Many people have analyzed and studied why people—particularly women—love romance. Why do many of us read romance when so many marriages and relationships end in divorce or plain unhappiness? I’ve thought about this issue as well, and I guess it’s because not all marriages or relationships end in disaster. Some people still have that “happily ever after.” Now, that’s not to say that they live in eternal bliss, never uttering an unpleasant word. That’s not to say they run around grinning like idiots their entire lives. No, real commitment is deeper than that, and we read as well as write romance because we hope for that “happily ever after,” that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
I’m convinced that the romances that don’t last are those in which the couple had unrealistic expectations from the start. (I’m not including relationships of abuse, etc.). Too many people think that the relationship will always be easy, the sex fun, and the sun shining in perpetual blessing on the union. Life just isn’t that way, Sugarplum, and relationships are no different. My aunt and uncle were married sixty years before his passing at eighty; they had eight children. I’m sure that struggling to raise a family wasn’t always a delight; they no doubt weren’t grinning like mad and having wild sex every night. However, they had that love and commitment; they didn’t leave when things were tough. Now, their grandchildren are marrying and having babies. These young ones live in a generation where commitment is often broken as well as hearts, but they still are joining hands and chasing that sometime elusive happy ending. Love is compromise and work. In fiction, we present our characters as pursuing that dream in a furious fashion. They have to lose each other before they find themselves and that love again. We hope that when the story ends the couple will find that happiness—as we hope Cinderella did. Still, Cinderella’s story (had she been a real princess) wouldn’t have ended with that glass slipper and magical night at the ball. She would have been surrounded by court intrigue and protocol. Would she have survived the restrictions? Would she and Prince Charming have lived through the machinations of a royal court and kept their love as a priority? We hope so. That’s why we love the story.
My characters also search for that happy ending, and in keeping with my theory, they go through some rough times before finding it. Sometimes, love is elusive, but love is always worth the search.