Why do fairy tales end at marriage?

There is a reason that fairy tales end with the wedding and it’s not because they ‘lived happily ever after.’

Our journey to matrimony may be full of romance, dancing at balls, chivalric gestures and dreams of a better life but marriage itself is no enchanted existence in a castle with magical friends and entertaining servants who make each day a party.

Marriage is no fairy tale

Ask anyone who’s been married for years, or even for weeks. Marriage is hard work.

Thought you knew everything about your Prince Charming before you married? Well, maybe you knew a lot but did you know how annoying you would find it when he leaves the toilet seat up, fiddles with the settings in your car – yes, ok, he may be taller than you so moving the seat and rear vision mirror is within the realm of reason but adjusting the windscreen wiper speed, well that’s a whole other story – and forgets to take the bins out, every week…

And maybe, Prince Charming zones you out when he’s watching the AFL, the NRL, the cricket, the Formula 1 and…ok, ALL sports. He leaves his dirty clothes on the floor and still makes plans like a single man, after years of marriage.

This was not what you expected marriage to be like, at all.

You thought the role of subservient house slave ended when you tried on the glass slipper and were swept away by the man of your dreams.

You believed that marriage was a real ‘happily ever after’ where you would never fight, be sad or disappointed again.

Well, I’m here to disappoint you, if you’re not already disappointed, that is.

Marriage takes a concerted effort to put someone else before yourself. This means that your spouse must come first, or you’re not investing enough in your marriage.

A successful and authentic marriage requires the virtues of humility and patience. 

Every. Single. Day.

Small things with great love

Mother Teresa was very big on the idea of doing small things with great love. And you know what, she was spot on. This one simple idea is a gem for marriage.

It takes a lot of love to pick up after a grown person who could do it themselves; to generously let your spouse watch hours of sports coverage because that’s how he likes to unwind after a busy working week; to forgive the small hurts that could otherwise balloon and erupt as resentment and anger a la the ugly stepmother; and to love him despite his flaws.

Do these things with great love, and then love until it hurts. 

Yes, until it hurts. Unless you’re making sacrifices, and placing yourself into the vulnerable position of loving someone so deeply that you can’t bear the thought of them taking you for granted, or leaving you, or being unappreciative of your efforts, then you’re not loving them enough.

Sacrifices require those two virtues; patience to accept the way things are and who your spouse is at this point in time, and the humility to understand that you are not only one person in this relationship whose needs must be met.

Patience and Humility are, well, boring?

Fairy tales end with marriage because, frankly, who wants to watch Sleeping Beauty and Prince Phillip argue about who’s turn it is to wash the dishes, change the baby’s nappy or drag their feet when it’s time to make the big decisions in life?

Or listen to Jasmine complain that all the romance and spark has disappeared from their marriage since she and Aladdin started a family? And no one wants to watch Rapunzel crying because she feels underappreciated by Eugene.

If you go into marriage expecting a fairy tale, you’re going to be disappointed and there will be no fairy Godmother there to magically make everything better. 

Marriage involves daily toil, daily work and infinite love. It means making deliberate choices to put the happiness of others ahead of your own; to cultivate with determination the virtues of humility and patience, to give until it hurts.

If you can achieve this, then you are living happily ever after.

And there’s nothing boring about that!

Emily Shaw

Emily is a former ACPA award winning magazine editor. Emily shares 15 years of marriage with her husband, Ben, and is now stay at home mum of seven and freelance journalist. Emily’s work has been featured in a variety of media internationally, writing on all things faith, parenting and craft. She brings close to 20 years of experience in media — print, online and social — as well as several years in active youth ministry including three years as the Diocesan Coordinator.

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