- MARRIAGE MOVIES - highly recommended
- STUDY GUIDE "Story of Us"

- PRESS RELEASE: "Story Of Us" Impact Award
- "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"-STUDY GUIDE provided by the Dibble Institute
- Marriage Movie Festival at the Smart Marriages Conferences
- MARRIAGE EDUCATION AT THE MOVIES - workshops from Smart Marriages conferences

- MARRIAGE MOVIES - highly recommended!
Rent and watch with your honey; recommend them to your married kids;
show them to couples in your marriage classes.

The Story of Us - 
recipient of 1999 Smart Marriages Media Award
(see below for info on this film)

The One I Love (2014)
Perfectly illustrates how spouses get stuck in their own status quo and find it almost impossible 
to break out, to change. After years of the marital day-to-day, we feel stupid about trying to go back to the "way we were' when we met and courted. We get tangled up in our own established roles and selves and locked-in by all we have said to each other, yelled at each other -- boxed into our own little two-step, our marital dance.  This is why Marriage Education classes are so powerful -- they move us outside of our lockstep and force us into new behaviors, new roles -- give us both permission and a place to act in new ways with each other.  The alternative is, sadly, an affair.  With a new partner, we have the freedom to act in new ways, be the person we would like to be with our spouse -- sexy, flirty, kind, tender, complimentary, playful. 

The Notebook (2004)
An epic love story centered around an old man (James Garner)
who reads aloud from a faded notebook to an older, invalid woman (Gena Rowlands)
whom he regularly visits.

The Thing About My Folks (2005)
After 47 years, Mom (Olympia Dukakis) has flown the coop - a walk-away wife -
leaving behind a vague note of explanation. Father (Peter Falk, TV's "Columbo") and
son (Paul Riser) set off on a road-trip which gives them time to ponder what really
goes on in any marriage and what could be changed if they were given the chance.

Family Man (2000)

Ups and downs between a husband (Nicolas Cage) and wife (Tea Leoni),
but the moral of the story is that the family relationships that are built are far more important
than the success and money earned in a life alone.

Match Point (2005)
Sometimes you don't know what you've got until you (almost) lose it. Or, the grass isn't always
greener on the other side of the net. Or, I don't want the cheese, I just want to get out of the trap.
As powerful as Fatal Attraction as an anti-infidelity movie.

Away From Her (2007)
"I never thought I'd be away from her". The incredibly strong bonds of a 44-year marriage that has
reached soul mate status. Illustrates the loss and lonliness of losing a mate (Julie Christie) and the meaning of true
love - wanting to sacrifice to make your mate happy. Some review it as a movie about Alzheimer's but I see it as being about the profound love, attachment, and sacrifice in a long-term marriage.

Julie & Julia (2009)
While it's about Julia Child (Meryl Streep) and obviously about cooking, it's also a beautiful
depiction of married love. The husbands of both Julie and Julia are incredibly
supportive of their wives, providing the real 'heart' and message of the movie.

Groundhog Day (1993)
Includes many 'marriage lessons' – about paying attention to the other person,
to what happens in an ordinary day, about trying over and over to say something the right way.

Knocked Up (2007)
Illustrates the universal Mars/Venus gender connundrums that in the end, boil down to what it's really all about - love, marriage, connection, babies. By the director of 40 Year Old Virgin, a film that also presents a strong pro-marriage argument for holding out for – and appreciating – what truly matters. Strong language, drugs, sex. (see more below)

Housesitter (1992)
Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn. It's outlandish, but
an interesting take on what honesty really is, and 
how love can grow even when you don't think you're open to it.

My Life (1994)
Nicole Kidman and Michael Keaton as a married couple in a moving portrayal
of how the husband’s values and priorities (and thus the marriage) change after he is diagnosed
with metastatic cancer while she is pregnant. The scenes depicting his reconciliation with his
long-estranged parents, and his last days before dying are especially poignant.

Moonstruck (1897), shows older love as well as younger love and has some 
really memorable lines and lessons.

The Incredibles - could not be more marriage friendly.

Breaking Away - while essentially a coming-of-age movie, the parents 
have a lovely relationship.

The Price of a Broken Heart (1999)
In North Carolina you can still sue for alienation of
spousal affection. Film is based on real-life story of a wife whose husband leaves her for his much-younger secretary.
The wife decides to fight back and takes the mistress to court demanding a million dollars.  
Hashes out the age-old
question: Can you alienate the affections of a husband if he's in a happy marriage.

Arranged (2007)
Wonderful in classrooms and workshops to stimulate
conversations about marriage values and bridging differences. Centers
around the bond between two young women, one Jewish and one Muslim,
whose families are each promoting arranged marriages. Both want to
remain true to their cultural heritages regarding the qualities of a suitable
marriage partner while also being able to express their own 2nd generation values around love. 

