Jen and I watched Married in America on A&E yesterday. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a documentary by Michael Apted of 9 couples about to get married. It followed them through the final days of preparation, up to the wedding, and in a couple cases, a few days after the wedding. Now, that wouldn’t be so interesting except that they’re going to follow up with the couple every 18 months (Mr. Apted also did the amazing 7up series of films).
It was striking how different each of the couples were, yet how familiar their problems were. Jen and I sat there saying, “They’ll make it,” and “Oh, they definitely won’t.” We ended up staying up until 1 in the morning talking about all of our married friends and how we see a lot of the problems we saw in the couples in the film in our friends. We also talked about how extremely lucky we are. We’ve been married for four and a half years (exactly 4.5 years yesterday), and while we’ve had our problems, we’ve figured them out and moved on. Some of the couples seemed to hold on to the little problems and bring them up in the interviews, which wasn’t a good sign.
I think my favorite thing about the documentary was they didn’t choose all well-off white-toothed yuppie couples, like you see in A Wedding Story. They ran the gamut, and that was great to see. They had:
- the lower middle class interracial couple from Long Island: who I think will make it, they just have it together
- the Southern fratboy/sorority girl couple: who I guarantee will not make it
- the mixed-faith Filipino Christian/New Jersey Jewish Guy: who I don’t think will make it, but I’m not betting against them
- the yuppies: who I’m not sure about
- the Southern African American couple: I’m not so sure about them either… he’s got mother issues, but they seem together enough to make it as long as he doesn’t wig out when he realizes it
- The recovering alchoholics / ex-con: Surprisingly, I think they’ll make it in their own way. They hit rock bottom, and are hanging in there. I think they have a great shot at it.
- The Latino Couple: They’re definitely not going to make it. I didn’t watch the whole thing, but he’s on a major rebound, and she’s not handling it all that well.
- The Irish Catholic Cop / Columbian first generation American: They were the cutest couple, and after the first couple I listed, I think they have the best chance of making it. They logical and together, but you can tell they have a deep affection for each other, and their families. They’re on the same path, which I think is probably the most important part.
- The Lesbian Couple: I feel bad, but man, this couple could not have been more of a stereotype. Let’s see, one lady has a she-mullet and is a corrections officer. The other is a P.E. teacher!! They both play softball, dress alike and are a butch as they wanna be. Do I think they’ll make it? Yeah, they remind me of my old boss in Tucson and her partner. Steady, unflappable and determined. I think they’ll have a long, uneventful, happy life together. I almost wish they would have chosen a couple that didn’t quite fit so snugly into the assumptions everyone has about lesbian couples.
The film’s very well done and if it’s on again, I would heartily recommend it. If you’re married, it’s a great jumping off point for discussion, and I think Jen and I both saw pieces of ourselves in most of the couples (me, I feel I’m just like Toni, but that’s a whole different story).