Like everyone else in the western world, I know exactly what went wrong with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie*.
It wasn’t hookers. It wasn’t drugs. It wasn’t Marion Cottilard (although she is so ridiculously attractive you can only look at her sideways in low-light, so, there’s that…)
It was matrimony. It was that wedding. It was that scribbled-on dress. It was the French Chateau and the kids in tuxes and all those magazine covers.
They should never have done it.
You know how I know when my 11-year-old relationship is going through a low moment?
I start Googling rings. Diamond ones.
When that happens, it means that I am flirting with the idea that my partner and I ought to get married.
He and I share two children, a mortgage, an extended family, and more than a decade of history and stories. Our lives are completely intertwined. He knows me better than anyone else. I love him more than anyone else.
But the ring-Googling days are a sign that I have decided that today, we are not enough. We need to mix things up.
Maybe we've been at a wedding and I love how our beautiful friends look, lit from the inside out and gazing at each other like a cake they can't wait to taste. That looks perfect, I think, as I look over at my other half, who's semi-comatose in front of The Walking Dead.
Maybe my daughter has asked me - again - if she can wear a pretty dress and carry some flowers. Aw, that would be nice, I think, as break another hairbrush on her birds' nest hair.
Maybe I'm thinking how very much I'd enjoy having all of my loved ones in the same space, dancing. So joyful, I think as my friends and I Whatsapp for the 24th time about finding a date we can all have dinner some time before Christmas.
Whatever. It's usually code for I'm bored, life's a drudge, you're annoying me, where has the romance gone? It's code for: I need something to happen.
Listen: Mamamia Out Loud discusses the Brangelina split. (Post continues after audio.)
Brad and Angelina had been together for 10 years when they got married in 2014. Ten years, six children, millions earned, millions spent, millions donated. They had survived a cancer diagnosis and its serious, life-changing fall-out. Criticism and privilege and scrutiny that we can only barely imagine.
In Hollywood years, 10 is 100. Their's was a relationship that defied a million magazine covers. That seemed to disprove once a cheater always a cheater. They did Good Deeds. They were perfection.
And then they went and got married.
You've heard of the bandaid baby - the theory that a couple who are feeling rocky decide that a shared human child will be just the thing to bring them closer. But then the band-aid morphs into a living, breathing grenade and blows up at the core of their relationship, leaving everyone covered in torn bits of nappy and excrement.
Well, there's certainly such a thing as a band-aid wedding. Especially if it involves a longed-for proposal. You're feeling uncertain, you're in a rut, he/she never tells you they love you any more. Wouldn't a wedding just FIX ALL THAT? (Post continues after gallery.)
And you start googling rings.
This theory not really about Brad and Ange. It's about us, and our need for newness and the sparkly promise of new beginnings.
Pregnancy news is thrilling. Everyone whoops, you are the centre of attention. But pregnancy? That brings constant anxiety, nausea and swollen ankles.
Getting offered the job of your dreams is overwhelmingly wonderful. The endless meetings and long hours? Less so.
Falling in love is the most sensational feeling in the world. Living with the same person, day in and day out? It's an endless exercise in compromise and empathy.
For long-term, committed couples in a rut, a wedding can seem like that sparkly new beginning.
But when the confetti settles, you are left in exactly the same place. On the couch, watching The Walking Dead and arguing about whose turn it is to take Daphne to a birthday party on Saturday.
The rut is still there. So you'd better decide it's where you really, really want to be.
* I don't really have any idea what went wrong with Brad and Angelina. And nor do any of the people writing about their relationship today. Seriously.
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