“The Princess Bride” is, unquestionably, one of the most memorable movies out there. Almost everyone who sees it enjoys it, and it’s easy to see why. It’s hilarious, charming, and touching. Part of what makes it so memorable is it’s quote-ability. We shout ‘inconceivable’, or chide someone for saying it because “You keep using that word. I do not think that word means what you think it means.”
After learning a little backstory, one line in particular got my attention.
Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
A little before the movie was filmed, Mandy Patinkin, the actor who plays Inigo Montoya, lost his father to cancer. Patinkin was a young man, in his early twenties, struggling to grieve his loss. So when the opportunity came along to portray this character, he jumped at it.
You see, for him, the ‘six-fingered man’ represented cancer. And so, Montoya’s quest to vanquish the six fingered man was really Patinkin’s quest to kill cancer (in reality, his grief). Montoya’s story is much more powerful when you hear some of his lines knowing that. (I’ve posted the two lines that stood out to me the most down below.
Patinkin’s journey reminds me of a valuable principle within marriage and our relationship with God: We often confuse our spouse or God for our enemy.
My wife and I haven’t been married long, but there have been more than a few instances where work or family (for example) becomes an issue. I’ll get called for a hospital visit. Her family will have a spontaneous get together that she needs to be at. We have to juggle our schedule, change our plans, and often get frustrated or upset.
Our natural temptation, as a human being, is to find someone to blame for this frustration or anger. And since my wife is right there, she becomes my enemy. I misdirect my anger at the circumstances to my wife. After all, “if she only __________” (fill in the blank), we wouldn’t be in this situation. “If Brady would only _________, then this wouldn’t be a problem”.
We can do the same thing with God. “If only God would ________, then this would all be better”.
We turn our spouse and God into our six fingered man. They become a proxy, a stand in for our real anger. Maybe it’s something small, like an inconvenience in our schedule, or big, like the death of a parent. Since we can’t take our anger out on our in-laws, or cancer, or whatever we’re really mad at, we direct that toward the closest thing we can.
It’s also one of the most dangerous things you can do in your relationships. When you turn your spouse into the enemy, even just a little, you change the dynamics of your relationship from cooperative to competitive. When you direct your anger toward God instead of injustice or disease, you sever the one relationship that can really offer hope and peace in the midst of that turmoil.
When you get upset at your spouse and you can feel yourself building up an argument why it’s their fault, take a step back. It is possible that your spouse didn’t handle something as well as they could, but that doesn’t make them the enemy. It makes them human.
When you get upset at God and you feel that same argument build up, take the same step back. If you trust that God is all knowing and all powerful, than you should trust that there is a reason: maybe it’s the result of our sinfulness or brokenness; maybe it’s the culmination of other choices; or maybe there is an unknownable reason. You’ll need faith to fill in the gaps.
But don’t turn your spouse, or God, into your ‘Six-Fingered’ man. You’ll never resolve the actual problem if you keep misdirecting your anger or frustration.
PS. Here are the quotes I told you about earlier:
“I’ve been in the revenge business for so long. Now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life”
“Offer me money” – Montoya
“Yes” – Count Rugen
“Power too, promise me that” – M
“All that I have and more. Please” – C
“Offer me everything I ask for” – M
“Anything you want” – C
“I want my father back you son of a bitch” – M