Posted by Ryan
I must admit that there was something compelling about the royal wedding. Like Kate marrying Wills, and Mary marrying Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, Meghan's wedding to Harry was literally the stuff of fairytales! And we all know that fairytales end with "happily ever after." I love a good love story, but are those good love stories we like to read about and see in movies realistic love stories? Let's be honest,"happily ever after" is usually not as simple as it sounds. I think most people would probably agree that the hard truth is that relationships are not without their challenges.
I've recently finished reading Alain de Botton's book The Course of Love. It's a love story, but not as we know it. de Botton sets out to tell a story about what love is really like. He notes that our ideas about love, and indeed our expectations about what a marriage or committed relationship should be like, are often shaped by the illustrations of love that we encounter in art and literature--usually depictions of exciting experiences of courtship and romance. But what comes after those heady early days of love? That part of things often gets left out of the narrative of love. Indeed, although the fairytales end with "happily ever after", they don't offer much in the way of just what that "happily ever after" looks like.
Similarly, de Botton points out that couples are often asked, 'so how did you two meet?" but are seldom asked, "what is it like to have been married for a while?"
Larry David asks someone about their marriage!
In his review of the book, Simon Caterson (Sydney Morning Herald) wrote:
"According to Alain de Botton, we are still labouring under a Romantic delusion when we expect to enter a perfect, everlasting union of body and soul with another person who will find the same in us. He contends that falling in love is just the start of the journey, far from the end. We can be Romantic in privileging love but also realistic and show patience, forbearance and, perhaps hardest of all, forgiveness. The fact that love hurts is the proof it exists.
The lesson the book teaches is that a true understanding of our own flaws, strengths, dignity and vulnerabilities, as well as those of our life partner and/or co-parent, is necessary if we are to stay the course of love. "We should look for ways to accommodate ourselves as gently and kindly as we can to the awkward realities of living alongside another fallen creature," de Botton counsels."
So The Course of Love is a love story which is a rather unexciting tale of a perfectly average marriage, but it normalises for us the challenges inherent in relationships, and reminds us that love is so much more than just the "start" of love. Love can be complex, although at times simple too, it shifts and evolves and unfolds, and at times may feel banal or even painful. And being reminded of this, seeing something familiar reflected back to us in this tale of Kirsten and Rabih and their normal marriage, I think allows us to think deeply about and consider how we can have better, more connected, and more enjoyable relationships, and to find more happiness and fulfilment as we travel along the course of love in our own lives.
Be Psychology & Mental Health is an expert clinical psychology practice with locations in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.