Michael Eriksson
A Swede in Germany
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Marriage advice from “Forces of Nature”

In the movie “Forces of Nature”, Sandra Bullock gives Ben Affleck a number of tips for his upcoming marriage. Below is brief analysis of these tips (paraphrased from http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/f/forces-of-nature-script-transcript.htmle).

  1. Never forget her birthday. Make a really, really big deal out of it.

    This is supported by a number of other sources and makes great sense in light of this discussion. I have the impression, however, that anniversaries of the relationship can be even more important, and they have the advantage of emphasizing “us” over “you”.

  2. After sex, hold her for a little while.

    As above.

  3. Talk to her like a human being.

    The claim is border-line tautological, and the need for it highly surprising to me. This should probably be seen in the light of Sandra’s character having a history of picking up idiots; however, it is possible that this is a misformulation of some other intention.

    Female readers should note, however, that even a “great guy” will start to talk down to his girl-friend if she behaves like an idiot or a child. Looking both at my own history and fictional depictions, such behaviour is the typical reason, with the exception of some macho sub-cultures.

  4. Do not wear your socks to bed.

    I cannot speak for the female POV, but, as a man, I find this odd. In particular, I have a strong preference for the opposite in women, so that I am not bothered by ice-lump feet. (This assuming that the advice is with regard to sleeping. On second thought, it could conceivably be a reference to sex.)

  5. Always side with her in an argument with your mother.

    My reaction when first hearing this was: The corresponding advice on how to be a good son, would be the exact opposite.

    See also this discussion.

  6. Listen to her like you mean it.

    If women learned to communicate, instead of making noise; proposed valid ideas, instead of blabbering; discussed interesting things, instead of gossiping; ...

    Ladies, you made your own bed; now you have to lie in it—or, you could remake the bed...

  7. Supportiveness is a really, really sexy turn-on.

    This is born out by many other sources.

  8. Never, ever hit.

    Goes without saying in most contexts. An important addendum is that this goes in both directions: A very sizable part, the majority according to some sources, of all hitting is done by women, which is equally unacceptable.

    Further, this is contingent on a lack of provocation: Words and emotional abuse can be far worse than a few blue spots, and a point of provocation can be reached where no man can reasonably be expected to control himself. Needless to say, it is very wrong for a woman to behave in a manner that even approaches that point.


    Side-note:

    Additional exceptions can conceivably be made for the more childish and immature women: If a woman displays the behaviour and maturity of a child instead of an adult, takes no adult responsibility, and expects her husband to “father” her, she will have to live with being treated like a child—including being subject to similar punishments and disciplinary actions. (Whether hitting a child as punishment is acceptable or beneficial, is a question where I have no clear opinion at the moment; however, I do not rule the possibility out. Less controversial punishments like grounding or removal of telephone privileges definitely apply.) Simply put: If women want to be equal, they actually have to take the responsibilities of an equal, and, unfortunately, not all women do.


  9. No matter what annoying habits she has, just realize that she’s dealing with a huge mountain of imperfections every day. So you might just want to let it go.

    While this is not untrue, I have two objections to this:

    Firstly, open communication about e.g. annoying habits can be beneficial, both by creating mutual awareness and by improving the situation—some habits can be curtailed at no or little expense. Notably, it is not uncommon for people to actually be unaware of some bad habits. In contrast, just letting something gnaw on a relationship for ten years, can prove highly detrimental; in particular, when it is accompanied by a dozen other gnawers. (Obviously, such discussions should be taken at the right time and with the right mind set. A “Stop that you f-ing bitch!” is somewhat lacking in constructiveness...)

    Secondly, this statement strikes me as hypocritical: Women are on average much more prone to criticism, outbursts over behaviour in an SO, and so on, than men are. Thus, the advice would be better directed towards women. (But, again, beware that Bullock’s character had a record of picking the wrong men. From her personal history, the statement could be more understandable.) Further, IMO, women on average have much more annoying habits than men do, in the first place. This, however, could be a result of natural gender differences, where men and women simply have very different preferences (e.g. shoe shopping vs. ball games).