That's your task as a couple -- facing life together and the things you can't possibly prepare for.
Is there a common denominator to all the couples?
They were all fascinating stories in their own right. Strangely enough, the first nine couples in the film were the first nine couples I interviewed. Not that I didn’t want more; we did some more later that just didn’t fit in. But if I had done almost any other nine, we would have had similarly interesting stories. I think there's an amazing story behind every couple's marriage. The common denominator is that they're going to face really tough challenges over time.
There's a line about walking "bravely into the unknown future." It's like an adventure narrative built into each marriage.
Structurally we also came up with the narration, those little interstitials where I comment on weddings -- and ultimately more on marriage -- and how they go together. That was another thing that evolved in the editing. I was thinking of other ways to do it, including at one point asking: Do I bring in my own marriage? I decided, no. I'll give this as a gift to my wife on this film. We'll look outward this time instead of inward.
Did this project change the way you think about your own marriage?
It's a hard question to answer. Every film I do changes the way I think about my marriage. Every day changes the way I think about my marriage. It is much like Olivia talks about. It's waves. It takes work, which by the way isn't a bad thing -- it's a good thing to actually work at it.
I learned a lot in talking to these couples, editing their stories and going through all their interviews. You just hope that by learning and growing as a person, you bring that to the marriage.
Was there anything that didn't make it into the film that resonated with you?
I was talking to the rabbi about divorces: Why is the divorce rate so much higher now? We mentioned infidelity and he said, "That's not the No. 1 problem: No. 1 is money. No. 2 is sex, and No. 3 is time." If your spouse cheats on you, that's not necessarily a deal-breaker for a marriage. If you find out that your spouse has been robbing you, taking your money or hiding money -- it's very hard for a marriage to survive that breach of trust. You bring so much emotional baggage to money and what it means.
Do you have any advice for couples about to get married?
If they're about to get married, presumably they've already picked, so I can't say, "Choose wisely."
How about advice for a single person then?
Find somebody who finds you funny and laughs at your jokes, and somebody that you find funny. You want somebody that you can talk to, but also not talk to. You want somebody who's committed to their own self-growth, because then they don't get boring. And you want somebody who is willing to talk things out. That's probably the biggest thing; we saw somebody in the film who just didn't talk about how unhappy he was. It's not like it doesn't come out in the end.
What do you hope people take away from this film?
When people tend to think about marriage, their thoughts end at the wedding. The wedding is such a big deal that they conflate marriage with weddings. The whole point of the film is that the wedding is just day one. You're going to have a long life together and the only thing that you can expect is that life will throw the unexpected at you. That's your task as a couple -- facing life together and the things you can't possibly prepare for.