When I hear about couples having marital problems, whether on the television or in our neighborhood, I often wonder how they got to the place they’re at. And if they’re still married, how can they start moving to someplace better?
In the film, “Enchanted”, Giselle (Amy Adams) has a rosy, fairy-tale view of life. This is because she actually is a cartoon fairy tale woman, preparing to marry her prince. But the prince’s evil and insecure stepmother (Susan Sarandon) curses Giselle, transporting her into our world: the real world where “there are no happy endings”.
Giselle has a lot of trouble adapting to our world, especially since she doesn’t realize that she’s no longer living in her own country of Andalusia. In our world, streets are dark and dirty and dangerous, not bright and pretty and safe to walk on. People in our world can lie, steal, and attack you without warning. Our world is so bad that even ordinary citizens can be callous toward neighbors or even their own family and friends, as part of their daily routine.
Giselle learns this firsthand from Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a divorced lawyer and single parent who has grown disillusioned with the world, especially with marriage. Which is why he’s taking so long to propose to his girlfriend, Nancy.
Giselle can’t understand this. For her, romance comes as naturally as singing out loud in Central Park (which also comes naturally to her). She figures that Robert just needs to do something spontaneous and romantic to smooth everything out with Nancy.
Robert’s more practical than that. He’s also less romantic than that.
So Giselle helps him out by recruiting two birds to take Nancy some flowers and an invitation to a dance – something that also comes naturally to her. Robert gets an immediate call from Nancy, who is thrilled and eager to go to the dance. Her trust and love for Robert have been fully renewed.
All over a simple romantic act.
Of course, it’s not always that simple. Especially when there’s been a long history of disappointments between two people. If there’s also been a long history of attempts to smooth the waters with a romantic gift, then it’s less likely that the same routine will work yet another time, unless there is a clear demonstration of changed behavior to go with it.
So what’s the solution, when a couple is growing apart and they’re at odds with one another? When communication and trust have broken down and they can’t even be comfortable around each other anymore?
When it gets to that point, I can’t tell you that there’s still a chance to stay together. After all, both people have to agree to make it work. But you can start with yourself, and what you’re willing to do.
When Giselle meets a couple in Robert’s law office and learns they’re planning to get divorced, she begins to cry. Divorce doesn’t exist in her world. When people get married, they stay together. Forever.
The couple becomes upset at Giselle’s reaction, and they both storm out of the office.
But a few days later, they’re back in Robert’s office – together. Holding hands, smiling, enjoying each other. The husband explains that they talked and decided to work things out. After Giselle had complimented his wife on her beautiful hair, he had remembered that her hair was the first thing that had attracted him to her. And then he started remembering all the other little things that he loved about his wife.
Robert is concerned that they’re being unrealistic, because they might not be able to make it work. After all, they have serious problems. Just the other day, they had been arguing over who would get possession of a prize baseball card.
The wife admits that they have problems and they don’t know if it will work out. But everyone has problems. So why not try?
Many people look at divorce as a safety hatch. A convenient escape from a marriage that isn’t working out the way they thought it would. They fix all of their attention on the problems in their marriage, making themselves miserable and amplifying the negative aspects of their partner.
And then they simply stop trying. They ignore all the little things they have enjoyed in their marriage over the years and emphasize the negative aspects. Which leads them to believe that all those nice things about marriage no longer matter. It never occurs to them that their problems can be overcome with some time and effort, and are actually less important than the good things they’re letting go. The good things that they’ll miss after the divorce is finalized.
Find the good. If you don’t have any hope for working through the problems of your marriage, then you’re not likely to succeed in resolving them. Change your expectation and find something positive. Both for the future, when your marriage improves, and for the present, to see the good things you already have, even in the midst of your problems.
When you appreciate what you already have, you’re less likely to lose it later on – and have to look back with regret.
Find more reviews of “Enchanted” at amazon.com!
Wednesday, November 24th, 2010