Never lose yourself in another person. You never know how long it'll take to find yourself again. It'll save everyone a boatload of heartache.
After the unexpectedly good Tempting Fate, Lifetime's Book-to-Screen movies continued with the second movie in the Jane Green series, To Have and to Hold.
Let's get it out of the way now. If you're anything like me, this movie already had you for the sole fact that it starred the timeless beauty and talent that is Erika Christensen.
To echo what Antonio Cupo (Joe) said in TV Fanatic's exclusive interview with him, how can anyone step out on such an angel?
But alas, that's the case with Gigolo Joe who couldn't keep his pants zipped. It's a tale as old as time.
A girl has the perfect guy in front of her the whole time, but she doesn't notice it. Girl bumps into her wealthy former crush from middle-school and lets him woo her with empty promises and materialism, and girl puts her life on hold for the guy who screws half of the tri-state area.
Don't you hate it when that happens?!
Because we suspected what was going to happen with Joe early on, he wasn't endearing. Nevermind that Harry was endearing from the moment he waltzed into Alice and Emily's apartment with a bottle of wine smelling like sawdust, wood polish, and pure intentions.
Harry was a real man, and he was head over heels for Alice, but gosh dammit, she didn't see it!! He built her an enviable spice rack BY HAND for her adorable collection of spices, herbs, and flavorings.
If that isn't true love, what is?
Find you a man who will build you things and present them to you with heart-eyes and don't let him go. In other words, don't be an Alice.
The most relatable person in this movie was Emily (Carmel Amit). She suspected Joe was not a good fit for Alice, and she had to sit back for three years and watch her friend lose herself into a guy who didn't elevate her. It was frustrating.
Alice had dreams, and she had a plan and clear-cut course to attain them, but she got sidetracked by Joe and the shiny people. If this movie wasn't anything else, it was a cautionary tale.
However, while it's true that it's never too late to make things right and find yourself and your path again, it's hard not to lament how Alice wasted three years of her life on a man she never should've married.
All the signs that things wouldn't go well for Alice were right there front and center from the beginning. If you ask me when I'll get over Harry's note slipping into the couch cushions into a land of obscurity for three years, the answer is I won't.
If Alice had found the note when he intended her to, she wouldn't have gotten sucked into a six-week whirlwind romance with Joe.
Weren't they barely getting by on their menial jobs? I call bullcrap! Are you strapped for cash if you haven't dug through the couch cushions once a month looking for loose change?
Alice and Harry could've started a catering company and furniture store, or something else spectacular and magical where they got to follow their dreams together and be the epitome of Couple Goals.
Harry: You're going to share this with me, right? Forever?!
Of course, we wouldn't have a movie either, but the point about mourning the missed opportunities remains. We couldn't dive into our Alice + Harry dessert until we suffered through the pretentious four-course meal that was Joe and Alice's marriage.
While Joe was the wrong choice from the beginning, the meet-cute moment he shared with Alice was adorable. She couldn't hide the fact that she had a crush on him back in junior high, and he was intrigued by her at the party she was catering. It was probably the first and only time he saw her potential as a chef and liked it.
His opinion of her career goals shifted after she catered his dinner party. Alice should have known those weren't her people when ten seconds into dinner that random guy was droning on about Aspen.
Fortunately, the eye-rolling stopped long enough to curse Joe out for stating Alice reminded him of his mother (because she was cooking in his kitchen?).
Moms are great, but statements like that from guys like Joe scream "chauvinistic jackass," and he went on to prove it. We could glean from that moment he liked the "barefoot and cooking" ideal woman, but Alice didn't pick up those warning signs.
If the comment wasn't offensive enough, he also failed to eat the dessert she made for him. He had another type of dessert he preferred to consume in mind, but if given the option between sex and cake, I'm going to go with the cake.
More strikes against Joe! Did the cake sit there on the counter while they fooled around? How disappointing and unimaginative. Harry would have eaten the cake too.
It all went to hell from there when they treated us to a montage of JoAlice sexytimes and Joe wooing her with all the things money has to offer while she blew off Emily and failed to see how devastated Harry was over the news of her new beau.
