Culture Clash: Movies and Marriage

My husband and I grew up in the same state, only an hour away from each other.  He lived in the suburbs of one city, I grew up in the suburbs of another.  Yet we were worlds apart.

It was not socioeconomics, or religions, or race, or anything you could see by looking at us.  Our worlds were separated by film.

We both grew up in homes where the television was always on.  Always.

They were rarely tuned to the same channels.

His mom watched soap operas and family dramas.  Mine watched game shows and crime dramas.  Both our fathers watched the news, but mine also watched 60 Minutes, while his family watched the Wonderful World of Disney.

The difference that mattered, though, was what we ourselves watched.  What created the soundtracks of our childhoods didn’t matter.  The most profound impact on our marriage would evolve from the movies we chose.

My husband loved Planet of the Apes, Omega Man, Soylent Green, Logan’s Run, Silent Running, and others whose names I barely ever knew and can no longer recall.

I was watching Yours, Mine, and Ours; Cheaper by the Dozen; The Sound of Music; Meet Me in St. Louis; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; and Life with Father.

He was internalizing the great fears of the 1970’s about the impending population crisis.

I was dreaming of a large family.

Culture clash.

I lost.  It hurt.

I blame the movies.  (And him for being selfish, and myself for not fighting with every ounce of my being.  But it started with those movies.)

When our sons were young teens, he wanted to share all these “classic” movies with them.  They’d seen most of mine when they were younger, because, obviously, I was watching child-friendly movies.  Since I blame those movies for my lack of progeny, I didn’t want to watch them with the guys.

I did say helpful things to my sons like, “That movie is the reason you don’t have more siblings.  It’s ridiculous!  Big families are wonderful, and the world has plenty of room for everyone if we all share!  Don’t let those movies brainwash you like they did your dad.”

They promised not to go over to the dark side.  They even told me my movies were better.

Athough this is painful for me (yes, present tense), I did learn from it.  Mostly, I learned about forgiveness.  It took a long time to get there, but I did.

I also learned to be very careful about what my own children were reading and watching.  I did not forbid them from things that did not reflect my own values, but we talked about it.  I taught them to look for its underlying message or presumptions.

I wanted them to see there is not a writer/movie-maker out there who does not have their own take on the world, and if you look, you can see it.  Then you decide whether you agree with it or not.  And you can enjoy the movie and still think the philosophy is rubbish.

(I also told them to actually listen to their wives and discuss their differences, and to speak up, and keep speaking if necessary.)

What about you?  Can you see the impact of your childhood viewing habits in yourself today?


10 thoughts on “Culture Clash: Movies and Marriage

  1. This is interesting. Having come of age in the ’70s, I’d say I watched a lot of movies/TV shows that had a strong liberal POV. So that probably influenced me to have a liberal POV. For a while. After I graduated from college and got out in the real world (with a job, etc.) I slowly realized those liberal ideas did not have as much usefulness as I thought they did, so I became more conservative over time. I think it was the right choice.

  2. Very interesting. I really never thought about TV viewing and movies and how it played out in any relationship. I really think that estrogen and testosterone play a bigger part in what we choose to watch.

    • I know a lot of women who watch action movies/thrillers and do not like “girlie” movies at all, so I’m not convinced it is as simple as that. I think we are drawn to certain things, but I also believe children are very influenced by what they watch.

  3. I might have wanted more babies, it’s possible but The King wasn’t having any and I’m grateful for the 2 I have. Blending 2 cultures into one family is a process but you make it work the best you can. Our big thing is the amount of Christmas presents the kids get. I always got several, the King only got one. One seems so lame to me… Santa isn’t stingy. SO far I seem to be winning on all fronts but we’re not done yet so he may win some too.

    • I used to hate using the word “win.” I wanted mutual agreement. However, I lost so often that I had to accept it for what it was. I’m glad you feel like you’re winning; I hope the King does, too.

  4. Seven brides for seven brothers and Yous, Mine, and Ours. I remember those movies! Did they shape me? I never asked myself that before. I believe you are correct in that some of those did shape my romantic expectations about a future family life. Cheaper by the Dozen – love, love that move too. Coming from a large family myself, those movies did not depict reality though – I at least knew that at a young age – but there is always the “if onlys”…..
    Stop by my blog tomorrow or the next day where I feature you Ginger.

    • I definitely agree that my expectations were not realistic. I don’t think, as a child, I even knew anyone who came from a family with more than four children. That’s actually what I wanted by the time I married, four kids. I’ll keep my eye on your blog!

  5. This is something I had never considered so it took me awhile to dissect. My favorite movies growing up were Anne of Green Gables (and the sequel Anne of Avonlea,) Sarah, Plain and Tall (and the sequel Skylark.) I watched these hundreds of times and never considered their influence. These films feature strong female heroines who are fiercely independent and defy convention. And that is a big part of who I’ve become.

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