"Knocked Up" (2007) may be about Seth Rogen's slacker coming to grips with
fatherhood, but the movie also provides a painfully honest and absolutely
hilarious look at a marriage on the rocks. Initially, Apatow stacks the deck
in favor of Rudd's beleaguered, wisecracking husband, until you gradually
realize there's a reason Mann's strong-willed wife is so angry all the time.

"Watching people stuck in communication black holes is painful in real life,
but on screen it's really funny," Apatow says. "The male response is
generally to shut down. I do. I run away when there's a problem. It's the
classic conflict that people can't get past. Men wanting women to act like
men and women being mad at men for not thinking like women. It's pure

The dynamic of this movie marriage may have already improved a few real-life
unions, Apatow says.

"I've had a lot of friends say the movie makes them either want to run home
and be nice to their wives or it made them feel very guilty about the fact
that they're like Paul Rudd and a little slow to rush home when work ends,"
Apatow says. "To which I say, 'Good. That's what I'm trying to get across.
Be there for your wife."
> An interesting NYTimes magazine story on a Hollywood
> director, Judd Apatow, (40-year-old Virgin and Knocked Up) who in his own
> uniquely Hollywood way is very family-oriented.
> "If you're walking with Judd and say, 'Hey, look at that hot chick,' he
> gives you the death stare," Adam McKay, the director who had Apatow produce
> his comedies Anchorman and Talladega Nights, had told me. "You can say,
> 'Hey, I still love my wife; I was just looking,' and he still hates it."
> "He's right," Apatow told me later when I brought up what McKay said. "I'm
> the guy who gets uncomfortable. That's why I was able to write The
> 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. I believe in those guys. There's
> something honorable about holding out for love and getting married for the
> sake of the baby. I see people get divorced, and there is a part of me that
> thinks, I wonder how hard they tried?".


"We started talking about the idea of this film four or five years ago. A film
about marriage -- what it really is to be married. There are a lot of films about
meeting and falling in love and quite a few about the pain and suffering of
divorce. But we could recall few, if any, about the ins and outs, the day-to-day
wear and tear, of being married." - Rob Reiner, director, The Story of Us

Click here for a "do-it-yourself" study guide that will help couples or students
get the most out of watching this marriage-strengthening movie. The perfect
movie to use in marriage education courses and marrige enrichment activities.

- PRESS RELEASE: "The Story of Us" receives Smart Marriages Media Award
October 27, 1999

You've heard of date movies. The problem is that "date movies" make married
people feel the only way they can find romance is to have an affair or get a divorce.

"The Story of Us" is the first "MARRIED date movie" says Diane Sollee, Director of
the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education (CMFCE) the
Washington, DC-based organization that charts indicators of the emerging marriage renaissance.

Director Rob Reiner is onto something. Like so many who have earned their stripes
supporting children's issues - he is founder of the I Am Your Child project on early
childhood development - Reiner recognizes that an intact family is one of the most
important ways to insure child well-being. Kids who live with both parents do better
on all measures. And so do the adults. Staying married is the best indicator for adult health,
success and happiness.

Reiner is tapping - and nurturing - a trend. It's suddenly cool to be married. A 1999 survey
funded by Fortune 500 companies reported that a long-lasting marriage is the new status
symbol. The best-selling book "How to Get Rich" lists two surest ways to make it to the top: get
an education and GET and STAY married. That's great, but how do you do it? How do
you STAY married? "The Story of Us" spells it out - staying married has to do with growing up,
getting past the myths about marriage and taking the long-view.

The ads say the movie is about whether "marriage can survive marriage." It's really about
whether marriage can survive our fantasies about marriage and our right to perfect,
till-death-us-do-part romance.

Americans believe in marriage - 90% of us marry. Yet we divorce at an alarming rate. Today's
first marriages face a 50% divorce rate, while remarriages face a 65% divorce rate. Yet, 75% of
us who divorce run right out and remarry, trying to get it right. This movie shows that 'getting
it right' is about getting real about our expectations of marriage and each other. The movie is
realistic AND romantic and that's no small feat.

"What is interesting is WHY this film got such terrible reviews. Why is the reviewing community
so against it?," asks Hara Estroff Marano, Psychology Today editor-at-large and member of
the awards committee. "I read the NY Times and Washington Post reviews and thought, this must
be one horrible and embarrassing film. But I loved it. I cried at the end. Everyone I know who
was willing to risk seeing it, liked it. And it's not just the smugly married who like it, I have two friends
who are getting divorced who liked it, too. Is it that it defies the hollywood formula about marriage?
It is very brave to tackle the topic the way it did."

The award will be presented at the next Smart Marriages conference following a screening of the film.

