Surviving 'Happily Ever After'
How Our Childhood Fairytales Lied to Us About Relationships, and How to Break the Spell
"Once upon a time..."
If you're like me, these four words signify a beautiful beginning and the promise of a "Happily Ever After" in the end.
We know we're not royalty, and we know little mice can't really sew a dress, but for some reason we're still waiting for Prince Charming to sweep us off our feet. You see something wrong with this picture?
The problem with dating with the expectation of finding Prince Charming is that the moment he does something that shatters our illusion of Happily Ever After, we will be tempted to break off our relationship.
Just in case I lost you, I'm talking about breaking off a relationship because of an illusion.
That's crazy. I hate to break it to some of you out there but,
Happily Ever After doesn't exist.
"Woah, woah, woah, is she saying there's no such thing as happy relationships?"
No. That's not what I'm saying.
The reason I said HEA doesn't exist is because the moment you say "I do" is only the beginning. There is no "living life happily from here on out," there's only living. Period.
If life, up to the moment before we meet our future mate, has been filled with ups and downs, heartbreaks, and decisions, what makes us believe that when we meet "the right person," everything will suddenly make sense?
You couldn't handle it perfectly on your own, and now you're expecting somebody to fit into your life and complete you? Sugar, you've got another thing coming!
Breaking the Spell
The reality is that when you get married or when you go into a committed relationship, you are entering that covenant as a person with his or her own life, dreams, aspirations, and goals. It is unreasonable to think that this other person is going to conform to your life and not change things around.
What happens in most cases is that the person you are joining together with also expects you to fit into the remaining part of their life. But that's not how it works!
As human beings, we are faced with daily decision making and we don't always get it right. Once you are joined together with somebody, you will not only be dealing with your insecurities, your faults, and your mistakes, now you have another imperfect person who is a part of you. Not only that, but your person will also be aware of how imperfect you are as well.
Have you noticed that we've been programmed to think that people are disposable after the gloss of a romantic pursuit wears off?
If we were given a piece of paper with the question "Do you expect to live Happily Ever After until the moment you die?" we would most likely get the answer right on paper. But is that consistent with how we live?
Think about it, why do we have people "falling out of love" after years of a relationship or of marriage?It's because we look at love as a feeling, an emotion. Not as the choice that it truly is.
Re-Defining True Love
Love is patient, love is kind...
These words were penned down by the Apostle Paul about two thousand years ago. "The Love Chapter" of the Bible is the most famous scripture used at weddings. Too bad those six words are where most young couples stop listening.
- Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not or arrogant or rude.
- Love does not insist on its own way.
- Love is not irritable or resentful.
- Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing.
If we're being honest, how many of us can truly say we don't rejoice when our mate messes up? Especially if it's with that one thing they're always on us about?
- Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
To bear, to believe, to hope, to endure... all of these things take practice. They take commitment.
It is time to stop being passive about our love lives.
It is time to stop ending relationships based on our own selfish ideals, and it is time to stop going into relationships with the wrong motives!
Ladies and Gents, it is time to be intentional about our love.
A real, good, and wholesome relationship can survive the illusion of Happily Ever After because it has something better. It has honesty. It has a genuine sense of selflessness. It has two people that aim to show sacrificial, unconditional, intentional love on a daily basis.
If you treat your mate like a King, he treats you like a Queen, everyone wins!
The pursuit of happiness in a relationship does not end at the altar.
If we stop looking at our committed relationship as optional, and start looking at it as something to cherish, something to fix, something precious that we intend to make last, then we won't need the empty promise of "Happily Ever After," because with that commitment alone we will be on our way to redefining True Love, and we would realize that—
Love never fails.