Do you believe in the concept of “Happily Ever After?” – (Also known as HEA) Valentines month seems like an appropriate time to examine the topic.
Has there ever been a phrase that has generated more doubt, cynicism, hopelessness – and yet through it all, more hope and desire – than this one? I think not.
HEA is the fairy tale ending with the hero and heroine finding true love that lasts to the end of their days. Is there such a thing? It’s debatable.
Many react to the words with an eye-roll, an exasperated shrug, or an annoyed, “Pfft! Yeah, right.” The promise has been betrayed too often for the modern world to really buy into it. People might think that it sounds great, and maybe it can really happen…but only for other lucky people, and certainly not for themselves.
The Urban Dictionary offers these definitions:
“To find your one and only true love and live with them for the rest of your life. To be continually happy with no end.”
“Engaged to be married, happily married, married with children, as in a storybook ending. To be removed from the pool of eligible people to date.”
“To be happy for the rest of your life. To be, or to become happy or happier.”
Your beliefs will likely be directly influenced by your own experience with relationships and love, good or bad. Either yours personally, or by witnessing those of the family and friends in your sphere.
You might think the answer is simple – do you believe in the fairy tale, or not? But the answer is much more complicated than that.
Opinions have changed and the answer varies. There are many skeptics, cynics, detractors, and just plain unbelievers who reject the idea outright or at least qualify their response. Should there be a fairy tale ending to the story? A hopeful ending? Or a more realistic ending that is a not so happily-ever-after ending? A story that is believable and realistic yet sprinkled with positivity?
The regular dictionary may not list a definition for the phrase, but the internet is a treasure trove of viewpoints on the subject. Here is a sampling of ideas on the topic:
“Single is no longer a lack of options – but a choice. A choice to refuse to let your life be defined by your relationship status but to live every day Happily and let your Ever After work itself out.”
“They lived happily ever after (aside from a few normal disagreements, misunderstandings, pouts, silent treatments, and unexpected calamities).”
“Every fairy tale, it seems, concludes with the bland phrase “happily ever after.” Yet every couple I have ever known would agree that nothing about marriage is forever happy. There are moments of bliss, to be sure, and lengthy spans of satisfied companionship. Yet these come at no small effort, and the girl who reads such fiction dreaming her troubles will end ere she departs the altar is well advised to seek at once a rational woman to set her straight.”
“Maybe there aren’t any happily ever afters or valiant knights who ride in to save the day. Maybe, in real life, Prince Charming isn’t always perfect – he’s just as flawed as everyone else. And the princess? She’s not perfect either. But she’s smart enough to know not to wait around for a prince to charge in and slay the dragon. Maybe she saves herself, and in the end rides off into her own goddamned sunset.”
“Love is not sufficient. It never has been. Happily ever after? Hard to come by. Real life sucks too often.”
“Love yourself a little bit longer, until you can’t stand not to love someone else.”
“Oh, there’s definitely happiness, but it’s just about moments, not ever-afters. You have to appreciate those wonderful moments when they happen, because the reality is we don’t get that many of them.”
“Just live. Be happy. Life isn’t always about ‘Happily Ever After.’ It’s about loving forever, regardless.”
I’m a believer. I believe love at first sight is possible. I believe relationships deepen and strengthen over time as love grows even richer. A love that stands the test of time does exist. However, I freely admit I’m an optimist and a hopeless romantic. But then I was happily married for over 42 years and I write about romances.
Sometimes you might think you’ve found your HEA, but it turns out you were wrong. Don’t despair. It doesn’t mean you can’t try again. Something worth having is worth both waiting for and fighting for.
Some criticize HEA books for not portraying real life. Those people don’t understand why they should read these stories because they say there are no men like that around, and hardly anyone gets to live happily ever after.
For me, I want and need a happily ever after in the romance stories I write. My favorite thing about the romance genre of fiction is the stories are about finding hope and happiness – regardless of the obstacles to be overcome. Satisfactory happy endings are happy for the reader in that the characters he or she sympathizes with are rewarded.
My novels are meant as a feel-good escape from the less than perfect realities of our everyday lives. If someone is going through difficult times in their lives, I hope my book makes them smile for the first time in a long time. Escapism shouldn’t ever be a downer.
Nothing makes me happier than to know something I’ve created made someone feel better. That’s the magic of romance.
I hope you have either already found your Happily Ever After guy or gal – or will soon!
ABOUT THE WRITING
I am very happy to report that the long Christmas story I hadn’t finished in December is now my twelfth completed novel or novella. CHRISTMAS AFFAIR is almost 35,400 words. Novellas are between 17,500 and 40,000 words long, so this book was pretty close to becoming novel length.
I put a photo of a very hunky man who is raring to go for Christmas on the cover of the new novella. (see above) I think the female readers will really appreciate it.
Now that I have completed two more manuscripts for a new total of 12, I have updated the photo of all my books on the My Books page of the website. Check it out.
I’m having trouble keeping the monthly free short stories I write under the 7,500-word limit. This month WEDDING SHUFFLE is a fun 8,700-word story about a couple that goes to Las Vegas to get married with a few close family members and friends, but everything quickly starts to go off the rails in unexpected ways.
The extra length is to your benefit if you have subscribed on the website. You are getting more for the money…No!…Wait!…At any length it is still FREE for subscribers!
If you still haven’t subscribed so you get access to the FREE stories, do it now! Until you register you are missing out on the 19 stories that are available to you!
The winner of the January drawing from new subscribers is V.H. From Moline Il. Her free signed copy of my published book, ONE NIGHT AND ONE DAY, has been mailed to her.
Have a very Happy Valentine’s Day!