As I write, I first want to say that I think the filming of the movie was great however this isn’t a film review but more of a breakdown in communication errors and components of an unhealthy relationship. I decided to give my perspective on the characters Malcom and Marie from a relationship counselor/coach point of view. Malcom and Marie is a film centered around the premiere of Malcom’s movie and as the night unfolds you see how their relationship is tested and exposure of a toxic relationship.
What is a toxic a relationship: a toxic relationship damages self-esteem and drains our energy. A toxic relationship lacks mutual caring, respect, and compassion, an interest in our partner’s welfare and growth, inability to make decisions together and overall lack for your partners happiness.
Toxic relationships like what was illustrated in the film shows us that both genders can be toxic, and it takes two to go back and forth like what we witnessed in the movie.
So, what do we need to avoid in order to move from toxic relationships to healthy relationships
The first thing I want to address is not being direct. As Marie is cooking the macaroni and cheese, Malcom is in the background on an artist high from the premiere of the movie you hear a lot hmm mmm, mmm hmm as he is sharing with her. So instantly as a viewer you recognize something is bothering her. Marie starts to share some parts of what is bothering in sections but ultimately, she was requesting to be seen and valued.
Instead of Marie saying what she needed in the moment when things happen for instance the casting of the film, she waits to express it after the movie has already premiered. I encourage the couples I work with to have check ins to see how things are doing and what they can fix or work on, before you carry the resentment and blow up about it later.
Malcom failed to really listen to her and instead he blows up on Marie and starts to tear her down, and his digs were hurtful and painful to watch.
Marie wasn’t a saint either, both partners hit below the belt using: character assassination, avoiding taking ownership, passive aggressive behaviors like walking out or playing certain songs to take direct slugs at one another.
What you want to avoid in arguments: insulting one another, blaming, criticizing and judging each other, character assassination for example “ you really are psychotic or yo you are insane:, playing games to win a fight by proving them wrong ( the scene where Marie has the knife and confesses to still being an addict to prove her case of what real authenticity is) threats ( I’m leaving you), yelling, throwing, hitting or physically putting your hands on one another, bringing up issues from past relationship ( I can see why ole dude left you or I can see why your ex wife cheated on you), bringing up other people ( Malcom when he revisits all of the women he encounter sexually and what he did with them), or saying things like oh yeah your homeboys warned me about this, finally leaving without saying where you are going and when you are returning.
Another important issue I want to touch on is not using sex as a form of soothing in the relationship. We saw in the movie when Marie said one of the things holding her in the relationship was the good sex and how in the argument that night, he even took that away from her. Throughout this two-hour fight, intimacy was used either as a weapon to try to move on from it or a form of manipulation to continue to express what needed to be said still but in a passive aggressive manner. Whatever the case is, in no way shape or form is this healthy.
I don’t want to end on a negative note so let me leave you all with some tips on how Malcom and Marie could have communicated in a healthy way:
First, they should have acknowledged one another as an equal and the relationship is a partnership.
They should have both been gentle and kind with their words.
Share without blaming or putting the actual emotions on your spouse. When you didn’t cast me it made me feel like I wasn’t valued. Instead of saying “ You don’t value me”.
Malcom should see things from Marie’s perspective.
If you aren’t in a head space where you trust yourself enough to not be disrespectful, say you need a break, for how long and when you are ready to address the issue again. Try to keep it within a 20-30 minute time span if possible.
Reassure your spouse by starting with a positive, saying what needs to be changed and ending on a good note for example : I’m so proud of the masterpiece you created tonight, I do want to express my disappoint however in the fact you forgot to thank me tonight, I love you unconditionally and I trust that this is something you will make an honest effort to work on. I believe that is easier to hear and receive.
Malcom then should take ownership and responsibility for the role he served in hurting Marie’s feelings. As well as asking her what she needs from him to move past it.
As I close if you were triggered by the movie or recognized traits in yourself or your significant other please reach out to an expert in relationship counseling and coaching.
I pray this post was helpful and it encourages you all to move one step closer to a healthy relationships.
And As Always,
Your Sista on the Sofa,