“I’m not in love with you anymore” … seven short but terrible words that bring love to an end, presumably. “Presumably” because it is not necessarily true that if a couple is experiencing a crisis and their feelings go dormant, then there’s no future. There is always a second chance for true love.
Here are three films that help us understand the pain that comes from not fulfilling marriage vows or that offer concrete tips for regaining intimacy that has been lost. True, these are just movies and shows, but maybe we can find something good and true in what they explore.
The Affair (TV series, 5 seasons)
This show is about Noah and Helen, parents of four children, who live in Brooklyn. Like every year, they pack their bags and head to Montauk, a small fishing town at the far east end of Long Island, where they plan to spend their summer vacation at her parents’ mansion. Noah’s salary as a public school teacher is not enough to support the whole family, and he craves quiet time to be able to write his second book, which he hopes will be more successful than the first. In contrast, Helen’s dad is a successful writer who never misses an opportunity to make Noah feel bad about his lacking economic means by doting on his family members. On the way to his father-in-law’s house, while they are having lunch at a pitstop, one of the kids nearly chokes to death; Alison, the family’s waitress, steps in and saves her. Noah goes to thank Alison and finds her crying. In that moment, there is an immediate attraction between them, even though both are married.
The Affair, a series which lasted five seasons, tells the story of marital betrayal and its destructive effects. A man and a woman, both already married, feel strongly attracted to one another, and the authors, Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi, realistically tell us the impact their infidelity has on the children and the spouses they betray.
The pain the two lovers experience only confirms an often-unspoken truth: cheating harms the cheater first and foremost. Their lives have become fragile again, they experience constant uncertainty, and are suddenly repentant.
Familyandmedia recommends this series for couples who might want to reflect on the causes and consequences of cheating.
War Room (Alex and Stephen Kendrick, 2015)
Elizabeth is a real estate agent and Tony a pharmaceutical sales representative. Married and parents of a 10-year-old daughter, they see their marriage coming to an end because they are constantly fighting.
They both see the other as the cause of their unhappiness, and because of pride, no one is willing to take the first step to restore peace.
Then Elizabeth meets Clara, a sympathetic old woman of deep, sincere faith, at a business meeting. The lady explains to Elizabeth, as a mother would to her daughter, that she and her husband are fighting the “wrong battle.”
Clara manages to establish a level of trust with Elizabeth and offers her advice. The first and most important thing for Elizabeth to do is to start praying for Tony instead of attacking him.
As their greatest trial is about to hit (when a friend warns her that her husband is about to cheat on her), she begins “to draw her weapons” as Clara suggested… she trusts God with all her heart. She asks that her husband may become the best version of himself.
After much resistance, Elizabeth abandons resentment, responds to indifference with charity, to cynicism with a smile. It is the beginning of the revolution.
When Elizabeth opens herself up to forgiveness, when she humbly embraces her husband as he is, it is in that moment that miracles happen in their marriage and in their family. Even the husband, feeling unconditionally loved, begins to reflect and wants to change.
Familyandmedia recommends this show for couples who might be going through a crisis that is causing you to see your spouse as an enemy. The movie illustrates the importance of loving above all else and forgiveness.
Fireproof (Alex Kendrick, 2008)
The film begins by showing us the parallel lives of Caleb and Catherine. He is a firefighter who also works with search and rescue operations, and she works in a hospital as a public relations officer. They lead parallel lives because their paths rarely cross, not just because Caleb has 24-hour long shifts, but also because they no longer understand each other.
They don’t have children, and he spends his free time in front of the computer, distracting himself with porn and setting aside all his savings for a boat (his big dream). She makes his life unpleasant by never making him dinner or doing the shopping, to show him how little he cares for her and the household.
Both, instead of reflecting on their own misbehavior, can’t find any solution besides being consoled by their respective friends, complaining about how misunderstood they are.
Caleb’s father, faced with his son’s decision to ask for a divorce, talks to him, and suggests that he follow a 40-day plan of action that he himself followed in the past to overcome the crisis he had with his own wife.
Caleb begrudgingly accepts. He follows a series of actions that show his wife attention and care, that grow increasingly more committed.
This movie is quite courageous in showing a character who doesn’t resolve his problems on his own, but through faith as well.
Familyandmedia recommends this movie for those who would like to ponder the sacredness of marriage, its supernatural aspect, and the transforming power of small gestures of love repeated over time.