When director Dana Adam Shapiro heard about the fourth divorce among his group of 30-something friends, he started asking questions. Over the next year and a half, he recorded the anonymous oral histories of relationship implosions from nearly 50 divorcees. It should be noted that the friends, and friends of friends, whom Shapiro interviewed were of all ages, though he started by interviewing only those in their mid-30s. I found the excerpts from those interviews, courtesy of an article in The New York Times, to be predictably fascinating.
Here are some standout lines from the article:
"By the time we got married, it was like there was no reason to try to impress, entertain or charm anymore. We slept at completely different times and almost never in our bed.... I felt lonely but couldn’t identify it as loneliness. How could I be lonely married to the love of my life?"
"We talked about everything a lot, tried to think of things we could do, but rarely came up with concrete changes, so we never really fixed anything."
"Nothing that I ever did during the course of our entire marriage involved me thinking about my wife as a first thought. And yet now, as we were going through the divorce, she was all I could think about."
Harsh, huh? Shapiro went on to cocreate a film called Monogamy, based partially on the accounts. And though the clips for the film look great (I love Rashida Jones, don't you?), as usual, I'm more interested in the real. And I found these accounts to be both heartbreaking and revealing. I have to say, as someone who’s completely committed to my imperfect but still totally kick-ass marriage, I’m still shocked at how many people firmly believe that they can do everything wrong -- and by that I mean everything that every relationship expert tells you not to do -- and just sort of vaguely hope that the relationship will magically work out. To put it another way, if you don't try at all, your marriage WILL FOR SURE fail. And it's important to know that by not trying, you are making a choice -- a choice to let your marriage wither and die.
If you are "trying to try" but are seriously clueless as to where to start or what to do (like the second quote from the story), that's when it's time to call a marriage counselor. Now, I'm sure someone is going to pipe up and say, "If it's real love, you shouldn't have to try," and to that person I say, call me when you graduate middle school, my friend. Because surely by then, your eyes will have been opened to the fact that real love means doing shit you don't feel like doing on a daily basis. (Note to self: I want that on a T-shirt!)
But here's the rub: If it's really real love? You'll like it. You'll love it. You'll enjoy doing that shit you didn't want to do. Okay, maybe not always, and definitely not while you’re doing it, but sometimes...in retrospect, you'll be glad you did it. Because you love making the person you love happy, and you love being part of a true partnership. I know that sounds confusing, but I also know that the people who are in loving marriages know exactly what I’m talking about. So, can I get an amen?
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