It’s almost National Love Day. You know, that day that celebrates the martyrdom of St. Valentine? Movies are the heralds of how love works and should go. But underneath that one-hour struggle for romantic happiness, there are a ton of truths edited out. If you aren’t careful, you might just believe one.
The All Saving Pep Talk
Culprit: Runaway Bride
Lesson: The protagonist has a flaw that keeps them from fully falling in love and having a happy marriage. When it seems like they are hopeless, their best friend and wise sage sits them down and explains their one fatal flaw. In the next scene, the protagonist is ready to get married and overcome every obstacle. In the movie Runaway Bride, Julia Roberts plays a bride who constantly runs away from commitment. When all seems lost, her friend sits her down and explains that marriage can be tough and imperfect. That seems to be enough to get Julia down the aisle.
The Truth: If our fatal flaws could be pep-talked away, I would be perfect by now. In reality, our flaws often stick with us. Whether they be greed, fear, or selfishness, our flaws can take many trials and errors to overcome. Julia Roberts is walking into a marriage thinking she can overcome her glaring fault of non-commitment because her friend gave her the all-saving speech. In reality, her flaw will likely be a battle she will fight throughout her marriage. That is why marriage demands the most strictest endurance, forgiveness, and patience.
Disasters Bring Us Closer
Culprit: Left Behind, Star Wars Episode V-VI, The Little Mermaid, any movie where the hero meets someone before a huge tragedy
Lesson: The hero meets a beautiful blonde with good intentions before they both board a plane together. There doesn’t seem to be a spark of romantic interest, but when the plane is hijacked by Serbian Drug Lords, the hero and the love interest must work together to save the day. After the crisis is subverted, the hero and the love interest decide that they are inseparable.
The Truth: Relationships that grow over a huge disaster or great time of stress sound noble. What could be better than two people working together through a stressful time? But what about the rest of their life? Will they feel the same attraction after the Death Star has blown up? Did they realize the glaring differences they have in career or morals? Relationships need lots of room to grow and have downtime. It’s like the Bible says, “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. ” (Song of Solomon 8:4)
Culprit: Romeo and Juliet, Pretty Woman, Titanic, Pride and Prejudice, Much Ado About Nothing
Lesson: When the hero meets his love interest at the party, he hates her guts. She hates him too. He is broodish, careless, and hates horses (which is what the female protagonist loves the most). Somehow they continue to bump into each other and the conversation is uncomfortable at best. But little by little he starts to see how her fiery beliefs aren’t so bad or that her life of wealth and horse racing can be beautiful. She decides to give up her fortune, and he decides to start a ranch for abandoned race horses. Looks like love finally brought them together.
Truth: Here is the bubble I am going to burst: if you date/marry someone who is opposite or indifferent to your ways, making your marriage work will take twice the amount of energy. I’m not saying it’s impossible. My wife and I are very different people, and we have to make compromises and live for the other person. The movies make it seem like finding a few good qualities in someone erases the tricky stuff that makes marriage difficult in the first place. The reality is that you will always have to fight to put the other person first. You will have to lose some battles to show how much you love them. Just like scripture teaches us: we don’t look out for our own needs, but the needs of the other person.
The Minute You Get Married You Become A United States Citizen
Culprit: The Proposal
Lesson: This one is simple. The minute a foreigner walks down the aisle with an American, they are legal to stay.
Truth: This one just makes me angry. Very angry. It hits home because my wife is Canadian and we are currently going through a 9-month pending Visa application. We are married, but she is not allowed to live here until the Visa application goes through. This has involved over $700 of applications, worry, waiting, and more waiting. Let’s be honest, the government is slow.
Your Wedding Day is the Happiest Point in Your Marriage
Culprit: Every romance movie ever
Lesson: The brunette love interest is finally getting the wedding she deserves. It will be on a rooftop patio in New York City. She will have doves flying, violins playing, and rice being thrown. Her husband-to-be has been incredibly helpful because they both believe in the magic of this extravagant party. Once they walk down the aisle, the jubilation and happiness fill the room. This is the happiest day of their life.
Truth: Weddings are stressful–for the groom and much more for the bride. Movies usually end at the wedding, signifying that life cannot get much better than this. But this downplays the rich relationship-building between spouses later on. You get to fall deeper into commitment and joy with the person you vowed to love. You also get to travel some very rocky roads with them and learn how to cope with trials. The wedding is a mere appetizer to the full-course marriage.
Honorable TV Mention: Sex Solidifies the Relationship
Culprit: The Bachelorette
Lesson: Nothing is more real than one Bachelorette trying to share saliva with 12 men, hoping her heart has that sparkly feeling for the right one. In one charming episode, the Bachelorette in question is so torn by who she will pick. She has these awful things called feelings and they won’t let her decide. The director, out of fairness, decides that she should skip meeting the family so that she can sleep with both men to figure out who she will keep.
Truth: I am going to let that sink in for a second. The director thinks that meeting the family of these two men would be too committal, but spending a night of eroticism is just what she needs to make a decision… Right. Choosing your mate through sexual compatibility is as shallow as picking a dessert that works well with your taste buds and diet. Relationships are complex. They deserve so much consideration, sacrifice, and mental struggle to work. I guess that is why over 60% of Bachelor Show marriages break up after a year.
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