You all know the deal. The dream planted in all little girl’s hearts as early on as we can remember…
Girl meets boy. Boy sweeps girl off her feet. Boy and girl ride off into the sunset on a white horse and everything is happy and perfect forever, the end.
Then we grow up, and at some point, sooner or later, we realize that is all a bunch of bullshit.
Now don’t get me wrong. True love isn’t bullshit. Even seeking a fairy tale life isn’t bullshit. But if you ask me, the kind of fairy tale some people search for is what’s bullshit.
Some people have this idea in their head of what love and marriage is supposed to look like and when it doesn’t meet that unmeetable standard, they bail because well, “This isn’t what I signed up for. I deserve more.”
There’s a fine line between “I deserve more” and “My expectations are way the hell off.”
The thing that is so awesome about having parents who stuck it out even through the moments of “I deserve more” and “This isn’t what I signed up for” is that I got to see what real love looks like. What the real life fairy tale looks like.
So when I grew up and got married myself, I went into it knowing that the riding off into the sunset fairy tale stuff wasn’t my goal. I mean sure, some of that would’ve been nice, but that wasn’t my expectation.
One of the things that drove me the most insane in my marriage was that my husband always told me nothing was ever good enough for me. That my expectations were too high. And that ultimately the reason he didn’t live up to those expectations is because I didn’t deserve for him to.
It always stunned me because not only did I not think my expectations were too high, I knew they weren’t. I wasn’t asking for him to lasso the moon and carve my name into it encircled by a heart of doves every day.
I barely even asked him to do the dishes.
At a certain point, my only expectation was that he’d be nice. And that maybe he’d get up off the couch for long enough to help me occasionally with our children.
When even those things were asking too much, I began to find the line between “You expectations are way the hell off” and “You deserve more.”
I did deserve more, and so did my sons.
Finding love again after divorce, with kids in tow, is a much different experience than doing it prior to all that life. But it’s also a pretty cool endeavor because hopefully, you’ve learned things from the mistakes of the past and are planning ways to make sure you avoid those same pitfalls this go around, should you get (or want) another round.
After living through quite a hellish marriage, I now am in search of a real life fairy tale. I want the “can’t eat, can’t sleep, reach for the stars, over the fence, World Series kinda stuff.” I deserve that. I do want to ride off into the sunset with someone.
But listen. I didn’t fall out of bed this morning and bump my head too hard thinking that a perfect relationship or marriage exists. Here’s what I think the real life fairy tale actually looks like.
It’s finding my best friend. My person.
It’s knowing without a doubt that no matter what; with stretch marks and saggy boobs, no make-up and messy hair, frazzled mind and stressed out schedule, he will still look at me and call me stunning.
It’s cooking dinner together. Or doing the dishes together afterward. It’s teamwork. It’s him prepping the coffee while I make the lunches.
It’s helping the kids with homework and cheering together when they pass their test.
It’s pizza on a Friday night.
It’s fighting and losing our minds and hating each other at times but always circling back because we are each other’s home.
It’s waking up too early in the morning before the kids start to stir so we can have some alone time together. It’s falling into bed at 9 pm exhausted from the day not wanting to be near each other.
It’s little touches that say, “I want you” and little looks that say, “You’re mine and I’m the luckiest person in the world to have you.”
It’s laughing together till we cry. Inside jokes only we understand and personal details only we know.
It’s wanting to fall into that person’s arms when the waves of life come crashing down and knowing that they will hold you. It’s trusting your heart in the hands of someone else because they’ve shown they’re willing to hold it- and deserving of that gesture.
It’s putting each other first, above everything else, no matter what. It’s choosing each other every single day, even on the days we think maybe we deserve more; and realizing at the end of the day that no, we have everything we deserve and more.
It’s flirting In the laundry room and dancing in the kitchen.
It’s laundry and groceries, budgets and plans, tight schedules and overloaded hearts.
It’s “What can I do to help you?” and then doing it.
It’s late night talks and early morning grumbles.
It’s living, side by side, thankful that even though this person isn’t perfect, they’re yours and because of them, every day is better.
It’s choosing love when it would be easier to choose hate. Digging in when you want to walk out. Staying when you want to leave. And doing that every day, for the rest of your life, because you know without a doubt that this person is your person.
The person you choose and the person who chooses you. The person you get to do life with. The person who knows you better than anyone else and cherishes you even on your worst days. The person who understands that although life isn’t a fairy tale, real life with you really is the fairy tale.
I know it exists because I see it in my own family. I see it in my grandparents who have chosen each other over everything else every single day for 56 years. I see it in my parents who have dug in with each other even when they could’ve given up, every day for the last 33 years. And I even see it in the younger marriages between my brothers and sisters in law.
My expectations aren’t too high.
Real life fairy tales do exist, and that’s exactly what I want.