One of the first bouts of anxiety I recall having in my life was as a kindergartener. I sobbed and kicked as my mother placed a pair of pink sandals on my feet, for I was certain they made them “look funny”. As my mother drove me to school, I sat in terror with my eyes glued to my toes. I was frozen by the fear that my crush would never pay attention to me again once he saw the way they were crammed into my shoes.
At the age of five, the notion of romantic love was already relevant.
Although not every woman has a love tale which stretches as far back as kindergarten, few enter college without the desire for some level of romance. I realize there are exceptions, however many women in our generation continue to believe a “happy ending” as colorful and exhilarating as Snow White’s or as cinematic as The Notebook is their non-negotiable birthright.
I have friends and acquaintances who continue to be captivated by the fantasy that captured their hearts as little girls – the possibility of being swept away from this cold world, being rescued from its darkest dungeons and, at last, being offered the vow of perfect love and safekeeping forever.
Not long ago, I was somewhat guilty. However, a taste of adult reality offered the much-needed remedy, for I realized I had created a set of standards no potential mate could ever possess enough inventiveness or stamina to measure up to.
Having recently celebrated three years of being married, friends and elders often express how happy they are to witness my husband and I living as a shining example of a “real life happily ever after”. I smile politely and thank them, but I don’t view my life as such.
Stay with me for a moment, though…
Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty…
A few years ago, a friend of mine shared with me all she expected from her wedding day. It was her plan to marry in a church wearing a dress with a train which extended all the way to the furthest pew. She wanted doves flying above her head and jewels from head to toe. I recall her grabbing me by the shoulders and locking eyes with me intensely while proclaiming, “It has to be… exactly… like a fairytale.”
My friend’s wedding day played out relatively similar to her fantasy, however she had romanticized her husband-to-be and all that surrounded their relationship to such a degree that it frightened me. Sadly, they divorced less than a year later.
There are a multitude of reasons why her marriage failed, however I am using her as an example because so often females become “caught up” in the dramatic and romantic aspects of their story. The distractions from the early butterfly feelings and excitement of the wedding festivities eventually end, and they are left feeling as though they have crashed into the cold, hard earth. This happens even in instances when the marriage is absolutely worth saving.
Why does this happen?
The reality of making a marriage work is not a fairytale.
Shortly after I was married, I heard a contestant on The Bachelor profess, with stars in her eyes, “I finally found my prince.” It provoked me to gag and hurl expletives at my television screen. There is no “happily ever after”, for every day is a work in progress just as every human being is a work in progress.
Your knight in shining armor will never make an entrance in your life, and if you perceive that he has, time will reveal his imperfections. Your “prince charming” may have warts and crusty toenails, in fact. He may leave the garbage by the door for two stench-filled days. Sometimes he may have morning breath, too.
He will certainly be flawed. It’s okay, though, because so are you.
He Isn’t a Prince, Though…
There are nights with my husband which feel like a chapter plucked from a romance novel, however the complete picture is not that. Sometimes he wants tacos when I want Thai food. I put Sriracha on everything as he groans in search for his antacids. I become snappy when hungry, and he becomes snappy when unable to find his keys.
I huff, puff and kick when he snores too loudly, and he occasionally grows horns when I leave wet clothes in the washing machine. I don’t like the way he cuts his spaghetti noodles and, therefore, cover my eyes as he does so. My klutziness is often excessive to a degree that he recently threatened to limit me to drinking wine exclusively from “sippie cups”. It isn’t a fairytale, yet marrying him is by far one of the smartest and most heart-warming decisions I have ever made.
He is the best friend I have ever had and the father to our future children. He is the only hand I wish to squeeze while watching American Horror Story, the only “I love you” text message I will ever need, and I have no desire to “Netflix and chill” with anyone else ever again.
He isn’t a prince, though.
He is my button-pusher, the socks I pick up off of the floor, my opponent in the tug-of-war also known as “blanket snatching” and, oftentimes, a revealing glimpse in the mirror. He is my ultimate supporter, my daily dose of “just keep going” and the always affirming “baby, you’re amazing” every time I am doubting myself. He is the snoring to my ear plugs, the fortune cookie to my Chinese takeout and, on my most defeating days, the wind in my sails.
If you choose to believe in fairytales and happy endings, you are not only selling yourself short, but caught up in a world of delusion.
I’m Sorry, Sweetie, But Your Prince Isn’t Coming…
There is no white knight or princely figure waiting in the wings for the perfect hour to magically appear in your life, erase all of life’s stresses and paint the sky blue forever. It will never happen. Could you be that person for someone else? Would you want such a burden, even? If not, what makes you think someone is capable and willing of being such for you?
If you are seeking someone who will never challenge you, never disagree with you and never dare to bring the weakest parts of you to light, please save yourself the trouble and remain alone. In fact, you would be better off with a blow-up doll. Relationships will never function flawlessly one hundred percent of the time and if you possess a set of stringent standards for another person, you are not cut out for them long-term.
With lasting relationships, you must show up every day, even on the days you would rather do nothing but tend to yourself. You must be selfless even in the instances it would be more convenient to be selfish. You have to hold the bond and commitment you made closely to your heart. There are instances you must act in love and patience when your ego prefers to act in haste.
You know what, though?
I don’t want a fairytale; I want reality in all of its sweet, sloppy splendor.
Two people wholeheartedly choosing each other every day in spite of occasional disagreements, misunderstandings, annoyances, frustrations, failures and morning breath is too beautiful to put into words. I would rather hold my husband’s hand through a seemingly endless obstacle course (which is kind of what life is when you think about it, right?) than spend one day without him in a perfectly-constructed plastic paradise.
You prince isn’t on his way. He isn’t riding in, nor is he waiting in the wings. In fact, he isn’t coming. Ever.
Do not postpone accepting this reality until you have become a decrepit and heartbroken elderly lady, surrounded by a mountain of cats, peering out of her window and wondering when her white knight will round the corner. Realize it now. Today. Your prince is never, ever going to come, you big dummy.
True, everlasting love may find you, though. If it does, I hope you relish every perfectly imperfect shred of it – snoring, warts, wet clothes and all.
I’m just being honest.
©TheDailyDoll.com/Lacey Johnson 2014, 2015