And they lived happily ever after

Two people start dating. They’re happy, they enjoy each other’s company. They introduce each other to their friends and family. Time goes by and it feels right and the guy gets down on one knee and proposes. They walk down the aisle, they say they’re I do’s, they drink and dance at the reception. They mix and mingle with Uncle Fred and Aunt Barbara, and then they run away for a week or two to some island paradise. 

Give or take a few pieces of the puzzle and that’s how the story goes for many people. It’s a beautiful touching story. Hallmark makes billions each year thanks to that story. It works the same way for same-sex couples. Love is a beautiful thing.

More to the story

While all very lovely, I’m a contrarian and have my own unique taste in stories. Here’s what I mean: I like to know what happens next. What happens when he leaves the milk out all night and she doesn’t have any in the morning for her breakfast?

What happens when work gets busy and crushes their romantic Valentine’s dinner dream? What happens when she wants to hang with the girls at Girls Weekend or he wants to watch football – college football on Saturday and the NFL on Sunday – and pig out on pizza and wings? What happens when he accidentally hurts her feelings or she pooh poohs something that’s important to him?

Now these are the stories I find fascinating. How does our couple manage then? 

I’m not even talking about the serious stuff. What happens when she goes about her day and, suddenly, starts to have numbness in her hands? She gets checked out by doctor after doctor, nobody has any answers until one doctor finally diagnoses her with Multiple Sclerosis or Cancer or some other ailment?

Or what happens when they run into financial challenges? His business goes bust or they find themselves digging out of a financial mountain? What happens then?

Will they last?

Oh, my wife loves the sappy love stories. I like them too, but the “What Then” stories really appeal to me. The stories show me the strength of character and what a couple is made of. The stories show me whether a couple has staying power. Every couple is happy on Day One or Two of the marriage, how happy they are on Day 40 or Day 100 tells me whether they’ll make it to Day 5,478 or their 15th Anniversary. 

I know for my wife and myself when we’ve gone through struggles or loss, my wife has always been there by my side, holding me up when I needed it, or letting me know when she needed me to help hold her up, and we’re still together, those are the kind of stories I love to read and celebrate. 

Yes, I love to read about two people coming together and working to survive and thrive together for the long haul. Who doesn’t love a happy ending? 

What about you? What stories do you love to read or watch? 

Images by Pexels.

53 thoughts on “And they lived happily ever after

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  1. Survival ones. Our 57th wedding anniversary is Monday. My favorite chauffeur has dealt with my fibromyalgia for two dozen years, and has started into his own Parkinson’s journey. Aging gratefully together.

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    1. Oh my goodness Joy! Happy Anniversary! Fifty-seven years, that’s quite an accomplishment. A huge milestone to celebrate. Really cool. Congratulations to the both of you. How are you celebrating? You have to share your secret recipe to staying together. We’ll celebrate 30 years in a few months. At least I hope so, ha, ha! And yes, I’m with you I love survival stories. They’re hopeful. I do love your last line. “Aging gratefully together.” I suspect that has a lot to do with your success. Congratulations again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Our son and his wife and granddaughter Kate (age 6) will be here this weekend from the Twin Cities (4 hours away), so we’ll celebrate all weekend. Oh, and dog Luna. The Lord has been so gracious, even though Guy was sent to Vietnam. He took a farm kid who’d never been on an airplane and gave him a career–air traffic control. It’s not been easy and there’s been heartache, but faith and those first vows are paying dividends when they are especially welcome. Thank you, Brian.

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  2. Good morning, Brian! I’m with you. While I enjoy a good romantic story once in awhile, I think the daily struggle stories are much better and more realistic. Because every day is not sunshine ad rainbows….some not even close! and it’s nice to see or read about couples who go through tough and challenging things and make it through.

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    1. You hit the nail on the head. I find overcoming struggle stories more interesting, more realistic. And your comment on sunshine and rainbows made me think of another line. Living in the Philadelphia region, of course, I thought about the Rocky Balboa quote: “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” Ha, ha, thanks for commenting. Good to know I’m not alone.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness, yes. It’s like what the flight attendant always says on a plane, take care of your own oxygen first. You can’t take care of your kids and family if you don’t care for yourself first. It’s not selfish, it’s life or death of the relationship! So true.

