I raised two daughters, and I have four grandchildren. So I’ve read my fair share of fairytales.
You would think that people would eventually outgrow fairytales, but there’s one fairytale no one seems to outgrow.
Perhaps it’s our early diet of princess and shining knight stories (thank you Disney,) but we still tend to believe that marriage should be like a fairytale.
We even start our marriages off with a wedding day that’s crafted to look like a fairytale.
- There are candles, flowers, and music
- Groomsmen and bridesmaids take their place, as if they’re holding court.
- The music swells as the doors open.
- The crowd stands and turns to see a beautiful bride, dressed like a princess.
- She’s escorted majestically down the aisle.
- A handsome man, dressed in his finest and attended by his stalwart companions, awaits her.
- They take their place at center stage, staring into each other’s eyes and pledging undying love to one another.
- The ceremony ends with a romantic kiss, and then they leave arm in arm to launch their life together…all to the joyful celebration of the crowd.
Now I’m not against beautiful weddings, but all of this sets a pretty high bar for a marriage. Eventually, the fairytale starts to drift. Romance turns to routine. Routine turns to frustration. Frustration turns to fighting. And we begin to wonder, “Where did the fairytale go?”
Fairytale marriages are not easy, but if you want a fairytale marriage, here are three thing you have to do…
- Remember that fairytales have difficulties. We forget that not everything in a fairytale is pretty or pleasant. There are poison apples, wicked witches, fire-breathing dragons, giants, and ogres. Fairytales are fraught with difficulties and dangers. But these challenges do not ruin the story, they make it better. It’s the difficulties that develop the characters and make the story rich.
The same is true in marriage. Friction and difficulties are not the sign of a bad marriage. They are the makings of a good one. They are there to grow you as a couple and give you a rich story worth telling.
- Stick with the story, all the way to the end. Fairytales, like all stories, are meant to be read all the way to the end. If you stop reading when you encounter a dragon or a wicked witch, then you never get to the happy ending. The characters in the story must work through difficulties and trials to get to the happy ending that awaits.
The same is true in marriage. If you stop when things get hard, it’s guaranteed you will not get to the happy ending. Like any good fairytale, marriage takes you on a quest fraught with difficulties. Marriages fail to find the happy ending, not because there’s too many problems, but because there’s too little perseverance. You need to stick with the story to the end.
- Focus more on pursuing the fairytale you have, rather than the fairytale you want. There is more than just one type of fairytale. Fairytales come in all shapes and sizes. If you don’t believe it, look at all the different books on your children’s or grandchildren’s book shelf.
The same is true in marriage. Just because your marriage doesn’t look like the fairytale you wanted, doesn’t mean you don’t have the makings of a great story. But to make your marriage a great story, you have to let go of the story you imagined and embrace the one you have.
So…is there such a thing as a fairytale marriage?
If you mean, “Is there a marriage that never has problems and always looks beautiful and romantic?” the answer is, “NO!” But, if you’re willing to work with what you have, face the difficulties together, and stick with the story all the way to the end, then you can have a story your children and grandchildren will read and reread for years to come. (Cue the Disney music!)