“When a Man Loves a Woman” is a romantic movie which focuses on a family’s journey while dealing with an alcoholic. Michael is an airline pilot and his wife; Alice was forced to face the consequences of her alcoholism on her own when her addictions threaten her life and as well as their daughter’s safety. Did Michael tried hard enough to help make Alice better, or did he made it worst?
Relationship – Husband and Wife
At the beginning of the movie, it looks like Alice married the man of her dreams and the man which every girl ought for, but somehow we can see that Alice gradually did not appear as happy as we though we thought, having to raise 2 children by herself while her husband constantly goes on trips. But, possibly there could be other factors which contributes to Alice’s drinking habits; which could range from the stress faced at her job, working as a school counselor or even stress from her children. Michael wasn’t aware about her situation until the life of her and her daughters were at stake.
Alice is very fragile both mentally and physically by the time she came back from rehabilitation. Michael fails to see that alcoholism is a lifelong disease to battle, but only sees it as a problem that can be fixed and completely cured. This shows that Michael has a very strong internal locus of control, because he wants to be able to constantly feel that he is in control of everything around him; which includes managing his career, to his children’s welfare and even his wife’s well being, hence, this probably contributes to the reason why Alice asks for a separation.
Michael’s constant control over the family’s life restricts Alice from finding space to grow and rebuild herself, which leads Alice to her breaking point. She also feels that Michael limits her to living a normal life with responsibilities.
“Distance makes a heart grow fonder”, this statement is truly proven when the couple lived separately and realizes their mistakes. Michael later realizes that he should not take everything under his control and listen to his wife, especially during her recovery period with minimal judgment. On the other hand, Alice realizes that she needs Michael’s support and comfort to be able to pull through this phase of her life.
Relationship – Children; Jess and Casey
Both Michael and Alice are portrayed as great parents in this movie. Although Alice may be lighthearted and loving, she is often reckless when drunk. The incident whereby she slapped Jess, made her come to her realization that she has “hit bottom”. The fact that she admits that she is alcoholic showed the first step towards her recovery.
Michael, even faced with a lot of stress during the course of Alice’s rehabilitation, raising 2 children while juggling with his work all by himself, never came to a breaking point whereby he releases his anger towards his children. His constant patience and understanding towards his children is what keeps the both Jess and Casey strong.
The fact that Jess said when she was seen making a mess in the kitchen trying to cook for her younger sister, Casey, “I don’t know what children wants, first she wants pancake, then eggs”, shows that she is trying to take the responsibility as a motherly figure to her younger sister, Casey. She is seen to be very observant and a fast learner. Hopefully, the effects of seeing the behavior of her mother or even the emotional abuse she felt while dealing with her mum when she is drunk, does not affect both her and her sister, Casey when they are older.
Overall, I think that this movie did not portray alcoholics in a very accurate matter. Problems faced, as family members of an alcoholic are depicted in a more subtle way as compared to many alcoholics. Most of the time alcoholic parents will lead to bad effects towards their children. However, in this movie, both the children are not affected at all, in fact the oldest daughter, Jess seemed to be coping with it well enough.
Alcoholism is known as a family disease, this movie, although many flaws, seemed to be able to capture the concept of a perfect family standing by each other as a family no matter what.
To find out more about alcoholic and its effect on the family: http://allpsych.com/journal/alcoholism.html