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      1. It was a charter company expanding into Toronto but originated out of Montreal, during the mid-90s. Pre-9/11 which changed the face of aviation. We were paid a wage below the poverty line and worked to the bone. I still maintain some friendships from that time though – we were all young and it was a different time. 😊

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  3. Such a thoughtful post, Brian. I have been thinking for awhile now that the ‘happily ever after’ stories do all of us a great disservice. Like you have said, that’s just the beginning. The reality is that in marriage, some days will be amazing; some days will be terrible and some days, you’ll want to kick your partner into the next week (at least metaphorically speaking). I love the movies of couples who’ve been together for decades. ‘On Golden Pond’ came to mind, as I read this (I loved when she called him “You old poop.” Now THAT is romantic 🙂🙂🙂💕

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    1. I love what you said here, Patti. My thoughts are like yours. Some days are fab…some days you DO want to drop kick your partner…into next week…next month…LOL! But I also find that persevering through the tough times and knowing how best to shore one another up is like glue. And thanks, Patti, for the fun memory of a sweet movie…I love that ‘old poop’ line, too! Such a lovely post, Brian. Thanks for all the heart you share with us. 💕

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Yes, the happily ever after theme does us a disservice. It makes people forget about the challenges. I’m not even talking about romance stories, it could be about anything. I think of my son going off to college. I wanted to make sure he knew that he would face some challenges, better to know that going in, then to be surprised and overwhelmed.

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    2. As my wife was leaving this morning, I asked her if she wanted to kick me into next week. She didn’t say anything. Hmm, what do you think that means? Ha, ha, I could be in trouble. Nah, I think I’m okay, we’re looking forward to spending some chill time over the weekend. I think I might be okay. Yes, I love that scene too from On Golden Pond. Very realistic. And yes, romantic too. Those are the stories I love.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There are definitely days when the less said, the better 😉 And like you said to Vicki about preparing your son for the challenges ahead, it doesn’t hurt for couples starting out to understand that there WILL be challenges along the way. As well as lovely weekends, just chilling with the one you love 🙂 I do hope you two have a lovely weekend 🙏💕

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  4. I’ve never been fond of the happily ever after story. I would rather see reality and learn how others cope with the hard stuff, or not- and why. However I’m usually not drawn to the “romance” genre in general in any form. I am glad Brian that you and your wife have found the key to working together through the tough stuff!

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    1. I’m with you Deb. I don’t like romances at all, certainly not when I’m reading. You do have me thinking about how I’d define what I do like, but im not sure .. I’ll read just about anything except romance

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I know Brenda, it can be challenging to define what genres are really me. They seem to change or work themselves in and out of my life. I have a lot of nature/ecology books on my list right now.

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  5. What stories do you love to read or watch? Yours, Brian! I’m reminded of the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Survival of the tough spots ultimately strengthens a relationship and draws people closer together. I was never a fan of the tough spots (and there were many!), but once overcome, the bond was always stronger. Making up was fun, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My stories? Oh my goodness Julia, we need to set you up with some better reading material. Ha, ha, there’s a ton of other better bloggers out there. Me? My stories tend to be the same boring drivel. Ha, ha. Thank you for the wonderful comment, very much appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My reading material is just fine, thank you! Each one of us has a unique story and I appreciate hearing all about yours. You are honest, heartfelt, and insightful. So. There. Haha, as you so often say!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. A very interesting post and good thoughts to ponder. I do agree. We’re coming up to #53 and I can tell you the road has been rocky at times –maybe it’s a miracle we’ve made it? 🙂 I enjoy stories where people meet, like each other, have obstacles to overcome, and work it out. I have more faith in their happy-ever-afters.

    I don’t like stories where the writer’s made the main conflict between the hero & heroine. Where the two meet, instantly detest each other, can’t agree on anything, argue and spit nails at each other — then somehow one saves the other and they suddenly admit they’re in love. Looks to me like they’re headed for divorce court before they ever get to the altar.

