Married Life

One of my WIP’s that’s more of a WFIP (formerly in progress) is/was a series of interconnected stories about single people. And I was planning to have the audacity to to suggest that some of my characters were very happy about their marital/relationship status. I have nothing against marriage or other forms of domestic partnerships and I’m sure many people are extremely happy in their marriages. But what irks me is the assumption that many/most married people have that people who are not married are defacto unhappy or missing something in their lives. That they’d be happier if only they were married. This assumption really offends me and that’s the theme I was hoping to bring out in my book. That happiness comes in all kinds of packages. It’s not one-size-fits-all kind of thing. And without turning this in to a way-too-personal post when it was supposed to be a movie review… I’m not anti relationship. If the right man came along. Sure. But I so love the freedom I have now to do whatever I want whenever I want.

Now, my book never got off the ground for a variety of reasons… I may still write it some day… but watching the film Married Life made me think about it again, because it made me a little bit happier about my single status.

The Globe and Mail reviewer, Kamal Al-Solaylee suggested in his review that the film Married Life poses two questions. One: can you build your happiness on the unhappiness of others; and two: can attempted murder spice up a marriage.

All I can say to that second question is, “HUH?” Did we see the same film? Just shows how different two people’s perceptions of the same film can be. I’m really curious to know if Mr. Al-Solaylee is married and my guess would be yes. And that his marriage needs some serious spicing up. For me, the second very obvious question asked in the film was: Can you ever really know what’s going on in the heart and mind of the person sleeping next to you.

In fact, that question was not just implied, it was specifically asked. And to me, that’s what the film was about. It was a pretty depressing take on marriage if you ask me. Now, not to get too biased the other way, at the end of the film all the characters seemed outwardly happy. Like I said before, happiness comes in all kinds of packages. But by the end of the film there were a lot of secrets never shared between all the couples. Big secrets (including an attempted murder) brushed under the rug, never to be discussed in order to save relationships.
Hmmm… Now that I think of it, perhaps it wasn’t meant to be an entirely negative look at marriage, merely a realistic one but brought to an extreme to make a point.

Interesting film, anyway. Not amazing. Didn’t entirely work for me, I think mostly because of the Chris Cooper character. I normally love him in just about anything… but I found his character’s motivations too much of a stretch to be believable in this story. But obviously the film got me thinking.

I’d recommend it as a rental, unless if you suspect (or know) there’s a big secret between you and your significant other. Warning. Watching this film together might bring secrets to the surface, and this film certainly suggests that some things are best left buried.

  8 comments for “Married Life

  1. March 29, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Thanks for the review Maureen. I had not heard of this movie but I will check it out on video.

    I, being a maried woman for many years, think that sometimes it’s a misery loves company thing or a happiness loves company thing. Everything has it’s ups and downs. But there’s a real reason that the divorse rate is so high. I think too many peoplee think marriage is the end and be all to happiness and that is not true. It’s real work, problems and yeah some love thrown in. Like life.

  2. March 29, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    Wise words, Kwana. Wise words.

  3. M.
    March 29, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    hi maureen.
    i agree with your premise (happiness in all shapes and sizes) and think the concept of your book very interesting (maybe you’ll pick it up again one day?). for me the question isn’t whether different types of life can bring equal happiness (is such a thing can be measured), the question is, how is it that so many people spend their time pursuing a certain form of happiness (if only i could achieve x, then i’d be happy!) and don’t really recognize all the little day to day happinesses that fill their lives.

  4. March 30, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    I think you may have hit on what irks me about my married friends who assume I’d be happier if I were also married… I guess I don’t believe in yearning for one specific thing so much that it detracts from the enjoyment of what I do have. I’ve known too many women who were so obsessed with meeting Mr. Right through their twenties and thirties that they let it interfere with their happiness — and then some of those women were no happier once they did find what they thought they thought was the key to their happiness.

  5. March 31, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    I know a lot of truly miserable married people and a lot of brilliantly happy single people. I’ve never found that my happiness is dependent upon someone else.

    I do think that being an independent, kid-free gal forces you into doing something with YOUR life.

    So many wives tell themselves that supporting their husband or raising the next generation is how they’re making the world a better place.

    Not having that excuse forces us to take action, make a difference our own darn selves.

  6. March 31, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    I’m nodding at all the comments — marriage certainly does have it’s good and bad moments!

    But I want to address this comment: “what irks me is the assumption that many/most married people have that people who are not married are defacto unhappy or missing something in their lives”

    Speaking generally… I think the thing that worries the ‘marrieds’ about the ‘singles’ is not so much that they get married per se, but that they experience LOVE. Or perhaps PASSION is a better word.
    Like, if I had a really amazing chocolate bar, I’d share it with my friends because I’d want to them to experience the pleasure…

    See how I can relate EVERYTHING good in life to chocolate? 😀 😀

  7. March 31, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Good point, Wylie…

    But been there, done that, have the t-shirt. Would I go on the trip again? Sure. Definitely. But I don’t feel any great pressure to.

    I love your chocolate analogy… but I think the difference is the societal assumption that women (in particular) have failed if they remain single. No one ever labeled someone or heaped pity on them for not eating chocolate. 😉

    But I do believe in love and passion and all that great stuff. I just don’t believe it’s a prerequisite to happiness. In fact… it can cause a lot of unhappiness, too.

    What I get offended by are the “poor so-and-so, why can’t she find a man” discussions I hear — usually about someone else, but in my presence. I just feel like shouting, “How can you be so presumptuous? Perhaps she doesn’t choose to be with someone right now???”

  8. April 1, 2008 at 1:37 am

    You’re absolutely correct, Maureen, and what irks me is the double standard. A man can ‘choose to remain a bachelor’ but a woman ‘can’t find a man’. WTF?!?

    Same goes for women who don’t choose to have children. There’s this immediate ‘there must be something wrong with her’ reaction, this misplaced pity… (I’m speaking from experience here)

    But I’ll leave that hot topic for another blog post! 😉

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