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The Problem With Happily-Ever-After

Fairy-tale romances promise happily-ever-after endings, but they never show us how to make that happen

Looking for a guarantee

What I want from love is a guarantee. Not that I am just loved today and that I will be loved tomorrow, but that I will be continued to be loved by the person I love indefinitely.”

At midlife, a ‘yearning to stop’

You and your husband’s love for each other is based on profound reciprocity: What can you do for me? What can I do for you? This is considered a healthy marriage; you think about each other’s needs. You cover the bases. He does money; you do food. Like that. The two of you pass the big tests: You still talk; you still fuck. But sometimes you ruefully recall Ethan Hawke’s character in Before Sunset, when he describes his marriage: “I feel like I’m running a small nursery with someone I used to date.” You resent the fact that you’ve been forced to relate to Ethan Hawke. Of all people. And anyway of course it’s worth it. Your family isn’t some kind of chore, or even some kind of mere consolation, though it’s both those things as well. It’s the whole deal, the great love, the thing in this life that was supposed to happen to you. Even so, your family members certainly require a lot of work. From you. And so sometimes you wish you could be loved just for being. You find yourself yearning to stop.

No one has your secret to a happy relationship

Award-winning journalist, coauthor of “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels,” mom, changing the narrative about older women

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