The story is a familiar one:
Boy meets girl.
Boy likes girl.
Girl likes boy.
Boy asks girl out.
Boy and girl hold hands during movie.
Boy and girl decide to date.
Boy calls girl's dad for permission.
(Girl very impressed.)
Boy and girl decide to get married.
Girl's parents decide on wedding date.
Boy and girl get officially engaged.
Boy and girl get married.
It could be Nancy Meyers' latest romantic comedy.
It is, in fact, a true story--our story, Joshua's and mine. (Yes, my dad decided on the wedding date...we weren't thrilled with the fifteen-month wait. But it all worked out in the end.)
I love romantic movies with story lines like this, especially funny ones. We watched What Women Want last night and although I wouldn't watch it with my thirteen-year-old sister, it was great fun for just the two of us. And of course, I love happy endings, whether they involve the prince and princess getting married after major trouble getting together, the clueless guy finally understanding how to love the girl who's crazy about him, the husband and wife who work through a rough spot in their marriage...whatever. All these stories have one thing in common: they leave the audience or reader with the belief that the characters "lived happily ever after."
But do they really?
Take Cinderella and Prince Charming, for example. They rode away in the carriage kissing. But what about life after the honeymoon? How did Cinderella adjust to being royalty? What kind of mother did she become, considering her rather poor role model in that regard? How was she accepted by the prince's family? And what kind of love is based on one solitary dance between strangers?
Or consider Snow White. She doesn't even meet her prince till nearly the end of the story. And we're left with no knowledge as to what happened after that. Did they get married at all? What happened to the dwarfs without Snow White to take care of them?
And, considering how dysfunctional a lot of characters in popular romantic comedies seem to be, how do their relationships last after the credits roll?
Okay, I know perfectly well that these are all stories. Fiction. Not true. But these are the stories that are read to children at bedtime, watched by couples of all kinds on dates, wept over by girls at sleepovers. These stories pervade our culture, and they're popular for good reason: they portray life the way many of us wish life could be.
What a lot of people seem to forget that in real-life relationships, it almost never works out the way relationships do on-screen. Sure, Joshua and I have tons of fun together. We laugh. We enjoy each other's company. We can be sweet, funny, romantic, and sexy.
But not all the time! The reality of relationships is that life can be good, and very good, but expecting the "happily ever after" will only lead to disappointment.
I think that life as it is, is better than any fairy tale. No, we're not perfect. We argue sometimes. We're lazy sometimes. We're not always very interesting people to be around. We certainly aren't very funny most of the time. But this is real. This relationship is for a lifetime. I know my husband is going to stick with me in my best and my worst times, and I'm going to do the same for him.
And if you ask me, a lifelong marriage, with its highs and lows, is better than any "happily ever after" a fairy tale could end with.