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Your Marriage–The Heart Of A Fairy Tale

And they lived happily ever after  . . . That is how the traditional fairy tale and romance movies use to end. Typically, this ‘happy ever after’ meant that the guy and the gal overcame some evil keeping them apart and they were able to marry each in the end. Nowadays, the ‘happy ever after’ endings still have the guy and the gal overcome some evil, but now they simply move in together to form a happy cohabiting couple. Either way, all smiles and fun.

Now, personally, I have always loved these story (though not so much the modern versions). What can I say, I am a sucker for romance–or at least reading or watching other do it well; I suppose if you asked my wife, she would tell you I have a long way to go. These stories have always capture my imagination though. When I was young, I loved watching Star Wars (basically an adventure love story) and The Little Mermaid.  I recall my father catching me once watching Return of the Jedi when I supposed to be watching Sesame Street (or was it Barney?). Likewise, I remember trying to sneak out of church to go watch The Little Mermaid. What can I say, sing and dancing to ‘Under The Sea’ seemed like a better time then listen to my dad’s sermon; seeing Luke fight Darth Vader and Hun Solo fight for his Queen just seemed like a better time than watching a giant yellow bird (or was it a big purple dinosaur) saying ‘2 + 2 is 4’ . . .   ‘2 + 2 is 4’  . . . ‘2 + 2 is 4’.

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Unfortunately, I think our culture has begun to misunderstand this ‘happy ever after’ story line. Once upon a time,  most people knew that when Bell married the Beast the ‘happy ever after’ did not mean they never fought, never had difficulties when the first baby was born, never got annoyed at the other, and so on. To think this would be simply stupid. But for some reason we have all become stupid. For some reason we have thought that our lives should look like these stories. We actually believe our lives should be full of sweeping, romantic  emotions day after day because that is what the ‘arts’ tell us true love is. When these feelings are lacking, we get bored, think we are not ‘in love’, and seek another adventure.

But folks, these stories were never to function this way. The great fairly tales of the past were told within a Christian context. This meant that most people understood that the stories were pointing to another life in which our deep longing for ‘happy ever after’ would actually be achieved. Jesus (the prince) would come and defeat the evil and rescue his Church (the bride) and they would live forever, together, in his Kingdom happily.  These fairly tales were simply human metaphors for this ultimate reality. Everyone (or most everyone) knew this. When the great stories of the past are read in this light, they inspire, they encourage, and remind us to keep pushing forward.

I am sorry to be the one to tell you this, but your marriage will not give you everlasting happiness. It simply can’t. The rapacious human desire for an everlasting good is simply to strong.  As good as marriage is (and it is truly a basic good), its function is not to quench your hunger.  Rather its function is to wet your palette. An appetizers of sorts.   Its function is to prepare you to obtain the truly good of goods.  Your marriage ought to function the way the fairly tales of old were suppose to function– inspire, encourage, and remind you to keep pushing forward.

A marriage is the heart of the fairy tale.  It’s the point of the journey where two join forces to fight evil and to protect each other. This is why marriage is a sanctifying reality.  It calls a husband to die to himself to love his wife and it calls the wife to die to herself to love her husband–and there is no room for selfishness when it comes to raising kids. In a fairy tale there is conflict, drama, ups and downs. Passions run high and low. Sounds a lot like marriage.  The happy ever after doesn’t happen at your wedding day.  The happy ever after happens after you two have run the race to gain the prize.

Our culture has reversed the order.

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Brandon Wall is a counselor in Cedar Rapids, Iowa: http://www.cedarrapidscounselingcenter.com/

 

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