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Your Marriage Isn’t The “War of the Roses”

War of the Roses: Your Marriage Does Not Have to Continue or End Like Theirs

The War of the Roses grossed $160.2 million at the box office way back in 1989. Why? I think it was because so many people could relate – feeling unsatisfied, but dare say a word. So many couples wanted comic relief from this thing called “marriage” and “til death do us part.” There were others, of course, who were just curious about reasons to continue to cohabitate and avoid the “M” word altogether.

Barbara (Kathleen Turner) and Oliver Rose (Michael Douglas) wanted out after 17 years of marriage and two children. If you’ve experienced divorce or even know someone who has, you know the division of marital assets is a place of contention. The Roses fought until the bitter end over who could have their mansion of a house.

I won’t tell you who wins in case you haven’t seen it. I will point out, however, that this movie is an excellent portrayal of yet another storybook romance that didn’t have to fizzle and die. If only they saw a highly skilled couples therapist to help keep their love alive (okay, it’s a movie).

Couples like the characters Barbara and Oliver establish negative patterns of relating, as many do.  They turn away from each other to “lick their wounds.”   When negative patterns of relating become habitual and self-perpetuating as a way to protect your emotions or feelings – the lovers’ bond is threatened. Staying stuck in a habitual “cycle” of hurting each other, ruins relationships.


The loneliness experienced by disconnected intimate partners is the worse.  It is often the cause of sex-less marriages or unfulfilling sex at best.   Couples are sleeping in the same bed and feeling lonelier than they ever imagined possible in a marriage.  Their backs are facing each other at opposite ends of the bed. It feels like they’re sleeping with the enemy.

I wonder if you can relate? They finally get the house of their dreams. She feels overwhelmed because on the very first day he misses the cue that she desperately needs his help. Instead, he says he has to go to the office – she’s on her own.

There’s another time when Oliver asks Barbara not to give the kids so much candy because they might gain extra weight. She dismisses what he says and low and behold, the children become overweight.

The last thing I’ll mention as a moment of disconnection is when Barbara asks her attorney husband to review a contract for a business she plans to start.  Her hubby gets distracted by a fly.  He comes to the rescue and kills the fly with her contract, hands it to her without reviewing it and walks out.  Later at bedtime, he asks where her “little” contract is as he has time to review it now.  She explained she needed it reviewed much earlier.  Her self worth is tanked.

There were so many occasions when this couple hurt each other. They loved each other, but after interaction after interaction of learning that you can’t depend on your partner to be there for you when you need them most, you stop feeling safe with them. You stop trusting them. You’re angry and sad, and fearful that this relationship, too, will end.  Your marriage or relationship does not have to continue or end like the “War of the Roses.” You can get help before it is too late.


It’s okay to get help. I am a Black Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist and Certified Meditation Instructor new to Durham, North Carolina. I live and breathe Black and Intercultural Love. Contact me today. You can experience new patterns of relating in Online Therapy that will deepen your intimate connection. You can have the love you want. I can help.

See you next week to slow down. Breathe.

As One,


Linda Hobbs, MSS, MBA, LCSW

Durham Couples Mind-Body Connector