Monday, February 20, 2012

blue valentine

I could do one of two things: I could pretend that I haven’t disappeared for a few Mondays and just dive right back into the musing business as usual, or I could explain why I have been absent for the last few weeks and bring you up to speed.

Or do neither.

So I was watching this movie, Blue Valentine. 

I tend to like obscure movies, usually the independent kind, because I don’t really want to know the entire plot beforehand or see the best scenes from the carefully crafted previews. Truthfully, my current movie-going experience post-birth-of-kid has been limited to stumbling on them on TV, by chance, after a year or two of their original run. Of this one, I knew only about the two lead actors, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. Her I had seen in a few things and found myself attracted to her quiet performances. Him too, mostly. I may have dreamt about him actually. Nothing kinky, just your run-of-the-mill bizarre dream that makes no sense and yet does, somehow, on some level, even during it, you know? Well anyway, it was Valentine’s week, so I watched the movie at least for its befitting title.

Well, haha, the joke was on me! This was no romantic movie, unless you’re one of those who find the slow, steady, and brutal unraveling of a marriage charming. In retrospect, the word “blue” should’ve tipped me off. I’m not sure why I instinctively jumped to the conclusion that it signified “adult” instead of just … “sad”. Silly me!

Maybe it was the title, maybe it was the wedding scenes, but this movie hit home, in a big way. You see I got married the day before Valentine’s Day. Not that we chose that date on purpose, we are not the type. In truth, my fiancé (now my husband) and I picked the last Saturday before Lent for our church wedding because, like many churches, ours doesn’t marry anyone during Lent, and the 13th of February happened to be the last available day. So we went with it, completely oblivious to its significance. We were well into the wedding preparations, in fact meeting with the florist who kept answering our questions with “depending on what flowers will be available then” that we realized she wasn’t just referring to the season, and it finally dawned on us that we had committed the ultimate un-romantic romantic gesture. So for its temporal juxtaposition alone, Valentine’s Day has been closely tied to my marriage via my wedding, for 13 years, as of last week. And this movie, well, it just slapped my ass and called me Shirley.

I don’t usually go around wondering why my marriage is very much alive and kicking. Not even on my wedding anniversary. Au contraire, mon frère, one usually finds me bitching about it and about him, often. But this movie got me thinking: Why did it survive while so many others, including ones that started with ours, are well on their way to the ocean, via the sewage system? Why did we make it, in fact thrived?

Much has been said and written about the predictors of martial longevity. From intellectual, physical, emotional, and psychological compatibility, to birth order, to marrying for the right reasons, to sowing your wild oats before settling down, to the right age to be wed, to monogamy, to mutual respect, truth, to opposites attracting, to not going to bed angry, to accepting the status quo, etc. There are all sort of percentages and matching tests, theories and professionals (a whole industry, really) catering to the pre-marital population, and theories and professionals servicing marriages and families, but divorce rates are still rampant. 

Most people are in love when they get married, where does their love go? Does luck have anything to do with it? Destiny? Fate?

What do you think: what makes a marriage last?


At 2/20/12, 11:36 AM , Blogger Gristle McThornbody said...

I often wonder how Mr B and I have managed to stick it out for 38 years. We married young - I was still shy of 19, he was a year older - but we also had dated each other for three years prior. So, you can also imagine the dearth of wild-oat sowing with other people that both of us had. Regardless, according to most data our young ages when we married should have made us vulnerable to divorce.

We never had kids, so didn't have that to bind us together. We are very alike in personality - both stubborn and strong willed, with antisocial tendencies. We give each other a lot of space, neither of us is needy or like drama in our lives. We really are very compatible.

One thing I have to give us both credit for though is that even when we have both been so mad at each other we were both contemplating at least divorce, possibly murder, neither of us ever fight dirty. By that I mean I have never once gone for the jugular and said the thing that I thought would hurt him most, and he has never attacked me in that way either. We really don't fight much at all, but over 38 years we, like most couples, have had some doozies, but we manage to stay on topic about what we're mad about and why.

I guess I still really don't know why some couples make it and some don't. I know I would walk in a heartbeat over physical or emotional abuse, but I knew him well enough before we married that I knew that wouldn't be an issue.

Great post as always. Good to see you back in the saddle!

At 2/20/12, 2:09 PM , Blogger Janiece said...

I've only been with the Smart Man for 14 (I know - amateurs!), but the single biggest thing for us is being kind. We try every day to be kind to one another. Which leads to all sorts of good outcomes, and avoids a buttload of bad ones.

At 2/20/12, 4:11 PM , Anonymous Carine Tomassian said...

One of my favorite movies. Next time I see you, I have to tell you about the behind the scenes stuff :)

At 2/20/12, 4:53 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

14 years is a lifetime in my neck of the woods. Congrats!

At 2/20/12, 4:53 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks Jeri :) and congratulations on the 38 blissful years. I completely agree with the practice of fighting the current fight and not dredging up the whole history of fights. We too are mindful of going too far, when it gets to that point. I think a biggie for us is that divorce is not an option (killing maybe, divorce definitely not). Once you take that off the table, there is a point of no-return that neither of us would dare cross.

At 2/21/12, 7:44 PM , Blogger Megan said...

A friend...strike that...person I know who is going through a divorce told me this is her favourite movie. It is apparently very realistic.

I haven't seen it, but keep meaning to.

At 2/22/12, 8:57 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

I don't like hearing about divorces, they make me very sad. Especially when there are kids involved.

At 2/22/12, 8:58 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

I didn't say I didn't like it. Just that the tag "a love story" wasn't quite apt.
And you know that I wanna hear all the details!

At 2/28/12, 11:32 AM , Anonymous Zoelee said...

I haven't seen it either. I will make it my mission to do so soon.

At 2/28/12, 11:35 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

Zoe :)
Be sure to let me know what you think of it.


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