So my hubby has this great new job, and we’re thrilled about it. Me especially, since the compnay throws a big fancy Xmas party every year at a beachfront hotel for employees and their “partners”. They’ve reserved us a room for the night, and I get to buy a new dress, and it’s all very exciting (It would be even more exciting if I wasn’t dieting like a fiend now to try and look good in said dress. I’ve got 15-20 pounds to lose. I won’t get there, but if I can get close I’d be happy. Anyway.)
So of course, hub’s new boss asked if his “partner” would be going. And I think hubby just said yes, instead of what he would have liked to say which is, “No, but my wife will be.”
See, I find this immensely irritating, this British habit of calling everyone “partners”. The reasoning being, they don’t want to assume people dd something so declasse as get married, so rather than insult the unmarried, we’ll just say “partner”. Won’t everyone be happy then?
No. Everyone will not be happy then. We didn’t spend $10,000 on a wedding so we could be treated like an unmarried couple, thank you very much. He is not my “partner”. We didn’t sit down one day and decide to form a corporation. We got married and started a family, and I really resent the implication that I don’t deserve any respect for that but instead should be demoted from my legal and social status as a wife to some loose, we-can-get-out-anytime relationship.
It occured to me last night, though, as I was stewing over this, that very few romances have a “Happily Ever After” where the H/h decide to just move in together. They get married. (Unless they are married, in which case they’re very happy to be married.) Or at least they get engaged. Or, even, sometimes in paranormals someone has a psychic vision of them later in life, married with kiddies.
I find this a really interesting dichotomy. If romance novels can be said to be the true, secret fantasies of women, and the overwhelming majority of Happily Ever After endings include, marriage…then how many women out there really, truly don’t ever want to get married? In other words, while “partner” is all well and good, it seems to me I’m not the only woman who would rather be called “wife”.
This may be a bit of a stretch, saying romance novels are fantasies. But really, honestly, how would you feel is you read a romance and the ending was, “Baby, we don’t need a piece of paper, let’s just live together, okay?” Bit of an anticlimax, wouldn’t it be? (Besides, if it’s “just a piece of paper”, what’s the big deal about getting it? I never understood that.)
Marriage is commitment, and we want our H/hs to commit. We don’t want them to live together for a while and hope it works, we want them to commit. We want to know they’ve looked at each other and said, “You’re really the one, and I want everyone to know it”, not “Hey, I really like you but I’m not entirely certain this if forever so let’s try it and see” or “I love you but I need my space” or even “I love you, but I love my alimony too”.
So if we won’t accept less in romance novels, why are so many women accepting less in real life? Has something really changed, and women no longer want to get married, or are they being told their fantasies and desires are silly or foolish, and they should grow up and accept that just living together is as good as marriage? After all, aren’t romance novels foolish and silly? Isn’t it a good thing to make fun of them and their readers, as women stupid enough to believe that there really is someone for everyone, and that they can get that happy ending? That they deserve that happy ending, with someone who’ll do whatever he has to do to make that happy ending happen for her? (Now I’m repeating “happy ending” so many times it sounds like I work at a cheap massage parlor.)
Maybe this is on my mind a lot too because for the first time, my WIP does not have a HEA. It has a “we’ll see”, because it’s planned as the first in a series. So it’s a little wierd to think of wrapping up a book and not having that final kiss and fadeout.
But I really believe women today are being encouraged, are being forced, to settle for less than they want. And I think that’s horrible. And that’s why, although my current book may not end with a wedding, you can bet if the series pickes up there will be one at some point–even if it isn’t with this book’s hero. (I know what will happen, of course, but I’m so not telling.)
What do you think? Are romance HEAs weddings because it’s what women want, or is it to cater to more conservative elements of the readership? Can it be a truly satisfying and believable HEA without marriage? And how do you feel about “partner”s?