Why Not Happily Ever After?

I’ve been thinking about marriage a lot lately. My little brother is getting married on Friday, good friends from middle school (!!) got married in June, friends from college got married on July 3rd, and I just went to another wedding last Saturday. And those are just the ones I’ve been invited to! Oh, and another set of friends from college got engaged this weekend. It’s hard to NOT think about marriage what with being surrounded by weddings constantly.

I also read an article recently talking about the pitfalls of marriage and how to tell if yours will last. I won’t bore you with the details, as it’s the comments I’m interested in. At least half of the comments were along the lines of “marriage is pointless, half end in divorce, there’s no such thing as happily ever after” etc. The other half were “marriage can last! It just takes work.” And rather than post my two cents there, I had an idea to post here. So here it goes:

Why NOT happily ever after? Women in my generation grew up with Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Jasmine. I don’t think any of us are expecting to be woken by our One True Love with a kiss and swept up on a white horse to a castle in the clouds, but why shouldn’t we get the three words that all fairy tales end with?

Where did we get the idea that HEA means no problems, no struggles, not a spot of trouble for the rest of our lives? Are we kidding ourselves?! Unfortunately marriage involves a union of two people who are most definitely not perfect, which means not every second of every day of the rest of your life is going to be sunshine and rainbows. I got a fortune from a cookie once that said “Happiness is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it.” I think that’s a perfect analogy for a great relationship. And isn’t that what marriage is about-a great relationship?

My parents have been married for 27 years this September. They got married when they were both 20. I was born just three years later, when my dad was finishing up grad school and my parents lived far away from family. I know there were struggles early on. And there were struggles after that. Yet through everything, somehow they managed to stay in love while raising two children into happy, healthy, productive adults. Yes, they drive each other crazy, but in a good way…and frankly, why not go crazy with someone you love? Then you can at least enjoy the ride.

Did my parents get their HEA? Well, not yet, I would say. They are well on their way. The problem with HEA is it’s the end of story, not a halfway point. When they reach “till death do we part”, then we’ll know if they made it.

So, yes, maybe 50% of marriages end in divorce. Maybe it’s really hard to stay together for the rest of your life. If our grandparents and some of our parents could do it, why can’t we? Why shouldn’t we all get our HEA? We deserve it! If you want it, take it! Demand it! Expect it! But don’t expect to sit there and watch it arrive. Anything worth having is worth working for, right? Why NOT happily ever after?

To Joe and Abby, Paul and Jenn, Jessica and Paul, Brittany and Aaron, Bri and Bobby, Lauren and Mike, and Michael and Missy: “Love each other. It’s as simple and as hard as that.”

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About evolutionofascientist

I'm a 2009 graduate of the University of Minnesota. I majored in genetics, cell biology, and development. I'm currently living in Syracuse, NY and hoping to start grad school in the fall of 2011.
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