Dr. Patti reviews the new hit movie, "Hope Springs" and dissects how to help a sexless marriage...
"Hope Springs" Rating 4.5 Stars
Starring: Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones
Description: Kay and Arnold are a middle-aged couple whose marriage has declined until they are now sleeping in separate rooms and barely interact in any meaningful loving way. Finally, Kay has had enough and finds a book by Dr. Feld which inspires her to sign them up for the Doctor's intense week long marriage counseling session. Although Arnold sees nothing wrong with their 30 year long marriage, he reluctantly agrees to go on the expensive excursion. What follows is an insightful experience as Dr. Feld manages to help the couple understand how they have emotionally drifted apart and what they can do to reignite their passion. Even with the Doctor's advice, Kay and Arnold find that renewing their marriage's fire is a daunting challenge for them both. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org) on www.imdb.com
I give the film “Hope Springs” a 4.5 star rating. Many of my sexology colleagues find it to be a “5” but I don’t.
Here’s why: First, the 5-star rating for what is billed as a comedy film is due to the topical matter, as yes, 20+% of all American marriages are by definition sexless, with sexual frequency10 or even fewer times per year. And that’s just who has reported in to the stats keepers. Most of the sexless couples seeking my sex coaching services are almost DOA (Dead On Arrival) and haven’t even casually touched in an average of 3-5 years. That’s no laughing matter. This film normalizes a secret found in a huge proportion of bedrooms in the USA.
I would give it a 5 for acting, as the two leading actors (Streep and Jones) are SO superb at creating a believable husband and wife scenario of a couple in a sexless rut about to crack apart to join the ranks of the big D for Divorced.
But why not a full 5? Because of a few basic issues that bothered me.
#1: This was way too much like “working” for me to enjoy this as entertainment; and for me the role of the marital or sex therapist was miscast: I kept thinking who else would have served that role and brought a solid authenticity to the weeklong therapy intensive that this onscreen couple attended, while also allowing them time away from daily life and demands back home to explore a new eroticism in a pretty and charming Maine resort town. I kept asking myself, “Do we REALLY have to watch a leading comic actor try to be the serious doctor on duty for mental health issues? OMG. I thought eagerly about someone like Gabriel Byrne’s portrayal of the therapist in the award-winning HBO show, “In Treatment”.
#2: I squirmed there in the theater, analyzing the therapist’s treatment modes, thinking “Oh, boy, what would a talented sex coach do with this couple?” [After all, this is my paid profession they are mimicking on a big screen.] I was murmuring things to myself like, “Gee, that’s a stupid and unrealistic thing to have them do on Day 2 before doing any in-depth therapy or even begin an open dialogue…”
#3: Their use of metaphor for therapy or coaching was too off-center. The bit about the nose having to be broken so you can fix it to create that beautiful marriage was just too close to the facial landscape of the guy saying it! I found it offensive, not an apt metaphor. Indeed, the film carried that annoying metaphor to the extreme end, by having them stomp on a glass nose at their happy renewal of their marital vows.
But despite these critiques, their sexual awakening set a wonderful hopeful tone that echoed what any sex coach worth her fees would recommend. I loved that it was the wife who reached the end point of their bankrupt intimacy and found an answer to address their woes. I liked the suggestion of the weeklong or weekend get-away intensive, just like the new DVD coming out that I host. Check it out on my site when you can....
The funny thing is, much of what happened in this film resonated with so many of the couples that come to me, complaining of not enough or no sex, often for years of marriage or living in the same apartment or housing complex with little if any intimate touch for eons. We call that the “sexless marriage epidemic” and I’ve written extensively about it at my site. By year’s end I will have published a new ebook “The Seven Pillars of Awakening Sex, Love and Pleasure: Answers for the sexless couple”, aimed at helping couples stuck in this syndrome find answers and actions they can take to save their marriage from the ultimate doom if they do nothing about it. Just like this couple on screen, with his denial of a problem, his avoidance of touch, her inability to ask for what she wants or needs, their ignorance about how to break free of old habits to discover fresh ways to connect, all are showcased poignantly in this film.
I know that many of the hopeful couples who are my current or future clients are going to derive great healing benefit from knowing they are not alone. This film will be the salve to soothe their longings, emotional pains and barren worlds of no-touch.
I encourage you to watch this film, for you to learn how to overcome the many complexities that results in a barren sexual desert when it’s about a couple’s ability, willingness or just plain motivation to get back in bed together and do the sweet deed.