A few days before dying of ovarian cancer, the writer and filmmaker Amy Krouse Rosenthal submitted a moving essay to the New York Times. In essence, it was a love letter about her husband, Jason, a man with whom she’d shared the last 26 years. “He is an easy man to fall in love with.” she begins. “I did it in one day.”
What Rosenthal penned was truly beautiful. She painted a picture of a man who was kind, caring, attentive, fun-loving, intelligent, artistic, a great cook, a great father, and so on.
Amy was 51. The couple had recently become empty nesters. There were new career opportunities. Exotic places to visit together. All the usual kind of wonderful things.
And then tragedy struck. A gnawing pain in her right side turned into a lethal diagnosis. Amy and Jason put their calendar away, and focused their attention on today.
Life-interrupted. A devastating story. But what lingers on is the depth of their love. Both Amy and Jason describe their marriage as having been a fairy-tale relationship. At least, as much as it is possible – in real life, and in the real world.
A fairy-tale relationship. A fairy-tale marriage.
Isn’t that exactly what we wish for ourselves when we tie the knot, and repeat the words “I do”?
We enter the relationship with hopes and dreams. We picture a long life of love and happiness. And that’s not so naïve. It’s the way things should be.
But what if there’s deception and broken trust? What if there’s betrayal and infidelity?
If this becomes our story, is it still possible to describe our marriage as a fairy-tale?
The cynic (or the partner who’s been traumatized) would probably say no. It is not possible. It isn’t even close to being possible.
In the childhood fairly-tales, love’s intense and magical. It usually culminates in a wedding, and some “ahhs”. There’s no mention of the struggles, of the ups and downs of life. There’s no talk of the heartaches, or the trials we might face.
But being tested in the fire can reveal a genuine love. A love that’s plumbed the depths, and a love that has survived.
So perhaps this kind of love can be a fairy-tale as well …
Yet, what we really wanted was that other fairy-tale.