The problem with seeing yourself in someone else’s story during the good times is it’s that much harder to watch in the hard ones. Absolutely soul destructive, in the best way.

united states, 2013, english


Before Midnight

It’s all fun and games to insert yourself into a fictional narrative, until the narrative shifts and you’re left holding an uncomfortable space. That’s a fancy way of saying that this just got really real, and really uncomfortable, really fast. I absolutely loved this movie, just like I did the previous two, but I’d be lying if I said my heart wasn’t furiously beating for a lot of it.

The thing is... I really do see a lot of myself and my wife in these characters. Obviously not everything, that would be delusional. But, yeah, there’s a lot of overlap. In the ways that I can be overly rational as a defense mechanism. In the ways that my spouse likes to take things to the ultimate extreme when making a point, especially if we’re having a disagreement. The rhythm of the fight in this film, its musicality if you will, resembles ours to an unsettling degree.

Or, more accurately, resembles the kinds of disagreements we really don’t have much anymore. One of the things my long suffering spouse managed to accomplish with me was to get me to go to therapy. And, after that, she got us to go to couples therapy too. I was very skeptical. For me couples therapy was something that couples in a bad relationship needed. That’s a very wrong idea.

Ask basically any couples therapist and they will tell you that the time to go to therapy is before you get to the make or break point. By that time the only thing the therapist is likely to be able to help you with, is to separate amicably. But if you go when things are still good, when there’s still real love to save, that’s when you can start to unpack the paths your relationship walks, and to forge new ones that maybe aren’t as fighty.

So we used to fight like this. And we used to resolve like this. And maybe we still do, to some degree. But now we tend to have tools and techniques to find a better path to shared understanding. We don’t spend as much time talking past each other. It’s a huge improvement. Love is not a static “happily ever after” kind of thing, after all. At least I don’t think so. It requires maintenance, like a bonsai tree. Maybe someone has a completely uncomplicated and easy permanent love. They are probably also very simple people.