Finding Love, Despite All Else

By Karam Johal

Romantic comedies might cater to the ideals that romantics (and the lonely) hold of a perfect love story, but, for me, they leave something to be desired. What happens after the hour and a half of will-they-won’t-they and ironic misunderstandings that inevitably lead to “Pocketful of Sunshine” blaring as the end credits roll?

Does the giddiness lead to marriage? And how does the marriage play out? Is it as successful as their courtship? With the amount of deception, miscommunications and clashes between the two leads, I can only hope that the future of their relationship is flipped 180 degrees because that’s what we’re supposed to believe — that the end of the movie means happily ever after. Or does it just mean ever after?

After all, it seems like marriage is considered successful these days as long as it remains — even barely — intact for the rest of the couple’s lives.

When I think “successful marriage,” I don’t think of the latest Katherine Heigl release or the countless Meg Cabot novels I’ve spent hours indulging in[CL2] , I think of my parents. All the books, the movies, the articles and the talk-show hosts claim that communication, honesty and all the other cliches will bring a long and happy marriage, but they don’t show me.

Sometimes I wonder why I consume so much popular culture when those ideals of a perfect relationship are displayed better in my own home than anywhere else; an unconventional wedding, maybe, but the marriage turned out to be successful.

My parents were 18 and 20 when they first met — on their wedding day.

Their marriage was arranged in England, where they were both born and raised, and where they had only talked on the phone and written a few letters to one another before those October nuptials on the brink of their adulthood.

After that day, my dad set off for America because of family obligations and two years later, without having seen one another since their British wedding, my mom followed with barely six family members in tow for their cultural, “official” wedding ceremony. Barely a week later, my mom’s entire family left for England once more and she was left in a foreign country with a husband and family she had bound herself to two years earlier and had barely spoken to before or since. Not quite your typical romantic comedy.

But 22 years later you would think they had chosen each other after years of deliberating over other candidates, courting one another, and choosing their lifestyle and country of residence themselves based on their needs. I look at my parents and know what it’s like when two people find their other half. [J.T.3]

From the moment my dad leaves for work in the morning and my mom is finished dropping the kids off at school, right until the moment they are reunited for dinner (which they eat together without fail), they’ve spoken on the phone and texted (yes, texted!) consistently about all things mundane and ordinary. There are no secrets, no second-guessing. I’ve never seen a more seamless team or, more importantly, a better pair of friends. If there is one understated key part of a successful marriage, it is that being rooted in friendship is an impenetrable quality.

If you can’t spend your life with your best friend, then what hope is there? And if the person you’re spending your life with is not your best friend, then why bother?

Forget the drunken, belligerent sidekicks that give Hollywood starlets in “27 Dresses” and “P. S., I Love You” misguided advice; finding the perfect match comes from finding your best friend. The one to whom you confide every measly little thing, the one you eat with, the one with whom you spend hours doing nothing. Like my parents. Not Katherine Heigl.