The myth of happily ever after

Three years ago today, I married the love of my life. I celebrated by taking both children to a WIC appointment by myself, then to the doctor so my 2-year-old could be diagnosed with ringworm, then to two grocery stores, where said 2-year-old threw a fit by throwing groceries out of the cart, all in 90-degree heat. And that was all before noon. Now, both kids are in bed, presumably asleep, and I’m dripping sweat onto the computer as I consider how to spend the rest of the evening. I’m tempted to just go to bed. I could use the sleep. But the house my husband so lovingly cleaned for us before we returned home is a tornadic disaster, and we’ve only been back one full day. Ah, life with children.

Aforementioned 2-year-old is showing a wild, independent streak. Tonight, she put her own supper away. (Miraculously, none of it ended up on the floor.) And she insisted on feeding her brother, not yet 6 months old, by herself. Needless to say, we were all a sticky mess after that was over.

Does anyone think this is what their life will be like when they get married? Toys strewn across the floor. Stepping over said toys on the floor. Stubbing toes on toys you forgot were on the floor. (This happened more than once tonight.) Wolfing down dinner because everyone, including the baby, is hungry at the same time. An hour or more to run errands that by yourself would take 15 minutes. Craving adult companionship while your husband is surrounded by friends, colleagues and brothers and sisters in Christ.

I promise, I’m not depressed. I can’t imagine not having my kids around, even if I sometimes can imagine what life would be like without them. I’m occasionally jealous of married couples who get to take a weekend to celebrate their anniversary. Since we’ve been married, I think our biggest celebration has been dinner and a movie. It’s OK. It’s life. It’s where we’re at. I know someday we’ll be able to do something special, and the time between now and then won’t seem long at all.

Three years isn’t a lot of time to gain wisdom about marriage and relationships, but I gave up the “Happily Ever After” myth a long time ago. People talk about the honeymoon phase. In some ways, I’m not sure we ever had that. But I certainly don’t view weddings the same as I did before I was married. I used to cry because I so badly wanted to be married. Now, I sit in the pew and think, do they have any idea how much work this is? I’m sure I’ll be real popular in any premarital counseling Phil and I do together.

But it’s true: Marriage is hard work. And I don’t think that ever stops. I know some marriages don’t last five years, and I wonder if some of those people were deceived about how much work goes into making a marriage … work. As I told a bride-to-be recently, some of the best pre-wedding wisdom I ever received was that marriage is not a 50-50 partnership; it’s 100-100. We don’t give half of what we are and the other person gives half of what they are. We both give everything we have to each other and to the relationship. I guess for some people that’s too much.

Enough rambling. I think my brain was melted by the heat today. All I really wanted to say was that I love my husband more today than three years ago, and different than I did then, and if we had to get married again, and I knew what I know now, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. God picked the perfect man for me, although he, and I, both are far from perfect.

Maybe happily ever after isn’t so much a myth but a distortion because I’m certainly happy in my marriage, but it’s not a no-problems-everything’s-perfect kind of happy.

It’s a satisfying, real-life, kind of happy. No castles, no fairy godmothers, just two people, madly in love, working out that love day after day.

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4 thoughts on “The myth of happily ever after

  1. Zach and I have some friends who have been married a little less than a year and we were just talking to them about how marriage is the hardest thing that we’ve ever done. They talk to us a lot about stuff they’re going through and if we’ve been there/how we’ve gotten through it. We talk a lot about what you were talking about here.
    I 100% believe in happily ever after, not that it’ll be perfect, but that it’ll be happy. I think that what real life’s ‘happily ever after’ is is better than what they show in fairy tales. In fairy tales they get married and the stories done. In real life marriage is the start of a brand new story and the trials we go through make us stronger and better and we get to know each other more and more every day.
    This is also kind of talked about in the new Shrek (saw it with work today). Shrek and Fiona live happily ever after and Shrek gets into a funk b/c instead of things changing they’re the exact same every day. He then gets tricked into this thing where he hasn’t met any of his friends and has to get Fiona to fall in love with him and kiss him by the end of the day for life to go back. Anyway, the reason he can love his life again is because he falls in love with Fiona again and gets to know her better. HIS happily ever after is made because of the trials they go through. It’s pretty cool b/c I felt like it echo’s real life.
    Every time I think that I couldn’t love Zach more something happens, something that we have to get to know about eachother more or some hardship and I fall in love more and more.
    Anyway, Happy Anniversary and happy ‘happily ever after’ 🙂

  2. Constant “rainbows & skittles” isn’t always the everyday of marriage but I think you wrapped it up and brought it full circle at the end. Sometimes the day to day makes us believe that we aren’t truly happy in our marriages when it could be that we need to find a way to simplify our busy worlds, be more creative with what time and money we have or take a simple vacation for crying out loud.

    The key, though, is to be intentional. Living “Happily Married After” is done on purpose.

  3. I wanted to shout out “Amen” so many times while reading this. Today, there are too many couples that believe marriage to be just a piece of paper; and if they want out later on, well then it’s no big deal. What happened to the sacred union of two people, giving themselves to each other fully?

    I know I am no where near perfect, and I have made mistakes; both Jon and I are human. We knew that marriage was going to be a challenge, but I don’t think we knew how great the challenge would be. I didn’t know, at the time, that I was going to be deployed and away from him for a year.

    We learned the hard way, experiencing difficulty in communication and trust.
    I wish that I could change our mistakes, but in reality this separation has only made our marriage that much stronger.

    God has taken a difficult, heartache of a situation and brought Jon and I together in heart and spirit more so than ever before.

    You’re right, marriage is not a fairytale, but there are moments such as this where the love you have for each other has to reach all the way across to the other side of the world, and that’s when you realize how strong that love is.

  4. Pingback: 2010 in review « The Home Front

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