Screenshots taken from Netflix
Rating: 4 / 5
Editor’s note: This review contains some spoilers.
When I first saw the promotion clip for Netflix’s K-drama, “Love (Ft Marriage and Divorce)”, I knew I had to watch it. Finally, a drama series that deals with the realities of marriage instead of the usual cheesy love narrative that has become the hallmark of most K-dramas.
Another reason I was attracted to the show was because I’m now creeping into the stage of my life where plenty of my peers are getting engaged and married, it has left me worrying when mine will come along. And the shadow of “perhaps I might die old, lonely, and with no one to care and provide for me” has stealthily clawed its way into my mind.
“Love (ft Marriage and Divorce)”, which I’ll refer to as LMD from now on, addressed those very concerns I had by giving us a glimpse into the marriages (and the slow unravelling) of three women: Boo Hye-rung, Sa Pi-young, and Lee Si-eun. They are colleagues at a radio station, and are at different stages of their marriages. Hye-rung is a newlywed in the honeymoon stages of her relationship, while 50-something Si-eun has been with her husband for 31 years. In the middle is 40-something Pi-young with her picture-perfect marriage. Her husband’s a well-respected psychiatric doctor and she has an adorable 12-year-old, named Ji-a.
As the show progresses, we soon see that infidelity lies at the heart of these three marriages, with their respective husbands falling into the arms of another woman for a myriad of reasons. And soon, divorce is on the table for Hye-rung’s and Si-eun’s marriages. Meanwhile, unknown to Pi-young and her colleagues, the former’s husband was also having his own affair behind her back, while still maintaining the facade of a doting husband and father.
Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait till season two to find out what happens next to these couples’ marriages. But season one has given me a few things to mull over about the way I view marriage, especially the hopes I had put into it, thinking it’s my absolute guarantee to a life where I’ll never be alone, where heartaches are minimal, and where I’d have the certainty of someone to look after me in my old age.
Yes, marriage is good and it’s a sacred institution ordained by God. However, the Bible has never guaranteed it will be devoid of problems, and even a secular K-drama has shown that it would be unwise to think that it’ll fulfil my every need and meet my every insecurity.
Here are my three takeaways from the drama:
1. Our faithfulness in a relationship doesn’t guarantee a happy ending
All throughout the 16 episodes of the drama, dutiful and diligent Si-eun works hard to be the wife and mother for her family. The show tells us she’s overworked and suffers from repetitive strain injury (RSI) from the wristbands she wears as a result of the hours of typing at work, and beating eggs and flour to make meals for her family. She saves her hard earned money so she can surprise her husband with his own car. She’s almost a picture of the Proverbs 31 woman—in the secular sense.
Alas, her dedication was not met with appreciation. Instead, it was the looks and beauty of another younger woman that held her husband’s interest. He lies in his freshly made bed (no doubt with a full belly) captivated and enthralled by the other woman, replaying every little thing she had said or done. His non-verbal cues even showed that he was slightly repulsed by Si-eun.
It’s probably natural that most of us would feel infuriated with Si-eun’s husband and sympathetic towards the former. After all, if we played the role of a dutiful spouse, meeting our partner’s every wish and need, it’s inconceivable that they would leave us for another, right?
But this behaviour shouldn’t shock us, since the human heart is fickle, and are prone to wandering. Just look at the Israelites whom God had provided for so faithfully over the 40 years as they wandered in the desert: giving them food (quail and manna), shelter and clothing to wear. But Israel had a wandering heart, and soon forgot all that God had provided for them, choosing instead to seek pleasures in idols they built for themselves (Exodus 32:1-8). And we see this cycle repeated over centuries, as Jeremiah 2:32 records: “Does a young woman forget her jewellery, a bride, her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number.”
Though most of us can safely say that we don’t cheat on our spouses, how often are we just like the Israelites? We forget about God like “days without number” when things are going good for us, or when something else has caught our fancy. But yet God patiently calls us back to Him, He invites us back into a relationship with Him, because as Scripture says: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us” (1 John 4:10).
2. Our “happily ever after” is found in Jesus
It’s safe to assume that each of these women tied the knot believing it’s their ticket to a “happily ever after”—a life that’s free of conflicts, hardships, and pain. But infidelity, greed, and lust nibbled away at their fairytale marriage.
How easy it is for us to fall into the same trap, thinking that once we’ve nabbed the right partner, and signed the legal documents, we’ve secured our own piece of “happily ever after”.
The problem is, we’re hinging our hopes and dreams onto another human. And as sinful beings, one of us will end up failing the other. The wild and exciting promises exchanged at a wedding, where everything is perfect, beautiful, and romantic fray and break when it’s tried and tested over the course of a marriage, sometimes resulting in separations and divorces.
But there is Someone whose promises are sure, and who will never leave or forsake us; we can confidently hitch our “happily ever after” to Him: Jesus. He has promised to love us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) and His love for us is unconditional (Isaiah 54:10). In fact, He loves us so much He went to the cross for us (John 3:16) so we can spend eternity with Him. His love for us is neither temporal nor is it fleeting, and we can be assured that come what may, He’ll be there for us.
3. Our provider till the end of our days is God—Jehovah Jireh
When Hye-rung’s husband asked her for a divorce, it was plain to see that she’d be on the losing end. While Hye-rung is a capable earner who has made a name for herself as a radio DJ, neither Hye-rung nor her husband would be able to afford the luxurious apartment in Gangnam on their own, without the help of his rich parents.
For some of us, we seek out a lifelong partner because we’re looking for someone who’d provide for us into our old age, whether it’s giving us financial stability or knowing we’ll have a constant companion by our side. But there really is no guarantee that having a spouse will alleviate any of these worries. In fact, finances might be even tighter when and where children are involved. And who is to say a death, an illness, or a bad financial decision will not happen, destroying the “foundation” we thought we had sorted.
However, we can rely on God to provide for us right till the end of our days on earth. Isaiah 46:4 is a very comforting verse, as it’s a wonderful promise by God Himself that He who first knitted us in our mother’s womb will care for us right till the end: “Even into our old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I’ll sustain you and I’ll rescue you”.
LMD season one has given me much to mull over, especially on the topic of marriage and security. And while I still hope that I’d be able to get married someday, I can say with 90 per cent certainty that I’d be just as happy if I don’t find the right person to marry, because as cliche as it sounds, I truly already have the ultimate partner in Jesus.
As British writer Andrea Trevenna wrote in her book, The Heart of Singleness, “If you’ve ever suspected that if you just had a man, things would sort themselves out . . . you’re both wrong and right. You’re wrong in that no normal man can manage to do that. But you’re right in that there is a Man who came for you. He will never disappoint you, and He wants to be your bridegroom. He’s called Jesus. As we look for what we need, He says to us: “I am He”.