112 Weddings was the in-flight entertainment I chose on my flight to Nigeria. A curious filmmaker, Doug Block, wondered what had happened to 112 couples whose weddings he had filmed. The documentary interviews couples who had been married for two years of marriage to fourteen. It’s a bit slow to start but quite insightful and an affirming reality check. A few marriages had ended in divorce and most of the marriages had ‘evolved’. Whether you are in a marriage or a long term relationship, relationships are tough. First you are thrust into an unknown future; no knowing what tomorrow may bring. And in the words of Doug, ‘the wedding day is a celebration’ and not an indication of what the future will bring. When you say ‘I do’, you don’t know if you are going to battle infertility, adultery, a terminally ill child, depression, abuse, poverty, hatred for one another, the stresses of parenting or the illness of a spouse. You just don’t know what it going to happen.
I often smile when I see wedding photos. There is so much joy splayed over the faces of the couple. The first dance is both touching and endearing; seemingly giving an insight into how much the couple love each other. Family members and guests are happy to share the breathtaking moments of the day. And then it happens. The guests all go home and you are left to work it all out on your own. The one thing the wedding day will almost never reveal is how your marriage will be tested but tested it shall be!
For the couples interviewed in 112 Weddings, it was interesting to see that there was not one couple immune from the test. It really is the slap in the face for all smug couples who like to make everyone believe they are in the perfect relationship. All marriages have challenges. The key to longetivity is to know that challenges are part and parcel the package. It’s just that Disney and Hollywood have given us a diet of mushy, romantic drivel that mislead people.
It was revelatory to see that these marriages were not about people who fell out of love or were battling irreconcilable differences. The challenges were external to them as individuals. It was about the impact of something like the introduction of a child or caring for a terminally ill child. It was the impact of external forces that cause couples to break away or converge. Even where the decision was to stay it was a hard, ongoing and evolutionary process; often unromantic.
There is no such thing as the ideal marriage and 112 Wedding is worth watching if only to see that you are not alone in grappling with the realities of married life. Find out about it here.
Remember the children’s story, The Emperor’s New Clothes, about two weavers who promised an Emperor some invisible robes. He foolishly ended up parading naked before his subjects until a clever child pointed out the obvious to him. This is what I think of when I hear the term ‘conscious uncoupling’ -Gwyneth Paltrow’s reference to her split with Chris Martin, frontman of Coldplay. It sounds like a train wreck to me. Only someone who feels that family life should be like the Cosby Show family would seek to find another word to describe a painful thing such as divorce.
There are two issues here for me. One is the need to rename divorce. The second is suggesting that a name change is what will make a difference to the process. Oh wait! Actually there’s a third issue. A divorce by any other name is still a divorce.
Hollywood gurus are always selling something that already exists but give it a name before they feed it to their acceptance craving audience. It’s called an A-M-I-C-A-B-L-E divorce.
As a child of divorced parents, I don’t think if my parents decided to consciously uncouple it would have made a fat difference. I would have been embarrassed to tell my friends that my parents were consciously uncoupling. The opposite of an acrimonious divorce is an amicable divorce and there is nothing new about that. Even in Hollywood, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore proved that years ago. And I’m sure there are lots of people around the world that divorce amicably.
Why aren’t the gurus selling classes to help marriages in Tinseltown last? This moronic need to rename everything on the face of the earth to please liberals takes our attention away from real issues. Numbing the pain is never the same thing as healing. Divorce hurts. It hurts the couple. It hurts the children. It hurts even extended family and friends.
Divorces get nasty when individuals are unable to reconcile their differences civilly. If things are going well enough to the point where you have decided to do things amicably, why pay someone $297 for a five week course so you can learn to breathe and self reflect. Isn’t that what counsellors and psychologists are there for? Regurgitated nonsense if you ask me.
No matter what you call it, the most vulnerable victims of divorce are the children. Whether their parents are divorced or consciously uncoupled is not going to make a difference to the fact that their world has changed and you CANNOT uncouple that from their reality.