Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It's the 'H' word for "Nights in Rodanthe"

I try to use it sparingly. About people or food I'll (almost) never use it. When I use it the most often is regarding washing the dishes...

The above is stated to assure you that I say this with much thought and intention: I hate the movie "Nights in Rodanthe". The movie was predictable but I don't mind a predictable movie. It was a sappy chick-flick but I don't mind that either. What I hated about this movie is the frontal assault on marriage.

Here's the plot in simplest terms: A woman has separated from her husband because he was unfaithful - he cheated on her. She has their 2 kids (10 yr old boy and early-teen girl) in their house and dad is out on his butt. Her friend owns an ocean-front inn in Rodanthe, NC. The friend is gone on vacation so our lead actress stays at the inn for a week as care-taker for sake of a single guest who insisted on staying there for a few days despite the off-season. Enter the guest, a hansome older gent with personal problems, not unrelatable to our care-taker. She's professionally hospitable for a day, inquisitive for a day, and by the end of the week :::spoiler alert::: they shack up together. This inspires a relationship that, though they never see each other again, will change both of them forever as they remain hopelessly in love with each other.

In and of itself, the movie wasn't bad. It was written decently, acted well, and kept your attention. There were a few tiny inconsistancies good enough for the amusement of nerds like me. Fair? Fair. Here's what kills this movie for me:

Before our lead actress runs off for the week, her husband returns on hands and knees. He repents of his sins and begs to come back. She actually considers it, too. Being strong and cautious, she tells him to give her this time away to think it over and he aquiesces. He takes the kids, she's off to Rodanthe. We're then assulted by her friend, the inn owner, playing the familiar role of the antagonizing girlfriend who calls him a reptile and does nothing to help the situation. The long and short of the rest of the movie is that we are taught that you can find that one perfect someone who will make everything wonderful for the rest of your life. Someone worth throwing away your marriage for. There is no excuse for this.

Here's the rub: I am that guy for my wife. She was in a bad marriage. When it was over, we got together and, before long, we got married. To borrow a line from the movie, my wife will tell you I have given her "a love that gives you the courage to be better than you are, not less than you are. One that makes you feel that anything is possible." I love to know I have done that for my wife. So how can I be mad at Richard Gere for playing the same role that I'm playing myself? That took much thought to reconcile.

This is what I've realized:
My wife's marriage was far more injurious that what was depicted on screen. Our relationship cultivated over years, not days. I've never seen the pain and suffering my wife has, so I don't feel so paralleled to their story. Instead, I fear a parallel to the story of her and her husband.

No human being is immune to adultery. I'm afraid that, should I ever go down that treacherous and wicked road, there will be no hope of recovery. That's what this movie teaches us. Don't bother taking hiim back because he was the wrong one for you and there's that perfect someone out there waiting for you. The same would be said if my wife ever cheated on me. It shouldn't be that way, though! The Lord has brought my wife and me together. His strength has kept us through very, very hard times. There IS hope for broken marriages but this movie want's no one to believe that. My biggest fear it that it's the standard message.

For anyone who might read this, I should say this aloud: I don't know the pain of adultery. I've never suffered at the hands of a cheating spouse. I don't know what the loss of trust and faith is like. I know there is a lot about that situation I know nothing about, and I make no claims to it. If you are that person, please don't interpret my commentary to say I know how you feel and I know your pain. What I DO know is that the Lord had brought couples through it before, and He will do it again. Seek Him and his strength and his guidance. There is hope for the hurting in this world. If you know the grace and the love that God has offered to us - if you've tased the mercy bought by the blood of Christ... if you truely know the forgiveness we have in the Lord, then it will only be natural to extend that mercy and forgiveness to a spouse who has returned on his knees.


buddhafisch said...

Hmmm... let me do this delicately, since I truly do like the post, and do not want to attack it.

As you know, I have been that cheating spouse. Not proud of it, not in the slightest. But as Popeye would say, I ams what I ams. I also have not seen the movie, nor do I ever plan to.

However, let me ask this. If the Lord brings us together as couples, and marriages can be saved, why do so many fail, especially Christian marriages? Second part of the question: If the Lord has brought you and your wife together, than the cheating, lying, and ultimately, divorce of her first marriage were necessary to that plan, no?

Now, the final question. If divorce is sometimes part of His plan, how am I to know if divorce is right or wrong in a given situation? How do I know if He is trying to tell me that the divorce is needed for His plan to work and lead me to the one I should be with forever, or if I am to seek forgiveness and work out the relationship I am in at the time.

(Keep in mind all of this is hypothetical. I am beyond happy in my marriage. Just want to be clear on that.)

Newnik said...

"If the Lord brings us together... why do (marriages) fail...?"

This has an unfortunately simple answer: God has given us piles of direction and guidance and we don't accept it. Many of us, and this isn't intended to be pointed, ignore and/or avoid Him outright, thus never getting that direction. If I weren't so lazy, I'd reference verses here. Suffice it to say, you can find any bible with a concordance and look up husband or wife references in the new testament and get plenty of examples quickly.

Another plank in this answer is this: marriage is not always holy matrimony. By that I mean you and your spouse are partners in a covenant. Not everyone invites God into that covenant, and not everyone who invites him really expects him to participate (read: prayer, supplication, obedience).

By the way, this applies to Christian marriages, too.

Newnik said...

"If the Lord has brought you and your wife together, then the cheating, lying, and ultimately, divorce of her first marriage were necessary to that plan, no?"

This whole line of questions really point to God's sovereignty and providence. In lay terms, God has the right of first and last say in everything (sov.), and He has an ultimate and final plan that will be completed (prov.).

Basically, I see it this way:
From Malachi 2:16 - "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel
From Genesis 50:19 - "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good..."

These are individual examples of truths that are found all thru the bible. God wants us to never divorce. If we do, it does not affect His infinite plans (whatever they are), and He is apt to take our wrongs and turn them to His good, and often ours too. The question ultimately turns on you: do you want to be a part of that good, or will you simply be used that way?

Newnik said...

" am I to know if divorce is right or wrong in a given situation? How do I know if He is trying to tell me that the divorce is needed for His plan to work and lead me to the one I should be with forever, or if I am to seek forgiveness and work out the relationship I am in at the time."

Long story short, read the bible and learn His will. If He says 'I hate divorce', it's a safe bet he's doesn't want you to do it. You can't make your spouse cooperate, so do everything in YOUR power. Ultimately He rewards faith. As in Romans 8:28 - "...we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."