On Valentine's Day, we often hear glorified versions of great and enduring love, Hollywood romances, soaring passion. We even put names and faces to them -- Tracey and Hephurn, Liz and Dick, Brad and Angelina and their expanding brood. This is the stuff of fantasy! This is the stuff that we compare ourselves to and somehow feel less than...
From my perspective, the relationships that feel the most real to me are beautiful creations of inspiring creativity and reality -- flawed and wounded people, finding one another, maybe "against the odds" (picture Phil Collins singing his theme song in the background). Enter my favorite romantic heroes and models for relationships today. On the large screen, Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) from Silver Linings Playbook move me. And on the small screen and potentially even more gripping are the flawed, complex, self-loathing Carrie (Claire Danes) and Brody (Damian Lewis) from "Homeland.".
Some of the similarities between the two relationships appear obvious -- trauma, loss, mental illness, struggling recovery, a desperate desire for connection. As Dr. Oz wrote in a review of Silver Linings Playbook, these relationships..."awaken a dormant sense of hope by understanding each other without judgment." Wow, talk about loving someone warts and all. I don't know about you, but nothing sounds quite as romantic, alluring and passionate as "understanding without judgment," being loved by a person who knows all your faults and loves you anyway. And I am not talking about the little (or big) annoying things -- whether he puts dishes in the dishwasher or spends enough time with the kids. Or if she gets easily aggravated about stuff he doesn't do that she finds important. I am talking about the BIG STUFF, the loving you no matter what stuff, accepting you warts and all stuff, finding you interesting and beautiful even when you feel terrible stuff!!!
Pat and Tiffany, Carrie and Brody -- seriously, I do think they are real people -- their relationships have a magnetic pull on me. I "get" them. These couples are messy, wonderful, stressed, traumatic, exuberant, blissful, angry and hopeful. After almost 23 years of marriage to a wonderful man and parents of two teenage children whom we adore, these relationships speak to me. Real couples live, they cry, they hurt, they love, they mourn -- and they (AND WE) do crazy things that other people don't understand.
While in our own lives, we might not be tearing up the dance floor with People's Sexiest Man Alive or saving the world from terrorists, these people are my people. Their pains are my pain. On this Valentine's Day, I choose their romance any day of the week.