Fifty Shades of Grey? What do I want my kids to know about movies like this one, when they’re older? Dating? Grown up? Honestly, I can’t think of a movie that portrays what I would consider a healthy relationship. So I’m not even all that alarmed about Fifty Shades. At least it is obvious that the relationship that it portrays is less than ideal. Much of what you see about relationships in movies is less than obvious. It’s insidious.
There’s a reason for that. Movies and novels are written by writers, from their imaginations. They’re not actual lives lived by happy and contented people. They’re imaginings. Fantasies.
Most fantasies aren’t going to make good relationships.
I have a few fantasies. Mostly revolving around a husband whose hobbies include a deep love for washing and polishing the floor, and that has mind reading capabilities. And the ability to make the perfect chocolate mousse on demand. And teleport it to me from work. Fantasies may or may not evolve over time and depending on circumstances.
I’m sure that my partner has fantasies as well. Or things that I could do differently or like better or spend less time on or more time on.
Instead we have each other.
We have a real life that looks… Well.. It looks like two people. With assorted other small people, the kids. Living together as a family. And real life is gonna look different from relationship to relationship.
What does it look like? It can look like a lot of things. Too many things to list. Too many things for a single person to imagine.
Real life looks like dancing with your wife when she is in labor and holding her up during contractions when she hangs from your shoulder. (The curve from my partner’s neck to his collarbone is still one of the most deliciously comforting places to bury my face.)
Real life looks like sitting by your husband’s hospital bed after he has had emergency surgery and helping him use the bathroom.
Real life looks like partners discussing whether they want to have children, how many children, and sometimes it looks like them disagreeing. Discussing. Resolving. Trying to understand what the other person is experiencing.
Real life looks like being there when your partner is hit by waves of grief after a death in their family. About trying to understand what it is that they need to make it through.
Real life looks like two partners wanting to two very different things. And trying to figure out the logistics of the in-between.
Real life eventually looks like the unromantic aspects of getting old. Arthritis. Incontinence. Mysterious health issues. Figuring out how to get things done when they’re harder to do.
Real life doesn’t look like the movies. It shouldn’t.
If you try too hard to find your examples there, you’ll end up nothing but confused.
It’s simple. In a real relationship you’re in love with a real human being who is probably going to be very different from you in a lot of ways. And your partner is also in love with a real human being that will be very different from them. And both of your wants and needs and desires and hopes and dreams are valid.
So what do you do with that?
Certainly not what you would see in Fifty Shades of Grey.
And not what you would see in the movies.
You sit down and you talk. And you figure things out. Because a relationship isn’t about fulfilling any one person’s fantasy. It’s about two full independent human beings that are trying to build a life together.
Do you want to be tasked with fulfilling someone else’s fantasy at the sake of yourself? Would you want someone that you truly love to give up themselves to fulfill yours?
That only happens in movies. Where actors are given the scripts to act out the fantasy that a writer has created.
Real life isn’t scripted. Real love isn’t scripted.
It plays itself out moment by moment over the lifetime of the people involved.
And it lasts a lot longer than a 125 minute movie.