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When I Understand Happily Ever After Doesn’t Exist, I Start To Understand Love

When I Understand Happily Ever After Doesn’t Exist, I Start To Understand Love

Have you been having a hard time with love lately? Maybe you’re wondering where the spark in your relationship went or why your last relationship ended so badly. If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably been hoping for the perfect relationship. The one without any disagreement, the one that’s all smiles and laughs and hugs and kisses.

You’ve been hoping for this because that’s what you’ve been told to expect. Do you remember all those fairy tales you read as a child? Remember how they all ended with, “and they lived happily ever after”? Well, guess what? That just wasn’t true. We were all lied to. Let that sink in for a minute.

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If you’ve been waiting for your happily ever after and it just isn’t coming, there’s an explanation. Keep reading…

“Happily Ever After doesn’t exist…”

Romantic relationships are not magically fairy tales with happily ever after endings. And if you go into a relationship with this idea, you’re setting yourself up for failure. That’s because the idea of romance and love changes the longer you’re together. Lots of people think that this changing romance signals the end of the relationship, but that simply isn’t true.

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For example, Mark Manson asked for relationship advice from couples who had been happily married for 10 years or longer. One of the respondents, Paula, had this to say: “You are absolutely not going to be absolutely gaga over each other every single day for the rest of your lives… You’re even going to wake up some morning and think, “Ugh, you’re still here….” She goes on to say that sticking through this feeling is important because it’s only temporary. Some days you’ll be hit with so much love for your partner that you won’t know how to react. And that kind of love continues to grow over time. [1]

Remember, nothing is perfect. All the irrational love you felt at the beginning of your relationship will wear off and become something different. True love is having the confidence that you can make mistakes and be an imperfect human and at the end of the day, you and your partner still choose each other. [2]

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“True love is choosing to accept someone even if you can’t fully understand them.” – A Beautiful Mind

Don’t be confused. Just because you accept your partner and all of their faults doesn’t mean that you fully understand them. And they almost certainly do not fully understand you. But, none of this matters because you have chosen this person as your life partner. Accepting this person and making this choice doesn’t come out of need, but rather out of want. You choose to be with this person because you genuinely like and respect them.

“Life isn’t always romantic. Sometimes it’s realistic.” – Ezra Fitz, Pretty Little Liars

If you are in a relationship for the happily ever after, you are robbing yourself of the opportunity to know true, unconditional love. True love is making a conscious decision to be committed to just one person. It happens when your commitment is not dependent on your present situation in life. You know that this person will not always make you happy and the opposite is also true. But, this is the person that will be there for you when life gets difficult and who will rely on you in turn. There is no happily ever after and the moment you accept that, you will begin to understand what love really is. Unconditional love is difficult, especially when the butterflies in your stomach disappear. In fact, as Mark Manson puts it, “It’s unglamorous.” [3] Despite this, true love brings meaning and happiness to your life.

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Featured Image Credit: Couple on the Beach via Josh Willink

Featured photo credit: Josh Willink via pexels.com

Reference

More by this author

Amber Pariona

EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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