What happens when you finally marry the man you fell head over heels with and soon discover that he has been unfaithful not once, but twice and still striving to overcome! After experiencing such devastation, you are soon bombarded with questions like, Is my fairy-tale wedding over? Did I not hear the voice of God clearly? Did I use this method of marriage as a defense to comfort my fears and doubts, or did I marry the wrong man? For surely, the man whom I love and who loves me will never bring harm to me. Every marriage is unique and designed with a specific purpose and plan. Despite religion, race, or creed, marriages can sometimes be uncertain. Where there are couples that enter into this union strictly for love, others may come together under different circumstances … but in the end the truth will come out.
Beyond the Vows deals with the aftermath of an adulterous affair and offers its characters the same choice many who find themselves in similar predicaments must choose: Do we follow the path of bitterness, rancor and discord or grace, healing and restoration? The most realistic thing about this movie is that even with the prayers and scriptures recited, it doesn’t present it as an easy choice, especially with all the outside voices that inevitably chime in while somebody is processing the hurt.
The consequences are laid bare and not sugar-coated—trust that is shattered, communication that is broken and a child brought into the world not knowing her father. Neither the cheaters nor the cheated find it a bed of roses. The cure may be as simple as forgiving and not “leaning to your own understanding,” as Proverbs 3:5 puts it, but the simplicity of that choice remains a complex process that must be worked through and endured. Karen grapples with all the above in her relationship with her husband Don, and the tension throughout the movie is palpable.
Angel Henson Smith lightens the mood as Karen’s over-the-top, ride-or-die chick friend Dottie, who is a shoulder to cry on, a spy to gather intel and an only too-willing tag-team partner if the occasion to confront the home-breaking mistress arises. Blame is not easily assigned. Don, the husband, cheated, but was it because of something missing in the relationship at home and he felt that justified his horrific choice? Is it all the seducing side-chick’s fault? Or does Karen have too much of her judgmental, scripture-quoting mother in her?
The subject matter is inescapably mature but not glorified. The pace plods a bit—perhaps out of necessity to make sure no aspect of the hurt that adultery causes is given short shrift. There are a few surprises along the way as the characters wrestle with their issues, but the movie treats the topic in a manner befitting a Dove-Approved Seal for Ages 12+.
The Dove Take:
Bad choices carry consequences, and adultery leaves no shortage of collateral damage, but Beyond the Vows deserves credit for its attempt to light a path beyond the hurt.