What You Can Learn from Iconic Romances
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- Previous Next2 of 13Romeo and Juliet: Paramount Pictures/Photofest
- Previous Next3 of 13Memoirs of a Geisha: Sony Pictures/Photofest
- Previous Next4 of 13Atonement: Focus Features/Photofest
- Previous Next5 of 13Aladdin: Buena Vista Pictures/Photofest
- Previous Next6 of 13Like Water for Chocolate: Miramax/Photofest
- Previous Next7 of 13Wuthering Heights: Paramount Pictures/Photofest
- Previous Next8 of 13A Patch Of Blue: MGM/Photofest
- Previous Next9 of 13Pride & Prejudice: Universal/Photofest
- Previous Next10 of 13Downton Abbey: PBS/Photofest
- Previous Next11 of 13Beauty and the Beast: Walt Disney Pictures/Photofest
- Previous Next12 of 13The Time Traveler' Wife: New Line Cinema/Photofest
- Previous Next13 of 13The Great Gatsby: Paramount Pictures/Photofest
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Romeo & Juliet2 of 13
The story: Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet fall in love at first sight in Shakespeare's famous tragedy—too bad their families are mortal enemies. The lesson: Family is important. But when you marry, you have to remember you are also creating a separate family of your own. "Entering an adult relationship, one has to have individuated from their family," says relationship therapist Carin Goldstein, creator of BeTheSmartWife.com. "If you still feel too tied to expectations, their judgments and critical thoughts make it impossible to have an intimate relationship."
Sayuri & the Chairman3 of 13
The story: When Sayuri meets the Chairman as a child, he is so kind to her that she decides to become a geisha in order to be with him, not knowing that he's helping her along the way. The lesson: The Chairman's warmth and generosity, qualities missing from Sayuri's youth, ultimately helped her heal. If you've had a tough upbringing, says psychotherapist Mary Jo Rapini, look for someone "with the positive characteristics that you would have liked to see encouraged in you when you were a child."
Robbie & Cecilia4 of 13
The story: Newly in love, Robbie and Cecilia are torn apart when he is wrongly accused of rape. Cecilia knows he's innocent, and stands by him as he goes to prison and later to war as they both grapple with circumstances they cannot change. The lesson: Life isn't fair, but a strong bond can weather the storms. "If you're in a committed relationship, you are in it together," says Goldstein. "Life has ups and downs, and you need to be there for support. It gives your partner a reason to fight the battle."
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Aladdin & Jasmine5 of 13
The story: A genie grants wishes for a street thief, causing Aladdin to try being someone he isn't. After partaking in a little dishonesty to steal Princess Jasmine's heart, he learns that his alter ego, Prince Ali, doesn't impress her much. The lesson: In relationships, as in life, honesty is the best policy. "Keeping major secrets is a red flag," says Goldstein. "Lies are always about a bigger issue. Does it mean this person can't be himself? You have to think about that and address it. If you can't be real, you can't have a healthy relationship."
Pedro & Tita6 of 13
The story: A family tradition that calls for the youngest daughter to remain unwed and care for her mother prevents this couple from being together. The Lesson: It can be tough to break ties, even from difficult parents, but Tita and Pedro might have saved themselves the worst heartache if they had done so. "I have seen so many young adults taken advantage of by their parents," says Rapini. "If your family ever asks you to compromise on something that will break your heart, you may have to divorce your parents who, after age 18, should be there to emotionally support you."
Heathcliff & Catherine7 of 13
The story: Class differences keep these childhood friends (and obvious soulmates) from being together. When Catherine devises a plan to elevate Heathcliff's social status, a mixup drives him to run away. Catherine marries Edgar, and Heathcliff seeks revenge for his lost love. The lesson: If you've been hurt, it's hard not to hit back. However, "revenge will always backfire," says Rapini. "Take care of yourself instead. Do what it takes to look, feel and live better. That is the best revenge."
Selina & Gordon8 of 13
The story: It's the 1960s. She's a blind, illiterate white girl who was neglected by her mother. He's a black stranger she meets in the park who wants to educate her and keep her safe. The lesson: Interracial and intercultural couples may have to endure resistance from family, friends and society at large. "The more understanding you have of one another's culture, the deeper and more enlightening the relationship will become," says Rapini. "If you aren't getting support from your social circle, try to find one close friend on both sides to talk to about it."
Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy9 of 13
The story: When handsome, rich Darcy comes to town, Elizabeth writes him off as a jerk after overhearing him insult her. They work through tension, defy social expectations and overcome family scandal on their way to love. The lesson: Friction isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as you deal with it early on. "Couples who are happy fight as much as those who aren't," says Rapini. "It's about fighting well. Learn the underlying themes of the arguments and know what will lead to future fights."
Mary & Matthew10 of 13
The story: Although Mary agrees to marry Matthew when he's the heir to her father's earldom, she then hesitates to accept his proposal when his succession is in jeopardy. He later withdraws his proposal because of her wavering—leaving her heartbroken—and then asks for another woman's hand. The lesson: Don't let your superficial wants keep you from marrying who you love. "Many women who want to marry are conflicted and resistant to compromise," says Rapini. "You are allowed to think there is a Mr. Perfect, but that thinking is going to leave you very much alone."
Belle & Beast11 of 13
The story: After an enchantress turns a self-centered prince into a monster to teach him a lesson, he traps Belle in his castle, hoping she will be the magic key to lift his curse. He must win her love—without his good looks—before time runs out. The lesson: This one may seem clichéd, but that doesn't make it any less true. Belle and Beast fall in love while learning that beauty is only skin deep. "Looks fade fast," says Goldstein. "A person's character, intentions, values and morals are what people should really look to connect with."
Henry & Clare12 of 13
The story: A genetic disorder causes Henry to spontaneously time travel, leaving Clare alone in the present to worry about him and wonder when (or if) he'll be back. The lesson: This couple must adapt to long spans of time without each other, something that couples in long-distance relationships can relate to. "Flexibility is key," says Goldstein, "and tolerance of the situation. Ask yourself: How can we make this work? Fill your time. Be productive. Catch up with friends, run errands—find ways to make the glass feel half full instead of half empty."
Gatsby & Daisy13 of 13
The story: After WWI, Gatsby returns to West Egg, NY, as a glitzy millionaire determined to win back his former flame. He throws parties in hope of luring her in, and recruits her cousin, Nick, to set them up. Problem is, Daisy's already a married woman. The lesson: Learn when to let the past go. "The only time we have is now," says Goldstein. "If you're living in the past, you're living in a dream. Look at the past as a foundation to build from, and deal with reality."
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