Giving “Happily Ever After” a Chance
I wonder how Cinderella felt after she and Prince Charming had been married for two months. That’s how long it’s been for Daniel and me now—two whole months. I guess you could say we are still in the honeymoon phase of our marriage, even though our honeymoon trip only lasted one week.
That’s not to say that we are perfectly “happy” all the time; even our very young marriage has its share of sharp words, tears, and apologies. In even our very young marriage, we deal with messes, broken appliances, and leaky sinks. We worry about money, we worry about the future, and we worry about little things like the wolf spiders and pincher bugs that keep finding their way into our house (at least I do). We sometimes disagree about what it means that the kitchen sink area be “clean” and how often the grass needs to be cut. And I get unnecessarily irritated when Daniel starts to fall asleep before I’ve finished my nightly routine that takes so much longer than his.
Did Cinderella have these kinds of problems? How about Snow White or Aurora? They were all supposed to have lived “happily ever after,” right? (Plus, they all ended up with servants and so didn’t have to worry about cleaning and mowing lawns, but I won’t go into that)
“Living happily ever after is for Disney characters,” according to one reader who posted a comment on last week’s blog entry. When I read it, I had no problem agreeing with that very true statement. In real life, we can’t all ride off into the sunset with the one we love and live a life of luxury. Taking it a step further, Linda Miles was quoted in a foryourmarriage.org daily marriage tip last week, saying: “All those ‘and they lived happily ever after’ fairy tale endings need to be changed to ‘and they began the very hard work of making their marriages happy.’”
I’ve been thinking—what does it really mean to “live happily”? Is “happily ever after” really just for Disney characters? Or is it what is promised to all Christians by our God Himself?
Living life as a follower of Jesus Christ is not supposed to be easy; He told us, in fact, that it would not be easy. Daniel and I were called to the marriage vocation, meaning that living our lives together as a married couple is the way we follow the Lord, from May 16th forward. And while following Him is not easy, it is happy. This is because true joy is found in living the life of a disciple of Christ. We are told that we will have “peace that surpasses all understanding,” etc. (Phil 4:7).
So, if real happiness lies in following God and doing his will, and married couples in the Church follow God through their ever-sacramental daily married life, then getting married and living “happily ever after” doesn’t actually seem that far off the mark. Being truly happy is about finding fulfillment in loving and serving God and others, particularly your spouse if you are married.
If this is the case, then in the sense that Disney characters live “happily ever after” at the end of every fairytale, real life marriages really can’t be that way and shouldn’t be expected to be that way. But it is true that “He who finds a wife [or husband] finds happiness; it is a favor he receives from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22).
None of us are perfect. Daniel’s and my marriage, like every marriage, is going to take some hard work. Only God knows what sorrows and difficulties lie in the road ahead for us. We can’t expect to live easily ever after—but happily ever after is something we should be striving for.