They say that marriage has three parts: I don’t know you, but I love you. I know you and I don’t love you. I know you and I love you. That pesky middle stage is the reason why I think The Story of Us (1999) ought to be required watching for military couples.
The Story of Us is about the part of marriage when “I know you and I don’t love you (because you are such a jerk).” That’s the part of marriage no one ever tells you about. In the movie, Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer fight for pretty much the entire time about how irresponsible he is and how boring and controlling she is and how they just can’t stand each other. All that fighting is hard to watch. The only thing they can agree about is that they’ve got great kids.
These two are at the stage where you need one of our favorite Military Wife Quotes: “Lust fades so you better be with someone who can stand you.” In the movie, the couple decides that the marriage is so bad they must separate. Then they actually get a little of the distance we military couples get from deployment all the time. Gradually Willis and Pfeiffer put everything into perspective. In the final cry-every-time scene, they realize that even though he is a little slipshod and she is wound a little too tight, they have a life together that they cannot have with anyone else. They slip into the “I know you and I love you stage” right then.
For we military couples, getting beyond the initial lust stage of marriage is a shock. Trudging through the “I know you and your character traits bug the crap outta me” stage is a pain. But reaching the spot where you know for sure that you are with someone who can stand you (and even like you) for the rest of your life is the promised land. You just gotta figure out how to get there from here.