88. Not all stories have happy endings…

Now this might sound like a depressing point to labour but hear me out.
Orson Welles said that ‘If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.’

I know we try to blame hollywood for everything these days, but how many films end where the couple finally get together after years of false starts and complications? And don’t we feel great that there is finally a happy ending after all the suffering? We’re taught to believe that out there is one perfect person for us to meet and once we achieve that goal that’s the end of the struggle.

I love my parents but I partly blame them for instilling this sense in me. Although they were both married before I was the result of their second marriage and so all I have seen is their blissful 27-year marriage with very few hiccups along the way. All my life I have believed that you look for someone until you find the person you want to marry and then, voila you’re sorted.

Increasingly I am thinking that this is flawed thinking, and am beginning to wonder if children from broken marriages (whilst I’m not denying the trauma that causes) are perhaps better prepared for the turmoil of modern relationships. I mean, we don’t live in a world where you marry someone from your home town and where the wife stays at home and raises the family. People travel so much now, women have careers too, there are so many factors pulling people in different directions. And people’s expectations are different too. Why should you cling onto a failing marriage when you can afford to live on your own? I’m not saying that people don’t try to work things out, but culturally we live in a society where giving up and starting over is perfectly acceptable.

I’ve always thought I’d like to get married one day but now I’m not sure if that will ever happen. I heard a great quote recently that said it isn’t about meeting the right person to marry, but about who you happen to be with when you’re both ready to marry. That sounds more realistic to me. But what if you’re never ready? What if our generation is just destined to fall in and out of relationships for the rest of our days? The cynic in me is starting to wonder whether love really can last past a certain point, or do we just start craving something new?

I have seen so many people recently who got married thinking that was their ending, only to find that life still continues to happen and be complicated after that point. I want to see a film that shows the ‘what next?’ part after marriage, as it’s certainly not all plain sailing. Maybe then we’ll stop seeing certain check points as endings, and realise that life is a constant stream of new beginnings. You can’t rely on things always being the same, or on people always being there; it’s this kind of complacency that sets us up for a fall. Why can’t we enjoy what we have when we have it, and then when it ends, just recognise that as awful as it might seem, it’s not the end and that new things will follow? If we’re a bit more realistic the hope is that the tough times won’t seem quite as hard. But then I love dystopian literature so I’m not the best person to ask about happy endings.

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