What to do when your wife thinks “Brokeback Mountain” is the story of your marriage


by Cyn Collins | 4/22/09

Dear Cyn,

My wife and I are both movie buffs, but I’m getting tired of the way that she sees every movie as a possible allegory for our relationship. We saw Titanic, and there followed a big discussion about whether I would actually give my life to save her from a sinking ship. We saw Brokeback Mountain, and she asked me if I feel like I’m sticking with her despite being frustrated with her, the way Jack stuck with Ennis. Even Toy Story wasn’t safe…she asked if I really feel like I have a friend in her. I don’t want to seem insensitive, but opening a Netflix envelope is starting to feel like opening a therapy fortune cookie. What should I say to her about this?


Dear Pete,

You could turn this situation to your advantage: rent porn!

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On a more serious level…you said a key word, “therapy.” Whether this has been going on the entire time you’ve been together, or whether it’s just started recently, it sounds like there are issues you aren’t dealing with here. It sounds like your wife either (a) tends to over-identify with characters in movies or (b) has some real honest questions about your commitment to your marriage. Here is what I recommend: watch fewer films where the lovers die tragic deaths, or drift apart inexplicably—try to reduce the high-emotional-impact films. Give her the right answer, regardless of how frustrated you might feel—it won’t kill you to give her reassurance—however, also recommend she go to counseling to help with her self-confidence or, better yet, seek couples’ counseling so you can work on these issues that exist, even if only in her imagination, for real. I hate to tell you this, but even if the questions stem from movie plots, the base could be she feels you are frustrated, as you noted, or that she is frustrated with a lack of attention and warmth on your part.

Being a film buff myself, I will say this has happened to me, and others I know, and it could be a girl thing—the movie becomes a vehicle for expressing concerns and open communication about some of our deepest fears in relationships. Some of the above questions seem easy enough to answer if you love her—but if its too much, just tell her you cannot deal anymore, and cannot watch films with her any longer unless she can curtail the post-film question session. Be firm on this. Just be happy one of the films wasn’t the Icelandic one I saw recently where the artistic manic-depressive wife committed suicide when she caught her recently cold, distant non-communicative husband cheating on her.

Good luck,

Photo by Automated Alice (Creative Commons).

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