As a child, I was always a big fan of fairy tales, especially the ending of most of them being “…and they lived happily ever after”.
I have never given a second thought to the concept of “happily ever after”. However, as I was reading “Cinderella” to my own children the other day, it made me stop and think. What does it actually mean? Does anyone have a fairy tale ending?
After looking into this area more closely, speaking with many people in and out of relationships and reading various publications on the topic, I have seen some common issues, assessment of which aids in understanding whether you are “living the dream” in your relationship. These include:
1. Defining what happiness means for you. This is a very subjective assessment and will have different answer for each and every one of us. Once you have created a definition of happiness, look at your life and assess whether where you are in life and your partner satisfy that criteria. If the answer is “no”, then you need to look closer at what changes need to be made in order for you to be happy.
2. Assessing your general life expectations and expectations of your partner. Are these expectations realistic? Do you need to rethink your expectations?
3. Examining your relationship. Speak to your partner to understand whether you make him or her happy and what is required to achieve their happiness. By the same token, you must explain to them what is required for your happiness.
4. Remembering that communication is the key. Ensure you express your feelings, positive and negative, as they arise, as bottling up emotions will only result in resentment and a massive fight at a later stage.
5. Leaving the past behind. There is no need to dwell on the past. You must be able to let go of anything that is holding you back in order to move forward. Learn from your (and other people’s) mistakes and recognise when you have successfully moved forward. This is a continuous and evolving process.
6. Keeping the romance alive. Do not under any circumstances take your partner for granted. Show them your appreciation. Ensure that there is no lack of effort from you towards them. If you feel that there is lack of effort on their part, you must discuss it as soon as possible to eliminate any possible future issues.
7. Finding the balance of interests and favourite activities for both you and your partner. Relationships are all about ‘give and take’ and compromise. You must ensure that your relationship is not heavily geared towards satisfying the needs and wants of only one party, as it is then almost guaranteed not to last.
8. Ensuring that you do not give up easily. If you have hit a rough patch and your relationship is worth fighting for, then fight for it with all your might.
Remember one thing – “happily ever after” is not the end, it is the beginning. It is up to you what happens in the next chapter and whether you can live out the fairy tale.