I went to see “Hope Springs” last night. Based on the trailers I’d seen, I thought it would be a romantic comedy, but it was much more serious than I’d anticipated. And sexual. It paired two excellent actors, Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones (plus Steve Carell, who did a great job as a couples therapist). What struck me most about the film is how, even though the couple has been married for 31 years, it’s about courtship.
I write about courtship. I know the value of courtship in a couple’s lives, whether real or fictional. When I type “the end” I always picture my hero and heroine living as happily ever after as any couple possibly can. That doesn’t mean their relationship is perfect, but it’s perfect for them. My son and daughter-in-law have been married for fourteen years, and every time I follow behind them in my car, watching them in theirs, they’re always talking. That strong friendship is what carries them through all kinds of unforeseeable problems. They talk things through. That’s the key to their success.
And that’s what I’ve made the key to success for my fictional couples—communication. When they don’t talk, it leads to problems, which leads to conflict, so that there’s enough story to get to the end of the book. Then they get things figured out, usually by talking, and everything is back on track. Oh, I know it’s not as simple as that, but you get what I mean.
I love writing about courtship. It’s such a hopeful time. You tend to spill your guts and hope the other person accepts you regardless. When they do, you know it’s love.
I was sixteen when my future husband started courting me, eighteen when we got married. I had thirty-four years with him before he passed away. My memories of courtship are still strong, still warm, and bits and pieces often show up in my work as my tribute.
How about you? Even if you didn’t marry a particular person, was the courtship memorable? Will you share?