Aug 012019 13 Responses

Is Piña Colada the Best Marriage Song Ever?

The song isn’t even titled Piña Colada. In 1979, British singer Rubert Holmes released “Escape” which quickly shot up the charts and closed the 1970s as the number one song. Four decades later, the song is still regularly played on the radio. Nobody calls it by its actual title. They simply refer to it as “The Piña Colada Song” which is ironic since the original lyric was “If you like Humphrey Bogart and getting caught in the rain.” On his way to his last recording, Holmes decided to change the lyrics to the first mixed drink he could think of–Piña Colada. (See HERE for more on how Holmes wrote the song.)

The Familiar Story

The Piña Colada song is based on a simple premise of a man in a stale relationship–“I was tired of my lady, we’d been together too long.” He sees a personal ad in the paper and decides to meet the woman who left the ad. When he arrives he finds “my own lovely lady” was the one who had placed the original ad. The song implies that the two find with each other what they were hoping to find with a stranger–true romantic love.

The song might be the greatest marriage song ever written because it speaks to a common marital plight and offers a nearly universal solution. The problem is boredom. Every couple faces the danger of slipping into “the same old dull routine.” While predictability is a great aspect of a long-term relationship, it can also serve as a threat. Predictability can breed comfort, which is good. But it can also create boredom, which is bad.

Unfortunately, the characters in the song fail to take responsibility for their boring relationship. Rather than turning to one another and making changes, they attempt to turn outside the relationship. I see this mistake often. While the personal ad may no longer exist–the private Facebook message, suggestive Instagram post, or lingering after a workout at the gym still communicates the same availability told in the old newspaper ad.

Sadly many couples never realize that what they long for can be experienced in their current relationship. The marriage becomes so dry that they never consider the possibility of renewed passion or a reestablished intimacy. So they look elsewhere.

Of course, the least realistic aspect of the song is not the unlikelihood of a married couple answer each other’s anonymous ad. The unbelievable part of the story is both spouses saying “Oh it’s you. And we laughed for a moment. And said I never knew.” They wouldn’t laugh. Even as they caught their spouse doing the very thing they were doing, the result would be deep hurt and broken trust. The most likely ending to The Piña Colada Song is an ugly divorce, a drawn-out custody battle, and the need for counseling for years to come. (See: 7 Habits that Lead to Divorce)

Yet we always assume a better outcome. It’s because we believe the characters went on to experience a renewed relationship with one another. We believe it because deep down we know it is possible and we know it is best.

Piña Colada Power

While the song might subtly encourage poor decisions, the implied outcome should encourage couples to make choices which will breathe life back into their relationship. Every marriage might experience boring seasons, but no marriage is meant to be boring. We are supposed to be continually growing individually and together. Marriage is meant to include fun, excitement, intrigue, and uncertainty.

The tension (and tension is what creates intrigue) of the song is the risk that was taken in writing and answering a personal ad. While no individual should look outside their marriage for intimate satisfaction, we should regularly accept risk in order to improve our relationship.

Risk:

  • a conversation you’ve been avoiding
  • trying a new hobby
  • marriage counseling
  • going a week and never rejecting sex
  • telling your spouse you want more from your relationship
  • doing something which your personality finds difficult
  • asking another couple to dinner and requesting their mentorship
  • taking a vacation together in a spot that makes you a little uncomfortable
  • reading a marriage book together and answering the questions at the end of each chapter

For some, nothing on this list seems risky. For others, every item seems too much to consider. The point is that relationships tend not to improve until at least one individual is willing to take a risk to make it better.

Escape Mediocrity

One of my greatest sorrows is knowing how many couples resign themselves to a mediocre relationship. While not every relationship can experience deep intimacy and close connection, most can and nearly every marriage can be improved. But it takes action. (See: Are You Bored with Life? Do This.)

While I know why the song is known as “The Piña Colada Song,” I like the title “Escape.” Many people would love to escape from the mediocre relationship they experience on a daily basis. And I encourage them to do just that. Yet escape is not found by avoiding issues and seeking a new relationship. True escape is found as we turn toward one another, admit what we want, and do whatever it takes to create that kind of relationship between the two of us.

The “love that you’ve looked for” truly is with your spouse.

Is The Piña Colada Song a good or bad song regarding marriage? What do you think is the best marriage song ever released?

13 Responses to Is Piña Colada the Best Marriage Song Ever?
  1. Scott hurley Reply

    Pina colada is a good song, it implies they were meant to be, but got too caught up
    In life to remember why they found each other initially.
    The best wedding song is I can’t help falling in love with you by Elvis.

  2. Lars Nilsson Reply

    “Something That We Do” by Clint Black

  3. Kory Reply

    Two Hearts by Chris Isaak. “ it takes two hearts just to hold love, heartbreaks can be mended by love”
    He is one of my husband and I favorite singers!

  4. Jimmy Atchison Reply

    I like your articles but I never did like that song.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      It’s interesting how the writer was frustrated he didn’t work harder on it after it became popular. He said it was his most simplistic song musically.

  5. Robert Fischer Reply

    Kevin, what you lay out is best answered by what you promote for all marriages: that we need to be intentional. As the song Escape implies, one or both spouses are looking for an escape plan or an exit sign. In most cases, as you point out, couples do not often laugh about it but instead are writhed with pain. The idea of covenant marriage or life-long commitment is suddenly not a viable option. A secular and well researched study by Waite, Browning, et. al (2002) showed couples who stay together and work through the issues are, according to the study, much happier and those who divorced were not as happy. Could it be since intimacy, which really means in-to-me-see, is God’s way of saying if boredom is bothering your marriage look to me the Ultimate Creator of joy, adventure, creativity, connection, and love and come to me so that all three of us, like a knot, can hold each other through this storm and grow closer as we continue our sacred love story together. The answer for many couples is not to pull a Houdini (which is an illusion of the enemy and the world) but to be intentional, not with just each other, but also, with the One who has created and designed your marriage. In the words of some other song Artists of Rupert Holmes’s day….”Oh won’t you stay, just a little bit longer…say you will…and love me forever.”

  6. J. Parker Reply

    When I finally thought about the lyrics as an adult, I was kind of turned off by the song. Because both of them were willing to engage in adultery, and that’s hardly the foundation for a quality marriage. But I see your points, and boredom is a big problem for many. We should, as you say, turn toward each other instead!

    My favorite love song ever is “Love Is Here to Stay” by the Gershwins, but I’ll also nominate “Then” by Brad Paisley for capturing how love can grow throughout the course of marriage.

  7. Kate Reply

    I have always said this song is the greatest song about marriage. My husband disagreed thinking they were looking to cheat I have always looked at it as two people finding their way back. Thank you for validation!

  8. Shannon Fawcett Reply

    Kevin, to me, the best song for a committed, married couple is “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” by Jefferson Starship. With all of our good intentions toward our family and each other, life has thrown my husband and me many curves over the last 38 years, not the least of them is the recent flooding along the Arkansas River. We’re a few years away from a normal life but still are grateful for each other, our family and our community. We appreciate the blessings God has bestowed upon us. Life is an adventure, and it’s so much more meaningful and enriching to us to have a long history together.
    I met my husband when he was 25. The really fun thing is that no matter how up and down our lives become, or how old we get, he’ll always be that most handsome 25 year old man I first met. I love that…and him. People who give upon each other never get to experience this kind of length and breadth of true love.

  9. Niki Reply

    This song came on today as I was cleaning house, and I actually thought, “If I ever date again, I’ll have pose a question about this song somehow”. How ironic that I then came across your post regarding the same song, working through some the very same thoughts. Thanks for all of your great posts. Always a pleasure!

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