And they lived happily ever after…Not!
But I was convinced that love had a pattern:
- You go out with some girlfriends.
- A man sees you.
- He crosses a crowded room because he’s smitten with you at first sight.
- You fall in love.
- Get married.
- and then live happily ever after.
Anyone else have this fairytale image in your head?
I am convinced that this fairytale is the cause of many a divorce. People go into a marriage with the infatuation of new love and the anticipation of happily ever after. Then the honeymoon ends and you wake up. You wake up to a cold wet rear because the seat was left up – Again! You wake up to laundry that never ends, dishes that always need to be done, bills that need paying, and the same day facing you every morning. You wake up and feel like you’re stuck in the movie Groundhog Day – doomed to repeat the same day over and over again.
Eventually there are one or two things he does that get under your skin, then they start to grow and fester. Maybe it’s shoes left all over the house, a wet towel on the bathroom floor – or worse on the bed, a perpetual stack of mail or papers he creates, or the slurp he makes when he drinks a soda – the what doesn’t matter, it’s how you process it that determines if you will get an F or an A in marriage.
None of the whats are marriage threatening on their own. No one is going to cite paper piles or soda slurping on their divorce papers. But those little things, that same day facing you every morning, the realization that all of the excitement and anticipation of the unknown future is behind you – those all conflict with the image we have in our heads. How can this be happily ever after? It’s so normal and average and hard.
Some people decide that they must have been wrong. They must not actually be in love. This can’t be it - the happily ever after I was promised. I must have made a mistake. The sooner I get out of this marriage, the sooner I can find my true love and my happily ever after. Then divorce.
How to Get an A
Other people, those you see that are celebrating their 30 year anniversary, they face the same things. They too wake up to the laundry, the dishes, and the wet towels. They have the same realization that the excitement of what could be is gone. The difference is the outlook they choose.
Instead of mourning the loss of the adrenaline rush from infatuation, they take comfort in the known and steady man standing beside them. Instead of becoming angry that their spouse always leaves his shoes around or piles of papers – they take comfort in the fact that he is predictable. They look at the positive in their marriage and in their partner. They notice his breath is bad in the morning, but they remember he had seconds of the new garlicky recipe they tried out the night before. They notice that he’s gained a few pounds around the middle, but they don’t see that – instead they see the huge smile he has and the way his face lights up when you come home from work or when the kids run to him at the end of a long day.
Ultimately finding happily ever after is all a matter of perspective. It is up to you to look for it and find it in the every day.
So what about you? Are you looking at the towel on the floor or the smile when he sees you?