Monday, March 18, 2013

Love, Prayers, and Adam Sandler

Saying "I love you" is easy for some people, and others find the words challenging. Perhaps they should be challenging, because they should have a deeper meaning than other words we speak throughout the day.

My husband and I hold hands at night and pray together. I've found this to be a very effective relationship glue--it's hard to stay angry with someone when you're holding hands and praying for their safety and happiness each night.

You may be asking yourself what all of this has to do with actor, director, and comedian Adam Sandler. Funny thing is, I'm not a huge fan of his work. I like his movies, but his jokes are often vulgar and the characters in his films are often mean to each other. However, I have also noticed that most, if not all of his films have a much deeper meaning or message about family. While his films may appear to be mocking dysfunctional relationships, the plot generally comes together at the end with a larger overall message that being perfect is not as important as showing love.

I am watching an Adam Sandler movie called Just Go With It. It is on pause. The film has the usual Sandler trademark bathroom and sex jokes, but there is one scene in this film that really grabbed at my heart. In the film, Jennifer Aniston pretends to be Adam Sandler's ex-wife. Due to other circumstances in the plot, they also pretend to have a very comfortable, loving relationship in spite of their divorce. When Aniston runs into a former college friend, played by Nicole Kidman, at a Hawaiian resort, Kidman and her husband, played by musician Dave Matthews, ask Sandler and Aniston to join them for dinner. Kidman and Matthews make a spectacle of themselves with ridiculous shows of public affection (I'm not saying public affection is bad, but their behavior in the movie is exaggerated.) When Matthews leaves to make a phone call, my first thought is that he is being unfaithful. Why? Because their shows of affection do not seem honest or sincere.

When her husband has left the room, Nicole Kidman's character challenges Sandler and Aniston to look into each other's eyes and tell each other why they love each other, which they do. It is difficult at first because they are lying about being divorced, about having a past relationship that involves intimacy, but as they begin to speak to each other it is obvious to the audience that for the first time, these two characters are realizing, with every word spoken, that they truly love each other. (And I must say that at this point in the movie Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler give an outstanding performance!)

As I watched the film, it occurred to me how difficult it could be to stare into the eyes of another person and honestly speak from the heart, explaining why you have deep feelings of love, particularly if this is the first time you've shared these feelings. The point in the film seems to be that it is much easier to lie (which is why I suspect Matthews is having an affair, but I will not spoil the movie by telling you what comes next when I take the movie off pause).

Defining love can be a challenge. Sometimes we don't know why we are attracted to another person until we try to explain this attraction with words. However, verbally expressing our reasons for loving another person is not only an expression of love, but also of great kindness. People need to know that they are loved, and why. They need to feel special and important to those who love them.

I enjoyed watching the interaction between these two actors as they realized that while they were pretending to be divorced they have suddenly realized that they loved each other all along, and it was not until they attempted to verbally explain this love to one another that they realized how fulfilling that loving relationship could be between them. For the first time in the film, they are honest with each other, and their honesty shocks and surprises them both, but it is a good surprise, a healthy, important moment in their relationship.

I will say no more about the film, except to recommend it to viewers. However, I would also like to suggest that you attempt the challenge presented by Nicole Kidman's character in the film. Hold hands with someone you love, look them in the eyes and tell them why you love them. Yes, it can be difficult, or perhaps it will be easy for you, but it could possibly be the most intimate moment you've ever experienced, a wonderful and deeply rewarding experience.    

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