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Authors may expect us to buy the happy-ever-after ending, but seriously? Wives in the attic, cross-species love and a 2,000 year age gap? How long is it really going to last? Our guest sex expert Tracey Cox helps out some fictional couples we’ve always thought could do with some serious therapy after the final page.
Book: JANE EYRE
Author: CHARLOTTE BRONTË
Relationship: JANE EYRE AND MR ROCHESTER
It’s not surprising that Jane feels obliged to explain herself at the end of the book when she says, “Reader, I married him.” Her relationship has hardly had a good track record to date: their first attempt at tying the knot was interrupted by the revelation that Mr Rochester had another wife locked in the attic of the house he was planning on sharing with Jane. Jane has suffered a loveless childhood, is passionate and very moral. Edward Rochester is Jane’s dark and mysterious employer, equally passionate and with an equally troubled past. At the end of the book, Jane agrees to have Mr Rochester only after he is disabled, blinded, impoverished and powerless.
Tracey says: Danger, danger, do not go there – which is why Jane didn’t until Mr Rochester was completely disempowered. Hiding dark, important secrets – like a wife locked in the attic – from someone you intend to spend the rest of your life with, is not a great foundation for a relationship. Trust is blown immediately and remains shaky from there on. Most women would run a mile after the discovery, Jane doesn’t because she’s got low self-esteem from a loveless childhood. Two tortured souls with matching troubled pasts, do attract because they have things in common. But in order to heal, at least one of the pair of you needs to have had a secure past and upbringing in order to ‘teach’ the other how to function healthily within a relationship. There is hope though: Rochester loses everything, which could be enough to make him completely rethink himself and create a ‘new’ Rochester who can love and won’t lie in the future.
Author: STEPHENIE MEYER
Relationship: BELLA SWAN AND EDWARD CULLEN
Suggested by: Sophie Wiggins @SophieCWiggs “I think Bella Swan and Edward Cullen would benefit from some intensive couples therapy”
Bella Swan is a clumsy teenager with low self-esteem trying to fit in in a new town. Edward Cullen is the hottie Bella meets at her new school who happens to be a vampire. Apart from their mismatched background, their on-again-off-again relationship has to overcome some hurdles: Edward can’t tell what Bella is thinking (it’s not just a man thing, she’s immune to his mind-reading power), there’s a love triangle with a werewolf rival, and at one point he leaves her because he thinks she’d better off not being in a relationship with the un-dead. But Bella and Edward end up getting married and having a half-human, half-vampire daughter.
Tracey says: On the plus side, these two have perseverance and passion: they both want a relationship and there’s bucket loads of chemistry. Score high on both these factors and it’s got a good chance of lasting the distance. Not so good: incompatibility and different backgrounds. Those delicious ‘love hormones’ that release at the start, fuelling desire and idealising heavily, wear off around six to nine months. That’s when you really know if you’ve made a good choice: it’s day to day compatibility that keeps things flowing smoothly, making the relationship nice and easy. In real life, Bella would end up feeling resentful for all she’s had to give up to be with Edward. And who wants an almighty row with a vampire?
Book: LORD OF THE RINGS
Couple: ARAGORN, SON OF ARATHORN AND ARWEN EVENSTAR
Suggested by: Emily Cleaver @EmilyCleaver – “I’ve always thought Aragorn and Arwen would bore each other to tears within a month of marriage.”
Aragorn is an up-and-coming royal, heir to the throne of Gondor, Arwen is one of the last of the race of elves of Middle Earth. It’s love at first sight, although there’s a bit of an age difference to contend with – Aragorn is 20 when they first meet, Arwen has seen the wrong side of 2,000. Arwen has to make some major sacrifices to make it work, like giving up immortality. They’re kept apart by her over-protective father at first, then they’re married when Aragorn takes the throne.
Tracey says: The problem with couples who get together after a huge battle and against all odds, is that when they finally do, it’s all a bit of an anti-climax. It’s a lot like having an affair: once it’s out in the open and everyone approves, the couple split because a lot of the appeal of an affair is that it’s forbidden and high on drama and tension. There’s high incompatibility between these two as well with the age difference (eat your heart out Harry Styles) and different cultures. And there’s a disapproving parent : it feels great to rebel but most people secretly want our parents to approve of our choices. Emily’s prediction could well be right: they’ll bore the pants off each other long-term!
Tracey’s new book “Dare: What happens when fantasies come true”, is released on April 11th. Download your free taster e-book on March 21.