Is Love Really All You Need?
Falling in love can be a wonderful and exciting experience, but it is also just the beginning of a couple’s story. So how do you make your love story last? Critically acclaimed author Linda Green explains to eHarmony readers why it takes more than emotions to make a relationship work:
We are weaned on happily-ever-after. From Disney princesses to rom-coms and bestselling novels, the message is the same: getting a partner is the hard bit. But once you’ve got one, all your problems will melt away.
Only, of course, in real life it doesn’t quite work like that. The divorce statistics bear that out. So why are we so reluctant to talk about relationship problems? Why do we play along with the idea that we are all pre-programmed to happily-ever-after mode?
I’m 44 years old. I’ve been with my husband for 23 years. We have a gorgeous 9-year-old son. But if I said we’ve been blissfully loved-up for every minute of that time and have never had any difficult times, I’d be lying. That’s not to say we’re unhappy or that we don’t love each other. We do. But I believe it’s important to acknowledge that relationships are very much about getting through good times and bad.
And as a writer, it’s the bad times which particularly interest me. Relationships are hard. Very hard. Some of my friends and family have made it through similarly long relationships, others haven’t. Along the way we have between us had to copy with everything life has thrown our way; the death of a child, miscarriage, stillbirth, infertility, cancer, serious illness/accidents, mental health problems/depression, redundancy, affairs, financial problems, not to mention the general chaos of raising families. To be honest, I sometimes find it incredible how many of the couples I know have stayed together, given what life has thrown at them.
And the ridiculous thing is that we still don’t talk about it. The first I knew that one of my friends’ relationship was in trouble was when she told me they were splitting up. She also revealed that almost everyone she had told so far had confided in her that they had gone through, or were currently going through, a very difficult period in their relationship. There is still a massive taboo about acknowledging that your relationship is in trouble. Couples are either together, in which case we are supposed to assume that they are blissfully happy, or they split up. The truth is there is a massive grey area in between, and the fact that this is not spoken about, means young couples starting out together have unrealistic expectations of relationships.
We take our cars in for a service once a year, we have routine maintenance work carried out on our houses to prevent minor problems becoming big ones, but still it seems as a society we are reluctant to pay the same kind of attention to what should be the most important thing in our lives – our relationships.
That is why I wanted to write a novel about a couple whose relationship was put under great strain. I decided to set the opening scene of The Marriage Mender in a relationship counselling session. I wanted to be clear from the start that we are dealing with a couple whose relationship is in crisis. And I then wanted to take a step back in time to see how they got to that point, before taking the story beyond it to see if their relationship could survive.
The two main characters in my novel, Alison and Chris, love each other. Couples who get together generally do. But we as a society have got to let go of the ridiculously romantic notion that love is all you need. Instead, we should be talking about what happens when things go wrong and developing the support, strategies and skills we need to try to put things right. We need to stop believing in happily ever after and accept that not all couples are dealt a good hand. What matters is how you deal with the problems life throws at you, not pretending that you never had any in the first place.
The Marriage Mender by Linda Green is published by Quercus (£6.99) For more details see www.linda-green.com
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