*** As always I have tried my best to limit any spoilers beyond the overall premise of the film/show
I was so happy when Marriage Story appeared in my Amazon Prime video feed. I missed it in the theaters so I was excited to see Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson in the Oscar-nominated story. Then I discovered Forever, the Amazon comedy-drama series starring Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen. Both stories validated my opinion on marriage— the relationship.
Marriage. It’s beautiful and wonderful and worth it. It also takes a lot of individual and collective effort. When I hear people discount the idea that marriage is work, the first thing I ask is “How long have you been married?” The answer is usually fewer than five years. A woman once told me that marriage is only hard work if you married the wrong person. She had been married for under two years at the time. Poor thing….I tried hard not to burst into uproarious laughter. I failed. So did her marriage a year or so later.
Marriage Story and Forever are stories that illustrate both the necessity and complexity of marriage. It’s what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:28, “However, those who get married at this time will have troubles, and I am trying to spare you those problems.” Can I get an amen?!! I’ve read several articles on the COVID19 affect on marriages. Though the messages of these articles differ, there is a common theme. 2020 is changing marriage— the relationship.
Marriage Stories Soil Quickly
I think we can agree that most marriages start happy. At a minimum, you stand there at the altar with good intentions. In Marriage Story we open with Charlie talking about how great Nicole is. Then we hear from Nicole how great Charlie is. We’re feeling warm and fuzzy, smiling at this great love…until we realize they’re in marriage counseling working on an assignment to recall what they use to love about each other. By the way, this tactic works. Try it when you start thinking, “What was I thinking?!!!” It’s extremely helpful.
After that initial moment of watching two people in love, we witness the whole thing unravel. We see the attorneys drive an antagonistic wedge between these two people who once loved each other . We see them struggle to keep things normal for their son while using him as a trophy. We get to hear age-old resentments that were being shouldered in silence. We see sad sacrifices and angry outbursts about what could have been, would have been, should have been if it weren’t for the other person. Marriage Story is an entertaining, emotionally powerful story worth your time.
Marriage is Forever
Divorce and death end marriages every day… except for Oscar and June who die one year apart. They’re still married after death and their marital problems follow them right into the afterlife. Let me say this before we go any further. The Bible tells us that there is no marriage in Heaven. Forever may not be biblical in it’s premise but it is certainly biblical in it’s message. #whatpaulsaid Marriage is always complicated, sometimes chaotic, and often comfortable. In The Four Loves by CS Lewis, eros love is depicted as a trickster that gets you to the alter with fantasy and keeps you in the union with fear. June and Oscar have an “eros thang” going on and if you can hang on until the end, I think you’ll like it.
Which brings me to this…
Marriage can get so hard at times that our memories of being single get distorted. You see yourself as a rock star if you had just married somebody else–or didn’t marry at all. This person is holding you back from being who God created you to be. On and on. Blah. Blah. That’s what the devil does, right? He muddies the truth so you make bad decisions. Looking at you Adam and Eve. Obviously, God is God. If marrying the wrong type of person voids your entire purpose then there are a lot of purposeless people in these streets.
You cannot make an assessment of your marriage through pain, discouragement, and despair. You’ll need to get professional help. If you’re a Christian, be sure the counselor understands your values.
One more thing…
Just because you’re unhappy today doesn’t mean you’ll be unhappy forever. Don’t make an important decision in a moment that will soon pass. How long should you wait? A week? A year? Ten? I don’t know. That’s between you and God. I can tell you this…if you get a divorce, half the problem in your marriage is coming with you. Some of those daisies and butterflies you think you see in the green grass of divorce are dandelions and moths. Ask Charlie and Nicole. For them, being divorced and coparenting requires just as much work as being together. It’s their marriage story.
The reality is that marriage is forever. Even when the legal union has reached its end, you will remain affected by your marriage. Marriage is an experience and experiences are designed to shape us into who we are at the moment. Once you get married, you will never be who you were before marriage. Even if you divorce, your marriage will be a big reason why you “do life” the way you do.
Listen, some marriages will fail like in Marriage Story. That’s a reality. Some marriages will blissfully and comfortably exist like Forever. Regardless of the outcome, marriage stories leave you with an experience that you will carry with you. Death and divorce release you from the union, not its impact. Like Oscar and June…you’ve got it…forever.