I was thinking about a review that I read for Ruthie Knox’s latest novella, Making It Last — which in the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t read yet — specifically of a line in which the reviewer called it and other ‘marriage in trouble’ romances Important.
I can’t find the exact review now; I don’t mean to establish a strawman. I doubt the reviewer capitalized Important, and yet I sensed the emphasis, the sort of 18th century abstract, personified ideal attached to the pronouncement.
Certainly it is accurate to say happily ever afters do not simply happen. They must be cultivated and protected. Relationships are, as your aunt explained to you at your bridal shower, hard work.
More seriously, not every moment of a long-term relationship is sunshine and flowers and champagne. The trust that you build up in the difficult moments (and years) bears fruit in the balance. You love each other more for the wee small hours when you’re caring together for a sick child, or for the unconditional support he offers you during a professional crisis, etc. I’ve been in my relationship for 14 years (married for 9 of those); this is not simply something I believe, but something I live.
To the extent that romance doesn’t represent past the happy ever after and that ‘marriage in trouble’ romances are corrective, I am behind this designation. And yet…