Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Marriage Story By: Candice Smith

While recovering from a New Year’s illness last week, I had a block of time to watch something on Netflix. With no children around to curb what I’d watch, I chose a drama that seemed riveting to me. A Marriage Story was the name and it stars Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, and Alan Alda among others. I felt I couldn’t go wrong. I knew the premise of the movie – a couple was in the process of a divorce – but felt certain there would be a happier ending as the title is A Marriage Story.

I was wrong.

Spoiler Alert, but you probably don’t need one like I did. The couple DO divorce. I was incensed.


Because I’m absolutely tired, fed up, and over movies where the couple disintegrates. Where love is lost – obliterated even – and dies. Where the couple most move on from one another to find happiness.


Listen, I’m NOT a Pollyanna, but I’m a sucker for a Happy Ending.

In the decade or two (three?), I cannot think of many or ANY movies where a couple falls in love, struggles, and then STAYS TOGETHER better for the journey.

Ryan and Candice Smith
January 9, 1993

Let me offer a personal backstory:  my husband and I are celebrating our 27th wedding anniversary on January 9th. It’s a big number for any couple, but especially since I am 47 and he 50. In fact, we’ve actually been together since I was 14 and he 17. So, Happy Endings mean a lot to him and me.

Realizing that many marriages end in divorce is a fact I’ve lived with my entire life. My husband and I have had great marriage models in our parents and grandparents – all married for over fifty years. But my brothers are both divorced, friends from all parts of our lives are divorced. It’s an epidemic.

Whereas I understand Art has a duty to show divorce for those going through it to understand they are not alone, where is that for couples who want to sustain?

Disney has even done away with “classic” fairy tale endings. Apparently having our daughters believe being a Princess is fine, but in no way should she ever love or have faith in a Prince.

Great, what message does that send our sons?

I am a mother of two sons and one daughter. I have a vested interest in raising both sexes to the light. To show them a world that allows them to be the best they can be, AND to learn to love unabashedly so when they choose a mate, they can defy the odds and collect years upon years of wedding anniversaries like their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.

But what if their future-spouses aren’t raised that way? Then what?

Perhaps an over-simplification, but I think today’s youth – Hell, today’s Society – NEEDS romantic movies, books, and media where the couple STICKS TOGETHER. Where the relationship is held in high esteem, is WORTH WORKING ON, and is a source of COMFORT, not a death knell to happiness.

Marriage is worth the time, the commitment, and the work. Yes, work. It is HARD WORK to make a marriage last. It’s NOT easy. But it can be so worthwhile.

Should every marriage last? No, not in my opinion. Surprised? Don’t be. I know some marriages are toxic, unhealthy to both. Sometimes addiction, abuse, and culture are insurmountable. I believe those people need to be let go of their vows and find health and happiness apart.

But, for most of us, if marriage is entered, it should be the priority for a lifetime. With children, it is a necessity.

My cousin married her love yesterday. She was a beautiful bride and he a handsome groom. They are educated, are gainfully employed, and seem to be blissfully in love. The bride’s parents have been happily married for over thirty years.

But I worry. Is she equipped with the tools to stick with the marriage when it doesn’t seem fun? When romance wains, financial crisis hits, or children invade the status quo, will they dig in and work hard, or secure lawyers to get out? Does he have a marriage model or are his folks apart?

I am an optimistic person who, frankly, loves love, but this movie A Marriage Story truly rattled me. I wish the beautiful couple well and pray they make it.

As for my husband and me, our lives are NOT perfect. Far from it. We fight, we argue, we face uncertainties, we are living a fast-paced life. We bring insecurities to the table daily, and we continue to evolve. The marriage has taken a beating in the nearly three decades since we said our vows. But it still has a strong heartbeat. There is love, passion, and compassion.

A few days ago I worried about what to gift my husband for our 27th Anniversary. Money is tight. He likes experiences more than things in this stage in his life. I’m not so creative that way.

What I’m giving him is this, my staunch defense of Marriage. The knowledge that no matter how badly he screws up, I love him and will stand by him. And, conversely, that no matter how badly I screw up, I hope he will continue to love me as fervently as he has for these last 33 years.

I love my husband and cannot imagine a world without him. This is our Marriage Story. It stars Ryan and Candice Smith, not Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. It ends with a marriage intact, not another couple divorced.

We may not be headliners, superstars, or in the majority, but we’ll stay married against the odds.

Happy Anniversary, Honey. I love you always and forever. I hope you liked the experience so far.