Prince Charming Doesn't Exist...but That's Okay
From the time you’re a little girl, the image of a fairy-tale marriage clings to your heart, paving the way for absurd expectations later in life. You read stories that talk of happily ever after and grand gestures, and suddenly, it seems like love must meet this standard.
Throughout your teen years, your college years, and beyond, there’s this magical vision of marriage. There’s this sense marriage is about princes and flowers, grand balls and candlelight promises.
Real love, the kind marriages are founded on, require glamorous people and smooth moves. Marriage requires perfect compromise and moments of romance. It’s a life of wedded bliss that begins with the first “I do,” the first bite of wedding cake, the first morning you wake up in each other’s arms. Having high expectations for marriage isn’t a bad thing.
Marriage should make you happy, should fulfill you, should help you achieve your life goals. There’s nothing wrong with holding out for your own version of a fairy-tale marriage. The problem comes, I think, when we let society dictate what a perfect marriage must be.
So many times, I hear women who are upset because their husbands don’t act like the men in the movies or in romance novels. There are no passionate kisses at 6 a.m. or bouquets of roses on a random Tuesday. There are no jets to Aruba on a whim or couture gowns to wear to a fancy club. There are no carriage rides or silver platters. Thus, we feel like our marriage is flawed. It doesn’t meet the standards we’re taught from a young age.
Marriage without this dazzling sense of romance is clearly a failure, right? The problem with the fairy-tale marriage is it lessens our appreciation for what we have. This impossible, unreasonable standard we hold our marriages to can prevent us from seeing the happiness we actually have right within our grasp.
Again, this is not to say marriage should be something you settle for. I believe every woman has the right to pursue her version of the fairy-tale marriage if she chooses. If caviar and romantic trips to Aruba and couture ballgowns make you happy, then find a marriage where this will work.
However, if you don’t necessarily want these elements in your perfect vision of marriage, then don’t feel pressured into wanting them.
At the end of the day, no marriage is flawless. The perfect marriages of television and romance novels are just images and snapshots. They do not capture the true, day-to-day living of a genuine love. Real marriages are forced to weather unromantic storms, tedious routines, and the exhaustion of adult life. Thus, sometimes a trip to a private island isn’t practical. Sometimes lighting a single candle in the bedroom is risky because of a pesky cat and the risk of a fire hazard. Sometimes a gourmet dinner on a silver platter turns into a fast food bag because there are just too many appointments and meetings this week. I
In the past six years of marriage, I’ve learned one thing for certain: There is no plot diagram, no equation, to the perfect marriage. There are so many versions of marriage, of happiness, of romance.
The key is to figure out what works for you, what fulfills you. If sweatpants and takeout bags fit into your fairy tale, own it. As I’ve said before, Prince Charming doesn’t really exist in real life…but neither does Snow White. No love is perfect because no two individuals are perfect. Each relationship will have its ups and downs, and the wedding cake never truly tastes as good a year later. The bliss from the wedding day will wear off and, when you’re left with “real” life, the kind involving bills and work and household chores, romance may change its appearance.
This does not mean the fairy tale has turned into a Brother’s Grimm sort of tale, however. It simply means your version of the fairy tale has morphed into something more appropriate for the real world.
It might be impossible to achieve the ultimate fairy tale-like marriage, at least in society’s eyes—but I think that’s okay. At the end of the day, you can still find happiness in an imperfect marriage.
You don’t have to have a knight in shining armor, a prince riding in on a white horse, or any similar image to make your marriage successful. Real marriage takes work. There is no fairy godmother to make all your wishes come true, and your prince charming may turn into a toad occasionally.
Happiness, though, is a choice in marriage.
It is a choice to say the man you married is worth your time, your effort, and your devotion.
It’s a choice to say the reality of your love together is worth more than some fantasy love society tells you to chase.
The fairy-tale marriage might not really exist—then again, it is possible to achieve a magical level of happiness in marriage if you’re willing to be imaginative and realize all is not what it seems.
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