Before You Get Engaged

Questions to contemplate if you're thinking of marriage.

Is your relationship like a Hollywood Romance? Beware!

Don't go to Hollywood for relationship advice

 Hollywood gets it wrong.  The sentence, "This isn't how it happens in the movies" has been uttered by many a person after the first nine months or so in a new relationship.  Like some stereotypes, Hollywood's  portrayal of the blossom of first love, passion, and overcoming odds and adversity has some basis in real life-that's one of the reasons we may relate to certain characters and situations.  We imagine, based on our experience perhaps, things really could be this way, so we suspend disbelief and are drawn into the action.  And, if we're lucky, maybe for an hour, or a day, or a month or two-they are.  But the nuts and bolts of working through the hard stuff in a relationship are rarely fully fleshed out on the silver screen.  Hollywood's portrayal of romance has a potent, influential effect on what we feel a relationship should really be with another person, and is capable of diverting our attention from what it actually is.  Strange that Hollywood dictates reality for so many, since we ourselves are in fact the real people, and the ones on screen are the fantasies or caricatures of us!

Films and TV shows often contrast the beauty and purity of youthful love, full or promise and passion, with the old, stale, "out of touch" relationships of the characters' elders.  This sets up an unfortunate dilemma: we feel we must embody the passionate, optimistic, empathetic love of youth and early relationships or else be crushed by the empty, lifeless shell of the boring, pay the bills, drive the minivan, take out the garbage, workaday reality of our parents.  As if these two simplified, polar opposite pictures were the only two options in life!  Hollywood would like to sell us on these extreme, opposite caricatures because they make far better drama on screen.

We can't let ourselves be controlled internally by such black-and-white simplifications of real relationships.  You can have a real, intimate partnership while at the same time embracing the responsibilities of adulthood.  In other words, like most things in life, there is a lot of richly hued gray!  As time passes and a relationship between two open people matures, shared passion grows and leaves you more satisfied year by year than the best-written two-hour or even ten-hour-long film could possibly show.

More on Hollywood, Media and relationship distortions in my next blog, "Why is he or she your dream partner?"

*This blog is based on Chapter 2 "Hollywood gets it wrong" in my book, 51 things you should know before getting engaged, Turner Publishing, 2009. (www.the51things.com)

 

Michael Batshaw, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and author of the new book, 51 Things You Should Know Before Getting Engaged.

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