If you were raised similar to the way I was, it’s likely you were fed a steady diet of Disney movies. When you were going to sleep, on Friday nights, and when we had friends over, it wasn’t anything for mom or dad to pop in Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, or The Little Mermaid (or a thousand other like-minded stories) to pacify us and keep us quiet. And as we watched these little fables, we became accustomed to the ending of these stories being that true love was found, everything was alright, and everyone lived happily ever after. Jasmine and Aladdin, Belle and Prince Adam, Ariel and Eric. Though each couple went through hell and back to find and be with one another, they all lived happily ever after.
And this is what we were trained to believe would happen to each of us. I thought I would scale some towering odds to rescue my own princess and after that, life would be grand forever and ever. It’s only when you actually become involved with the opposite sex that you realize Walt Disney and his stories were royally full of you-know-what. Because, in reality, “happily ever after” is a farce. It’s a fib. It’s a fairytale.
If you’ve been in any kind of relationship for any period of time, you realize that it’s hard work. It requires time and effort and a sense of sharing with this other person you’ve entered into a tentative agreement of romance with. To make that relationship work, you’ve committed to put forth a fair amount of thought and consideration so that this person you care about will feel cared for and eventually loved. But what happens when one of you feels slighted or taken advantage of? What happens when one of your feelings is hurt and apologies and reparations must be made? A fight happens. And when two people fight, they usually aren’t happy. Instead, they’re angry and hurt and hoping for some sort of resolve. In those moments of disparity, happily ever after doesn’t seem realistic. It seems like we were conned into believing something that is, in fact, impossible.
As most of us have come to realize, love isn’t always easy and it isn’t always grand. Sometimes it’s dirty and sometimes it hurts. But keeping the expectations of love and relationships realistic allows us to accept that there will be trouble and there will be things we will have to face in-between the hand holding and soft kisses. Things may not always be completely hunky dory and there may be some dramatics, but if we truly care about this person we’re committed to and if we’re willing to work on ourselves and our union, we can prepare ourselves to come out the other side happy and smiling.
Happily ever after may only happen in our storybooks or Disney movies, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some semblance of it ourselves. It just takes accepting that things won’t always be perfect. Things won’t always be happy. We have to put aside our lofty, Disney-inspired expectations so that when things do get rotten and hard, we’re ready to work through them in order to save our relationship.
It’s obvious Disney tells a wonderful story. But for those of us interested in actual, real life love and romance, we must accept that happily every after is just a fairytale. Real love is work and real love takes effort. Once we realize that and adjust our expectations accordingly, we can fully enjoy and appreciate the love and commitment we will one day share.
Thanks for reading!