Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What does HEA mean to me?

I write romance, so it follows that I'm a big fan of Happily-Ever-After. Heck, it's even part of my tagline. (and thank you to Goddess Fish Promos for the brilliant new banner.) Romance authors and readers take heat for this concept. So many people out there are only too eager to point out just how unrealistic an expectation that is.


Happily-ever-after is only unrealistic if you think of it as a perfect, unending utopia. Real-life just doesn't work that way, but that doesn't mean real romance, and real happy endings don't exist. You just have to look a little more closely at what HEA means to you.

I've been married for 27 years to a man (boy, really, back then) I dated for 3 weeks when we got engaged. It shouldn't have worked. We were too young, too impulsive, too broke, too...everything. My response to that in retrospect. Pbbbbbtttttttthhhhhh. (For those too young to have seen that, it's Bill the Cat blowing a raspberry.) Nearly 30 years later,  we're still occasionally broke, still mistaken for much younger than we really are, and most importantly, still damned happy we stuck to our guns and got married. He's my best friend, my biggest ally, and sometimes my sternest critic. But he's mine.

I can find him in the dark, and I know just where my nose fits in the dent between his pecs. He'll mumble "I love you" back to me without waking up. He knows my moods and can anticipate when to buy me chocolate or flowers. He still thinks I'm sexy, no matter what I do to my hair or how much weight I've put on. I don't sleep well without him, and the same is true for him.

Does that mean everything's been perfect? Hell no. In a real-life HEA, crap still happens. We have arguments. The car breaks down. Someone gets sick. The kids get in trouble and there's never enough time for work, kids, keeping up the house and spending time together. Aging happens, and there's a whole lot more "ouch!" in the sex you manage to sneak in when you actually have the house to yourself. Family members pass away. Bad things happen. That's life.

But you know what? At least when the bad things happen, I have someone right beside me, helping me through it, making me smile and holding me tight. And that's what living happily-ever-after means to me.


Naima Simone said...

AMEN!! I have the same HEA in my life and I agree 100%. My husband and I have been married for 12 years at the end of this month (God willing, we'll have the 30 years you and your hubby have been blessed with!), and every day I can wake up with him beside me is a gift. Of course we've had some tough times as well but the joy comes from knowing I'm never alone, I always have someone who understands and knows me--and loves me anyway! LOL! Even in books, the people aren't perfect--and neither are the endings. The world can still be in jeopardy of falling to demons but the hero and heroine have hope because they will face the potential apocolypse together! Awesome post, Cindy!

Ashlyn Chase said...

Dang, I just left a comment and it didn't "take." I'll try again.

My definition is the same as yours, Cindy. Plus, we laugh a lot.

Kenra Daniels said...

It's really odd to see that someone else wrote a near-perfect description of Hubby's and my life together!

You know, I see people all the time poo-poo-ing the romance novel HEA, while they're cheating on their spouses, working on their 6th marriage, or whatever. IMO, they haven't stuck around for the HEA!

Hubby and I were married almost 27 yrs ago, 6 weeks after we met. We were young and stupid and broke, and in love, and determined. We survived a military career, war-time deployment, military retirement, chronic disease, our daughter becoming an addict, and now raising our 3 little grandsons.

And we'll survive everything else life throws at us, because we TRUST each other.

Great post!

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Exactly, Naima! Ash, laughing is vital. I should have mentioned that. Kenra, it's great to "meet" you. Thanks for stopping by!

Wynter Daniels said...

Aw - well put. I have one of those men as well and I feel very lucky. I got my happy ever after too.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Exactly, Wynter. Here's to enjoying HEA, one day at a time!

Dalton Diaz said...

You said it perfectly! I just read this to Stud, and he's laughing at your descriptions because they fit us so well, too. We just celebrated 20 years. I couldn't imagine anyone else by my side.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Glad to know there are some other HEA believers out there, Dalton!

Jax Cassidy said...

Amen! Love the post. You're so so right. I wish readers weren't so hard on us but I don't think that will ever lessen...