When you think of Tony Soprano, you don’t typically think of love. You do think of a man who may have had more mistresses than Tiger Woods.
How can we hold his character (so geniously portrayed by the late and great actor James Gandolfini) in any esteem when it comes to relationships or marriage?
Gandolfini’s monster of a mobster may have been flawed, but there was nothing he loved more than his family. He may not have known how to express that love, but the audience felt it and I personally think that is what made the character so relatable to millions of fans of the series.
There are lessons to be learned from Mr. Soprano, some of them firmly tongue in cheek and others less so.
1. Marriage is work. Sure, Ben Affleck may have popularized the phrase at this year’s Oscars, but: did any couple truly live the maxim that marriage — and staying together through thick and thin — isn’t a walk in the park more than Tony and Carmela Soprano?
2. When you love someone, you don’t kill them. Tony Soprano may have given his most demonstrative declaration of love following an intervention with his nephew Christopher . Things became heated after the death of Christopher and Adriana’s beloved Maltese, Cosette. In the midst of the intervention, Christopher is beaten quite badly, but not murdered by his uncle and his goons. Tony tells him this:
“Listen to me, the only reason I did this is because you’re my nephew, and I love you. If it were anybody else, they would’ve gotten that intervention through the back of their fucking head.” That’s love…of a sort.
3. Therapy might not always fix things, but it helps. Tony went to therapy with Dr. Jennifer Melfi to soothe his anxiety, but he stayed because he desperately wanted to be a better husband and father. Sometimes that worked. Sometimes it just shed light on how Tony felt about his mother’s plot to have him killed.
4. Bribery can work. When you’ve cheated on your wife with everyone from your uncle’s one-legged nurse maid to your realtor for Caputo’s Poultry building, maybe you should think about buying her a Porsche Turbo Cayenne like Carmela’s.
5. There is a lot of “I love you” in a simple “Hey.” Tony and Carmela were never effusive about their love or their affection. In fact, their most passionate scenes came about when they were fighting, but there was always a silent undercurrent of affection between the two. Sometimes love is just being comfortable with the other person. We never hear the words “I love you” in this final scene from the series, but there is a level of understanding in their “hey” that can only come from two decades of marriage.
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