After watching the video for Rita Wilson’s “Forgiving Me, Forgiving You” for the first time, I pulled my chair closer to my computer and clicked play again. Once it ended, I rolled even closer and listened a second time. By listen number three, my trembling body was so close to the screen that my stomach was being pressed against my spine. I sat there, riveted, with earbuds far deeper into my ear canals than any otolaryngologist would deem safe, thinking, “Did Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks cheat on each other?”
Though it’s easy to imagine their marriage as blemish-free and without hardship (Look how happy they always look together!!!!! They both love Chet so much!!!!!!), the truth contains the kinds of messy imperfections found in all human relationships. Nobody’s perfect—not even Tom Hanks.
His relationship with Wilson—one of Hollywood’s longest lasting—began on the set of the 1985 film Volunteers, while Hanks was still married to his first wife (the late Samantha Lewes). In a 2006 interview, Hanks recalled those early days with Wilson, saying, “Well, yeah, I did happen to be married at the time. And there’s nothing to celebrate about that.”
But even thought their marriage began with an act of infidelity, it’s all be happy trails ever since, right? Maybe, but then again, maybe not. The video for “Forgiving Me, Forgiving You,” a track from Wilson’s second LP Rita Wilson, dropped as an Us Weekly exclusive today. And it suggests their marriage hasn’t been as picture-perfect as their red carpet appearances have made it seem. “Thank god,” part of me is quietly saying. “They’ve got as many problems as everyone else!”
But another part of me CAN. NOT. FUCKING. BE. LIEVE. THIS. SHIT. Did Rita Wilson, star of Sleepless In Seattle, just drop her own version of Lemonade, only instead of a visual album about Jay Z, love, pain, forgiveness, and black female solidarity released exclusively on HBO on a Saturday night, it’s a single music video about Tom Hanks, love, pain, and forgiveness released exclusively on Us Weekly on a Thursday morning?
First, let’s examine the accompanying interview. When discussing the writing process, she said (emphasis mine):
“I wanted to make sure everything was—even though there are songs like ballads and up-tempos and all of that—that’s really who I am. That’s my personality. Like, I’m equally the woman in ‘Girls Night In’ as I am the person in ‘Forgiving Me Forgiving You’ or in ‘Along for the Ride.’”
With that quote, we are given confirmation that the story being told is one she has lived. She is a woman who loves chilling with her girlfriends, and she is a woman who is both asking forgiveness from and offering forgiveness to her lover. In other words, this song is her truth.
So. Let’s examine it.
Sitting on the edge of what, I don’t know
There’s a line in the sand. Do I stay? Do I go?
Nobody here to clean up our mess.
Where we end up is anyone’s guess.
In this verse, Wilson admits that she’s contemplating leaving her marriage. (Do I stay? Do I go?) But note the use of “our” in the third line. This is their mess. Not one person’s. Both parties have erred.
Too much to lose, this is not who we are. Baby, I miss us.
Can we call a truce?
She longs for the way it used to be—the way it was in the beginning. Before things got stale, perhaps? When they only had eyes for each other? By asking for a truce, she once again suggests that she and Tom have done wrong.
Here’s the chorus:
If I let go of being right, can you let go of trying to win?
‘Cause we’ve got better things to prove, like you forgiving me, and me forgiving you.
Here we have an expansion of her earlier plea for a truce. Wilson describes their conflicting personalities, saying that she always needs to be right and that Tom always needs to win. (Note that, in this instance, winning does not equal being right.) And then, finally, the guts of the song: “We’ve got better things to prove, like you forgiving me, and me forgiving you.”
What could they have fought about? I Googled “most common reasons for divorce” to find out. “The most common reasons people give for their divorce,” writes divorce.usu.edu, “are lack of commitment, too much arguing, infidelity, marrying too young, unrealistic expectations, lack of equality in the relationship, lack of preparation for marriage, and abuse.”
Let’s go through them one by one and see if they could apply to Tom and Rita!
- Lack of Commitment: They’ve been together for 30 years. Commitment is not an issue.
- Too Much Arguing: This is a possibility!
- Infidelity: This is a possibility!
- Lack of Equality in the Relationship: Though this could be an issue in their marriage, it’s not likely to be the issue Wilson is singing about in this particular song. Why would they need to forgive each other for a lack of equality?
- Lack of Preparation for Marriage: Nope.
- Abuse: This is a possibility, but, tonally, “Forgiving Me, Forgiving You” does not sound like the song written by an abusive wife about her relationship with a similarly abusive husband.
So. The likely story here is that Rita and Tom have been arguing a lot after wronging each other in some way. What do couples fight about? Sex. Money. Children. Money’s probably not the issue here, so is it their kid (a failure to agree on how to deal with Chet’s recent struggles with addiction), or mutual infidelity, about which there have been plenty of blind items?
I’m not sure, but the song isn’t over. Here’s verse two:
We can keep dragging our hearts ‘til the hurt makes no sense,
or we can raise a white flag and go the distance.
Oh, give and take isn’t something we’ve learned.
I used to think we were strong, now I think we’re stubborn.
Who’s gonna make a move?
“Give and take isn’t something we’ve learned,” suggests they had a relatively drama-free relationship well into their time together. By the time this new hurdle (infidelity? Chet?) reared its ugly head, they were set in their ways and unaccustomed to fighting. So much so, that they can’t even figure out whether to move past it (“go the distance”) or end the whole thing.
Then comes this:
It doesn’t matter anymore, baby, what we did. It’s what we do.
Wilson is doing the best she can to remind listeners that both she and Tom have made mistakes. “What we did” just doesn’t sound like a parenting-related issue, so I’m going to assume this is about infidelity—whether emotional or physical.
But regardless of their particular troubles, Wilson decides to choose forgiveness over abandonment—much like Beyoncé in Lemonade’s closing track “All Night Long.”
Taking off the gloves, laying down the pain.
Leaving all my pride, losing all our shame.
Getting back to believing, back to us.
Love is hard. Beyoncé knows it, and so does Rita Wilson.
Now just two questions remain:
- Who’s Tom’s Becky?
- Who’s Rita’s?
Images via screengrab.