The Illusion of Happily Ever After

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Who doesn’t dream of a happy ending in their personal life? Woman meets man. They date. They marry. They live happily ever after … or do they? Prince Charming turns out not to be so charming. Cinderella isn’t such a princess after all. Who you thought was “the one,” your soul mate, is more of a roommate or someone you put up with. Do you feel pressured to continue the illusion of marital or cohabitational bliss?

The common narrative in storybook love stories is that after insurmountable conflicts, a couple lives happily ever after. Whatever stresses, strains, heartaches, disappointments, betrayals, misunderstandings, illusions we encounter will work themselves out and we have happiness and harmony to look forward to for the rest of our lives together. Maybe our relationship is as fictional as those stories.

 

Pressure to Get Hitched

Maybe the reason you tied the knot was because of pressure from your parents, peers, society? If you are married, maybe you felt pressure to have kids, or just pressure to hang in there.

A relationship is a choice (unless you are forced into it for cultural or religious reasons, as with arranged marriages in some cultures). Even if there are no such external pressures, you bite the bullet and figure your partner or you can change … or maybe both of you can change, grow to love one another and live in harmony? Were you getting along great at the start, but then something changed to cause your relationship to fall apart?

How many years have you held on, thinking that things would get better, self-correct, that you or he/she would grow out of certain habits, bad behaviors, behavior flaws?

Marriage isn’t like interest rates that can lock in and never change. A relationship isn’t like owning a house or a car or some trinket; It’s not owning at all. It’s ever-changing, with no guarantees, no contracts (except for the marriage contract, but even that can be broken). A relationship is fluid. It changes over days, weeks, months, and years. Is that change something you can live with?

 

Disillusionment

Ideal concepts of a loving relationship can make you wonder… Are the stories told to us growing up meant to inspire us, convince us that with enough understanding and communication and physical attraction, that most marriages can be saved? Do those stories really represent the realities of daily living and building a life with our partner? Do we have any idea how to go about building a solid partnership?

Statistically, the deck is stacked against two people staying together “until death do you part.”  More than half of all marriages end in divorce. You knew getting involved wasn’t going to be all hearts and flowers, but did you expect to sign on for what you got? Are you and your sweetie growing apart instead of growing together?

·         Were you under the illusion that marrying would make the relationship better?

·         Were you under the illusion that having kids would bring you closer?

·         Were the dreams you had about your relationship just that ­– dreams … not realistically reachable?

·         Have you ever considered that your marriage wasn’t meant for the long haul?

·         Are you going through the motions of being a happily married couple?

·         Have you wondered what opportunities you passed up to be in the relationship you’re in now?

·         Are you hungry for more in a relationship?

·         Do you feel less intimacy, less physical desire to be with your partner?

·         Is there less empathy? Is the relationship abusive? Are they controlling?

·         Were the little things about him/her you thought were so cute back then now grating on you like nails on a chalkboard?

·         Do you cringe at the thought that the relationship you were counting on to never be over really IS over?

·         Do you look forward to times you spend apart from one another, either to be by yourself or to spend with other friends, family, other interests?

·         Have you been in an unhappy relationship so long that you just decide that it’s time … as I did?

 

 It’s Okay to Change Your Mind

Do you yearn to love and be loved indefinitely? Do you have the courage to stop fooling yourself, shortchanging yourself? Can you let go of the idea that you have to conform to a relationship and a timeline by which to plan and make relationship decisions?

Are you able to let go of what you have now to seek everlasting love? It’s your right to find out what love can be, what a relationship can be if you’re not getting what you need in this one. It’s okay to defy society’s norms. It’s okay to be single if you choose … to admit to yourself that you don’t need someone else in your life to have a fulfilling life.