On Fairy Tales and Why Happily Ever After Doesn’t Just Happen

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This year’s Thanksgiving weekend was a hodgepodge of life’s memorable events.

First, there was turkey and stuffing at my in laws’ home.

Then, we helped celebrate a silver wedding anniversary.

On Saturday, we also had a friend over, and then later that evening took part in surprising another friend at a birthday party his wife organized.

In between, we were waiting for news from my very pregnant sister who has been begging her Baby Girl to come out and meet the world, except said Baby Girl is determined to take her own sweet time.

I was thinking it’s pretty cool how all these happened during the one time set aside for America to remember to be thankful. Life events, the kind of blessings that never lose meaning.

So, back to the silver wedding anniversary celebration.

Before the ceremony, I had written a rough note about our friends and their special occasion, with the idea I would write about them later.

This is what I had: “Celebrating 25 years. A couple who didn’t have the easiest of beginnings. But God is faithful. He turns our imperfections into stepping stones…”

And this is what I heard the wife say during her vows, “We were never perfect, we were never a fairy tale…”

Yes! Monday’s post was actually writing itself.

We love to tout seemingly perfect love stories. Prince Charming finally meets Princess Heroine, they lock gazes, slow music starts to play, things fall together and they live happily ever after. Imperfect stories don’t belong in this world we created, failed characters aren’t welcome and the disgraced are not the stuff of romance.

Think Edward, of Twilight fame. He is immortal and supposedly gorgeous, with unlimited charm and wealth. But all these mean nothing to him without plain old Bella by his glittering side. Swoon. What teenager (and admittedly, many grown women) wouldn’t buy into this fantasy?

And fantasy it all is. As are many marriages being pushed into the social media spotlight. Because hitting “like” and “share” and “heart” and “favorite” has become the new love language, and so we scramble to satisfy our chosen public by editing and re-writing, trimming and highlighting. And leaving some things in the shadows. 

But life is made up of good and bad, and marriage isn’t supposed to be perfect. It’s an adventure, and what adventure doesn’t have dips and bumps? And although it is true we can easily escape on social media, we can’t blow it off that easily in real life.

Which is why I love that my friend J admitted, “We were never perfect, we were never a fairy tale…” But oh, to be standing there, after twenty-five years, and be able to say that and then pledge another twenty-five years! I guess that is what it’s all about. To know neither one is perfect, but still want to keep going—I suppose that’s what real love looks like.

It’ll be sixteen years for us this month. In all honesty, it hasn’t been a perfect ride for us either. Like everyone else, I edit and highlight, because I don’t air dirty laundry in public.

But I stop short at claiming perfection.

We’re better off than some, worse off than others.

We have many good times, and some bad times.

We laugh more than we cry, but we do cry.

And we’re probably never going to grace the cover of a parenting magazine. But I know our sons think we’re pretty good at being their parents.

In the real world, there will always be those who are better at things than we are. But this is our story. We own it, we live it, and we’re grateful for it.

So here’s to our friends J and J, and to twenty-five more years of flawed people finding meaning together.

Here’s to my sister and brother-in-law, who just marked their fourteenth year together as well.

Here’s to S and I, and the long, unknown, and yet exciting, road ahead of us.

And here’s to every couple out there who is strong enough to recognize the imperfections, but hopeful enough to know things will work out eventually.

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