Why is it, do you think, that requires an excellent romance to end in a way where only happiness can be envisioned for the couple? Certainly, life is not that way. It takes but one look at your friends list on Facebook and without question, happily ever after seems less attainable than ever.
Fiction (even parts of speculative fiction) must be based in fact or reality, if it weren’t we wouldn’t hear such idioms as “write what you know”. Any author who has said something amiss about a locale or historical element can vouch for that. Puritans of history and geography would surely, and probably with good reason, not abide such trifling. So why do we maintain the farce of a must-have happily ever after in this particular fiction designation?
Some would argue there is a new movement afoot claiming you can now make your romance Happy For Now (HFN) . I’ve seen them and come away feeling more down, perhaps even angry, at the hero and heroine by the ending. Perhaps that element works for some, but for the great majority of romance readers, we want the happy ever after. We want the, ‘I love you and will love you no matter what,’ ending. I would also wager that a HFN ending wouldn’t fly very well in Christian fiction, and I wouldn’t fight to change that.
If you take a look at the romance market, (not erotica, but general romance across sub-genres) and it is a colossal market, you see a need for that happiness. Within the pages of fiction, women who suffer brokenness at the hands of this world can fill their need to know that the happiness still lives, even if it’s only in fiction for them right now. Even women who are saved sometimes need the relief fiction can bring. It’s still there, it exists, it fortifies that worn and hurt place in their heart. It helps them shed tears it isn’t otherwise okay to shed.
For the woman happily married, perhaps she can see bits of her life and love within the pages of some of those books, a phrase that sounds roughly familiar, a reaction, a touch, that familiarity makes the book seem more real, even if it is about a made up person some four hundred years ago.
Happily ever after will always (yes, I am hazarding the use of always) be a necessity in the romance genre. Without it, it isn’t quite romance. The love our Creator has for us is ever-lasting not HFN. When we speak of love, true love, it is constant and eternal, so it stands to reason that the end of our romance tales should hint that the love of the people we have created is a shadow of that true love we have been shown.