I’ve had a number of people ask me why, in my debut novel Sundered did I write the romance to revolve around a married couple rather than a newly met, fall in love, fall into each other’s arms couple.
Well, because as far as I’m concerned, happily ever after doesn’t happen once you’re married.
Nope, nada, ain’t realistic.
Happily ever after comes in the quiet moments between the disagreements about who ate the last cookie, the Dutch Ovens, PMS, and the make-me-want-to-pull-my-hair-out-misunderstandings.
I wanted to show that the best love stories, the ones that you can feel deep in your soul, the ones we can all relate to, are those which we see in our own lives. The stories that make us cry and cheer for the characters in love are the ones who resonate with us.
In Sundered, Mara and Sebastian face a crisis as a married couple, they face the possibility that they might not make it, that the secret he’s kept from her could tear them apart. This secret is one that he SHOULD have shared with her, he lied, thinking to keep her from being hurt. He forgot that as his wife, she is there to help him share the burdens he faces, as he should share hers. But, that isn’t the case; it takes what was a good marriage and threatens to destroy it.
Who can’t relate to that? We have all been in, or are in, relationships that have stood on the brink of being over. Looking into the abyss of heartbreak, we have all had that choice to make when it comes to our mate at some point in our lives together.
The question is, do you stand by the one you love, in spite of the things they have done to hurt you? Or, do you walk away, pretend that the pain isn’t real, doesn’t stab at you from the inside, that it doesn’t make you want to curl up into your mother’s arms, and let her wash it all away? Which decision do you make?
With Sundered, even though it’s “just” a book, I wanted people to see that, in my opinion, real love encompasses more than the sexual flush of desire, more than the honeymoon stage that many romance books show case. That in order to have a happily ever after, we have to face the abyss over and over again, each time making a decision. Whether to move forward, to forgive and to work together as a team to face the challenges ahead, or to say goodbye and walk away from the one you once loved.
What you, and I, and Mara have to ask ourselves is, do I go on, do I love him enough to make this worth the pain I know will come with choosing to stay, the hardship of fighting each day for our bond?
The secrets Sebastian keeps from Mara, damages their marriage, as any secret between a couple will. It stretches them both to the breaking point, holding them over the abyss while they fight with everything they have to hang on to one another, choosing to believe that they can make it through.
For those of you who’ve been there, staring into the abyss as the world moves on around you, you know this hurt, and for those of you who haven’t, for you I hope you have the strength when the time comes to make the best decision for yourself.
And for Mara and Sebastian? Though they are only characters in a book, they are the type of couple that I hope one day I, and my husband can be like, when our turn comes. The ones who find the strength to fight for our love, fight for everything we have that is good, and true and real when we have to face the abyss.
*Art work by Patricia Schmitt, used with permission*