Okay, here I am raving about Sons of Anarchy again, but really, I don't think you guys get it-- this is a great show with many lessons for us. If you all just watch it, I'll stop bugging you. :)
Anyway, there was a moment in the latest episode that made me think about romance at different stages.
There are two couples in this story: The young Jax and Tara, who are negotiating all the problems of twenty-something love, job vs lover, identity vs. romance.
The other is Gemma and Clay, Jax's mother and stepfather. They have been married for probably 20 years.
So Gemma finds out that Clay has deceived her about their grandson (who has been kidnapped). Clay (for good reason) has been telling her that the beloved baby is "okay". So Gemma finds out about the kidnapping. "You lied to me!" she cries.
Clay says, penitently, but somewhat impatiently, "Sorry."
And then they go on to discuss how to get the child back.
I was thinking of how Jax and Tara would have handled that-- the young couple. Tara might say, "You lied to me! How can I go on with you, if I can't trust you?"
And Jax might say, "If you can't trust me, I don't want to be with you!"
What's fun about Gemma and Clay is why they're able not to make a big deal about this, and as a long (very long) married person, I find this interesting and ... I don't know. Mature.
1. They're never going to split. They each know this. They might get mad. They might have good reason to be angry with each other. But no matter what, they're going to end up together, so there's reason just to cut to the chase and get the nasty part over with.
2. While she doesn't like being lied to, she knows that Clay must have done that because he thought it was best for her. She knows that he loves her and wants the best. He could be wrong about what is best, but he won't be trying to hurt her.
3. She loves him. In some ways, nothing else matters. She's not going to stop loving him, no matter what.
4. They are middle-aged. They are not trying to establish their identities or figure out who is in charge. They've already worked most of that out. (Gemma is totally in charge. :)
So while the deception is an issue, it's not an issue that will break them up. So the conflict is not the deception so much as the problem that inspired it-- the kidnapping.
What this tells me is that conflict can be developed to fit the context. And timing is all with romantic conflict. What does this romance need to succeed? Early in the romance, so much has to be established, so much has to be worked through. The individual identity still exists, and can still be reclaimed.
But with an established romance, well, the individual identity might take a second place to the couple identity. The established couple might respond differently because they have put priority on the relationship. No matter what, they're going to end up together, so they might not spend as much time working through issues.
No big revelation here-- but here's a writer who really thought through the characters and understood them and their interactions. There's no settling for the generic, the conventional. Rather, there's a focus on these people and their reality.