Lessons from “Hope Springs”, Part2
The timing of the article I read in the Washington Post about the increase in “gray divorces” was ever so timely! Apparently Fairfax County, Virginia has experienced a surge in divorces among men over 60 years of age. It is not surprising based upon either anecdotal or empirical evidence. Couples who do not nourish their relationships lose interest. Women in particular are more willing to risk a diminution in financial stability at a more advanced age to escape unhappy marriages than are men.
This brings me back to the movie “Hope Springs”. The characters portrayed by Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones have been married more than 30 years. As with any relationships that have endured, they’ve had good years, bad years and coasting years. They morphed into separate bedrooms. They hadn’t had sex in years. They stopped communicating. One partner felt complete dissatisfaction and the other just accepted the schism and moved into autopilot. One partner made the decision that things had to change because the status quo was too painful to endure moving forward. They engaged in counseling, with one partner kicking and screaming, and ultimately learned the tools necessary to rekindle the love lurking underneath the years of neglect.
Having experienced a “starter marriage” myself, I learned my original tactics for relationship survival were completely boneheaded and unsuccessful. Fortunately, despite my hard headedness, I learned from my mistakes and have made a concerted effort to work on maintaining what has been for me a stellar relationship. The lessons of “Hope Springs” merely reinforced the theories that I’ve embraced.
These are some of the lessons that keep the positive feelings flowing:
1. Tell your partner you love them & appreciate them every day;
2. Focus on the positive facets of your partner’s characteristics;
3. Don’t go to bed angry;
4. Never be cruel;
5. Be grateful for the little things;
6. Don’t sweat the small stuff; underwear left on the floor is no big deal;
7. Convey appreciation for whatever;
8. Don’t keep score;
9. Laugh often; keep a sense of humor;
10. Give one another space to enjoy separate hobbies or interests;
11. Nurture intimacy;
12. Touch one another – give hugs, a kiss, hold hands;
13. Never take what you have for granted;
14. Be accepting;
15. Do not try to change or control your partner;
These are some take aways from the movie and life experience.
My parents and my in-laws have been married 55+ years. What I didn’t learn from the movie – I’d already learned from them!
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