Alice was a fool in love, and we had to accept it, but it's awful how terrible of a friend she became. Emily was right about her becoming one of the plastic people. It was as if she had forgotten her roots when she failed to introduce Emily to Joe at the soiree.
How curious was it that Joe decided to pop the question after his mom made a comment about wanting more wine and grandkids?
Evelyn: Joe, honey, will you get me another glass of wine ... and some grandkids?
His mother came right out with it, and from then on it seemed maybe Joe was down for pleasing (platonically) one woman in his life, his mother.
His proposal was cute, but if the only reason he considered popping the question was because of something his mother said, then he never should have proposed at all.
It never seemed as though he was into the idea of marriage and children. Maybe it was something he felt he was supposed to do, and it made it unfair for him to string Alice along for three years when she wanted all of these things.
Alice: I'm 37, and I want a family, and I don't want to start over. Is it the stupidest thing in the world to want to stay?
She could've spent the time establishing her career as she planned. She managed to bungle it up when she devoted most of her time to Joe and trying to mold herself into being the woman he wanted. A fat lot of good it did, if he chased after other women in the end.
Some people are not meant to be monogamous, and Joe was one of those people.
He lived for a fast-paced lifestyle, fancy, minimalist penthouses with all white walls and furniture. How the heck do you live in a place like that?! Where's the personality and character?! Who cleans it?
He required the city life and to work a thousand hours a week and the luxury of not answering to anyone. He was working all the freaking time. It was easy to lose track of the times he bailed on Alice for something or another.
Alice devoted so much time and energy into him and their relationship that she skipped out on being a friend, and maybe that's what drove Emily and Harry together. They went from the three musketeers to two, and they probably only attempted a romantic relationship due to them both missing Alice.
They shouldn't have bothered at all. Emily was vivacious and fulfilled as a single woman. Like Joe wasn't meant for monogamy, Emily didn't require serious relationships at all. She was forcing a square peg into a circle trying to date Harry, and deep down, she knew he had feelings for Alice.
Harry: You two have always been the women of my life, and now I don't have either of you.
If they couldn't have sex with one another without Alice prodding and orchestrating a couple's getaway to cheer them on, then it wasn't meant to be. If ever there was a turning point where everyone involved willfully ignored the blazing signs in front of them, it was the couple's getaway trip.
Alice and Joe's incompatibility was front and center for Emily and Harry to see when all Joe could focus on was work and dismissing Alice's dreams. Harry couldn't hide his love for Alice at all; Emily preferred wandering around taking pictures over sleeping with her boyfriend/best friend.
Alice should have walked away the second she walked in on Joe playing hide the pickle with his colleague. It should've been the final straw. Joe's selfish need to have her putting her dreams off so she could be there whenever he chose to go home should've been enough.
Like, Joe, what? She couldn't take over Madeline's catering company because of them working toward starting a family, and he didn't want to come home and not see her if she was working late.
The audacity and unmitigated gall of that jerk! If he were a smarter cheat, he would've wanted her working as a distraction from his dalliances.
Joe always managed to be charming enough to wiggle his way out of things with Alice, but neither Emily nor Harry was impressed with his pathetic, halfhearted attempts at apologizing for cheating on her, and neither was I.
Someday I hope to channel the majestic energy Emily exuded when she glared, unimpressed by Joe and all of his "ain't sh!tness."
There are not enough bouquets in the world to make up for the betrayal, and why should the beautiful flowers have to sacrifice themselves because of someone else's screw-up?
And he barely had to sit in his mistake when his boss shipped him to New York City as a consequence of getting frisky with a colleague at work. As if Alice didn't suffer enough, she had to relocate to another city away from her closest friends.
Joe: I think I'm allergic to nature.
The only thing Joe and I could agree on was being allergic to nature; the rustic vibe is cute for a weekend getaway, but I couldn't have lived in the cottage in Connecticut either. Although, Joe's sterile, pristine white apartment in the city was far from ideal.
