says Mary-Jo.
“I advocate caution around that. Those feelings are real, but you need to spend time together, and I would advocate that couples considering reuniting after divorce get counselling,” she advises.
The Importance Of Counselling
The main need for that counselling, as relationship experts advise, is to work through the reasons for the divorce. “The main struggle is going to be the reason they split up in the first place,” Mary-Jo says. “Whatever the reason is, the likelihood of it raising its head is very strong, and if that hasn’t been dealt with it will be a real hurdle.”
Mary-Jo says that after a period of time, the biggest temptation for divorced couples will be (1) remembering the attraction they initially had to their former partner, and (2) a desire to reclaim that. Instead, experts suggest that couples considering reuniting should start by dating and approach it as a fresh new start.
But experts agree that’s easier said than done. Couples have to approach the second run from a fresh perspective and towards a more longtime goal. Get to know traits of the person, which were possibly the main attraction, until they got clouded by marital conflicts.
When celeb couple singer Pink and her motorcross champion husband, Carey Hart reunited (they were close to divorce, but never officially signed the papers), they called it “rebuilding” in an interview with People magazine, adding that “sometimes you have to take a couple of steps back to move forward.”
The singer admitted to being at a stage when she would hand her husband her wedding ring every time they had a disagreement, but admits that attending couple’s therapy and counselling has taught them the “art of communication.”
The couple reunited because, like most others who do get back together, they never feel out of love with each other and are a happy family with their two children, Willow and Jameson.
Beware of old pitfalls
After the initial euphoria of a reunion dies down, it is common for couples to fall back into bad habits – the triggers that proved fatal to their relationship in the first place. So it is important for couples to be aware of situations when they slip into the so-called comfortable routine, says Leonardo.
“Shake the boat and go back to fundamentals,” he says, and go back and do the things that brought you together, that made you decide to reunite in the first place. If you can find reasons why it’s worth saving, that’s half the battle won, like in the case of actors Patrick Dempsey and Jillian Fink.
Patrick has mentioned his unwillingness to let go of what they had and that he felt they had not explored their magic together to the fullest. It was reason enough for the couple to reunite just a year after their separation (they called their divorce off) and make another go at their 16-year long marriage.
No one knows how these relationships will fare 10 years from now, but for now, they are proof that some divorces are worth reconsidering, or could have been avoided. Couples who reunite not only have to match each other’s expectations in case of such reunions; there’s also the issue of managing other people’s relationships, as friends and family tend to take sides when a couple splits. Arranging a meeting with friends and family that matter and explaining the situation and seeking their understanding is one good way to start, advise counsellors.
There will no doubt be struggles, but Mary-Jo says with the right support, a successful relationship is not entirely off the cards. “It’s not the easiest of paths to take, but it doesn’t mean it’s one that can’t work out,” she says.
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Text: Sandhya Mahadevan & Elizabeth Liew, Additional reporting: Bauersyndication.com.au / Photos: Instagram: @schwarzenegger, @pink, @patrickdempsey
This post was first published on July 18, 2018, and updated on January 22, 2020.