The CMFCE Media Committee -- Frank Pittman, Shirley Glass, Michele Weiner-Davis, Scott Stanley,
Gary Smalley, Hara Marano, Bill Doherty and Diane Sollee -- are available for interviews.

(Katie is played by Michele Pfieffer and Ben is played by Bruce Willis)


I think we should go to Chow Fun's.

Ben stops.

BEN (sotto) Chow Fun's? I thought we agreed we couldn't really talk at Chow Fun's.

Katie looking deep into his eyes, responds:

KATIE I know.

Ben crosses over to her.

BEN What are you saying?

KATIE (with resolve) I'm saying Chow Fun's.

BEN Are you saying Chow Fun's because you don't want to face telling the kids?
Because if that's why you're saying Chow Fun's, don't say Chow Fun's.

KATIE That's not why I'm saying Chow Fun's.
I'm saying Chow Fun's because we're an "us".

There's a history and histories don't happen overnight. In Mesopotamia or
Ancient Troy or somewhere back there, there were cities built on top of other cities,
but I don't want to build another city. I like this city. I know where we keep the Bactine,
and what kind of mood you're in when you wake up by which eyebrow is higher. And you always
know that I'm a little quiet in the morning and compensate accordingly. That's a
dance you perfect over time.

And it's hard, it's much harder than I thought it would be, but there's more good than bad.
And you don't just give up. And it's not for the sake of the children, but they're great kids
aren't they? And we made them - I
mean think about that - there were no people there and then there were people - two
of them. And they grew. And I won't be able to say to some stranger, "Josh has
your hands" or "Remember how Erin threw up at the Lincoln Memorial?"

So what if that stranger listens to me? I mean, Lucas Adler listens but then he always says
"between you and I" and it should be "between you and me" because "between" is
a preposition. And it's not that there's not a charming part about you not remembering
the washerfluid - which I don't understand why you can't - but that's not ultimately
important. I'll try to remember that those things can be mildly endearing at times and
really not worth not having sex over. And I'll try to relax.

I mean is it the end of the world to have sex when you don't totally feel like it?
There are all kinds of sex, aren't there?
Comfort sex, tender sex, relief sex, 'I'm not in the mood, but you are" sex...And let's
face it, anybody is going to have traits that get on your nerves, why shouldn't it be
your annoying traits? I'm no day at the beach, but I do have a good sense of direction
so at least I can find the beach, but that's not a criticism of you, it's just a strength of mine.

And you're a good friend and good friends are hard to find. Charlotte in "Charlotte's Web"
said that and I love the way you read that to Erin - when you take on the voice of Wilbur the
pig with such commitment even when you're bone tired. It speaks volumes about character.
And ultimately isn't that what it comes down to? What a person's made of at the end of the
day? Because that pith helmet girl is still in here - "BEE-BOO, BEE-BOO!" And I didn't even
know she existed until I met you. And if you leave, I may never see her again - even though I
said at times you beat her out of me - Isn't that the paradox? Haven't we hit the essential
paradox? Give and take, push and pull, yin and yang, the best of times, the worst of times.
I think Dickens said it best. It's the Jack Sprat of it, he could eat no fat, his wife could eat no
lean, but that doesn't really apply here. Does it? I mean I guess what I'm trying to say is - I'm
saying Chow Fun's because I love you.

After a beat, Ben explodes with sheer joy, grabs Katie and kisses her passionately. We see
Josh and Erin watching their parents stunned at their behavior.

Ben and Katie start getting into the car, as do the kids.

Dear Diane:
At your prompting, I hurried off to "The Story of Us" last night. I loved
it! You're totally right. I'd send every married couple I know to it if I
only could.

What's strange is that I was literally shaking throughout almost the entire
movie. It was so sobering, so realistic, so much like MY marriage. I told
my wife afterwards, "If I were reviewing this movie, I'd start the review
like this -- 'The year's scariest movie isn't 'The Blair Witch Project' or
'Sixth Sense.' If you're married, it's 'The Story of Us.' But I don't mean
that in a bad way...'"

Rob Reiner and the writer really hit a nerve, at least with me. Much of the
time, I was thinking (of my marriage, again) "We're doomed." But I was
given some hope and sustenance by the last half-hour. One very appealing
thing about this movie is they didn't do the typical obligatory scenes that
are always in these kind of flicks. Notice the total absence of any scene
with the kids crying about the breakup and begging their parents to stay
together. That's such an easy scene to do and always a cheap way to squeeze
a few extra tears out of the audience.

I also enjoyed that nothing from the outside came along and saved the
couple. All their same problems are still there. It's up to them and no
sudden miracle is going to magically make all their complaints and bitches
about each other go away. They're still the same people. All that's
different is that they realize they're going to have to fight long and hard
and maybe everyday to live in a state of detente...and that love will have
to be a willful choice, not an easy emotion.

