Monday, February 11, 2008

You've Got. . .a Favorite Movie

My friend Lori tagged me and our other friend Katrina for the 4 Things Meme recently. I noticed You've Got Mail popped up on both of their lists, and quite a few others I've seen around as one of the "4 Movies Watched Over and Over." I didn't include it on my list, but it is one of the few movies I own, and I have watched it over and over (it would probably be in the 5 to 7 range on my list).

It was on Fox family channel last night, so I tuned in. I was reminded why I (and many others) watch it over and over again. Why? Well, look at the subject matter. It's not only about books, but about two people for whom books are not only an avocation, but a true vocation! Email figures heavily in the storyline, and email is just about my favorite method of communication. Tom Hanks, as Joe Fox, exemplifies love. When he finds out that the woman he's been writing and emailing is the woman who's been campaigning against his new book chain that is going to open up around the corner, he waits. Instead of dashing her hopes and removing the comfort and joy she's found in this online friendship, he woos her. He waits until she comes to like and appreciate Joe Fox before revealing himself as NY159. He treats her with respect and kindness, and guides the relationship with his own hand. What's not to like?

Actually, there is something that has always bothered me about the movie (and many other romantic comedies): both Joe Fox (Hanks) and Kathleen Kelly (Ryan) are involved in serious, committed relationships when they begin their online chatting. This, along with other types of opposite sex friendships, has become so common that the term "emotional affair" is now applied to them. There's no physical breach of a relationship, but there is an intimacy that should be reserved for one's significant other.

I am careful about what I watch--both what's shown on the screen and the worldview behind it--but in watching this movie last night I began to realize that the fact that they were not married freed them to see that those partners were not their ideal and to keep searching until they found the right match. They did each break it off with their partners for the promise of what else might be out there.

I know it's nitpicky--but as married women we have to be careful to guard our hearts and to be content where we are. Think of your favorite romantic movies. In how many of them does this scenario figure prominently? We are kidding ourselves if we think that it doesn't pervade our thoughts, which can lead to a discontented attitude.

I'll never again feel that twinge of first love, or the wonder of getting to know someone from the inside out, but I'm convinced that what I have is much better. I have someone who already knows me inside and out, who's seen me at my best and at my worst and loves me anyway. I am able to see love that had grown and stretched over more than fifteen years--through two children, new jobs, lost jobs, surgeries, sickness and lots of health.

When I get an email from my husband, I am still excited to see what he has to say. I know it holds the promise of a new adventure, perhaps a bit of the mundane routine, or some sort of surprise.


Lori said...

This is a very good post. Boundaries are so very important and I always seem to bring this subject up with others - especially in the workplace.

Sometimes we forget that the mundane is so much more... experience, history and life.

I still love You've Got Mail - I guess it's me living vicariously through Meg Ryan's character in my favorite city of all time!

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

One of my favorite movies ever. Though I have to admit that I'd never given much thought to the point you raise. In fact, I was just thinking about that movie tonight because I'm reading the series of novels that tell the story of Pride & Prejudice from Darcy's point. And that book is prominent in "YGM".

I love the witty exchanges in this movie. But you're right...we have to guard our hearts to realize that love in the movies bares little, if any, resemblance to true, solid love.

Katrina said...

Excellent post, Jennifer. I agree with everything you said -- from the fact that a love of books plays a serious role in why I like that movie, to the fact that we really do have to guard our hearts. And especially the part about how what you/we have is so much better than that "first twinge" feeling. Putting our hearts into our marriages reaps many rewards.

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Great post! It's one of my favorite movies, also. That part always makes me twinge, too. And it really isn't necessary for the main plot of the story. You are right on about guarding our hearts. And being content with our marriages. We've been sort of mentoring a newly married couple and 2 other couples getting married this summer. I tell Joel all the time I would trade places with them for anything. I see them trying to work out their "stuff" and I'm so glad we're beyond that and have all our "issues" worked out, well, most of them anyway. = )

Kathleen Marie said...

You make some very valid points. I know several marriages that have ended do to internet relationships. One father just packed up unexpectedly, left his wife and two boys so go meet the online woman of his dreams. Baffling!

We need to guard our hearts and our marriages. I enjoy this movie but did find a few things in it bothersome...I guess that is why I prefer Austen movies. ☺

Susanne said...

This was an excellent post on all counts Jennifer. We really do have to be on guard for our hearts. Stuff like that comes in subtley and can ensnare before we know what's hit us!

Jane said...

Great post and great comments too! Thanks for the thought provoking reminder!