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Friday, April 30, 2010
My wife and I saw the movie “Date Night” earlier this week.

(Spoiler warning: I hate it when people give away a movie that I have not yet seen but intend to, so if that’s you, you might want to skip this post. Go see the movie and come back here with your comments.)

The basic story line of the movie is that an ordinary couple from New Jersey, seeking to infuse their visibly boring marriage with the excitement of a night on the town in NYC, wind up getting tangled up with the mob. It’s not a terribly realistic story in some respects, but in other ways it sends some good messages. So I’d like to share a few thoughts for us “real” married people.

I don’t wish to opine, so I’ll just toss out my unsubstantiated and random observations.
  1.  I thought they did a decent job of portraying the reality of a married couple who obviously care for each other yet are totally bored and have stopped making the effort to keep things interesting.   A few examples:  1) she comes to bed in an old t-shirt wearing a mouth guard, and rather than expressing his desires, he responds by immediately giving up on any hope for intimacy, even when she offers him a quickie (albeit half-heartedly).  2) They both show a total lack of enthusiasm for their regular date night, doing it more out of routine and obligation rather than any sense of enjoyment. They even forget about it until the sitter shows up. They apparently go to the same restaurant and order the same food every time – perhaps a little over the top to make a point.
  2. My wife observed that they writers avoided the stereotypical spouse-bashing portrayal you so often see in the movies. The two were genuinely respectful toward each other, even in their boredom. Nice touch. 
  3. Their wake-up call comes when close friends who are equally bored, decide to divorce. Rather than running for the exit of their relationship, they re-double their effort to regain that spark of excitement. The wife initiates this by donning a sexy dress and heels, with make-up and hair done with extra care. Seeing her, as perhaps he has forgotten she can be, causes him to respond with determination to rise to the occasion, declaring that they are going into the city 
  4. He has given up trying to lead in the relationship. She has apparently stopped trusting him and allowing him to do so due to past mistakes that aren’t really expounded upon. This is obviously hurtful to him. Through the course of their adventure she eventually relinquishes control to him, and discovers, after some mis-haps, that he is a much more capable leader than she thought. 
  5. Early on there is a scene where the couple is participating in a book-reading club. It’s just him and five wives, no husbands other than he is willing to endure the pain of the horrible book selections. It makes him look a little wimpy and browbeaten. You later learn that he does it simply because he thinks it is important to her. His heart is sincere – it’s not because she requires it of him. And you later find out that she hates the group and the books. She only reads the first chapter and the end, while he reads the whole thing.
I’m sure if I thought some more there would be other observations. If you’ve seen the movie maybe you’d like to add you own below. Please do.

The movie invites a few questions:

  1. Do you recognize signs of boredom in your own marriage? Are you as vigilant as you should be against apathy?
  2. Have you “stuck” your spouse in a role based on history or past perceptions rather than allowing him or her to grow and mature in new ways?
  3. Do you assume your marriage is OK simply because you treat each other with respect and kindness, thinking that is enough?
  4. When was the last time you went out of your way to create an adventure or sense of excitement? 
  5. How do you respond when you see marriages falling apart around you?
  6. Are there things you are engaged in, even as a couple, that really aren’t feeding either of you? Are there things you do simply because you always have and not because you really want to?

3 comments:

fallingintofavor said...

I haven't seen the movie yet, but now I want to. I didn't want it to be the typical date night movie...where they hate each other and are just going out as a last ditch effort to save the marriage..lol

We've only been married a year, so from my point of view we haven't experienced boredom yet. I feel like I'm still learning about him. And we take regular weekly dates and vacations often, to get away and unwind. Some vacations are just getting away from the house for an entire day! We also have time away from each other, which is super important to us both.

Valor said...

#5 is tough.. Our small group leaders are going through a terrible time right now. It's hit really close to home.

It's still fresh, so there's a lot of "are you going to do that to me?" and "how could that possibly happen?!" questions. Fears that in 4 more years that will happen, or we'll be just another couple that gets distracted by the details of life, and forgets about living.

Scott said...

Favor - thanks for the comment. Getting away together is something we have valued and pursued since very early in our marriage, even before children. It is so important to have time set aside for nothing but each other and your marriage. In fact we just returned today from a weekend away in the mountains. Perfect!

Valor, we too have had some marriages very close to us disintegrate. It does cause doubt and pain, but we try to use such occasion to redouble our own efforts to have a great and growing marriage.

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