I think so, if you look at it realistically and not in the perfect prince rescues and weds the perfect princess. There is no such thing as prince charming and there is no such thing as fairy godmothers and magical powers, no matter how many stories are written about it. So why is the Romance genre the highest selling genre in the world?
Is it escapism, hope, fantasy fulfillment?
Some critics suggest romance novels set unrealistic expectations for both men and women by the readers.
I liked a great chick-flick as much as the next person, but my opinion varied as to the meaning of “Happily ever after” as I went from teenager, to wife, to mother of teenage boys.
As a teenager with stars in her eyes:
And then they lived happily ever after…Swoon… Yes, romance movies and novels gave me some unrealistic ideas in my impressionable brain. Mr. Right was the perfect specimen and one day we were just going to find each other, know right off the bat we were meant to be, fall in love, and live happily ever after… I did meet my future mate at 15 and we were married at 19, but happily ever after wasn’t what I’d imagined. It was much, much harder, but much, much better. It was reality.
As a married woman:
I love my husband all the time, but I don’t necessarily like him all the time (don’t worry, the feeling is mutual). Neither of us are perfect, we argue, we get mean, we say and do rude things to each other. To expect perfection is just plain stupid. I found out I love him, not because he showers me with praises, kisses, and adoration (which he is really good at by the way). But for the little things that are actually much bigger, and make me love him more every day:
How he put me on his lap after the birth of our first child when I felt so inadequate and terrified, told me he believed in me, and we could do it—together. How his hand always finds mine. How we never go to sleep without touching feet. The looks he’ll give me across the room 23 years later that says he still adores me—despite our different personalities and quirks. How he will hold me through the dark nights of depression and panic attacks. How he forgives my shortcomings, indulges my creative urges, fixes my Jeep—over and over again—because I love the dumb thing so much, says sorry, forgives me, prays with me, does the dishes, takes out the trash, loves our boys so beautifully, and works so hard to provide and take care of us.
“Happily ever after” is a continual process that isn’t always happy in the giddy newly-wed, starry-eyed sense. “Happiness comes in moments, ever after” (doesn’t quite have the same ring to it) but it feels more accurate.
Because it does come in moments. Solidarity in marriage is from the strength that comes after all the rocky moments, from the comfort and support given mutually when needed, fights and forgiveness, faith and patience in the hard-times, and hope for the future. It requires work, acceptance, and realistic expectations. But the real kind of happy is a process not an all-out guarantee just because you found your “prince”.
As friend and family to unmarried people:
Happily ever after isn’t only achieved by finding one’s prince or princess. Happiness comes in moments, ever after. It’s in life’s choices, actions, memories, the successes and lessons learned from failure. It’s the triumphs and even second place. It’s in the love you give and receive. As Anne Shirley says, “It’s not what the world holds for you, it’s what you bring to it [that matters].”
As a human being surrounded by other human beings:
Happiness comes in moments, ever after… We all play a role in someone else’s happy moments. We can be a joy or a pain in the butt. Each of us are writing the story of our lives, and I think it’s safe to say most of us are seeking happiness in the journey. It’s important to remember we get to choose whether to be someone’s hero or villain.
Happiness comes in moments, ever after…
As fun as reading can be, it does not replace the beauties of reality. Yes, I still choose to read fiction over non-fiction. As great as a real relationship is, I like to escape the real world when I read. I don’t mind a little romance included in the books I read, and I still love a great chick-flick once-in-awhile, but I much prefer the messy reality in that department, and out-of-this-world fantasy as my chosen escapeJ.