    Almost everyone I’ve talked to who’s in a lasting marriage will say, “I liked my spouse the first time I met him/her.” So I don’t believe “enemies-to-lovers” relationships will endure.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. A good relationship takes lots of work. I think it’s like anything a successful business or even a successful relationship, there’s so much that we don’t see under the surface. We see the superficial stuff, but we don’t see the hard work, the long nights, the long conversations that keep everything running smoothly. Those are the stories I like to see and hear about. Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. The sappy love stories generally drive me crazy because they’re so contrived and, as Patti mentions, they’ve doing society disservice… If love doesn’t look like the movies, people throw in the towel and move on to their next partner. I think watching a couple overcome hardship and adversity, continue to love one another through the tough times, and even become closer because of it, is far more touching and inspiring.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Contrived is a good word. They always come across to me as a group of movie folks getting together and trying to figure out a way to create a story that they can produce a movie. It doesn’t touch reality, because, frankly, reality can be messy and ugly and doesn’t always have a clear path. But, those are the stories that inspire me and give me hope. At least for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Struggle is a part of life and relationships. In my marriage it’s usually the little things that drive us crazy. My husband doesn’t like that I don’t put screw on lids back on tightly. It’s because I’m left handed. I can’t stand that he leaves dishes in the sink and doesn’t seem to realize there is a dishwasher right there. In stories, I like stories with struggles that people overcome, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a relationship with problems.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I completely agree with you. I am pretty sure that my spouse and I (married 12 years this September) will be together for life. How do I know? Because we’ve faced so many challenges and came through on the other side still as a couple. It hasn’t been easy for sure, but life isn’t supposed to be an easy ride, I guess. Not for most people, anyway.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Sounds like a British soap opera like Coronation Street to me, Brian! 😆 I do agree that happily ever after stories are wonderful but I do love to see the story of what happens next and how a couple goes through everything from the mundane to the bigger challenges and overcome, or don’t overcome, and grow individually and as a couple from those experiences.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I was wondering when I read your post if you like the stories of struggle because you are a writer. There is no arc to the story when there isn’t something to grapple with, right? And then every comment has essentially endorsed it and I wonder if it’s because we’re essentially a group of writers. Would polling a different audience have a different result? Interesting and lovely post, Brian!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Very insightful Wynne. You’re right, the arc is what interests me. I wonder too how non writers would respond. I suspect we might get a different response. Someone else without as much interest in the growth and the up and down nature of life, might prefer a simpler story. Interesting to think about.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I would still be married if my husband had not died. It wasn’t easy, but it got better with time. Two step kids raised, custody battles, one move across the country, periods of unemployment, we handled it all. Enjoy your spouses, successful marriages do end with death.

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    1. So sorry about your loss Alessandra. When I talk about liking what comes next, I’m obviously talking about everyday couples issues, not life or death challenges. Yes, raising children and moving on after losing a spouse are huge life-altering challenges. Sending you positive thoughts and prayers on your journey.

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  13. Well, this is what I get for not being able to read this post when it came out — great post Brian. I also loved reading everyone’s comments! I want to be a little contrarian as well, if I may — I do like the “happily ever after endings”. If only because, for a minute, I can envision life being not so hard or complicated. I think it’s the reason I love Sci-Fi — Star Trek Next Generation is precisely all about “there’s a problem, we all come together to fix it, and we all live happily with all our differences.” There is no real controversy. Not a lot of darkness, or maybe complication is a better word — but it’s why I prefer my “bubble gum” Sci-Fi over let’s say something like Battle Star Galactica. (Okay, even I’m surprised where this comment is going. My apologies for somehow being a total Sci-Fi geek at the moment). My point is, I’m okay with the endings. If only because it reminds me that there is JOY amidst the reality of it all. And sometimes, I just need that reminder. But, I do agree and understand everyone’s point of view here — this was just fun to read and absorb. So thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting Carmen. Yes, I found the comments interesting too. Love your comment. Now I’m analyzing my favorite sci-fi shows to see where they fit, bubble gum sci-fi or let’s save the world dark and gloomy sci-fi? Ha, ha. I’m fine with both genres. Sometimes we all need a wrapped up nicely in a tidy bow happy ending. Thanks so much for joining the discussion!!! Love it. :).:) 🙂

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