A New Documentary by Roger Nygard            .

 

Why does Marriage have to be so difficult? “I am obsessed with this question,” says filmmaker Roger Nygard. “When I obsess on a topic, I don’t let go until I have a movie about it. I like to interrogate people about impossible ideas, and because it’s on camera, they don’t charge me. It’s like free therapy.”

Three very different couples were filmed at their weddings, then profiled years later to see what happened after the honeymoon stage was over. A Malibu screenwriter marries a younger bride imported from Prague — over the years their roles change. A couple marries at a faerie convention in Eugene, Oregon, after agreeing they will continue dating others after the wedding. An American rapper living and performing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil vows to be single forever — seven years later life has not turned out at all like he planned. Their stories are full of twists, surprising lessons learned, and advice for others facing relationship issues.

We all know the statistics: marriage rates are down, divorce rates are up, and over time people become more and more dissatisfied in their marriages. Never in human history have human beings expected so much from romantic partners. Monogamy is the rule, but humans are constantly violating it. Is love a spiritual thing or is it all chemicals? Why are men and women are attracted to very different things? Couples admit there is a big drop in sex after marriage, so how can they keep the passion fresh? What are the secrets that lead to happy relationships? Nygard tracked down the experts — and some extraordinary regular folks — to find all the answers to these questions.

Among the experts interviewed are:

Dr. Pat Allen, Therapist & Educator, Author of, Getting To “I Do”
Robin Baker, Ph.D., Sexual Biology Researcher, Author of, Sperm Wars
Jeffrey Bernstein, Psychologist, Relationship Specialist, Author of, Why Can’t You Read My Mind?
Rabbi Lazer Brody, Marriage Counselor & Translator of, The Garden of Peace: A Marriage Guide For Men
Claire Brummell, Relationship Specialist
Fara Dabhoiwala, Ph.D., Senior Research Scholar, Princeton University, Author of, The Origins of Sex
Joy Chen, Author of, Do Not Get Married Before Age 30
Stephanie Coontz, Author of, Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage
Lucia Demasi, Dating & Relationship Expert, Author of, Lessons of Love
William J. Doherty, Ph.D., Couples Therapist, Author of, Take Back Your Marriage

John C. Friel, Ph.D., Couples Therapist, Author of, The 7 Best Things Happy Couples Do
John Gottman, Ph.D., Co-founder of The Gottman Institute, Author, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail
Julie Schwartz Gottman, Ph.D., Co-founder of the Gottman Institute; Author, 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage
Beryl Huang, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Author of, Move Toward Love
Rachel Hope, Author of, Family By Choice:  Platonic Partnered Parenting
Marni Kagan, Matchmaker & Relationship Coach
Benjamin R. Karney, Professor of Social Psychology, co-author of, Intimate Relationships
Matt Ridley, Author of, The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature
Christopher Ryan, Ph.D., Psychologist, Co-Author of, Sex At Dawn
Neil Strauss, Author of, The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists
Ty Tashiro, Ph.D., Psychologist, Author of, The Science of Happily Ever After
Steven Ward, Co-Author of, Crash Course On Love
Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, Couples Therapist, Author of, Make Up, Don’t Break Up

Roger Nygard has made several indie films, and worked in television as a director and editor on shows like THE OFFICE, CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, and VEEP. But he is probably most notorious for having made the documentary, TREKKIES. Nygard’s prior documentary was about:  what’s the point of everything? THE NATURE OF EXISTENCE, was an official selection of twenty film festivals, won multiple best documentary awards, and was released theatrically in 15 U.S. cities. Afterward, Nygard looked for a new concept, something even more inexplicable than existence itself, and only one subject fit that challenge:  marriage.

Nygard explains the topic this way:
“If I one day somebody said to you, ‘I’m selling this amazing product. You’re going to love it. Everybody else is getting it. It brings great happiness. Do you want it?’
You might say, ‘Wow. Maybe. If it’s that amazing.  Is this thing really good?’
‘Yes, it’s great!’
‘What kind of guarantee does it have?’
‘None.’
‘What’s its success rate?’
‘50% of them don’t last. And the other 50% that do work take a lot of effort to keep them going well.’
You would tell the salesperson to go back to the drawing board until they get the success rate up. That’s how marriage is sold, as an amazing thing we all should desire, that will bring great happiness, and fail half the time.”

In 2010 Nygard begin bringing his video camera whenever he was invited to weddings. He interviewed brides and grooms. “I found myself wondering at weddings, what are the chances this couple is going to make it? Witnessing weddings made me question my own situation.” Nygard started researching the idea of marriage, the history of this pervasive human goal, and psychology and expectations behind it, looking for explanations behind to me the reasons for relationship mistakes, why we do so many things wrong, why marriage is so hard for people. Nygard began collecting interviews with relationship experts, psychologists, and random folks.

In 2012 Nygard visited his grandmother not long after she turned 100 and asked her why she chose to marry. She said, “I have no idea. I wanted to get married. That’s what people did. He came to call on me for a date one day. Carlton knocked on the door and said, ‘Nygard’s the name.’ We didn’t even know who Carlton was! But he joined the family!”

When you tell somebody you’ve never been married it often raises the question, “What’s wrong with you?” Is there really something wrong with not being married? This new film is a humorous and uplifting journey, that finds answers to the most challenging ideas about relationships and marriage.

Michaela Hanackova and Frank Cappello on a Malibu beach at their sunset wedding.

Jordan Mackay and Angela Yackley chose a faerie convention near Eugene, Oregon as the location for their wedding.

Don Blanquito and Yasmin Oliveira at their home in Los Angeles.

Composer and Co-Producer Billy Sullivan, working on the score to the documentary with guitarist Pierre Karlsson.

Roger Nygard with Robin Baker, Author of, Sperm Wars.

       The anonymous couple in love. Photographed at Thomas Jefferson park in Paris.

       Filmmaker Roger Nygard.