My husband and I watched an interesting film, 'Le Weekend', this weekend (excuse the repetition!), starring the phlegmatic Jim Broadbent and the lovely Lindsay Duncan. This film is gentle and relatively slow-moving, but gives the viewer quite a lot to chew on.
Nick and Meg have been married for thirty years. They return to Paris, where they honeymooned, for their wedding anniversary in an attempt to reinvigorate their fading relationship. Things get off to a bad start when they find that the hotel they have booked (the one where they spent their honeymoon, of course), is not quite what they had hoped for -- shabby and run down, the bedrooms without a single view of any of the beautiful Paris landmarks. (I do wonder whether it is memory rather than the hotel which is letting them down -- and, of course, the fact that as you go up in years, your standards seem to rise at a similar rate!)
As the film unwinds and events play out, we see why their relationship is strained -- they are no longer physically intimate; Nick wonders whether Meg might be having an affair; Meg wants to enjoy herself and reinvent her life, whereas Nick is much more settled, only really wanting to be reassured that his wife still loves him. Despite their annoyances with one another, there is still something strong between them -- we see that they are capable of laughing and having fun together (successfully escaping from an expensive restaurant without paying the bill sees them running along the street together in stitches, every bit like a young, carefree couple).
Towards the end of the film, Meg makes a significant point. She explains how, one day when she was out with a friend, her mobile rang. When she hung up her friend asked her who was on the phone. 'Was it your lover?' she asked. 'You were laughing so much, having so much fun, that I thought it must be.' 'No,' Meg replied. 'It was my husband.'
And this, I think, is one of the fundamentals of a strong relationship. No matter what life throws at you, if you and your partner can laugh together and have fun, then you're still on track. It wasn't clear from the film whether Meg and Nick's relationship would survive in the long term, but it seemed to me that they were certainly still moving in the right direction.