Sometimes happiness comes under the most unexpected of circumstances.

The Kids are All Right

Posted: August 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: marriage | Tags: , , , | 14 Comments »

My one complaint about life is that people don’t talk to me with the same eloquence and wit as they do in the movies.  Well, as they do in movies such as “Juno,” “Sex and the City” and the movie that I saw this weekend, “The Kids are All Right.”  In one scene, I was nearly sobbing as I listened to Julianne Moore’s character Jules apologize to her wife and kids for her infidelity.  She poignantly argues that marriage just isn’t easy, at all.  After a while, it’s drudgery, it’s a marathon, it’s slogging through life, and along the way, you project a lot of your crap, insecurities and dissatisfactions onto your partner.  Her wife is clearly moved by the speech, and it seems to achieve her goal of breaking down the icy wall that has formed around her family members since her not so minor peccadillo was revealed.

As I watched that scene, I kept thinking that I wished that my ex had had screenwriters to pen his dialogue when we went through a similar scenario.  I’ve mentioned before that my former hubby betrayed me.  He developed an infatuation with our kids’ beloved babysitter, unfortunately not an uncommon scenario.  Luckily for us all, she turned him down.  However, the pain of the discovery of romantic emails that he sent to her and his subsequent declaration, I didn’t sleep with her but I am in love with her, were certainly a punch in the stomach.  The scene in which Annette Bening’s character Nic discovers her wife’s betrayal is brilliantly portrayed and frankly made the memories that I thought that I had put behind me feel extremely fresh.  I, with a healthy sense of catharsis, acutely felt her pain.

With the hindsight of three years from my own experience, I also really understood why Jules had her affair.  The sexual politics notwithstanding, it is extremely powerful to have someone new find you attractive.  It is very seductive to have someone appreciate you, especially when it seems that your spouse resents you, is bored with you, or tolerates you at best.  You throw kids into the mix and you begin to feel like co-workers instead of lovers.  I always sort of understood why my ex fell for our lovely babysitter, but this movie really drove the point home for me.

I was reminded of what I instinctively knew then, that his infidelity had less to do with me, or the woman he fell for, and more to do with him and his feelings of discontent with his life.  I am certainly not condoning infidelity as a justified response to middle age ennui.  I am just saying that it is understandable, to me at least.  While he could have chosen a better way to express his dissatisfaction, I have always been grateful that he didn’t leave our marriage because of this infatuation.  If he had left me for her and established a relationship with her, I think that it would have been easy for me to make myself a victim and make them the scapegoats for the demise of our marriage.  Instead I was able to perceive that his crush was more a symptom of a larger problem that eventually became insurmountable for us despite the love that we still felt for one another.

“The Kids are All Right” really moved me because I could relate to what the characters were experiencing, from Nic’s feelings that the sperm donor Paul had taken over her family to Jules’ need to be appreciated and validated.  As a good movie will do, it presented familiar situations with enough originality and distance that I was able to gain a more objective perspective on them.  Maybe if my ex and I both had such a perspective, we could have made the marriage work, as Jules and Nic seem to be doing.  However, it took a physical, domestic and romantic separation from my husband for me to gain the insight that I have now.  Plus, life isn’t a movie.  We don’t always get a happy ending.

So please go see this movie and weigh in with me.  Do you find it as touching as I do?

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14 Comments on “The Kids are All Right”

  1. 1 Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points said at 11:01 am on August 2nd, 2010:

    We’ve been thinking about this one because I’m pretty much a sucker for smart dialogue and this movie seems to have that going for it.

    If I get a chance to, I will weigh in.

    And you’re right – infidelity is seldom about the spouse, it’s about dissatisfaction. If someone is so unhappy in a marriage that they can’t fight temptation elsewhere, then something isn’t going right. (And I don’t mean serial cheaters, people who just can’t BE faithful, not who are tempted away from faithfulness.)

    This is another thing people often don’t get.

  2. 2 Molly Monet said at 11:10 am on August 2nd, 2010:

    Oh Lori, leave it to you to get my point of view on something as touchy as infidelity.

    Make this movie a priority. There are so few films that are this thought-provoking, especially for someone like you who is interested in expanding the notion of family. It was a treat!

  3. 3 Seeing with New Eyes | Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce said at 1:00 pm on August 3rd, 2010:

    […] keep thinking about scenes from “The Kids are All Right,” clearly the sign of a great movie.  One of the things that hit home for me was how the couple […]

  4. 4 Privilege of Parenting said at 1:42 am on August 4th, 2010:

    Well we certainly share an appreciation for this movie (and for Joni Mitchell)—I particularly like the way you filtered this story through the realness of your own lived experience… and I particularly appreciate your spirit of honesty, growth and forgiveness as an ideal model of where some troubled relationships may go that is “happy” in its own unique manner.

