… And They Lived Happily Ever After.

I love fairy tales and romantic comedies. There is something about a boy-meets-girl kind of story.

Writers and filmmakers are good about letting us enjoy the emotional high of the story. Ending the story with “…and they lived happily ever after.” Fade to black or “the end” with blank pages. Sometimes this line is implied, not stated.

As much as I love a good romance, seeing the moment they knew, no one ever tells you what living happily ever after means. It’s a vague concept that deceives us into believing that everything is rosy. It lulls us into a false sense of security. It tells us that there aren’t any challenges after the issues from the “Meet Cute” to the “Happily Ever After” are resolved.

Every story is packaged in a blue box with a white bow (or something similar).

Don’t be deceived by Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty or whichever fairy tale resonates most with you.

Here’s the truth …

After their Prince Charmings swept them off their feet and carried them off into the sunset to the castle in the clouds … A new day dawned and stuff needed to get done.

Someone had to run the household. Even with servants or maids … someone had to supervise all those rooms being cleaned and organized.

Someone had to prepare dinner even if you have a kitchen full of chefs. Someone had to work with the head chef to plan the meals.

Money had to be managed so that the household affairs were in order.

Children were necessary to carry on the royal line. And even with nannies or nursemaids the children are still the responsibility of the parents.

The relationship fires had to be stoked to keep it burning hot. So they had to “show up” in the relationship. They had to learn how to communicate with one another because their filters and upbringing affect their world views.

First fights were inevitable after the honeymoon was over.

The struggles they overcame to be together are indicative of life. There’s always a conflict that needs resolving.  There’s always something. “Happily Ever After” does NOT mean you go through life together without any problem or challenge. They just don’t tell us that part of the story.

 “…to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; until death do us part.”

The secret to “Happily Ever After” is compromise, sacrifice, humility, and submission. You have to come to the relationship ready and willing to do these things.

My husband and I are living our “Happily Ever After”. We’ve had (have) our ups and downs. We had times we didn’t think we were going to make it. We’ve learned a lot over the years …

The first two years we were together when we would argue I’d get in my car and go to the store to think about things. I am confrontation adverse in that way. He would follow me to the door saying, “Can’t we talk about it?” Over time we’ve learned that I need a little more time to process and he needs closure quickly so I can’t ignore the conversation. We meet in the middle.

I kept a calendar for paying my bills even if I still paid them late. He paid his bills the day they arrived. Eventually, I decided that it was better to let him handle the bills. I always know what’s in the accounts. We’ve agreed that we keep one another informed of purchases but for the most part … managing money is his deal.

We have different ideas about parenting. One example, he believes in paying for “A” grades. I believe children should do their best in school and that reward shouldn’t be monetary. We find ways that allow both our needs to be met without confusing the boys in our expectations.

We have a mortgage and children. Our time is limited and we’re stretched thin. We don’t agree on everything. We are faced with the needs of aging parents. We have family and friends who need and want our attention. But our lives would be boring without all the struggle.

It’s NOT perfect, but …

I will fight for him and he will fight for me. We’re in this together. We compromise and sacrifice our way to “Happily Ever After” with submission and humility. It can be done. But it takes hard work.

What about you? What’s your definition of “Happily Ever After”? Have you found it?