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Marriage Story: A Gentle Reminder To Women To Not Let Go Of Ourselves Completely In A Marriage?

Posted: December 19, 2019

The movie Marriage Story is taking the internet by storm with its beautiful portrayal of a broken marriage. This author watched it and these are her takeaways.

“Marriage Story” is a 2019 American movie written, directed and produced by Noah Baumbach. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, and Azhy Robertson, it is currently streaming on Netflix. It has been getting rave reviews for its sensitive and candid portrayal of the married couple.

The couple- a stage director from New York and his actor wife from LA- struggle through a gruelling coast-to-coast divorce. It pushes them to their personal and creative extremes. The movie also has an eight-year-old whose custody both want.

What begins as a ‘civil-and-a-friendly-separation-with-no-lawyers-involved’ soon turns into an ugly brawl. It has shark-like attorneys hungrily plunging into the troubled waters of an already decayed marriage. They turn it further murkier and muddier by projecting the minor irritants of the couple into major animosity factors.

What the movie made me feel

It is all downhill from there. And very costly at that. In all manners. Because ultimately there are no winners, it is only love that gets punctured.

This piece isn’t an attempt to review the movie. There are enough raving and rapturous pieces breaking the net already. With multiple awards to its name ‘Marriage Story’, (the latest being the Golden Globe Nominations) will soon have a cult fan following.

But I ain’t one of them. The movie didn’t get me bawling. Nope, not even teary-eyed. (I wonder why though? Maybe as Darling-Dotty sometimes blurts in vexation, I have turned hard-hearted)

But there are takeaways galore that have reinforced my own life mantras.

Don’t give yourself up

Never give yourself so much to a relationship that you eventually you stop mattering in the grand scheme of things. This needs to be an important rule in the marriage/relationship playbook. If your personality, as you knew it, is history because you are taken for granted, then it is a slow descent into marital hell.

In the movie, Nicole (Scarlett Johansson), in a heart-tugging monologue, confides to her lawyer that she ‘made herself small.’ She says she did so to fit into her husband’s notions of how their marital life should pan out. Eventually, Nicole is lost, even to her own self.

Don’t let anyone gaslight you

Never let anyone emasculate or gaslight you. This even includes the person whom you have taken the holy vows of walking together in life. Holding onto your identity or to a passion that drives you should become a guilt-free part of your DNA.

In ‘Marriage Story’ Charlie (Adam Driver) strays with his drama company’s actress during his and Nicole’s dry patch. But interestingly that isn’t the actual bone of contention here.

Nicole feels suffocated because of Charlie’s selfishness and his taking her for given. She is simply expected to play out his vision of their life.

Stop trying to be perfect

Stop killing yourself to fit that perfect mom template. Make your own mom rules because not one size fits all. The path of trying to be that perfect mommy is fraught with immense pain. It is the effort that matters.

Nicole is a Mommie who ‘actually plays’ with her son Henry. She acknowledges she has faltered at times and that Charlie is the one who enjoys being a father.

Love never goes away

After hate spews out, it is the bruised affection that remains. It is possible to love yourself equally (if not more) as you do your partner.

Communication is the key. Talk to each other and not at each other.

Write your own story

Script your own splendid story either by canceling out the negative influences or shaking off the dead weights. Whatever (or whoever) that might be, because life is beautiful.

There is a scene where Charlie’s eyes pop out with an undisguised surprise when he realises that Nicole flourished far more after their separation. That his wife, free from his all-encompassing, overpowering persona, flowers beautifully is his lesson from the collapse of the life he had imagined.

‘Marriage Story’ is a gentle reminder to women to not let go of ourselves totally and completely in a marriage.

Often while love hurts marriage meanders.

Picture credits: Still from the movie

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Anupama Jain is the author of 'When Padma Bani Paula', a breezy novel about second

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