    BTW, for another slant on why men may become infatuated with the babysitter see

    Nice to be in virtual contact. Namaste

  5. 5 Molly Monet said at 6:39 am on August 4th, 2010:

    Very interesting article Bruce. I actually did understand his desire for and crush on her and knew about it for some time. I wasn’t jealous at all. But when he crossed the line from infatuation to trying to have a relationship with her, I got hurt.

    Another insight gleaned from the movie. I can see how it is easy to fall for someone who is a caretaker to your kids. There is something really special about seeing someone bond with and love your kids.

  6. 6 Justine said at 9:19 am on August 4th, 2010:

    Molly, I love that you are able to look back to your past to understand the course that led you here, rather than resent the events themselves. I’m a divorcee myself. We didn’t have any children, so the separation, which was my idea, was pretty easy (well, relatively speaking) and for that I’m grateful.

    I regret that I had to hurt my ex so that I could pursue a life away from him but it was the best decision I made for me and for him, as I knew 8 years into our relationship that we were just not right for each other. Sometimes people look back and wonder where did the marriage go wrong. I look back and realized that nothing went wrong – it just wasn’t right in the first place.

    And so here I am. Happy. And last I heard, so is he. I’m glad that you, too, have stories from a peaceful divorce.

    I’ve been dying to watch this movie for awhile now. Now it looks like I just have to go so I can weigh in.

    Thanks for visiting my blog too. Hope we can have more “peaceful” exchanges in the future. I’m enjoying my stay here and would love to be back.

  7. 7 gigi said at 2:41 pm on August 4th, 2010:

    I have been watching the trailers for this movie and it sounds like it’s as good as it appears.

    I don’t have experience with going through a separation or divorce but I enjoyed reading your post.There are a lot of was that we can deal with hurt and you seem to have gotten to a really good place with yours. I admire that greatly.

    Thanks for coming by Empress’ yesterday and reading my post. I truly appreciate it!

  8. 8 Molly Monet said at 7:01 am on August 5th, 2010:

    Thanks, Gigi. I appreciate the visit and it’s great to make contact with you. Please see the movie and let me know what you think. You might like this review from the Huffington Post.

  9. 9 Molly Monet said at 7:08 am on August 5th, 2010:

    I always love to hear about other peaceful divorces. We need to spread the word that it doesn’t have to scorch the earth beneath you. Thanks for sharing!

    I really appreciate the visit and the fact that you enjoyed your stay. Please do visit again!

  10. 10 Zen and the Art of Relationship Maintenance | Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce said at 9:15 am on August 19th, 2010:

    […] She is an interloper (I love that word.  Annette Bening used in to describe their sperm donor in The Kids are All Right).  As much as I would like to consider her a friend, I just don’t have an affinity for her.  […]

  11. 11 Melissa said at 3:23 pm on August 25th, 2010:

    I can’t believe I found this! Molly, it’s Melissa (Tom’s girlfriend/baby mama). I got to your site because I just saw The Kids Are All Right and then read the NY Times review and then read the comments to the NY Times review and saw the link to Molly Monet’s website! Love it. You write beautifully. Should I weigh in on TKAAR? (SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYONE WHO MIGHT READ THIS POST AND HASN’T YET SEEN THE MOVIE) I think it was alright, not great. I kinda hated that the character Jules slept with the sperm donor. I know they needed some plot device to come along and rock the boat, but that seemed a little too contrived, in a way that “stuff like that only happens in the movies.” Affairs happen, but an affair with the sperm donor?!? (and the straying party is a lesbian?!?) I think I enjoyed the shell of the movie but couldn’t swallow it’s gooey center.

  12. 12 Molly Monet said at 3:38 pm on August 25th, 2010:

    Hey baby mama! I’m glad you found my blog through that circuitous route. I actually found the affair realistic, for the reasons that I mentioned, and also because of the familial relationship that was building. It’s weird but I personally can see how one could fall for someone who shows interest in your children, especially one that reminds you of your children. As a divorcee that’s dating, my heart beats overtimes when I guy shows fondness for my children. It’s weird.

    I’m glad that you like my writing. Come back and visit anytime! I’m always advertising it on FB ;)

  13. 13 thank you so much, molly said at 3:49 pm on February 13th, 2011:

    amazing post. really appreciate it. EXTREMELY insightful and well written. i’ve never been through divorce but still gain so much from what you’ve shared. keep it up – the world needs people like you.

    by the way, this is the first comment i’ve ever left on a blog post; i was *immediately* compelled to do so after being affected by your words.

    i also found your post through your nytimes comment on the film.

    THANK YOU! :)

  14. 14 Molly Monet said at 4:44 pm on February 13th, 2011:

    Wow. I’m so honored that you commented and that my piece had such an impact on you. Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate it.

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