Hope springs — from a sex therapist’s perspective.

I saw the movie Hope Springs this weekend, and I mostly loved it. It’s hard to see a movie which describes what you do every day without wanting to yell directions…I probably felt how baseball coaches must feel when they watch Angels in the Outfield or Field of Dreams. You sit there wanting to yell “What?? You’ve gotta be kidding!!” at the movie coach. But on some level you appreciate that your life’s work is being portrayed in (hopefully) some meaningful way.

So I’m doing what all quarterbacks do after a game replay…I’m analyzing the movie.

Not to worry, I’m not going into the minute analysis. I wouldn’t bore you with that. I saved that for my husband who got a play-by-play last night, but I will give you my reaction highlights:

What I loved:

  1. I loved, loved, loved that they were able to show how much of an impact a physical relationship has on a marriage. Sometimes I feel like no one really gets it when I say that sex in a marriage has so many ramifications beyond “just sex.” When the sex is gone, so too often is the intimacy, the laughter, and playfulness, the ability to share. Put plainly, you take away the sex and usually it is hard for a couple to feel like a couple and not just roommates. I think the movie did a beautiful job of portraying that in all its complexity.
  2. I loved the fact that it made clear that sex has everything to do with talking and playfulness; that the more open you are to sharing fantasies and trying things the closer you’ll feel. I loved the fact that the husband shared his fantasy about a threesome with his wife during therapy and although they were both quite clear “that is never going to happen,” (last line of the movie) it made them both smile, grin, and share a moment of laughter and intimacy when they saw the object of his fantasy.
  3. I loved that the movie honestly portrayed how painful and difficult it is to reconnect after so many years of distance. And I think both actors did an astonishingly beautiful job of recreating the isolation, fear, sadness and doubt.

What I wish the movie had done differently (and feel free to roll your eyes at my over-analysis):

  1. I wish they hadn’t portrayed all of that therapy and change happening in a week. Really? Couldn’t you give the couple a month or two to ease into things? They haven’t had sex in 5 years!!
  2. Did anyone else sit there thinking, ummmmm…Maybe there should have been more of a focus on the physical realities? Maybe he should have his testosterone checked. The guy hasn’t had sex in 5 years (Okay…maybe he’s been masturbating every day. I suppose. But that certainly wasn’t the impression I got). Please. The guy probably needs Viagra. She hasn’t had intercourse in 5 years and just went through menopause. Oh come on. You think maybe she needs some local estrogen, some re-stretching of the vagina? Or at least some lubricant for crying out loud! (spoiler alert) I was cringing at the sex scene at the end. I thought for sure she’d scream “ahhhhh…. That feels like knives in my vagina.”
  3. Why, oh why, oh why does intercourse always define the happy ending? Could they have broken out of the stereotype just a little, just for once and had a great hand job or oral sex happy ending? Frankly, it’s probably a bit more realistic!

Okay, I’m starting to feel the eye rolling of the readers, so I’ll stop.

But before I do I have to say two more things I loved about the movie: I loved that it might enable couples who are stuck in a bad rut to start the conversation and I love that it suggests that the problems are fixable.

Because they are!