The concept of happily ever after is everywhere for as long as you can probably remember. When you were a kid, your books had fairy tale plots where everything always seemed to work out perfectly in the end. You turn on the TV and your favorite shows are full of daily humorous conflicts that couples and families face that eventually work out for the best. Movies are designed with a formula that’s very similar where the hero wins, the villain is defeated and everyone ends up happy. So it’s no surprise that we grow up with these hopes that we’ll get our own happily ever after one day.
Your story starts off with you being saved from a life of loneliness when you meet the love of your life. Eventually, you marry them and have the wedding that you always dreamed of. Finally, you start a family with little children that are half you and half your love and live happily ever after. It doesn’t take long to realize that happily ever after is a little harder to achieve than books and TV makes it out to be. You might be someone that’s holding out for that perfect person but losing faith that they exist or maybe you’re someone who has found their love but you’re learning that its not always blissful harmony. It makes you question why your books and movies never talked about what happens after after? Surely prince charming must get on Cinderella’s nerves after he leaves the toilet seat up time after time. Or Aladdin grows irritated when he’s trying to watch a game and Jasmine won’t stop asking questions. How despite how much they loved their children, Elsa and Anna’s parents were dog dead tired every single day from caring for one precocious child and the one with superpowers? It leaves you wondering why everything you’ve ever been taught about how life is supposed to go doesn't match up with your current reality?
It's true that we all have our own families and friends to refer to as it relates to marriage, relationships, and families and we know that they’re not perfect but we can’t discount how much those outside influences we take in can impact our perception of what life should be like in an ideal world. Like with so many other things, rather than realizing that our gauge is off, we’re more likely to think that what everyone else is doing is somehow wrong and that we’re capable of doing it better which is why so many people go into their adult relationships with unrealistic ideas of what to expect.
With the goal of achieving our happily ever after, we enter into our relationships with a clear vision of what our own personal story should look like. We have expectations for our family members and it doesn't take long before our level of happiness from day to day starts to depend on how well they meet those expectations. Our toddler eats everything that we made for them and our spouse does the laundry without asking and we’re thrilled but when our toddler bites and hits us and our spouse falls asleep on the couch after work while we’re left to wrangle the kids to bed alone, we’re unhappy. Our love eventually becomes conditional and we find ourselves expressing disappointment in the ones we love when they do things that don’t contribute to our happy ending.
Marriage is a life long commitment and while there are many happy moments, there are also unhappy ones. This isn't to say that we should ditch the idea of having a happily ever after, just that we should redefine it. Instead of searching for someone to come and save us from our unhappiness, we should aim to make ourselves happy and find a partner that complements that happiness rather than acting as the sole source of it. That rather than defining our expectations for the ones we love, we should define expectations together and vow to hold one another accountable when we stray from meeting them. In every relationship, there will be arguments and disagreements and happily ever after means working through those. Happily ever means growing together, navigating through obstacles and working towards common goals instead of having nonstop euphoria.