When Joe bought the cottage for Alice and said his sweet line about not waiting for someday, it was the last time he seemed as though he cared enough about Alice to make things work and improve their marriage.
Instead, their little Connecticut cottage and the people who lived around them were the distraction while he continued with the same bad habits. In Joe's case, a leopard couldn't change its spots; once a cheater, always a cheater.
The infidelity wasn't the worst of Joe's offenses, although it was appalling and I don't know if it made it better or worse -- but it was always with someone who didn't look like Alice.
Alice: I'm not pregnant, and Joe doesn't really seem to care. I guess I'm just being unreasonably disappointed, I guess.
Harry: Listen to me, you're not being unreasonable, OK? What you want, that matters!
No, the worst of Joe's offenses was how he didn't want nor was ready for children but didn't say anything about it. Alice was desperate to have them and had resorted to charting her cycle and everything.
Joe never seemed interested when she mentioned ovulation and kids; he only used their future children to manipulate or guilt her into bending to his will about something, and when she thought she was pregnant, he was less than enthused and then nonplussed when she found out it was a false alarm.
He kept telling her they could wait and put it off until they finished having fun or whatever other excuses he would come up with as if she had time to wait. Honestly, Alice should have thrown the whole Joe away years ago.
Joe's issue was he was never contrite. He expected his marriage to Alice to reflect his parents' marriage.
He was supposed to sleep around whenever he had the urge, and Alice was supposed to play happy homemaker who turned the other way and didn't ask questions. As long as he threw money at the situation to fix it, then all would be well.
Meanwhile, three years and at least two affairs into their marriage, she's left screaming at him how she gave up everything -- she gave up herself to be in this relationship.
Alice: I've given up so much for you!
Joe: I know.
Alice: I've given up my dreams for you. My whole life for you!
It should NEVER be the case. And he knew it too and was OK with it because of how it suited him. It's disgustingly archaic.
You know whose viewpoints on love and marriage weren't primitive? Harry.
Their drunken New Year's kiss over spilled black-eyed peas (not at all reflective of how much of a hot mess Alice's life had become) would've been well worth the wait if she weren't still married and they weren't betraying Emily.
Timing is a bitch.
The friendship fallout was more heartrending than anything involving Alice and Joe.
He had the nerve to suggest she would be begging to return to him because of how hard life is. Maybe he forgot she was a working woman oblivious to the high life and that fancy stoves weren't compensation for broken hearts and wasted time.
No one is begging for your cheating arse, JOSEPH!
She could get by without Joe, but she couldn't go on without her best friends. I love how she continued to pursue her dreams and start her catering company while keeping them updated and reaching out to them.
Alice and Emily making up after bonding over their childhood vision boards were the cutest. While we didn't spend as much time with Emily, which was a shame, she too had lost herself for a bit and put off turning her dreams into plans.
The two of them making their dreams into realities is empowering. But let's face it, we were hoping for Emily to give her blessing so Alice could arrange a lava cake date with Harry.
It's also unfortunate how we rarely saw anything from Harry's perspective. We missed out a bit there. What was he doing all of this time he was pining after Alice?
How was his business going? Where did he live, and why did it seem like they rotated between him being on the other side of the country versus the other side of the train tracks?
Harry's letter he wrote to Alice all those years ago that was sucked into that godforsaken couch no one ever cleaned was so sweet.
Harry was in love love and wanted to spend the rest of their lives together making her mad science lava cake and sharing it.
Alice: Some day my dreams will come true.
Joe: Why wait for someday?
He was shocked when he found out she hadn't seen the letter until recently, and I wonder what was going through his mind when she never mentioned it?
How did they remain friends after his awkward love confession on the back of a recipe card? Harry is too pure and a bit masochistic.
It paid off for him in the end. He got the woman of his dreams and that delicious molten lava cake. Yum!
Now, all they need to do is start working on those babies. Joe was probably the one shooting blanks. Maybe Alice will have her happily ever after with handsome Harry.
If you haven't already read them, are you interested in reading Jane Green novels now? Would you have postponed your dreams for love? Hit the comments below!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.