“Hope Springs”, is a romantic comedy featuring Tommy Lee Jones as “Arnold” and Meryl Streep as “Kay.” The movie depicts a outwardly stable marriage of 31 years, a wife longing for more intimacy, a husband going through the motions, a couple grown far apart. As Kay makes stumbling attempts to move closer she is met with clumsy resistance by Arnold. Finally, after seeking out some self-help methods, she makes the drastic step of signing them up for a “marriage intensive.” A week long-encounter with a therapist in Maine (Dr. Feld played by a surprisingly serious Steve Carell) results in some painful, heartwarming highs and lows and the couple struggles through the walls created by years of only surface level communication. I’ll leave out the ending here, as perhaps you haven’t seen it, and I don’t want to spoil it.
While a 1 hour and 40 minute film can’t do justice to the depth of a marriage intensive, Hollis and I were surprised at accuracy of the dynamics that were portrayed: deep relational loneliness in the context of marriage, regrets over lost years, anger and resentment made worse by lack of communication skills, sexual frustration, the pain of failed repair attempts and sadness coming from a growing sense of hopelessness.
If you find yourself and your partner in a place where you are experiencing some of these things we deeply encourage you to reach out for help. In a five-year study of couples in serious distress, 67% of those couples who did not divorce, and who reported marital satisfaction after five years, had one thing in common: they had reached out for help. Talk to a friend, pastor, read a book, do something, anything, to move closer to your partner. It is worth the effort to know you have tried your very best. If you think you might be ready for investing in a marital intensive, we encourage you to read about our marriage intensives. Hollis and I have a passion for bringing our personal and professional experience to bear in these intensives. Consider taking a step today that could change the color of your life.