Recently I saw Hope Springs starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. Kay and Arnold are a Nebraskan couple married 31 years who have drifted apart and now suffer with a marriage that is routine and emotionally painful! They share no physical affection and any underlying love is all but unrecognizable. Their mutual avoidance is driven by fear! Many of us have had similar moments in our lives.

Anyone who has ever been in an intimate relationship knows there is little in life that is more complex or challenging. While such relationships often begin with strong chemistry, eventually most take us on a journey through all our emotions. Our ways of relating were learned through the guidance and example of the people who raised us. As adults, learned defensive patterns often cast a shadow over the original ecstasy of our love connection. Unless some objective guidance is obtained, this can go on for years. Then, the only thing that promotes any change is intolerable pain and suffering. At this point saving the relationship often depends on the couple having a strong support network – loving friends, family and professional guidance.

Fortunately for Kay and Arnold, they genuinely love each other and in spite of the pain and fear they struggle with, they both want their relationship to work. Their efforts are guided by a skillful therapist and hope returns to their marriage. To its credit the movie does not pretend marital problems of such magnitude, years in the making, are magically resolved in a week.

Some relationships last until life itself is over while others end poorly, destroyed by such defensive maneuvers and cold, toxic rejection. Of course you are co-writer, co-director and co-star in your love relationship, so you have much to say about the script!

When both people in a relationship are willing to look at themselves and own their part in the problems they share, the door to potential success opens. In this way, both reach across the abyss and demonstrate to one another that they are not alone. From here it is possible for them to face their problems together!

We are left with a sense of hope for Kay and Arnold’s marriage. What do you want for your relationship?

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Jeff Levine

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