Warning: This post contains spoilers related to the movie “Marriage Story.”
Earlier this month, Netflix knocked our socks off with the release of their new movie, Marriage Story. Starring Scarlett Johannson and Adam Driver, this movie tells the story of a couple’s journey to a happy divorce. Although their path was different than ours and others, they eventually got to a place that will result in peace and happiness for everyone, but most importantly, their son, Henry. We would like to commend everyone involved in the making of this movie for their honest and raw portrayal of divorce.
The story unfolds with Charlie (played by Driver) and Nicole (played by Johannson) reading a letter written for their divorce mediator listing all of the things they love about each other… The list consists of appreciation towards each other’s parenting styles, their senses of humor, and what brings them joy in life. However, Nicole doesn’t feel comfortable reading the letter aloud to the mediator and her ex-husband. From our perspective, the entire plot of this movie hinges on this decision. If Nicole had just set aside her ego and read the letter aloud, this might have been a movie about a happy divorce right from the start.
Collaborative From the Start
When we think about our own divorce, we were not so lucky to approach it collaboratively at first. In A Marriage Story, Charlie and Nicole set out with a positive approach that was quickly derailed by egos, hurt feelings, and outside influences. Our story began with adversity and ended with us eventually getting to the point where we could tell each other what we loved about another, forgive each other for our individual parts in the ending of our marriage, and focus on what was best for our son.
Be On The Look Out For Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing
There is also a similar moment to our experience when Nicole meets with a divorce attorney that claims to have her best interests in mind. We quickly see that her attorney was focused only on “winning” the case. Charlie finds a similarly aggressive attorney determined to win at all costs. During Nicole and Charlie’s divorce proceedings, so much mud is slung, money is spent that neither party can afford, and all for the sake of beating the other in the battle. It begs the question, could all of this have been stopped if Nicole would have just been able to open up and appreciate Charlie for who he was and forgive both herself and him for what they’d done?
The Child’s the Only One Who Matters
What Nicole and Charlie begin to notice is that the real victim of their separation is their son, Henry. We see many hurt feelings, confusion, and instances where Henry is thrown in the middle of their war. This is the very experience that we were trying to prevent in our divorce and the reason that we chose to come together in a collaborative way. We didn’t want Asher to feel like he had to choose where home was. Home was with both of us, together, and we did whatever we could to make him see that.
There Really Are Happy Endings
The part that we appreciate most about this story is that it doesn’t have a sad ending. At the very end of the movie, Henry finds those very letters that his parents wrote to each other at the beginning of their separation. Charlie and Nicole find Henry reading the letters, and this story turns full circle back to the fact that Charlie and Nicole did love each other at one point, and there were qualities that they still admired about each other. There could be a happy divorce at the end of all of this.
The story ends with Charlie and Nicole embracing Henry and traveling down a road to the start of the new version of their family. One that is not filled with hate, but filled with a promising future for everyone involved. Our big takeaway is the fact that when the kid wasn’t put first in their divorce, they were bound to fail.
Set Your Ego Aside
From our experience, when you put your ego aside and open yourself up to finding a positive approach to your divorce, your family can come together again. The important step is to set out to do what’s best for your child. Children neither choose for their parents to get married, or for their parents to separate, and it’s the parent’s responsibility to protect them and their future. Marriage may not last forever, but parenthood always does.
Watch the trailer for Marriage Story:
This post was previously published on OurHappyDivorce.com and is republished here with permission.
This post is sponsored by Advantage PR.
Read more by Nikki DeBartolo and Benjamin Heldfond:
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Co-authors and ex-spouses Nikki DeBartolo and Benjamin Heldfond talk to The Good Men Project about working toward the best outcome for the family.
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