Americans in Bed is an insightful look at how couples feel about marriage, sex and each other and was directed and produced by Phillipa Robinson.
Relationships in the United States are hard and marriages are even harder, which is why half of them end in divorce. Why does this happen? Is it because of communication issues? The lack of intimacy? Too much work, too little time for fun? What about the marriages that do work, what’s their secret? Americans in Bed asked those questions and more of ten couples from different ages, backgrounds, races, sexual orientations and religions to find out what made their relationships work. Some of the answers were touching, some a bit selfish, but all were extremely interesting.
I have always had an interest in how relationships work for some and not others, especially those couples in for the long haul. I am always curious about couples who seem to genuinely love and care about each other. You can see it in their actions, the way they look at each other, even when they’re sitting next to each on a park bench reading a book and saying nothing. There is a connection between them that is palpable and can be quite lovely to witness. But when said connection is broken or disappears completely, it is definitely noticeable. Dirty looks, constant arguments and nonexistent communication become the norm.
When watching Americans in Bed, I found myself drawn to all of the couples, but none more so than Helen and Red and Fatima and Kevin. Helen and her husband Red have been married for 71 years and they still love each other very much. Red was a bit of a player (and a handsome one, to boot) while Helen was a good girl and pretty as a picture. They went out on a date once, after which Red decided Helen was a “prude” but they eventually found their way back to each other. Their marriage has been quite fulfilling both emotionally and sexually. Although sex was a big part of their marriage, as Helen said she never “had a headache” when it came to pleasing her husband, the couple shared so much more than that to make the union work. Red summed it up very well when he said that he couldn’t define love, but whatever it is, that’s what he felt for his wife.
Fatima and Kevin, on the other hand, are a young couple who have already had trouble in their relationship. Fatima is bubbly and girly and so in love with her man, while Kevin is more subdued and laid back. They play around with each other and do the silly things young people do when they’re in love. But most women are intuitive, and Fatima was no exception. She felt the relationship was off and decided to take action, revealing Kevin’s very shocking infidelity. Fatima, when describing what she found, was clearly still very hurt about Kevin’s betrayal saying that “he took a certain piece of me away.” But the couple made the conscious effort to work on the relationship instead of letting it go completely. How do you come back from something like that? How do you rebuild trust in a relationship when you’ve basically been punched in the gut by the other person’s cheating?
Americans in Bed does not sugarcoat marriage and relationships. We are all individuals and have our own likes, dislikes, expectations and wants, which makes it all the more difficult to find someone. Dating in this day of the Internet is more challenging than it’s ever been, and many people are lonely and willing to put up with almost anything to be with someone. The film revealed what each couple was willing to do to be together, and I found myself surprised by what some of them dealt with. It also spoke on the role of sex and intimacy in relationships and how important they really are. Mainly, I was touched by the amount of love the couples had for each other and the ways in which they expressed it, like Helen saying that Red wasn’t allowed to die until after she did, because she couldn’t imagine being on this Earth without him, alone and miserable. Now that’s love.
Americans in Bed is currently airing on HBO, HBO On Demand and HBO GO.
Photos courtesy of BLT Communications