I had a wee rant on Monday about why romance novels are seen as unfeminist in spite of the fact that they depict women in a healthy way - and in spite of the fact that the very society that criticises them foregrounds love and marriage in a very unhealthy way.
I feel there is more to be said on the subject (don't I freaking always!). I mentioned on Monday that society tells us that finding love should be our ultimate goal as human beings (I'm speaking as a woman here - I know men also face pressures, some different, some the same). I think we need to get a bit more flexible on that (perhaps the popular press might acknowledge, even tacitly, that single people can be happy and that not everyone is suited to marriage and family life).
But foregrounding love as a goal is not something I have a problem with. I don't always like how it's done, but it's probably better than telling someone that the car they drive is critical to their psychological health.
I'm not going to quote divorce statistics - we all know that 'happily ever ever' is becoming an aspiration rather than a reality for a lot of people. Which sucks - quite apart from the emotional pain for the people involved, this means that across my lifetime I can anticipate attending almost double as many weddings as my parents had to. This will cost me a fortune in dresses, hats, and tasteful silver-plated photo frames, not to mention increasing the number of unflattering photos of me in circulation.
It seems to me that now, creating a successful relationship is no longer the default. People no longer enter into marriages and stay in them 'just-because.' They can walk away if they stop working.
Which means that relationships are now something that people work on. It means that creating a good one is not an optional extra ('Meh, we're married, he/she is stuck with me!' no longer holds water). A strong marriage is not just a blessing. It's an achievement, and it requires constant work. Hopefully enjoyable and rewarding work, rather than the Sisyphus-pushing-the-rock-up-the-mountain-forever type.
And yet, here we are, as a society, looking down on books about people who find love and make it work.
More tea, please, waiter. I could be here for a while.