Thanks so much for sending me your release. It turned into such a great


Dear Diane:
It's a beautifully done movie with absolutely fabulous performance by Bruce
Willis. It does make fun of marriage THERAPY. I think the Coalition's
position is that Bruce and Michelle clearly need marriage EDUCATION, not
therapy, in order to learn to contain conflict so it doesn't poison the rest
of what is obviously a deep attachment.

Maggie Gallagher

On Story of Us, I agree. It portrays them doing a
great job as parents but neglecting their marital relationship. And that
their conflicts were typical marital conflicts--little personality
differences, household disagreements, not clearly communicating--and not the
big ones that people think wreck marriage, such as alcoholism, affairs, and
violence. They had the common colds of marriage, which can turn into pneumonia.
Bill Doherty
Hey Diane,
I loved the movie and I agree with you about an award!! Let's do something
really special for Rob Reiner, Bruce Willis and Michele Pfiffer.
Gary Smalley

I think it would be a really great idea to give Rob Reiner an award at
the Conference. In general his movies are humanistic and positive
in their message or outlook. He supports children, and now it seems couples,
in real ways not lip-service-only ways.
Bernard Guerney
My husband and I just saw "The Story of Us" yesterday. We both thought it
was great too. It shows what marriage is really like (instead of the fairy
tales we're used to) and that only seeing the negatives in our spouse leads to
Susie Echols (West Virginia)

On your recommendation, my wife and I saw The Story of Us, and it WAS as
good as you said. Fully authentic, powerful. As a pastor, I have already
referred couples in crisis to it. It may reach them in ways I can't.
Sheldon Sorge

Dear Diane:
I saw the movie "The Story of Us" last night. I had not wanted to see it
previously because of my own situation. My husband and I are separated and
have been for a year. After your review, I wanted to see it for myself.
It was so reassuring to see Michelle's character come to the realization
that she had more to lose than gain in giving up on her marriage. I
certainly realize that and pray that my husband will come to the same conclusion.
Congratulations to Rob Reiner for being willing to step up and make a film
that goes against the "it doesn't feel good" mind set of today.
Wanda Reynolds

Thank you for sending us the responses by different ones about this movie. My
wife and I decided to see it for ourselves. But before we got to
the movie, we had a "fight" very much like what the couple went through. The end of
the movie was most touching - both my wife and I concluded like Michelle
Pfieffer that we have invested too much in this marriage to think of anything or anyone else.
Is there anyway we could get a copy of the monologue? This is the kind of movie Hollywood
should produce. We wound definitely send our clients to this movie - the Story about Us.
Ben Lim

Free - included in conference registration!  Click on titles to order the DVDs.

Children of Divorce - Carri and Gordon Taylor

Crossing the Bridge - Hedy and Yumi Schleifer

You Saved Me - Lamar and Ronnie Tyler


Couplehood as a Spiritual Path - Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt

Fireproof - Alex and Stephen Kendrick

Hold Me Tight - Sue Johnson

Secrets to Love - The California Healthy Marriage Coalition

Somebody's Daughter - Unshackled Ministries

2008 Smart Marriages Film Festival

How Will We Love? - Chris Brickler and Michael Romero

MARRIAGE EDUCATION AT THE MOVIES - workshops from Smart Marriages conferences

To order audio CD or MP3 of these 90-minute sessions ($15.95), call Playback Now at 800-241-7785 or visit http://www.iPlaybackSmartMarriages.com

The descriptions are similar, but each presenter uses different movies/different clips, and makes
different points. if you are into this, I advise you to get them all. Very generous sharing by presenters who
have done the research.

At the Movies
Frank Pittman, MD
Everything we need to know about marriage can be found at the movies: explore meaning, expectations, love, insanity, brain chemistry, secrets, lies, deal breakers – even clues about how to get it right.

Marriage Education and The Movies
Tom Rinkoski, MEd, CFLE
Watch clips and learn how to use movies and TV in your marriage education sessions
to illustrate points, engage participants and catalyze discussion.

All you Need Is Love: Marriage, Myths and The Movies
Peter Gray, MFT
Destructive myths get in the way of developing good relationships and can wreck
good marriages. Use clips to help students and couples learn the truth about love and marriage.

Marriage Education and The Movies
Beckie Adams, PhD, Scott Hall, PhD
Movie & TV clips are powerful teaching tools. Learn how to use them to capture attention,
illustrate points, stimulate discussion and anchor the learning with students or adults.

Marriage Education and The Movies
Jana Staton, PhD
Movie & TV clips are powerful teaching tools. Learn how to use them to capture audience
attention, illustrate points, stimulate discussion and anchor the learning.


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