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Skye Thomas
So many of us stood at the alter saying our wedding vows knowing that we would do a better job of things than our parents had done. We grew up with story books and movies showing us that once you got to the wedding day, they all lived happily ever after. Then when our marriages didnt turn out quite like that we have all of this guilt and feelings of failure. We tell ourselves that we must be flawed or that our partners didnt try hard enough and that is why we failed at something that should have been easy and blissful. The truth is, happily ever after is very rare and its not a very realistic expectation.

Yes, Ive seen it happen, but only twice. Both couples were very similar and yet quite different. When I met them, they were settled into a lovely smooth rhythm and all of them were in their early 50s. Both of the women were very strong independent charming personalities. Each could lead an army if she chose, but would rather keep things peaceful whenever possible. These were not weak docile submissive women by any means. They both spoke their minds openly and honestly but with tact and diplomacy. You knew were you stood with them and you knew why they felt the way they did about things. I never heard either of them whine or complain about rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. They both kept incredibly clean beautiful homes and made it look effortless. They both married men who fell in love with them at first sight. Both men were intelligent, charming, peace-loving, gentle souls. Both men could see the humor in any argument. They were both natural leaders, successful in their careers, smart with money and investments, but not at all greedy nor arrogant. All four of them were attractive and healthy individuals. None of them were needy, co-dependent, addicted, violent, or abusive in any way. All four of them had positive happy marriages role modeled to them before ever entering into their own partnerships. One woman changed her entire religious belief system to that of her husbands and never regretted it for a moment. The other woman quietly went along practicing her religion without ever badgering her somewhat non-religious husband to conform to her views. The two couples had a total of seven children, mostly girls. All of the children grew up to be bright, strong, independent thinkers, with college educations and careers that they found interesting. They all were able to choose mates for themselves that were also able to have happy beautiful marriages. Both couples were able to retire in nice upper-middle class homes with enough money stashed away to be able to travel and have fun, as they grow old together. So, yes, it does happen. However, its incredibly rare.

Why doesnt it happen like that for the rest of us? The painful truth is that most of us are not as mentally healthy and emotionally stable as the two couples I just described. First of all, if were honest, our parents rarely role model happily ever after to us. Yes they may have stayed together but not because they were happy. They stayed together because of religious beliefs, cultural peer pressure, fear of being alone, financial needs, or out of some sort of co-dependent twisted need. If your goal is to simply stay married, than those are all perfectly valid motivators to keep you with your spouse. However, if you actually want to like the person you are with and like who you are when you are with them, then its going to take more than these outside influences to keep a marriage together. So many people say that marriage is hard work. If you are married only because of morals or values and not because you genuinely enjoy living with your spouse, then yes, I suppose it is quite difficult to make a marriage last. Our parents usually role model commitment and tenacity despite the fact that they really dont like each other very much or they role model cutting your losses and moving on to pursue something less stressful and difficult. But we cant blame our parents for our own marriages can we? We are old enough to know that its up to us to make or break our own vows.

One of the biggest mistakes we make is that we feel so insecure and afraid that nobody will want us, so we marry the first nice person who comes along without really analyzing if we are truly compatible on a deeper more meaningful level. The initial rush of someone, anyone liking us is usually all it takes to convince ourselves as teenagers and young twenty-somethings that this is the one. Both of the couples that I mentioned earlier had dated other people and were self-confident as individuals. None of them were in a hurry, desperate, nor felt that they needed someone else to make them feel complete. They entered the relationships mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally healthy strong and independent. None of them settled for less than what they were looking for therefore none of them felt a need to change their spouse into something other than who they already were. They were able to love each other completely fully and without a lot of fuss. Through the ups and downs of their lives together, they naturally disagreed at times, but divorce was not an issue because they truly deeply loved each other.

So many of us think that if we find Prince Charming or Miss Right that well be so happy and well feel so much unconditional love that well just morph into better versions of ourselves. We stand there at the alter saying our vows really believing in our heart of hearts that by saying these vows we are automatically supposed to be capable of creating happily ever after with each other. The only way that is going to happen is if both of you are healthy on all levels before joining together and neither of you is marrying out of desperation, need, or settling for less than what you really want in life. Healthy does not mean perfect and need does not mean love. You must be healthy enough to truly love the other just as they are. If you are both healthy and compatible, then your relationship should flow easily. You may have to work at parenting, work at financial goals, work at finding time for each other, but you should never have to work at finding the love between you.

Skye Thomas

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