Even as adults we love a good fairy tale. Isn't that what every rom-com ever written is? A modern fairy tale written for adults?
Boy meets girl and for various reasons they can't be together but either she has fallen madly in love with him and must have him, or vice versa,but the story always ends with them deciding to be together.
What we don't see is how they cope with the daily grind; the morning rush to get to work, the flat tyres and flat batteries,the school run and the sick kids, the laundry and the endless dishes.
No, we always leave them in the rosy glow of new love.
Yes, there have been the odd movies made about what comes next ( This is 40 is a great example)
but they are few and far between because daily life is not seen as sexy or desirable. We would rather stick with the fantasy of "happily ever after"
We have this idea that real love is effortless, that we shouldn't have to work at staying together. If we really loved each other then we wouldn't fight or get stressed about all the annoying little things our partner does.
Part of that is true - we have a choice as to which things we make a priority. I know that if I start focusing on the little things that my husband does that annoy me then before I know it they have become the BIG thing and I can't see anything else.
When I choose to focus on all the good things that he does - all those tiny, little things that we can overlook - then the annoying things become insignificant.
But it is a choice and we have to be aware that we are making it.
Choosing to stay together, regardless of the shit that happens, is the basis of real love. when we buy into the fantasy that real love is easy and effortless and requires no effort on our part then we walk away from all the great love that is right in front of us.
My husband and I have seven kids between us and (nearly) 13 grandkids. At present my 22 year old son is living at home after being over seas for the past two years. He is dealing with some health issues so home seems like a safe place to be, under Mum's tender care.
At the same time my father in law is also dealing with some health issues (he's 87). The house he lives in is cold and it is the middle of a very cold winter. It is starting to look like now would be a good time for him to move in with family, but the question is who?
Meanwhile the grandkids are about to start the school holidays and some parents could do with a hand with childcare while they work.
When you add all of that together life can get pretty complicated and overwhelming. It really does take a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to care for the elderly and everyone in between.
And happily ever after happens when you choose to embrace all of this and more. When you stick it out through thick and thin and realise that all of that beautiful mess is life, your life. When you accept that your husband is going to leave the toilet seat up, or the lid off the toothpaste, or that he will squeeze it from the middle, or he will forget to take the rubbish out, or he will take it out and forget to put a new bin liner in. And you will piss him off too. You will yell for no discernible reason, or get emotional at the wrong moment like when he wants to watch the game and you want to talk about your feelings.
Accepting each other for who they are is the real basis of a long term, successful relationship. Not expecting them to be a knight in shining armor that saves your from life's drudgery because that drudgery is the very stuff of life and we don't get to escape it. Having someone by your side while you go through it together is true love.
So let's leave the " and they all lived happily ever after" where it belongs, in the realms of fantasy and fairy tales and start embracing all the messy, aspects of relationships and love.