3 Stars – thought-provoking
Who wouldn’t want the perfect spouse? Every young man dreams of a trophy mate who makes their friends drool. Magazines are sold to women at every supermarket promoting how to have “perfect” sex and the looks and body to match, sometimes appearing as a form of “soft porn.”
“The Stepford Wives” is a comic remake of the 1975 horror film of the same name. In the town of Stepford, Connecticut, men have the most amazing wives who wait on them hand and foot. They are capable of baking in the kitchen all day and cooking in bed all night. And the men of Stepford spend their days in luxury at the golf course or the club telling each other stories of their manly conquests.
Contrast this world of men’s fantasies of perfection with the world of Joanna Eberhart (Nicole Kidman), a hard hitting network television producer who is at the top of her game producing the biggest reality shows in America. In Joanna’s world, powerful women on TV emasculate their spouses in humiliating set-ups. That is until one day, when a male contestant decides to flip out and draws a gun threatening to kill everyone that has embarrassed him. Averse to instant lawsuits, the network fires Joanna, who then goes into her own mental meltdown.
In moral support to Joanna, her husband Walter (Matthew Broderick) quits his job at the same network. With their combined savings, they decide that it’s time to put their marriage back together by moving from New York City to the suburbs of idyllic Connecticut.
Soon, Joanna and Walter are living in a blissful gated community of manicured lawns and Martha Stewart wives. But, these neighbor ladies are too perfect. The men have smiles on their faces all the time, and the women never tire of being happy homemakers. The only “normal” people seem to be other newcomers, Bobbi and Dave Markowitz (Bette Midler and Jon Lovitz). When Joanna tries to fit in, she looks like “Betty Crocker – at the Betty Ford.”
Throughout, the plot thickens, and the dirty little secrets of Stepford come to be known. But, not before Joanna and Walter make an impact on the town that changes it forever.
It is an interesting myth that our culture perpetuates that perfection in a mate would make us happy. In many ways, it is an adolescent fantasy that too many people carry with them well into adulthood. It is true that we all have an idea of what an ideal relationship would look or feel like. But true love comes from working through the struggles of our lives and coming out on the other side with a stronger commitment than ever before.
In a spiritual sense, we all want to be loved by someone who embodies St. Paul’s notion of love being patient and kind, holding no ills from the past, and without rancor or judgment. This kind of loving perfection helps us work through the trials and travails of life. But it doesn’t eliminate them or remove their pain.
If love was defined as being a plastic Barbie or Ken doll as represented in Stepford, the real result would be that we would be bored to death. There is a difference between real love and fantasy attraction. The first deepens to a profound bond, while the latter weakens into a solitary and lonely existence.
- When a couple demands perfection of one another, they are forced to focus on fixing their imperfections rather than their building upon their strengths. How has your “perfectionism” impacted your relationship?
- The decision to create the circumstances whereby our mates are forced to “serve us” creates a relationship that may be superficially satisfying but spiritually lonely, for their acts of service do not come from a place of love. What happens in you when you are forced to serve someone rather than given the opportunity to freely give of yourself in service?
- The desire to become the perfect mate and please the other can be expressed by surrendering our identity and our freedom by becoming a “people pleaser.” Have you experienced this desire in your own life? What did you do to find the balance between giving of yourself and losing your identity?
- Many couples make it their desire to “outdo one another” in service to the other. Imagine what would happen in your relationship if you were caught up in “mutually serving,” where you “put the other’s needs before your own.”