As I revisited some of my favorite movies from a few years ago, I ran across 2008 film, "Revolutionary Road" starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. Considering the influx of Hollywood divorces, I realized that this is one of many films that explore the difficulties of holding a marriage together. Some might say that the 2010 Oscar-nominated film "Blue Valentine" examines marital decline in greater and more graphic detail. But it is the subtlety of April and Frank's failing relationship in "Revolutionary Road" that strikes a common chord. The hints of this fictional couple's ultimate undoing could certainly be applied to today's failing unions, famous or not.
Starting off on the Wrong Foot…
As we briefly watch April and Frank's courtship, we realize that he had no discernible personal goals. Plenty of people have no idea what they want to do when they "grow up." But in these opening scenes we can already smell the inklings of trouble.
One of the main reasons that marriages fall apart is because couples are unable to grow together. You can't always predict how a person's wants or needs will change in the future. But having no goals at all makes it more difficult to determine whether you'll be able to share your life with another person for the long haul.
Knowing When to Listen…
One of the most uncomfortable situations between April and Frank occurs early in the film after her disappointing performance in a play. Upon returning home, Frank would not listen when she asked him not to talk about her unsatisfying acting debut. It was obvious that she was devastated about her lackluster theater performance. But instead of being sensitive to her feelings, he ignored them, choosing instead to aggravate her about an already awkward incident.
Although we are to believe that Frank didn't mean any harm, it is obvious that April finds his needling incredibly inconsiderate. It's never a good thing to ignore your spouse when they are expressing their very specific needs.
Knowing When to Talk…
Unfortunately, April frequently shut down whenever Frank wanted to address their problems. Whenever she became particularly exasperated with a topic, she yelled at her husband to "leave her alone" -- -- and in some instances, would simply exit the room. It's normal to want to cool off during an argument. But if your first instinct is to angrily stomp away from an issue, you're asking for trouble.
One of the trickiest things about long-term relationships is knowing when to address problems that arise. Good timing is almost always a factor, as it seems there is never a good time to argue. But knowing how and when to approach touchy subjects is one of the keys of strong communication.
Some might also say that these two probably could have found a way to spice up their marriage without traveling across the globe to do so. Traveling far away to Paris was the couple's escape route from a tedious married existence. But that they would take such drastic measures speaks volumes about how unhappy they have probably been for some time.
Plenty of marriages crumble because the romance and excitement have lost steam. Dissatisfaction of either party is typically at the root of most discord. But finding ways to breathe new life into a stale union is often easier than we'd imagine. Sometimes even the smallest changes to a marital routine make the largest impact.
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