So where’s my happy ending? Disney built a brand on dreams coming true. Fairy tales always end with this vague sign-off: ‘And they all lived happily ever after.’ Who did? Where is this place? Who are these people? Lately, an After Eight is as close as I’ve got to combining ‘after’ and ‘happy’. (Even then there’s the risk that someone will leave the empty wrappers in the box, flipping me into an angsty rage.) But if you can’t milk some solace from a post-dinner confection, it’s surely the end.
There’s an idea that we somehow magically gather up all the components – a home, a toothbrush, someone who isn’t too much of a bell-end – and then you’ve made it. You get to gallop into the final furlong, across the finish line and bask in that heavily touted happiness. It’s supposed to be a kind of joy that is like easing yourself into a vat of treacly dessert wine while overlooking an ochre sunset and eating a trifle. But what if it ends up more like swigging cider on a park bench?
I wanted to write this book with Matt because it feels like the great vacuum of space between ‘I do’ and ‘The End’ needs a little reconsidering. It feels like ‘happily ever after’ might be the way for a freshly rescued Cinderella, but what if your foot doesn’t fit the shoe? Perhaps being ‘whisked away’ also means microwaving a lukewarm cup of tea so that your chosen person has a hot brew. Maybe being ‘swept off your feet’ can simply include someone disposing of their toenail offcut in the right bathroom receptacle.
So what is true romance truly like, and do we really need it? What do porn and social media and kids and laundry do to relationships? What’s a throuple?
We’ve followed a pretty well-worn path so far. Now I want to know if there’s another route I could have taken.
Anna and Matt answer the internet’s questions about marriage:
Anna and Matt answer the internet’s questions about kids:
Image: © Emily Gray