My position as coordinator of the diocesan Office of Marriage Preparation and Enrichment gives me an opportunity to explore material that could be beneficial to engaged couples as well as to long-term married couples.
The material comes from many sources, and some of the best sources are personal suggestions from friends or family. I recently received many recommendations to see the movie, “Hope Springs” that has been in theaters.
This movie stars Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell and is for an adult audience. Television advertisements portray this film as a comedy, and although there are some humorous scenes, it is very much a drama. “Hope Springs” is a frank portrayal of a couple’s personal marriage crisis, and while it does not come from a Catholic perspective of marriage, mature moviegoers will be able to identify its virtues while being aware of the film’s failings.
The premise of the film is that a couple finds their marriage in a stagnant state after 31 years. The wife wants to reconnect but doesn’t know how to go about it. She convinces her husband to attend an intense, week-long counseling session to work on their relationship. The hard work begins when they start to work their way through the suggestions and recommendations given to them by the counselor.
This movie could be used as a marriage enriching “date night.” Not because you might be experiencing the same difficulties depicted in the film but because all marriages go through cycles of ups and downs. It is easy to get trapped in a “down” cycle because it is too much trouble to work on getting things back to the “up” cycle.
The film might help you reflect on the highs and lows of your own marriage and open a discussion on how you successfully worked through the down periods in the past. It is helpful to remember even the small successes because with each positive outcome your confidence in your relationship grows.
As illustrated in “Hope Springs,” sometimes a couple might need a third party to help them navigate the rough or, in this case, stagnant waters. Fortunately, we have Catholic Charities counselors ready to help. You can find a counselor in your area at www.ccetn.org or by calling the new phone counseling service at 1-877-790-6369.
Finally, it is important to remember that whenever we are trying to improve our relationships we should keep in mind St. Paul’s beautiful thought in his letter to the Corinthians: Love never fails.
Mrs. Christiana is coordinator of the diocesan Marriage Preparation and Enrichment Office.