Monday, July 7, 2014

112 Weddings & the BLOW OFF

Have you guys checked out the HBO documentary 112 Weddings yet?  You need to.  The premise is simple.  The filmmaker, Doug Block, has been filming weddings for years as a side gig and decides to revisit couples to see how life panned out for them.  It's kind of an intense/uncomfortable ninety-minute Where Are They Now episode, but I loved it.  Out of all the couples Block contacted only eight agreed to be interviewed.  Here's what I learned from them:

*Kids can really screw up a relationship.  Like, a lot a lot.  Several of the couples admitted that their marriages were exactly what they expected them to be until they had children and everything went to shit.  No one actually went as far as saying they wish they didn't have kids, but you could tell for many the relationship took a turn for the worse.  It seems we get hitched at the happiest/most stable point in a relationship, but maybe that's actually when kids should be introduced into the equation?

*Second to kids, mental illness was the next huge hurdle in a marriage.  Surprisingly, not many people mentioned financial pressures.  Danielle & Adam have been married for only five years when Block interviews them, but their relationship seems to be the most strained of all the married couples.  And Adam for his part deserves a husband of the year award.  In the wedding footage, Danielle is one of the more blushing/happy brides we see.  Five years later, she's been struggling with severe depression and suicidal thoughts.  She explains that she's dealt with depression since her teen years, but everything got worse when she started taking hormones to get pregnant.  They now have a daughter and Adam admits that he often feels like a single parent.  It's really sad.  You kind of wish you could reach into the TV and shake Danielle and tell her to snap out of it (if only it were that simple).  And unless Adam's just hamming it up for the camera, he's extremely supportive of his wife who is sadly still very much in the bell jar. I'm rooting for things to get better for these two.  

*Everyone lets themselves go a little bit once they get married.  Don't get me wrong.  Some of the couples were interviewed ten to twenty years after they got hitched, so obviously people age and metabolisms slow the f&*k down.  But when wedding footage is directly juxtaposed with present-day interviews, it was hard not to notice how many people put on weight.  Again, we can blame the kids for this.  Women have to deal with the pregnancy weight and no one has time to exercise when you're raising children. This was not true of the minority women interviewed who still looked fantastic.

*A woman's career is vital to the happiness of the marriage (if she wants one of course).  Unless your wife always dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom, then she's probably not going to be happy about being the full time parent and might resent you for it. 

*There are A LOT of ugly wedding dresses out there.

*Unhappy couples are always the most interesting ones to watch.  Of the couples interviewed, two were now divorced.  (There were more divorces overall, but those couples did not agree to be interviewed).

#1 David & Janice: These two wore their neuroses on their sleeves.  At their wedding, there's footage of David organizing all of his anti-depressants and Janice introducing her therapist to the camera.  On one hand, you might think: they don't stand a chance together.  BUT on the other hand, maybe they're dealing with their shit instead of suppressing it and they'll be happier than everyone.  Sadly, the former turns out to be true.  Only David agrees to be interviewed.  He admits that during his nine year marriage to Janice, he had a psychotic break due to a failed screenwriting career and had to be hospitalized.  He takes full responsibility for everything that went wrong in their marriage.  This interview broke my heart a little bit, because it felt like there was part of David that was hoping Janice was watching and would take him back.

#2 Steve & Sue: These two were calling it quits after nineteen years of marriage.  Steve was one of the rare instances of being overweight in the wedding footage, but skinnier in the follow-up interview.  And he actually pointed out that his weight loss (and boost in self-confidence) played a role in him losing interest in his wife.  Sue said that after they had three kids (again, kids apparently ruin everything) she focused all of her energy on the children and not on the marriage.  Well, after 19 years Steve asked for a divorce.  When their therapist recommends that they hold off on seeing other people during their separation-- Steve says he's not down with that.  Watch the documentary to find out why.

*The happiest couple wasn't married.  Okay, these two kind of seemed like they were straight out of a Christopher Guest film, but instead of having a wedding they opted for a partner commitment ceremony.  It's implied that this arrangement means they can actually screw other people, because they're supposed to love each other unconditionally.  When Block follows up with them twenty years later, they have two kids and I thought they came off less tense and resentful than some of the other couples.  BUT they've also decided to finally get married and make it official.

*Rabbis say really wise things.  Like-- the more money and alcohol you throw out a wedding, the better it is.  The more money and alcohol you throw at a marriage, the worse it is.  AND my favorite quote: Happy weddings are a dime a dozen. Happy marriages are much more rare and therefore precious in the world.

True dat.

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