Defining Happily Ever After

As a child, like many little girls, I was brought up watching Disney movies, and loved Disney Princesses. Life was going to be great. When I got older, I would marry my Prince Charming, who would be absolutely flawless, and we would live happily every after.
Once high school came along, romantic comedies taught me that life might be a little harder than I originally thought, but my love story would still have a perfect ending. Maybe my prince charming would have a couple of flaws, but when we got into an argument, he would just say something sweet, and everything would be better. I mean, Noah and Allie fought, and they have one of the greatest love stories of recent time. Our happily ever after would still be pretty close to perfect.
Fast forward to now. I am pushing thirty, and of course, I am old enough to know that happily ever after’s are not perfect, and my prince charming and I are not going to ride off into the sunset and have a fairy tale ending. My husband is not a character from a romantic comedy, and I am not June Cleaver, or Susie Homemaker. He has his flaws, and I have mine. We argue, we have opposite opinions on things, we have different hobbies, and sometimes we drive each other absolutely crazy! We try not to go to bed mad at one another, but honestly, we have.
I no longer compare my love life to the life of a Disney Princess, nor do I compare it to Allie Hamilton’s happily ever after with Noah Calhoun in The Notebook.
A couple of years ago, I found myself comparing my life and my marriage to what I would see posted on social media. I saw posts with photos, and status updates, that seem to represent perfect lives. I couldn’t help but compare my life to the bits and snippets I would see of others.
But how is this the same? Obviously, the movies I watched growing up are fiction, where social media newsfeeds are supposed to represent real life. But do they?
What we see posted on social media is not an accurate depiction of real life, but somehow our brains can trick us into thinking that it is. For example, you see a couple online posting pictures of a brand new car they just bought. What you don’t see are the disagreements or the stress about what they have to sacrifice in order to pay for it. Or you see everyone smiling in a holiday picture, but the picture didn’t capture the arguments over who’s family they are spending Christmas Day with this year. Every picture, and every update has a backstory to it. Social media is not a reality. You do not know what it took in order for one to get to that moment, that update, that picture.
I didn’t realize I was comparing what I had with what others seemed to have until one day, when I posted a picture of my husband and I on Facebook. One of my close friends commented and said something about how our marriage was perfect. “Perfect?” I thought to myself when I read it. What I had, at the time, I didn’t think was perfect, because in my mind, I was comparing it to what other people were posting to their feeds. Friends were getting married, buying their own homes, and having babies. We lived in a house we were renting, and didn’t plan on buying one for a few years. We worked opposite shifts, and barely even saw each other. We were also struggling to conceive, but didn’t talk too much about that publicly at that point. There were times that I felt like I still had a lot to accomplish, while everyone around me seemed to have their crap together. I felt these feelings all because I was comparing things that I was still working toward, to what others already had.
When my friend made that comment, it made me realize that I too seemed to have this picture perfect online persona. Our friends, and acquaintances only knew what they saw online. They saw pictures of us at the lake, check-ins while we were on vacation, and posts about date night. Our posts were our highlights.
I now know that love is not meant to be perfect. Neither is life. I love my husband, and our not so perfect life together. I do not want Prince Charming, or Noah Calhoun. I do not want the lives that are perceived to be perfect on my social media newsfeed. I now realize that they have their hardships too. I want my husband, my best friend, my love. I want to spend the rest of my life with him, flaws and all. And he wants me, and all of my imperfections.
Marriage is not always easy. It takes communication, and a lot of hard work. But when you find someone who can accept you for who you are, and works with you to better yourself , it is worth it. You work together to build your version of your own happily ever after.

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