Let me start by saying that I think this movie is great! It has so many honest and raw moments that take place in marriage and divorce that were executed tastefully and with transparency. Without too many spoilers, because this movie is definitely worth watching, I want to quickly list my top three scenes:
1- The opening scene where they are describing the qualities they love in one another is amazing. It sets up the story of these two individuals and gives the audience a glimpse into their previous lives in a way that feels organic and ties the past to the present in an emotional way.
2- THAT fight scene. I’ve seen mixed reviews about how people felt with the way the fight scene was handled and directed, I think it was genius. They said a lot of what people who are going through the difficult task of separating their lives, although it feels more like ripping their lives apart, are feeling and want to say but probably know its best not to voice.
3- The scene where Nicole’s lawyer, Nora, breaks into a monologue about the expectations placed on women who are mothers. I may have actually clapped while sitting in my den watching the movie on Netflix. I felt that monologue deep within me and I’m glad the movie found the time to make that statement, especially knowing it was written and directed by a man.
Although the movie has some obvious perspectives for a person going through a divorce, especially a divorce involving kids, I saw this with slightly different eyes.
According to some statistics I found from the CDC, Good Housekeeping and a family lawyer’s blog post about divorce; the divorce rate in the United States is anywhere between 40%-50%, depending on certain variables. I’m going to put myself in the hot seat and discuss what these statistics mean for me.
I live in the United States which means I fall somewhere between the 40%-50%.
This is my second marriage, I have been divorced once before, which spikes my statistic to 60%.
We have been living together for just over 8 years, according to the blog post most second marriages end in divorce after “just under 8 years”, which means I should basically grab my purse and head to the courthouse already.
As someone who honestly believes she has found her perfect partner in this vast universe, watching this movie and learning these facts made me take a step back and look at myself as a wife with a more critical eye. After watching these two actors portray a couple who, despite still loving each other, decide to call it quits, I found myself asking, am I a good friend to my husband?
This movie depicts two people who continue to say that they love each other. Two people who seem to complement one another really well. Two people who despite what they are going through are polite to one another, for the most part, there are a few screaming matches. So, what is it that broke the camel’s back? To me, it was two people who stopped being friends.
For some reason we put our friends in one box, our family in another box and our husbands in their own unique box. Although this makes complete sense and helps us maintain healthy boundaries, I have come to realize that for some of us, the husband box can be lacking some important components. For example, very few of us would get into aggressive screaming matches with our friends because we don’t want to hurt their feelings. Very few of us would ignore our parent’s birthdays because it’s common decency to at least call. Yet, so many couples neglect and abuse one another in their relationship because we feel that a marriage gives us the comfort level to “be ourselves”. Well I truly hope that I never become a neglectful and confrontational person to anyone, in any box. Which is why I think we need to find the friendship in our marriages once again.
In the movie Nicole felt like her husband ignored her wishes and saw her as more of a business acquisition than a wife. Her husband felt that he had been blindsided and that she had decided to bail on their marriage when it was no longer convenient. They are not a unique case, in my experience, we feel this way a lot. I would venture to say that currently married couples would report having these feelings multiple times throughout their marriages. Why do some divorce and some stick it out? My guess would be that for those who have continued on in healthy marriages, communication has been key.
There were so many times throughout this movie where I figuratively and literally yelled at the screen, “talk to each other!”. There are countless quotes from her husband where it was clear he wasn’t listening. For example, “When we were married, we said things…they didn’t mean anything.” And other instances where it was clear she wasn’t talking. For example, “It wasn’t something I wanted.” Basically, it seems like her lack of talking, his lack of listening, her lack of fighting for what she wanted and his lack of paying attention is what drove them to the point of no return. Therefore, I am going to take this opportunity to rewrite the traditional wedding vows in a way that better suits the type of relationship I believe will be healthy and long lasting.
I take thee to be my wedded husband and friend, to respect and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for boring days where we do nothing but wake up, go to work and muddle through tired parenting, for richer, for poorer, for sacrificing our finances, stability and time to help one another achieve our goal, in sickness and in health, and in those weird in between moments where we are perfectly healthy but also slightly sad, annoyed and stressed, to love and to cherish, to listen to, have patience for and empathize with, till death do us part or till this becomes a toxic relationship where we are emotionally breaking each other down, although if we followed our vows we should be happy and satisfied.