It may seem a little cheesy, I know, but I think it is important, and I wanted to write regularly about this topic.
So, I'm going to introduce (insert drum roll, here): Monday Marriage Moments.
So, I took my girls to see the new Cinderella movie last week, and it was just beautiful. Cinderella is my all time favorite fairy tale! I've enjoyed just about every Cinderella movie that has ever come out over the years. Cinderella is my favorite princess, too. So, I get a tad excited about her, and I was just over-the-moon about this movie coming out, and I couldn't wait to see it.
It. Was. Fantastic.
So, I can neither confirm, nor deny, that I was crying during the movie. I was definitely crying at the end, though, and as we left the theater.
My youngest daughter (very sweet and very sensitive) got emotional. I think, probably because I was emotional, she began to escalate and become (very) slightly distressed (read: dramatic), and she started to shake my arm, saying, "Mom? Mama? Are you OK? Stop crying! Mommmmm!" she was starting to border hysteria. She does not like it when I cry. (That little one....)
The tall, empathetic, middle girl (Moose), also sensitive and sweet, was patting my other arm. She was trying to be soothing, and sing-songy, like, "aawwww, Mom.... It's ok! Why are you crying?"
Teary, sniffling, trying to not totally lose it in front of my girls, I choked out, "I don't know!"
Exactly why was I crying? It was a beautiful movie. I loved the dresses! I loved the characters. Plus, Cinderella is brave, and resourceful, and kind, and lovely. She overcomes obstacles. She isn't bitter. She's smart. She has a fairy godmother, and fabulous shoes! She lives happily ever after...
And, there it is.
Happily Ever After.
Of course, that's it! That's the hope, the wish, the dream, the prayer. Don't we all want that? A kingdom, the dress, and a happy prince are all great wishes, but happily ever after; that sums it all up, I think.
What does that look like? How is that possible? Practically, what are the steps to happily ever after?
Well, I'm not an expert, but by today's standards, I've been married awhile; so I am happy to offer a few tips that may help. Here they are:
Remember the special reasons you wanted to marry your spouse! Why did your spouse catch your eye? What made her/him special to you? What did you like most? How did your other half make you feel special? These are the memories to pull out of your brain at two AM when your child is sick and you are so exhausted you think your eyeballs are going to go on strike, and said spouse is snoring in your bed. These are the moments, in the middle of the argument about where the money went, that you need to remember that you really do love this person.
Forgiveness. I know not all of our readers are Christian, but forgiveness is such a huge influence for me. We forgive, because He forgave. Forgiveness can work for anyone, though! Forgiveness is not unique to Christianity; it is essential for relationships to grow! If you can forgive and be forgiven, you and your spouse are on the right road to a long relationship. Sometimes in marriage forgiveness is a daily act... for everyone.
Date night! I can't stress enough the importance of date night! Of course, there are tons of obstacles to date night: finding a sitter, not having extra money, no good movies, restaurants are too loud, the kids are too young, too old, etc. Let me tell you something- date night can happen in your living room after the kids have gone to bed, before the kids come home, during the day while the kids are at school, or if you home-school, during quiet work/seat work/ nap time. All you need for date night is an hour, and your spouse (and no phones/devices/tablets). Look at each other. Talk to each other. Play a game. Listen to one another. Connect. All that stuff is free, by the way.
Call in the troops! I am a huge fan of therapy. I'm just going to throw it out there! Sometimes, an unbiased third party is needed to work through hurts, pasts, and overwhelming situations. There is no (zero, nada, nyet) shame in asking for a little outside help. It can be the very thing that gets you through a trying situation that seems impossible. Sometimes just the couple needs therapy, and sometimes the entire family can benefit. Recognize when it is ok to admit a situation is bigger than you, and you need some help.
Finally, I can tell you that prayer is huge. I would not still be married if it weren't for my faith. If you find yourself desperate, consider the church of your choice. Not only can you be led to God, but you can be lovingly cared for and pointed toward resources to help you. Marriage is a reflection of God's plan for us, so church people want to help your marriage succeed. Also, there are probably resources, tools, classes, and sometimes counselors that are already in place there, and at low or no cost to access.
So, is happily ever after a myth? A fairy tale? Maybe. I think happily ever after is real... It just takes intentional hard work and effort. It's a choice, usually a daily choice, to see the best in your spouse. It's a commitment to choose to love. Easy? Absolutely not. Worth it? I'm betting, yes. Definitely.