Romance is at the core of movies but the industry doesn’t portray a realistic picture of relationships and marriage. Different types of marriage are rarely portrayed on the big and small screen. Instead we are fed a movie marriage narrative which is unrealistic and depicts negative stereotypes of both men and women. Times are changing and people are beginning to realise that marriage takes work and that ordinary people can make it work in ways that don’t require a Disney ending. Here are five things that the movies get wrong about marriage.
1. Marriage is not a competitive sport.
Movies frequently portray marriage and weddings in particular as a competitive sport in which women compete against each other to have the “best” wedding. The hapless groom is a mere footnote in the drama. Beautiful, seemingly independent and successful women dook it out with each other and loose all dignity and rationality in the process. In these films the women are portrayed as caricatures and Bridezillas who are fixated on outshining each other on their special day. In Bridewars, Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson battle in an increasingly slapstick feud over their respective weddings. The relationship at the core of the movie is not the life-long commitment of marriage.
In reality wedding days are a tiny drop in the ocean of what makes up a marriage and successful marriages are focussed on the relationship between the couple.
2. Women are not obsessed with getting married
A slew of films recently have featured women who appear to be singularly obsessed with one thing. These apparently independent women are portrayed as fixated with getting the guy and having a wedding. Films like 27 Dresses which portrayed Katherine Heigel as a little pathetic and incomplete as the woman who is always the bridesmaid perpetuate this stereotype.
In reality women are not obsessed with being married and many men and women are choosing to remain single for their lives. Millennial women are not consumed with finding Mr. Right. In fact in 1960, 60% of women between 18 and 26 were married. Today that number is less that 20%.
3. All women are not nags and all men are not hapless fools
Most movies that portray marriage often portray a long suffering woman nagging an unfortunate fool of a man baby. The audience is often left wondering why this living saint of a woman is putting up with her husband while at the same time pitying him for the endless onslaught of pestering or frigidity. While Bruce Willis makes a great action hero he portrays an unhelpful stereotypical husband in Die Hard and The Last Boyscout.
The depiction is also seen in Hangover franchise
Marriage in real life involves both partners taking an equal role in family, married and domestic life. In order to secure wedded bliss married people need give and take with both partners taking responsibility for chores and decisions in the couple’s life.
4. Men really don’t hate being married
In The Hangover Phil tells Doug that once he’s married he’ll die a little every day. The sentiment is echoed in countless movies including Bachelor Party. Too often men are portrayed in films as dreading marriage or trapped in marriages that are a slow and tedious form of torture from which they are powerless to escape.
In reality marriage between two adults involves partnership and continues to develop and grow over the years. Many studies reveal that married men are happier than single men.
5. All In-laws are not obnoxious, interfering and toxic.
Movies often poke fun at in-laws and play the conflict between them and the couple for comic effect. The in-laws hate the person their son or daughter is married to and are unabashed when it comes to sharing their feelings and attempting to sabotage the relationship. While films like Meet the Parents depict the in-laws as overbearing and interfering, the reality of marriage is totally different.
Many married couples have little to do with their in-laws while in other marriages the in-laws form a vital part of the young married couple’s support structure including providing childcare. In real life if in-laws are a toxic influence on the marriage the couple needs to take steps to address this.
Conflict makes for great movie subject mater but conflict is an ingredient best avoided in marriage.