Love on the rocks

I just saw Hope Springs. It’s about a couple in their 50s who’ve forgotten how to touch, love or connect with each other.

It made me laugh and cry. Steve Carrell asking Tommy Lee Jones about his sex life was pretty entertaining. Meryl Streep’s abject unhappiness in her marriage was pretty devastating.

The movie has received mixed reviews but I found the underlying message quite powerful: don’t let your marriage atrophy.

It frightened me because I can see how easily it could happen.

Husband and I have been together 22 years, married for 12 of them. That’s a looooooong time to spend with one person.

You start taking your partner for granted. You stop communicating about anything other than the general mechanics of life. You no longer stay up all night chatting, fascinated by each other’s views and opinions. The constant touching and glazed adoration is gone.

There is no mystery. There are no surprises.

I fell out of love with Husband once, pre-kids. We went on a holiday to Europe and fought the entire time. Mainly about getting lost and ham sandwiches. (I’m not great with maps, he’s not great with pork, a lethal combo in rural Spain.)

I disliked him intensely by the end of the trip. I didn’t love him again for a whole year afterwards. Strangely, I didn’t say a word.

I stayed in the relationship because I was scared of the alternative and didn’t want to hurt him. I pretended everything was fine, but I was miserable.

Fortunately, my heart eventually softened and I fell in love with him again.

I worry sometimes that he’s fed up with me and my infuriating insecurities and silences. What if he’s the one pretending everything’s fine now, but is secretly miserable, just hanging in there hoping the love will return?

I often joke that he can’t divorce me because of the kids – he’s crazy about them – but what happens when they move out of home?

Do we become Meryl and Tommy’s emotionally stunted characters in Hope Springs?

God, I hope not. I really couldn’t cope with intensive couples’ therapy, discussing our non-existent sex life with a stranger, laying ourselves bare to try and fix something so badly broken.

Because, unlike Hollywood movies, I’m not sure the happy ending is as easy to achieve in real life.


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