Tuesday, 5 November 2013

you'll be the prince and i'll be the princess

(Taylor Swift - Love Story)

Harriet at Is There A Plan B recently mentioned NaBloPoMo, which was an entirely new concept to me. As it was the 2nd of November by the time I read about it I thought I had failed at the first hurdle by not posting every day (looking back now I realise I had actually posted on the 1st already so I was even more silly to give up so quickly). Luckily for me Harriet is aiming to post twice a week during November, and, considering I also have an exam I should be revising for, this is probably a more feasible option. So more regular posts for November, if not every day.

When the laptop was dead, and the PC was yet to be resurrected, there was a post I bookmarked, specifically so I would find it when my technology was working more effectively. Written by Hannah, at Muddling Along Mummy, it lamented the myth of the happy ever after ideology presented in Disney classics, as a less than realistic representation of adult relationships. It triggered for me some similar thoughts and also brought to mind a magazine article I read recently.

I don't know which magazine, or the interviewee, (I realise what a terrible attempt this is to sound well read), I vaguely think it was a businesswoman in an article illustrated with pictures of her posing in various rooms of her home, and I may have read it in the kitchen at work one lunchtime. Anyway, these are minor details, what was said is the one thing I can remember (sort of, I am also paraphrasing, having tried to find the quote by googling potentially relevant words and "magazine article" and failing miserably). She reflected, having been asked what advice she gave to young women, that they shouldn't marry young, because what appears attractive when you are young, is not what you find attractive when you are older. In marriage, romance comes from someone who gets up in the middle of the night to feed the baby, and shares the housework. I found myself nodding vigorously, I am only 27 but have always been old-headed (and definitely knew The Husband was a keeper when he would help me tidy my teenage bedroom).




I agree with Hannah. In fact I would argue that it is far beyond Disney that the problem stretches. The majority of the classic love stories, and their presentations of romance, fail to focus on the drudgery of domestic life as the ideal scene for love to blossom. There is the Romeo and Juliet model, where all protagonists are part of the social elite, such that cleaning and working are never part of the picture. Alternatively, there is the Cinderella classic, where one character (usually the woman) is saved from a life of such hardship by falling in love with somebody who is part of the social elite, and so cleaning and working are no longer part of the picture.

As a romantic at heart, who thoroughly enjoys the classic love story in any guise it isn't a complaint. But, having been married eighteen months, it is difficult to trust that your marriage is "successful" when love seems to be presented in a way so far removed from daily life. The Husband and I get in from work, cook a meal, see to the dog, work out whether it is bin day, check we don't urgently need to shop or iron, tidy round and go to bed, destined to sleep and repeat. It is easy to feel dull in comparison to the conventional depiction of newlywedded bliss.

I don't think fairy tale romance is any bad thing, but it is just a story. Real love needs to be fixed firmly in reality. I think love is mostly about sharing the mundane and the everyday with someone, and finding pleasure in the small things, them usually seeming better, or more bearable, because that other person is by your side. Romantic gestures, for me can be as simple as The Husband having cooked dinner when I am late home. It is about sharing the load because you care about the other person, more than you care about yourself.

7 comments:

  1. Thank you for the mention! And I couldn't agree more - in fact I have a poem on this very subject stored up my sleeve for later in the month (not by me, I hasten to add).

    But there's another side to this, which I'm ever more conscious of since having daughters. I don't want them growing up to think that this is what girls are for. I want them making their own happy endings, and rescuing themselves, and kissing (but only kissing, mind) plenty of frogs.... I feel like I'm battling an endless tide of princesses and happy ever afters some days. I just hope they'll work out that the hard work comes after "the end"....

    ps just posted a very similar comment but it vanished, so this is take two. Hope you don't get both (I'll look rather odd if so).

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    1. you are more than welcome, and I cannot wait for the poem. Yes there is also that side undoubtedly of the princess sitting passively by hoping one day her prince will come. It's a balance isn't it though, one I keep trying to write about and struggling to articulate, between being independent and in control of your own destiny, but also (at least in my mind) having a level of expectation that your partner will look after you and make you feel special. Its a difficult thing to communicate and even harder to achieve! There's also something there about being self-sufficient and as you beautifully put it rescuing yourself, yet also finding someone who you can be entirely vulnerable with and trust that they will keep you safe.

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  2. Hmm very interesting and insightful! And I think accurate. Most of what The.Boy and I do is totally mundane and boring, but there are moments every so often of that "newlywed" feeling!

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    1. What always catches me by surprise though, is when those moments of romance happen in the middle of the mundane, getting those newlywed feelings just out walking the dog, or cooking together. Whereas films would have me believe unless its atop the Eiffel Tower or preceded by lavish gifts, it isn't really romance!

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  3. You might enjoy the book "Cinderella Ate My Daughter" by Peggy Orenstein. It's not exactly on this subject, but it looks at the overwhelming pinkification and Disneyfication of girlhood in America.

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    1. many thanks for your comment, and unfortunately I have missed the opportunity to put that book on my Christmas list! Thank you for the recommendation and I shall hope to read it soon! Many thanks for visiting.

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  4. Hi...Nice blog. Really very interesting....!!!


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