At the RNC last night, Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, took to the stage to bring "personality" and "warmth" to the candidate. In talking about their personal lives, Mrs. Romney stated this:
"I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a 'storybook marriage.' Well, in the storybooks I read, there were never long, long, rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once. And those storybooks never seemed to have chapters called MS or breast cancer.
A storybook marriage? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage."
An interesting way to go to appeal to the masses I think. Defining a "real marriage" vs a "storybook marriage". Let's break this down a little bit. What is a "storybook marriage" anyway? Is it the most simplistic pieces of what some think of as a successful marriage: longevity, fidelity, kids? If so, it sure seems like they have a storybook marriage to me.
Is it about marrying your best friend, sustained romantic love, and generally feeling happier because you are in a relationship with this particular person? If you go with a definition related to emotional connection, deep friendship, love, intimacy, and happiness, I would argue we don't actually know much about the Romney's relationship at all. Beyond the public face of being a united couple, we don't really have information about how the Romeny's relate to each other.
Ann Romney describes a "real marriage" as kids screaming and surviving MS and breast cancer. Those are certainly challenges to overcome, although I wouldn't say they are qualifiers that exclude someone from having a "storybook marriage". In fact, we can see lots of movies where one or both individuals in the couple overcome obstacles and triumph together.
In an effort to relate to every day people, the Romney's gloss over the many, many stresses and challenges that most couples face in today's world. The Romney's have never faced poverty or unemployment, stressors that routinely are shown to be a major contributor to dissatisfaction in relationships. While they may not be able to insulate themselves from disease, they certainly have the means that most people only dream of to set themselves up for success. Means that buffer potential negative effects even when they do face stress (probably the Romeny's weren't worried about having a health insurance when Ann Romney was facing cancer).
Facing obstacles together qualifies as a real marriage? What about same-sex couples then? By that definition, sure seems like their relationships could qualify. Some may even have a storybook relationship.