Who invented the one partner for life rule? And why?
If you’re of the old school, you may well have been happily married for decades… but for Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones), things are a bit stale after 31 years together. Kay would like to spice up her marriage and reconnect with her husband, who seems to spend most of his time perfecting his golf swing in front of the television. “It’s like being married to ESPN,” she says. Plus, they sleep in separate rooms – afraid to even touch each other.
Remarkably, Kay manages to persuade Arnold to join her on a course with couples therapist (Steve Carrell) in the small town of Great Hope Springs, where they are given a series of exercises (or did the therapist say sexercises?) to carry out.
The body language is hilarious – the Econolodge ‘no-smoking’ sign plays a prominent role in one of the bedroom scenes. Kay reads ‘Sex Tips for a Straight Woman from a Gay Man,’ while Arnold fantasizes about a threesome with Carol with the corgis from across the street.
Hope Springs – released on 14th September and directed by David Frankel, of The Devil Wears Prada fame – offers a light-hearted, if formulaic, portrayal of how to overcome loneliness in a marriage ( being light-hearted and formulaic are, I suppose, key factors affecting the survival of a long term relationship).
But is it possible to change a marriage? And how?
Fifty Shades of Grey (I’ve almost finished third and last volume… laters baby) presents in some respects the antithesis of an old fashioned union – and has apparently been responsible for spicing up some couples’ sex lives. Yet it also explores the feelings of confusion and isolation that can occur in any relationship.
In our aggressively consumerist society, we tend to question everything, reducing our chance of a satisfying outcome. The idea of one partner for life seems outmoded, perhaps even obsolete, when there is always imagined to be something better around the corner.
But is there?