Contending for Marriage… inspired by seeing ONCE tonight

About a year ago, a friend called me. She wanted feedback on a decision. She was feeling like she had developed more than friendship feelings for a man other than her husband… she had already discontinued the friendship with this man. But she was trying to figure out if she should tell her husband:
– Why hurt him if she had resolved it?
– Would this be “keeping secrets”?
My initial reaction was “tell him” (her husband), because secrets seem like seeds to grow distance and sin in a marriage. But I also told her I would pray alongside her about this decision.
And in the end, she did not tell him. And her explanation sounded good to me:
Just as we expect our husbands to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ, but we don’t need a “report” on them doing this. So, as long as it had been halted at the temptation stage, without sin involved, there was no reason to hurt her husband by this information.

I think this is a really valuable experience for me to have shared – seeing how important it is to not just “be faithful” but to identify things that threaten your marriage – and stop them.

Recently, I feel like I am bombarded by a mind-set that I believe threatens marriage. I don’t know a name to call it, just a description:

In some recent episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, a married person has a very compelling connection with someone who is NOT their spouse. As George fought emotions he felt for Izzie, while being married to Callie, I found myself rooting for the romantic immediate gratification, rather than the commitment to the marriage covenant. In fact, it made me think, “Poor George – too bad he’s married.”

This seems to be the tension put forth in many shows and movies – is marriage a bondage that should be broken for personal gratification?

I felt so frustrated by this also in In the Land of Women, where Meg Ryan is struggling with a mid-life crisis… and makes friends with the young guy visiting his grandmother across the street. They walk the dog together, talk about life. And somehow, this walking-the-dog friendship becomes more meaningful than that of her husband – and they kiss.

We all seem to realize that the pressure to be perfect physically is on women today. But do we realize the threat that this message is to our marriages?

Tonight, this tension came up again in a really good movie, Once. And, if you haven’t seen it yet, you may not wanna read the rest of the blog… up to you.

The great thing about the movie ONCE was that while it brought up the same tension – intimate friendship between a married woman and a guy who was not her husband – it was resolve in a marriage-honoring way. I will highly recommend the movie, ONCE. Good music, really good story.

What I don’t like, though, is that while the characters make the honorable choices, I still left with the feeling that they missed out.
In fact, when I finally saw the husband of the married girl in the final scene of the movie, I realized that I had pictured an ogre – someone “unworthy” of marriage – to justify that I wanted his wife to do what seemed best in the moment. While the morally right thing happened, I wanted the girl to have experienced the potential love affair, even if it had cost her everything.

I don’t like this de-sensitization and glamorization of relationships outside of marriage. Maybe that’s why The Notebook is one of my favorites – as much as dementia depresses me, the movie shows a beautiful depiction of a husband loving a wife even when she is hard to love and could be easily left.

I intend to beat the odds (60% divorce rate WITHIN the church) and I want to be realistic about the forces working against US. I am just realizing that message I have taken pleasure in watching could be planting self-centeredness and self-gratifying POISON within me.

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2 responses to “Contending for Marriage… inspired by seeing ONCE tonight

  1. I haven’t had this problem with the George plot line, but I will say I was so rooting for Meridith in previous seasons. It is hard because it is entertainment, etc. but one does wonder about deriving so much pleasure out of story lines that aren’t God honoring (or anything close) and even to the point of wanting the wrong outcome to occur. *sigh* I too have pondered what the implications might be to my underlying thoughts/belief/heart on the matter. Art (in any form) is very powerful and further more I think some people (like myself) are more susceptible to the emotional pull of plot lines like in Greys. But I do so love watching greys….what is a gal to do?

    The movie sounds good and well worth seeing.

  2. Good for you for recognizing this, Shanti. Our culture – and our nature which it reflects – does want us to root for romance, immediate gratification; God has something better.

    BTW I never watched ‘The Notebook’ but I listened to the book on tape and found it quite distressing. It was so much about sex outside of marriage.

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