Movies often depict marriage in unrealistic ways full of hyperbole and exaggeration. Depending on the genre, a movie could show marriage as full of problems or completely blissful. However, anybody who has been in a long-term relationship knows that this is not the case in real life.
Some common features of marriage are unrealistically or illogically represented in cinema. However, that does not mean that we cannot learn from these fantastical elements and stories and apply some of the themes or lessons in our own life or marriage.
Love Can Overcome Any Challenge
One of the most common themes of romantic movies is that love can conquer all and that true love can help a couple overcome any challenge in marriage. The main characters will undergo significant conflict, but by the end of the movie, through little effort and lots of joyful love, everything ends up okay.
This is not realistic because love does not always find a way. However, putting in the effort for marriage can help it to succeed in many instances. Love and marriage can take a lot of work and compromise to overcome some of the challenges that inevitably present themselves. As opposed to some of the portrayals in film, marriage is not easy.
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Love Happens Suddenly
The idea of “love at first sight” is a common one in the movies, but it is not the case in real life. In actuality, love takes time and grows and changes with a relationship. Developing a bond that lasts and cultivating the connections between two people does not happen overnight.
Sometimes movies can fuel false expectations about the love that we desire. It is important to realize that you will not fall in love on the first date with someone and it may take time for that type of strong bond to grow.
Spouses Don’t Have Independent Lives
Movies often show a couple solely as a couple and will not always delve into the individuals and their unique perspectives and experiences. Some will show only one of the characters’ lives as independent without developing the other.
This is obviously not a mirror to the truth and every marriage involves two individual and independent people. While the partners can share life, home, dreams, and values, they also have their own paths, memories, and futures.
Marriage is Always Boring or Exciting
Movies have to be entertaining, which can lead to the depiction of marriage as wholly exciting with no downtime or mundane routines that are likely to occur in anybody’s relationship. In other movies, particularly comedies or introductions before the conflict, the characters may have a boring marriage that is the same thing every day, which is unlikely to be realistic for most people who have changes, fears, and situations that alter the couple’s everyday experiences.
In reality, marriage is likely to have ups and downs. Sometimes it will follow a routine that may seem boring, but then there will also be exciting moments spread throughout that ignite the passion and spark within a relationship. It is quite unlikely to only involve one or the other.
Spouses Always Argue
While marriages will inevitably include arguments and disagreements, a lot of movies show spouses arguing regularly despite a continual marriage that is overall happy. Arguments should not be so commonplace that the couple fights all the time. Marriage does require compromise and give-and-take, but arguments are rarely to occur as much as they do in some films and television shows.
Marriage Doesn’t Take Work
A lot of movies show marriage as something easy, which is likely done because there is only so much time to deal with the events of the movie. However, marriage takes effort and work to be successful and lasting. A healthy marriage requires compromise, communication, responsibility, generosity, honesty, and more.
What Can We Learn About Marriage from the Movies?
Even though movies are often unrealistic when it comes to marriage and love, that does not mean that we cannot learn anything from them that we can apply to our own relationship and experience. In fact, one study shows that watching a choice of 47 movies involving intimate relationships as a plot focus. The participants were instructed to watch a movie with their spouse and to discuss 11 open-ended questions after.
The questions were based on the ways that the movie could relate to their own marriage and lives. Questions included ideas about the way the relationship was portrayed, what problems the couple in the movie faced and whether they are similar to real-life problems that are experienced, and whether the characters had a friendship, supported each other, or communicated effectively.
When compared with couples that did not participate in these discussions, the couples who did divorce at a lower rate. While it involved in-depth discussions and communication between the partners, this shows that some of the ideas presented in movies may be helpful in our actual, real-life marriages and relationships.
While movies depict love and marriage in various ways, many of them do not do so realistically. In fact, they get a lot of things wrong that, if followed in real life, could negatively impact our ability to maintain healthy relationships. However, that does not mean that we cannot learn from these types of movies and apply some of the character’s experiences and challenges to our own lives.
Doing so does require some analysis and communication with our partner about the marriage portrayed in the movie and the connections that we can make in relation to our own lives, but research does show that it could be beneficial to watch and discuss romantic movies with our spouse. Even if it doesn’t help, these types of movies can be entertaining and give us alone time with our partner that could improve intimacy and strengthen our bond.