On the 18th of April…

A happy marriage is a long conversation that always seems too short.                                                                                                          André Maurois

They were married on April 18, 1942.  The United States had been at war since December and he would soon be called to serve as a Naval Officer aboard the U.S.S. Lexington.  During his time in the Pacific he exchanged long letters with his family and with her, the love of his life.  After the war and his return home they settled into suburban life and raised their growing family — two boys, three girls.  He was a Chemical Engineer who loved history and she was a meticulous homemaker and volunteer.  Both remained devoted to church, to family, and to each other.  It was a good marriage, a happy marriage, one with conversations that always seemed too short.

As writers, even as romance writers, we seldom write of marriages such as theirs. Exciting, passion-filled stories are all about conflict that show a struggle between two souls —  man against man, man against nature, or even man against himself.  Perhaps because life is filled with struggle, we long to read about it.  It is the struggle, the conflict that keeps us turning the pages.  What happens next?  How will they possibly resolve this insurmountable problem?

So we fill our stories with conflict.  If she’s a liberal reporter, he’s a conservative landowner.  If she’s a born and bred Texas rancher, he’s a NYC lawyer come South to stir up trouble.  If she’s the daughter of a Saxon King, then he’s a Norman knight granted her father’s castle, and perhaps her, by right of conquest.

Conflict isn’t only created by who the characters are.  It can also develop naturally through the setting.  Several years ago I heard film critic Roger Ebert discuss the amazing popularity of “fish out of water” stories.  At that time, I was reading a lot of time travel stories in which a modern heroine traveled back to an earlier time.  I started analyzing these and other popular stories. Plop a person down in a strange new world and there is instant conflict as she struggles against the unknown.  The story is not in heroine’s undying love for the hero, but in the conflict she must work through to attain that love.

Once the story’s conflict is resolved, the story is over.   The genre doesn’t matter.  Literary fiction ends with a resolution of problems, happy or sad.  Thrillers and mysteries end with the bad guy’s capture.  Romance ends with the concept of And they lived happily ever after.

What of my history-loving naval hero and his happy bride?   Their story endures in the memories and lives of their descendants.  Tomorrow would be their day.

Happy Anniversary, Tom & Betty!  ∞

27 thoughts on “On the 18th of April…

  1. I adore stories such as you opened your blog today. Thank you for giving me a treat to go along with this sunny day–the first in several preceding days.

    I’m assuming these are Tom’s parents and I wish them forever love, wherever they are.

  2. Yes, they are, MJ. Thank you for your wishes for them.

    I’m so glad the sun shines for you there. It finally came out here, sort of, although it is cold. Still, the trees are starting to bud. There’s hope. 🙂

    • They were my husband’s parents, Roni. I sometimes tell him I married him partly because his father was such a gentleman. 🙂 I knew he’d value marriage, too.

      April is a beautiful time to be married. Happy anniversary to your in-laws!

  3. I love true-love stories! And I love old-time pictures like that…especially the second one. Solid, happy marriages like that have an us vs. the world mentality, don’t they? It’s that intimate team attitude that helps smooth out all of life’s inevitable “conflicts.” Thanks for a the post, Deb!

    • “Us vs. the world mentality” I love that description. Thank you, Misty. That second picture has always been a favorite of mine, too. It shows such a delightful side of the two of them! Thanks again!

  4. Deb,
    You so need to published – I love reading what you write. I too love the pictues – especially the 2nd one. True love is wonderful. Look forward to hearing more from you.
    Cathy

  5. What a beautiful story. And a great blog post–I love the ‘fish out of water’ theme, too.

    Congratulations for your Fab 5 final with Hearts in Winter, Deb. Love the title!

    • Cindy, when a marriage works likes this, it’s sensational. (Otherwise, not so much.) I am glad you liked it, and stopped in. Thank you.

  6. What a delightful story! Deb, you have a true knack for “stringing beads” into a wonderful stories! the pictures are perfect! thank you for this story – what a wonderful tribute to a strong and happy marriage!

  7. Paula, good to hear from you, and glad you liked their story. Tonight we plan to raise our glasses in a toast. 69 years. Thanks so much for your visit.

  8. Your beautiful story brought my parents to mind. My Dad was on the USS Mt. Vernon and he and my Mom were married for 59 years – a great role model for me. I’ve been married 42 years. My biggest problem with writing is putting in conflict. I was lucky and didn’t see much of it growing up and surrounded myself with a safe place most of my life. My CPs say I write sweet stories even though I think I am being mean and conflictive. Happiness does have its drawbacks. 😉

    • Paisley,
      They were a good generation, strong and with good values, weren’t they? I can read the pride in your words. Congratulations on your long-lived marriage!

      Conflict is always difficult. A fellow writer once told me – “Don’t be afraid to put your hero up in a tree. Then throw rocks at him. And have the tree limb break.” Always amp up the conflict, and his jeopardy.

      On the other hand, if sweet works for you, there’s a place for some of that too. 😉 I skimmed through your site. Awesome! Love the feel of your stories. Keep writing!

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