Ali and Andrew, who had been together for seven years before splitting up, were given that opportunity by an interactive web project called The And. This documentary-style project gives both current and ex-couples the opportunity to ask each other candid questions by drawing them from a note cards. Since Ali and Andrew have been separated for two years, they are able to cut through a lot of the BS by asking pointed questions right out of the gate.
Ali was the first to ask a zinger: "Why did you cheat on me so many times?" Now this is one of those questions few women would admit wanting an answer to, especially if they were still committed to the relationship. There's almost no answer that won't sting.
Andrew suddenly says something painfully genuine. He tells Ali he cheated because he was "interested in other options," all the while not looking her in the face because he knows how much he's hurting her in admitting that.
The patient silences are striking and loaded with emotion. Yes, the admissions and realizations are painful, but because they've had some distance and they're in a controlled, not totally private environment, they're able to get through them and move on. Here's a look at their whole experience.
Ali and Andrew break the ice with a really hard question before they are flooded with good memories, reminiscing over how they met. Ali's favorite moment (when he danced with her at a friend's house) changes everything for them. Yes, it's emotional, but you can see all the love that's still very much there.
The fact that they both admit at separate times that they wanted to marry the other speaks volumes. What says even more, however, is how clearly they see where the issues were and how they can both admit to being at fault.
This project, and Ali and Andrew's experience especially, shows how important it is for couples to talk about the uncomfortable issues, whether they're still together or have broken up.
It's the only way to feel truly satisfied in a current one or to have emotional closure for a past one. I'm getting married in a year and now have every intention of setting up something like this with my fiancé and a therapist or a similarly unbiased party. Sticking to prewritten is key to help keep a constructive conversation from spinning off into an argument (a common trap into which we've been known to fall).
Let's hope this inspires a new wave of stigma-less couples counseling that will help keep us open and always moving forward.
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