Whether written, spoken, filmed, or blogged about, love stories intrigue me in all of their iterations. After all, years and years of love stories have shaped my perception — and likely yours, too — of love, how it should look, sound, and feel.
Lately, I’ve reflected more and more on said stories and their recurring themes, as well as how they’ve affected my personal outlook. Of course, I know our opinions and feelings are constructed by a web of both first and secondhand experiences, but for all intents and purposes, I’m only discussing the latter here.
Call me an over analytical romantic, but highly idealized, perfect tales of love are consistently told and rarely dissected. I’m adopting the role, in this case, of surgeon.
During my last visit home, my sisters and I set in rapt attention as we listened to a family matriarch tell a familiar love story. A popular phrase that completed the account — “and the rest is history” — stood out to me.
Though the story was finished, I felt unsatisfied. I wanted to know more. I had questions about this “successful” love. How did they get to the “history,” also known as the “happily ever after”? What is success in love anyways?
How many times I’d heard this before and never put much thought into its weight, I don’t know. In an instant, though, I couldn’t help but wonder what’s lost in this phrase when said in context of a romantic relationship.
“And the rest is history,” is the ideal, proverbial cherry on top to every love story. Given it’s frequent use, I think we’re encouraged to believe that we all should have a meet cute, a month of casual dating, and then the rest should be “history.”
More or less, we as a culture consistently boil down the sap of a real relationship to only the very good and syrupy sweet parts. Don’t tell me that you’ve never hoped your love story would be one for the ages, one for “history,” that future generations would tell your story and hope that one day it was their own.
Doesn’t this put a lot of pressure on us and our own normal, pedestrian love stories?
By using the phrase “the rest is history,” we lose the whole essence and personality of the relationship. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a sucker for detail. I want to talk about the true beginning and middle. I want to know about the first embarrassing moment, the first time they forgot to call, the first “I Love You,” or the first real, angry fight.
To be frank, I want my love stories to weave in the really shitty parts of a relationship where they’re relevant. The pits and valleys are where the lessons are learned.
I’ve been in the mindset that a relationship should be only good, only happy, all of the time, too. It paid me no favors. It wasn’t until I learned that the disagreements and the voicing of dissenting opinions were essential that I found a deeper satisfaction in my romantic experiences.
It’s cliché, but the good stuff is worth fighting for and sometimes worth fighting about.
The next time, you’re telling a love story, how about trying, “and the rest was slightly confusing, wonderful, exciting, required a bit of time and effort and real patience, and then the rest is history.”
It’s just a thought!