Dating Tips from ‘Hope Springs’
I was a little skeptical about seeing ‘Hope Springs’. What would it be like to see an aging Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as a couple struggling to keep their marriage together? Did I really want to see them kissing? Not so much. I also feared that the movie would resurface some of the pain I experienced in my own marriage. I have been divorced for five years. Did I really want to be dragged into someone else’s painful marriage for an hour-and-a-half?
In the end, when my friend asked me to see the movie, I accepted her invitation. After all, how bad can a movie be with some of my favorite stars; Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carell?
I’m happy to report that I wasn’t disappointed. The movie was delightful, if a little draggy during some of the therapy sessions.
Tommy Lee Jones’ character, Arnold, represented the epitome of a stereotypically shut down, guarded, non-communicative man.
Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold are a couple steeped in an agonizing routine; same breakfast every single day, same newspaper, same rituals day in, day out for 31 years. Ouch! That’s enough to make me cringe.
Kay wants to spice things up and recharge her marriage. She hears of a renowned couple’s therapist (Steve Carell) in the small town of Great Hope Springs, Maine, and persuades Arnold to go for a week of marriage therapy.
The real challenge for the two of them is peeling back the layers of walls they’ve both built around their relationship.
The therapist is quite patient as he gently (and then not so gently) coaxes the two of them to step way outside of their comfort zone and reconnect to the sparks that brought them together three decades ago.
As I left the theater, I knew a blog post was in order. I just didn’t yet know what I wanted to focus on.
There were a few things that resonated for me that can be applied to the dating arena.
Dating Tips from “Hope Springs”
1. Men like to feel like they’re winning. There’s a scene where Arnold reveals the pivotal moment that made him shut down to his wife. He said that he felt like no matter what he did, it fell short of Kay’s expectations. He told the therapist that Kay didn’t actually express her disapproval verbally, but he felt her disgust through her body language. So, ladies, your man may annoy you, but be careful how you express it. You don’t want to make him feel judged or like he’s not good enough. Appreciate him often for the good that he does, and you’ll have a better shot at communicating what’s not working without causing him to feel like he’s losing with you.
2. Communicate!!!! This couple hadn’t shared their feelings in decades. They just shut down into their own cocoons. It’s so important to communicate your feelings in a relationship. Don’t make assumptions about what the other person is feeling or needing. Communication draws you closer when you do it well and with the right intention. Be open and receptive. Get curious, and don’t just to any conclusions about anything without checking things out first.
3. Sex is the glue in your relationship. Kay and Arnold hadn’t had sex in so long, they could barely remember the last time. Add to that their lack of communication about sex, and you can imagine the distance that grew between them. A healthy sex life is essential to a good relationship. Work on it. Discuss it. Find out what turns you both on. Go outside your comfort zone. Be playful and open. Have fun!
4. Relationships take work. It’s hard enough to find a person you want to be in a relationship with! Once you’ve found that person, you should not take it for granted. A great relationship takes nurturing. Don’t be afraid to go to therapy if things are not working.
5. Some relationships are not meant to be. You can only recapture a spark if there was one in the first place. For many failed relationships, the spark was never there. There is nothing to recapture. The therapist admits this towards the end of Kay and Arnold’s intensive week of therapy. Sometimes it’s best to call it quits. But for those who are lucky enough to have the foundation of a great relationship, it’s a shame to throw it all away before trying your best to make things better.
I enjoyed this movie, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on ‘Hope Springs’. Please share your comments below.