Building Better Marriages

By Rob Furlong

To run from crisis is to lose

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World cinematically asks us, “What would you do if you knew for certain that the world was going to end?”

The film opens with the announcement that the earth will be destroyed in three weeks when it will be hit by a 70 mile wide asteroid named Matilda. Dodge and his wife listen to the grim news and at the end of the broadcast, Dodge’s wife bursts from the car and runs off into the blackness…never to be seen again. Immediately we are confronted with the challenge of maintaining human relationships and it is obvious that Dodge’s marriage is in bad shape.

The coming world crisis becomes the catalyst for the couple to confront the crisis of their own marriage, but sadly, rather than turning to each other and attempting to rebuild what has been lost over the years, Dodge’s wife opts for escapism and she runs as quickly as she can from the situation.

It’s a confronting scenario. If you and your spouse were in a similar situation, what would you do? Rebuild or run? Ups and downs are part of the ebb and flow of all marriages, as are crises. However, many couples never make it through the crisis because one or the other decides that the best thing to do is to run. They conclude that because the marriage is a disaster then they are better off distancing themselves from it — why bother wasting emotional energy on what cannot be fixed seems to be the mindset.

The film also confronts the shallowness that so often characterises our relationships with each other. In one scene, Dodge and his new friend Penny stop for a meal at a place called “Friendsy’s”. Everyone in the place is in a perpetual state of euphoria, happiness, friendliness and free love. The world is ending so they have decided to make the best of it by showering everyone they meet with as much love as possible. The problem is that the world is really going to end but nobody at Friendsy’s seems to care — what matters is that they love as many people as possible and forget about the stark reality of what is really going on. What a stark metaphor for many relationships. The crisis comes but some couples simply ignore it. A wife becomes aware that her husband is having an affair but rather than confront him about it she buries her head in the sand, showers him with more love and affection and ignores the real crisis that has engulfed them both. It is another form of running.

Oddly enough, in the midst of all of this, Dodge and Penny fall in love with each other. The cynic asks, “What is the point — the world is going to end in three weeks so why bother?” Yet in their short time together, Dodge and Penny show us the true value of relationships. They talk, they share, they cry and they laugh together. They make every moment that they have together count. They recognise that the time that they do have is a precious gift and they do not waste it. Dodge and Penny show that love that is mutual, shared and deeply committed to the other person ultimately rescues them both, no matter what the crisis.

At Easter we will again be confronted with the crisis of our broken relationship with God and the love of Jesus that rescues us through the Cross and His resurrection. Easter not only reminds us that our relationship with God can be restored but so too can our human relationships. Take time to reflect on that over this coming Easter and whatever the crisis might be, do not run from it!

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